sexuality

Four Out of Four

 

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When I was in my early twenties, taking public transit everywhere, on the south side of Chicago, I was harassed by men, every single day. Regularly cat-called, propositioned, sometimes they flashed their dicks or masturbated at red lights while I stood at the bus stop. Sometimes they followed me, circling the block several times, trying to lure me to take rides from them. Sometimes I was very scared. Mostly, I was furious.

I wanted to fight back. I was tired of feeling like a victim, like I just had to take this. I began a ‘strategy’ of pulling out a notebook and writing down license plates. I wanted to scare them into thinking they might get in trouble. It helped me feel empowered. Sometimes it did scare them off, sometimes it didn’t. 

I was a pre-school teacher, I worked for a woman in her mid-forties, the owner of the school, Lori. I’d come in to work some days shaken and scared, or furious and raging. She told me I should dress differently. She told me “someday you’ll miss that, trust me.”

I’m in my mid-forties now. I get harassed less on the street now. I’m rarely scared for my safety. I haven’t seen a stranger’s dick waving at me at a red light in many years. And no, Lori, I don’t miss all that, not one bit.

I’m thinking about this today, because there’s a national conversation going on, about sexual harassment. Another rich, powerful man has come into public light as a sexual predator. Women everywhere are talking. Sharing our personal stories.

“One in four” is a statistic we commonly hear. It applies specifically to rape and physical sexual assault. One in four is too many, and further research shows that’s probably not even an accurate number, that it’s likely even higher. But if violence against women is a spectrum, with rape and murder at the far end of the spectrum, every one of us, as women, has endured, survived, or not survived, some sort of abuse, from men, in our lifetimes. This is part of the female experience in America. Like getting our periods, or experiencing puberty, or menopause. This is not one in four. How “generously” short-sighted to create the implication that three out of four of us are left unscathed by sexual violence from men.

We must begin to understand that sexual abuse or violence is not limited to rape or physical assault. We are coming to realize that it’s so pervasive, it’s universal. This is the free bonus that comes with being born a female.

If rape and murder are at one far end of the spectrum, the ultimate, most devastating violations, what’s at the other end? Mansplaining, says Kelly Diels, Feminist Marketing Consultant. I think I agree. A little further along is cat-calling. Comments, gropey hugs, seething noises, indecent exposures, unwanted advances, following, inappropriate propositions, abuse of power for sexual gratification… there are countless ways to be sexually abused. How many marks could we plot, on our personal spectrums, if we were to tally our individual experiences? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands?

I’m thinking a lot about my boss Lori today. Maybe because I’m about the age she was when she said those things to me. What had Lori internalized, in her lifetime, about being a woman, about her worth as a female, about aging, attention, desirability? What beliefs did she have, deeply rooted in her, that made her think that these attentions were somehow enviable (when she wasn’t telling me I was asking for it)? One thing I’m pretty certain of – she did not invent them.

She was about twice my age, born of a different generation, called herself a feminist. Yet… did she really miss being harassed? What kind of twisted bedfellows had she made of validation and abuse? How different we are. Yet, our similarities are less savory to consider.

I think about what I was wearing back then… some days a thick, heavy coat, during the bitter cold of winter. I was bundled up for below-zero temps one of the times a guy was masturbating “for me” at the red light, while I stood, nauseated, at my bus stop, pretending not to notice, praying for the light to change. But some days, in the summertime, I wore short shorts and tight tank tops. It was hot out. And on those days, I was harassed more frequently, no doubt. So what message was I sending, by wearing the clothing I chose to wore, and showing the skin I chose to reveal? Was I asking for it? Of course not. I know this, on one level, the wise part of me knows this. But the world we live in has taught me otherwise. I must be vigilant in identifying these messages, these lies. I must pluck them out of my belief system, one by one. They are bacteria. They keep my system infected.

What a multi-layered, tangled mess of messages and lessons, myths and lies we’ve been fed, so muddled and mucky it may take us generations to unravel them.

And if I am truly honest with myself, sometimes, when I am out with friends, for example, feeling beautiful, I want to be noticed. I want to be wanted. As a “woman of a certain age,” I find myself occasionally missing the response I would get from men, in public, when I was in my twenties and thirties. Not the harassment, of course, but the noticing. I refuse to feel shame for this. And for Lori, maybe harassment was just a seedier form of being noticed. And maybe any noticing at all, to her, was more appealing than feeling invisible. Like Lori, there is a shadowy part of me that connects desirability with my value as a woman, I know this is a lie, but it’s deep in there, because in our culture, the greatest perceived threat to a woman’s value is aging. 

