Thursday, August 16, 2012

Journey Well: A Short Story Inspired by Nicolò Sertorio’s Photographic Series, 'Peregrinations'

Nicolò Sertorio's Photography Series, Peregrinations
The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.  ~Julien Green

I’ve been on this journey for what…five…six hours now…may as well be five or six hundred years, judging by the exhaustion. My head is heavy. I feel bloated.

Yet despite my duress, I am clear that were I to attempt to shut my eyes at this moment, my mind would not allow me the gift of slumber. Lights talk to me (or is it the mountains?). Red skies paint themselves across the inside of my eyelids, while the outside view is of sands shifting into mazes I can’t seem to navigate.

Yup. It’s official.

I’m tripping balls.

Why the fuck did I do this to myself? Did I actually think I’m going to get some sort of mega download from the cosmos? Like the answers to all my questions would suddenly pour into my skull via some multi-colored, amorphous goo of consciousness? I can’t even tell which direction my camp is located, let alone navigate my life right now. The moment I think I’ve oriented myself, it’s suddenly two hours later and I’m nowhere near where I thought I was. I’m like a Heisenberg, psychedelic farce.

I feel like a fool. The last time I saw Alex and her friends, they were pedaling away from me as I screamed at them for their unwillingness to surrender their limiting egoic identities.

Jesus Christ, I’ve even picked up their vernacular.

Who does this? Really? Who spends a thousand bucks buying a bunch of food and camping gear and costumes and useless crap to hang out in the desert for a week? I could be home right now, in the comfort of my living room, a lot warmer, hydrated and able to pay my rent.

And yet…here I am. Why? Eh…why doesn’t really matter at this point. All I’ve got to do is park my ass in this sculpture-thing, wrap my sparkle cape around me and wait it out.

Wait it out…

I miss my mother. I miss her smell. Fried bacon and roses. I haven’t seen her in years. Haven’t seen most of my family in years for that matter, which was part of the reason why when my crazy-ass sister insisted I come to this thing with her, I couldn’t say no. I was propelled more by sibling guilt than by any real desire to be here…

I’m used to being by myself. I prefer it. I can do what I want, when I want and don’t have to deal with anyone else’s bullshit. And yet…

Jesus, I’m crying. Seriously?

Maybe it’s just the drugs. A bad trip. Although…it’s so weird…but right now I feel utterly hopeless. I have no idea which way is up or down and there’s this pain…in my chest…it’s this ache of…hollow…fuck I hate to admit it...


And the thing is, I don’t even have it so bad. A roof over my head, food on my plate, water in the tap.

But my heart…my heart feels…empty. Hurting. Cracked. Which may not be a bad thing, since most of the time I just feel numb and tired.

I wake up.
I hit the treadmill.
I go to the office.
I enter numbers in a computer for eight hours.
I come home.
I order dinner.
I catch up on TiVo.
I go to sleep.

People like me do not end up covered in purple glitter and wearing furry underwear while huddling for heat next to a neon mushroom.

And yet, maybe they should. Or at least, they should have a moment of some kind of magical catastrophe that shakes up their world.

I have to pee. Man…I really have to pee…nobody’s going to see me pee on the ground this far out here, right?

I shouldn’t though. I mean, it’s not right. They tell us not to.

Fuck that. I’m tired of being told what to do. This whole thing is about breaking the rules, right?

Ugh! I’m so confused. And angry. And my nose is running and I don’t have tissues and I have to pee and I’m cold and exhausted and I don’t want to be high anymore and I’m pissed at my sister for abandoning me in the middle of this place (what were we fighting about? Did she really call me the angel of death?), and most of all, all I want is…

What do I want?
I don’t even know.

Man. OK. I need help.

God, I know we haven’t chatted in a while (feels like centuries), but I could really use some guidance right now. With everything. I feel lost and lonely. I have no clue what I am doing here. What I want. What I need. I feel stuck and stupid and I hate my job I hate my life I hate the treadmill I hate the TV I hate my ex I hate I hate I hate



Whoa. I can breathe. Like a real breath. And that breath…it’s wide. And cool. And fresh.

Thank you. No really. Thank you. Whatever that freak-out was, I needed it.

Peace. If only for a moment. But right now, this moment is worth the fighting and exhaustion and snot and tears cementing my palms as my fingers clench together.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry Alex for yelling at you. I’m sorry mom for avoiding your calls. I know you just want the best for me—even if it comes off as intrusive and micro-manage-y. I’m sorry Billy for throwing your Mac out the window. Yeah, you cheated on me, but really, we knew it was over two years before that happened.

I’m sorry life, for taking you for granted. I’m sorry for wasting my days and blaming everyone for my problems and I’m sorry for not saying ‘I Love You’ often enough.

I love you.


OK, that’s a little scary.
I can do this.
It’s OK.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you…


Oh man. Something just hit me. I’m slipping under. I feel like I could sleep for ages. I can barely keep my head up. Thank. God.

