Womanhood & the Reawakening of My Erotic Innocence. {Adult} ~ Candice Holdorf

Via Candice Holdorf
on May 15, 2012
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Warning: Beautifully adult, graphic language.

I have been a very dirty girl. And I’m okay with that.

Well, sort of.

It’s more like I am learning to love this part of myself.

She’s been in hiding for some time now, afraid that if she speaks too loudly or chews with her mouth open or runs naked through the streets, people will get angry. Or, they will laugh at her. Or, they will watch her with a starving madness and she will feel their shame burning through her skin (which will then light the fire of her own shame and her ‘good girl’ cover may get blown).

But this ‘dirty girl’ is not what you might be thinking. She’s no ‘been-there-done-that’ kinda chick, nor does she spend her nights trolling around town looking for the next hot lay.

She’s actually quite naïve—she comes from a place before her sex got tied in the knots of social conditioning.

We’ve only been recently reacquainted.

I’m face down on the bed. My legs are spread. My lover is pushing himself inside me. My right fingertips are on my clit. His hands are tangled in my hair as he shoves my face into the pillow. I am bellowing from a place deep within the basement of my soul. It’s uncontrollable, as if a fury has taken over my voice. I vacillate between crying and laughing. Grieving the release of past trauma, and marveling at the humorous absurdity of it all. I am a 31-year-old woman possessed by the banshee spirit of a four-year-old, while in the throes of some pretty brutal fucking.

And within it all—the anger, the terror, the hilarity and the tears—is a tremendous amount of turn-on. My whole body is alive. I have expanded to a point just a hair’s breadth beyond the limits of my safety for the moment. I feel a twinge of guilt in not pushing further, as if my sex were some sort of product to deliver (and the business of my sex demands utmost customer service), but we fall asleep, sweetly drenched in the hair and sweat of our electric togetherness.

But what expands, must equally and oppositely contract.

A few hours later, he reaches for me in the vulnerable darkness, hands on my ass, cock pressing against me. All at once a rage snaps my body tightly together, a violent “No” escaping my throat and I clutch the sheets in a feeble attempt to scurry away. I am angry and terrified, as a childhood ghost flies through me. My lover holds me tightly, letting me know that I am safe. After a few tense seconds, my body slackens, but what was once alive has now gone numb.

And this frightens me.

I know this place. I took up residence here for a number of years, starving myself in the addiction of anorexia in the attempt to quell the voices of a ravenous (and dangerous) sexuality. Maintaining a pre-pubescent state of being so I didn’t have to face the terror that comes with stepping into womanhood.

After a few minutes I fall asleep. I leave his place the next morning, quiet and unfeeling. I don’t know how to make sense of what I am experiencing.

Is it resentment? Violation? Pain? Anger? Shame?

All I can tell is that my emotional body has shut down and is on some sort of autopilot. A big block of cement sits right on my belly. If I let the old Candice take over, a passive aggressive brew of sexual withholding and the silent treatment isn’t far away.

A few hours go by and the pain starts to thaw. Vulnerability wins. I can feel again. I break down and call him, crying. I am a confused mess of a woman. On the one hand, I am angry at all men who rape women and for every man who has ever only wanted me for my sex.

On the other, I ashamed at my compulsive need to have every man I meet want me sexually.

Who am I if I don’t have my sex to offer as collateral for my right to exist in this world?

My insecurity breeds a way of being in the world that invites the very reaction I most fear and therefore, it also invites a reaction that comes with a large amount of desire. Desire to confront and know myself as a woman of sexual maturity.

We end the conversation.

I feel a bit more relieved, but there is still a bubble of unexpressed desire sitting in me. A few hours later, I meet with a friend for an OM (Orgasmic Meditation). The moment his finger slides onto my clit, the bubble wells up into my eyes and I am silently crying. In this moment, as he is stroking me with tenderness and care, I connect with the sexual innocence of a child. It is sweet, soft and nurturing. I feel emotionally safe and free from shame—something for which my body has hungered for a long time.