I remember, in my early 30s, being at a gas station with a girlfriend, Jennie, getting gas and cigarettes on a Saturday night, on our way to the club. A couple of men made seething noises and called to us in Spanish, and she went off. She screamed and raged and called them names and maybe even banged her fist on the hood of their car, and told them to fuck themselves, screamed at them, asking if they had daughters, if they had wives. Called them fucking perverts.

I was shocked, I had never seen a response like this. A far cry from my little notebook and license plate strategy. I was partly in awe. And I was partly embarrassed. She’d caused a scene. Her rage made me uncomfortable. And I was still very committed to being inoffensive, nice and demure. Ladylike and tolerant. I had stopped using the notebook many years before. My strategy had become to ignore, pretend they didn’t exist, pump my gas and look the other way.

I’m still harassed at times. My reaction now is more likely to meet him eye to eye and say loudly enough for others to hear: “NO. NOT OKAY!” while I point a rigid finger toward his face… if I’m feeling brave. Yet sometimes, I say nothing, and pretend to not have seen or heard. How to respond, if to respond, how to stay safe, to take back our power, to not risk further interaction, this is an ongoing, play-by-play consideration in our inner worlds, as women.

Each of us, as women, have our own stories of experiencing inappropriate and offensive behavior from men. I don’t think any of us have been exempt from sexual harassment of one kind or another. Four out of four.

When does it end? How does it end? I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I know one thing. The more we talk about it, the more light we shed on these shadowy realities, the more we call out and demand accountability of men, demand to be treated with respect, refuse to tolerate these behaviors any longer, the more we say “NO. NOT OKAY!” the safer we become. The mightier we become.

We’ve played nice-girl long enough. We’ve been ladylike long enough. It’s time we said  “NO. NOT OKAY!”

And when the situation calls for it, like my friend Jennie, we need to make people uncomfortable with our rage. 

We need more men to join us, to say “NO. NOT OKAY!” along with us. I see it happening, and it gives me hope.

I have hope, for our daughters, and our granddaughters.

Maybe someday sexual harassment and abuse will not be a universal part of the female experience. Or am I only dreaming? I know this much. Being a woman does not equate being subject to harassment as part of life. We must stop normalizing this. We must say NO, NOT OKAY. And mean it.

 

Hot & Holy: Sex, Soul and the “Sacred Slut”

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Photo by Dee Hill, Makeup by Vivienne Vermuth

We were divinely designed for pleasure. We are born sexual. We are wired for intensity. We are wild, beastly, messy, sticky, erotic creatures. We burn deeply with desires, some we would never dream of naming.

Yet through a hundred thousand messages, religion, lies, experiences and for many of us, traumas, we split ourselves into pieces, between what is “good and holy”, and what is “dirty”. The richness of our sexuality is often boxed, labeled and closed away, and when that happens, we suffer.  In fact, the world suffers with us. Because I believe with all that I am, that a woman who is completely integrated is a powerful force. She is a sight to behold, an inspiration to take in, a lover like no other, a goddess, a Queen.

Fully integrated, we are medicine women, we are healers, we are magical. We are Queens.

What is a Sacred Slut? When I put those two words together, I made myself a little uncomfortable. I was worried what you would think. The word “slut” after all, has such heavy baggage that we are supposed to feel ashamed of. Think about it.

When was the first time you heard the word and got an idea of what it meant? Middle school? Earlier? Maybe they called that girl whose body developed before everyone else’s a slut. Maybe that girl was you. How many of us were called sluts, because our breasts showed up sooner than others, or our hips and waists began to curve, or because we were sexually curious, “advanced”. Our early experiences labeled some of us as “easy” and “slutty.”

Were you ever called a slut? My very first husband, A., was an emotionally and verbally abusive tyrant. He often told me I was a slut, a whore. In his words, my sole purpose was to suck and fuck. I left his ass by the time I was 21, wisely. But for years, those words stayed rooted in my brain.

