A Year Without Sex

A Year Without Sex

You don’t realize how much energy we, as human beings, put into sex – thinking about having it, thinking about how to get it, the actual pursuit of it, and then the glorious seven minutes of actually experiencing it – until you’re not chasing it anymore.

I stopped chasing it one year ago this week.

*Cue Record Scratch* Wait – But Why?

I didn’t consciously tell myself, “I’m not going to have sex for a year.” It was more so that after my divorce and subsequent reintroduction to human mating rituals after seven years of being in a long term relationship, I was confronted with the stark reality of what it was like to be back in the dating pool.

I was initially excited about the prospect of being able to date again, but when older, wiser, and with a much healthier perspective on myself and where I was in life. Then I realized that while I had grown tremendously, both emotionally and spiritually since the last time I dated, the vast majority of single people on planet earth were, unfortunately, mostly the same unconscious neanderthals they were when I was 26.

I wanted a real man. A conscious man. One that wasn’t afraid of depth, but more importantly, one that wasn’t afraid of me, my scars, my mess, or my insatiable desire to know and express myself as authentically as possible.

I realized I had no inclination to engage in sex without the kind of deep emotional intimacy that I knew was possible, and deep emotional intimacy is not something readily available on the market.

New York City is a lot of things, but a place where people take the time to connect with one another, it is not. It isn’t just that, though – I’m a high-functioning intellectual individual. Intellectually stimulating conversation is easy to come by here. Everybody thinks they’re a sapiosexual. But I also have an extremely high emotional intelligence, and that is not something many people on the planet have, much less a steely place like New York City. The type of emotional and spiritual depth I require to feel satisfied is a rarity to find anywhere.

I stopped having sex because I became disillusioned with the inevitable disappointment of being starved for the kind of connection I needed by men who were too afraid to be vulnerable.

I decided that the Universe would find a way to bring me into the path of the right person, and I didn’t have to deal with an onslaught of frivolous Bumble and Tinder chats to find them. I wanted to be truly seen. I wanted to be felt. I wanted the deepest parts of myself to be known – but how can I show that to someone if I don’t even know it, myself?

I stopped going to bars. I stopped spending hours on dating apps. I stopped settling for surface level bullshit. I stopped seeking something from outside myself to fill a void within me. I quit. And instead, I took all of the energy I would have normally spent in the pursuit of sex and some “other” to validate my self-worth and existence, and put it to use in the pursuit of finding myself, my own inner-worth, and understanding how that changed the dynamic of the types of people I attracted into my life. Through that process, I became crystal clear about what I wanted out of an intimate relationship, what I valued, and most importantly – who I was and what I was worth.

The result was that I consciously chose to never be with another man who didn’t truly see me. Who couldn’t meet me on my level. Who couldn’t show up with intimacy and vulnerability that set my soul on fire – the same kind that I am capable of offering.

I would rather live the rest of my life alone than let one more person touch my body without touching my soul.

Your body is your temple. You don’t let just anyone inside. I finally grew spiritually mature enough to fully revere it with the respect it deserves.

The thought of having a one-night stand, or even sleeping with someone that I’ve only been on a couple of dates with used to be an afterthought, but it is utterly repulsive to me now. I’ve realized that sex feels like meaningless, barely-enjoyable, animalistic copulation without the spiritual component of genuine love and spiritual connection.

Most people on this planet completely miss the full breadth and depth of what sex can be. They connect on a purely physical level. The quality of sex is measured by the number of orgasms had, how many positions you tried, and how many orifices were penetrated.

Sex is not merely an avenue for physical pleasure and procreation, but rather, a doorway to the divine. A way to commune with our highest selves and the greater creative force of the universe, and I do not mean that metaphorically. Sex is a legitimate spiritual practice.

Followers of various sects of Eastern religions have practiced sex as a meditation for thousands of years. Sexual energy is considered to be the essence of our life force and maintaining a prolonged state of heightened sexual arousal can induce a state of heightened psychic awareness, bliss, and oneness with the Universe. Sex literally becomes a shared spiritual experience.

In yogic traditions, the energy that is responsible for this is called kundalini, or shakti. Kundalini awakenings can happen spontaneously or during meditation and result in all of the things I mentioned earlier. Ask me how I know!

I’ve experienced kundalini awakenings during meditation a handful of times. It feels like the universe is making love to you from the inside out.

Imagine connecting with your partner physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually, and psychically in a state of total surrender while simultaneously experiencing the psychedelic highs of an LSD trip, merging so deeply that they intuitively know your every emotion and desire without you ever speaking a word, and your goal is not to orgasm, but rather, prolong that state as long as is humanly possible.

I think about what it would be like to experience that and – well, once you’ve had unicorn sex, everything else is just… vanilla.

A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

A Bystander’s Guide to Suicide

For whatever reason, the Universe has seen fit to make me a magnet for for the highly traumatized and downtrodden. Astrology tells me it’s my 29th degree moon in Cancer. Other intuitives tell me it’s because I’m a healer. Broken people are attracted to my energy like moths to a flame – drug addicts, sex addicts, narcissists, schizophrenics, borderlines, depressives, stage five clingers, and anyone who just needs a fucking hug (and I don’t even like hugs. Don’t touch me unless you’ve known me for at least six months).

While many of these scenarios have played out on multiple occasions, the one that seems to recur most frequently is me having a one-on-one with someone contemplating ending it all. A couple of weekends ago, I once again found myself in the suicide boat, attempting to convince an acquaintance from college not to jump overboard. By now, I’ve got a pretty good handle on the situation, I think.

I have experienced depression, but not to the depth that those who have considered or attempted suicide have. Being an empath, however, I do understand, with cold clarity, the kind of soul sucking hopelessness that often accompanies it. I understand, from personal experience, how we become trapped in our own thoughts, unable to see the way out. I understand how, in the right moment, when those two elements occur at the same time, taking your own life seems like the best and only solution.