Alex, I’m sorry. And thank you. Wherever you are tonight, thank you. The next time I see you, I’ll make sure to tell you that. Also, I love you.

It’s so simple. I’ll just walk up, take your hands and say:




Friar Ramón Pane jerked from his catatonic bliss with a sharp intake of panicked breath. Despite the fluorescent green glow humming on the edges of the trees, the known world instantaneously reassembled into his mind: the ship that brought him here, the dark woman, the powder she fed him.

As if by divine manifestation, the dark woman appeared beside him, holding him, cradling his head and muttering something in her Taíno tongue. Although Pane could speak her language, his mind was still too concentrated with the powder to take in her words.

Her hands were firm, but warm. Calloused, but inviting. He leaned his head into her palms and gazed into her empty, black eyes. An endless void.

And yet, there was something in the nothing. Light? Reflection? Himself?

He began to cry. Too much. Too much for him to understand right now. All he could fathom was that either this woman had shown him God or had taken God away from him (which may have been one and the same thing).

Her breath—wide, cool, fresh—whispered across his face.

Peace. If only for a moment. But right then, that moment was worth the fighting and exhaustion and snot and tears cementing his palms as his fingers clenched together.

And as he surrendered to her embrace, a single, sweet name exhaled from his lips:


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"I Just Had Sex!" (Cultivating Gratitude and Humor)

“You think this is just another day in your life? It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you…today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness.” ~ Brother David Steindl-Rast, from Louis Schwartzberg’s TEDxSF talk on “Gratitude”

I’ve recently started attending a weekly Native American tobacco ceremony. From the outside the ritual seems simple: everyone sits in a circle, says a brief prayer for the things for which they need help and smokes the sacred pipe.

However, within the basic framework lies an experience full of connection, humbleness and vulnerability. Through witnessing another in communion with his or her Creator, you realize that each person’s prayer is actually your prayer. To have someone speaking your heart’s deepest yearnings is a swift reminder that we are separated only by the most trivial of differences.

Which makes sense. To walk around as a boundaryless open heart all day, feeling the pain, hope and wonder of each person that breathes near us would render us perpetually incapacitated. After all, we have cubicles to inhabit, student loans to pay off and episodes of Weeds to download.

Hence this weekly sacrament of public surrender is like ambrosia for the emaciated soul. We walk around with our poker faces on, pretending like life is just “fine” and that we have everything “under control.” So simply saying the words “I need help” is enough to sucker punch us in the arrogant gut of our social deception. Yet it is through these cracks in the armor that life’s blessings can fill our cups of longing.

The thing is that most of us carry thimbles where we have room for chalices; so even when can let in a little bit of the good, we fill up quickly and look for ways to manage the excess. One common way is to expel the energy through complaint. It’s a lazy way to avoid doing the work to discover what we truly want, as well as shirks the responsibility for your happiness to someone or something else. It’s easy to be angry at your friends if you throw a party and no one attends—but if you don’t give us explicit directions on how to get to your house, you are setting yourself (and the rest of us) up for failure.

We look for what’s wrong with life. We hold onto the idea that life happens “to” us, as if we are some sad little puppet, rather than becoming active participants in the experience. We have a thousand ways to talk about what’s shitty in our lives and virtually no language for what’s good.

Nowhere do I see more of this than in the arena of sex. It’s an area loaded with confusion, shame and resentment smothered by a lacquer of bravado, victimhood or just plain avoidance. It’s also the place where we are most desperate to be touched and where a mountain of excuses resides to keep us small and safe:

I’m not getting enough
I’m too old/fat/inexperienced
No one knows how to touch me
I can’t last long enough
My partner is blocked
I’m fine, but they have a problem
All the good ones are taken
It’ll never happen for me

The art of receiving what you want is something we are rarely taught and yet it’s the foundation of sexual maturity (and is required for vibrant and nourishing sex lives). First, we must have the courage to admit that we are hungry and that it is no one else’s responsibility but our own to feed us.

Once we decide to follow our desires, rather than live in the world of complaint, we must then undergo the task of expanding our thimbles into chalices. If we want more, we need to grow big enough to hold more.

Again, I take my inspiration from the pipe ceremony. There, the way we are taught to pray is that before you ask for what you want, you must first express gratitude for what you have in your life right now. It changes the perspective, so that your desires come from a place of abundance and attraction, rather than lack and rejection of what is. You mentally and energetically set yourself up to receive.

Think of it this way: each time you say “thank you,” you find your location on the map of desire and widen the net for the universe to bring you more. Conversely each complaint is energy wasted that could have been used to express yourself and surrender deeper into pleasure.

Recently, I was making love and towards the end, I found myself in a state of overwhelm—the energy was high, I was feeling physically exhausted and my mind was flipping out on whether or not he was happy. We’d lost the connection and I started crying and blaming myself for ‘fucking it all up.’
“Do you want to check in with me?” he asked.
“Ok,” I simpered.
 "Well, the first three-quarters of that was some of the most amazing sex we’ve ever had together.”
Oh. Well that changes things.

