Autonomy is Sexy, & Why We Try to Change Our Lovers

From the moment I first laid eyes on him, he had a way about him. Cool, calm, collected. Zen without pretentiousness. Worldly & wise & charming. I perceived all of these things from just looking at his picture.

I liked him instantly for who he was: different from me; not necessarily opposite, but more advanced, more far along. His music choices, the books he read, his taste in movies, his spiritual practices—he was no one like I’d ever met before.

Then we spoke on the phone. His surroundings were busy—I could tell from the background noise—but he managed to hold his attention on me, asking me about myself, telling me he wanted to meet me. He articulated & enunciated his words with such deliberateness that it sounded like he had an accent, & I asked him if he wasn’t American. His laugh was good-natured, his voice smooth & playful.

And then we met in person, & I was inundated with his third dimensional characteristics. He looked dangerous in a non-threatening way; very unlike a bad boy caricature & more like a man who housed the ability to move the planet with his own hands. His smile was brightening & warming, a kind of light in darkness. There was a subdued confidence about him—not cockiness, more like self-assuredness. He spoke & moved as though he’d been an adult for all of his life.

We began a rapid love affair shortly after this, our first date. In the early, early stages of our love, everything about him was enchanting, mysterious, novel.

Slowly, I began to learn about the silly little quirks he had—the exciting idiosyncrasies of his character, the subtle & not-so-subtle tendencies of his self-expression. He had his own rhythms about him, his own routines, nuances, likes & dislikes.

He was a smoker at the time—not super heavy, but he smoked enough to earn the title. And the way he formed his mouth to expel the smoke out of his lungs wasn’t in a typical “O” shape; more like a horizontal lowercase “L.”

His clothes were usually stained & worn, sometimes with full-fledged, strategically placed holes in them. I was attracted to this particularly because it reiterated his carefree, non-self-absorbed nature, something that I, a fussy, put-together, strait-laced young woman, found appealing.

And while his energy was profound—he could walk in a room & seemingly shift the direction of the mood toward lightness, gentleness, kindness—he never used it against anyone, never exerted his will. Truly, he was gentle, even a little soft spoken, though sitting next to him or just speaking with him for a few moments gave you an impression of subdued bigness.

But mostly, he owned who he was—his smoking, sloppily dressed, slightly broodish self. He didn’t try to be anything but what he already was. He didn’t apologize for the holes in in shoes. He didn’t backtrack when his voice didn’t raise itself to match the uproarious voices of others. He didn’t shrink away from his bigness, from the bright energy he could conjure. I adored that.

Which is to say that I adored him—his independence, his self-sovereignty, his unique way of moving in the world. That is what wooed me most, above his gentle hands & his protective nature & the sensual way he nursed a cigarette.

I was attracted to his beingness; I was attracted to his independence & the mystery housed within it.

Our love was founded on that—the entrancement of silly quirks, the bliss of the soon-to-be discovered; a lot of love is. Love is nourished by these things, & also by projections & lavish fantasies about the other, but most especially by autonomy.

But as time passed, autonomy (at least for me) wasn’t being made the priority thriving force behind our relationship. Security was; I didn’t want to lose him, naturally.

Autonomy is the antithesis of security, because where there is unpredictability, there is the loss of stability—& it is stability (i.e., predictability) that essentially keeps a couple together. It shifted that individuality began to become less important to me & that stability—security, predictability—was the underlying motive in our continuation of building a life together.

And how does one create stability? Many, many ways, but the most unfortunately common way is by nulling their partner’s autonomy, or individuality.

For me, it started small, insidious. Suggesting that we replace his grungy, holey shoes or getting him an expensive peacoat in exchange for his worn & weathered bomber jacket (for me, security meant uniformity in all aspects, but particularly in the way he dressed himself up); making snide comments about his tastes in movies & his tendency to spend too much time socializing in bars—all of which translated into me craving a sense of reliability.

Of course, not all suggestions to make tweaks to his character were harmful—on the contrary, most of them were quite healthy, like inciting him to quit smoking or to use the money he spent buying rounds at bars towards a better apartment for him to live. But the line between inspiring him to better himself & controlling, as best as I could, his image to offer me the security I craved began to become blurred, & our union began to strain.

