How My Sexual Reawakening Changed My Life
- Published on: 19 June, 2017
- Last update: 09 August, 2017
HEY GUYS! I’m back from Jamaica, and I’ve been reflecting SO much these past few days about what I want to write to you. It’s a little overwhelming so I’m just gonna dive right in…
Out of all the places I’ve had the honor of visiting, Jamaica brought me the most ‘signs’, synchronicities + lessons – yes, even more than living in Costa Rica for 2 months! This isn’t because I had some magical adventure or went somewhere exclusive. In fact, it was probably the most ORDINARY travel experience I’ve ever had. What was different this time had to do with ME: this trip helped me realize subconscious beliefs I’ve held about myself & my body for years that I had NO idea were affecting everything from my mental health to my weight and hormones.
As you guys know from previous posts, I feel that a huge part of my purpose is to help women. That not only includes women who have physical health complaints, but also those who (like me) have been through trauma, dysfunctional family situations, low self-esteem & emotional difficulties. These can and will manifest physically, so bringing them to light & speaking about them openly is a HUGE part of healing. The reason I’m about to share my experience is because I think what I’ve learned will resonate with the very women I love and want to reach.
Getting back to Jamaica… I was EXTREMELY in touch with my intuition there, and I believe that’s because I felt so utterly grounded and PRESENT in my body. It could have been the fact that it was a girls trip and I was surrounded by strong feminine energy… or perhaps it was the way the people of Jamaica embody the joyous, loving spirit of the earth. Maybe it was the feeling I got while dancing in the sun to the flow of rhythm (which I realized was missing in my day-to-day life… why don’t I ever dance just because I’m alive?!) Whatever it was, it made me feel more beautiful and like MYSELF than ever. That in turn translated to what seemed like a super-sixth-sense, where I had such a strong gut feeling about people & experiences that I was led to exactly where I needed to be. It was almost like I was making love to the universe, trusting it (and myself) completely, reaping the benefits that come with such a union.
Speaking of the universe, it’s funny how it sends us messages in the most clever of ways. The last picture I posted to Instagram before I took a break was me in my favorite yellow swimsuit, happy as a clam in my own skin. A woman commented asking why I’m “showing off” my body, as if it’s something wrong and shameful I should hide rather than embrace. I explained that at this point in my life, I feel beautiful and choose to CELEBRATE my body after years of us being at war. Little did I know, the next few days would have EVERYTHING to do with the theme of that one silly comment – I was about to unearth YEARS of internalized/repressed body shame that I didn’t know I was still holding onto. I learned how to whole-heartedly mean the response I gave back to her.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The point of this girls trip was to celebrate my best friend’s birthday, so we wanted to relax and just have FUN (something that’s very hard for me to do. All my life I’ve said, “I just don’t know how to be fun; it’s not for me.” I feel like I always have to be doing something productive).
Because this getaway was purely for pleasure, we booked an all-inclusive resort, something that also turned out to be hard for me at first. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been extremely independent. I like to explore and I definitely love my freedom. I usually take the road-less-traveled and book an Airbnb so that I have a more authentic experience, so it was an absolute SHOCK to be in a place where everything was taken care of for me!
Funny enough, this all-inclusive experience is what first started to spark my #JamaicaEpiphanies. As we settled into the resort, I realized I was in this place where everything was designed to take care of me – to make me feel the most enjoyment humanly possible. It was a place where I could no longer believe the negative thoughts that sometimes play in my mind telling me that everything I’m doing is wrong – because there really IS no wrong there. Your only job is to do whatever makes you feel PLEASURE… so I was faced with the question of, what the hell is that?
At first, I felt extremely strange every time I did something that was purely hedonistic and honored my desires – even something as simple as leaving a restaurant with my drink because I didn’t finish it yet and wanted to enjoy it outside. I kept asking my friends, “am I going to get in trouble if I walk out with this?!” No matter how many times they reassured me that this type of thing was allowed there, I felt on edge as if someone was going to scold me at any moment. I had constant anxiety and was subconsciously waiting to be punished for enjoying myself & being care-free. I felt so guilty leaving cups or plates around even though the staff kept telling us to do so; I was tremendously uncomfortable with having people serve me or wait on me, and I couldn’t bear not tipping every person that helped us out.
While part of this certainly comes from being raised with manners and humanity, I had to face the underlying reality: I was uncomfortable with others taking care of me. I was unable to allow myself to feel PLEASURE because I believed I didn’t deserve it. I felt that it was normal to get in trouble just for BEING; like I took up space and was getting in peoples’ way by enjoying myself. Above all, I was constantly preparing myself to be punished for something (which is where all the anxiety was coming from). Heavy stuff to be feeling at a freakin’ resort, right! Where did it all stem from… especially the punishment part?!
