It is a thing of beauty to sit naked with another human being, to be loving and intimate with each other, and not have sex as the goal. Or so I imagine it to be…
A friend had invited me to a clothing-optional drumming event where the women could dance while the men drummed. The promise by the male facilitator (who was conducting the event with his wife) was that the men chosen to participate were trusted with the ability to be around women who wanted to freely express themselves in dance as sensually as they desired without the men becoming sexual. The goal was to honor the women and facilitate a space of expression and healing of both genders, together.
This promise touched me greatly as it spoke to my deep desire to be considered as simply a woman, a human, and to be able to have intimate moments with people without the pressures of sex. The promise also made me realize I still carry deep, unresolved feelings from past sexual traumas. Even now, a couple of weeks since the invitation, it is difficult to not cry as I type these words and search myself for understanding, self-love, and compassion.
Coincidentally, it was only a month ago when I expressed this very desire to one of my partners. I was having a deeply emotional time and I had asked him to hold me, kiss me, and touch me without our moment turning into sex. He was rather confused by my request and wasn’t sure how to proceed without getting aroused. I explained what I desired and needed at the moment was to feel loved, safe, accepted, and taken care of. I also wanted to experience an extremely vulnerable and intimate moment without the interference of sexual intercourse.
He didn’t quite understand and I couldn’t blame him of-course; most people are not shown how sex is sometimes not the desired result of intimacy, and how being vulnerable with a person has the ability to be as fulfilling as sexual intercourse. More important though was how I didn’t quite understand where I was coming from either. Not until now.
The first sexual events in much of my relationships were tests in my mind. No matter how much I desired my partners or what kind of relationship we had, I always ended up thinking, “If he truly loves and values me, he will not have sex with me yet.” Even if I did ask to wait, I would still have this thought when we finally agreed to have sex.
There are two main reasons for my dysfunctional thinking. The first is how we are told in our society that sex is something between two married people, a man and a woman; any sex not meeting these criteria is considered a sin, an act absent of real love and personal value. Having a somewhat religious upbringing, this weighed heavily in my subconscious. But the second and bigger reason for my messed-up “logic” is due to past sexual and psychological traumas; events which left me with guilt and shame, and deep desires for love and acceptance I had not received as a child or much of my adult life.
I grew up in a destructive household with very twisted definitions of love. Personal value was not a common theme, and sex and sexuality were turned into such terrible, ugly topics. I left home at age fifteen after a violent fight with my parents which gave me my first suicidal thoughts. I won’t go into details in this write-up, but I eventually found myself in a closeted, coerced, and on-going sexual relationship with my “friend” who I had confided in about my home life. When our relationship turned sexual, it was done under the guise of “love.”
Fast-forward to today and I can see why the promise from the event facilitator was so profound to me. Here was a complete stranger who seemed to know something about an unspoken and unmet need I had; who invited me to be a part of a healing process which had potential to give me answers and resolution to trauma I apparently still carry. I was touched and shaken at the same time.
So what did I do with the invitation? For now, I am going to leave that writing for another day. Not because I want to be coy, but simply because I don’t have the words yet for my actions, thoughts and emotions.
Be well, friends. Be kind to and love each other; especially yourselves.
P.S. – My photo I chose depicts the emotions in my writing of this situation. Things are dark and unclear, but I do realize there is purpose, hope, and light in the journey. I just have to continue stepping forward.