I’m going to talk about sex. I’m not only going to talk about sex through the Ayurvedic filter, which I find fascinating, but I am also going to share about…
...my own sex life. Gulp.
First some context. I had another profound tarot reading with my friend Michelle this weekend (seriously schedule a reading with her if you are in DC). My question was about love (aren’t all of our questions?) and the cards that come up were around sorrow + morality.
Sorrow yes, I felt that. But why? The morality card in the final position is what unlocked it all for me. I am willing to share about everything--emotional eating and the death of loved ones--but my sexuality history because it feels like WAY TOO MUCH.
Michelle’s prescription for me? If I want to be free, I gotta tell the truth--in a public way.
“Generally?” I asked. “Like lessons learned?”
“The specifics,” she replied. She was clear.
My instinct was to pull up her floorboards and crawl under them. I now understand better why Poncho goes under the bed when he is scared.
I’ve been carrying around so much hidden shame and guilt for some of the sex I’ve had in my life. I’ve been so terrified to talk about it because I think it will mark me as a horrible, morally-deficient person.
My deep down belief is that if I talk openly about sex you lovely readers will unsubscribe from my email list and most of my family will look at me differently.
Yet that goes against my even deeper, truer belief that who we really are cannot be touched or harmed. Any blow we receive is only to the ego, which we want to kill anyway. Fear is always a sign that the ego is involved.
So it’s 2016. Let’s kill my ego a little more!
I’ve always been interested in sex. I stole my parent’s copy of the Joy of Sex when I was younger and marveled over the ample 70’s pubic hair and descriptions of fellatio. I don’t think I grasped the mechanics, but I found the subject compelling.
I might have had sex in high school but honestly boys weren’t that interested in me--at least not the ones I liked.
This confirmed feelings of low self worth I was already carrying. Growing up overweight, I was convinced that my body was repulsive. Since all anyone talked about was dating, I felt like I was missing out. Being thinner so I could have men be interested in me felt like the most important thing.
Love, dating, sex--they all held a lot of power in our world. That was clear to me.
After losing my virginity to my first real boyfriend my freshman year in college and our uber-dramatic break up the next year, I got a little wild. The first time I had casual sex was a bit drunkenly, with my then ex-boyfriend’s roommate.
My ex-boyfriend found out about it. Drama ensued. Opps!
Despite the suffering this incident caused, I was still totally intrigued by the power of sex. I wasn’t too outwardly liberated so this power came out mostly while I was partying.
I would have a few drinks, start making eyes, which would perhaps lead to some making out which could also lead to sex. I loved the attention and the thrill of the chase but sadly I never let myself enjoy the actual act of sex all that much.
This is probably because I chose lackluster partners and probably because the sh*tty voice in my head was calling me a slut.
Yet the power of sexual attraction was too strong to deny. It was the strongest thing I’ve experienced, way stronger than any drug. In the moment it obliterated the coming-of-age confusion inside of me. But the next day, shame and guilt would take over and I would stuff it all down inside.
While pre-study-abroad traveling by myself in Croatia, I sat next to a young handsome man during an 10 hour bus ride north. He was not funny or smart or particularly kind-seeming. Yet by hour three we were making out.
When we arrived that night in the capital, I didn’t have a hostel booked. I let him talk me into getting a hotel. I didn’t really want to sleep with him but felt like I had to at that point. He didn’t want to use condoms. I insisted. He got angry and pulled away. I felt sad and rejected. Later that night, exhausted, we had unprotected sex. I still don’t know why except that this deep black well of indifference opened up inside and there was nothing to grab onto as a I tumbled down into its numbing depths.
I left the next morning while he was still sleeping. I felt my lowest ever. As soon as I could, I got checked for STD’s and that thankfully came back negative. I barely told anyone what had happened and didn’t have sex with anyone else for two years. I no longer trusted myself with my sexual power.
When I did the Peace Corps in Peru, I was ready to play again. I’d done a lot of spiritual work on myself and felt good about me. Naturally my sex life got better. Over the two years I lived there, I had a cool boyfriend and a few nice lovers who were kind, funny, romantic. I saw myself differently and didn’t tolerate people who didn’t respect me. I learned that sex could be fun as well as powerful.
Then, with one month left in my service, I was sexually assaulted by someone I trusted. This incident warrants it’s own post but I’ll just say for now it was incredibly violating on so many different levels.
The next day, all I wanted to do was party. I went with two friends into the nearest city and started drinking.
Later that night, tequila-fueled, a lady friend of mine and I decided to proposition a local hostel owner to spend the night with both of us. I laugh now at how incredibly nervous we made him and how hard he worked to please both of us. Despite some fumblings, it was a good experience.
In a moment where I had my sexual power damaged, my wisdom told me to use sex to take that power back. It was pretty awesome how it worked.