I am and have been deeply connected to people who have and still do battle with depression and suicidal thoughts. Some of them have lost that battle. Some of them have managed to hang on, if even by pure accident. And for the ones who have, I’m glad you’re still here, and I love you. Even if we don’t speak often, or at all anymore, due to circumstances beyond my control.

I did a mental inventory a couple of months ago of all the people in my life over the years who had been clinically depressed and/or suicidal. Thirteen. Four of them were people I was romantically involved with to some degree.

There was Tim, a guy I knew from high school and briefly dated in college. We stayed good friends afterward. He dropped out of school temporarily after being diagnosed with depression.

There was my first love, who would never admit it and I was too young to recognize it, but it was most likely a contributing factor to the train wreck of a four year fucked up off-and-on non-relationship we had, which, coupled with psychological abuse, completely obliterated my self-esteem, led to my first depressive episode and brought me to the edge of an eating disorder, but those are much longer stories for another day.

There was Sean, who I also dated briefly in college and through a bizarre twist of fate, ended up being roommates with my first boyfriend from high school. He killed himself a couple of years later. I went to his funeral. It was hard, not just because of him, but because of all of the different friends we had in common. Collective grieving is an interesting experience. (Funny side story- I actually met a girl after I moved here that knew him. All these years later and he still mysteriously somehow knows everyone I know, even halfway across the country.)

One of my close friends from back in St. Louis tried to kill herself five times. I practically had to kick down her front door to get her to engage with human contact again after the last one.

There was a kid from back home about seven years younger than me. He tried to overdose on prescription pills when he was in high school. We talked about it after the fact.

There was a guy I knew from a Facebook group I used to manage, who I was texting during his first two attempts.

This isn’t all of them, but you get the picture. The list is long. Too long.

When Sean died, I saw how devastated his family was at his funeral. That angered me. At the time, I thought it was a selfish act. Years have gone by and I’ve been more thoroughly exposed to the internal struggles of people close to me who suffer from depression, and I now have a better perspective. I don’t begrudge anyone for feeling so much pain that they simply want relief from it. It’s not my place to judge you. Your choices are your own. You have sovereignty over your own body, your own life, and I can understand how ending your life may feel like the only way you can gain any semblance of control.

For those considering jumping overboard…

I don’t believe that depression and anxiety are something that just happens for no reason, and I also don’t believe that it’s a life sentence. I don’t believe that people have to be medicated for the rest of their days to simply cope with it, and I don’t believe that “it’s just the way it is.”

There’s no shame in how you feel, but there is hope. I believe in hope. I believe that there IS hope. Even when you can’t see it. And it’s my hope that you’ll be able to find it, in your darkest moments and the depths of your suffering. We were not made for that.

It is my hope that when you can’t find hope for yourself, when you can’t see the light, that you’ll reach out to someone who can show it to you. Someone who can lead you out of your darkness. Always remember that it’s temporary. No matter how frequently it comes or how long it lasts, it’s still only temporary. And with hope and help, it can become fewer and further in between, and the moments of joy, more frequent.

I don’t like the word “cured.” I do like the word “healed.” To be cured from something suggests that it had power over you and you needed an external antidote to save you. To be healed suggests, to me, that you’ve had the power all along. And I do believe that depression stems from unhealed trauma. Sometimes that trauma is so great and so multi-faceted that it’s overwhelming to even think about healing. Where the fuck do you even begin?

Depression, along with many other mental illnesses, are less a disease of body, and more a dis-ease of the soul.

It takes time to heal. It takes courage to push through and commit to continuing to heal. And it takes even more courage to reach out and ask for help. Sometimes we don’t know how. Sometimes we test the waters with vague statements, just to get a sense of how it will be received, and when it doesn’t feel safe, we withdraw. Sometimes the people we want to approach for help aren’t equipped to do so – even some professionals.

One of the most difficult things for anyone suffering from this, in my experience, is how alone you feel, especially when the people around you can’t relate, and aren’t able to help you. You feel like a burden when you find someone you CAN lean on, because leaning on them makes you feel safe, but a single person can’t bear the weight for both of you. That’s why having a support network is so important. A group of people who are able to provide a safety net for you is so much stronger than a single individual, to give you connection during the times when you feel the most disconnected.

And the key IS to connect. Connect with someone who loves you and let them do that. Let them love you. Let yourself receive it. Let it lead you out of your darker moments. Let it help you hold on, just until tomorrow, because tomorrow can make all the difference.

For those of you holding the life preserver…

If I’ve learned anything from these situations, it’s that you cannot make yourself solely responsible for another person’s well being. And it isn’t fair to you for them to make you solely responsible, either.

Your name is not Jesus. You’re not a savior. They cannot and should not carry the weight of this alone, but neither should you. No matter how much you love them, their healing is, ultimately, their responsibility. You’re job is first, to simply hold space.

What does it mean to hold space?

It means to offer a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Validate emotions. Listen. Be receptive. Be supportive (being supportive does not equate to fixing things). Let them know that they don’t have to be alone, if they choose it.

Secondly, your job is to help them find more support, preferably from a professional, and perhaps other friends and family.

Most importantly: maintain boundaries. Know where your responsibility ends and theirs begins. This is a collaboration.

For those of you who find yourself being “the” person, if YOU need support (and believe me, sometimes you do), or guidance about what to do, I’m happy to lend an ear and some advice.

Everyone… take care of yourselves.

Everything That’s Wrong With The Body And Sex Positivity Movements

Everything That’s Wrong With The Body And Sex Positivity Movements

I try not to write critiques anymore, and the reason is because instead of raging about what someone else is doing, I could be doing something constructive that helps myself, or writing something constructive that helps someone else. Promote what you love, don’t bash what you hate, and all that jazz.

However, I also recognize that on occasion, a righteous criticism is necessary to cut through the bullshit. That criticism is even more righteous when it’s meant to cut through chatter in my own industry and/or area of expertise, and especially when I’m ready to call bullshit for the sake of all the other people out there who may need to hear this perspective. In that regard, being critical is helpful.

