Although religion was not at the forefront of my upbringing, it played a role. I grew up Catholic, later converted to 7th Day Adventist, then Baptist, and now in my life, I consider myself to be Omnist with my spirituality and faith finding a home in Buddhism and the Mystical, this is where I am comfortable, and it is soothing for my soul.
In my upbringing, I found that religion confined something greater than ourselves into a little box, often setting up rules to follow that made self-love, self-care, and self-pleasure seem immoral. It was such a contrast to these sexy, beautiful and strong women that raised me; my grandmother, my aunt, and my mother. They were incredibly powerful and warrior-like (still are), but at the time they still held onto their faith, but more so their religion like an added armor of protection.
My time in these religions had taught me that self-pleasure was wrong. That self-pleasure was evil and sinful. Matters were made worse by childhood sexual abuse at the hands of an adult who molested me and in my teenage years by a boyfriend that raped me. You see I didn’t know until later in life that when a survivor is molested and or raped the body self-lubricates during the sexual assault. It is an aspect of sexual assault that is not discussed and where people wrongly assume that a genital reaction like this indicates consent and that the victim did not feel threatened. But, this reaction has nothing to do with pleasure. Studies suggest genital responses are a physiological defense mechanism. In this, the survivor can also develop confusion, fear, shame, and hate when he or she experiences any consensual sexual pleasure or orgasm.
When I used to have sex and I orgasmed, I felt dirty and shameful. When I masturbated, and I orgasmed I felt dirty and shameful. I never knew what it was like to experience pleasure and genuinely enjoy it without feeling this overwhelming sense of shame and sometimes dread and fear. When I was married to my ex-husband, this was something that affected our relationship for some time, until I met a Therapist with a Holistic Healing background that worked with me and began to enlighten me to a new path of healing, that did not involve medication or hospitalization.
It was the first steps in a foundation that would later hold my belief system when it came to self-pleasure. But I did not get there overnight. It would take more than a decade and a half to get there. After my divorce, I ended up in one relationship where my partner wanted me to pleasure him orally but refused to do the same for me. It was always about his pleasure. It was a one-way street, and I allowed myself to be put in a place where my sexual power was taken away from me. I say that I allowed myself to be put in that place because I did not fight back for my wants and needs. I later left that relationship after going through terrible turmoil with this person.
My next and final partner was my ex-boyfriend. I had shared a life with this person, and we planned a future. However, I found myself immersed so deep in a web that I tried to get out of it 4 or 5 times until the final time where I literally walked away from it all and never went back. I loved him deeply, but how much can you love a Narcissist? Although he was very giving when it came to oral sex, he would never kiss me, touch me, and would often say that he would rather masturbate than have sex with me, because it was too much work to have sex. So he used oral sex as a way to control me. Once again I had allowed someone to take away my sexual power and I did not stand up for myself.
In a society where sex is supposed to be kept behind closed doors, and these conversations are deemed unladylike, I had to find my sexual power, and it meant I had to learn what I liked and what felt good to me. As a Healer, I often talk about healing our mind, body, and soul. I focus a lot on the mind and soul because these two have profound effects on our body. It wasn’t until I dove deep into this work and also did the deep soul work within myself that I too realized that bodywork meant having to start another layer of healing from my sexual trauma and learn about my pleasure.
My healing began with conversations, education, and studies. It began with a group of women throughout my life that I trusted who held sacred space for me. Sometimes I would deal with triggers, and I created my own plan that helped me feel it and push through it. For me, it was a culmination of so many beautiful and important practices (and remember for everyone this will look different).
I committed to myself because no one else was going to advocate for myself the way I ever would. I committed to healing rituals and tools. It was journaling, meditation, Reiki, yoga, breath work, energy work, sacred circles, dance classes that focused on my body and sexuality through movement empowerment, herbalism, essential oils, yoni work (with my yoni egg) and for many clients and friends it also took intense therapy and sometimes medication, because no two journeys are alike and there is no shame in doing what works for you.
I also learned what makes me feel good and where I liked to be touched and I owe that to self-pleasure. No matter how much my self-pleasure is your taboo, I will advocate for my wants and needs in every way; body, mind and soul. I know that female masturbation is deemed as a disgusting topic even with women fighting and making leaps and bounds to push our rights as women at the forefront of matters that we need to advocate for, it is still very much a topic of conversation no one wants to broach. It was during my studies that I found out that over half of women don’t know what their vagina looks like. They have never taken a mirror and seen the glory of their pussy (and yes I use this word intentionally because pussy is power and not weakness). And in this fact, I found myself sad because it meant that women did not know what made them feel good and I want every woman to know what makes her feel good and to advocate for herself.
It was in my self-pleasure that I learned how to be my own best advocate. Just this past summer I was spending some time with a dear friend. He and I were good enough friends that intimacy was special to us but did not come along with attachments that we both did not want nor were ready for. It was something we were both okay with as consenting adults. I remember a moment during intimacy where my friend was doing things that he thought I would like, but that did not feel good to me. I remember pausing to let him know, and in turn, he committed to my enjoyment and I, to his.
In self-pleasure, I learned about my body. I learned where I liked to be touched, kissed and caressed. It also began to heal parts of myself that needed healing from my sexual trauma, after a uterine cancer scare and after giving my sexual power away for so long. I also learned that this was an essential part of the work I will do as a healer. But most of all I no longer wanted to live in a world that found a man’s self-pleasure acceptable but my own-taboo.