Dear soft hearted dear ones,
What happens when shame arises while you’re making love or when you’re masturbating? You may have acceptance or even pride over who you are and what you need sexually, and still have shame in the sheets (or wherever you do you).
It’s understandable that old narratives arise from time to time. It doesn’t necessarily mean we haven’t done enough healing work. It may be an intrusive thought. It may be a nudge from the inner critic or a wounded part of us. Or the shame may be deep and intergenerational, racist programming.
Programming can be from society’s racism and oppression (“Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia” by Sabrina Strings). These old stories might be from homophobia. Perhaps the shame is rooted in transphobia. Or the shame may be from hurtful things people said or scary or hurtful things people did. Shame in your sexual experience is not a life sentence and at the same time it makes sense that it can arise from time to time given all this programming.
So how do we reprogram? There’s a lot to this answer that I’m going to briefly summarize. When shame arises we can try to be compassionate with ourselves (I’m always saying easier said than done, but hang in there with me on this one). We can even be compassionate with difficulty finding self compassion in the first place. It may also help to talk with a trusted person. For example, if you have a lower sexual interest or drive than one of your partners, is there someone safe you can share this with so you’re not holding it alone? If you feel so insecure about a part of your body can you tell someone safe? Is there something you need so you can feel more freedom or presence while experiencing sex?
It’s also so important to get ourselves the healing we’d want for a loved one experiencing the same shame or trauma in the bedroom. It can be helpful to imagine talking with ourselves when we were an adolescent. If you imagine teen you coming to safe parent you with the same issue (for example, “I feel ashamed when I think of the same gender when I masturbate”), what would we tell them? Hopefully we wouldn’t shame our teen self for these shame feelings. Hopefully we would tell them we totally understand their suffering and that you aren’t going to abandon them in this shame. You may even introduce them to a healer or therapist who they can talk with more about this suffering.
What’s the difference from how you’d talk to your teen self from your present self today? Wishing you compassion and healing in sex and otherwise.