At My Age, Part Three

Something About Myself

I am writing a series of hubs entitled, My Age. Following the second article, I thought, well, what's next to explore and talk about? Sex popped into my mind! And I wanted to find a unique perspective, something soulful, as I call it. So I hope you enjoy the read that follows.

Just to let you know, I am a Marriage Family Therapist, licensed in the state of California, and have maintained a successful private practice in the city of Yucaipa, California for thirty three years, serving children as young as six months, and children as old as eighty nine! I have worked with families, couples, men and women, who represent a very wide cross section of the population, ethnically, economically, and any other demographic that catches your fancy.

Prior to establishing my practice, I started working in the mental health field in 1967 serving children in out of home placement and their families.

In 2009, I published the book, From The Frying Pan To The Jacuzzi, Gourmet Recipes For A Gourmet Relationship. No, not a cook book, but definitely a recipe book!

Yes, I am approaching seventy at the time of this hub, and looking at one hundred and beyond. I am not retired and love every minute of what I do as a therapist, a consultant, and a trainer. I am most appreciative to all the people I have served for all that they have taught me about myself and about life.

And I couldn't accomplish anything without the support of the people who so graciously love me just the way I am, including my Senior Partner. My spiritual connection is essential to my life. I would encourage all of you to find your Senior Partner, if you haven't already.

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Let's Begin: At My Age, Part Three

So what is the first thing you think of when you hear the word sex or see the word sex? What is the first thing someone of my age thinks when he or she hears or sees the word sex? I’d love to hear all your answers. Maybe you could leave them in the comment section. I am sure everyone else would like to see them as well! And why is that? Why do those three letters trigger so much energy in our body and soul and so much curiosity?

Sexual Energy
What is that energy? Is it sexual energy? And what exactly is sexual energy? Is it any different from any other energy?

I keep Googling sexual energy but I have yet to find an article that seems to really fit what I am trying to talk about here. Lots of good articles and information, though.

Sheer Desire
I’m going to propose that sexual energy is not the same as being horny. I’m going to propose that sexual energy does not have any particular object in mind, and perhaps it simply exists without any need for an object. It is, after all, energy. I will say that, as I think about it, it does seem to have a kind of “flavor,” if you will, that is different from other kinds of energy. Perhaps the word that might best describe this energy for me is desire, and not desire for anything in particular, but sheer desire. And just to clarify, or perhaps to confuse or complicate, I am not talking about good ol’ libido. I am looking beyond libido to something much more soulful, something much more energetic, something beyond a drive or a force, perhaps even something of the God who created us or perhaps desires us.

So what do you think so far?

My Desire For Life, My Connection

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We Are Sexual Beings
I want to further propose the obvious. I experience sexual energy because I am a sexual being. And, I’m not talking gender or sexual orientation here, just an awareness that I am a sexual being, in contrast to a non-sexual being.

It’s all words perhaps, but I think our exploration is worth sounding like philosophers talking to hear themselves talk! You see, there are people my age who no longer experience themselves as sexual beings for any number of reasons. And I think that when I stop experiencing myself as a sexual being, or I measure myself as a sexual being by such factors as my looks or my ability or inability to engage in sexual behavior, then my connection to my sexual energy slips away, and perhaps I move in the direction of death itself. If not actual physical death, then, energy death, perhaps even spiritual death. Basically, I lose my desire.

Lose my desire for life? For relationships? For what in particular? NOTHING. I just lose my desire, that desire that burns in my soul with no object, that sheer desire described above.

Desire Is My Connection To God
Some of you may think that for desire to exist for itself without any object might suggest that there is no God. But I don’t think so because this desire that I am referring to is actually, as I alluded to above, my Divine connection. It is somehow embedded in that “spark” of God who I am and who we all are.

Desire and Pleasure
With that burning desire comes pleasure, and when I lose my desire, I lose the pleasure of being alive. Again, like desire, the pleasure of being alive can exist as an end in itself. The pleasure doesn’t have to inherently drive us to any object or to any end. It can just be. We can learn to just breathe into our pleasure, to enjoy this pleasure that seems to flow from desire.

Unfortunately, growing up, many of us received all kinds of weird verbal and non verbal messages about any kind of physical pleasure, so consequently, most of us are split off from our ability to breathe into and enjoy any kind of pleasure without moving into some kind of action, either to prohibit the pleasure or to act out the pleasure.

The Sheer Pleasure.....

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The Metaphor of the Kite
Here’s a cool image and metaphor. When you are flying a kite, you can just enjoy the sheer pleasure of being connected to the kite by a string that quickly becomes invisible. You can just enjoy the sheer pleasure of the kite’s flight, of watching it reach higher and higher into the heavens, the sheer pleasure of feeling the kite tug, a reminder to stay connected, don’t let go, perhaps even a tug to join the kite. But we don’t do anything with that pleasure or even with that tug. It is just there. We allow the pleasure to open our eyes and our mouths in wonderment at the flight of the kite, but we don’t take any particular action as a result of the sheer pleasure of the experience. We, in fact, don’t join the kite, except perhaps in our imagination, and how amazing is that, and how satisfying is that! The flight of the kite reveals to us that curiosity and wonder are essential ingredients to desire.

Perhaps we can propose that, as a sexual being, our sexual energy inspires us to be alive, full of sheer desire, curiosity and wonder, just like the kite. And like the kite, the sexual energy tugs at and whispers to our hearts, no matter how old or broken, “Keep drumming...keep desiring.” But the challenge is staying connected to our sexual energy and staying tuned to those whispers.

So what are you thinking so far?

Our Sexual Beingness, Pristine and Unrecognized
As I have been putting the pieces of this article together, the obvious has made itself known! Yes, we are created and born sexual beings with sexual energy. And, in the beginning, it is pristine and unrecognized. Our gender is definitely recognized. So we are dressed in blue if we are a boy infant and in pink if we are a girl infant. And our parents and or caregivers have expectations of us based upon our gender. But no one sees us as simply a sexual being with energy that derives from that (excuse the over-the-top philosophical term) sexual beingness.

So I thought it would be useful in our exploration to go back to the very beginning and to trace the “history,” so to speak, of who we are as sexual beings, and what our sexual energy looks like in its pristine form, and what it looks like as we move through the different stages of our growing up.

Full Of Wonder, Curiosity, And Desire When We First Pop Out

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In The Beginning
Twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to observe, side by side, two infants (a girl and a boy) on a daily basis, literally from week one to their second birthdays. The workplace, for a team of us therapists, became their daytime nursery. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life watching those two little people not only physically grow each and every day, but watching them interact with their parents, with each other, with the environment of the office, with all of us, and with the clientele, some of whom did not like children and could not fathom what these two little creatures were doing crawling and eventually walking all over everywhere! These two little people even had their favorite offices which they would take over when the therapist would walk the client to the appointment desk!