Once I realized that was the case in this petri-dish setting, BAM! It clicked that these beliefs spill into SO many other areas of my life! They are a source of anxiety for me on the daily, not just in this acute situation… all the situation did was help me see it better. It forced me into a new environment where I could view my behavior and thoughts from a new perspective.
So I’m sure you want to know… did I figure out WHY I feel like I’m doing everything wrong and about to get in trouble? Yes I did. And let me tell you… I now understand what they mean by “Pandora’s box.” Years of subconscious beliefs and anxiety started pouring out and making sense.
For those who have read my personal posts before, you probably know what I’m about to say. I realized that this negative programming came from my mother and the way we interacted throughout my life. It’s no secret that we’ve had an extremely strained relationship; she battles many mental health issues and my father and I were always in her line of fire.
What always helped me get through it was understanding that the way she spoke to and treated me was how her abusive mother spoke to and treated her. The cruel things she’s said to me were unfortunately reflections of how she felt about herself. I’m not making excuses for people who treat others poorly, but at the same time I can detach myself because I understand that hurt people, hurt people. To treat others with love and respect you must first be able to extend the same to yourself, and that’s something she could never do. I know the pain she put on us is only a fraction of what she feels inside. I know the things she denied me were also things she denied herself. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned how to keep a healthy distance and can (most of the time) reflect on my experiences with her from a place of compassion.
Basically what I’m trying to say is: her whole life, everything my mother did was wrong in the eyes of HER mother. She was always getting in trouble, beaten, or yelled at for simply being her. She was always told her body was too fat and ugly. She was told she wasn’t wanted. And she was DEFINITELY, 100%, shamed about sex: the most natural part of being a living organism. What’s worse than getting in trouble for the most human instinct we have – the one that furthers our very existence? I’ll get back to that in a moment…
While I didn’t receive the exact same treatment from my mother, the beliefs her mother beat into her were absolutely passed onto me. I also got in trouble for every little thing, but it was more verbal abuse and manipulation than anything. I went into specific detail earlier which was lovely to release, but I have since decided to remove it. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time getting yelled at for being me, and I spent far too many hours fighting a battle when I should have been learning how to love & TRUST. In turn, I was pretty behind on learning how to relax into & trust the path of my life; or myself for that matter. Anxiety was always a huge problem.
Back to the topic of sex – something my mother definitely passed on from her childhood was shaming me for my sexual instincts. I will never forget the first time I encountered the topic of sex. I was a young child (kindergarten maybe?), and used to go to this summer program every morning with a boy from our town. We carpooled, so my mom would stop at his house to pick him up and have coffee with his mother while we played upstairs.
One day, this boy “Andy” told me that we were going to have “sex” and “make a family.” He of course was parroting this from somewhere and had no idea what it actually meant – he just knew it involved this strange thing between his legs. We went upstairs to play “family” and did your usual “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” that kids do when learning about their bodies. I think I poked his penis with my finger, said “ew it’s squishy!” and we giggled. We went downstairs after accomplishing what we thought was “sex” and went on with our lives.
The next week, my mom asked me to help her write his birthday card and handed me a pencil. I asked her how to spell “sex” so I could tell him I was excited to do it again (that’s literally how innocent it was – I asked my MOTHER how to spell it!) and she flipped out. She started screaming about how his parents must be psychos who were doing parenting wrong, and continuously scolded me for not telling her about this terrible incident (which I didn’t see as negative until this point) as soon as it happened. Let’s just say Andy’s parents got an earful and I never saw him again. I know she was trying to protect me, but I also know that it’s normal for children of the same age to be curious about each other’s parts. I don’t blame her for this incident, but it was a hell of a way to be introduced to the concept of “sex.” From that day on I felt that “sex” was wrong, dirty, and something I would get in trouble for.
Fast forward to 5th grade, when boys no longer had “cooties” and I started developing bonds with female friends by talking on the phone with them for hours. My friend Angelina confided in me one night that she had a crush on a boy in our class. I got so excited because I also had a crush on a boy (who I had been friends with since Pre-K) and finally had someone to tell! We were so giddy that night, and it was such a new, exciting thing to bond over. When my mom tucked me into bed, I decided to share my secret crush with her – after all, she was another woman I trusted and wanted to bond with. I’ll never forget the way her soft voice instantly became harsh and monotone as she told me I was NOT allowed to like boys because I’m too young and it is WRONG. “I don’t want to hear another word about this,” she said. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and stupid.
Around that age (10/11 years old) I couldn’t help the changes my body was going through. I couldn’t help that I liked a boy, or that I felt things “tingle” when I watched people kiss on TV. (I asked her why that happened too and she shut it down quick!) My biology was going to take its course whether we liked it or not. At this time, I began to understand that touching myself felt good and brought me comfort. I remember lying in my bed at night, hand on my vagina, praying that my grandmother wasn’t watching the shameful things I was doing from heaven. I hated that I was like this and wanted to hide it from my mom so I would make her proud. I felt like some weird sexual deviant that couldn’t control herself, but suppressing it only made it worse.