I went through many years of my life leading a promiscuous life. My sexuality was one of the only sources of power that I knew of, and like a child wielding a deadly weapon, I waved and swung my sexuality around thinking it was powerful, thinking I was sexually free, while the choices and behaviors I was engaged in had nothing to do with power or freedom, and were actually closer to the complete opposite. For many years, in many ways, I was “up for grabs.” Gabrielle Roth, in her book “Sweat Your Prayers”, (and I’m paraphrasing here) puts it beautifully… “I had taken into my body men I wouldn’t even loan my car to.”

Yet, through all of my experiences, because of my experiences, I am who I am now. I wouldn’t be the me I am without them. And so I embrace them. I embrace them all.

I no longer betray or abandon myself. I am no longer up for grabs. I now use my sexual power for expression, connection, pleasure, and no longer to fill my emptiness, “win” someone’s attention or to feel “loved.”

Yet, I embrace the me that did betray and abandon herself, the me that was up for grabs. She is part of me. Because of her, I am.

We are such rich, multi-faceted, multi-layered creatures, with rich histories and colorful futures ahead of us.

Somewhere along the way many of us come to believe that our holy, sacred selves are separate from our “dirty”, slutty selves. We so often fail to see the divinity of our totality.

A Sacred Slut doesn’t do that anymore. A Sacred Slut owns her totality, the light, the darkness, the love, the loathing, the magic, the mistakes, all of it, and claims her sovereign status, Queen of herself. Queen of Her Selves. All of them.

The three kingdoms of our sexual worlds are our pasts, our present and our future. The lives we’ve lived, the ways we’ve lost ourselves, the ways we’ve found ourselves. The ways we are still becoming. Our desires and longings. We can be everything. We are everything.

A Sacred Slut is no longer defined by her past, but she owns her stories, lest they own her.

Whatever parts of you that are harder to own, your past, your present, your desires, your secrets, your shame, the darker parts, especially the darker parts, I dare you to own them all, and celebrate them all, because you are Queen of your domain.

There is great power in owning your totality, your divine and your “dirty”. All of it. Sacred. Embrace it all. All of you, not just the love and light, not just the good and pure, not just the kindness and compassion.  Love it all.

There is so much more power to living a life fully integrated, and full integration, paradoxically, is found in wrapping your arms around all of your selves. Your complexity is your divinity. Your contradictions are your holy humanity. You are here for it all. You get to be it all. You get to live it all. And by doing so, you claim your full power.

You get to be whole now. Be whole, Queen.

 

Ditch the Shame

004-0312221826-shamed-childWhen I was in the sixth grade, my parents had this great set of books about “growing up”… which of course, meant these books were about SEX. This was thrilling to me.

Included in the set was a “Parent’s Guide” with questions and answers about sex, so that you knew what to say when your kids asked “What’s oral sex?”  “Is masturbation okay?” This was a goldmine of information for me. I was, of course, very curious about the subject as I knew my peers at school would be as well. The book was loaded with all the good stuff- stuff that my parents, ironically enough, were NOT talking to me about.

Word got around that I brought the book to school. The kids mocked me and said I was a pervert. They called me disgusting. They ridiculed and laughed at me and called it a “dirty book”. I became the “pervert that brings dirty books to school.” It even came up months later, listed as one of my flaws, in a ruthless, teacher-sanctioned game called “Feedback.”

Needless to say, I was ashamed.  Something that had been titillating and curious had once again been made shameful and embarrassing. I was so deeply humiliated, I felt like I could die.

I learned it was not safe to be curious. I learned that being curious about the sexual workings of our bodies was shameful. I learned that it was not okay to be who I really was, an inquisitive sexual being, with questions and curiosities.

It was this and many other experiences that seemed destined to weave themselves together my sexuality and a sense of shame in a tangled tapestry. And 30 years later, I’m still sorting it out.

Sex and sexuality has long been a “popular” subject of shame and humiliation for so many of us, for generations. I bet it’s safe to say, most of us, at one time or another, have experienced humiliation simply for being the sexual beings we are, for exposing our authenticity, for expressing our sexual curiosity or desire. In one way or another, each of us can relate to sexual shame. Whether its shame around our body parts, our desires, our actions and choices, or things that happened to us that were not our choice at all, continuing to carry shame is insidious and toxic, and it makes us sick. Sometimes it’s even deadly.

I’m fed up.

