Your Self-Pleasure Story: “The Guilt Is Gone. . .”

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// photo courtesy of Edie Sunday \\

“I have been touching myself since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories surround touching myself. I can vividly picture one night when I was trying to decide whether to soothe myself to sleep by sucking my thumb or masturbating. I must have been 4 or 5.

Of course, when I was that young, I had no idea there was a name for what I was doing. Only when I learned there was a name for it did there begin to be secrecy and shame surrounding the pleasure I had previously been experiencing.

So, into my teenage years, I would go for a period of time denying myself that pleasure, thinking it was dirty and even a sin. The guilt I experienced was immense and was all the more confusing because I thought, “How could something that feels so good be wrong?”

Fast forward to my young married life where I would pleasure myself in secret as I was unable to achieve orgasm, no matter how much my partner and I tried through varied means and methods. I later learned that this was termed secondary anorgasmia.

My partner and I would discuss it, sometimes labeling it a problem, sometimes just letting it go. But the challenge always was that I left our sexual encounters feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. The emotional connection felt amazing, the physical contact was stimulating, but I was not getting my sexual needs met.

That is, until I realized that I could combine the pleasure of solo-sex with my partner. My motivation to initiate sex went way up and his pleasure in watching me touch myself has enhanced our relationship. We both express more connection and satisfaction when we are able to share that together.

I no longer pressure myself to orgasm any other way, and neither does he.

The guilt is now gone through the affirmation I receive from my partner and the knowledge that sexual pleasure should be celebrated.”

Written by Ginger

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Want to share your self-pleasure story? National Masturbation Month is almost over. . .

5 Ways to Overcome Shame in Masturbation

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// photo courtesy of London Zhiloh \\

When I was a teen, I was very active in my church community, & one particular evening, my weekly youth group was set up a little differently. Rather than the usual rowdy game of Capture the Flag with a light-hearted sermon afterward, we instead did a special hour-long Q&A session with a couple of our other youth pastors.

This would be our chance to ask our burning questions about sex, love, & other teenaged-life conundrums & get answers from our older & wiser youth leaders based on a Christian perspective—a kind of rapid-fire What would Jesus do? session.

I don’t remember any of the questions asked, but I’ll never forget this one discussion prompted by one of the popular guys.

He stood up, a smirk on his face, laughing a little. His question: “So, like, what does God think about masturbation?”

The rest of us laughed at both the absurdity & the audacity of his question, while his slaphappy friends high-fived him & gave him playful smacks on the back. This was gonna be good.

When the laughter & hooting died down, one of our youth leaders addressed his question by asking another.

“Let me ask you, son. What do you think about when you’re masturbating?”

More laughter. Youth pastor quickly adds, “You’re lusting, right?” The boy, sitting now with his troupe of buddies, crosses his arms & kind of shrugs, still smirking a little.

“I mean, the bible’s very clear about what God thinks about lust,” the pastor said. “And the images you’re creating in your mind while masturbating aren’t clean. They’re dirty thoughts. They’re sinful thoughts.”

We, the audience, a group of 13-15 year olds with pimples on our chins & sex on our brains, are quieter now, thoughtful.

The pastor continues. “How would you feel if Jesus were in the room while you masturbated? Would you be OK with that?” We fidgeted uncomfortably in our seats, giggling cautiously.

“Probably not,” the pastor answers for him. “Jesus is all things. He’s always there with us, he always knows the content of our hearts. So next time you’re masturbating & thinking sinful thoughts, remember that. OK! Next question!”

Well. That explains it. Masturbation equals lust, lust equals sin. And sinning is bad, so masturbation is obviously bad.

All of my shame & guilt around not just masturbation but sexuality became wrapped up in that ideal, which birthed other falsehoods: Sex with myself is a perversion. Dirty thoughts are wrong. Jesus wouldn’t sin (masturbate), so I shouldn’t either.

This is one of the most prominent origin stories of my sexual shame.

It’s all too common for women to be introduced to sexual shame by way of religious beliefs & putting-the-fear-of-god-in-you type of thinking. And these are some of the most stubborn ideals to release.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of a sexual act with myself, & my mind somehow, out of of nowhere, goes to this place of “Jesus is watching you sin” or “What you’re doing is wrong in the eyes of God.” Not only are these thoughts invasive, they’re incredibly damaging to my sexual expression. They make me panicky & deeply shameful.

These thoughts, I’d like to add, are also bullshit.

How could they possibly be true? God created sexual energy! Got created orgasm! And this God, who makes no mistakes, made sure to equip my body with a clitoris, whose only prime function on my body is to give me intense pleasure!