I’ve done this previously with people who think you can only think positive thoughts and spiritual bypassing and I’m about to do it again on a wholly new topic which actually kind of relates back to spiritual bypassing in a roundabout way.

Spiritual Bypassing

A term coined by psychologist Robert Masters to describe the practice of empty spirituality devoid of real personal development. In spiritual bypassing, a person “acts” spiritual without actually doing the internal work to develop real spiritual understanding, often resulting in stunted spiritual growth, repressed emotions, inflated ideas about their own level of enlightenment, and a plethora of other detrimental activities and ideas.

Since this spring, I’ve really been working on my Instagram presence. Part of that means checking out what other people are doing and seeing how they’re using the platform. Throughout that process, I have observed a lot of conversation happening among influencers about body positivity, feminism, and owning your sexuality.

I’ve observed on Instagram that people seem to be able to create entire platforms off of these “positive” concepts, and yet the content they’re putting forth seems to still be rooted in the very thing that they claim to stand against  – and they don’t even realize it.  The end result being that they actually end up perpetuating the very thing they purport to oppose.

On Body Positivity…

I literally can’t scroll through an Instagram search feed without seeing butt cheeks, side boob, workout mirror selfies, and women in their underwear.  I honestly don’t have a problem with nude photos. I think the human body is beautiful. I think the female body is especially beautiful. I think photography is art, and these kinds of images can evoke emotion and important conversation when used in a skillful manner.

Posting 1,038 professional photos of yourself is not it, especially if your purpose is to make other people feel better about themselves, and I’m about to elaborate for you, in great detail, exactly why this is the case.

Let’s be honest. Most of us – dare I even say ALL OF US – women have struggled with our body image. Some of the most beautiful women I know have amazing bodies and the way they talk about themselves is heartbreaking. My best friend from college is 5’10” and athletic as fuck, and she talks about how gross she is all the time. Another friend just weighed herself for the first time in forever and realized she’d lost 40 pounds. She texted me a picture of herself at the pool a couple of days later and asked me if she looked fat.

Obviously, this comes from a deeper rooted issue of self worth, the physical body is simply an easy target. I know many men who deal with the same issues.

Some of us, however, have taken that self-loathing to whole other level and engaged in destructive eating and exercise habits in a failed attempt to try to feel worthy. I was one of those people.

Frankly, it’s a miracle that I didn’t develop a full blown eating disorder in my early 20s and I’m thankful that I didn’t, but that didn’t stop me from obsessively monitoring my 600 calorie-per-day diet while working out five days a week or abusing prescription diet pills.

I understand the importance of representing all types of bodies in the media. Everyone should be able to see someone like themselves represented. But I also recognize that body dysmorphia doesn’t fucking care about that.

Dysmorphia is when your perception of your physical body is skewed in a negative way, and you hyperfixate on one or more physical flaws – either real, or imagined. It exists on a spectrum and most people have dealt with it to some degree at some point, if not on a regular basis.

We like to think that the reason women hate their bodies is because marketing and advertising has bombarded us with images of photoshopped stick figures. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were that simple?

The real reason we have these issues to begin with is a bit more complex, and it’s because our culture has placed an inordinate amount of emphasis on our bodies as being synonymous with our beauty and our self esteem – it has it’s roots in patriarchy and the way women have been taught to perceive themselves, and that message has been beaten into us from the day we were born.

Let me restate that for emphasis in case it got lost in translation: It’s not (exclusively, or even mostly) the images we are being bombarded with on a daily basis that’s the problem, it’s the psychological connection that’s been forged between the physical body and our self-worth.

Unless you have a body type that is vastly different from the average human, it doesn’t matter how many pictures you post of your half naked thicker-than-the-average-runway-model body captioned with, “You don’t need to count calories #ilovemyself #ImBeautiful #BodyPositive,” because you still fit a societal beauty standard and you’re still placing an emphasis on physical appearance as a source of self-esteem. Regardless of how shitty you may feel about yourself, people are still going to look at you and feel shitty about themselves, and then they’re going to feel doubly so because “obviously” you’ve conquered your body issues and why they fuck can’t they?

You cannot tell someone with body issues not to obsess over their body or compare it to other people’s bodies while simultaneously shoving pictures of your body in their face. It just doesn’t work.

“What’s that, you say? You have body issues? You don’t need to compare yourself to other women! Now, behold this posed, professionally shot photo of me in my underwear. Not only that – that’s all I’m going to post. EVER. Follow me for more body positive deliciousness!”

It’s fairly absurd when you think of it that way, yes?

“I’m posting a no-makeup selfie today to let you know that you don’t need to wear makeup to feel beautiful. Nevermind the fact that I’m 22, perfectly tan, have no wrinkles or blemishes and most likely spend a ridiculous amount of money on skincare. I just wanted you to know that it’s ok for you not to wear makeup, too.” 

You’d might as well be Adriana Lima walking around with no makeup on saying, “Look, you can be like me!” No, I can’t, because even without makeup, you’re still a god damn supermodel. 

Faulty logic aside, there’s a bigger problem with the story here. The well meaning message of “don’t compare yourself to others,” is actually a subliminal form of emotional invalidation.

Let’s say I’ve been comparing my body to other people’s bodies for years. It’s an ingrained part of my behavior. I’ve got 99 neural pathways that all lead to feeling like shit. Feeling like shit is basically like a drug for me at this point.

Then you come along and you say, “Don’t do the thing that you’ve been doing your entire life. It’s super easy. Look at me. I did it.” Then I try to not do the thing, and I fail. And I fail again. And I fail again. Then I start to feel like shit for feeling like shit because you’re telling me I shouldn’t feel like shit, and that starts a whole new shame cycle.

It’s basically telling people not to feel what they feel (emotional repression and invalidation) while simultaneously failing to give them the actual tools to work through and release the negative feelings and the beliefs that underly them on a psychological, emotional, and energetic level…most likely because the influencer in question hasn’t actually worked through their own issues, either, and their entire Instagram account is just pictures and posts of them trying to convince themselves to believe the things they’re telling everyone else to believe and their own self-image is just as distorted as everyone else’s.

