When I was a practicing gynecologist, a huge proportion of my patients admitted to feeling sexually unsatisfied when I gave them permission to express their authentic feelings. Now that Iíve transitioned from seeing gynecology patients to working with coaching clients, Iím seeing the same thing. So many of us feel a restlessness, a sense of yearning, a longing for something perhaps we feel we donít quite deserve. We may love our partners and enjoy the intimacy we do have, and yet we have long suppressed the wild pony that bucks and kicks within us.
When I went to Sheila Kelleyís S Factor retreat last fall, I had the privilege of personally experiencing and witnessing in other women what happens when you invite your erotic creature to come out and dance. Within every women lies an authentic sexual being, but many of us donít know this part of ourselves at all. What we do know of this woman may terrify us. We may shame her into silence and banish her to the back recesses of our mind. We may fear her. And yet, sheís there. And the more we ignore her, the more restless we feel.
My new friend Pamela Madsen was feeling just like this when she began a journey of sexual awakening. She was a virgin when she married her husband, and they had been together for twenty-something years when the restlessness grew intense enough to spur her into action. Her friends were all having affairs in order to burn off some of their unbridled sexual energy, but Pamela didnít want to cheat on her husband, whom she adores. Then a friend told her about a way she might have another manís hands on her without having an affair, and Pamela stepped off the cliff into a sexual journey that changed her life.
Her journey of sensual self-discovery is beautifully and masterfully chronicled in her new memoir Shameless: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure, and Somehow Got Home In Time To Cook Dinner, which I just devoured cover to cover in four days like I was licking the plate after eating every mouthful of double chocolate delight. In her courageous book, Pamela bravely steps into her own desires like a miner with a headlamp treads into a dark cave. What she discovers in her shameless pursuit for sexual authenticity shocks, delights, confuses, and ultimately, heals her.
By facing the truth about her sexual desires, Pamela overcomes a lifetime struggle with her weight and body issues, finally believes that she is beautiful and desirable, reclaims the spring in her step, and gets her mojo back. And the best part — not only does she stay married to her lifelong sweetheart, but they grow together as the result of her independent sexual exploration.
When I work with patients or clients who feel sexually restless, I prescribe this exercise.
An Exercise In Awakening Your Authentic Sexual Self
- For the sake of exploration, if you have a current sexual partner, pretend your partner is in a coma in the ICU, and your authentic sexual self cannot depend upon this person for your sexual pleasure in any way. This is all about YOU, not him or her.
- Now put all judgment aside. Send your inner critic and all of your fears to time out.
- Knowing that you must figure this out yourself, get clear on what really turns you on. What do you fantasize about? What gets you off? Is it girl-on-girl action? Bondage fantasies? Having a threesome with your husband and your best friend? Leather straps? A fetish? An affair with your boss? Remember, donít judge what turns you on. Look it in the eye. Admit it to yourself. Youíre not acting on it, so donít worry. Give yourself permission to accept what turns you on.
- Let yourself go there in your mind. Visualize your fantasy in great detail.
- Now marry your fantasy with your integrity. In Pamelaís mind, she wanted another manís hands on your body in a sexual way but having an affair wasnít in line with her integrity. So she sought out the help of sexual healers who offered her one-way touch on a massage table. Ask yourself how you might move closer to bringing your fantasy to life.
- Take steps towards getting more in touch with your turn on. Read erotic literature. Watch porn. Attend a sexuality workshop. Get a sexual massage. Take an S Factor feminine movement/pole dancing class or a burlesque class. Schedule a boudoir photography session. Do things you can do without your partner to get you in touch with what turns you on.
- Now, if you do have a partner, integrate what youíve learned about yourself into your relationship. Your partner will notice how sexually charged you become when you allow yourself to begin fulfilling your fantasies. Tell your partner your biggest fantasies. If itís aligned with your integrity, admit that you want a threesome or an S&M experience or whatever your heart desires. Who knows. Your partner may desire the same thing. And if not, at least your partner will know something true and authentic about you. Hopefully, that will open up more honest communication that will allow both of you to move into a more satisfying sexual relationship. If it doesnít, thatís good to know, right?
Own Your Desires
As Pamela tells us in Shameless, she was fortunate that her sexual awakening led to a deepening in her marriage, but this isnít always the case. Sometimes, my clients fear being honest about their sexual desires because they suspect that pursuing their desires may threaten their relationship, possibly even leading to a break up.
But whatís the alternative? Pretending to be something youíre not?† Withholding the truth about your authentic sensual self? Sucking it up and living with the restlessness? Lying to yourself?
No thanks. If you read the reviews, some are judging Pamela for the journey she chose to make. Yes, itís true that she veered off the traditional path in her journey back to herself, and she did it very publicly by telling her story. But I admire her. I think sheís not just shameless, but fearless. I want to celebrate how powerfully she let her freak flag fly and high five her for doing what she needed to do to get her mojo back.
I want to meet her in person and give her a hug.
What about you? What does your sensual self desire? How might you get one step closer to bringing that desire into your life? Can you set aside judgment and let yourself feel sensual in whatever way turns you on? Even if you canít tell us the truth, can you tell yourself?
Oh yeah, baby. Thatís the ticket.