And it wasn’t just in my beloved that I began to inflict predictability; I did it in our relationship as a whole: creating the habit of eating dinner with the television on; spending the weekends holed up with each other, rather than with our friends individually; stepping into roles that didn’t truly fit us but we did so anyway to preserve the security we craved. The patterns, the routines, the mindless chatter about things that didn’t really matter.

No more wooing; no more puffing up our feathers or embellishing ourselves creatively. We were steadily finding more & more predictability, but our relationship was beginning to drift a bit lifelessly. We began to fight, & we began to have less sex.

We’ve all done this to some degree, because we all crave security, continuity, reliability. And yet at the same time we desire mystery, the very thing that brought us to our beloved’s feet in the first place. And therein lies the rub.

Esther Perel puts it best. . .

“There’s a powerful tendency in long-term relationships to favor predictable over the unpredictable. Yet eroticism thrives on the unpredictable. Desire butts heads with habit & repetition. . . . So where does that leave us? We don’t want to throw away the security, because our relationship depends on it. . . . Yet without an element of uncertainty there is no longing, no anticipation, no frisson.”

Quite the conundrum. So how do we fix it?

By breathing autonomous breath into the relationship again. By reminding ourselves that lasting, erotic desire thrives better in an interdependent relationship. By admitting aloud, to ourselves & to our romantic partners, how, in our quest to feel safe & secure, we’ve imposed & succumbed to routines to dull unpredictability.

But especially by realizing that our relationships are not cemented in place, that they are in a constant state of evolution, of refinement. As long as you are breathing, you are transforming, blossoming—both of you are. This transformation often goes unnoticed & can even seem to lie dormant, but it’s in there, waiting for you to pull the weeds & clear the debris (i.e., routines, habits, fears of loss) so that it can burst through & begin to unfold into the open air.

That’s a start.

And then of course there’s this dance of balance that needs to happen—the dance of Security & Autonomy. It’s very, very possible for these two things to be harmonious. Perhaps that means setting up borders in a familiar place & inviting the unknown to play within that safe, designated space. Or maybe that just coming to terms with our fear of loss, of rejection, of disconnection, of death, can be enough to shift the perception & begin a healthy balance between predictability & novelty.

As for me, I’m happy to report that after realizing the direction we were going in, we abruptly changed course & began the trek toward both interdependence & healthy, good ol’ fashioned security.

Security is scrumptious, to be sure. And autonomy is devilishly sexy. Both are needed to make a romantic partnership healthy, loving, fulfilling. One over the other ensures a demise. Begin the dance, find the balance, & celebrate your beloved’s idiosyncrasies, her funny little quirks & differences, that drew you to her.

That’s where the magic is.

/ / /

Does this topic intrigue you? Check out Esther Perel’s book Mating in Captivity. This writing was conjured through reading her prose.

A Prayer for You When Silly Religious Dogmas Are Trying to Kill Your Arousal

I hear it all the time:

“My religious upbringing is a major inhibiting force of my sexuality.”

And. . .

“I was taught against my sexuality by my [pastor, priest, rabbi] for so long that even though I no longer practice or believe in [religion], I can still hear their voices loudly in my head while trying to have sex.”

And. . .

“They [pastors, priests, rabbis] were so adamant in sex only being experienced between husband & wife that it’s hard for me to make love to my long-term committed partner—even though we love each other & want to spend the rest of our lives together.”

And. . .

“I can’t masturbate without thinking that what I am doing is wrong in the eyes of God.”

Me too.

Even after all of these years, even in the practice of the work I do. . . the feelings of sinfulness, of depravity, of being impure, implanted by passionate sermons & dogmatic beliefs, still rise up inside of my mind & body.

And it hurts. And it’s stupid. And it kills my libido.

But when it happens, I take in a deep breath & exhale. And while I am letting air spill from my lungs, I envision that those ugly thoughts & ancient, misguided beliefs are being expelled from me, like hot steam from a whistling tea kettle.

And then, I say a prayer—to God, to Aphrodite, to Source, or to Whomever it is that is listening Here—one that acknowledges, honors, & recenters my sexual beingness.

It changes nearly every time I conjure the words, but it often sounds a little like this. . .

My sexuality is good.
My sexuality is pure.
My sexuality is Holy.
Because it was created by You.

