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May 23, 2020

Erotic Self-Realization: How I found Sexual Fulfillment & Expression.

“Are you seeing anyone?”

It seems like the majority of my adult life revolved around this question. I, like many women, had a single-minded focus on ensuring that I would be able to consistently answer this question with a proud, “yes!”

In this culture, we attach so much validation to our romantic relationships. We invest so much of our self-esteem in our sexual encounters.

But what I really came to realize as I entered my 40s, is that so many of us believe that our sexuality can only be realized with a partner.

One of the greatest gifts of my 40s has been the realization that that’s a lie. I’ve learned that our sexuality transcends relationships. It is, in fact, too big to be contained in this way.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to understand more about sexuality than I had learned in all the years prior—even when I was in relationships. I’ve learned how to realize my own sexuality—because I know now, I don’t need a relationship in order to do so.

Here’s how:

Knowing myself.

I started this journey quite naturally, just by following my own desires. I’ve always had a natural curiosity about what turns me on since I was a young girl. Even when overwhelmed with shame around my sexuality that I inherited from our puritanical culture, I knew what my body liked and I learned to ask for it.

Pursuing pleasure.

I once confessed to a man I was dating that I believed, to some extent, in hedonism. I felt strongly that pleasure was important, and that our culture was misguided in the way it shamed pleasure. He responded by saying that only people who don’t want to grow up prioritize pleasure.

Though I admit I stuck around for a little while longer, I knew then that he wasn’t the right person for me. Because I still believe that the pursuit of pleasure is not only legitimate—it’s essential to our physical, mental, and emotional health.

As I wish I had said to this man I once dated, the gods wouldn’t have given us sex if pleasure wasn’t meant to be pursued with a fiery passion?

Accepting myself.

This was not as easy, but the only way I could allow myself to pursue pleasure was to accept the things that gave me pleasure. That meant that I had to learn how to face my shame. I had to learn how to stop judging myself for what I wanted. I had to learn how to see myself and my sexual proclivities as not just “normal” (whatever that means) but worthy.

Speaking up for what I want.

I’ve come to believe that so much of our sexuality is about simply taking up space—a part of which means saying what I want. It started in the bedroom, then seeped into other parts of my romantic relationships. But what really changed my life was declaring what I wanted in all parts of my life, in all my relationships.

How can anyone give us what we want if we aren’t clear about what that is? And how can we receive what we want if we aren’t brave enough to speak our desires aloud?

Expressing my sexuality in everyday life.

Sexuality is about so much more than what happens in the bedroom. It’s what you wear. What you say. How you say it. How you move your body.

Our sexuality influences everything that we are. When we fail to express it anywhere else but in the bedroom with a partner, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

And don’t be mistaken that I’m talking about doing more sit-ups, or spending more time styling our hair each morning, or wearing heels or red lipstick every day. F*ck cultural standards that try to define what’s sexy. If that stuff is sexy to you, go for it, but you can express your sexuality simply by not wearing a bra, by wearing looser, more flowing clothing.

Maybe expressing your sexuality means wearing your hair down more often, being more physically affectionate with others, or sharing your dreams more openly. Maybe it means speaking in a louder voice—or a softer one.

Our “sexual style” is as unique as our fashion sense and letting ourselves express that can be incredibly empowering.

Refusing to acknowledge limits.

For a long time, I believed that the only way I could achieve sexual satisfaction was within a relationship. I felt less-than without a partner. And masturbation was just sloppy seconds that didn’t count as sex.

But after my last partner left in a way that was incredibly disrespectful and hurtful, something inside me became determined to find a way to be not only happy but satisfied, all on my own.

I’ve challenged myself to enjoy my own company. I’ve stretched myself to take care of myself in romantic ways. And I’ve turned masturbation into a practice that feels every bit as nourishing as having sex with a partner—just in a different way.

A few years into this journey, I can say that I’m more sexually satisfied than I’ve ever been. I can say with certainty that this isn’t a fluke, it’s not a passing phase in my life or a short-lived attempt at self-empowerment.

Each year, I find myself sinking deeper into this experience in ways that surprise and delight me. I still have moments in which I long for a romantic relationship or mind-blowing sex with another person, but I also feel so satisfied on my own, so “erotically self-realized,” that I rarely feel an urgency to change my circumstances.

I no longer cringe when I hear someone ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” I’m not afraid when the answer to that question is “no.” Because, I know a secret that has changed my life—I don’t need to be in a relationship to feel sexually satisfied or to fully inhabit and express my sexuality.

I can do that all on my own.

~

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