I am lying on a massage table, after 90 minutes of professional “diddling” in the form of a sexological bodywork session. And I’m upset.
A group of us are at a week-long women’s retreat in New Orleans, receiving daily erotic massage in service of helping us learn more about our sexuality. My practitioner notices something is wrong, and asks “What are you thinking?”
My initial inclination was to apologize. Apologize for being quiet and introspective. Apologize for being frustrated with him. Apologize for being upset with myself. Apologize for not letting go into the experience.
But I had come to this retreat to explore “being myself and uncharted aspects of myself” and it dawned on me that apologizing for the way I was feeling was probably violating the “being myself” bit. So, I decided to do the difficult thing and answer truthfully.
With my eyes closed, I said “I am frustrated that you said ‘Don’t go into your head’ when I was actually in my body. I am upset that my reaction was to go into my head. And I am wondering why when someone gives me a command instead of an invitation, I want to fight instead of submit.”
Scared to see his reaction, but wanting to push my own personal boundaries, I decided to open my eyes.
I feared my unapologetic self would trigger similar feelings of frustration in him. Instead, he was smiling. It probably would have been easy for him to apologize too… to say he was sorry he got it wrong, or that he was sorry I felt that way. But he didn’t. He simply nodded and said “Thank you for sharing.” It was the perfect response. We both accepted each other’s non-apologies, hugged, and closed the session.
Later that day, as I was relaxing outside, the woman who leads these retreats came up to me. “I was having my daily sync with the team, and they were asking what you are here to work on, and to be honest, I’m still not really clear.”
I chuckled and responded “You are right. Saying that I’m here ‘to be myself and explore new aspects of myself’ probably isn’t that clear. Let me see if I can find some other words. I guess I’m here because I feel like I’ve been apologizing a lot for the way that I am, to myself and to my partners. And it feels like that is a roadblock for going deeper into sexual experiences, leaving a lot of my sexuality uncharted.”
Thinking about it further, I shared “I really want to stop being so self-judgmental, and feel more open to whatever experience I’m having. For instance, when I’m close to orgasm, I find my body gets really tense. Instead of just enjoying how that feels, I judge myself for being tense. I’d like to stop judging myself, so I can really lean into the sensation of being tense and enjoy it more. The second, maybe contradictory thing is that I’d like to give myself some space to play around with relaxation when I’m close to orgasm… not because I ‘should’, but more as an experiment to see what might happen if I did.”
She smiled at me and said “I get it now. Thank you for sharing.”
It was the second time that day that I had been thanked for sharing what was going on inside me. Unlike the small and sad way I felt when I apologized, I felt expansive and full of hope. This whole being unapologetic thing was really working for me.
The next day, when my practitioner started the session by asking what was going on in my head, I smiled a teasing smile and shook my head “No” and put my fingers to my lips. He smiled, getting the clue that I wanted this session to be about feeling, not about talking. I let my body relax into the moment, and sure enough, my pussy, in her own time and way, without apology or limitation, responded by opening up (and sometimes tensing up) like a previously unseen technicolor flower version of herself.
Thanks to an unhealthy cocktail of culture, religion and personal experiences, I spent decades believing sex was for someone else’s pleasure. So it’s fascinating to find that even after all the work I’ve done to reclaim sex as something that can be equally focused on my pleasure, that I still have an inclination to apologize for the way my sexuality works.
In my final session of the week, my practitioner offered to give me a bath at the end of our session. As I lay in the warm water, all of the parts of my body received adoration in the form of flowers… and I found myself grateful for such a perfect conclusion to a week of unapologetic sexuality.
New to this blog and want to start at the beginning? Check out this post about why I started a blog about sex.
This blog reflects real-life experiences. I'd love to hear about your experiences, so let’s continue the conversation in the comments section below.
You can also check out these resources or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in classes or coaching to explore your own sexuality. I am a sex and relationship coach and if I can't personally help you, I'd be very happy to connect you with other wonderful sex educators, coaches and therapists.
© Pam Costa, 2018