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I lost my virginity to my best friend when I was 15 years old.
It wasn’t planned, and there was zero romance—just checking a box.
We came home from a house party and decided it was time to grow up and see what we’d been missing. A mutual friend bought us a condom from the 7-Eleven, and 10 minutes later we were finished.
It wasn’t special, meaningful, or even memorable.
I didn’t feel much pleasure or pain. And it definitely didn’t feel like a rite of passage.
If anything, we were both disappointed. What was the hype all about, and why did everyone want to have sex?
Fast forward to 13 years later, and after five long-term relationships and 10 years of monogamy, I still hadn’t experienced an orgasm. I decided that was it—no more relationships until I figured out what was going on down there!
Even as a little girl, I was curious about my sexuality. I played with myself and discovered different ways to entice ecstatic waves of pleasure all throughout my body. But somewhere along the way, these orgasmic states disappeared.
My parents projected a lot of shame around masturbation. I remember enjoying the sensations, but knowing it was wrong to touch myself. I had to choose between approval and love over my natural physiological responses.
After years of sex and partnership, I realized I was the only common denominator. And I was so full of humiliation and guilt that I never told anyone. I pretended that sex was amazing and reenacted scenes from adult films, never feeling fully satisfied.
I knew that the sexual abuse I endured as a child could be blocking my ability to feel true intimacy. It was also clear to me that my sexual partners weren’t really giving me what I needed: presence, real connection, and genuine acceptance.
After graduating from a health coaching program, I felt empowered to take the matter of the missing “O” into my own hands. It was time I found out what was stopping me from embracing my sexuality.
My mentor recommended I work with a professional sex coach. A week later, I was sitting on a boat in Mexico, talking over Skype to Mariah—a complete stranger—about my most vulnerable secrets. I told her about the sexual abuse I experienced at different times in my life. I brushed off a few events as “accidents,” when they truly were assault. It was such a relief to share these stories with someone I could trust.
Mariah listened to me without judgement or the need to try and fix me. Instead, we started by approaching the present moment:
“What kind of relationship do you have with your vagina?”
Hmm, well that’s something I’d never really given much thought. So, I started a Pussy Journal—yup, that’s right!—where I recorded the feelings and desires of my pussy.
I realized my vagina was angry and desensitized. I had ignored her for so many years, never once trying to connect with her in a meaningful way. Asking her, or myself, what it was that I wanted. Instead, I just “performed” what I thought my partners wanted, which included faking orgasms that I wasn’t really experiencing.
I rebuilt the relationship with my vagina with mindfulness, embodied practices, and self-love. I learned to cultivate pleasure and desire that was aligned to my wishes. And with time, I had the courage to put boundaries in place that supported my well-being.
Finally, I knew what really turned me on. How to ask for the things I wanted. What it was like to be truly present and receptive to my partner. And how to give this pleasure to myself.
In my journey, I discovered three practices that can help each of us connect to our sexuality:
Welcome all the feelings, emotions, and discomfort that might come up during your explorations. It may take a while to find out what turns you on. The same exercise might feel good one moment and not so great the next. Accept, with loving-kindness, whatever comes to the surface.
It takes practice to drop into self-pleasure with ease, especially if it’s a new experience. Imagine the habits you’ve created over a lifetime—they don’t just change overnight. Keep playing and your sexuality will grow with you.
Play with your body and see what areas are more sensitive and elicit pleasure. Perhaps it’s a light, feathery touch with your fingertips over your neck or inner thighs. Maybe you prefer a firmer touch around your breasts and nipples. I recommend taking a hot bath or shower first, washing yourself gently with care and intention. Remind yourself that you’re a sexy, beautiful badass, and it is your divine right to feel pleasure.
Once you’re relaxed, move the explorations into a candle-lit room where you feel warm and comfortable. Turn on some sexy music, then slowly touch and massage your body. Oils and lotion are a good addition to this exercise.
When was the last time you looked at your vagina? I remember doing this exercise five years ago and I wasn’t into it—well, at least not in the beginning. I wanted to think my vagina was beautiful, but I didn’t. The negative perspective we have about any part of our body makes a difference, inside and out.
Use a hand-held mirror and find a quiet room to connect with your yoni, a sanskrit word meaning “sacred space,” because yes, your vagina is a temple. Look at her, send her love, and listen. Does she have anything to share? Spend a few minutes writing about this experience in your journal.
Remember, it’s never too late to find your pleasure.