As kids, we are naturally curious about our bodies and express pleasure without concern for what others think. Children aren’t born with shame; they experience it once they learn from adults—who are themselves wrestling with their own unhealed wounds around shame and fear of abandonment—that some part of who they are is ‘dirty’ or ‘wrong.’

Our erotic journeys begin at conception, which is itself a sexual act. You see little babies touch themselves in utero. We are birthed through our mother’s genitals. We are nourished at our mother’s breasts. Our fathers hold us in their laps and tickle us to tears. The entire experience of young childhood is both sensual and innocent.

Then shame enters the picture. This can look like adults condemning erotic expression and setting up walls between themselves and children; or, as in my case, adults will be so erotically starving and are too wounded and frightened to share that with their adult partner (if they even have a partner) that they will use their children for energetic support, which opens the door to emotional or physical incest.

Here are a few highlights in the tapestry of my childhood sexual shame:

I can remember being six years old and the neighbor boy pulling down his pants and showing me his ‘wee wee’ and me thinking “Oh my God, I hope my mother doesn’t walk in on this.”

I can remember being nine years old and having family members tell me not to dance or lick my lips like Madonna, lest I get the ‘wrong’ kind of attention.

I can remember being 10 years old and having play acting sessions with my girlfriends in which I would pretend to be the ‘guy’ and we would kiss and rub up against each other. I was both frightened that they would tell their parents and mortified by how much I desired to kiss them again.

I can remember being 11 years old and teasing one of the girls in after-school care about being sexual. She went and told one of the leaders, who then accused me of child abuse.

I can remember being 12 years old and thinking I was the only female in the world who masturbated. I had heard all the jokes about boys doing it, but not girls. I thought I was some sort of pervert.

Shame is an arena where most of us can relate, but are too afraid to share with each other because of the repercussions society dishes out for deviating from the sexual ‘norm.’ We women are supposed to hold on to our ‘precious’ virginity as long as possible and only give it up for guys that are ‘marriage material.’ Then, once we finally pick one guy, only f*ck him for the rest of our life. Be a whore on-demand with him at night, but totally asexual during the day.

Without the freedom to explore our desire and communicate it to our partners, we often live our lives with our orgasm locked in resentment and rotting inside our bodies.

Men don’t have it much easier. They are expected to walk around with perpetual hard-ons and their worth as a man rests on their ability to please a woman all night long (a farcical notion frequently expressed in many love songs). If a man’s only experience is from watching porn and talking to his buddies, he may lie to cover up the fact that he doesn’t know how to handle a woman’s pussy and is too ashamed to admit it.

This shame, which is vacuum-sealed like Saran Wrap around our fear of sex, is why both men and women continue to hide within the ‘safety’ of societal conditioning; thus, unfortunately, widening the chasm between ourselves and our authentic erotic expression.

Photo: D. Sharon Pruitt

Many of us in more ‘liberal’ cities may think we have moved past this kind of archaic relationship with sexuality, but I contest that it is very present.

The war on abortion and women’s reproductive rights is a direct attack on female desire. The recent ban on gay marriage in North Carolina (as well as the ban on civil unions for both gay and straight couples) reinforces the belief that unless you are in a monogamous, long-term, heterosexual relationship, you are an unlawful deviant of society.

Furthermore, abstinence-only sex education is getting more of a push from right-wing leaders and now, young girls are attending events known as ‘Purity Balls,’ in which female teenagers pledge their virginity to God and elect their fathers as guardians—a role which then passes only to her future husband.

As you can see, there are many people and institutions more than willing to take the load of sexual responsibility off our hands. And the longer we continue to play this charade, the harder it gets to separate our personal truth from the social lie. To stand up and say,

“No, it is my life, my body and my sex. I will decide what is right for me,”

is nothing short of revolutionary.

In the past, I thought this meant doing all the kinky things I had avoided during my young adult years (my focus on school and my marriage were great places for my sex to hide). This ‘saying yes’ to every sexual opportunity that came my way was ‘proof’ that I was sexually expressed.

