Can We Talk About Sex? Part 2

“There is nothing ignoble, or unholy, about having sex. You have to get that idea out of your mind, and out of your culture”

– Neale Donald Walsch

 

In part 1 of this discussion “Can We Talk About Sex?” I speak to the introduction of sex into a girl’s life, well…. My life… but I know it is very similar to that of other women. The piece that is so extremely important is, what we – as women learn about ourselves and about expectations in regards to our own sexual interests and behavior.

Sex is one of the parameters that we use to label ourselves. Often those labels break down to simply good or bad. We tend to associate any sexual activity outside those that we personally are comfortable with as ‘bad’.  The following are thoughts that I have had and/or feelings expressed by friends or from clients through the years:

I like sex.

I like bondage.

I want sex every day.

I prefer to masturbate.

I hate sex.

I could live without sex.

I have had group sex.

I enjoy sex ‘toys’.

I like to be watched.

I am a swinger.

I am voyeuristic.

I am sadistic.

I like anal sex.

I have had dozens of sexual partners.

I’ve only ever had one partner.

I fantasize about women.

I fantasize about men who are not my partner.

Ok. There you have it – items from the entire spectrum of sexuality. Do any of them sound familiar? Have you found yourself judging yourself or someone else because they expressed one of these opinions?

In The Complete Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Neale Donald Walsch writes:

“Sexual expression is the inevitable result of an eternal process of attraction and rhythmic energy flow which fuels all of life.”

Who determines the definition of ‘sexual expression’? Many of us feel that it is church, family, culture, etc. that cements the confines of that phrase into our understanding of acceptance. When we allow someone else to dictate what is good for us, we open the door for feeling rejection, disappointment, etc.

YOU are the only one that needs to define what works for you sexually!! It is YOUR body – if you like it, great. If you don’t – fine. YOU determine your sexual parameters and they are NORMAL if they fit inside YOUR comfort spectrum. What fits inside my range may or may not be the same for you. That will never make it wrong – it makes us different!

I completely buy into the common belief that sex better when it is the culmination of love between two people. A ‘spiritual’ experience shared with a person with whom you feel emotionally close. Truly – sharing yourself with someone in that intimate manner is a wonderful, beautiful thing.  And… it’s true. Eventually we all realize that good sex with someone you love is magical!!

Sex is can ALSO a physical experience that may have nothing to do with love.

I am saddened that so much of our culture places emphasis on sex without love as a ‘bad’ thing. We propagate the notion that people who experience, and God forbid – enjoy – sex outside of love / marriage have somehow violated our standard of honor. When what we hope for people we care about is that they enjoy the ‘magical’ experience I mentioned above – what we are teaching is a value statement about them as a person if they don’t adhere to our more knowledgeable perspective.  Each one of us needs to determine what is right for us as individuals and I encourage everyone to foster a spectrum of support and an absence of judgment in order to create a healthy environment in which to experience our sexuality.

The only truly important part of this discussion is what YOU as an individual – determine what feels respectful and authentic. Yes – the word respectful is necessary here. You need to respect yourself sexually. Far too often I am sitting with a client talking about shame and sexuality. I remember having so many of those feelings.

Too many of us are taught that sex is ONLY about love and if/when we experience sex without love, we assign a judgment. We judge ourselves, we internalize, we assume others judge us (sometimes not an assumption).  Because of the sex/love correlation, some of us think that if someone wants sex with us, they must love us – WRONG.  Others think that if we love someone, sex with them should be great – WRONG.

I have seen plenty of couples through the years that are incompatible sexually and struggle because they really love one another. Generally, it’s because one of them remains sexually frustrated – the physical parts are not being fulfilled. Likewise, there are couples who are suited perfectly from a physical perspective but fail to experience respect, trust, and commitment. In a perfect world of course, there is a beautiful combination of both.

When it is all said and done, the most important element is the ability for an individual to experience a relationship that exhibits RESPECT in regards to sex and sexuality. If your partner wants to experience sex in a way that is uncomfortable or unpleasant to you, he/she may not be the right partner.

There are few things worse than attempting to fit a size 14 body into a tiny g-string and a push up bra that your partner saw on a Victoria’s Secret model in the fall catalog. Really…. It’s NOT going to look like that on me!!! I will feel stupid and fat wearing it. It won’t matter if you tell me I am beautiful! I will be judging the fact that I don’t look like that 21-year-old model – no matter what you say. Sorry guys. It is the exception to the rule that a woman feels pretty and sexy in that kind of lingerie if she is not young and skinny. We generally want the light to be out and feel like we’ve been successful if we don’t cringe while you run your hand up the side of our baby fat roll. (The fat roll we got when we created and birthed those babies.)

Rocky used to tell me that touching that part of me reminded him of the love he had for what we had created together. After he died, I was petrified that another man would never be able to experience that fat roll in the same way. Oh brother – the things we think about!!