That experience was a definite confirmation for me that when we first pop out, we are filled with wonder and curiosity and desire, a desire to live, a desire to be present, a desire to connect with people and our surroundings. We want to see everything. We want to touch everything. We want to smell and taste everything. We want to climb everything, stick our fingers and hands in everything. We want to “smack” or splash everything.

Energy And Desire Continues To Grow

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Post Toddler Energy
As we grow into the post toddler years, we become even more energized, more curious, more interactive with everything and everyone. We run, jump, kick balls and cans, we climb. We climb all over our caregivers, smelling them, kissing them, pulling on their hair, their noses, their ears, their skin, grabbing their buttons and sleeves. We are like a dog or a cat wanting contact and attention. We have difficulty sitting still and being quiet for any length of time, especially if what we are sitting through is some adult “thing” like church or a meal at a restaurant, especially a quiet restaurant.

I think all of this activity that we observe in children is their expression of ENERGY or DESIRE in its most pristine and innocent form. Their energy and movement is supple and smooth, free and spontaneous. You can see in their eyes the sheer pleasure of just being alive. Perhaps this pristine desire, curiosity and wonder is the starting point of what we later in life label as sexual energy or sexual desire.

Regulating Our Energy
And yes, from the very beginning, we can learn what some folks call regulation of our energy, our desire, and curiosity, otherwise we will become overstimulated and be cranky and out of sorts. That’s an interesting term.

As infants and toddlers, we learn regulation from two sources.

First, from our caregivers’ own internal regulation. So, as caregivers, we model self regulation.

And secondly, from the external regulation that our caregivers provide us in any number of ways, ways that are firm but not forceful, definitive but not rigid, clear but not amplified to the point that stress hormones are activated in either or both the child and or caregiver.

Moralized and Demoralized
We have not typically looked at children’s activity level as an expression of energy or desire, but have tended to look at it as potentially out-of-control behavior, because we have bought into the age-old “wisdom” (not wisdom at all) that children are not to be seen or heard. I know what the saying is, but let’s face it. We don’t want to see them or hear them!

So, at an early age, our “raw” energy and pristine desire too quickly get categorized as good and bad, right and wrong, permissible and punishable, and at some point our desire and pleasure is thwarted with “Enough is enough!” Another way of putting it, our raw energy and desire is both moralized and demoralized.

Splitting Off
I think this is the beginning of our splitting off from the innocence of our desire and pleasure. Our very real and simple need to develop internal regulation is replaced by a moral code of what is good and bad, what is acceptable and what is out-of-control, what is respectful and what is disrespectful, and what is obedience and what is defiance. This is the beginning of any other kind of desire or energy falling victim to the same kind of moralization. We are given the subtle or not so subtle message that anything that feels too good or is too pleasurable has got to be bad, because it will undoubtedly exceed our ability to control whatever it is and lead us into sin. Anything that feels too good or exquisitely good is probably a taunt from the devil him or herself (Sorry, couldn’t resist! Devil made me do it!).

Moralization Leads To Fear And Anxiety And Violation
Once we begin observing a child’s energy or desire from this moral perspective, their activity level basically scares us, and our attempts to regulate their activity are fraught with fear and anxiety.

So we begin to violate the child’s body which ultimately means we violate who they are as sexual beings. No, of course, it is not our intent, but look at what we do. We grab them, shake them. We squeeze their cheeks and force them to make eye contact. We pinch them. We swat them on the butt, slap them, and on occasion, we lose it and, perhaps not intentionally, physically go too far.

Do you remember such interactions both as a child and as a parent? Of course, we all do!

Using Fear And Pain To Control = Addiction
Our attempts to use fear and pain to control our kids’ desire and curiosity and the derived pleasure from desire and curiosity, results in even less regulation than before. You may observe the child attempting to stifle his or her desire and curiosity as long as the caregiver is in sight, but once out of sight, the child runs with his or her desire and curiosity, runs free and totally unregulated. A perfect set up for addiction later in life.

Children Need And Deserve Regulation
Now, just so you will know, I am not in favor of children just running wild and doing whatever they want. Providing them the kind of external regulation that leads to self-regulation is critical. Setting limits, even physical limits, is absolutely necessary. Sometimes, the best form of a physical limit is to simply hold the child till you are very very clear that the child can tolerate once again being “free” with his or her feet on the ground.

Dinner With Bobby
I remember going to dinner with four year old Bobby and his family. Bobby could not sit in his seat at the restaurant. He could not resist the urge to touch everything on the table including the chips and salsa. The adults couldn’t resist the chips and salsa either! His father’s remedy was to take him out to the parking lot and scream at him and either threaten to spank him or actually spank him. Of course, Bobby would come back to the table more energetic than ever and more out-of-control than before. Does anyone ever ask why that is? Why doesn’t the loud voice and spanking do the trick? The fact is it doesn’t, but we don’t get it, even though it doesn’t require rocket science to observe that the loud voice and spanking is ineffective.

Do You Remember Me?
When I suggested we all take turns holding Bobby either on our lap or holding him while walking about the restaurant, everyone looked at me like I was nuts, so, of course, Bobby continued to be out-of-control, and his Dad continued with the trips to the parking lot. I finally chose to intervene, picked up Bobby, and carried him around the restaurant for the rest of the evening. Several times he wanted to get down and I simply said, “Vern’s going to hold you tonight.” I also found the place on his back that, when stroked, creates all those pleasant and calming sensations. I didn’t see Bobby for about a year after that evening, but the next time I did see him, he came running up to me and said, “Do you remember me?” So what does that tell you?

Children One To Eight
It is difficult for us to simply observe children’s abundance of energy let alone appreciate it at ages, say one to eight years old. We too quickly become fearful of their energy, fearful they will become out-of-control, fearful they will draw attention from other disapproving adults even when they are not being disruptive. We always want to nip it in the bud!

Jesus Obviously Didn’t Have Kids!
When we see a child MOVING, we are quick to want to stop the movement (stop the energy). We are quick to try to get them to sit still and quick to get them to be SILENT. In the process, we miss the many invitations the child sends us to join in with their activity, whatever it is. At this point, we even experience their affection for us as annoyance. We move ever so quickly to shaking our finger, raising our voice or raising our whisper. We begin threatening and begin, ourselves, to become out-of-control even when the child is still in control of him or herself.

I often see this scenario played out in church. The child is quiet, but not able to sit still. The child is quiet, but wants to lay down on the pew. The parents wants him or her to stand up or sit up. Then the child wants to stand up, often to see, while everyone else is kneeling. The child wants to ask questions or tell the parent something very important (important to them, of course), and we just want to be left alone in silence. What’s up with Jesus saying “Let the little children come over and sit with me?” He obviously didn’t have kids!