Uh oh. Secret’s out.

Now, since I’m the type of person who says “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions,” I’m going to provide solutions.

If you want to be a body positivity role model and you want to do it in a less destructive way that people can actually connect with and heal with, here’s what you do:

Step 1: Stop posting professional photos of yourself 24/7. Not staged. Not posed. You think posting photos to the public dressed in sexy lingerie or sprawled out on a beach in a bikini is being vulnerable, except it’s not. Especially not when it’s retouched or posed with professional lighting, etc.

Post REAL pictures of yourself. That’s the whole point, right? To show what REAL women look like?

“But professional grade photography, that’s how we’re supposed to build our brand!”

If body positivity is your brand, then you’re telling the wrong story.

Branding is partly what got us here in the first place. You really want to change the game? Then stop playing it and GET REAL. What a radical thought.

Step 2: Show some real vulnerability. Don’t act like you’ve mastered shit that you haven’t. Be raw with your struggle. Own your story and stop sugarcoating it. Let people know that you’re in this, too. Of course, that first requires getting really fucking honest with yourself and that’s not something most people are willing to do. You’re definitely not being honest with yourself if you can barely bring yourself to post an authentic photo of your body.

The story is not “Look at what I’ve done! You can be just like me, let me show you how.” That’s your fucking ego talking. The story is “I am just. Like. You. We can do this together.”

Step 3: Don’t do it once it a blue moon. Do it all the fucking time. Balls to the wall. Walk the fucking walk. I’m so tired of influencers talking about how “authentic” they are when they clearly don’t even have the faintest inkling of what that really means.

Step 4: And here’s the most important solution. SHOW people that their worth is more than their body. SHOW them. Don’t just tell them. That MIGHT mean that you focus on other shit that isn’t your body, like who you are on the inside.

By most societal standards and outside opinions, I’m beautiful. People tell me that all the time and they have my entire life. But I do not always feel beautiful, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.

What does authenticity look like? It looks like this:

I remember the first time I recognized that I didn’t feel beautiful. I was in second grade. At eight years old, I was looking at myself in the mirror and wondering why other people thought I was pretty, because I didn’t. In my greatest moments of self loathing, I contemplated plastic surgery, and the dialogue in my mind always came down to, “Do I hate myself enough to carve up my own body?” The answer was no.

As much as I may have hated my body over the years, I have always been exceptionally aware of the fact that there are other people out there who would kill to look like me.

I once asked someone I loved if he liked my body. He said yes. I was curious to know how another person perceived my physical appearance and whether or not he’d find certain things I actually disliked to be attractive, so I asked, “Why? What do you like about it?” He said, “Because it’s yours.”

I’d never felt so seen or so loved as I did in that moment, to know that someone saw me as more than a body and valued me as more than an object.

That’s what we need to be pushing. That’s what creates self-acceptance. Not 30,000 photos of you talking about how you’ve (allegedly) accepted your comparatively mild case of cellulite.

Sometimes, I DO feel beautiful. Those days are becoming more frequent. I try to celebrate them, but I’m also going to be really honest about the fact that I didn’t always, and a lot of days I still don’t.

You know how many professional photos I’ve posted on my Instagram account? Exactly ONE, because I’m not trying to convince myself or anyone else that I’m pretty. The more I fall in love with the person inside me, the easier I am on the person in the mirror.

On Being “Sex Positive”…

The sex positive movement is a great thing. It’s helping our culture move out of this puritanical mindset that we have toward something that we all pretty much do and that a lot of people are really uncomfortable with. I once interacted with an adult male who could not even use the words penis or vagina because he carried so much fear and shame around sex – he called them a “p” and a “v.” We should all be comfortable enough to talk about sex openly in a serious manner in order to be able to have healthier attitudes toward it.

That being said, I don’t have any hangups, generally speaking, with the concept of sex or expressing sexuality. I’m pretty unattached to it, in that I’m not necessarily obsessed with sex but am also not averse to it in any way. I know a lot of people who carry around a lot of shame in regard to sex but I don’t believe I’m one of those people.

While I was raised in a conservative Christian environment, I never really latched onto the “sex is a dirty, awful thing” mentality – maybe because my parents avoided the subject at all costs and left me to my own devices to learn about it from friends at school.

The only other potential influence was church and the one thing I remember being told there was that you should wait until you’re married. I didn’t personally put a lot of emphasis on that, myself. The thing that was important to me was that I wanted to be in love.

Unfortunately, initiating and maintaining a relationship with someone I actually loved proved to be difficult, due to having spent the majority of my life as an out-of-touch, emotionally stunted ice queen, which only served to reinforce my self-worth issues. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 24.

This may seem uncomfortably personal, but oddly, it’s one area that I’ve never had any hangups about being completely transparent about, even as a teenager when all of my friends gave me hell about it since they’d all lost their virginity when they were 14. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop people from making things up and spreading rumors about me. I’m sure I wasn’t the world’s first virgin slut and I won’t be the last.

When I finally did lose my virginity, it was basically just to get it over with. I was tired of feeling like a freak. By that time, my self-worth had pretty much bottomed out. Even though I had only had four sexual partners until I got married, they were mostly one-night-stands or guys that I only dated for three or four weeks. Some of them were people that I’d completely lowered my standards for and my boundaries were so nonexistent that I allowed myself to be pressured into things that I wouldn’t have agreed to in a healthier frame of mind.

I vividly remember crying in the bathroom of my apartment after having sex with a guy I was kind of seeing that I didn’t even really like that much or want to even have sex with. He put a lot of pressure on me even though we’d only been dating for a short period of time. I finally gave in and waited for it to be over with. I cried because it was the fourth time I’d had sex and I still hated every minute of it. I thought I was never going to be able to enjoy it.

I can actually say, with total certainty, that was the rock bottom moment of my life.

As it would turn out, it was just him that I hated, not sex, though I never did find much fulfillment in a casual shag.