“Donna,” a client I’m currently working with, would like to feel less ashamed about self-pleasure.  She’d like to be able to not feel like her sexuality and her spirituality are in opposition. I am committed to her learning, at thirty-five, that sex is nothing to be ashamed of.  That we are born sexual. That our sexuality IS divinity, embodied.

I want to start a global conspiracy to eradicate shame. It’s killed too many people. It’s caused too much pain.

Yes, I brought a “dirty book to school” when I was ten. I released that shame a long time ago.

And even still, more than thirty years later, I am learning to embrace my sexual self as vibrant, rich and holy; as in partnership with my spirituality. In fact, it’s all one in the same.

One of my favorite masturbation jokes is “If God hadn’t wanted us to masturbate, he woulda made our arms shorter.”

While I don’t believe in God as a “he,”  I do find truth in this statement. Everything by design, perfect design.

Wave your flag, whatever that flag may be.

Be who you are…

Curious, sexual, vibrant, with blood pulsing through your veins and sexuality your divine birthright. It’s not only OKAY to be sexual- it’s what you were wired for!

No

More

Shame.

Breathe into that. Say it out loud. And whatever leftover shame you’ve been holding onto about your sexuality…

Let it go.

Give the world the gift of your authenticity.  Start now.

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Adapted from my book, Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for your Sacred, Sexy Soul. (c)2013.

You’re Sexy and You Know It

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“When I walk in the spot (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it,
show it, show it, show it…

I’m sexy and I know it.”

-LMFAO

You’ve heard the song. Maybe you’ve even sung along in  your car, or danced with friends to it. It’s goofy and it’s catchy and my goodness, is it loaded with bravado (“No shoes, no shirt, and I STILL get serviced”, for example…) But there’s something in the over-the-top arrogance that the soul recognizes. Yeah. I said soul.

Have you ever felt so sure of yourself, so attractive and on top of your game, confident and put together to the point where your body and your soul are in complete alignment, when your senses are providing a direct line to your spirit and you’re abuzz with reality? When you are sexy, and you know it?

You may have experienced it dancing, making love, climaxing alone, celebrating with friends, completing a project that turned out better than you even expected. Showing up fully for loved ones who need you. Flirting with your new crush, or your husband of 25 years.

You know the feeling.

It’s when who you are on the inside reflects who you are on the outside.

It’s when your senses are fully engaged.

It’s when your experience of yourself becomes High Definition, and the world and everything in it shines brighter for that reason.

It’s when connection, real connection- heart to heart, soul to soul connection happens.

It’s where curiosity meets longing and you’ve never felt more alive.

You’re sexy and you know it.

If you’re not experiencing this at all, or you can’t remember the last time… it may be time for a shift.

Life was meant to be savored. Life is longing to seduce you. There is so much passion, so much richness and flavor and color and texture all around, and guess what? It’s for you.  When you are engaged, fully engaged, with life and the world and yourself, you can’t help to experience a little bravado. Mixed with a tender humility, you feel WOW. You ARE wow, embodied.

Life is a passionate lover, and it matters not if you have a human lover or if you simply decide to let Life itself be your mate, with all of its surprises, seduction, romance, adventures and gifts.

Feeling sexy is your birthright.  And Life has a crush on you. Go on. Flirt.

 

 

At Every Moment You Make This Choice

“At every moment, a woman makes a choice: between the state of the queen and the state of the slavegirl.”
– Marianne Williamson

I remember the first time I read that line, in the life-changing pages of “A Woman’s Worth.”(A must-read, for any woman.) It hit me in the gut like a punch in the stomach, took the wind out of me and cracked me open in a new way, because its truth resonated so deeply, so powerfully within me. It became a barometer by which I’ve measured my life and my choices, ever since.

There have been times, many times, that I have made choices aligned with that of the sad, lowly slavegirl. Imprisoned by my own insecurities, uncertain of and without access to my own power.

Boundaries a distant novelty. Without a map, without my inner GPS system activated, I’ve flailed around with an invisible sticker on my forehead: “Love me? Please?”

I’ve allowed, accepted and even encouraged others to treat me in a way that disempowered me, kept me enslaved by my own inability to demand respect. I’ve “kissed the creepy uncle” way too many times… (Did you have a creepy uncle that your parents forced you to be affectionate to, as a small girl, even if you didn’t want to? I read somewhere that many of us are still metaphorically “kissing the creepy uncle”, in our deeply-rooted addiction to “being a good girl.”

