Sexual Honesty: A Challenging and Empowering Journey

Finding a path to authentic expression of your most taboo sexual desire, from a place
where it had been kept secret, is an empowering and healing journey.

Bill Hayward (Gallery 3)

I had a new client recently who confessed how she had almost turned around on her way to her first appointment.  We had talked initially by email and then had a phone interview. She had asked for help in sorting out her secret sexual desires.

On the phone, she could only hint at what she had held back sexually all her life. In a choked voice, she struggled to say that it had to do with “being taken.” She wanted to be dominated. “This is so embarrassing to talk about.” Some part of her was terrified that she had this desire at all. It totally went against her feminist and religious beliefs. But she was reaching a point where her erotic desire was overwhelming her fear and shame at revealing it. She knew something had to shift. We scheduled an initial appointment for a talk-only session.

On the way, she had pulled over and parked down the street. She was in a battle with every part of her that wanted her to turn around and run away. She felt like she might throw up. Her body and soul were shaking in fear, just at the thought of telling the truth about the nature of her sexual desire. She had never revealed it to anyone before. She was nearly 50 years old.

But she also knew she was at the point of no return. It was clear after all these years that her desire was not going away. Eros is such a relentless part of our being!

When she told me of her struggle just to arrive, I blessed her for her courage to confront and face the deep shame and fear she felt around her sexuality. Her story about the powerful urge to flee instead of show up drove it home for me once again:

It requires tremendous courage to overcome the deeply embedded fear and shame many of us carry around about our sexual truth.

I am struck by the high percentage of my clients who have told me similar stories about their struggle not to turn around on the way to their appointment.

How is it that such an integral, natural and vital part of who we are has become so vilified and repressed that we are compelled to hide it so desperately, and be so terrified of others knowing what our sexuality really looks like? Can it be anything but harmful to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being to live in a culture where we are afraid to speak the truth about our sexuality? Our culture provides no place where people can go to feel safe, honored and encouraged to speak honestly about their erotic desires, at least those desires beyond the narrow range deemed appropriate by the conservative, sexually uptight mainstream.

It wasn’t my intention to focus my practice on those who have never found a safe place, or someone they felt safe enough with, to reveal their most closely guarded sexual secrets. But somehow that has wound up being a good portion of my clients — those who reveal to me, for the first time ever, whatever sexual secrets they have held so guardedly, often for decades.

That is why I bless them for their amazing courage, just to show up! I am witnessing this Herculean effort by men and women who, despite their paralyzing fear, their overwhelming sense of guilt and shame, their bodies literally plunging into a state of flight, can still show up!

In this regard I am also struck by how deep, tenacious and relentless the soul of Eros is. Despite decades of intense repression, fear, shame, and vilification, Eros does not go away. My clients tell stories of how they have tried to forget about what they desire sexually, channeled it into eating, drinking, irritability, frigidity, spirituality or pornography. It did not matter! Eros was as strong a part of them as ever. Many had tried to keep their Eros locked in a secret world of fantasy and masturbation. They were all deathly afraid of getting caught, but still took huge risks in some cases to feed their desire in shadowy, unconscious or even dangerous ways.

I know exactly how my clients feel about revealing their sexual secrets. I came from the same place about 15 years ago. I had kept my interests in ‘Fetish’ and ‘Kink’ secret for my first 48 years, after a lifelong interest that began before puberty. I desperately hid it. I was so afraid of being judged, shamed or punished socially. My outer persona, or my perfect cover, was the altar boy, the eagle scout, the gentleman, the guy in the white hat. The leap to becoming sexually authentic was terrifying. I could not imagine any way I could have the courage to take the leap. An unexpected nudge from behind pushed me off the edge. It was a rough and tumble journey, but the blessings that came from being true to myself have forever enriched my life.

I am so grateful to be in a position now where I can offer the safety and trust that allows people to open up and speak their desire honestly. They can finally begin the process of learning about and sorting through the difficulties tangled up with their erotic desire. Healing is a process of disengaging the fear, shame, harsh judgments, feelings of not being worthy and other challenges that have gotten embedded in the unconscious and that arise on cue, right along with our Eros. This tangled up expression leaves us frozen, or clumsy, or disconnected physically, emotionally and spiritually from the depth, power and exhilaration that is natural to our sexual expression. This is why the path to sexual authenticity is quite often a powerful healing journey as well.