How To Unpack Your Sexual Shame & Turn It Into Your Greatest Teacher
Once I was riding in a car back from Joshua Tree with a few progressive people whom I love. It was a long car ride, and the conversation turned to sex. A friend mentioned that the man she was dating loved blow jobs. Then I said something about having a mind-blowing orgasm when a yogi filmmaker and I were engaging in conscious kink, playing with pain, and that I was in an altered state of bliss for three days after. The car went quiet.
What did I say? Was it the trance of bliss or...the kink? It was consensual, of course, but I had crossed some sort of invisible line. I wondered: "How come blow jobs are OK to discuss, but a spanking is too hard-core for conscious folks? Couldn't conscious spanking exist? And where is safe to talk about real sex if not with people we love?"
Most of all, I felt ashamed of my "freaky" sexual tendencies, and I internalized this and stopped speaking. It was clear that discussing some of my sexual adventures, even among the most progressive circles, could be seen as "too much." Did someone in the car experience an encounter similar to mine that didn't result in arousal? It's possible. Was it the wrong space to chat about sex openly? Possibly. But if so, where is the right one?
When we talk about sex, there's a possibility shame or pain will arise.
Anytime we open the doors to talk about sex, there is a possibility that shame or pain will arise, as we are dealing with a vault of human experience that has been repressed for millenniums, resulting in mass pain and trauma. But does that mean we keep hiding it away? No.
In order to heal, we must actually start talking about it—the good, the bad, and the ugly—in safe places and with people we trust. Coaches. Healers. In sacred circles. With love and understanding and intentionality and no judgment.
Sexual shame can prevent us from living a healthy sex life, first and foremost, which is one reason to face it. But we often bring it to other areas of life, too! Our repressed sexual shame can show up in friendships, as jabs at friends who may trigger something in us. It can show up as menstrual cramps, IBS, self-confidence issues. Sexual shame is often an elephant in the room in today's world.
Here again, as with every part of the transformational process, change begins with awareness.
Becoming aware of sexual shame.
To be able to hold space for awareness around sexual shame, you must first create a safe space internally. Acknowledging your sexual shame and coming to your own internal acceptance about anything that may have instilled this in you is the place to start. From here, we can begin to process emotions that are stored away relating to your sexuality.
Your core wounds may come up, reflected in your daily life, relationships, and thoughts. You may attract some situations that trigger your wounding and may serve as opportunities for healing. Remember, this is how you know it's working! This is not a bad thing. This is productive. It's really important to let yourself feel whatever surfaces and not be afraid. Each emotion, each trigger, and each memory that arises is important. Do what you need to do to be safe, take it at whatever pace you need, care for yourself.
If you have had many sexual experiences that were intrusive and nonconsensual or are holding on to a lot of sexual shame, this may feel like a no-go zone for you. That is OK. I trust you to trust yourself and tread with gentleness and care. I trust you also to know when to stop if something feels like it's too much for your system. When to take a pause and breathe. And when to keep going into the work. This takes a lot of awareness and discernment, skills you will cultivate over time, in your daily practice and contemplative work.
For me, dealing with multiple sexual assaults and healing through resultant pain in my system has happened in steps over the years. In circles. In writing. Journaling. Feeling. Therapy. With coaches. In ceremonies. And most of that I did on a very limited budget; somehow I called it in. It's definitely been a 360 approach, and I didn't have a road map. I went with my gut. So go with yours. Feel into what is right for you.
Keep up with your daily practice. Take impeccable care of yourself. Ask a friend for support. Take an Epsom salt bath. Other ways to move energy that feels sticky in your body: Have a deep cry, punch a pillow, find a place to have a good scream, shake your body out or dance vigorously, write like you're vomiting words in your journal, go to a steam room or sauna. Whatever you do, letting the feelings move out of your body is key.
And, again, do not be afraid of the depth and breadth of the feelings that may come up when you are doing this work. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to reclaim some of your power. Remember that before acceptance may come rage, sadness, anger, and fear, and all of this is OK.
Excerpted with permission from F*ck Like a Goddess: Heal Yourself. Reclaim Your Voice. Stand in Your Power., by Alexandra Roxo, published by Sounds True, July 2020, RRP $22.49.
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