Before you freak out by that headline hear me out. When it comes to our relationship with our sexual selves, we start to form ideas around that in childhood. It starts with how we’re taught about our bodies (i.e., correct body part names) and what sovereignty we’re told we have over our bodies. As in, did we get told we get to say no to hugs or giving kisses, did we get told it was normal to explore our bodies, or did we get shunned if we were caught being a normal kid and checking things out? Were you given private time to explore as you grew up and told it was something you got to do in your bedroom or the bathroom?
Before I dive in further take some time to breathe and relax if this is already bringing up some things for you.
As you aged were you comprehensively taught about sex or not? Were you taught about what was going on with your body throughout puberty? That sexual desire was normal or something sinful? Were you taught to get to know your genitals not just from the standpoint of making sure nothing was medically wrong but also to have an appreciation for them, even love for them? Were you taught that genitals, just like the rest of your body can vary in color, shape, and size and things like labia come in all kinds of different shapes and just like breasts can be beautifully uneven? Were you taught that as you went through puberty, into your teens it was normal to feel sexual attraction? Were you taught that you should know how to pleasure your body for yourself, and that sex got to be something you chose to do with whom you felt was worthy, or were you taught to wait till marriage because sex is bad, dirty, and nothing to talk about and if you do it, you’ll go to hell, get pregnant or get an STD? Were you taught that sex is more than penetration and there are all kinds of beautiful ways to, have it?
There’s a lot to unpack there, right?
Again, if that brought up a lot of feelings for you take some time to resource yourself, breathe and unpack as you need to. When I work with clients on this, we usually do a lot of resourcing work before taking the time to answer these questions.
Most of us aren’t lucky enough to get a really healthy view of sex and our bodies growing up. Many of us weren’t taught that our unique bodies were beautiful in whatever sizes, spaces, colors, and expressions they came in. Even with my education on sex, I can tell you that I did not 100% teach Angel everything I could from an empowered perspective. It was pretty damn close, but could I have done better? Yep, and that’s ok, we can discuss anything now, and being a queer vulva owner, they’ve got incredible resources to talk all things queer sex if they don’t wanna talk to me. I’m good with that, I’m also good with the fact they tell people I’m like Gillian Anderson on Sex Education and their friends ask me questions they can’t ask their parents all the time. Questions like: is it normal to need lube even at 21 (the answer is an emphatic YES and also note that silicon-based lubes vs water-based can be good for different types of sex and/or condoms/toys)?
We don’t all get the most affirming and positive education on sex and some of us get a downright damaging one. Many of my clients have religious trauma from the things they were told about sex and bodies growing up. So given as adults, we’re influenced by our formative years. Until we unpack and create a new relationship with sex and our bodies, we’ve got an inner child responsible for how we feel about sex and our bodies on some level now.
Here are a few things I see show up:
· Feeling numbness or no sexual desire due to being told touching your body was bad
· Struggles with feeling desire due to lack of orgasm because no one explained it was normal and healthy to masturbate and later even explained how that works (if I had a Nickle for every time, I’ve been asked to give detailed instructions on how to self-pleasure)
· Feeling uncomfortable touching your genitals or going further like internal exploration
· Feeling discomfort in expressing sexual desires with a partner because on some level that feels wrong
· Feeling uncomfortable discussing sexual boundaries with a partner or when you don’t like or want to do something because you were taught sex was an external experience (i.e., for your partner’s enjoyment) and your people pleasing
· Developing unhealthy attachments after sex because you were taught sex only happened when in love and married, watched too many Disney movies without context so you think sex equals connection and commitment (it can but also it can’t, and the discernment is the issue)
· Feeling wrong or lost because you were taught only a heteronormative idea of sex so you’re either left out as a queer person or dissatisfied as a straight one (that whole idea that vulva owners should be able to climax through penetration when only about 20% can)
· Feeling like your body parts of your body aren’t normal and being self-conscious about them or judgmental over them
I could go on, but you get the point and by now are probably questioning some of what you are experiencing now that you’d like to change.
Which brings me to the next part of this…how do we get the inner child out of the driver’s seat and put you in control of your sex life and relationship to your body?
1. Unpack what you need to unpack and take your time doing that. If there’s a lot to unpack, I highly recommend getting support because you also may need help keeping yourself regulated through that process. This is what I’m here for!
2. Reparent that inner child by first giving it a lot of love and compassion. That may be through visualization, meditation, IFS (my specialty), writing letters, or anything else that speaks to you. After that, it’s time to give that inner child a new job that doesn’t have anything to do with your sex life. Ask it what it’d like to do instead, which will most likely remind you to play.
3. Figure out what you want your relationship with sex and your body to be. Paint a picture of it (I do a really powerful meditation of this within Pleasure Queens and my 1:1 work). Figure out what your sexual archetype is and put that version of you in charge of your sexual exploration and expansion. A sexual archetype is a version of you that you can tap into like the Tease, the Siren, the Domme, etc.
4. This brings me here, start exploring your body solo, if you already do that see what else you’d like to explore and play with that solo until you’re ready to incorporate a partner. Giving yourself the freedom to explore solo takes the pressure off performing and helps you understand what you really like so you can impart that knowledge to them later
Now the witch in me would also like to add a couple of things to aid in this journey:
Since part of this work is to release the inner child from controlling sex and allowing you to explore and expand in your sexual sovereignty is a physical exploration, I have to leave you with this:
Create a ritual space around self-exploration and add in a homemade pussy/genital oil for that work. You can use it all over your body and I do it for things like breast massage which can be used for pleasure or heart-opening work. I also do mirror work by lovingly rubbing oil into my skin as I say kind words and feel love for each part of my body.
For the oil you’ll need:
· A clean jar that can be sealed tight
· A base oil that’s skin-friendly like almond, jojoba, or coconut (do not use coconut if you’re intending to use this with condoms)
· Dried herbs (do not use fresh as they’ll go rancid in the oil over time) such as roses, lavender, calendula, and cornflower which are associated with love, fertility, or birthing new ideas/things into the world and healing (make sure you aren’t allergic to anything)
· A funnel
Fill your jar with the dried herbs you’ve chosen about ½ to 2/3 of the way up the jar then pour in your oil to cover. Let it all sit in a dark cool space for up to 4–6 weeks to infuse before using or use right away if you’d like. Make sure you don’t let any of the dried herbs go inside your body so either strain the oil after infusing or just be careful not to pour any out when you use it.
Once you’ve set up a space for yourself by taking time to ground, do some deep breathing to relax, light candles, surround yourself with fabrics and things that look and feel good, and even cast an energetic circle to set the intention that this is a safe, supportive and loving space to explore and expand grab your oil and start playing.