Dissecting Social Norms
Updated: May 19
As you all are aware, social distancing has caused quite a change in how we are able to experience each other. My previous post shared about how I am trying to get a bit more creative with how I connect with you all, as I certainly want to do my part in not contributing to the spread of any illness. I also shared about how I feel that it is especially important to stay connected during this time, as the social isolation actually only contributes more to weakening our immune system by adding to stress and anxiety – even sadness, depression, and despair for some – making us more susceptible to illness. I recently started offering sessions via phone, which some of you are starting to take me up on. Yay! Thank you for that. I have had some extraordinarily rich and inspiring conversations thus far. So very lovely! I also explained in my last post that these sessions are not of a sensual or sexual nature – if you all are seeking that type of interaction, there are plenty of others out there that are wonderfully skilled at offering this service. I’m actually rather shy when it comes sexy talk (as shared in another previous blog post), though I would LOVE to get over that, as I think sexy talk can be, well – pretty damn sexy!!!
So – my new phone sessions are geared more towards social companionship and conversation – and I am especially interested in perhaps a more therapeutic type of discussion.
Many of you know how passionate I am about supporting a more healthy view and belief system regarding our sensual and sexual expression.
I have seen time and time again (and have experienced plenty myself!) how growing up in our Christian, shame-based society has deeply affected our sexual expression and sensual interactions with others. Even if we didn’t ourselves grow up in a Christian household, being that it is the dominant religion and pretty much permeates every aspect of our society in one way or another, I don’t believe that any of us successfully escaped its influences – especially in regards to sexual expression.
I have spent years dissecting, working through, and dismantling the belief system I inherited that has told me the way I naturally desire to express myself sensually – is wrong, is bad, is sinful, is inappropriate, is slutty, is shameful, is immoral, is evil, is…, is…, is…. According to our Christian society – we are not supposed to have sexual thoughts at a young age, we are supposed to wait to have sex until we are married, only have sex with the person we are married to, ideally only have sex in the missionary position, and never desire anybody or anything else…until death do us part.
If we go against these norms, we are made to feel shame, guilt, inferior, sinful, lustful, wrong, unlovable, undeserving, shunned, manipulative, weak, aggressive, perverted, kinky, and the list goes on – and oh yeah – how could I forget that whole “going to Hell” issue.
Well, since as long as I can remember, I’ve been curious about experiencing intimacy with another person. I have craved and desired sensual connection with another. I was initially going to say “with the opposite sex,” but that is actually not true, as some of my earliest sensual interactions were with another female, at the age of maybe 12 (?), who was technically my cousin (by marriage). So – many no-no’s going on here and I definitely knew I was doing something “wrong” despite the fact that it just felt so good and fun and free and exciting. And I know this is a common experience for many of us – and all of these “no-no’s” lead to us feeling shame and confusion about what we are experiencing – and then we embody that shame, in one way or another, and then our sensual expression tends to come out all sideways – or, perhaps worse, not at all.
I see this shame and confusion time and time again with many of you. Of course I see it with women so much too. Hell, I see it everywhere.
Once I start digging a little deeper, it doesn’t take long to start unearthing the shame-based mentality and the convoluted belief system laying at the foundation of our sexual issues and interactions.
And this is precisely what happened after a recent phone session I had with one of you and it has inspired this post.
Our conversation started with the usual getting-to-know-you topics – where are you from? What do you do to pass the time? How are you dealing with this lock-down? Where do you go hiking? After we were both sufficiently comfortable with each other, the conversation started turning a little more personal and I learned a bit more about why this gentleman was contacting me, which is pretty much the same reason many of you contact me – a lack of physical intimacy in your marriage (for those of you that are married of course). This gentleman I was speaking with shared that he has been married many years and has a lovely family and loves his wife very much. Everything about their relationship is great, aside from the fact that, since menopause, his wife is just no longer interested in physical intimacy. And though she is no longer interested in pursuing this aspect of their union, he is still quite interested in engaging with her and expressing his sexual energy. He longs to be touched and to be affectionate. And he realizes how deeply affected his mood and mental state are when he is not receiving or giving affection and touch. He went on to say that he met with a sex therapist at one point who told him he had three options: get okay with the lack of intimacy with his wife; end the marriage; or pursue other options.
Since he wasn’t okay with letting go of the part of himself that desired physical connection and intimacy and he had absolutely no desire to leave the wife that he loved and had built a beautiful life with, he started pursuing other options – which is how he came to be in contact with me – a professional in the field of physical intimacy.
So okay – at this point there are a thousand different directions I could take this post, as it brings up so many rich topics and issues to dive into – and I trust that I will indeed dive into many of those topics and issues during later posts, as this is very much why I am here writing these blog posts.
I want more than anything to dive into each and every one of these topics, some of which come to mind are:
Following your truth, compromise, guilt, shame (yes, that again!), expectations, connection, affection, the very real human need for intimacy and touch, morals, infidelity, menopause, sexual desire, being a professional, marriage, divorce, love, sex therapy, marriage counseling, communication, dishonesty, and I could go on and on and on.
