As I wrote in an earlier post about why I devised my sexuality revolution course, I have SEEN the changes in women as they move through this process. Women of all ages and walks of life – teenagers, grandmothers, married, single, you name it – have benefitted greatly from being a part of a purposeful journey of finding and honing sexual agency..
I want to share one story in particular today. I worked with a very special woman and kept in contact with her for many years. She came to me soon after a sexual assault and was raw in the grieving and healing process. She shaved her head and came into our work together very protective and defensive. Rightfully so. She’d been through a terrible experience. She was angry and couldn’t find what the beginning point was for life after assault. And that made her mad too. The cycle was vicious. I was heartbroken for her.
At first I wasn’t sure if the timing of working together was right. It may have been a little too fresh. She was quite raw. But she was also in a support group and a very self-reflective young woman so we continued. She answered every question I posed, she did all the in-between work and assignments I threw at her. She worked and she dove in and she cried and she screamed. Together we held firm that there was a path that was powerful and leading to a positive place. I stood by her and stood with her. I held her when the work was brutal and I gave her space when she needed to sit still. The assault was the catalyst for the deep introspection but there was so much more to unpack and sort through. Body image, gender roles, sexual orientation, definitions of love, experiences of safety all intersected in a convoluted fashion.
Then things started changing.
I watched as her demeanor softened, her words shifted, her spirit morphed. Her hair grew out, and her aura softened. She found her own safety, and she defined her sexuality on her terms once again. She found a new focus. She smiled and she began opening up to the possibility of intimacy in friendships and romantic relationships. She saw darkness in a different light. She saw it had a different purpose now.
She claimed what was hers. She released what wasn’t.
Her journey was beautiful and powerful and inspiring.
Sometimes the work I do only lasts for one retreat or several months so I don’t always know how the journey continues to unfold. I, did however, have the privilege of working with her in the sexuality arena professionally years later and watched her blossom further. It was such a gift and validation for the importance of this work. A highlight for me was seeing her jump into an activity where she volunteered to have her torso used as the model for a papier-mâché sculpture in an activity where we glued words, objects and pictures that described how our body images shaped our sexual journeys, individually and collectively. To put her body out there in such a vulnerable and visible way was extraordinary. She still wrestled with intense feelings when looking at the finished papier-mâché sculpture of herself, but she did so with awareness and choice. It was just so cool. SO. COOL. It was agency in action. I was so moved by her realization that her volunteering was ALL about sexual agency but the decision had nothing to do with a sexual activity-it had to do with her sexuality. Her sexual in action-sexual agency. Yes, yes and yes!!
I encourage YOU to take the leap into a path of self discovery through sexual agency.
Here are some benefits I’ve witnessed in myself and with others.
- You feel empowered having figured out what you think and taking a risk in putting it out there in the world.
- You feel community knowing that you are not alone. Trust me: there is NOTHING you have done, want to do, or think about that hasn’t been thought of or done before you. Nothing. And it is a relief to know you aren’t alone.
- It is a pivotal moment when you can share something that you previously thought was too shameful or embarrassing or private to share and no one blinks or someone smiles at you as a gesture of support.
- Your mind revs up making previously unmade connections, and your mental energy shifts from complacency to an active seat at the sexuality table. The energy shift is incredible!
- You feel like you can take on the world. Or at least talk about it! Now that you have found your voice, you want to share it. Free at last!
- You are more relaxed.
- You exude confidence which draws others towards you. They will want what you have.
- You interact and move more – you gain an extra spring in your step. Okay, this may just be metaphorically, but I swear I’ve seen women I work with walk differently after our discussions.
- You laugh more. Sexuality can be hilarious. Seriously. It is a messy, interesting, embarrassing roller coaster that gives room for a lot of fun, raucous, endearing laughter. And laughter is so good for us.
- People start asking you what is different about you – did you get a haircut? Lose five pounds? Buy some new clothes? People are programmed to look for the superficial, but really what happens is that your internal self has gotten a tune-up and you exude it out of your pores.
- Your partner doesn’t have to be a mind reader! As sexy as it is to have someone “know” you in some cosmic, soul-reading kind of way, it’s even better to have someone meet your needs because you’ve expressed them clearly.
- You set the tone in the relationship as someone who has a voice and so you may actually get what you want instead of what your partner thinks you want. This skill translates to all areas of your relationship. Win-win!
- You set an example of how to talk about sexuality for your partner, thus you get insight into his or her thoughts, needs and questions so you can be a more connected partner. If you aren’t in a relationship, you sent this example for friends and family members and open up new conversations that undoubtedly create new or deeper connections.
- You find yourself touching more – not necessarily sexually –but connecting. Talking about sexuality in an open, safe environment breeds closeness. It just does. And when we feel close, we often want to ground it with physical touch.
- Even with discussions that are heart-wrenching or when discussing trauma, most people find that if those discussions are received with love and understanding, in the minutes or days after the conversation, relationship satisfaction has improved and positive sexual thoughts or actions increase.
I will be giving you more examples of how sexual agency can change your life in the coming weeks but I’d love for you to start envisioning how this looks in your own life. What do you want to change? How would this look in your life and how much better would your relationship be or your thoughts of yourself improve if you learned about this crucial part of who you are?
Make comments, ask me questions…..join the conversation!
Xoxox, Dr. Juliana