A close girlfriend of mine was sharing a “guilty pleasure” with me last week.
She was left feeling guilty because she enjoyed every minute of the sexual experience. Her natural instincts told her she shouldn’t have enjoyed it; that, rather, she should’ve felt ashamed.
She asked me: “Does this make me a bad person?”
I assured her that it didn’t make her a bad person at all.
Everyone is allowed to have exploratory phases in their life. Nothing we enjoy should make us feel guilty.
“You’re allowed to enjoy yourself and explore all sides of your personality and desires, sexual or otherwise,” I told her. Those were my words of wisdom for her, along with sharing some of my similar experiences.
The conversation got me thinking how people, especially women, tend to always feel guilty about things that bring us pleasure. For some of us, like my friend, it could stem from something like her conservative, Irish Catholic upbringing or past insecurities.
Personally, before I let go of it, my guilt stemmed from the fear of being judged and not being accepted, as well as past self esteem and self worth issues. But, once I looked inside my soul and stopped giving a fu*k about what other people thought of me, I started to let go of the guilt.
At the same time, my confidence spiked and I felt more empowered as a woman.
We go through life being told what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s moral and immoral, what we are allowed to do/feel/say and what is not allowed. Most of the time, what’s wrong, immoral, and not allowed are simply societal norms being thrust upon us like a heavy, wet blanket; not what our personal feelings or beliefs are. To be honest, most of the so-called “bad stuff” is usually the most fun and feels pretty damn good!
When we get pleasure from these socially-deemed “bad things”, we tend to feel guilty, just like my friend did.
I know I have in my past experiences and there have been plenty of them, from tame to taboo. There’s been instances of the Ben & Jerry’s I shouldn’t have had at 1 a.m., the night I flirted shamelessly with a guy just because I wanted to, and the countless Sunday mornings I’ve laid in bed until noon or later. Whatever the guilty pleasure is, we enjoy it, have fun and get pleasure from it; but, feel guilty afterwards.
I believe the guilt sits heavier when it comes to sexual matters, especially for women.
A year or so ago, I would’ve been careening into a guilt-ridden frenzy over the one night of mind-blowing sex I had a few months ago with an acquaintance of mine. That crazy (and amazing) night a few years ago with my then girlfriend and her husband would’ve made me feel like I was wearing the scarlet letter long after. But, you know what? I don’t give a flying fu*k what others may think about me anymore. That’s what gave me freedom from the guilt.
“I shouldn’t have had/done (insert guilty pleasure here_____)” was constantly on repeat in my inner monologue. That’s just the first part; then, the actual feelings of guilt would begin to build. I’ve tried to internally justify the experiences to rid myself of the guilt. Sometimes, it works. But, I really didn’t need to let that guilt kick me in the gut, because I know, that I am allowed. You are allowed. We are all allowed!
It is a phrase not said and acknowledged enough in our world today. It gives us the freedom to actually have experiences and learn from them. We are allowed to fu*k it all up—it’s how we learn and grow. We’re allowed to have crazy sexual experiences, extra cake, extra sleep and not feel guilty.
For far too long, society has tried to steer our paths and influence the experiences we have and tell us what’s right and what’s wrong. As long as it isn’t illegal, do whatever makes you happy, what you enjoy and brings you pleasure.
Will feelings of guilt still creep in from time to time? Of course they will, it’s human nature, but, that doesn’t mean you have to submit to them. This is where we learn how to accept ourselves for who we truly are and acknowledge that it is okay to enjoy things that go against the norm.
This is where we forgive ourselves for not fully allowing our true self to shine. We only get one ride on this merry-go-round, you damn sure better make it merry.
Author: Jenn Kopec
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Image: Flickr / Mr Seb