And so, to this day, I highly prioritize deep emotional connection over purely physical or surface level connection. Hence why I have a quality over quantity mentality, but I do believe that you can have short-lived, mutually respectful and even meaningful trysts that are experienced in a healthy way if that’s what you’re into.

That being said, like anything else, and maybe even more so than anything else, sexual energy can be twisted, compressed, and warped from something that’s beautiful, natural, and meaningful into something that keeps us chained to our lower consciousness. God damn, people love to fuck up a good thing.

I’m not talking about people with out of the ordinary sexual proclivities or fetishes, at least not directly. What you do in your bedroom among consenting adults is your business. What I do promote, however, is having an awareness of why those things have manifested the way that they have, especially if you feel an underlying sense of shame around it. And that’s what I’m talking about in this post.

Being a polyamorous empath, and interacting with more people in the poly community in New York, I am quickly realizing how many fall into the latter category. There’s so much toxic shame and self-loathing (manifesting as sexual confusion) masquerading as sex positivity, it’s utterly unreal.

Similarly to what I discussed about the body positive movement and how some people’s behavior is actually an overcompensation for their underlying sense of insecurity about their bodies (which is effectively a form of repression because they’re trying to force themselves to be positive when they actually don’t feel positive about their bodies at all), this same dynamic plays out in the realm of sex positivity.

If you’re engaging in behavior that makes you feel shameful, you have to explore the internal source of that shame. You cannot heal shame by ignoring it and jumping on a bandwagon that embraces the overlying behavior without any form of introspection.

I shared all of those very personal things earlier to show that I do have some experience in the realm of approval-seeking as it relates to sexuality and I can smell a self-esteem crisis from all the way across the internet, which leads me to my next soap box…

It’s one thing to embrace femininity and own your sexuality. That comes from a place of power and confidence. You own that. It lives within you. It initiates desire in others, it does not require it from them. It is self-sustaining.

It’s wholly another to hypersexualize yourself because you’ve mistaken your self-worth to be equivalent with how desired you are by others. That’s a gaping black hole inside your soul that sucks in any and all attention around it that it can possibly pull into it’s gravitational field. That comes from a place of emotional starvation and lack. It’s founded on a massive sense of insecurity, and it will ruin you.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of the latter dressing itself up as sex positivity on Instagram, and even female empowerment. And yet it’s the very antithesis of female empowerment, because it leaves your value completely beholden to how fuckable men on the internet think you are, and YOU WILLINGLY CHOOSE IT.

You know how to tell the difference between the two? 

A truly empowered woman has no need to call attention to her sexuality. Her essence commands it, regardless of how much or how little clothing she is wearing. She has presence. She glows. She doesn’t need to be, or try to be overtly sexual. She just is, by her very nature.

Her allure isn’t derived from primitive lust. Her sensuality resonates from within the depths of her soul, and it’s synonymous with kindness, grace and vulnerability. She’s a god damn goddess and she knows it.

Sex is a power play, in many cases. When you base your self-worth on being desired, you put your personal power in the hands of other people, and they can take it away at any moment. Your sexuality becomes a manipulative game of cat and mouse. An empowered woman knows her worth and she knows that it lies within her at all times.

You want to see an example of what sex positivity looks like when it’s done right? Check out Alexandra Roxo.

Once again, I come bearing solutions, or at least a question to ponder:

What’s your motivation? Your REAL motivation?

But like I said earlier, to be able to truly answer that requires getting really fucking honest with yourself and that’s not something most people are willing to do.

Body and sex positivity are not specifically my platform – authenticity as a path to healing and self-love is. But body positivity and sex positivity are aspects of authenticity that do have to be examined and integrated before you can truly be free to be yourself. No matter how hard you try, you’re never be able to force yourself to feel positive about pieces of yourself that you’ve been hiding for years. There’s a process of self-examination, acceptance, and release involved that requires rigorous self-honesty. And this is where this post ties back into the concept of spiritual bypassing.

My goal with this piece is not to shame people or even judge them. We’re all on a healing path and sometimes we go down a few dead ends. What this was meant to do was pull back the curtain on the shiny exterior of Instagram branding and take a look at the dysfunction that lies underneath so that you don’t have to go down that road, too. But hey, we’re all a little dysfunctional underneath, everyone is on their own journey.

All I’m trying to say is, I would love it if people – especially those who are attempting to portray themselves as role models for other people or poster children for a positivity movement – were a little more honest with themselves and their audience about where they actually are in this process. But as is so often the case in the land of Instafame, what you see isn’t always what’s real.

[/end rant]
Vulnerability, Intimacy, and Deepening Relationships

Vulnerability, Intimacy, and Deepening Relationships

I‘ve had a pretty magical couple of weeks. I’ve mentioned that I’ve been lucky enough to connect with a handful of really special, amazing, powerfully spiritual women since I’ve moved here. A couple of months ago, I decided that I should start connecting those people, so three of us met up in Brooklyn for a weekend brunch and the energy was amazing. I think everyone involved would agree that we all left feeling energized and amazing. So much so that we decided we needed to do it again, and make it bigger.

So last weekend, the three of us got together again and this time, yet another spiritual friend of mine who was in town for the weekend came, and the energy was even stronger. The four of us CLICKED like we’ve known each other our whole lives.

“I’m so happy knowing you. I can’t remember the last time I felt so alive and seen,” one of them recently texted to our now ongoing, daily group text.

Isn’t that what any of us really wants? To be truly seen as we are and accepted? To stop carrying around the weight of hiding ourselves? To let go of the fear of being rejected for who we are?

The farmer’s market in the park next to my apartment opened today and one of the vendors I recognized as a woman who lived across the street from me. She used to own the only metaphysical shop in Jersey City but closed it shortly after I moved here. We struck up a conversation and I mentioned that I’d moved here from cross-country and she told me that she’d done the same.

“It’s really hard to make deep connections with people here,” she said. And that’s true. It’s something that I became acutely aware of after moving here.

