It has been at least a year since I made the conscious decision to heal my sexuality. At the start of my journey I bought all the self-help books, watched all the videos, listened to all the podcasts, overdosed on Esther Perel - I did it all. I consumed so much information but still nothing changed, the resistance would not allow me to apply any action to all the delicious things sitting in my psyche. I quickly realised that I wasn’t going to be able to ’10 ways to…’ myself out of the conditioning that had been a part of my life for so many years. As with any deep self-work – I had to go to the root and see why I struggled to accept myself as a sexual being, naturally I was taken back to my childhood.
Those of you reading this from our Instagram page will know that I have written about shame (sexual shame in particular) quite a few times. This is because I firmly believe that shaming is the cause of so much of the repression and internal oppression that humanity suffers – especially women. As a young girl I was often told to ‘close your legs’, ‘don’t sit like that’, ‘good girls don’t do that’ – and these things took their permanent seat in my subconscious and shaped the way I would view my genitalia, womanhood and general girl’ness.
After my mother ‘caught me’ rubbing my genitals on the corner of a drawer, I learnt that self-pleasure was wrong, I harshly learnt that God’s children did not do things like that. My mother might not remember this moment, but I hold that memory for us both. Not having any adults speak to me productively about sexuality in general drove me to learn from mainstream media and pornography. As you can imagine, this was not the healthiest cocktail for an impressionable pre-teen.
Coming of age at a time when slut-shaming was somewhat the norm all further caused me to suppress any healthy sexual desires or curiosities that I had. The messages were very conflicted because external sources convinced me that to get affection from boys (men) I had to give my body, I understood that I could give them what they wanted but I wasn’t allowed to own any of it. If I got too comfortable with my own body and sex – I was a slut. My body and desire belonged to the opposite sex, it didn’t belong to me. These were my genuine beliefs.
These rigid principles manifested in the most crippling ways. Digging deep and questioning each and every one of these beliefs allowed me to discover that I had used holding sex back from my long-term partner as a way of dealing with my resentments. I wasn’t able to give or receive oral sex without feeling guilty, I never allowed myself to be as expressive as I truly wanted to be – fearing judgement, I punished myself for my desires and couldn’t enjoy self-pleasure without feeling wrong and ashamed. These were all very hard things to unpick and look at but as I continue to own each aspect of my sexuality – I am able to embrace my entire self in ways I never thought possible.
When I noticed that all the self-help information I was digesting wasn't quite cutting it, digging deeper and facing my beliefs head-on finally introduced me to my sexual shadow. The nasty and sinful desires, needs, and urges that I had cast into my depths - everything I was told I shouldn't like. The stuff I had known as ‘bad’. I am now learning that these things are not bad in and of themselves, I am learning that none of these things are harmful to myself or others if they are harnessed consensually, respectfully and intentionally. I know now that I cannot judge myself harshly for whatever I find within me, it is all an essential part of my transformation and growth.
I am on a never-ending mission to unravel the sexual limitations, fears and judgements that were weaved into me from the day I entered the world. I question things, I safely experiment with a partner who gives me space to be who I need to be and respects the boundaries I have in place. I’ve made peace with the fact that the adults around me were also failed in their childhood, which means they were only raising me how they knew best. I am putting an end to the internal violence that I once knew as the norm.
I urge anyone trying to reconnect with their sexuality to go deep. Self-help literature, articles and talks can only do so much – own your story and rewrite that shit! It’s uncomfortable, it can be draining, it will shake up what you think you know – but it will most definitely aid to your healing. All those things you’ve been made to believe are bad and you shouldn’t like (abuse and harming others aside) – ask yourself if that is your belief or if you are carrying other people’s stuff.
If you want to have a chat with me about shadow work in general or sexual shadows specifically – feel free to contact me on our Instagram page, or send me an email at email@example.com.