I’ve allowed myself to engage in behaviors that while on the surface made me seem like ‘the life of the party’… the wild one… the sexually progressive one… but were actually damaging acts of self-betrayal. 5Rythms creator, Gabrielle Roth says in her book “Sweat Your Prayers” (and I’m paraphrasing here…) “I’ve given my body to men I wouldn’t have loaned my car to…” Yeah, Gabrielle. So have I.

I’ve flipped through the pages of unkind and dysfunctional magazines like Cosmo, while simultaneously feeling my self-esteem wither, my confidence dissolve, because I have never, nor will I ever never, look like those women. I’ve pored over the pages of sex tips so that I could learn how to be sexy, how to turn him on, how to make him beg for me, how to drive him crazy, how to keep him satisfied, how to ‘cheat-proof’ him. Yes, that was a real article title. As if that was ever, ever in our control.

I’ve believed the lies.

And sometimes I still do, for a minute.

But mostly, I remember the truth.

That my worth and my power does not come from knowing how to please a man. It’s way, way, WAY bigger and better than that.

That saying YES when I’d really rather say NO is an act self-betrayal, and I refuse to betray myself.

That MY pleasure, my happiness is my main priority.

That loving myself is the greatest gift I can give myself, AND my That most “beauty” magazines are ugly. Poisonous. Damaging and full of lies.

That real sexual power comes not from ‘driving him wild’, ‘cheat-proofing’, or keeping him satisfied, but by being a woman in love with herself, who views sex as a vehicle for self-expression, connection and mutual pleasure.

That my body is my temple, and not up for grabs, in any way.

That I no longer have to kiss the metaphorical creepy uncle. Those days are over.

That when I slip into ‘slavegirl’ mode by making one dishonoring choice, I can quickly jump right back into Queen status, with my very next choice.

That I choose to own my power as a glorious and noble queen, reigning sovereign over the kingdom of me.

 

Read this essay and 51 others in the newly released second edition of Truth or Dare Living: Wild Adventures for your Sacred, Sexy Soul, available on Amazon.com.

 

Always The Other Woman?

image-1-for-coleen-02-02-2011-gallery-920730287-107979As a new offering, I invite you to write with your questions or topic suggestions. I will answer all either privately or in this space. It’s my intention that my words will bring hope and new clarity. Here’s one…

Dear Lisa,

I was wondering if you could give some insight on being the other woman. It seems my whole life, I have been. Most of the people I have fallen madly and instantly in love with have been in relationships with other people.

During the affair I am always “the most amazing person they have ever met” yet they never leave who they are currently with to try to be with me.

I am currently married and recently had an affair with a married man in which the same thing happened. Now my marriage is struggling and the “other man’s” marriage seems just fine.

I recently saw a guy I had a similar situation with. Come to find out, he is not even with the woman that he wouldn’t leave and says that not being with me was “the biggest mistake of his life”

What are the makings of the other woman? Why can’t I get my shit together? And also if I am “the most amazing person” why don’t they ever leave?

Signed,
The Other Woman, Again

******************

Dear OW Again,

I can feel your pain and frustration, and also would like to acknowledge your courage to honestly and bravely dive in to seek the truth about yourself and the root of these stories, to perhaps write a new story. I hope I can help.

What you know for sure is that you have created a pattern, and that this pattern is not working for you. It leaves you in pain.

It’s difficult to avoid generalizations here, as each person and situation is unique, but understand the nature of infidelity is one fostered in secrets and lies, and the thrill that cultivating secrets and lies creates. Secrets create the illusion of safety and power. If I have a secret from you, it feels like I have the upper hand. If I am lying to you, I can create distance and protect myself from the vulnerability that true intimacy requires. I get to stay “safe.”

Being the Other Woman can create a sense of power and worth. There’s something intoxicating about being someone’s fantasy, about being “chosen” over his wife, that he would risk so much, put so much on the line, to be with you. The rush and the high that an intense love affair creates is a drug. You may be addicted to that drug. Yet in the end, you find yourself with a painful “love hangover” and the shitty, short end of the stick.

It feels wonderful to be told you are the most amazing person. You may very well be the most amazing person. Keep in mind, you are playing a role.