Our “sex talk” was mostly, “Olivia, do you know how sex happens? Tell me exactly how.” I told her that a man “stuffs” his penis inside a woman’s vagina. That was the end of that.
When I met my first boyfriend at age 14, she told me she was actually pretty “surprised” because she figured I was a lesbian based on how I dressed as a kid and how disinterested I seemed in boys. OF COURSE I couldn’t show her my interest. I was ashamed!
Needless to say, first relationships suck and it ended terribly, although I don’t regret it one bit. Studies show that romantic relationships among teenagers can actually help them be emotionally healthier in the future, so I’m grateful for all the lessons I learned. We were together for 2 years and broke up when I was 16. The whole time, we didn’t have true penetrative sex once – I felt like a “whore” if I did that because I was so young. The one time we actually tried, I was so tense and uncomfortable that it literally wouldn’t go in. Then he left me. Fun times, right?!
The day we broke up, I was crying hysterically and had to stay home from school. It was actually a pretty controlling relationship (he had to see all of my outfits before I left the house, I couldn’t have guy friends etc). Because of the manipulation, I felt that no one else would love me and I was ruined. I was truly inconsolable, and after being compassionate the first few hours my mother grew frustrated. “Why are you crying so much, Olivia?! Did you GIVE YOURSELF to him??” The look of disgust on her face as I didn’t answer and instead kept crying harder, is burned into my brain forever. “How could you?!” she screamed, berating me for once again what she referred to as “giving myself” away. As if I didn’t want it too. As if women were objects to give away. As if I was “ruined” now – which echoed my worst fear. I begged her on my hands and knees not to tell my father. She swore up and down that she would never…. until the next morning. Do you know how it felt to see my father so disgusted with me for following my instincts? (Keep in mind – IT DIDN’T EVEN GO IN! All I can do is laugh).
We were in family therapy at the time because things were so bad at home, and he couldn’t even look at me during the next day’s session. I felt dirty and shameful, once again. Do you know what that boyfriend’s parents did when he openly told them we were going to lose our virginity to each other? They hugged him and thanked him for sharing, then educated him on safe sex. This is why I want to help women. This is why we need each other.
I can think of several other examples that stick in my brain, but I’ll give you just two more (which specifically tie back into Jamaica). When my mother would hear any type of sexual hip-hop/R&B on the radio, she would comment on how disgusting it was – and yet it was music that I loved! I knew to NEVER listen to those stations around her in fear of the awkward/shameful feelings that would come up. When she learned that middle-schoolers were “grinding” at school dances (a form of suggestive dance that horny teenagers happen to love), she made sure I knew how wrong it was. I did it anyway and dealt with the mixed feelings of instincts/pleasure vs. guilt.
Now that you have a brief history of my sexual development (LOL), I want to bring this full circle and talk about why my trip to Jamaica brought all of this up. After realizing how afraid I was of getting in trouble in general at the resort, I thought of all the other pleasurable things I was doing in Jamaica that I felt guilty or shameful about. 99% of those things involved my body, my femininity, and my sexuality. I was pretty much half naked 24/7 since I was always in my swimsuit, there was music and dancing EVERYWHERE (yes mom, the grinding kind)! The people of Jamaica are, in general, very sexual too. They are completely open about telling a woman how beautiful her body is, but not in the cat-calling way that New Yorkers do while hanging out of tow trucks. Everyone that we encountered (even though I can’t speak for an entire country) was honest and open but also respectful and not pushy. The people we met lived their entire LIVES based on pleasure – they indulge in God’s most pleasurable herb (ganja!), they wear things that complement rather than hide their curvy figures, they allow themselves to be fully immersed in primal, rhythmic music & dance, and simply put you can tell that they love sex! It’s a big part of their culture – just listen to the lyrics of their music haha.
Because all of my needs were taken care (and because for the first time, I actually allowed it), I was able to also live solely based on pleasure for a few golden days. I guess that’s what happens when you remove yourself from our strange Western society for a moment… when you have nothing to worry about and you’re in a place with different attitudes, you can just BE. You can hear your true desires and be in tune with your body.
Let me tell you guys: I never felt so damn sexy in my LIFE. I felt like the big butt my mom always told me to hide was beautiful, appreciated, and normal. I felt like I could dance in public just because I felt like it, and no one would look at me funny for moving my hips in such a sexual, primal way. In moving like that, I swear I had such an energetic release from the middle of my body. It FELT good, so I did it – simple enough.