I see now that the more powerful (and vulnerable) choice lies in reclaiming my own erotic innocence, i.e. that part of myself that is simple, pure, unfiltered in her desires and lives with the ethos of ‘pleasure for the sake of pleasure’ and enjoys something simply because it feels good (rather than looks good), without the fear of ‘not deserving it,’ or ‘what do I have to give up in return.’ She doesn’t have to show off or prove her worth. For her, ‘No’ is a valid response—it gives her ‘Yes’ that much more power.

And my Erotic Innocent is a little dirty at times. Because it’s fun to break the rules. To be a little bad. It turns her on.

Rebellion is exciting because it paves the way for some new discovery—shakes up the status quo and creates the opportunity for messiness, play and growth. In confronting my childhood trauma, shame and hidden desires, I am now creating the space for all facets of my erotic being to emerge. Within this sexual self-compassion comes the ability to empathize with each person and accept their erotic self.

The newborn, the homeless guy, my father, the elderly lady on life support, the nun—everyone is a sexual being. We are all perfectly built for sensuality. And it is through personal acceptance that the doors of inspiration, abundance and living the life of your dreams open. It’s not a silly, utopian fantasy or a special place reserved only for those lucky enough to find it; it is your birthright.

The journey is not easy. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun. The pain, the shame, the falling apart, the voices of doubt—they are not my enemies. They are the raw material for my creativity and serve to remind me just how exquisitely human I am—all I have to do is to surrender to them. What a gift that is.

To recognize the gift, accept it with humility and pour out gratitude in service to the Divine is nothing short of grace.

And it is within the grace of surrender that an Erotic Innocent is ushered into Womanhood.


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About Candice Holdorf

Candice Holdorf is a writer, performer, sex + life coach and Orgasmic Meditation trainer. She is currently working on her book, “From 6 to 9 and Beyond: Widening the Lens of Feminine Eroticism.” You can pre-order your copy here. She is a writer for elephantjournal and The Good Men Project, as well as a performer and public speaker specializing in desire, sexuality and Orgasmic Meditation. She is also a former yoga teacher and recovering anorexic who has discovered that there is tremendous power inside of hunger. Find out more about Candice on her blog, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube


49 Responses to “Womanhood & the Reawakening of My Erotic Innocence. {Adult} ~ Candice Holdorf”

  1. fergus denhamer says:

    wonderful writing – what a great place you must have arrived at to write with such vulnerability and trust…..thank you for sharing parts of your journey

  2. @celestanina says:

    Loved your article. Funnily enough, I've arrived at the same conclusion but my journey was very different from yours. Giving into the shame for most of my life, I've ended up in the most extreme of places and to my detriment, no one explained to me that at some point, rebellion is okay and it SHOULD happen. I ended up in a place where no one wanted me to but all the paths they put me on led me to. At least, of course, knowing why this happened they way the did and finally being able to take ownership of something that had been "stolen" has been tremendously gratifying. Now, no one can take it away from me or tell me what's right or wrong, now, I decide. Better late than never.

  3. Better late than never indeed. So glad to hear that you have reclaimed that part of yourself. Many blessings on your journey.

  4. 9lbsoflove says:

    Candice- I love this! I am in tears. There is so much richness in your words, so much to which I can relate.
    I remember masturbating at 10 or 11 years old, pretending I didn't, then mocking my brother when I caught him. I told my parents, begging for my own bedroom under pretenses that he was "so gross." I had so much shame because I was doing the exact same thing, and thought I was the only girl on earth who did!

  5. […] Womanhood & the Reawakening of My Erotic Innocence. {Adult} ~ Candice Holdorf (elephantjournal.com) […]

  6. That is so sad and lovely to hear (sad to hear the shame and lovely to hear that you can relate). I remember harboring that secret for YEARS…not until college did I find out it was 'the cool thing' and even then I still didn't talk about it…much love to you sister…xoxo