New York is a great place, but at the same time, it’s incredibly surface-level. Perhaps the pace of life is so fast that people don’t take the time to slow down and savor their relationships, or take them to a deeper level. And perhaps that’s why so many people here are so incredibly dissatisfied inside. So many connections, but so little depth to any of them. So many chances to be seen, and yet so many continue to hide themselves behind their masks.

Cultivating deep, meaningful relationships requires a level of investment – both in yourself and in those people and relationships – that not many people here are willing to give. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to allow others to see you.

I think a lot of people are honestly terrified to be truly seen. That means opening yourself up to the possibility of rejection. It’s too scary. And it’s so much easier to just keep wearing the mask.

But when you do connect with people who get you and love you and respect you for what’s inside, it’s the most amazing feeling. It’s freeing. You never realize how heavy the armor is or how exhausting it’s been carrying it around until you take it off.

“God I hope I can do this for other people!! So much love!!” continued my new friend.

Vulnerability is contagious. I think that it’s my willingness to be so open about myself that gives others permission to do it, too. If I can sit here and talk about how fucked up I am, and how I’m working to heal myself, the people around me can feel safe doing that, too.

Unless, of course, they’re not ready to take off the mask, and that’s happened. I met a girl on Bumble BFF shortly after moving here. We met for coffee, talked for three hours. I was just as open with her as I am with you, here. I texted her a week later to see if she wanted to hang out again. No response. And you have to be prepared for that kind of rejection. I open myself up to it all the time now, and it stings a little less each time.

When you finally do find people who are willing to accept you, to be vulnerable with you, and you create this sense of connection, you can’t help but want to give it to the world. To look for all of the other misfits who are just as misunderstood as you and let them know that they’re ok, too. Or at least, they can be, if they choose it. What we find for ourselves, we offer to others ten fold. This is how we heal the world.

I posted a few weeks ago about my own process of cultivating radical vulnerability. I see that there’s a need for this in the world, both in friendships and deep, intimate relationships. I’ve never seen the need for it so starkly as I see it here in New York.

It’s got me thinking – how can I teach others how to open themselves up to the world? How can I show others how to cultivate the kind of intimacy in relationships that they so deeply desire, but are so afraid of? I’m still figuring that out myself, honestly, but I think I’ve laid a great foundation so far.

As promised in my last post, I said I would post the results from my Johari and Nohari Window questions in my next blog post, so here they are. I realize that a lot of you don’t know me in person so it’s hard to choose, and I also recognize that it forces you to choose 6 traits and so you might have ended up having to pick random things even though you didn’t really feel they were applicable. That in mind, I tried to look at the ones that more than one person chose (which you will see bolded in the results) as being more accurate.

Arena

(known to self and others)

accepting, intelligent, logical, mature, observant, reflective

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

able, bold, brave, clever, complex, confident, dignified, friendly, happy, independent, kind, knowledgeable, organised, powerful, responsive, searching, self-assertive, self-conscious, wise, witty

Façade

(known only to self)

Unknown

(known to nobody)

adaptable, calm, caring, cheerful, dependable, energetic, extroverted, giving, helpful, idealistic, ingenious, introverted, loving, modest, nervous, patient, proud, quiet, relaxed, religious, sensible, sentimental, shy, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, trustworthy, warm

Dominant Traits

54% of people agree that In My Sacred Space is reflective

All Percentages

able (18%) accepting (18%) adaptable (0%) bold (27%) brave (27%) calm (0%) caring (0%) cheerful (0%) clever (27%) complex (18%) confident (18%) dependable (0%) dignified (9%) energetic (0%) extroverted (0%) friendly (18%) giving (0%) happy (9%) helpful (0%) idealistic (0%) independent (27%) ingenious (0%) intelligent (36%) introverted (0%) kind (9%) knowledgeable (27%) logical (18%) loving (0%) mature (9%) modest (0%) nervous (0%) observant (27%) organised (36%) patient (0%) powerful (9%) proud (0%) quiet (0%) reflective (54%) relaxed (0%) religious (0%) responsive (9%) searching (45%) self-assertive (18%) self-conscious (27%) sensible (0%) sentimental (0%) shy (0%) silly (0%) spontaneous (0%) sympathetic (0%) tense (0%) trustworthy (0%) warm (0%) wise (18%) witty (18%)

Created by the Interactive Johari Window on 6.5.2018, using data from 11 respondents.
You can make your own Johari Window, or view In My Sacred Space’s full data.

Arena

(known to self and others)

timid, withdrawn, distant, impatient, self-satisfied

Blind Spot

(known only to others)

intolerant, inflexible, aloof, glum, insecure, hostile, unhappy, cynical, needy, brash, blasé, chaotic, weak, loud, panicky, insensitive, passive, overdramatic, dull, callous, inattentive, cold

Façade

(known only to self)

vulgar

Unknown

(known to nobody)

incompetent, cowardly, violent, stupid, simple, irresponsible, lethargic, selfish, unhelpful, unimaginative, inane, cruel, ignorant, irrational, childish, boastful, imperceptive, embarrassed, vacuous, unethical, smug, rash, dispassionate, predictable, unreliable, foolish, humourless

Dominant Traits

60% of people think that In My Sacred Space is insecure

All Percentages

incompetent (0%) intolerant (20%) inflexible (20%) timid (20%) cowardly (0%) violent (0%) aloof (20%) glum (10%) stupid (0%) simple (0%) insecure (60%) irresponsible (0%) vulgar (0%) lethargic (0%) withdrawn (20%) hostile (10%) selfish (0%) unhappy (40%) unhelpful (0%) cynical (20%) needy (20%) unimaginative (0%) inane (0%) brash (20%) cruel (0%) ignorant (0%) irrational (0%) distant (40%) childish (0%) boastful (0%) blasé (10%) imperceptive (0%) chaotic (20%) impatient (10%) weak (10%) embarrassed (0%) loud (10%) vacuous (0%) panicky (20%) unethical (0%) insensitive (10%) self-satisfied (20%) passive (20%) smug (0%) rash (0%) dispassionate (0%) overdramatic (10%) dull (10%) predictable (0%) callous (10%) inattentive (10%) unreliable (0%) cold (20%) foolish (0%) humourless (0%)

Created by the Nohari Window on 6.5.2018, using data from 10 respondents.
You can make your own Nohari Window, or view In My Sacred Space’s full data.
How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

How to NOT Sexually Harass a Woman and Mind Your Own Fucking Business

It’s been a bizarre few days in the life of Ashley. An emotional roller coaster, as always, but also filled with tons of observations and insights, as the story usually goes.