The juicy things I’m feeling in my body—they were created by You, for Your pleasure, with Your Great Love.

The juicy things I’m feeling in my body—they were created by You, for my Pleasure, with your Great Love.

And through these juicy feelings, through my arousal & my eager search for pleasure, I worship You;
I worship this Body that You have created;
I worship the richness of feeling & being;
I worship the gorgeousness of erotic energy.

For my Glory. For Yours.

I know with my whole heart that You would not create such impulses, such desires, such layers of feeling as a morbid test that proves my devotion to You. I know with all my heart you are kinder, graceful, more sensual than that.

I know with my whole heart that sexual energy is just one other way to commune with you.

And so I do. With all of my might, with all of my heart, with all of my body & soul.

Thank you.

/ / /

Sometimes, this prayer works. Sometimes it wards off those heavy, dark ideas of sin & impurity, leaving absolutely no trace of their slimy, unwelcome sensations.

Sometimes, the prayer, even when said with sincerity, isn’t enough. Sometimes I need a shower to cleanse myself back to a place of sexual liberation, & then I can come back to conjuring sex magic.

And sometimes. . . I need to say “Not today” to my sexual urges; sometimes I need to cease & desist & give space for those harsh feelings to dissipate—allowing however much time is needed: hours, days, weeks, as hard as it is.

The point for the prayer (aside from wanting to get my groove on without those libido-killing thoughts in the back of my head) is that I am consciously rewriting my own spiritual history; that I am making beautiful space for my spirituality to form in a holy, accepting, sex-celebrating container; that I am honoring the holiness of erotic energy in a way that I’ve never been taught to before.

It helps. It’s not a permanent fix, but it helps.

My prayer for you. . .

May you know peace in your sexuality.
May you find a spiritual practice that celebrates its sacredness.
May you celebrate the beauty of erotic energy as a form of worship.
May you feel always at ease that your sexuality is good, holy, & pure.

(Important Note: That’s the way it’s supposed to be.)

Like a Bitch in Heat: How I Embrace My Wildish Nature in Sex

The best sex I’ve ever had started with desire, with that undeniable pang of lust in the pit of my belly that said, clear as crystal: I want you. Then, spontaneous & strategic touch, playful flirtations, suggestive tones of voice, & eyes that say, “Get me while I’m hot.”

Then. . . open-mouthed kisses; my body pressing heavily onto his; hands grabbing, gripping flesh; fingers fumbling to undo clasps & laces & zippers; heavy, synchronized breathing.

Then. . . guttural sounds that seemed to come from the bellows of the ground beneath me; wetness from sweat, from spit, from arousal; thrusting hips—deeper, deeper, faster, faster; hot, fiery heat; teeth & nails; pulsating climaxes with unfaltering eye contact; total surrender.

And afterward. . . a smell of salt, of musky-sweetness wafting through the air—sweat mixed with cum mixed with my own sweet nectar; heaving chests swallowing big gulps of air, throbbing hearts ready to burst, & eyes & mouths that still cannot stop searching for each other.

“Sex is animal activity.” —Osho

When I am unwaveringly in carnality, when my body is buzzing with unreserved horniness, when I am hyper aware of my nakedness, my wildness, my animalness, I have the best sex of my life.

In those moments of total animalistic beingness, there’s no preoccupation with my stretch marks or whether I’m messing up the sheets or worrying about my cries of pleasure disturbing the neighbors. I care about nothing. I know nothing. All that exists is pleasure & my ravenous hunger to claim it with my body.

Like a bitch in heat.

More & more I’m realizing (& vividly experiencing) the connection between sex/sexuality & my wildish self—that is, the self that is not dignified or docile, but feral, fierce, & maybe even a little savage; a side that I’ve been so accustomed to suppress.

Because wildness, while liberating, can be an absolutely scary, ferocious thing. In wildness, there is no control; no fences, no masters to request permission from—just our instincts, our compulsions, our need to feed.

In wildness, anything can happen. Vile things are capable if we gave way to it: teeth gnashing, mouths foaming, eyes flashing, blood spilling.

There is a wild animal in us all with vicious, licentious tendencies. And we often keep this animal caged away as a way of protection.

We suppress our wildness to protect the innocent. Understandably.

For me, however, that caged animal—my caged animal—never fails to break free during sex.