Apart from that, I intuitively know that these “Masturbation is sinful” thoughts are bullshit because some of the most spiritual experiences I’ve ever had have come with sex, where I felt God so present in my body, where I felt so connected to divine & infinite love.

But still . . . those dogmatic thoughts poke through.

So, how does one cope with the shame & guilt that’s often attached to self-pleasure?

I have a couple ideas, & they’re founded on assignments I give my clients when we’re working through sexual shame.

And these aren’t just for those who need to release religious (both in the organizational & habitual sense) dogmas from their sexualities. This can also be for those dealing with other heavy feelings associated with solo sex: trauma, limiting beliefs, & general body shame.

1. Closely examine your negative notions about masturbation.

Think back: Where did these beliefs come from? Who put these ideas into your head & body? Can you pinpoint where it all began?

It can be challenging to go inward & analyze where these unpretty thoughts originated, especially if they were born of trauma. But getting to the core of your sexual wounding is key.

Without it, the foundation of your sexual liberation will be built on shaky ground.

So, if you want to feel good about self-pleasuring, dig in deep to uncover the gunk behind the negative beliefs. It’ll be messy, but in acknowledging them, you’ll be in a better place to heal & move forward with lighter ideas of your sexual expression.

2. Want to continue to believe the bullshit? It’s up to you.

Whenever I’m in session with a client & we get on the topic of the negative beliefs that create sexual shame, I like to ask them this one simple question: Is it true?

This question often stops them dead in their tracks. That recording in their minds that’s on constant loop—This is bad, this is sinful, I should be ashamed—is suddenly called into question, & they re-realize their inherent power.

Those negative dogmas go against their own commonsense, & if they don’t think it’s true, they don’t have to believe it any longer.

I remind myself of this often, actually: I know intuitively that the beliefs that bring me sexual shame aren’t true, & I make an active choice to not subscribe to them.

This takes practice, of course, but just having this perspective has changed the inner landscape of my mind.

3. Create new & positive affirmations around self-pleasure.

If you’ve found that the damaging thoughts about sex & self-pleasure aren’t true & you no longer want to believe in them, perfect!—you’ve made the first step in rewriting your beliefs about your radiant sexuality & erotic expression.

Yes, you get to choose what you want to believe in place of those harmful ideals. You can choose to see your sexuality as lightness, as heathy, as completely whole & safe.

So, what do you want to believe instead?

Maybe that self-pleasure is a beautiful gesture of self-love & -intimacy. Maybe that your sexual nature is perfect as it is because God created it so. Or, maybe that masturbation is one of the safest, loveliest forms of sexual expression.

You are inherently powerful, & you can absolutely construct new beliefs about masturbation & sex that empower you, that make you feel like a sex goddess, that glorify this intimate relationship you’re creating with yourself.

4. Inviting spirituality into your sexual expression.

I often hear of people who try to compartmentalize their sexual expressions from their spirituality. They do this as a way to cope with the invasive idea that God is watching them sin, so they drown out God from their erotic explorations, kind of hanging up a Do Not Disturb sign that keeps Spirit from entering.

I have no judgment for people who do this. Given the circumstances, it’s completely understandable. But I’d like I offer a different approach:

Rather than keeping the spiritual & the sexual separate, try integrating the spiritual into the sexual.

When I was challenging my own beliefs about masturbation & sex, my spiritual beliefs were also getting thrown into the mix. As I was trying to embrace myself as a sexual woman, I couldn’t help but think about God watching me & shaking his head in disappointment (which, creepy).

Keeping God & morality out of sex seemed like the only way I could enjoy myself. Until I tried this one thing.

Before I masturbated (& sometimes while I masturbated), I said a prayer. And in saying this prayer, I said affirming things about my beautiful sexuality & invited God to witness & bless this act of sensual playtime.

I went from seeing God as this stern, prudish guardian who frowns upon sex to viewing God as an all-loving, all-accepting energy that sees my self-lovin’ as an act of spiritual worship.

Because the God that I believe in loves sex, loves seeing me blissed out with pleasure. The God I believe in wants me to feel good.

In saying this prayer, & invoking spirituality within my own sexual practice, I was able to not only spur the healing of my sexual shame, but also create a better & more healthy relationship with my spirituality as a whole.

5. Make gentle, non-sexual touch a new habit.

Sometimes, the one thing that’s keeping us blocked from accessing a heathy sexual relationship with ourselves is the lofty feeling that touching ourselves can come with.

As women, many of us grew up with comments that reinforced body shame & genital fear. We were told not to touch, not to look, & to wash ourselves with harsh chemicals because of how “dirty” things get down there. Is it any wonder why we self-pleasure can feel so heavy?

Instead of placing the expectation on yourself to be able to masturbate without an issue, start small. Make gentle & non-sexual touch a habit. Make it your new self-care practice.