Because I was approaching our sex from fear-based, life-or-death-stakes mindset, all I could see was the negative: any perceived ‘fuck up’ was going to lessen my value as a human and I would end up dead and unloved in a crappy studio apartment in the Tenderloin (fear-based mind also tends to bring out the drama queen).

Had I been in my abundance and gratitude, I would have stood up on the bed, ripped off my chain & turtleneck sweater and sang “I Just Had Sex!”

Which brings me to my second point: the importance of cultivating humor in sex.

We’re all human. Being able to laugh at ourselves in the face of our sheer incompetence is what makes being alive bearable. Humor takes the life-or-death-stakes view on sex and infuses it with space and permission. As one of the clumsiest people on the planet, I’ve had my fair share of teeth-banging kisses, cum & snot-nosed BJs and mid-coital pussy farts. You just gotta laugh at that shit because we’ve all been there.

You are allowed to make mistakes. You are allowed not to have the answer. You are allowed to curiously fumble into the unknown. In fact, that is where the best sex happens. When your rational mind throws its hands in the air and says ‘Fuck it! I’m just gonna let it all hang out and have fun,’ you go from being a warrior on the battlefield to a child in a sandbox—totally unaware of people’s eyes on you and unattached to what is created.

Play for the sake of play.

And really, why have sex for any other reason other than for fun? Of course there’s also procreation and shared intimacy—but if you’ve lost the spirit of play in the process, then I suggest slowing down, re-evaluating your desires and re-connecting to your own pleasure.

Because ultimately sex is fun—and silly and weird and confronting and undeniably human. We should celebrate that: the slips, trips, bumps and falls as well as the bliss, joy, ecstasy and intimacy.

So no matter how your sex expresses itself these days—whether you humped three people this morning or haven’t kissed anyone in ten years—take the time to be thankful for your sexuality. You are alive, right now, a sexual being on this planet, and you have the unique opportunity to go on a rich and hilarious journey into the heart of your own desire.

Just don’t forget to pack the Gratitude…

…and Humor.

Sex: You're Doing it Right

The truth, though, is that nothing is really wrong. Nothing is ever wrong and nothing can be wrong. It’s not even wrong to believe that something is wrong. Wrong is simply not possible. As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.’ Wrongness is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere else—Jed McKenna, from Spiritual Enlightment: The Damnedest Thing (The Enlightenment Trilogy)

I’ve faced a mountain of resistance every time I sat down to write this article. Suddenly I would get a thousand Facebook notifications, texts, emails, voxes, insert-your-own-21st-century-distractions, which would take urgent precedence over putting my thoughts to the page. When asked what I thought was getting in my way, the answer came easily:

It’s still so hard for me to believe that I’m actually doing it right.

For example, the other night I was with my lover slowly riding the tip of his cock. The sensation was a low, subtle hum, like sonar pulsing through dense water. A tenuous thread connected us. I often felt lost. An uncomfortable scratching began to grate the left side of my pussy. The scratching suddenly ripped and out of the delicate webbing poured an ocean of hopelessness. I collapsed into tears onto my lover’s body. As we lay caught in the briars of our building orgasm, I looked over at him.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Angry,” he replied. Angry and, based on the electricity vibrating off of him, getting angrier.

The surface layer of my thoughts went something like, “Oh no, I’ve done it again. I’ve fucked it all up. I let the ball drop. I made him mad. I’m too emotional. I’m clumsy. I’m a bad lover. I’m going to lose him.”

But at my foundation, I knew everything was happening exactly as it should. My hopelessness was right. His anger was right. My spiraling collection of thoughts was right. Each crackling moment was right and provided a fascinating glimpse into the hidden powder kegs of our hearts.

As I surrendered into the ‘rightness’ of the experience, my body expanded, my breath deepened and my skin prickled. I knew our sex was big enough to hold everything.

When he had finished speaking, I said what I knew to be true:

“I love you.”

And with those words, we re-established the connection and my capacity to feel intensified.

This sort of ‘orgasmic derailment’ is not an uncommon occurrence in my sex these days. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t always this painfully overdramatic. In fact, some of the sweetest and most powerful love-making I’ve ever experienced occurred in the days following that incident.

However, the trade-off for sexual authenticity and expanded pleasure is the complete annihilation of everything you thought you knew about sex. The old tricks of seduction no longer apply in the realm of orgasm. The old movies in your head about peak experiences are just that: old and in your head. It’s like an actor trying to copy a performance she once saw or replay one from a previous time. It’s stilted, forced and not rooted in the present.