No locks can hold her, no ropes can bind her. Sex stirs & instigates her, rattles her cage, riles her up, brings out her fury. She busts loose, & no matter how hard I grip her chains, digging my heels into the ground, fighting with all of my might to get her to mind me. . . she rips & roars & has her way.

And rather than fight against her (because it is utterly exhausting), I’ve begun to let her have her way, to give her space to roam wild in desire & wreak a little havoc, to allow her to satiate her innermost hungers with abandon.

But. . . I keep her on a long leash—that is (to keep with the metaphors), I stay conscious.

I let her have her way, but I don’t walk away from her unsupervised; that would be totally irresponsible of me. No, I remain a vigilant witness. I see it all, my eyes fixated on her movements, even (& especially) when she’s getting crazy. I watch her closely, staying present to her fierceness.

In doing this, she transforms into a not so scary, not so threatening being. Her wildness becomes beautiful, something magnificent to behold, a powerful force of nature that requires deep honor & reverence.

Consciousness in wildness creates a safe space for our animalistic natures to be fully explored.

And this, of course, doesn’t just apply to sexual expression. This can be harnessed in exhibiting fierce self-love, in speaking our truths, or in expressing & releasing dark energies—anger, fear, sorrow.

Wildness needs space. Wildness desires freedom to be expressed. And sex can be an easy way to curiously explore our wildish tendencies, if only we remember to keep a mindful, watchful eye on it.

You’ll know when you’ve wandered into wild territory when your beloved looks into your eyes after an unrestrained sack session, their breath harried as they wipe their brows, saying hoarsely:

“Damn, honey. What got into you?”

How to Make Love + A Mixtape to Fuck to

Make love like you are light, like you are trying to fill your partner’s body with light. Fill her mouth, her belly button, her eyelids, her cunt with that light. Dance with it. Imagine that this bright, beautiful light is warming & filling her body to the brim. This light is orgasm, consciousness, love. You are light.

Make love like the only thing you can do is to surrender to pleasure, to let it tease & tickle you like pretty voices & flicking tongues. Imagine that you are being blindfolded by pleasure as it takes you by the hand & leads you through treasures of the senses. Trust in pleasure. Surrender to its game.

Make love like you are a Sacred Whore, as if you are bestowing your erotic blessings onto your partner. Show him the Divine through your touch, through your breath, through your sexual beingness. Imagine that between your legs lies the answer to the question, “Why are we here?” Answer his question. Show him God.

Make love as though you are dancing, as though your limbs & breath are synchronized, as though you are being moved by the rhythm of your pulses. Fast, slow, fast, slow, back & forth. Imagine that the music is universal; that even after the fucking is done that you can continue to dance to this beat. Stomp, flail, step to this spiritual beat.

Make love like you are trying to pollinate flowers, like you are orbiting the sun, like you are conjuring magic, like you are creating sparks that will singe hatred from the earth.

Make love like the orgasm doesn’t exist.

Make love like it is the thing you are best at.

Make love play.
Make. Love. Play.

/ / / / /

Music to make love to: A sultry mixtape for getting your erotic pulse beating harder, stronger, faster. . .

When I’m feeling amorous, these are the songs I’ll play. When I play these songs, I feel amorous.

My body awakens, my ears perk up, my eyes close in pleasure. I love good, strong, throbbing beats, wild atmospheric sounds that make your skin tingle, & voices that croon unapologetic desire in your ears.

Play this mixtape whenever you’re gearing to play with (or coax out) sexual energy. Play it when your erotic pilot needs to be re-lit. And definitely play it when you’re making love to yourself or to your partner(s).

Listen with headphones & turned up loud to get the full effect.
Let it move & groove you. Don’t stop your body from involuntarily swaying.

how to make love with sound from ev_yan on 8tracks Radio.

1. Angel // Massive Attack
2. Slowly // Amon Tobin
3. Fantasy // The xx
4. Papi Pacify // FKA Twigs
5. Eclipse/Blue // Nosaj Thing (feat. Kazu Makino)
6. Betray // Son Lux
7. Look // Sébastien Tellier
8. Phantasm // Flying Lotus (feat. Laura Darlington)
9. Come to Me // Björk
10. Glory Box // Portishead
11. Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel // Atlas Sound

Quick note: If you’re an avid reader of SLL, you’ll notice that #4 will sound familiar. The song was the central theme of an article I wrote recently about kink & sexual expressions. If you haven’t read it, you might consider listening to it as you read along. It’s a juicy one.