Healthy Internalized Regulatory System
Yes, children need our direction, and they need us to take the initiative in providing them external limits so eventually they can develop a healthy internalized regulatory system for themselves. And, there are so many ways we can teach children emotional regulation without punishing them, without threatening them, without raising our voice, without even speaking a word, verbal or non verbal. There are so many ways we can provide containment for a child when containment of both emotional energy and physical movement is called for. There are also appropriate times to allow the child to move within a limited space and expend energy rather than trying to stop the movement all together, especially if our reason for stopping the movement is an arbitrary internal voice that thinks the child should learn to sit still and to be unseen simply because he or she is a child and should learn his or her place.

As you are reading, are you remembering, both from childhood and from parenthood, the scenes at the grocery store and in church? Post traumatic stress, right?

Regulating Anger, Hurt, Loss, Sexual Curiosity
And, of course, little people also experience all the emotions (energies in motion) that we ourselves, as adults, often have an impossible time dealing with. Emotions related to anger, to hurt, to loss, to sexual curiosity.

So what do we, as parents, do with these energies? Since most of us did not learn how to relate to these emotions when we were little, many of us are still perplexed. So yes, the first order of business is learning internal regulation for ourselves, as adults. Notice the word, regulation. Not suppression, not control, not elimination, but regulation.

With respect to our children, hopefully we can learn how to acknowledge our children’s hurts and pains, even when it seems to us to be bearable pain, bearable without the whimpering and the tears or worse the screaming. Hopefully we can learn to simply move in and comfort. Hopefully when our children are angry, we can acknowledge their anger and put meaningful words to it.

For example, “Yes, I get it. You are angry that Scotty wouldn’t share his toy with you....angry that I told you no ice cream from the ice cream man today....angry that you have to come inside now....angry that it’s time to put the toys away and go to bed....” Hopefully, we can refrain from saying, “you have nothing to be angry about....quit being a baby.”

Hopefully we can learn to acknowledge our children’s pain from loss, simple losses as well as profound losses. The day none of us can remember where we left Dog-dog, and we realize that Dog-dog may be three hundred miles away in a booth at MacDonalds. Or the day that Rex, the live dog is hit by a car or just dies from old age. Hopefully we can say, “Of course, you are sad and it’s good to cry.” Or when a family member dies, hopefully, we will be honest about what happened and not make up a story as if the person is coming back.

Hopefully, we can learn to acknowledge our children’s curiosity about sex and affirm the obvious as they look at us with big eyes from the bathtub. “Yes, it feels really good to touch your penis (vagina), doesn’t it?” Hopefully we can get passed our fear that our child will never leave the bathtub. Hopefully we can resist the urge to scare him or her by saying, “If you keep touching yourself there, it will fall off....stop that right now. That is so nasty!” Or worse, “You’re going to make Jesus cry.”

I can remember my Mom, God bless her, used to talk about “down below.” And I will never forget my first geography class, probably fourth grade, and Sister Mary Regina (long I) talked about the part of the world known as “down under,” and I couldn’t resist asking her if that was the same as “down below.”

Regulation For Little People Is Not A Moral Issue
So, yes, we, as parents, have, just like our parents had, the opportunity from day one to literally nurture and shape a child’s self awareness of energy and desire. We can literally inform them to be at home with their energies, desires, and accompanying pleasures without ever having to label anything as good, bad, evil, or sinful. Yes, nurturing and shaping includes regulation. It’s like learning how to stack blocks, tie your shoes, throw and catch a ball, ride a tricycle, and then a bicycle, read, spell, skate, hit a baseball, shoot a basketball, make a layup, play tennis, play golf, do a flip, blow out the candles on our birthday cake. It’s a kind of learning that does not require instilling moral principles because morality is not an issue here. Our “job” with our kids, as they are moving through these early stages of life, is to walk with them. Walk with them as they learn who they are, as they experience their desire, the curiosity, their pleasure of being alive, and teach them to weave all of this energy into who they are as a person, as a sexual person. If there is a moral issue here, it is on us, to do a good job providing them with healthy, clear, and functional regulation that they can eventually internalize for themselves over the course of the trials and errors of repetitive life experiences.

Holding Them Accountable And Responsible
When we are not able to simply observe our growing children from a distance and just notice what is normal, innocent and maybe even harmless movement (behavior), and when we are not able to take the necessary time to provide some external regulation for all their energy (and often it is as simple as taking the child’s hand or holding the child even when they don’t want to be held), we then try to shut down the child’s energy altogether with loud threats and sometimes with actual punishments, and of course, it doesn’t work. So, many folks then just throw up their hands, basically give up, and the child runs wild doing whatever looks good and feels good at the moment. You see this every day, all day, in any large shopping venue.

When we are able to simply observe our growing children, notice what is normal, innocent, and harmless, when we do respond to their testing of the limits with appropriate regulation, then our children learn what it is to be held accountable and responsible for EVERYTHING they do. There is no one to blame and no excuses. There is no copping out, no being a victim of unfairness or circumstances.

PreTeen
So let’s say, Mom and Dad do a pretty fair, good-enough job during my early years, and now I am embarking on my preteen years. When I come to this juncture point in my development with a clear sense of who I am, which includes a healthy internal regulatory system, my body (and soul, if you will) can tell me when I have eaten enough, exercised enough, played enough, studied enough, picked my nose enough, “pushed it” enough, been angry enough, jumped up and down enough, cried enough, laughed enough, watched TV enough. I might even know enough to understand and live with boredom without having to jump out of my skin. I can and will be at home with the pleasures that abound in my body, the pleasure of sitting close to Mom and Dad, the pleasure of having someone read me a story at night, the pleasure of seeing in Mom and Dad’s eyes sheer love for me without any conditions, the pleasure of someone holding me, supporting me containing myself when I am out-of-control, the pleasure of someone soothing me when I am physically and or emotionally in pain.

Disappointment Is An Adult Problem
If I am really lucky when I hit my preteen years, I will never have to wonder what it means to disappoint someone. Yes, I know, it comes as a shock for some of us. But here’s the scoop. When we tell our kids that they are a disappointment, (I mean, we actually use that word, right?), we are simply telling our children that we need them to be a mirror for us, and, unfortunately, it’s supposed to be the other way around!

The Value Of Mistakes
If I am lucky enough, by the time I reach my preteen years, the big people will have taught me the importance of making mistakes, the importance of having the courage to step up to the plate one hundred percent of the time knowing full well we will easily fail at least seventy percent of the time or more. Being at home with making mistakes and failure is an important learning most of us missed.