Whenever I get out of the shower, I slather extra-virgin coconut oil all over my body as a natural skin moisturizer. I make sure to get every surface area of skin, including my yoni. I make sure to moisturize her too (coconut oil is amazing for vulvas!), giving her gentle caresses & sending her loving, grateful energy while doing so.

It usually only takes a few seconds, & rarely ever turns into something more than that. It’s simple, impactful, & fosters yoni love.

Sometimes, just having a consistent relationship with your vulva is enough to release shame. Your touch is incredibly healing.

Books that’ll help release shame around & bring joy to masturbation:

  • Sex For One, Betsy Dodson
  • For Myself, Lonnie Barbach
  • Women’s Anatomy of Arousal, Sheri Winston (free pdf here!)

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*Want to step out of sexual shame & into your erotic power? I’d love to work with you.

Your Self-Pleasure Story: “Having The One You Love Watch You Love Yourself. . .”

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// art by Erin M. Riley

“Me and my partner often masturbate together. I love watching his hand move up and down his erect penis while I writhe with pleasure at the sight.

Last week after an amazing night of sex, we were laying in peaceful silence when he turned over and said, “I want to watch you make yourself orgasm.”

Then he grabbed my hand and guided it down my body. I began slowly running my clit. It was still sensitive and pulsating with pleasure even at the slightest touch.

My body was quivering and moving in what I can only describe as waves. My eyes opened slightly to see him pleasuring himself whilst intently watching my every move.

Seeing this pushed me over the edge. In fact, I can feel myself getting wet just thinking about it.

I whispered to him, “Let’s come together,” and at that, we both came to the most amazing orgasms at the same time.

I think masturbating with a partner is hugely beneficial, as it builds trust and takes your intimate relationship to new heights.

Having the one you love watch you while you love yourself is such a beautiful thing. I’d encourage all couples to do this!”

Written by Amanda

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Want to share your self-pleasure story? Click here.

Reader Question: Is My Masturbation Healthy?*

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// photo : DPN via Tumblr

*Trigger warning: Rape

Occasionally, I get a question from a reader that is compelling enough to become its own article. This is one of those questions.

Ev’Yan,

I have been touching myself and masturbating since I was at an early age, and even then when I used my Barbies as foreplay with myself, abduction and rape scenes were what made me aroused.

Now when I masturbate, I can only come when I imagine myself in an abduction scenario, and I worry it may be affecting my ability to come with a partner. If this is what I’ve trained myself to find orgasmic, how can I expect to enjoy when a partner is loving and giving and attentive to me?

I truly get turned on by bondage and domination in bed, but is this healthy? It would seem that it is healthy to acknowledge whatever kinks you may have, but whenever you write about sex, it is all about intimacy and sensuality. What are your opinions on BDSM and a healthy relationship with sex?

—Lindsey

 

First off, I want to tell you that, yes—your masturbation & rape fantasies are healthy. And not just healthy, they’re totally normal.

Nancy Friday wrote a book called My Secret Garden which is a lush, extensive compilation of women’s sexual fantasies told to her from all over the world. And one of the main themes of women’s fantasies centered around rape, abduction, being forcefully ravaged & dominated—things like that.

At first glance, it can be easy to think that there’s a hidden meaning to these fantasies, that perhaps they’re coming from a place of “suppressed wish-fulfillment.” But that’s usually not the case.

Sexual fantasies of the rape variety have nothing to do with reality.

Which is to day—People who have rape fantasies don’t actually want to be raped, just as people who have abduction fantasies don’t usually want to be kidnapped. I’m willing to bet that you feel the same; that if you were in danger of either, you’d run for your life (& that’s a good thing!).

That’s the great thing about fantasies: They don’t necessarily mean you must do in real life that which you find hot in your erotic imagination.

That said, there often is underlying messages behind fantasies, particularly those with themes of brutality, violation, loss of power, & aggression. And as Nancy Friday says, “The message isn’t in the plot. . . but in the emotions that story releases.”

So, what emotions are behind your rape & abduction fantasies? What feelings do they release in you? 

Maybe it’s. . .

  • to surrender fully & be in a state of receptivity;
  • to explore your dark side with your partner;
  • to eroticize what you fear most;
  • to experience pleasure within pain;
  • to play in a different realm than what is your normal (e.g., the CEO who’s a headmaster of her business & loves being a submissive in bed because it’s there she can finally & safely relinquish all control).

I encourage you to do some self-inquiry & see if you can pinpoint the emotions that are behind your sexy fantasy. Knowing this, I think, will help you to feel a sense of ease & understanding about your fantasies, which will inherently give you permission to explore & take pleasure in them.

Because that’s the hard part about fantasies: there can be guilt attached with them, a question mark above what you find erotic, as though there is something “wrong” with you.