Do you ever notice how, when you make a quantum leap in your own personal development, shit seems to get stirred up a bit and you lose a few people along the way? And it’s ok, because they were people who matched your old vibration and now that you’ve upgraded, they’re becoming dead weight that’s trying to hold you down, so you have to burn a few bridges in order to keep going. When you realize that, you’re totally ok with dousing it in gasoline and you might even utter a slight chuckle as you toss the match.

It all began earlier in the week when a “friend” that I’d dropped a few weeks ago suddenly reappeared. I’m at a point in my life right now where I have ZERO interest in people unsolicitedly telling me what they think I should be doing with my life. This person had a notorious history of doing this to me and no amount of me attempting to explain that my life and my decisions are not his to influence or determine unless I specifically ask for his opinion or advice seemed to make him understand that. So I gave him a very clear, explicit guideline of what I was looking for in a friendship at this point in my life:

Here’s the thing. I’ve spent the last 6 months of my life hard core purging people and relationships that are not conducive to my own support and well being. And that included a fuck ton of people who couldn’t find it in themselves to let me live my life the way I wanted to and simply provide me with the emotional support that I needed while going through a lot of shit.

So the thing is, I no longer have the time or the patience for people and relationships that can’t respect me, my choices, or my boundaries. I’ve come a long way in the last two months. Maybe even in the last two weeks. The personal development seems to continue to grow with every bridge I burn. I even blocked my dad’s phone number a few weeks ago.

So if you want to be my friend, then show up for me in the way that I need and how I need it. If you can’t do that… then that’s not a friendship that I want or need in my life at this point.

He didn’t like that. At all. So I had to throw some gasoline on that bridge, too, and I didn’t shed a tear over it.

Later in the week, I walked from my apartment down to another neighborhood where I was attending a business meetup and panel discussion. The walk was approximately 1.4 miles which took about 20 minutes. In the short amount of time that it took me to get there, I was cat called five times.

I’ve written about my experiences with sexual harassment in the past rather candidly and I talk about the things I experience day-to-day openly in my Facebook group. I think my previous writings about my experiences have made a pretty good case as to why this is such an issue, and this week’s events only served to support it.

I posted a Facebook status about my experience, thinking that many of the women on my friends list would be able to identify. So many of us endure near daily physical and emotional intimidation while simply walking down the street, fearing that if we don’t respond in the pleasing manner in which we are expected to, that we’ll be met with anger and threats of violence. Sometimes that happens even when we attempt to ignore it.

The commentary that followed from total strangers, both men and women who were supposedly “spiritual,” as that is the major makeup of my 4,000 or so followers, was utterly shocking to me.

I hope I don’t have to explain the absurdity behind all of the “just deal with it or stop going out” and “take it as appreciation” comments, but in case I do:

“I was told that I should take it as a compliment. I had other male friends tell me the same thing.
I’ve also been told the same thing about cat-calling and various other forms of verbal harassment. “It just means you’re pretty!” No. It doesn’t mean I’m pretty. It means I’m a target, and not only are you telling me that I should just accept unwanted negative attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment, you’re telling me that I should LIKE it. That’s fucked up.” – The Systemic Perpetuation of Sexism, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

If that’s not gaslighting and emotional abuse at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

“Here, let me abuse you, just a little, and then tell you that you’re silly for feeling uncomfortable. Sssh, baby, just let it happen. You’re so pretty, don’t you like it when I tell you that you’re pretty? What’s that? You don’t like it? Well maybe you shouldn’t dress that way. What’s that? People do this even when you have no makeup on and are wearing crappy workout clothes? Then maybe you should just stay in your house and not leave. You’re so privileged, thinking that you should be able to leave your house without being physically intimidated or verbally assaulted.

Maybe you shouldn’t have looked at me from across the room. Maybe you shouldn’t have been polite and talked to me when I said hi to you, even though if you’d ignored me I would have called you a bitch or a cunt gave you a little dose of the rage and anger I feel every time I’m rejected that I have to project onto the first woman that triggers my insecurities. Who are you to to tell me that your body doesn’t belong to me?”

Seems slightly more absurd when you think of it that way, yes?

Am I supposed to “take it as appreciation” when I walk past a 50 year-old-man on the sidewalk in broad daylight who starts singing a song to me about sucking his dick? Oh, that just means I’m pretty? Got it. Yeah, I’ll try to let that make me feel good about myself…

The next evening, I was at a bar having drinks with a new acquaintance. A guy across the bar – young, semi-attractive, white, kind of looked like a jock – was yucking it up with his buddies. I happened to look in his general direction, at which point he made eye contact with me and yelled to his friends, “Oh yeah! She wants me!”

I had no idea that turning my head to the left and glancing in someone’s general direction was considered a sexual advance. I guess I should just keep my eyes on the floor from now on. Or maybe just not leave my house. But apparently, I can’t speak up about any of it, either, because then I’m just being bitter and complaining. How dare I tell someone, anyone, that it’s not ok to verbally assault, sexually harass, or otherwise overstep any of my boundaries. God, Ashley, you’re such a whiny cunt. Suck it up. Deal with it.

So I’m also not allowed to feel anything about it, because somehow my internal emotions are enabling and justifying this person’s behavior toward me. I’m just supposed to stick my fingers in my ears and close my eyes and pretend it’s all roses and sunshine, cause you’ve gotta keep that vibration up, you know?

Spare me your new age spiritual bypassing bullshit and pull your head out of your more-enlightened-than-thou ass.

