July 21, 2020

Understanding our Deep, Quiet Sexuality on the Days we Feel “Off.”

I’ve never paid such close attention to my sexual energy as I have over the past year, since I committed to writing about sex at least twice a week.

My sexiest stuff is spun when my sexual energy is off the charts, surging out of me like a tsunami—which, believe it or not, is not a difficult state for me to access. I often feel like I have an excess of creative/sexual energy, which is why I am constantly working on my photography, writing, and art, and why I (usually) love to write about sex.

However, there are days—weeks, even—when my sexual energy is low due to various factors. For instance, when my depression or anxiety creeps up on me, or when I have an argument with a loved one.

Oftentimes, my low sexual energy is synonymous with a feeling of disconnection; in other words, the energy is not just low, it feels inaccessible to me. I feel like I can’t connect with my sexuality, as if I’m wearing a heavy jacket that I can’t slip off.

I often dread this feeling because, as you can imagine, it is hard to write anything sexy when I am struggling to access my sexuality. When the deadline for my column Howl approaches, I cringe. What the hell am I going to write when I feel like this? I ask myself.

I always joke with my readers that they can probably tell when I’m struggling to connect with my sexuality. I’m not particularly saucy and I definitely can’t pen something like Touch My Clit unless I’m “in the mood.” You’ll see me writing more on topics about sexuality that aren’t necessarily sexy when I’m feeling off.

But as I’m learning to understand my sexuality better, I’m discovering all kinds of ways it expresses itself. I used to assume that it was low and even perhaps inaccessible when I was feeling sexually “quiet”—when I didn’t feel a desire to share or express my sexuality outwardly.

As I’m learning, that’s not necessarily true.

Quiet sexuality

I remember many times in my last relationship when my sexual energy felt not quite low, but quiet. Not the usual raging river, but a gently flowing creek. Sometimes, I’d pop into the shower with my partner or initiate sex as we crawled into bed—slowly, softly, with an unhurried desire. He’d always laugh and say, “I had no idea you were in the mood. You’ve been so quiet I didn’t think you were interested in sex at all.”

But I was interested. I just didn’t show it in the way he had come to expect—with the passion and eagerness I so often expressed. The energy was flowing and I wanted to sexually engage. But I wanted to do it slowly. Deliberately. Deeply. And quietly. I didn’t need or want the fanfare of my typically passionate nature.

As a single woman, I’m learning to identify this same phenomenon that I have regularly experienced in relationships. I’m learning not to assume that I’m “off” or disconnected from my sexuality just because my energy feels low.

It’s not low. It’s quiet. It’s more introspective. It’s running deeper than usual, instead of surging upward.

I’ve been feeling a lot of this in the wake of world events over the past month. I’ve been feeling deeply introspective, deeply in need of some soul-searching and heart-led action. These are not times when my sexuality is raucous and rumbling.

It’s quiet. Far beneath the surface. Running deep from my core to my source, instead of outward into the world. And while it’s a different expression, I’m learning that it’s not at all the same as being disconnected from my sexuality.

Getting to know our sexuality

Our sexual energy is no different than anything else about the natural world—it runs in cycles. The sun rises and sets, the moon changes its shape, the seasons move from one to another and back again.

Further, we all have different “base settings” for our sexual energy—some of us run high, some low, some in between—and when we deviate from that baseline, that’s when we notice that something feels off. It might be a good thing; for instance, someone with a low sexual energy who suddenly feels it surge might enjoy that a great deal. But for people like me, with generally high sexual energy, a deviation can feel as though something is wrong. Especially if we have spent years ignoring our sexuality.

I only started connecting with my sexuality in my 40s. After a string of sexual assaults and abusive relationships, I learned to put my sexuality into a box and keep it there. It felt safer to think of myself as an unattractive misfit who couldn’t quite get it together.

But after 40, as I realized that my sexuality was my power—and even my ticket to freedom—I found myself willing to challenge my beliefs about who I was. I dared to start trying on the role of “sexy woman” through a practice of taking self-portraits.

I’m sure this hardly seems earth-shattering in a culture where sexy selfies are the norm. But I can tell you right now that this was revolutionary for me. Except for a few photos I took for my last partner, I had never before posed in a sexy way in front of the camera. The idea was laughable because I just didn’t see myself that way. I didn’t see myself as sexy or capable of even pretending to be sexy.

So yes, taking self-portraits that expressed my sexuality felt overwhelmingly rebellious this past year. How dare I do something so ballsy when I’d had so many men in my life tell me I was fat and ugly and couldn’t be lovable unless I lost 20 pounds, waxed everything from the neck down, and found a way to remove my stretch marks and cellulite.

But I have been determined to reclaim my power and my right to define myself. And part of that has included allowing myself to express my sexuality—no matter what anyone says or thinks.

Recently, on a walk out in the woods where I took my most recent set of sexy photos, I considered whether or not I wanted to take another set of shots. I did, I realized…but not the way I had done before. I didn’t want to take more sexy photos.

I immediately wondered if I was losing my connection to my sexuality again. But as I stood there in the place so dear to my spirit, I knew I was not experiencing that disconnection. On the contrary, I could feel my sexuality surging strongly within me. I felt powerful in it. Grounded.

I just had no desire to express it outwardly.

Going deeper

The more I learn to pay attention to and connect with my sexuality, the more I feel its power and consistency. It is always there—it just looks and feels differently at different times. I might lose my way and find it hard to connect, but for the most part, I am learning to trust the flow that is always running through me.

I still have access to the same power and strength at times like this—when my sexuality is deep and quiet—as I do when it’s surging out of me. Sometimes, I’m a Wood’s rose, my branches reaching riotously into the sky. Other times, I’m wild sage, my taproot creeping deeper into the earth, unseen and unheard.

Today, I don’t want to pull my slip over my shoulders and take photographs. I don’t want to soften my gaze or throw my shoulders back. I don’t want to write explicitly about desire and sex.

But I’m still here. I’m not disconnected from my sexuality. I’m not blocked or lost to myself.

I’m just running deep. I want to dive into the spiritual and philosophical side of sexuality. I want to keep my physical expression of sexuality to myself. I want to hold this flame close to my body where it will warm me, and me alone.

This is the strength of my sexuality, too.


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