I didn’t feel “fat” ONCE, because everyone was such a healthy weight (whereas I feel America has been obsessed with thinness for so long). I was confident in my own skin, and that in turn made me so much more attractive to others. I allowed myself to feel chemistry while dancing because I knew it was a NORMAL, harmless biological reaction — not something to be ashamed of or suppress. As I began to notice my own beauty more, I was able to fully embrace and indulge in the beauty of everyone around me, both male and female. Since I’m being open here, I was extremely turned on the whole time! I was turning MYSELF on dancing in the mirror or listening to sexual songs. I gave myself permission to listen to the lyrics and indulge in the thoughts and fantasies that came from that animalistic part of my brain, instead of shutting them down or eating them away. (Did I mention how much better my clothes fit since I came home?!)
More than anything, I was turned on because I felt FREE. Free to be in this body that came with large sexual breasts and hips. Free to be open and honest with myself about the thoughts and desires that made me feel pleasure. I was fully present within my body, rather than living inside of my head where my thoughts too often hold me prisoner or talk me out of my instincts. I didn’t feel shame that I was looking at people (or myself!) with lust – I felt that it was simply what my body was born to do to keep my DNA alive. All these years I thought only men were allowed to look, fantasize, or have sexual desires. I thought I was supposed to please the man and get through sex. I thought that if I enjoyed it too much, I was doing something wrong. I was denying myself my humanity for so long.
Because I was finally honest with myself, something clicked in my brain and I was able to be more honest with everyone else in my life. I texted my loving boyfriend who accepts me for who I am, and told him how free and turned on I felt. I was open with him about my desires and that allowed him to be open and honest with me about his too. I learned that it’s 100% normal and healthy for individuals to retain their own sexual desires even while in a loving relationship. Point blank, you are going to be turned on or intrigued by things that are not your partner – that’s just life (hello, porn!). Sharing those fantasies with your partner rather than acting on them is a beautiful way to release pent up energy, have fun together, and spice things up. I told him that being in a place where I felt no shame about my body or sexuality for the first time was going to change our sex life forever. And sure enough, it did!
When I got home, we had the best sex of our lives. It feels like we’re teens again who just met and can’t keep our hands off each other. We are so honest now, and I feel more trust and bonding than ever before.
I still feel just as turned on as the day I got home, and that’s because the feeling that came over me isn’t tied to a single person, event, or place. It’s tied to the way I feel about MYSELF and how I changed that during this trip. It’s due to the fact that I finally let go of the shame tied to my body and sexuality. I trusted my mind to go where it wanted to go & I allowed myself to FULLY relax with my partner and enjoy sex. I re-framed my attitude about sex altogether, and I now see it as one of the greatest parts of life. I learned to love my body for what it can do and how much pleasure it can bring both me and my partner.
The best part of this whole thing? Changing my attitude about my sexuality did more for my self-love issues than ANY meditation, book, or course ever could. The problem was that I couldn’t love Olivia, because I was leaving such a huge part of her out. How could I love myself, yet hate my biology for its instincts? I spent so many years trying to kill a part of me that simply wanted me to LIVE. I can’t tell you how confident I feel now because I can see myself fully for the first time. I feel like a goddess that finally harnessed her power.
I’m sorry that this is so long, but I had to get the word vomit out so that it may help at least one woman out there. I asked you guys on Snapchat if you’ve dealt with the same thing (shame about sex) and the response I got was overwhelming. So to all the beautiful women out there that feel me on this, I am begging you to reevaluate the subconscious beliefs that are sabotaging your energy and sexual potential. Do you feel like you’re always going to get in trouble? Have you been told that you’re not supposed to like/want/have sex? Are you eating/shopping/drinking to avoid facing the core of yourself, an animalistic being that needs to be nourished?
To women everywhere: I want you to make it your goal this week to do what REAWAKENS you. Dust off the dress that makes you feel like a million bucks. Take a bath, listen to sensual music, touch yourself and allow it to feel GOOD. See yourself for how beautiful you are. Get all dolled up and dance (whether it’s at a fancy nightclub or just in the mirror). Pleasure yourself or allow someone to pleasure you. Let your brain delve into your wildest fantasies. Read erotica (or write some of your own!) Figure out what turns YOU on. Tell someone (or don’t). Go lingerie shopping or visit a sex shop. Most of all, do something that helps you have FUN and feel free.
I never realized how important sexuality is to mental, emotional, and physical health. And because this is a health blog, I feel it’s my duty to share my story of pushing through shame in order to discover a new part of myself. The puzzle piece I never knew I needed.
And just in case no one’s ever told you, YOU ARE ONE SEXY WOMAN and it’s okay to release the primal, sexual side of yourself. You are not a whore if you enjoy sex; you are a woman who is honoring the most basic part of her biology. You are perfect the way you are, and you. deserve. pleasure.