But of course I felt really guilty the next day. I think if I were a man I would have bragged about the feat. Yet despite being pleasurable, I felt like I had done something bad. Good women don’t do that, right?
Since then, I’ve been really careful about who I take to bed. In these past years, there haven’t been that many that made the grade. I now see myself as mostly-celibate and enjoy not feeling compelled to share myself with anyone unless I’m really sure they are awesome.
Because sex is so powerful. It’s taken me years to really articulate that but lady, it’s so powerful.
Like how reading this is bringing up a lot for you, right? Like how being sexually attracted or attractive can shoot your veins full of energy?
In Ayurveda, the sexual fluid is the highest, most refined form of our energy. When we share it carefully, with people who are taking good care of themselves, it can feed our energy.
When we have sex too often or with destructive people, we zap this power up. Ayurveda says to only do it a few times a month. Oversex (including masturbating too often) can damage the immune system over time.
I say use your wisdom--each of us is different after all--but perhaps start noticing how sex affects your energy.
For a few exploratory years, I gave away a lot of my sexual power without much discretion. My desire to know my wild side matched with my emotional need to be appreciated created a powerful draw to be intimate.
I’m grateful to not feel quite so reckless anymore. Yet I don't want to regret what I've done. All of it has been an important part of my path of sexual discovery.
I think I am ready to truly make my peace with sex.
As I said, I am sharing this for myself--because telling the truth takes the shame out of it for me. Yet I really want to take the shame out of it for all of us in some way.
Maybe you can relate and feel relieved right now that you aren’t the only one who has scared herself by being too wild. Or maybe you've been wild in an empowered way and then regretted it the next day or were shamed by someone else. I’m interested in your truth on this subject.
Maybe you don’t relate and sex has always been a pretty smooth, fun ride for you. If so, I want to hear your story too. Teach me!
Maybe you are totally turned off by this conversation. I dig it and understand. A part of me is turned off too. I could totally be sharing too much here. I've thought of deleting this post so many times while writing it but I can't think of a single non-fear-based reason why I shouldn't share.
I see all feelings on this subject as totally allowed. Yet I feel like I have to ante up in a big way if I really want to see real change on how we approach sex.
What feels most important to me is starting the conversation off in a deeper way around women and a truer vision of sexuality. I think we can create this together if we are willing to start talking.
Because I so wish I had this conversation earlier in my life. If so, maybe I could have been more discerning as I navigated the difference between sexual pleasure and sexual power.
I wish more people articulated how often we can use sex to bolster self esteem or numb other painful emotions. I wish I knew how much sex could hurt people.
I would have liked more examples of people who are grappling to find a sexuality that feels potent but healthy, sacred but liberated.
And within that, I wanted someone to look me in the eyes and tell me that I had the right to be choosy and say “no” when I wasn’t feeling respected.
But really so many brave people have shared. Every audacious or difficult sexual account that someone has laid bare helps me to see that I’m not alone. Thank you for being so courageous.
I suspect that so many of us are carrying around haunting sexual experiences. Or awesome experiences that we feel guilty about. Or ones that we still haven’t figured out.
If we share them then we will shine light on those shadows and see that we are not alone. We can redefine a few sexual truths and bring some of that darkness into the light.
Because really sweetheart, it doesn’t say anything about your character. Your beauty can’t be harmed at all. You can't diminish or amplify your real worth with any sexual action. I believe this truly about you so I must also believe it about myself.
We like sex. It feels good. Or we don't and it doesnt.
We are animals, programmed to want it and we are human, designed to enjoy it.
Sex is powerful--for men and for women in different ways. I believe it’s the platetonics of our energetic world. We want it and then we don’t. We are intrigued by it. We are afraid of it. We hurt each other with it. We don’t talk about it enough in ways that match our actual experience.
My vision is for us to respectfully use sex in a way that gives us more energy and pleasure. This has rarely been afforded to us as women, or perhaps even to men in a way that feels authentically good. Using sex to make ourselves happy, being respectful to our partners and staying guilt-free in the process is pretty revolutionary when you really think about it.
Despite my fears, I feel much better having shared. Seeing it written on the page--instead of trapped in a dark corner of my mind--makes it not seem bad at all. It’s just my one big precious life and me learning about how to use it and the compassion that cushions all that learning.
At the end of our reading, Michelle told me that as we clear away shame, we can change the way we feel about the past. Having told the truth here, I am opening the door to reframe my story as one of bumpy but fruitful sexual exploration.
My ego will allow me that a little. She says, let’s call it daring. Let’s say I was learning to drive. Let’s say that I can let the past be the past and then stand firmly upon that well-earned mound of earth to peer my way into deeper pleasures of our future.
Wanna stand up here with me? The view is pretty brilliant.