Heraclitus once said:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

Nowhere is this truer than in sex. ‘Beginner’s mind’ and curiosity aren’t just lofty ideals—they are vital to the immediate experience. You can’t fake sensation. It’s either there or it’s not—and if it’s not, there is usually a lie in the way. The work is to be honest when you can’t feel and be willing to reveal your desire.

The power is in vulnerability, surrender and death.

Which feels completely antithetical to everything we’ve been taught. Control, accumulation of knowledge, trophy collection and survival of the fittest all contribute to the current framework of sex. And if you’ve been operating in that paradigm, don’t worry! You’re doing it right. It’s natural to associate these momentary hits of validation as ‘proof’ of your worth. It’s all we’ve ever known.

It’s also natural to hide the wounds around our sex, since most of us adopt a belief early on that who we are and what we desire is somehow ‘wrong’ and that we must ‘earn’ the love for which we hunger in order to atone for this ‘wrongness.’

This is at the heart of what most people who work with me face. It’s never about the ‘problem.’ The fact that they lose their erections, have never climaxed, are addicted to porn, haven’t had sex in 20 years, prematurely ejaculate, experience lack of desire, etc., is simply evidence of an unconscious coping mechanism for handling high sensation. That’s it.  And they’re doing it right.

To go one step further, I challenge the notion that there was ever a problem in the first place. What if we left behind the idea that sex is a life-or-death dilemma (lest we die alone or trapped in sexless marriages) and adopt the idea that sex is a playground where all parts of ourselves are invited to play? The princess, the pervert, the virgin, the drug addict, the master, the scared child, the needy co-dependent, the king, the devotee, the betrayer—the list goes on. Is it possible to raise the white flag on the battleground of sexuality and expose the weapons we’ve kept tucked in our hearts?

I know it’s tough. Changing perspective feels like swimming upstream. That’s why I’ve been dodging writing this piece for so long; if I admit my inherent ‘rightness,’ then I have no more excuses for withholding my love. And within my emotional nakedness, I run the risk of pain, criticism and ridicule.

In Scott McPherson’s play, Marvin’s Room, Lee says to her son:

My feelings for you, Hank, are like a big bowl of fishhooks. I can't just pick them up one at a time. I pick up one, they all come. So I tend to leave them alone.

If you replace ‘Hank’ with ‘Sex’, it’s obvious why we run from it or try to cover it up with toys, techniques and romance. Fear warns us to avoid these volatile places and keep them hidden; so who in her right mind would venture in willingly?

Yet the fortresses we’ve erected are the very things preventing us from having the sex we want. We’ve protected ourselves from parental wounding, social rejection and feelings of profound loneliness, which sits on top of the fundamental lie that we are ‘not good enough.’

And, as if we don’t have enough work to do on our own, society capitalizes on this lie by reinforcing it and trying to sell us their ‘cures.’

I recently read a fashion article on the internet (obviously geared towards women) and on the same page, the following four pieces were listed as something I ‘Might Also Like’:

How to Touch His Penis - Sexy Penis Play Techniques (Cosmo)
Sexy Clothes for Women – Clothes Men Like (Cosmo)
How to Make Sex Last Longer - Romantic Sex Positions (Cosmo)
How Much Should You Really Weigh? (MyDailyMoment)

Every one of these suggests that unless a man sexually validates a woman, she isn’t ‘good enough.’ In this case, not being ‘good enough’ looks like ignorance, ugliness, incompetence and corpulence.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to please our partners and look our best—but if our motivation comes from the fear that we are not lovable, then we are setting ourselves up for resentment.

Men don’t have it much easier. Since it’s practically scientific fact that every man on the planet watches porn, and for a great majority of men, porn was their first education in sexuality, there is a formula for sex that is being continuously reinforced. It’s a one-sided script that goes from kissing to massive hard-ons to penetration to loud, simultaneous climax and cum-on-tits money shots in less than seven minutes. Cut. Check the gate. That’s a wrap.

If you know me, you know I am not anti-porn. Again, we’re doing it right. And if we use porn to escape intimacy and validate our egos, rather than in the spirit of entertainment and play, then both men and women can get locked in the pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’:

I should be hard all the time
I should want to fuck him the moment he wants it
This sex should be more passionate
I should be making more noise
I should make her cum hard and loud
I should have a huge ejaculation

Anything that doesn’t look like this can cripple someone into thinking there’s something ‘wrong’ with him or her. In reality, most of our sex doesn’t look like porn and most of us don’t look like porn stars. But to cover his shame at not being ‘man enough’, a man may avoid sex or blame his sexual partners. And a woman may take on the false belief that unless she can take it hard and climax fast, she must be broken.

On the flip side of porn, we have what’s known as ‘sacred sexuality.’ What that world has to offer is also valuable, but where we often get caught is in always trying to ‘touch God’ and ‘be one with the light’ and ‘avoid negativity.’ Again, this implies that what is labeled as ‘negative’ is ‘wrong’ and that any experience where you aren’t ‘communing with the Divine’ is also ‘wrong.’ It becomes another pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’—just with a lot more chanting, eye-gazing and sarongs.