You Are Beautiful...Handsome....
If I am lucky enough, by the time I reach these transitional preteen years, I will have heard over and over and over and over again that I am beautiful, handsome, attractive, intelligent, smart, capable, skilled, successful, courageous, going places in my life, have an awesome future to look forward to, and, here’s the kicker, not based upon any of my accomplishments, but more on simply who I am as a human being or as a sexual being. My sexual beingness is not a part of who I am as a human being. Rather it is integral and cannot be separated out, even though that is what we try to do psychologically and morally, and we pay a heavy price for our attempts.

What Was Our Experience?
So, take a deep breath! By the time you reached your preteen years, what had been your life experience? So this is not about parent bashing or pointing fingers. It’s simply asking ourselves the question.

I know, for myself, I did not have the experience of being at home with physical pleasure, in particular, anything related to “down below.” I experienced myself as split into parts, some bad and some good. By the time I was twelve, I thought for sure I was going to hell for all my sins of “impurity.” Well, actually one sin done repeatedly!

I was already preoccupied with my looks and girls, but did not receive much feedback from my parents about either. Yes, my Mom (yes, my Mom) gave me lots of information about sex, but somehow, it was just information, and I did not know how to take it in and apply it to my experience of myself at that age.

I also had to control, or even better repress, any anger. Anger was totally unacceptable. And the same for tears. I worked hard not to cry, but was almost always unsuccessful. I remember the first time I did not cry when Dad yelled at me. I was twelve, and felt very victorious! I thought for sure this was the sign I was approaching genuine manhood.

I know I never felt at home making a mistake of any kind. It was called “carelessness.” And any time I was “in trouble,” which was a daily event, I was always looking to see just how much of a disappointment I was.

However, I was very much supported for my accomplishments in school and music. For those accomplishments, I knew Mom and Dad were proud of me and consequently, I was also proud of myself. I knew and was at home with my strengths and limitations when it came to academics and music. My peers, on the other hand, gave me a lot of affirmation for my accomplishments in sports.

With respect to my future, there was always a subtle innuendo that Success with a capital “S” was only for a few, people like my wealthy Godfather or the wealthy entrepreneurs for whom my father provided accounting services.

In addition, my Dad affirmed by blossoming sense of humor even in public!

So, how about yourself? When you were getting ready to enter the terrible or wonder-filled teens years (depending upon the point of view), what had been your experience up to that point? And what are you thinking about now? Have a sense of where we are going? Are you lost? Confused? Well, we’ve been looking back in time, looking back to the very beginning of our life and just taking note of what happened through the first 12 or so years to that basic desire that burns inside each of us at the moment we pop out.

The Fireworks Of Adolescence

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Adolescence And Fireworks
And so now we are ready to take a look at the next part of the journey when our brain goes haywire and our hormones explode like the fireworks on the fourth of July. If we are well-prepared for this physio-psycho-neurological revolution that goes on inside our brain and body, then we can get through the revolution without hostages being taken, and the casualties will be recoverable and lessons well-earned and learned.

Physical Prowess
One of the first things that happens to us in the “revolution” is a growth spurt. We grow taller and heavier, and at some point, we may be taller than both Mom and Dad and perhaps taller than our siblings and peers. We grow in strength as well, and discover that we can defend ourselves physically against the bullies in our life, against our older siblings, and even against Mom and Dad.

My Mom, God bless her again, had a ritual that whenever I was seriously (according to her) out of line, she would grab whatever was in reach, typically a comb or brush, and then bark at me like a drill instructor, “Drop your drawers, and take it like a man.” Then she would swat my butt with her weapon of convenience! I will never forget when I was about twelve years old, realizing that I was taller than Mom, deciding, since I was a man, as she said, that I was not going to drop my drawers anymore, and instead, I ran. I ran out of the back door, down the driveway and up Clark Street toward Divisadero Street. Initially, my Mom, God bless her yet again, chased me. After about a half of a block, she stopped, thank God. I often wonder what would have happened had she had a heart attack trying to catch me! How would my life have changed, and what guilt would I have carried around, and how would I have treated my kids in reparation?

It is puzzling that we never had a conversation about this incident, but she never again barked at me like a drill instructor, and she never again “administered” physical discipline! Interesting term! About the same time, my Dad slapped me pretty hard across the chops for laughing at an incident he did not find funny! I could not stop laughing even after the slap, which was hard enough that I thought I would see my teeth flying out like in a cartoon. And that was the last time for him as well. Perhaps, on some level, he realized that his physical prowess was no longer a thwart to my spirit and I was no longer a little boy.

A Powerful Epiphany
I have heard many a story from clients who tell me of taking on and physically subduing Dad, in particular, at this time of their lives, to let him know that the physical beatings had to stop, whether Dad was beating them or their siblings or Mom or all three. They each related how they warned Dad. “You ever lay your hands on me or us or Mom again, I am going to kill you.”

So one of the first epiphanies during the revolution is that we have power and can back it up physically.

Can you see how critical this epiphany is from so many different perspectives? And how debilitating it is if one never has this epiphany? So weather we come to this epiphany from seemingly “harmless” spankings or brutal beatings, the experience gives formulation to a complex internalized algorithm which will dictate the way we strive for power and use power, the way we defend ourselves, the way we resolve conflict, the way we treat our spouses and children, and the way we treat people in general, including OURSELVES. It’s easy to say I will not repeat my parents’ ways, but we often do repeat their ways to a tee for lots of interesting reasons which we will not cover in this article.

Sexual Awakening
Another epiphany centers around our physical sexual maturation and the experience of sexual pleasure and orgasm. There are numerous accounts of this awakening in fiction and many accounts shared among peers. How accurate are any of these accounts? And do young studs know that the sexual experience is so very different for teenage girls, and are girls honest about what they experience? Or do they relate their experience the way they think it is supposed to happen or the way it happens in the movies or in porn? And what happens when I realize my sexual maturation clarifies for me that I am attracted to my own gender?

My Own Misinformation
I can’t speak for women, obviously, but I know for myself, my first experience of orgasm outside of wet dreams was pretty spectacular but at the same time, fraught with misinformation I told myself about what was happening, along with a wheelbarrow filled with guilt because I thought I was committing mortal sins. There wasn’t anyone I could talk to about what was actually happening, and it took me a number of experiences to realize that I could have an orgasm without soap and water!

Who Could We Talk To?
So how many of us guys had a healthy mature man to talk to about our sexual awakening? How many women readers had a mature woman with whom you could discuss your sexual experiences?

As guys, when we were in junior high, could we ask Dad why we got a raging hard-on when we smelled the girl’s hair in front of us sweep back and forth across the front of our desk? The worst part for me was I attended Catholic school, and you had to stand up to answer questions, and inevitably, Sister Rita Anne would ask me a question right at the moment I was up at bat, and I just never went limp fast enough. I was totally embarrassed trying to stay half-seated while I answered the question as quickly as I could.