  7. Ann says:

    Thank you, ive recently started to have this insight in my body that if i name the shame,
    it feels so good. It's so simple but powerful. I can tell my lover while we are making love
    "I feel ashamed now." And we can play with that feeling. He encourages me in different
    ways and we play. He tells me – "yea you should really be ashamed of yourself, dirty girl"
    this is such a relief, it's like it is Cleaning me to acknowledge this part of me and all the
    pleasure behind the shame is unleashed. I always though naming the shame and talking
    About it would make it grow uncontrollable. But how liberating isn't it to name it. Yea, it feels
    ugly And dirty and nasty and… that's it! Sometimes i need to stop and cry and sureender to the
    Sorrow and pain and anger but i dont always need that anymore, i find more options and its liberating me.
    So happy to finally make shame part of who I am. I've been struggling
    With the trauma of being abused as a child, and I can really relate to your story. Just so happy to find
    A way passed the thick doors of shame, by first allowing it within myself and then being able to share it.
    Makes my life more rich. Is the story ending there? I guess there is so much more to discover from here.
    I was really happy to read your post. Makes me feel there are many of us who have important stories to tell
    Instead of being trapped in thinking i must be only one.
    Love Ann

  8. This is so powerful! I'm such a fan of your rich, raw realness. Thank you so much for your words! You are so courageous.

  9. Rob Thomas says:

    Wonderful read this morning. As a man I was torn between laughing, crying and being aroused. The attitude is refreshing in today’s world of right wing puritanical mania. A reminder to hold on to our child mind and not be so serious about growing up.

  10. vish says:

    i wish i had read this 20 years ago- such honest expression and possibilities would have saved me a lot of fumbling and hurt

  11. Beautifully written and powerfully expressed. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible story. One doesn’t hear much of this, even among enlightened people and groups, sexuality and sensuality is still so repressed. You are doing seriously important work!

  12. aMAIzing says:

    LOVELY HONEY!!!! Muwaaaaahhhhh

  13. Thank you Mai! Mwah back atcha 🙂

  14. Thank you so much–I agree that sex tends to hangout with the nerds and freaks of the spiritual world…but what a fun bunch we are 😉 Many blessings!

  15. What a beautiful way to put it! Hold on to the child mind. I shall remember that…be well…

  16. Thank you so much for your words…it's an honor to have them received…blessings!

  17. Thank you for your honesty….there is much freedom (and huge turn on!) found when we lean into the shame and surrender to the sensation in there. There is always more on the journey…and how lucky we are that we get this life to discover it!! Blessings…

  18. Ah! I feel that…and yet the fumbling and the hurt are a part of what make us human–it's those experiences that allow us to connect with each other and discover the powerful healing balm of compassion. Many blessings and much love…xoxo

  19. Abby says:

    Wonderful writing. . . thank you for this. I was thinking about sexual shame the other day. I’m hoping we can move toward a world we can make love/fuck as we see fit without thinking less of ourselves for being exactly what we are–sexual beings. Fuck shame.

  20. Claudia says:

    This made me cry! Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been struggling over the past two years to move past/let go of shame, and it has been so hard. I am finding it difficult to write even this comment, like I am exposing myself–which just makes my cry more and even laugh at myself. Thank you again.

  21. reflectionsmassage says:

    thank you. thank you thank you thank you. oy. 🙂

  22. Julie Louise says:

    I am tickled that you're writing about such raw and tender places that so many of us know all too intimately (albeit riddled with shame). I would love to read more, have discussions, reveal my own places of confused and buried sexuality, and connect with this untapped well of healing and reclamation with others! I know that the OMing practice has served people to get in touch with and relax into their birthright of sensuality, so I CAN'T WAIT to begin with this practice! Candice, you're sentiment is completely right on, thank you for sharing the real memories; I have the same memories (shift and change minor details), and have only begun to find that liberation of the guilt and shame does come through naming.
    If you're ever in the Boulder area, please let us know! You're presence that comes through just your writing is a gift on this planet, thank you thank you thank you.

  23. val says:

    this is beautifully written- poignant, open, raw, vulnerable, truthful. thank you for being able to articulate a process that is so tender and deeply personal. and, as a woman with a similar background/in a similar place, SO powerfully relatable.