Living your life where everywhere you go, men of all ages, races, and backgrounds are objectifying you, harassing you, and in some cases, physically attempting to intimidate you DAILY is not “such a small thing.” It is a global epidemic. A (shitty) piece of patriarchal karma that needs to be dismantled.

Women have been subjected to this kind of shit for so long that we are afraid to put up boundaries and stand up for ourselves, for fear of god knows what happening. But that’s a clear violation of our boundaries, and it’s not right, and FUCK ANYBODY who tells you that you can’t be pissed off about it or that you should just learn to live with it and deal with. That’s the kind of passive nonchalance that allows this heinous kind of suppression to continue. How about YOU stop ENABLING these douchebags and get on board with the rest of us so that we don’t have to live like this anymore? Because that’s what we’re here to do.

Additionally, to those who think that thinking happy thoughts will magically sweep all of the nasty shit in their lives under the rug… have I got news for you! Personal growth is painful. It requires real, raw, gut-wrenching WORK. Not just on your mind. Not just in how you talk, but also in what you do. Thought, word, deed – that’s the formula for manifestation. So if you’re not going get off of your fluffy ass and do something about it, then GET OFF MY LAWN, or at least get the fuck off of my Facebook page.

My original post spurred a secondary post by someone who got caught up in the conversation, and there was plenty of douchebaggery to be found there as well, with comments like, “Men have been flirting with women this way (in other cultures also) for ages. It’s like peacocking. And don’t be fooled. Women do it also and men feel great when it happens so what is the beef? People got to stop being such bitches sometimes and start loving life as it is.” Someone in my own group even commented, “I get sexually harassed, too. Damn sexist women!”

So let me get this straight…you think that your experience as a 6 foot, 200 pound something man being hit on by a woman is the same as my experience of having a total stranger who is twice my size walk up to me on the street, start pushing his body against me and telling me all the things he wants to do to me? And because you, as a man, feel great when a woman hits on you, that I, as a woman, should feel great about my experience as well?

How many times have you’ve rebuffed a sexual advance from a woman and she responded with an angry outburst? Maybe called you a name or screamed at you in a public place?

Has a woman twice your size – someone that could very easily overpower you, a complete and total stranger, ever come up to you while you’re walking down the street and done what that man did to me? I doubt it.

I get called a bitch and a cunt and a skank for simply IGNORING someone’s advances. Who knows what would happen if I actually responded.

Well, actually, I do, because I have done that on a few occasions with people who were on the lesser end of the intimidation spectrum. He still screamed at me in the middle of a party. I was told to “drop dead” once. That was fun.

Our experiences are fundamentally different, because yours don’t involve threats of violence, death wishes, or the possibility that someone will beat you, shoot you, or rape you simply because you said, “No.”

You got it, buddy. Let’s recap the definition of Sexual Harassment, shall we?

Sexual Harassment: harassment (typically of a woman) in a workplace, or other professional or social situation, involving the making of unwanted sexual advances or obscene remarks.

There’s a sure fire way to avoid that. It’s so simple, you’re gonna freak! You ready? You listening?

Take an interest in a woman as a person, first – who she is, what she thinks, what she believes – rather than immediately jumping to, “I think you’re sexy.”

Strike up a conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with her physical appearance. Just like you’d talk to a man. Or your mother. Or your sister. Or your niece. Or, you know, a normal, living, breathing human being.

After that, you can pretty easily assess whether or not she is interested in you, at which point, feel free to tell her you’re attracted to her.

Or… OR…

By now, you may be wondering to yourself, “What do the two things you’re talking about in this post have to do with each other, other than the fact that they both occurred in the same week?” I’m about to get there.

You see, not a single one of those people who made those comments up there has ever had a single conversation with me. They don’t even follow this blog. They’re just random people who saw a pretty face on Facebook and sent me a friend request, or, in the woman’s case, commented after her friend did. None of them know me. Not a damn one of them has met me. And yet, for some reason, they all felt the need to interject themselves, their opinions and their beliefs into my life, even going so far as to tell me how I should react, how I should feel, what I should think and what I should do in relation to this one little occurrence that I chose to document on Facebook.

Did I ask for their opinions or input about how I should feel, what I should think, or what I should do? Nope. Sure as fuck did not.

Sure, sure, it’s a public Facebook account and that’s simply the nature of a public forum. People are going to interject their shit and project their shit all over your posts. But the hilarious part is when they get pissed off that I tell them to mind their own damn business and get off my lawn.

It’s astounding how people will deflect themselves from dealing with their own shit by getting up in other people’s business and trying to tell them what to feel, think and do with their lives. Additionally, it’s also astounding when “enlightened” people show just how not enlightened they actually are.

You think that speaking up and telling someone that I will not allow them to treat me like an object, or that they have no inherent right to my body, or that they have no fucking business attempting to control and manipulate me by telling me how to think, act and feel makes me a victim? I think it’s quite the opposite. It’s not allowing myself to become a victim.

Get. Off. My. Motherfucking. Lawn.

The Other Side

The Other Side

We’re all broken people. We’re all damaged goods in some way, shape or form. We all struggle. The difference is whether or not we allow our struggle to define us, or refine us.

There comes a time in our lives when are brought to the precipice of a great change. We are asked to rise to our own challenges, let go of all of the fears and insecurities that have kept us caged our entire lives, and make a leap into darkness of the unknown. To cross the chasm between our destiny and what we’ve never allowed ourselves to be.

In that moment, just before we have the opportunity to step into our own power, the last tiny shard of fear that’s stuck in our hearts will twist. It will do everything in it’s power to keep you tethered to your cage, and you have to reach inside and pull it out.

You may bleed. I will certainly hurt. But in order to fully heal, you have to remove the shrapnel, and then you have to leap. Leap into the great unknown of your own potential. What’s waiting on the other side for you could be everything you’ve never allowed yourself to dare to believe was possible for you. Love. Beauty. Happiness.

Take the risk. Pull out the shard. Make the leap and trust the Universe – trust yourself, because you are the Universe – to catch you.

You are more powerful than you ever imagined.

Meet me on the other side.

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