As a 37 year old mother of five, I haven’t always been in a place where I embraced pleasure.
For years I felt shame in my body and enjoyed sex but thought it was more for the other than it was for me. No one had ever told me that sex could be just as much about me and my pleasure as it was about my partner’s. Even though it felt good, I was ashamed of that and held back parts of myself so as to not go too far with it. I didn’t think that I deserved it.
Four years ago however, something really started to change for me.
My body woke up and I began to feel alive. I paid more attention to my physical self, was more aware of the food I ate, and sought out ways to build my strength. My sexual desires became a prominent part of my everyday life—desires from the root of myself. I paid attention to these desires but, not really knowing what to do with them, decided to look inward.
I began by taking an honest look at myself and my beliefs and values around sex, intimacy, desire, shame, pleasure and my body. Where did these beliefs and ideas come from and why did they hold me? Why did I still hold them? What purpose did they serve? What was true for me and why was it true for me? Was there another way of seeing things? What beliefs and behaviours would support me being a fully alive, sexually empowered human being?
I found the answers in my childhood, my sexual history, by examining our culture and its encouragement of women to look sexual but be virginal, and in my deepest desire for authenticity and wholeness. I had been through no sexual trauma and yet I was afraid to show this side of myself for fear that it would be too much.
Where were the positive, sexually empowered, female role models in our society? Who could I look to for support?
I read many books and found some comfort in the words of women who had felt these same feelings as I was. While I gained an incredible amount of knowledge from these books, I had yet to find one that truly spoke to me and my beliefs, who I was, and where I wanted to go.
Aside from reading books I also began to get acquainted with my body through touch. I realized that I had never touched myself lovingly and that I didn’t even know my own body. I knew about release and orgasm but I had never touched myself like I would touch another lover. I began to do just that and in touching myself I got to know my body.
I discovered where I held shame and where I held pleasure. I felt my stories pass through my fingertips as I became acquainted with myself on a level that I hadn’t known before. With absolutely no barrier between my body and my touch, I was discovering intimacy with each stroke of my skin. Intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus meaning “innermost.”
To be intimate with another, it is necessary to first become intimate with ourselves.
Travelling the distance of my body with my hands, I explored new ways to pleasure myself. My sexual awakening began with myself and I fell in love. In love with the body that carried four of my five babies. In love with the young girl that I once was and the woman that I longed to become. In love with the scars, the stretch marks, the muscle and the lines that held my stories.
Loving myself and embracing my pleasure came from my own touch.
Author: Natasha Salaash
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s Own