What I am going to do, however, and the reason I sat down to share about this experience, is that I wanted to share the awareness I had after my conversation with this gentleman. I want to share MY truth and MY process and what is in MY heart – the foundational issue that I am trying to get to the heart of – in my writing, in my work, in my life, and in my message.
I trust that we all have a part to play here on this planet and in this lifetime, a voice to be used, a message to be shared – something that resonates so deeply and makes our soul sing. Something unique to us, to our specific vibration, to our soul mission. I appreciate that other people have different ideas of what we are doing here and what our purpose in this lifetime is (or isn’t), but this is what I know to be true for me –and I know when I am in alignment with my purpose and with my gifts. My energy changes and I just feel right. Diving into these issues, exploring them, picking them apart, and sharing my insight is one of those things for me – it is what makes me feel right. And why I am called to share here with you all.
After finishing the conversation with this lovely gentleman, which I have to admit made me sad on quite a few levels, my mind immediately went to: How could both participants in the marriage be supported? Which turned into: how could we bring intimacy back into the relationship? Which quickly turned into: well, what if the wife just isn’t into intimacy anymore? Why should she be made to be? Which led to: why shouldn’t he be able to get his needs met elsewhere? Which got me thinking about how much that is not supported in our society or in the majority of marriages. Which turned to: why not? Why shouldn’t it be completely acceptable to enjoy sensual pleasure with a person other than your spouse? I very quickly realized that one main reason is that it feels like a threat of loss. If one’s spouse is enjoying pleasure with somebody outside the marriage, the concern is that the person will leave to be with that new person. The fear is a loss of love.
Sensual intimacy or simply sexual pleasure is equated with love – which is true for so many of us. We are made to believe and have embodied the ideas that we need to be in love with the person we are having sex with (and if we don’t, we are being bad or sinful) or that if our spouse or partner has sex with somebody else, they are going to love us less.
Again, I return to our Christian values that we were raised with that equate sexual pleasure with love and marriage – to have sexual pleasure without these two things is immoral, sinful, evil, perverted. But let us return back to the previous conundrum – sexual relations with somebody other than our spouse. This gentleman explained to me that he himself had no moral issues with sexual relations outside the marriage, but he knew he could not have this conversation with his wife and that she would not be supportive. Now I could easily get into the “you never know unless you try” thing, but some things we just know about our spouse and this was clearly one of those things in this situation, so I did not need to go there with him. But it really got me perplexed when I continued on with my string of thought and contemplation – why is it an issue if this man seeks sexual pleasure elsewhere if his wife is not interested in it any longer? Why is it so threatening to have these conversations and to consider this option? In the end, it felt like a threat of loss, as stated above – a threat of the potential loss of love and what we are told that love is in this monogamy-centric society.
And then I felt inspired, not to try to figure out a way to fix the intimacy issue between this husband and wife, but to support people (both men and women) to get in touch with the love that lives within – the love that is absolutely not dependent on another or any happenings outside the self.
The foundational issue here is not about the libido or differing levels of desire for sexual intimacy that exist between men and women – and how to bridge some perceived gap or erase the gap (which we all know damn well isn’t going to happen with any amount of couples therapy or sex education – we are two very different creatures with very different needs that are constantly in flux due to an unfathomable number of variables) – the foundational issue, when I got right down to it, is the lack of love that we feel for ourselves and the fact that it tends to depend so much on our relationship to the other.
Part of why I have created this blog is to explore more deeply these issues of embracing self – and for me that means loving ourselves, deeply, truly, sincerely, without need for approval – from others, from society, from the powers that be, from old outdated belief systems.
We need to stand strong in our power and that has to start with coming back to our hearts – our own individual unique hearts. Our truth. We have compromised ourselves for way to long with these outdated concepts of love and connection. Tell me - how does that speak to you and what do you know to be true for yourself - when you dig deep down under all the social conditioning - and are you living your truth?
I hope to support precisely this process with my little blog here as it starts developing.
I fully appreciate how complex all of this is (and the fact that we can actually have many truths we are trying to live all at once and attempting to bring into alignment) and I could easily pick any one of the sentences above to explore and turn into its own separate post (which I definitely hope to do here!), as there are many nuances and subtleties that lie with in – and plenty of not-so-subtle elements that lie within – and without. As mentioned previously, I just wanted to share the train of thought and what got sparked for me as a result of that phone conversation. I am also working hard to stay true to my own heart and simply share my process, without worrying too excessively about how it is being received. Of course I want it all to be well-received, but there are many views and beliefs and ideas out there that work for each of us and this is just one – just mine. I own it, I work with it, I watch it morph and evolve all the time. I appreciate you holding space for it and witnessing it and for being part of my journey here.
Wishing you all the best on your journey and please do feel free to share any thoughts or comments you might have if you feel so called to do so. Stay tuned for more thoughts on all that was discussed here. So rich, so deep.