  24. sexy_girl says:

    Thank you so much, this is a wonderful article and is so relevant to my current process as a 42-year-old woman who is finally letting go of the shame and discomfort of being a highly sexual woman with "transgressive" tastes. It took finding lovers who think of me as a good lover and who are obviously turned on by me for me to get the message that yes, I am that desirable, and that naturally led me to embrace the fact that not only am I desirable, but I'm desiRING and have an incredible power to draw to me what I want. Exploring issues of power and domination, though I'm just beginning this because few of my past lovers have been confident enough to explore this with me, has so far been incredibly exhilarating and freeing. I love your raw, powerful, honest discussions of female sexuality!

  25. Yogabyroberta says:

    Thank you for your courage, vulnerability, and honesty. A beautiful article to read!

  26. […] this simple pleasure principle to our erotic selves is a remarkable healing balm for much of our sexual anxiety and accompanying dysfunctions. One of […]

  27. Evan says:

    This is beautiful. I have been thinking and feeling into many of the same things for awhile now. Thank you for your beautifully real voice. Love what you are sharing.

  28. James Vincent Knowles says:

    Bravo! Bravissimo! Beautiful~!

  29. Hah…fuck shame…I myself and trying to get more curious about my own shame 🙂
    Thanks for reading and be well!

  30. Gorgeous–thank you for sharing and thank you for reading…xo

  31. haha…thank YOU!

  32. Wow–thank you for the invitation! I definitely will let you know when I am in the Boulder area. Take care and I am so glad you are trying the OM practice! xoxo

  33. Wonderful to hear that you can connect…much love to you and thank you for reading!

  34. Thank you for reading and enjoy your exploring! Your sexuality is quite an adventure…xo

  35. Thank you for reading! xo

  36. Thank you for reading!

  37. […] have seen examples of different forms of social conditioning in our world […]

  38. […] discrepancy between inner and outer creates the kind of internal schism that tears people apart—that wreaks havoc on people’s relationships, marriages, families, health and […]

  39. […] women to be sexy and sexual, but not for the sake of celebrating the female body or the inherent wholeness of orgasmic pleasure. Rather, the underlying message was always about sex as a means to an end. That end was to get or […]

  40. […] play. The Achievement Brain categorizes things as Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, Winner/Loser, which can be fertile breeding ground for shame. Anything that is good is to be clung to and anything bad is to be avoided. The Orgasmic Brain has […]

  41. […] confirmed something I’d always suspected but was too ashamed to admit: a woman, surrendered to her orgasm, is undeniably, divinely […]

  42. […] holds us back from living life as one whole being without guilt, without shame, without […]

  43. rachael says:

    At the age of 31, and spending nearly 11yrs as being defined as a lesbian woman, I have recently over the last 6 months began sleeping with men. I say men, I mean 3, all in consensual awareness of my situation and how new, scary, naive, glorious and vulnerable it all was. I chose not to question my sexual preferences from the very moment I started talking to the guy who would take my ‘lesbian virginity’, I have nor will I ever feel shamed for what I do with my sex. I however have discovered that the problems that reared their ugly heads in my same sex relationships, did once more again, letting me know I am not ready by any chance for a relationship, and gender doesn’t change how people are, some men are as bad as women and emotional intelligence which in turns inadvertently connected to sexual intelligence. I am a dirty girl, and whilst I love women, I love me more, and it’s time for me to do some rebelling of my own
    Thank you.
    Sat nam

  44. Chandra says:

    This is beautiful.

  45. Jourdan says:


    It is clear that a message like this was needed to be said, just from the many "thank-you"s and " I just discovered this!" I read in the comments. I, too, have struggled with my erotic side and reading an article that says "Yes, you are okay, beautiful, and normal, here's why.." is a breath of fresh air, and something actually relatable. I sincerely appreciate your candidness and prying yourself open into the depth of childhood secrets (which of course refreshed some of my memories)

    Jourdan, http://allandcompass.blogspot.ca/

  46. ashok says:

    Such intense and candid stuff. I salute your courage and am grateful to you for sharing this perspective which has opened my eyes to a hitherto undisclosed/suppressed dimension of myself. I have grown some more just by reading this today. Thank you! God bless!

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