As guys, who could we ask what to do with all the sensations that came with that raging hard-on, what to do when we started kissing that girl who sat in the desk in front of us and instinctively wanted to do more and more than just kiss her? Was there anyone to tell us how wonderful these experiences were, and that we didn’t have to go any farther? The most that I got was that anything even remotely sexual was just outright dangerous and beyond my ability to control myself, and worse, sinful. So don’t even start. Get rid of any hard-ons if you know what’s good for you!

As gals, who could you ask about feeling queasy and maybe even a tad wet when the eighteen year old box boy offered to help your Mom out to the car? Who could you ask what to do when your prize date invited you into the back seat of the car where he began fondling you all over? And sometimes it felt really really exciting and you wanted to go along, but at other times, you just wanted to bolt, and in either case you risked a certain reputation. Who could you ask about the multitude of emotions and impulses, the desire to be held and kissed, the desire to be “taken” like in the movies, or the shocking numbness of feeling nothing even remotely close to what everyone said it would feel like?

And who could I talk to if I am one of the ten percent of the population who is gay or lesbian in my sexual orientation?

Sex Education Versus Consequence Education
Our “education” about our sexual beingness and about sexual behavior seems to focus almost totally on the consequences of “having” sex with another person, namely, losing our virginity, getting pregnant, contracting a potentially deadly disease, and possibly going to hell. There is very little education or no education about desire, curiosity, and pleasure; no education specifically about sexual desire, sexual curiosity, and sexual pleasure, and the experience of orgasm. We learn nothing about what it all means in the scheme of being a human being, a sexual human being, a decent human being, a loving human being.

Making Love To Yourself
And for sure, no one tells us that we don’t need another person to learn about what makes us tick as a sexual being, how to enjoy ourselves sexually, and that the safest and most informative way to enjoy our budding sexuality is to make love to ourselves. In fact, there are still not so subtle put-downs about making love to yourself. You are considered a loser, immature, and incapable of attracting a sexual partner. In general, during our adolescence, we learn no algorithms for experiencing, enjoying, and regulating ourselves sexually.

Education Versus Prevention
And now a days, rather than walking with our teen women as they discover who they are as sexual beings, we prefer to give them hormone pills, implants, and devices with little or no consideration for the impact on their present and future health.

And likewise with our teen men. We prefer to give them condoms with absolutely no concern for what they are learning about themselves as sexual beings. Our free for all with the condoms suggest that men have an uncontrollable urge to have sex, so they better have that condom ready at all times. We are unwilling to guide them through any process of self-discovery and self- regulation when it comes to sexual feelings, sexual urges, and sexual impulses, mainly because most adult men know nothing about self-discovery and self-regulation. Unfortunately, as men, we inherit a sense of entitlement from our role models when it comes to our sexual needs.

Sexual Arousal Means Intercourse?
When I suggest in therapy that a man can just enjoy a raging hard-on by breathing into his penis, the looks are priceless from both men and women. Or when I suggest that the woman be okay with a man pleasuring himself while he lies next to her when she is not in the mood, or for whatever reason cannot engage sexually, the looks are equally priceless.

So what we are left with when it comes to sexual desire, sexual feelings, sexual urges, touching, kissing, fondling, holding, is what Rusty says in the film European Vacation as he observes newlyweds at breakfast. “Dad, I think he’s going to pork her.” That is the only imaginable outcome. And believing that getting porked is the only possible outcome is precisely what keeps many women from being more affectionate and overtly sexual as a relationship ages.

Beasts, Rats, Rabbits
As parents, we tend to treat our teenage men and women as beasts or worse rats or rabbits who have no potential for doing anything with their adolescent sexuality other than acting it out. For some strange reason, we think we can teach them how to study and do well on the SAT tests, or how to discipline themselves to perform well, for example, in sports, but when it comes to their exploding sexuality, we just throw up our hands and hope they do not make the same mistakes we made. Now that is interesting.

We shift our focus from modeling for our young adult children how to integrate their adolescent sexuality into conscious personal decisions based upon something soulful, if you will, and settle instead to hounding them to minimize or better eliminate any and all possible negative consequences to “having sex.” “Having sex” and getting pregnant are considered worse than cancer and morally worse than murder. Most likely, we are stuck in this approach because we have never addressed this integration for ourselves. And yet, when it comes to the annual prom, we cheerfully send them off in a limousine to spend the night at a hotel, and we are so happy that we don’t have to worry about them driving under the influence. For some reason, we don’t worry about them screwing under the influence.

That phrase, having sex, intrigues me. Must be short for a longer phrase otherwise it just doesn’t make any sex. Oops! Sense!

The Ultimate Disconnect
So when all I know is that these sexual feelings are related to having sex with another person, or when all I know is that having sex with someone will either get someone pregnant or infected with a potentially life-threatening disease, or when all I know is that having sexual urges must be acted out in some way or another that will potentially be harmful in some way or another, then I tend to disconnect from my sexual beingness, and I disown and take no responsibility or accountability for my sexual urges, my sexual decisions, and ultimately my sexual behavior. This disconnect eventually leads to a misalignment of many other powerful emotions like sadness, anger and fear, and a total lack of understanding of power and control.

I Want More
So, as an adult, I sometimes find myself making anger rather than making love. I end up knowing how to take “it” from someone or “give it up” to someone, but I know virtually nothing about giving and receiving. When I finally do experience sex, it is not enough. When I finally do experience power or control, it is not enough and I hoard it and want more. I hoard and want more of everything (sex, power, money, control, drugs, alcohol, food, “things”). This wanting more and hoarding is a direct result, not of original sin, but of having to disconnect and or shut down my basic desire, curiosity and wonder for life itself, for some of us from the very very beginning.

Is any of this making any sense?

Me, Earl, And The Dying Girl
I mentioned above the film, European Vacation and the sound bite, “Dad, I think he’s going to pork her.” In a more recent film, Me Earl, And The Dying Girl, Greg and Rachel, two high school seniors, experience an intense level of sexual energy between the two of them, and yet they don’t engage physically in any overt sexual behavior. It might be easy to say they don’t because Rachel is dying, but that might be all the more reason for them to engage sexually. But they don’t. What they do, however, is enjoy their sexual energy which is obviously in abundance. It’s an experience way beyond so-called abstinence.

Loss and Pain
Something we touched on earlier–the experiences of loss and pain. For some of us, loss and or pain hit us right out of the starting gate, when we were first born or within our first year of life. We may have spent our first weeks in intensive care, or maybe our initial months were in pain from some acute and or chronic medical condition. Perhaps there was an adoption. Maybe someone died like our mother or father. Maybe there was some horrific event that separated us from our family. When we are talking the first year of life, our autobiographical memory, sometimes called explicit memory, is not on-line to process the losses and pain, and the big people rejoice that we are too young to remember any of it, too little to be effected at all. Thank God. BUT!