And since none of us wants to look stupid, scared, inadequate or bitchy, we’ve become master pretenders: pretending that we’ve conquered sex; pretending that we know what we want; pretending that our desires aren’t that important; pretending that it’s ok to only have sex 10 times a year; pretending that it’s always the other person stopping us from having what we want; pretending, pretending, pretending.

Pretending: You’re Doing it Right

The good news: sex is big enough to hold your pretender. Your pretender has valuable information—most likely regarding your truth. And, well, there’s just nothing sexier than the truth, in my opinion.

And that’s all this article is, really. My opinion. My experience. My perspective. And if it all gets flipped on its head tomorrow, that’s ok. I’m still doing it right.

And so are you. As hard is may be to believe in the moments of embarrassment and confusion, there really is no problem. Stay connected. Feel. Play. Get thrown off track. Laugh. Cry. Hide. Come out. Hide. Come out again. Be willing to share your fears, your heartaches, your joys, your hungers, your love, your gratitude…everything. This is where the most nourishing ‘get-off’ is: in the messy, mixed-up combustion of all that you are. And if it hurts, just know that the hurt is simply a message pointing you in the direction of your deepest desires.

Just keep going. And remember to breathe. You can’t do it wrong.

The Hazards of Being an Orgasmic Woman

There is a beast inside of me right now. She’s been neglected for a very, very long time. She’s pissed, starving and demands to be fucked.

If she’s like most women, she’s a sexual anorexic. This is NOT to be confused with a sexually hungry person. A sexually hungry person knows what they want and will do what they need to feed themselves (even if it’s living off Ramen Noodles for a while). A sexual anorexic, on the other hand, has too much pride to admit she’s hungry and gets off on having superior control. She looks down on all those creepy guys in the Tenderloin who stare at you as if you were a dripping, succulent steak. She’s fresh, pure and hops straight off the cover of Cosmo in her size 2 Prada dress.

All that changes when you open your orgasm.

Many guys joke when they hear about it. “Geez, I wish my wife/girlfriend had that problem of wanting to be fucked all the time.” Really? Most men don’t know how to handle a woman when she’s in the throes of indecision of what to order for dinner. You want to throw a 20+ year backlog of unexpressed desire, anger, resentment and trauma into the mix? Good luck.

The current perception of igniting a woman’s sex comes attached with pink feather boas, blossoming flowers and rainbows shooting from vaginas. There also seems to be the annoyingly ubiquitous use of the word ‘juicy.’

Let me set the record straight: forget Barbie and her Sex and the City entourage. Say hello to your dirty, skanky heroin addict.

The other day I woke up in the grips of this otherworldly thing that demanded climax and would stop at nothing to get it. I had just enough consciousness to acknowledge the beast and created the space for her to emerge—and then I plunged pussy-first into the darkness.

I did something I haven’t done in years—I watched porn. Now that may not sound like anything shocking, but what was powerful for me to observe was how utterly helpless I felt in the moment. I needed the drug so bad that I wasn’t going to step out of my room until I had it. I grabbed my phone (which was closer to me than my computer) and searched for ‘free porn.’ I found a video, but when it took too long to download, I gave up and ran for my laptop like it was sexual crack. With shaking hands I flipped up the monitor, typed in my password and found what I needed. The Visitor 3. “I don’t give a shit about parts 1 & 2,” I said to myself. “I just want to get straight to the cock-in-pussy pounding.”

Three minutes later, after I had climaxed, a little bit of reality started to settle back into me. My belly felt swollen, like I’d just wolfed down three Big Macs. I was watching this video of two people clearly not connected to each other. And it was set to some of the worst music I’ve ever heard in my life. I started laughing at myself.

“Have I really become that kind of person?” I thought. “I feel more like a scared, pre-teen boy than a 31-year old woman.”

Then it hit me: this was who was rising to the surface—my hyper-sexual teenager—and she was pissed at being chained in the basement for so long.

There was a period in my life, from ages 11-13, when I would masturbate almost every day. Yet in the midst of that sexual exploration, I also felt profound levels of shame. I saw members of my family struggle with sexual addiction and unhealed sexual abuse. I grew up in the South where young, Christian ladies didn’t do things like that. I had heard boys joke about masturbation all the time, but girls never talked about it. I thought I was a pervert—and yet I couldn’t stop.

Until I was 13 years old and got suspended from school for drug possession. I will never forget the look of abject fear on my mother’s face when she got the news. I felt like this horrible, out-of-control animal that had brought shame upon her. A straight-A student fallen from grace. I made a vow that day to suppress anything that was ‘wrong’ or ‘immoral’—which included my sexual appetite.

