We deserve to be celebrated

Good morning good morning. This morning I was up early, at quarter to five, and managed to actually pull my body from the bed in order to write. Yesterday, too. Maybe I am entering a new (old) creative circadian rhythm. Time will tell.

This morning I am feeling deep and quiet with a kind of appreciation that maybe I should better call reverence.  I want us to celebrate anyone who is doing any work to connect to the real and authentic heart of their sex, their desire, their erotic self. We as a culture do not encourage this kind of work, and we don’t make space for it. We want sex to be business or irony or easy; we don’t have a lot of room for real sex.

If you know anyone doing this sort of work for themselves — for example, reconnecting to a traumatized sexuality, taking steps to manifest a long hidden or silenced desire, or trying something that they’ve always wanted to try but have been deeply afraid of, saying what they really want, knowing what they really want, saying yes as well as no, reembodying during sex, allowing themselves to have a body during sex — I want you to celebrate them. If you are doing this work, I want you to celebrate yourself. This labor is deeply powerful — it transforms our relationship to our whole lives, not just to our sex lives — and it is so often unwitnessed and unreverenced.

There are so many reasons not to do this work, so many very good reasons to walk away from sex forever. But we don’t, many of us. We don’t. We want to know what all the fuss is about. We want our bodies to know this joy. We take classes and we read books; we try to learn the languages that the untraumatized around us seem to speak with ease — with ease, can you imagine?

We talk to therapists, we sign up for groups, we risk saying aloud what it is that we want. It seems so simple and small to write it here, and I keep pausing as I type, wanting something more profound to say. But this is it: I’m grateful to you. I honor the work you are doing. I recognize the struggle, and I want to celebrate with you your successes. Where do we get to be witnessed in the work of our body’s unlearning trauma and reengaging the language of yes and hope? Where do we get to be met on this path? So many of us have our eyes cast downward, we are not supposed to be seen: this is shameful work. Sex is shameful stuff. We all know that. We know that we’re supposed to be able to do all this sex stuff naturally, that the normal and healthy people can do it naturally, that if we were normal and healthy and untraumatized, we would only have ease and delight in our sex. Isn’t this what we know?

Of course it isn’t true — one doesn’t have to be a survivor of sexual violence or molestation to grow up with confusing and damaging ideas about sex in this culture. But we who did have to walk through the land of erotic loss, those of us who did have to unlatch our skins from our psyches in order to survive into adulthood, we assume we are alone on the path that leads us back into the delight of the body. We certainly don’t see anyone else walking with us. All of us keep our eyes cast down and our mouths shut when we are in public– and often when we are in private, too. We know about shame, and we certainly don’t want anyone else to be embarrassed or uncomfortable. We don’t want other people to know that we don’t have all the answers already, we don’t want people to know that we are broken.

But how long does it take for us to realize that many, many people feel broken; that many, many people feel lost and confused around sex; that many, many people want more from their erotic life but are too afraid or ashamed or embarrassed to reach for change?

The fact that you are doing so is cause for celebration. The fact that you are making room for your grief and loss, as well as for new ideas and possibility, deserves recognition. The fact that you want to be all the way in your skin — with or without another person nearby — is a holy thing. It’s magnificent. It’s beautiful and life-affirming, not to put too fine a fucking point on it, and I am grateful for you today. We have every reason in the world not to want anything to do with sex. We have every reason to put sex down and never pick it up again. But you decided to pick it up again. You decided to put it back in your mouth and against your cheek. You decided to take the risk of imagining, dreaming, fantasizing. You put to your lips the words for what you want. You allowed yourself even to want. You know what an extraordinary thing that is. I know, too. Today I want to celebrate you. I want to celebrate every person I’ve written with or spoken to who has undertaken the private, gorgeous labor of untangling their erotic from their trauma, of untangling their bodies from the mouth of history. You deserve a cheering crowd. You deserve confetti and a marching band. You deserve witness and withness. You help make the body of this world more inhabitable. Thank you. Keep going, ok? Please don’t stop.

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