BUT
What the big people forget or just simply don’t know is our amygdala is recording and storing the emotions connected with these experiences of pain and or loss. This function of our amygdala is called implicit memory, to which we have no conscious access. So unbeknown to us, we walk through our entire life with these emotional remnants tagging along, including the anxiety associated with the pain and or loss and the fear of it reoccurring. All of these tantalizing emotions slosh around, so to speak, in our implicit memory, waiting to fire off in response to anything that even remotely reminds our brain of the original loss or pain. Or the loss and the pain and the fear and anxiety may be there when we wake up every morning, because we do not have a story lines around which to weave the experiences, so they can be stored in our autobiographical memory, our explicit memory. When painful experiences are stored in our explicit memory, our body will then know that the painful experiences are over and a part of our past, not our present.

Explicit and Implicit Memory
Our autobiographical or explicit memory begins working at around eighteen months and is fully functioning when the corpus collosum matures at around age six. And yes, there are all kinds of experiences of pain and loss that occur in the meantime. Death, divorce, injuries, over-the-top medical and dental procedures. Unless the big people support us in making good sense of these events, literally creating stories about them so they can be processed into our autobiographical memory, the emotions connected to these events will become “stuck” so to speak in our implicit memory, setting us up for persistent low grade anxiety and depression.

Many of us like to take comfort in declaring that we had no experiences of pain and or loss let alone a back log of pain or loss. But we forget that just being born is an experience of pain and loss. Not sure when the last time was that you thought about just how narrow that birth canal is and how warm and safe that amniotic fluid is compared to “here.” Just moving from one developmental stage to another can be a profound experience of both, both pain and loss.

School Years
Then there are the school years with all their inherent painful experiences. Shame about a great many things including difficulties with academic performance including having to repeat grades, being picked last for sports or any other team-related endeavor, issues related to our physical appearance, our physical development, and again, a myriad of unexpected events that leave us at a great loss of one kind or another.

Experimenting: Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex
Now enter our experimentation with drugs (including nicotine) and alcohol and sex. All those old and current losses and pains that everyone said we would get over, that time would heal, all the associated fear, anxiety, and depression that goes with all of it, suddenly disappears with a drink, a hit, a snort, a pill or a handful of pills, a sexual encounter, or the most romantic and most cool of all the “cure-all’s” that we experiment with, lighting up a cigarette. All the anxiety about the sixteen assignments past due just disappears. All my shyness or shame, gone in a split second. My desire to be cool, to be popular, to belong, my ability to disconnect, or my on-going attempts to disconnect from and escape the many losses and pains, come to fruition in drugs and alcohol and often in sexual experiences as well. All those unmet needs to be held, to be nourished, to be touched, especially for males, all met in a single sexual encounter, often under the influence as well. Whoa!

And Mom and Dad’s eagerness for us to stop using drugs and alcohol and even sex is sometimes outright ridiculous as they continue to embark on their own addictive journeys: parties where the alcohol and drugs flow amidst clouds of smoke; a stoner Dad giving you the lecture when his clothes and the garage wreak; a medicine cabinet filled with prescription drugs; knowing too well about Mom and Dad’s affairs, maybe even witnessing them.

The Unintended Rubble
The desire that was ours when we first popped out is now thoroughly buried in the unintended rubble of our growing-up years. To use an earlier image, we can no longer enjoy flying the kite, but strive instead simply to get high, as high as we can. And, of course, with getting high comes the crashes back down to earth. We engage in addictive behaviors over and over as an attempt to stay one step ahead of our losses and our pain and our overall disillusionment with life. Our curiosity and wonder have long since evaporated into embarrassment and shame that we don’t quite measure up, that we’re not good enough or more simply, we are not enough for anyone let alone ourselves. Our dreams have become just dreams, mist-like dreams. Our dreams, unlike our pain and loss, do settle into our past and are totally off our future radar, making them impossible to achieve let alone enjoy.

What Happens In Adulthood
When I enter adulthood in this condition, I take jobs that are more like addictions (staying one step ahead of not being good enough) than the fulfillment of a dream. I choose a spouse that is more like an addiction than someone with whom I enjoy waking up each day, someone who will support resurrecting each day that basic desire, wonder, and curiosity in each of us. When I enter adulthood in this condition, I do not age gracefully. I dread each adult milestone as it brings me closer to being old rather than being my self, brings me closer to just plain falling apart, brings me closer to the time when it is “all” too late.

Military, Law Enforcement, First Responders
And when I enter adulthood in this condition and pursue careers in the military, in law enforcement, or in any first response or high risk occupation, there is a good chance that the incessant adrenaline rushes will take me even further down into the rubble, like quick sand, and insidiously, the only thing I will know is that those who love me will keep telling me that I’m not the same person I used to be. I have changed and it’s not for the better.

Let’s Stop And Personally Reflect
So let’s stop here for a moment and breathe. Remember what our exploration here is all about. We are exploring our history. What it’s been like for us as sexual beings with sexual energy which we have identified in its purest form as a raw pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder that is there from the moment we pop out, but unfortunately, an energy that gradually becomes moralized and demoralized and covered in the rubble of life experiences that actually promote our disconnecting from this sexual energy or desire?

Shock And Shame: I’m Impotent
So when I enter adulthood, with my sexual energy turned off or buried, it isn’t surprising that very early on in the game, I am in a state of shock and shame because I can’t get it up anymore or I am suddenly not interested in engaging in sex. Wow! And what exactly are we talking about when we say very early on? Well, the research into lack of sexual desire and erectile dysfunction is now looking at men and women eighteen to forty years old. So this so-called impotence is no longer associated with growing old. It has become a part of who we have become at this time in our errant evolution. (Just google, low sex drive in young men and women ages 18 to 40 or any variation.)

We Have A Pill For Everything But Our Soul
And isn’t it interesting how we refer to our inability to get it up or our lack of desire as impotence, a lack of potency or power? And like every other problem we face in our life, our health practitioners are eager and ready to prescribe. Yes, we can take medicine to combat our impotence. The irony here is that many of us are already on a slew of medications that specifically decrease our desire, medications designed to keep us on an even keel, no highs or lows, including blood pressure. So out goes passion, out goes excitement, and out goes desire, out goes erections. And with some medications, out goes our very desire to live, because for some strange reason, the very medication designed to lift depression, increases our “desire” to kill ourselves. To make matters worse, we can’t sleep at night, so we take yet more medicine to help us sleep, medicine that conveniently represses our brain and soul’s ability to dream, if at this point in time, we are dreaming at all.