I Deserve to Take Up Space

Press play below to listen to me read this article aloud to you (turn the volume up). 

Player not showing up? Click here.

/ / / / /

I have become so good at making myself small, of keeping a low, cramped profile so as to not draw attention to myself. It is second nature now for me to stand, speak, & be in ways that keep me from taking up space.

It first started as innocent shyness, keeping myself small—a subtle kind of humbleness; a holy, noble martyrdom. Then, it began to mutate into something more dangerous: meekness, insecurity, shame.

No one thought to pull me out of that dark, stuffy pit designated for me—no one truly wanted to. A nice girl is meek, they resounded. A pure girl gives up her space, they reinforced. Sacrifice. Back-step. Apologize.

Good girl.

And so I learned. I learned how to not be the one who takes up space, for she—the space-taker—is a steamroller, “a moving mountain,” an ancient tree whose roots damage cemented foundations.

Her energy is bigness, raucous, unapologetic. She is loud & demanding. She makes others uncomfortable because her truth is often stiff & challenging. And she is capable of exposing the truth in you, upturning rugs that cover dirt & dust & bones from your past.

She doesn’t want to be good, doesn’t want to please or sit still. She only wants to blossom, to grow her lengthy stems up & up, thriving in light, becoming & transforming wherever she occupies.

This is why she’s so dangerous.

No wonder I was taught against her. No wonder her presence is abhorred. Why would anyone want to be that woman? Who would willfully choose to spur or embody her colossal, unwavering spirit? Certainly not me.

And then I read it somewhere, this short & sweet sentence that emboldened me to think about taking up space (or, essentially, to examine how little space I was taking); I can’t remember where I found it. It was just six words, seven easy syllables; simple & to the perfect point. . .

You deserve to take up space.

It was then the proverbial record scratched & I could hear this small, muffled voice inside of me simultaneously go, “Who, me?” & then rejoice, “Oh, yes. This. Finally!”

I read it again. And again. And again once more, each time feeling like that tiny little voice was being resuscitated, as if the words were waking up parts of me that I didn’t know ever existed—the sleeping giant, the moving mountain.

And then I realized that this—this dangerous truth, this powerful wisdom—was what I’d been seeking my whole life; this was the truth that could finally (finally!) take me home to myself.

But before that ecstatic voyage, an interruption of disparaging thoughts courtesy of my Critical Voice:

How could you possibly take up space? You’re not a space-taker, you are a wallflower. You’ve existed so long crammed against these walls, you have no idea of what it means to be big. And anyway, if you take up space, you’ll leave nothing else for the rest of them.

I could feel myself shrinking back into that cramped space, that too-small fishbowl. And as my Critical Voice continued to prattle on & on about all the ways in which it was impossible, irresponsible, reprehensible for little ol’ me to take up space, that tiny small voice—the one that, in the beginning, rejoiced so happily, Oh, yes, finally!—it seemed to burst up & out.

No, it boomed.
You are wrong, it defied.
I belong here.

And so it has been.

I’ve been sitting with this voice & this notion of taking up space for months now, unsure of how to actualize it into reality. I mean, how does one claim space? Is it a psychic expression, an energetic shift of perception, or must I literally go around town saying aloud (or to myself) “Mine! Mine! Mine!”?

But the biggest question that continues to come up for me is: Who am I as a space-taker? What forms does she take within & without me? What truth does she have to speak?

I began to write it out here, & this is what came through unfiltered:

I am a moving mountain. I am expansive energy.
I have thunder in my voice & fire on my breath.

My laugh is lightening. My eyes are lazor beams.
My hair is a lion’s mane. My wisdom is crashing, salty waves.

I am large, bigness; I contain multitudes.
I am unafraid of invoking reactions, truth, emotions in others.
I am unafraid of my power to shift the energy of a room. 

And no longer will I martyr myself.
No longer will I apologize for occupying space that is rightfully mine.

I will not shrink.
I will stand tall & big & wide. I will rejoice in my capacity.

I belong here.

And you. You do, as well.