Fast forward eight years. I’m 21 years old and I’ve just started dating the man I would eventually marry (who was, incidentally, also the first man with whom I’d had intercourse). I’m away for the summer and I meet someone else—someone who rouses that slumbering beast within me. And I fuck him. And again, I feel like this out-of-control animal. And again, I make a decision to tamp down that wretched appetite. I can’t bear to see the look of pain on my soon-to-be husband’s face.

So for the six-year duration of my marriage, I buried that secret along with my shame and my sex. It’s also no surprise that for those six years, I lived as a food anorexic. If history had taught me anything, it was this:

Appetite = People Getting Hurt

But in the back of my mind, I knew that starving it wouldn’t help. In fact, the harder I pushed it down, the harder it smacked me in the face the moment my attention drifted elsewhere. I had to confront it head on. So I left the marriage and decided I would do whatever it took to recover from anorexia.

The months following the separation from my husband were some of the most humiliating of my life. I felt so insecure sexually that I seduced men just to prove to myself that I could, even though I was clueless about my own desires and hadn’t menstruated in over two-and-a-half years. I cried for five months straight. I found myself, on many occasions, standing in my kitchen pantry at 3am gobbling three or four bowls of cereal in a row, not even tasting what I was shoving into my face.

Yet through it all, I knew I was giving my body exactly what it needed. When you hold a pendulum all the way to the left, it has to swing all the way to the right and back again, multiple times, before it finally finds its center.

And this is how it feels right now in my sex. In spite of the junk-food orgasm and the predator-woman who is ready to jump on anything in her path, I simply have to trust how the path is unfolding before me. It feels like I am going down again, only this time the well is deeper. I have fear of losing everything: my money to the credit card company; my credibility to people who know what they hell they are doing; my fiancé to a younger, skinnier, more sexually-embodied tantric goddess.

And here’s kicker: even with all this sexual appetite, I’m bumping right up against my ineptitude. It’s still so difficult for me to ask for what I want. It’s painful to admit to my lover when I’m faking my own turn-on. It’s agonizing to watch as I lie and withhold my love and gratitude again and again and again.

I recently had someone tell me that fucking me was boring. BORING!?

Dear God. Tell me I’m crazy. Tell me I’m out-of-control. Tell me I’m too much to handle. But boring?!?! With my ego thoroughly eviscerated, I had reached a new low.

So this is orgasm in its rawest form. No sparkly glitter parades or rose-scented sheets. Just a searing burn and unbearable pressure as I sit in the crucible of my sex.

But as I sit here, the words of Anais Nin rise to the surface:

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

And I am reminded of why I chose this path and how lucky I am to feel alive. Those lonely, numb nights of starving madness are a place I can never return. Now that I have had a taste of what’s possible—electric connection, deep love and surrendered pleasure—I have no choice but to burn on.

This is what it takes to move from the chains of bondage to orgasmic freedom. The real sexual revolution doesn’t happen by burning bras or holding on to anger against men; it happens in our own minds, hearts and pussies. And it’s waiting for us, whenever we’re ready.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The Biggest Secret for Great Sex

(Hint: Forget the Flowers, Toys & Eye-Gazing)

I was OMing (Orgasmic Meditation) a few days ago. During the OM, it felt as if there were an inch of waxy paraffin between his finger and my clit. An irritating voice arose:

Why the hell can’t he find me?
Why does my spot keep moving?
Why don’t my OMs feel like they used to?
Am I being annoying asking for all these adjustments?
What do I want?
What do I WANT?!

The OM ended, I over-politely shared a frame (lest my angry, ravenous beast come out and bite off this poor guy’s head) and I asked for another OM. It started off the same way: we felt incredibly far away from each other. I couldn’t quite name it, but I knew there was something I wasn’t quite admitting to myself—like there was some pulsing, hungry truth locked up in a ballerina music box with pink ribbons and smiley faces.

Then I asked for him to move his finger a little lower and to tuck into the lower pocket of my clit. And that’s when it hit me: Fucking. I wanted fucking. But not just any kind of fucking. I wanted seedy, sleazy, $20-whore-in-a-cheap-motel-who-gets-used-then-left-in-a-pile-by-a-Wall-Street-creep-who-cums-with-his-tie-on kind of fucking.

Oh. Well that’s a little confronting.

I mean, I’ve had some hard sex in my life, but this was a little difficult to admit. Aren’t I a free-thinking woman who believes in equality of the sexes? Aren’t I soooooo advanced in my OM practice by now that I should be beyond the hunger for quick climax and heavy pressure? Shouldn’t I be working towards feeing the expanded subtlety of the lightest strokes?

But the evidence was clear. I couldn’t feel a thing until I acknowledged my desire: I wanted some nasty sex. In that moment, my pussy swelled with wet heat and I sucked him deeper into me, little electric hooks gripping onto each ridge of his finger.

We as a culture are so shamefully hungry to the point of secretly obsessing about sex. We surreptitiously Google search for the sexual holy grail: the perfect pill or the perfect position or the perfect toy to make her curl her toes or have him beg for more. But none of that will make a difference if you don’t have the courage to do the one thing that will light you up like nothing else:

Tell The Truth.