No one is going to inform us that our incessant affair with anxiety and depression, our seeming inability to either dream or remember our dreams, and our premature, really premature impotence is a condition of our souls, a condition far beyond diagnosable physiological malfunctions. No one is going to inform us that our soul deserves healing and subsequent nourishing. Sadly, even contemporary psychotherapy has abandoned the soulful work, preferring instead to attempt to make our symptoms go away, and very quickly at that. The intern therapists I supervise look at me with the biggest question mark in the universe when I suggest they support their clients healing the holes in their souls from loss. So sad, given the very word therapy means healing.

Energy Is Real
And if you don’t think energy exists, simply think of all the monitoring machines we get hooked up to when we undergo medical intervention of one kind or another. And recall the times when you were thinking about someone who lives a distance and a few moments later, they called you. For a dramatic demonstration of the existence of human energy and its power, watch the You Tube Video, Bill Moyers Documentary on Qi,

Something Has To Happen
So when we enter adulthood, if something doesn’t happen where we become consciously aware of and face the unintended rubble, where we take responsibility for living there no matter how we got there, where we climb out from underneath it, where we create some healing for ourselves and get back on a human pathway that will resurrect and reconnect us to our desire, curiosity, and wonder, then we just might end up at my age never having gone after our dreams, never having flown our own kite. We just might end up at my age retiring from a career or a job we hated, but pursued to please and impress who? Mom and Dad? Our friends? Society? And we just might end up at my age with so many ailments that life itself becomes a pain, and the only desire left is not to be a burden.

Stoicism = No Desire

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Stoicism: Suck It Up
Or we may face our life and our aging body with a kind of stoicism. “It’s just how it is,” we tell ourselves. “It’s what happens to everyone when you grow old. Right?” We no longer, or perhaps never have, grieved the abandonment of our dreams let alone our once youthful physique becoming a heap of wrinkles. We never grasp that what is happening to us is less about aging and more about the systematic shutting down of our desire throughout our lifetime, and that there could be a remedy other than another pill. More than likely, no one will ever tell us that we have become old infants with failure to thrive syndrome but perhaps that's where our stoicism lands us.

The Stoic’s Solution For The Unfinished Business
So stoically, at day’s end, we pour a glass of single malt scotch, a glass of menage a trois red wine (perhaps the only "sex" left in our life), a glass of our favorite beer, maybe even light up a cigarette, and that makes everything seem just fine, just fine. Or perhaps there are other addictions and activities to take our focus off the pain: gambling, sex, porn, fishing, traveling, community involvement. Just like those early experiences of drugs, alcohol and sex were profound solutions for our loss and pain back then, so we find socially-acceptable ways now to motivate us to go on living and, stoically again, to accept life as it is without question that there could be an alternative.

And when it is finally time to go to sleep, again stoically, we sleep alone. The once love of our life is in another room because one of us snores or has restless legs. Or perhaps it is less painful to sleep alone knowing that nothing is going to happen anyway, or worse, we don’t DESIRE anything to happen because our old partner is no longer attractive to us or we assume we are no longer attractive to them.

The God Of Religion
This stoicism we are describing is often fueled, at my age, by our embracing, like yet one more addiction, the God of religion. Unfortunately we may have never encountered the God of our soul, a God who does not fit into moral codes that conveniently relegate all of life into black and white and good and evil boxes. The God of our soul cannot be found in our incessant justification of our own reprehensible but socially-acceptable behavior, our physical and psychological rigidity, or our pursuit of being in control of everything and everyone. Ironically, the God of religion, across the world, is as insane, as narcissistic, as judgmental, as cruel, as sexist, and as unloving as the so-called pagan or infidel gods that religion rejects. Kind of weird! It’s a phenomenon that leads many folks, at my age, to simply reject God or to find a quiet and comfortable place of so-called agnosticism. Either place still leaves someone at my age, with no access to the healing and nurturing of one’s soul, and the resurrection of that pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder wherein lies our connection to our Creator. And we will be hard-pressed to find a religious system that will get it, that our connection to our Creator lies in that basic pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder that is there for all of us when we first pop out. This desire, curiosity, and wonder is not inherently flawed because of so-called original sin. Rather it is there to support us throughout our life to be alive, to dream, to create, to love, to heal and make peace when necessary, to feel all there is to feel, both joy and pain, as our Creator intended, and additionally to know throughout life’s pains, we always have the choice whether or not to suffer.

Sexual Desire At My Age
And it is absolutely amazing that, given all the disconnection, given all the rubble, given how crippled, how frail, how stoic we may have become at my age, that sexual desire, like water, still discovers one of our wrinkles through which to seep and create tingling throughout our body or at least throughout our brain. But we so often treat the phenomenon as just that, a phenomenon that has little or no meaning. We see it as a muscle twitching in a dead person.

Make That Eighty-One
It reminds me of the story of the young priest who confesses to the older priest that he just cannot stop masturbating. The older priest consoles him. “Someday, my son, when you get to be eighty years old, that will no longer be a problem for you.” The young priest finds no consolation since he is only thirty. About an hour later, as the young priest sits in his room praying, he hears footsteps and then a knock on the door. “Make that eighty one,” the old priest exclaims.

Finding Its Way Home
This desire for sexual pleasure can be looked upon as proof that men, in particular, are interested in only one thing, or that human beings are forever flawed by original sin or forever vulnerable to sexual taunts from the devil, or more simply, at rock bottom, we are just dirty old men and dirty old women at heart. OR we can marvel, that no matter how broken our body becomes, no matter how hard we try to disconnect from our emotions, no matter how morally, religiously or stoically we attempt to live our life, this desire for sexual pleasure which seems to never go completely away, always finds a way home, a precious revelation that, just like the tugging kite string, we are, at my age, still connected to that pristine desire with which we all popped out.

Becoming Friends With My Sexual Desire
And so, at my age, what are we going to do to reconnect to that desire that is ours when we first pop out, and more specifically, what are we going to do with our sexual desire when it shows up unexpectedly, when we, like the old priest, thought for sure it was gone?

Perhaps, the first order of business is to simply become friends with our sexual desire. Becoming friends with my sexual desire, at my age, does not mean I have to have sex or try to have sex with someone. So our fear of performance does not have to interfere with this “friendship.”

When I think about being friends with my sexual desire, I can’t help but think about the many clients who share with me their relationship with pornography. I know many of you are going to say that people who view porn are just too friendly with their sexual desire, but it is really the opposite. Pornography is as lucrative as it is precisely because so many folks are not at home or friends with their sexual desire.

Clients, who view porn, describe a sense of freedom while viewing and fantasizing themselves in the scene, a sense of freedom that they do not experience in their real-live relationships. The learned shame and guilt about their sexual desire temporarily goes away.

