By Kimberly Johnson
I am always trying to open up the suitcase of sex, rifling around to see what’s in there. It’s fascinating in my own life, because sex has been such rich territory of learning. It hasn’t always been easy. Like most of us, I didn’t get great sex education. I learned on the fly, bumbling around, thinking everyone else knew more than I did. Imagining that somehow everyone else got the memo. I wondered if I was doing okay, if the other person thought I was “good.” There wasn’t a lot of room for authentic self-expression because I was spending most of the time on the outside looking in—unsure about what the expectations were and unsure of what was on or off limits. I wondered if I compared well to past lovers. I was actually a bit obsessed with being the "best." (I admit I still want that!)
I had no experience or felt a sense of what loving, connected, pleasurable sex and intimacy might look or feel like—in or out of commitment. I was always wondering what “normal” boundaries and limits were. I compared myself to what my friends were doing and what they felt comfortable with. Or rather I compared myself to what my friends SAID they were doing and SAID they felt comfortable with.
Now that I work in the realm of sex, I know that what my friends were saying and what was actually happening was probably pretty different. One thing that I have learned from working in the realm of sex is that it is not “what you see is what you get.”
Someone may present themselves in life in a way that we interpret as “sexual”— tight, revealing clothing, lots of lipstick. That person may have never experienced pleasurable sex. Another woman might have greasy hair and old clothes, and not only getting a ton of action, but also fired up about her erotic life.
HOW WE SHOW OURSELVES TO THE WORLD AND HOW WE SHOW UP IN THE BEDROOM ARE NOT NECESSARILY AT ALL CONGRUENT.
I hope that news reaches you and you breathe a sigh of relief!
THIS IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW, BECAUSE COMPARISON CAN BE A MAJOR OBSTACLE TO AUTHENTICITY, AND AN AUTHENTIC LIFE IS THE ONLY TRULY SATISFYING LIFE.
When we imagine the kind or quantity of sex that everything else is probably having or everyone else wanting, we usually thwart our own full expression, whatever that might look like. We spend more time placing ourselves on the imaginary grid of quality and performance than imagining in real time what our next step of inquiry and fascination might be that is in alignment with our soul path.
To move from comparison to authenticity, I suggest the path of rewilding: coming back to your original nature, before the conditioning from our culture began. To know what we truly enjoy, how to ask for it, and how to express it, we need to know what’s possible, and we need to decondition from what magazines, society, and our friends have told us is “normal” or desirable.
The first step in rewilding is simply naming your sensations. In self-pleasure or sex, this looks like slowing way down. Let your lover know you’d like to go slower, maybe a quarter of the speed you normally do. Name your sensations out loud as you touch one another. This is a way to get out of the “outside in” approach, and back into an inside out approach. That is, you’ll be naming what’s truly going on inside of you, and bringing that into the room, instead of trying to do or feel what you think you should do or feel.
Anytime you find yourself slipping into old patterns (like tolerating a touch that doesn’t feel wonderful), take a moment, breathe, and gently ask for something different. A great way to do this is to say, “That touch doesn’t feel good to me right now. It was working for me, but now I’d like you to try ______.” Practice requesting neutrally, and request a different touch as soon as you notice you’re tolerating. Many of us have tolerated for so long, that a request for a different touch can come out like a whine or a complaint. Stay true to yourself and own your experience, while staying compassionate to your partner at the same time.
Another wonderful way to rewild is to deliberately not shower before sex. Don’t do your makeup, and go in a bit messy—a bit more human than you might normally go into it. Slowly get comfortable with your true self. Allow your lover to do the same.
Discover your Core Erotic Theme, a concept introduced by Jack Morin in his book The Erotic Mind, by analyzing a few of your favorite sexual experiences. Write down a few of the stand out erotic moments in your life. Then go back and read them and find the common elements. Were you in a long-distance relationship, and loved fantasizing about your partner before finally falling into bed again? Does nature- the full moon, or water or the forest- often play a part in those memories? Or maybe you love either fantasizing about or having sex in places where you might get caught. Once you sense a theme emerging, you can work with it to create powerful experiences that highlight your favorite elements and attend to your core erotic theme.. You can bring more and more of your authentic sexuality to your repertoire.
SEXUAL AUTHENTICITY IS A JOURNEY. SEXUALITY LIVES AND BREATHES, AND HAS THE ABILITY TO TRANSFORM AND GROW ALONG WITH US.
Bringing consciousness to your true sexual desires and your patterns allows you to change the trajectory of your sexuality, and bring it into alignment with who you are. Instead of resigning to sex as you think it should be, create sex as though it were art or a meditation—because it is. At its best, sex is a co-created moment-to-moment experience that has the ability to transform you.
Thanks to Free+Native for publishing this piece.