In this role, you offer them a gift. You create an escape door from the mundane, a fantasy come to life, the dream girl who fulfills the desires that the wife at home may not. Kids, bills, comfort, duties, routines and obligations have a tendency to diminish desire,  when a relationship is left unattended and taken for granted. The siren call of the fantasy girl provides an exciting and intoxicating distraction, rekindling that inner fire that we all want and love, as innately passionate people. It’s completely typical to feel “woken up” by a steamy love affair.

Even the frustration and longing when apart is intoxicating and fueling, in it’s own way. Someone once said “Desire is dependent on frustration for its survival.” And I believe this to be somewhat, sometimes true. Bottom line is, affairs make us feel wild, intense and alive. But being that fantasy girl isn’t paying off in the long run.

There’s another gift you give to your married lovers, one that can’t be any fun on your end. Clarity.

sad_womanIf, or when, they are caught, they need to make some tough choices, and to really come to terms with what matters most to them, what’s most important. They are led to identify, maybe even with their wives, root causes and insidious beginnings of what brought them to the cheating point… and they can commit to healing those breaks, changing, and becoming better husbands, or at least trying to. Sure, there are those rare cases where the Other Woman “wins” and he does actually leave, but these are the exception.

Sex fantasies brought to life, and the emotional intensity of a hot and steamy love affair may dim in comparison to the urgency of keeping their family together, or returning to their wedding vows.

It sucks being a clarifier, when you are the one left with nothing.

So now, the bigger question is, what are you getting out of it?

We don’t continue to do things unless there is a pay-off. Even harmful things. What is yours?

Is it escape? A way to numb a deeper pain that you are avoiding? A way to intoxicate yourself and leave the confines of a duller or unsatisfying reality?

Is it validating? Are you looking, perhaps subconsciously, for a connection to yourself, a path of love, through the eyes of men? Ie.,  “Help me love me.”

Is it a form of self-punishment? By falling instantly for unavailable men, when deep inside you know how the story will end, you get to continue feeling bad about yourself, especially when it’s over?

Is it safer? By falling for unavailable men, you get to enjoy the illusion of intimacy, without having to really risk everything, knowing deep down in the end that it’s a temporal, ephemeral high that eventually will wear off.

Is it a way to experience the thrill of power? He is “choosing” you, over her. That gives you a sense of being important and valuable.

Is it familiar? Perhaps what was modeled for you or just comfortable and “what you know” so it’s easier to repeat than to create a new story?

Is it a way to prove to yourself a deep underlying belief that you are not deserving of someone fully available, that these “half-loves” are all you really are worth?

There are a myriad of possibilities here, and yours no doubt are deeply rooted, multi-layered and very personal.

I challenge you to go deep, to peel away layer after layer, to get to the core of this pattern.

Once you identify the pay-offs and what is consciously or unconsciously driving you to repeat history, you can start to do the healing work to address it. A good coach or therapist can help with that.

Know that you deserve joy, peace, wholeness and deep love and respect for yourself. Cultivating these things may break the cycle, when you are ready, once and for all.

When you are ready to write a new story, instead of “Always The Other Woman” it might become “How I Healed Myself and Found Deeper Peace by Breaking a Cycle.”

I love you, sweet sister,
Lisa

*******************************

The suggestions and opinions offered on this site are not meant to dissuade any reader from seeking the advice and care of his or her own appropriate and licensed health care provider. The reader is strongly encouraged to seek out and establish a meaningful relationship with such a provider who will have the opportunity and responsibility to examine him or her and offer individualized health care suggestions and services.

When Sex Means Too Much

unhappy-couple-in-bedI’ve got a confession to make. Sometimes I make sex mean too much.

It’s been this way forever. Since I started having sex, pretty much.

The pattern goes like this:

When my sex life is going really well, I feel great about myself and my relationship. My self-esteem is strong. I feel content.

When my sex life is in a “meh”, “eh” or “pffttt…” stage, when it’s just not happening, or we’re just not clicking sexually, I can feel myself slipping into a self-effacing state: there’s something wrong with me. I am unattractive, he doesn’t want me anymore, I am undesirable. I feel disconnected from my partner and even from myself. I withdraw. Which sure doesn’t help my sex life.

When my sex life gets “back on track,” my self-esteem improves, we feel connected again, I feel happy. The birds start singing again. All is well with the world.

How did I become someone whose sex life and self-esteem are interwoven?

Why do I like myself best when I’m having a lot of great sex?

And when and where along the line did I begin to equate sex with my worth?