Doing this inner discovery will help you to accept & embrace (as best you can) your kink, seeing it for what it is—as a fun, safe, powerful way to get off.

And do your best, when you’re in the realm of fantasy, to leave notions of what is “appropriate” at the door. Sheri Winston encourages people in fantasy land to “adopt a no mind-crime policy”—that this, give your fantasies permission to be as they are, allowing them to go wherever they need to go without policing them.

So, if you’re at total peace with your kinks & fantasies, the question remains. . .

How can you bridge the gap between your inner fantasies & your outer sexual experiences with your partner?

Fantasies are amazingly powerful. They’re great ways to explore the landscapes of your lavish, erotic imagination & they’re incredible vehicles of pleasure.

Fantasies can also be distracting.

It’s inevitable: If most of your attention is focused on the sexy movie playing in your head rather than the person you’re with, it’s impossible to be fully engaged & connected to your sexual experiences.

There are many ways you can go about bringing awareness to this tendency of tuning in to your fantasy & out of the present moment. Things like slowing down the pace a bit, being mindful of your breath, & simply changing your mind when you catch it trailing off.

Easier said that done, I know, but it’s definitely possible to drop in to your body & be in the here & now with your sexual partner.

It’s all about being mindful, about putting your attention where your intentions are (as Barbara Carrellas says). I definitely recommend you read Chapter 2 of the book Urban Tantra for more about breathing techniques & creating intentions around your sexual experiences.

Another thought I had while reading your letter was this:

Is there a way where you can incorporate pieces of your sexual fantasies within your sexual relationship?

If you’re open to it, the possibilities of playing (with safe boundaries & open communication) with your fantasy with your partner are endless! Especially if you can pinpoint the emotions & feelings behind your fantasies.

For example, let’s say active surrender is one element you discover you’re chasing within your rape fantasy. You can incorporate this into your sexual relationship by practicing total receptivity when you’re with your partner, really opening to them & the pleasure you’re receiving.

You could also voice your desires to your partner by telling them that you want them to take you. (I personally love to say those words to my partner, as it feels like a direct invitation for him to take control.)

Or. . . maybe you can experiment with D/s (Dominance/Submission), giving your partner permission to do light power-play with you via spanking, certain sexual positions, dirty talk, or even role-playing (if they’re / you’re comfortable with it).

It’s also totally OK if acting out your fantasy (or exploring acting out pieces of it) is not what you want, be it now or ever. Sometimes speaking aloud your fantasy takes the electric charge out of it, & if you’re worried that your fantasy will not be as hot when it’s spoken, you’re absolutely free to keep it to yourself.

In that case, I definitely suggest going back to mindfulness via breathing, awareness,

What’s most important is that your sexual fantasies feel valid & worthy of being explored—with both yourself & your partner if you choose.

You’re absolutely right: It is healthy to acknowledge your kinks, & I encourage you to approach them with curiosity rather than judgment.

Good luck! This is only the beginning.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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May is National Masturbation Month, & for the next several weeks, I’d like to explore this intimate sexual relationship, the one that exists when no one is looking—the one that is the foundation for our erotic expressions, the one that helps us come home to our sexual bodies.

I’ll be telling some of my stories, sharing some of my thoughts, & featuring some of yours.

If you’d like to share your experiences about your solo sexual relationship, click here for more info on how to be featured.

Your Self-Pleasure Story: “I Am In Love With Pleasuring Me.”

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// photo : Tumblr

“i enjoy feeling exposed. like a wildflower growing wildly in an open field. naked and vulnerable. this is what coming back to my body looks like.

sometimes i use my fingers, more often i use a vibrator. masturbation has become an indulgence that i look forward to, sometimes more than being entangled with another body. i know exactly what i like and how i want to feel.

i haven’t always had the best relationship with my body, and it has taken years of healing to look at and love what i now see. the softness of my skin, the way my breasts are shaped, the pleasure from my pierced nipple, the sensitivity my own touch invokes.

i am in love with pleasuring me. i like to tease myself by using my Chakrub, getting it nice and warm, connected to my body, i enter myself with eyes closed picturing the most vulnerable scenes my mind escapes to.

my vibrator provides the stimulation, with levels i manipulate, to create the most hot and intense moments of pleasure. the vibrator lets me be the most vulnerable and i love receiving it with open legs and an arched back.

i now present myself, to myself, unapologetically raw and unfiltered during the day more than i used to. i love this version the best.

all in all. i know i am held with the developing love of myself, therefore the love i am able to give myself grows more and more – deeper and deeper, unlocking a relationship i’ve always yearned for and that is now mine.”

Written by Simone

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Want to share your self-pleasure story? Click here.