You know the feeling. Let’s say someone you have a crush on is sitting right next to you. Connect with your body in that moment. Can you feel your heart beat faster and your palms sweat? Does the thought of telling this person that you want to kiss him/her make you feel like you are going to fly out of your body?

Or perhaps you’re in a relationship and you’ve had some fantasies of bringing home the secretary. Imagine sharing that desire with your partner. Can you feel the nervous, carbonated tickle of the hairs on your neck?

Or imagine that you are angry at someone and you are finally letting out all your unfiltered rage. Can you feel the heat in your face, the hammering in your chest and the swelling in your throat?

All of that heightened sensation is orgasm that can be used in any turned-on way you choose. Every time you admit the truth to yourself, you peel away another layer that is blocking intimacy.

Conversely, every time you withhold your desires or feelings, you are piling another layer of crap on top of your orgasm. Over time, each caked-on layer gets thicker and thicker and you have to work harder and harder to maintain the lie that the mask of crap is your truth. Eventually, you may even start to blame the people in your life for all that shit weighing you down.

This is at the heart of why relationships fail. It’s not that the sex gets bad and then the relationship goes down the tubes. It’s actually the other way around. The relationship starts failing when we stop telling the truth, either out of laziness or fear of losing the person. When that happens, the first thing we run from is the exposed and highly volatile arena of sex. We make up excuses about why we can’t have it: too tired, too busy, not in the mood, it’s not that important, we have different schedules, the kids exhaust us—we’ve heard them all (and have probably even used a few at some point).

It’s not until the years go by and we find ourselves on the brink of a desperate starvation that we then grasp on to anything to save the relationship. You can pile on as many romantic getaways, kinky toys and love-making classes you want. But unless you have the courage to speak your truth, you’ll just end up in a candle-lit beach bungalow, handcuffed to the bed and gazing into the eyes of someone you’ve been loathing for the past ten years. Nothing fundamental will actually change.

We have to learn to strip sex down to its barest essentials: me, the sensation in my body and my desire. That’s it. Once you’ve tapped into that, share it with someone. If that person doesn’t want to meet you there, let them go. They are not for you. If they are willing to play, treat them well—and continue to stay honest about your desire.

This is why whenever I am feeling disconnected sexually, I don’t rush to fix a ‘problem’ or assign blame for why someone else is a crappy lover. I slow down and ask myself the questions: What am I running from? Where am I lying? What am I not admitting? As in the case with my OM, I wasn’t admitting the part of me that likes being a tacky, climax-driven, trashy whore. The moment I gave her permission to exist, my body flushed with orgasm.

The turn-on lies in the admission itself—in the moment of expressing desire. What happens afterwards is simply choice.  I could go out and pay some douchebag for a lay (perhaps not the wisest option). I could enroll a willing partner to play out the scene with me (fun!). Or I could let the acknowledged desire sit in my body and carry it around as my happy little secret to brighten the day.

Once you admit your truth, sex becomes about abundance and exploration, rather than fear and hiding. Maybe you want to experiment with wielding a flogger—or perhaps you want to take a sexual breathwork class—or maybe you’ve been dying to have sex with that one Michael Bolton song playing on the stereo. Either way, you have chosen to express yourself from a place of erotic authenticity.

So go on. Admit it. Remember, the truth will not only set you free—it also makes for great sex.

I'm a Crazy Fucking Mess: Orgasmic Tuning & PMS

Photo by SimplyAbbey
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You don’t want to be around me right now.

My body feels heavy, full and thick. I’m exhausted. Every nerve is raw and exposed. I’m prone to burst into tears at any moment and if you question what I do in any way (even if it’s just the way I make coffee), I might be tempted to throw a French Press at your head.

Another typical day in the world of a pre-menstrual woman, right?

Well, not quite. It’s another typical day in the world of a woman whose orgasm is out of alignment (to clarify, when I say ‘orgasm’, I don’t mean ‘sexual climax’, but the electrical driving force that is always coursing through your body). What we call ‘PMS’ is actually the result of stuck orgasmic energy building in the uterus—the seat of sexual expression, unconscious desire and creativity (a.k.a Second Chakra). Acupuncturists call this chi stagnation. In orgasmic terms, we call this tumescence.

The basic definition of tumescence is ‘swelling’ and to be tumesced is to experience this kind of energetic swelling. It’s a neutral state—neither good nor bad—and anyone can experience it, though it is significantly prominent in women just before their periods. In the case of PMS, the swelling of orgasm will continue to accumulate and most women will experience symptoms of heaviness, discomfort and lethargy unless a) the orgasm is expelled or b) the container (your body) that is holding the orgasm itself expands.