I know that there are scientific, chemical reasons that sex can affect mood. That’s fine and wonderful. Oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, all those yummy god-given drugs that make us feel so good… love ‘em. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

It has taken me a lifetime to learn self-love, on a deep and meaningful level, beyond platitudes and maxims; I’m talking the hard-core, radical self-love that is a daily, hourly, sometimes even minute by minute practice.. I spent about 20 years of my life with such little reserve for self-love, I was nearly entirely reliant on the attention of men for any sense of worth, whatsoever. That has changed, luckily for me. As I’ve evolved, I’ve learned how to turn inward for the love I seek, and that has been a spectacular journey, that continues to fill me, amaze me and inspire me.

However, something unfortunate happens when my sex life gets off track (meaning, not as much or as good as I think it should be). I make it mean too much.

I must remind myself:

The amount or quality of sex I have had in the last few days/weeks/months does not determine my worth.

The amount or quality of sex I have had in the last few days/weeks/months does not determine my desirability.

My being desired by another does not determine my worth.

I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am love.

Sex is important. Very important. But the amount or lack of it does not need to mean anything about me.

The stories I tell myself sometimes are brutal. They’re generalizations, sweeping and broad, definitive and laced with a dangerous certainty I have no business determining.

I’m working on stopping that. It’s exhausting. And cruel. And simply not true. I know this is a trait I picked up as a girl, and I know I’m not alone.

Somewhere between developing a strong sense of self and a healthy sexuality, the lines blurred. I handed over control of my self-worth, so that others could inform me of it.

I have been working hard to take it back, to own my worth, to separate it from my sex life.

My sex life is not a yardstick or barometer or measuring tool of worth, or beauty or desirability.

My sex life IS an indicator of where my partner and I are as a couple, or where I am with allowing intimacy in my life. With how well I am loving myself and allowing myself to be loved. And when my self-esteem is low, I have less sex. Coincidence? I think not.

What I also know is this: When I turn inward, and away from anything happening in the external world, whether it’s sex, or the lack of it, or approval, attention, all those things my ego latches onto for its identity, I can instead tap into my own reservoir of self-worth, separate from the outside world, directly sustained by my spiritual source, trusting and basking in who I am. I am love.

And then, lo and behold, I have better sex. Which is pretty damned cool, yes, hell yes, but does not, I repeat, DOES NOT determine my worth.

You’re sexy! Do you know it?

“When I walk in the spot (yeah), this is what I see (ok)
Everybody stops and they staring at me
I got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it, show it, show it, show it…
I’m sexy and I know it.”

-LMFAO

You’ve heard the song. Maybe you’ve even sung along in  your car, or danced with friends to it. It’s goofy and it’s catchy and my goodness, is it loaded with bravado (“No shoes, no shirt, and I STILL get serviced”, for example…) But there’s something in the over-the-top arrogance that the soul recognizes. YeahI said soul.

Have you ever felt so sure of yourself, so attractive and on top of your game, confident and put together to the point where your body and your soul are in complete alignment, when your senses are providing a direct line to your spirit and you’re abuzz with reality? When you are sexy, and you know it?

You may have experienced it dancing, making love, climaxing alone, celebrating with friends, completing a project that turned out better than you even expected. Showing up fully for loved ones who need you. Flirting with your new crush, or your husband of 25 years. You know the feeling.

It’s when who you are on the inside reflects who you are on the outside. It’s when your senses are fully engaged. it’s when your experience of yourself becomes High Definition, and the world and everything in it shines brighter for that reason. It’s when connection, real connection- heart to heart, soul to soul connection happens, it’s where curiosity meets longing and you’ve never felt more alive.

You’re sexy and you know it.

If you’re not experiencing this at all, or you can’t remember the last time… it may be time for a shift.

Life was meant to be savored. Life is longing to seduce you. There is so much passion, so much richness and flavor and color and texture all around, and guess what? It’s for you.  When you are engaged, fully engaged, with life and the world and yourself, you can’t help to experience a little bravado. Mixed with a tender humility, you feel WOW. You ARE wow, embodied.

Life is a passionate lover, and it matters not if you have a human lover or if you simply decide to let Life itself be your mate, with all of its surprises, seduction, romance, adventures and gifts.

Feeling sexy is your birthright.  And Life has a crush on you. Go on. Flirt.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: © 2012 – Modern Noir Studios