Despite whatever your thoughts are about porn, for those of us who serve people as ministers, doctors, counselors, and therapists, it is important that we pay attention to what people experience when they view porn. My clients are telling me that the only place in their life where they are at home with their sexual desire is in a fantasy world. They wouldn’t even think about acting out what they enjoy in a porn scene, or when they have tried, they have been rejected without any discussion. As an aside, do you realize that one of the most powerful components of porn is the eye contact between the viewer and the person on the screen or in the photograph. We’re talking attachment here!

Porn is powerful not because of the devil or the power of darkness. Porn is powerful because it reconnects one to that INNOCENT desire, curiosity, and wonder that we have been exploring throughout this article. The solution is not to stop watching porn. Rather, the solution is an important question. How can one connect to his or her desire, and specifically sexual desire, in a way that is both real and life giving, both for you and your partner? And what does such a connection or reconnection look like? And how do I go about making that connection? Where is the instruction book? And the question is a crucial question whatever age you are. And I hope this article has been wonderfully-filled with instructions for you.

Check out the movie, Lars And The Real Girl where a young man literally has a relationship with a real-life doll of a person until his soul is finally able to grieve his profound losses and then connect to a “real girl.” It’s an awesome movie. Both funny and poignant. Watch it.

You can watch the full version of the film on You Tube.

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands
The other day, a seventy five year old friend shared this with me about his path of becoming friends with his sexual desire. He didn't call it that, but it seems to fit.

“Several years ago, I just gave up trying to have sex with my dear wife who is still eager for sex, God bless her. And all the medication I’m on doesn’t help. A couple of months ago, I finally decided that I would try again taking things into my own hands. I say again, because for a long time, it wasn’t even worth trying to get it up by....” And then he paused and finally said. “masturbating. I’ve always felt guilty about it for some reason or another. And I’m not even Catholic. But lately, I’m beginning to experiment again, and now it seems innocent, wonder-filled, and interestingly enough, very educational. I heard someone the other day refer to it as self-care. I like that. I guess you, yourself, gotta know that at our age, there are so many things that can and do influence my...what do you guys call it in the profession? Sexual response? And I want to find out about it all, but not at bedtime. I’m learning a lot about what works and what doesn’t and sometimes a fantasy or two goes a long way, excuse the pun, and I take my lessons into the bedroom. And we’re having fun again even if I don’t get hard. I don’t worry about my performance anymore, and I can enjoy whatever pleasure comes, excuse the pun....I mean I want to be the best old partner I can be for my sweetheart. Don’t you? Maybe the college could offer old people like us continuing education credits for continuing...well, let’s call it a practice of self care.”

What Are You Thinking?
So what are you thinking? Do you have a sense of where we have traveled? And where you yourself might continue your own journey of exploring your awareness of this basic pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder that may be, if you’re my age, only a small flickering spark or worse, a smoldering wick (excuse the pun)? Has our exploration here increased your awareness of the connection or disconnection between this desire, curiosity, and wonder that was yours when you first popped out and the state of your sexual desire at this time in your life, whether you’re my age or your age!

Esther Perel: Mating In Captivity
I recently heard Esther Perel speak at a conference sponsored by the Milton Erickson Foundation, and was inspired to read her incredibly informing work, Mating In Captivity. A couple of paragraphs back, we talked about an instruction book! Mating In Captivity has became my instruction book as well as the inspiration for this article. It’s the best book I’ve read when it comes to healing and reconnecting to this desire, curiosity, and wonder we have been exploring.

Esther Perel approaches this desire, curiosity, and wonder through “the erotic.” She has given me a whole new appreciation and understanding of “the erotic,” and I was moved to begin reflecting on “the erotic” in my own life, both present and past.

I realized that, time and time again, I have become lost trying to be the man other people want me to be, and in my relationships, trying to be the man my partners want me to be. Reading Mating In Captivity started me on this journey of discovering who I am regardless of how others want me to be, and it has been quite liberating. I do not have to find a balance between being a perfect gentleman in sex to being some spin off of Christian Grey. I don't have to find any balance. I only have to discover who I am. Contrary to what some people might fear, I have not become a sexual profligate! Yes, you gotta look that one up! Come on, don’t be insulted, just laugh with me.

I consider myself a pretty open-minded person and not too tied down by fundamentalistic moral codes that see life in stark contrasts of good and evil. I have spent most of my adult life looking at my sexuality and my sexual energy as basically very positive and wonder-filled. I have always noted to others that our sexuality is not a part of whom we are, but rather integral to whom we are and not something we can separate out. I have always looked at sex and sexual desire as something sacred and holy.

In addition, I spent many years working in bioenergetic therapy learning to release energy blocks throughout my body, particularly in the areas of my waist and pelvis. Recently, I have delved into the world of Shamanism where our essence as human beings is believed to be energy, and for the last two years, I have spent time every day cleansing my chakras.

But after reading Esther Perel, I realized that I have never fully escaped experiencing my sexuality in a good or evil paradigm and as something I needed to control. I have never thought of it as being connected to that primal desire, curiosity, and wonder that was mine when I first popped out, let alone seeing that desire, curiosity, and wonder (which means my sexuality and my sexual desire) as my connection to my Creator.

So if you have enjoyed our exploration here, read the book, Mating In Captivity. It has literally changed my life, even at age 69! Hey, I can’t help it. That is my age! I guarantee you, if you can let the information in this book inform you, if you can take the risk of seeing the erotic as something soulful and not dirty, if you can see the erotic as your connection to your Creator from whose Desire you came into being, then reading this book will also change your life.

Am I Just An Aging Hippy?
Some of you may think I am an aging Hippy left over from the sixties, and that I am a proponent of the “do whatever feels good” philosophy. Quite to the contrary. Maybe you have heard the joke about the son who “orders” a stripper for his father’s ninetieth birthday party. The old man asks the stripper, “So what are you doing here?” She says, “I’m here to offer you super sex.” The old man replies, “I’ll have the soup.”

My writing here is about our inability to even hear the word sex, especially at my age, without splitting off into the soup, the rubble. For me, it is not about whatever feels good. I mean let’s face it, this soulful journey to reconnect to my primal desire, curiosity, and wonder can and usually does involve intense grief. It’s not always pleasurable sorting my way through all the unintended rubble.

I simply want to support myself and whoever else in on this road to know that our pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder, and the pleasure of our desire, curiosity, and wonder, specifically sexual pleasure, points not to sexual behavior, but to a soulful experience beyond the narrow moral bounds of good and evil. It points to a holy, if you will, connection to our Creator. It is a source of energy and life, a source that many of us, at my age, have abandoned, and for some of us, at a much earlier age. Too many of us are so fearful of pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, that we have bought into the belief that life is fundamentally about suffering and death. How sad!

Thank You
Thank you for persevering in reading twenty three pages, and I wish you well on your own personal journey, at your age, to reconnect to your pristine desire, curiosity, and wonder and to be at home with who you are as a sexual being, and to be friends with your abounding and sacred sexual energy.

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