Most of us are pros at Option A. We cry, we get angry, we cram our faces with sugar, we go impulse shopping or we have lots of hard fucking—thereby alleviating the pressure in the moment, but failing to address the underlying issue. These methods tend to decrease your ability to feel rather than increase it. We become masters of energetic anaesthetization and lose the opportunity to utilize the extra orgasm.

Then there’s Option B. In connecting to my orgasm through Orgasmic Meditation (a.k.a. OM, a simple, two-person sexuality practice where one person strokes the genitals of another and focuses at the point of connection), I put my full attention on the sensations in my body, learn to approve of what arises and ultimately create space for that energy, which can then be used as fuel for my desire.

Let’s say you’re a guitar player, your body is the instrument and the strings are your orgasm. The guitar is out of tune. What do you do? You don’t yell at the strings (anger), blame yourself (crying), avoid the strings (shopping/eating) or bang them really loud and hard (fucking). You slow down, pluck each one, listen to the vibration and turn the peg until the sound created is in alignment with the desired note.

If it’s that simple, why do we run away from tuning our orgasm?

One of the biggest reasons is shame. Our genitals, one of the most sensitive and highly electrical parts of the body, are laden with social conditioning, fear and unexpressed desire, which trap orgasm inside us. This orgasm eventually rots and putrefies into what we call ‘shame.’ To desire is selfish. To be hungry is weak. To feast is morally unclean. So we pack all that energy into numbed-out, but highly explosive, pockets on our clit. It’s no wonder we shy away from sharing a sexual landscape riddled with landmines to anther person.

Also, our patriarchal society is notorious for culturally gaslighting women into thinking that emotional fluctuations and sensitivity are symptoms of mental instability (or at the very least, fodder for mockery), thereby adding another layer of embarrassment and shame. This can be seen in TV shows where the hapless dope has to run into the drug store to buy tampons for his insane, hormonal girlfriend. Many men won’t talk about (much less have sex with) women on their periods because it’s ‘disgusting.’ In the workplace, women (or men with more feminine natures) are not given as much credence because their ‘emotionality’ and ‘sensitivity’ are evidence that they don’t have the ‘balls’ to handle high-level positions of power. Finally, we are in the midst of an all-out, political war on women and reproductive rights. If both sexes continue to treat each other as enemies, how are we ever going to feel safe enough to take off our pants and ask to have our genitals stroked?

In addition to shame, there is also simple ignorance; we’ve never been taught how to manage energy. If we don’t know what we want, how can we ask for it? PMS is considered a ‘normal’ affliction in our society. How many times have you told your friends “It’s that time of the month,” and their response is something like “Yuck, I’m so sorry.” You never hear anyone say, “Awesome! How are you going to use all that extra energy?!” or “Sounds like you could use an all-downstroke OM.” The social prescription includes popping a Midol (or twelve), grabbing a carton of Ben & Jerry’s and burrowing in a cave for a week.

Finally, I see women (and men) avoiding direct interaction with orgasm in the name of being a ‘good, spiritual person.’ What that means is people go to yoga or meditate or say affirmations or cling to non-violent communication or ‘send heart vibes’ or utilize any method to avoid confronting ‘darker’ energies. Anger, hate, jealousy, terror, fear—all of these are part of the human experience. I see so many people try to ‘rise above the negative’ and therefore sacrifice connection to all of who they are. They get caught in their own spiritual vanity (yes, I’ve done it too). This is not to say that yoga, meditation, etc. don’t do anything to help in energy management. To the contrary: they are integral pieces of the whole. However, to return to the guitar metaphor, you can buy the highest quality instrument, clean her to a shine and study musical theory—but eventually, you have to leave music school, get out in the real world and play the damn thing.

But if you practice connecting to orgasm, expanding your capacity to receive, learning to ask for what you want and including the whole experience—even with its judgments, messiness, pain and tears—you will find a terrain rich with desire and raw power. And this power, converted from tumescence to turn-on (which is essentially tumescence plus approval), can be a most delicious experience.

Case-in-point: yesterday, I was a total nut job. Crying, depressed, pissed off and completely indecisive. Then I had an OM. I felt my orgasm drop down from my belly, through my pussy and to my legs. The air around me was dense and crackly. My body felt light and spacious. Later on, while I was having sex, I noticed there was much more openness in my pelvis. The blood that was once trapped had room to flow down into the undernourished pockets of my genitals. Instead of heavy, dull ache, I felt thick, lush wetness dripping out of me. Painful cramping transformed to a velvety, electric undulation that pulled my partner deeper into me. This was not hard fucking to run away from sensation—this was sex that had me grateful for all the sensation available.

Good sex is just one way to utilize the energy made available through alchemizing orgasm. Maybe you want to write a book. Or start a family. Or run for president. The choice is yours. My hope is that you will choose something that is in alignment with your deepest desire.

Or at the very least, I hope you find a little more space for the crazy, fucking mess of a woman that you are. She’s gotta a lot of love to give—she just needs a little orgasmic tuning.