I’m sure that I will integrate more sexual commentary as posts go forward but it was necessary – again – to set the stage for my perspective here. The way that we each identify and define ourselves as sexual beings is uber important in the decisions we make as adults. As you will see…

I appreciate comments below…. if you are so inclined.

Catholic Guilt

It’s necessary for me to take a post and go back a bit. One of the fundamental pieces of me that I’ve yet to write about is faith. What I currently believe and practice is the consequence of a tremendous evolution through the years and integral in the way that I have viewed myself, the world, and the challenges that have presented in my life.

Like the post I wrote about my dad, it is impossible to truly know or understand me unless you have perspective about my faith. I’ll begin to draw the picture here and then attempt to integrate it more into the ongoing discussion.

I was baptized Catholic at the age of 5 or 6. My mother converted and I’m not quite in focus about the details but I know that my Grandmother’s great friend was the mother of a priest who rose through the ranks of the Scranton (PA) diocese and was present at all of the important events of my religious life growing up. I always felt special because he was there, even as a young Bishop.

Growing up Catholic – as any Catholic knows – generates guilt. It begins – I think – with confession at the age of 7. In order to receive your first communion, you must attend confession where you ‘confess’ your sin of the week. Now come on … We were taught about sins… sins were ‘bad’ things. It implies that every week you are bad – in some way. (No wonder we are all screwed up). Keep in mind – this is what I HEARD which, may be a bit different that what was said yet I am not the only Catholic child that received this message – I assure you. So – I grew up believing that I was innately bad. F*** original sin.

I was a fair weather Catholic. We went to church when it was convenient and then my parent’s   divorce really made it complicated because it made everything ‘bad’. My mom stopped going to church or practicing faith in any way for the rest of her life. My dad was more deeply connected to his Catholic roots and found a progressive church – some really progressive  Christian brothers – and received an annulment (even with three living children) so that he could marry my stepmom – an extremely devout Catholic. By the time I was 16 – I had lost faith in Catholicism and was embarrassed by the guilt / shame that it seemingly propagated.

However, I was still deeply entrenched in the mentality that in order to be loved and accepted by people who mattered to me, I had to be a ‘good’ Catholic girl. Basically this meant that I taught Sunday school, grabbed a bulletin so that I knew what the Homily was about and then sat at Denny’s and drand coffee until church was over – then told my parent’s that that I had gone to Mass. So, this “good Catholic girl” was lying about going to church and racking up the guilt/shame cards by the decks!!

I was caught by the way… one of Dad’s clients noticed me by a picture that my “proud Dad” had shared and the client was like “oh yea, she’s a beautiful girl…. I see her at Denny’s on Sunday mornings all the time!” … Busted! Liars always get caught.

At 19 I was a part of something called SAGE – a movement of self discovery and awareness, very “New Age” kind of stuff that was before the whole New Age movement. I can’t guarantee my memory is completely accurate here but the essence of the experience is key. It was about SELF AWARENESS and AUTHENTICITY.  About letting go of pains and wounds, forgiving others, and cultivating LOVE in daily life. I fell in love with the presentation of those principles in harmony. I wasn’t yet aware of my own abandonment wounds to truly reach any deep issues but it was really impressive for some of the older adults who shared. I felt honored to be a part of their experience. I became really close with some of the people who shared the SAGE experience – an entire family of loving individuals who were more of an impact on my life than they probably ever knew.

I also believe strongly in things that are considered paranormal; spirits, out-of-body experiences, etc. In my BR (before Rocky) life, a friend and I were sitting up late one night – cold stone sober – talking about possibilities and spiritual potentialities. Suddenly, there was a disturbance in the room environment and we both noticed a circulation that grew from barely noticeable to almost person size. I stared in disbelief and realized that I was NOT ready to experience anything significantly different than what I currently understand. I looked away and it went away. Really – it was the late 70’s but we were clear minded – completely.

Rocky and I were married in the Catholic Church. On the ‘wife’s application’ there was a question I had to answer and certify that I would “submit myself to my husband” – there was nothing on the husband’s application in like. I’m not sure it is like that today – in 2016 – but keep in mind I am accumulating attitudes about spirituality that I am using in consideration for how I ultimately construct my faith. The Catholic Church is beginning to wear on my tolerance.

In its defense, Rock and I went to a couple’s seminar at our home parish on sex and marriage. It was now 1982ish and as is perceivably customary of the West Coast, progressive ideology was presented. We were taught that what happened in the bedroom between a husband and wife that was consensual and experienced in love was acceptable by the church.  Oh. Thank. God. I was immediately relieved for all those times that the missionary position just didn’t cut it. Thank you Church – for approving of my sexuality.

This is the foundation that the rest of my spiritual development is based upon. Some might argue that it is flawed but ultimately, it was strong.