We are born intensely sensual and sexual creatures. My experience growing up was being taught to hide, ignore or numb out my erotic awareness, to hide arousal and desire and to “be cool” about my sexuality. At some point those teachings failed me and I refused to repress my desire any longer.
At that point I had been married for a long time and had no clue how to live into my own sensuality and eroticism. I was intensely frustrated and felt betrayed by my marriage, my lifestyle and my own self. I knew things had to change and I made some pretty radical shifts in my life. Fortunately for me I had experience and supportive community, and some amazing teachers to help me figure out where I was headed.
Through my years of studying and coaching intimacy, I’ve developed many ways of breaking complex emotions and patterns into bite-sized pieces that make them easier to chew on. Today I am thinking again about what I call “The Four Stages of Erotic Awareness.”
My journey into erotic awareness went something like this:
Stage 1 – Internal Awareness. This is where I woke up. Where I became aware that I was brimming with sexual energy and arousal. This is where I battled with my stories about how sex is bad and the feelings I have are wrong, and my desires are best hidden away. This is where I awakened my body to sensation again and re-framed my relationship to myself and my desires. This is also where I learned to breathe, to feel sensation and broaden my sensual palette (see Erotic Skillz 1 and 2).
Stage 2 – Seeing myself as an Erotic Being. I mean “seeing” literally. Looking at myself in the mirror, in pictures and in print. I started journaling and watching myself. I realized that I was beautiful and sexy and desireable…that was not easy. I watched myself and talked to myself and coached myself and touched myself…and once again fell in love with my own erotic uniqueness.
Stage 3 – Being seen as an Erotic Being. You know how children run up to you and say something like “look how amazing my … is!” Fill in the blank, you get my point. This stage is about confronting shame: body shame, sexual shame, thought shame and learning how to be seen. I struggle with this and the best way through is to let go and do it. Carol Queen has a great book “Exhibitionism for the Shy,” which is full of stuff about this.
Stage 4 – Experiencing sexual energy and touch from another. This was really difficult for me and I still struggle with receiving pleasure. Receiving asks me to put all of these pieces together. I have to be aware of my body and my own arousal, I have to let go into being an Erotic Being and be vulnerable and seen by someone in my erotic bliss. Fortunately this is a delicious stage to practice and I encourage you to practice frequently!
In my coaching experiences, I often work in one specific stage. Building skillz one at a time allows me to focus and let go of chatter and shame binding. Stuff comes out like memories, experiences and doubts. All of the dirty and shadowy stuff that you really don’t need to share with your lover is welcome and celebrated. Giving full expression to your erotic being leads to confidence and mastery.
Erotic awareness and expression are you birthright. To quote Lady Gaga “Rejoice and love yourself today, ‘cuz baby you were born this way!”