Sex, Lies & Trauma

Straight Talk about Sexual Compulsivity

Monthly Meditations to Invite Eroticism (September)

Sexual Footprint. Courtship. Neglect. Interdependence. (4 themes.)

At Center for Healthy Sex, we find inspiration from many sources to treat sex addiction, love addiction, and sexual dysfunction. Meditation and affirmations are helpful tools that build esteem, create procedural memories, reduce anxiety, slow the heart rate, and increase blood flow to the brain.

Attachment theory is a component of our philosophy -- behavioral patterns imparted in infancy affect the way we grow up to live our lives. Because this early programming becomes so ingrained, it takes consistent and sustained effort to rewire the neural pathways.

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These monthly meditations are similar to the affirmations we use with clients. They are intended to provoke deep thought about core beliefs and inspire open communication with a partner. (You may sign up for our free daily meditations here.)

Meditation for Week 1 -- SEXUAL FOOTPRINT

"Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity."
~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

What is the impact of sexuality and sexual activity on ourselves and on our lives? We hear about carbon footprints--the impact of our consumption on the earth. So to trace our sexual footprint, we might examine the consequences of our sexual choices, whether seemingly casual or conscious.

Initial sexual encounters may set a pattern. Understanding and healing damaging formative experiences that were stepping stones in our sexual development is imperative, because sometimes those stepping stones petrify into the expected path, the known and travelled terrain. Every sexual experience builds certain muscles and creates a filter, and excludes other muscles and filters. Over time, experiences create neural pathways while pruning unused ones. Such cultivation affects our entire sexual politic, but is difficult to perceive since we are so immersed in our own experience that it appears as simple reality. Often, sexual experiences before puberty lead to inappropriate sexualization. Adult survivors of incest or childhood sexual abuse often feel guilt or complicity for premature sexual activity. But of course, children do not have the comprehension, capacity, or power to make decisions for their own sexual health. So it's crucial that adult survivors take charge in the present by working through unprocessed trauma.

Mature sex involves an intensely intimate audience with a partner. Yet it often seems there's a conspired agreement afterward to ignore the depth of sensations, to deny the myriad of thoughts as they occur. We align our lovemaking with an actual person who will go out into the world, our vibrations affecting each other like tuning forks. If we're engaging in dishonest, shameful or anorectic sexuality, then how could we not manifest such a sexual footprint on our destined path? To seek sexual health, we engage in healthy intimacy and bring this capacity to our larger relationship with life.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • Trace your sexual footprint: List your earliest, and then your most significant, sexual experiences and what you learned from them.
  • Achieving sexual health might necessitate healing damage from past relationships. In 12-Step, this is the amends process, which is complex and requires sponsor supervision. For now, simply try to have compassion and patience for others, as you would to heal yourself. Let love mend.
  • Go green. Purchase all-natural massage oils, lube, and latex condoms and avoid artificial colors, scents, and condoms made from petroleum. Light romantic candles instead of electric lights, and save water by showering together!

 

Meditation for Week 2 -- COURTSHIP

“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk--real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.”
~ Jack Kerouac

Whether we’re ready or not, nature brings adolescence--prime time for learning love’s “rules of engagement.” Sadly, many of us weren't taught how to win a person's favor appropriately through flirting or how to read sexual cues about when it's time to hold hands, touch, or kiss. Our culture offers no courses teaching young people how to send interest signals to a crush or what to do afterwards. Courtship know-how is stunted for many, leaving them frozen in time and repeating the same dead-end patterns, unable to become truly intimate or connected. They’re stuck in immature patterns and clueless about which traits and personalities in others complement their own. Being attracted isn't enough, especially if you have a faulty, shame-based love map that distorts your natural attraction to someone who's right for you, causing you to make poor love choices. But healthy attraction is essential to the success of a long-term relationship, so healing the past is necessary in order to choose wisely.

Blossoming romance sets up the possibility of sexual contact: Risks are taken through deeper conversations and sharing vulnerabilities, and you start to get a sense of whether the other person is a good match for you or not. Making a good choice may mean saying, "Good-bye." But if your courtship progresses, you'll find yourself moving towards non-genital touch, and will likely start feeling more connected or attached. To create real relational intimacy, you need to pay attention, at every stage of the courtship, to the question of whether the person you're courting, and who's courting you, is really right for you. Finally, movement towards foreplay and intercourse suggests you've moved the relationship into deeper commitment. Choosing well comes from taking each stage of the courtship slowly and deliberately and heeding the cues along the way.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • What stages of courtship did you experience during adolescence? Did you skip a stage? If you feel stunted, briefly write about what steps you need to take to be more vulnerable with your partner or date.
  • Have you repeated patterns, such as being stuck in the flirting stage? Were you always the "best friend?” If so, what did you do differently to become a girlfriend or boyfriend?
  • Do you need to put effort into courting your current partner? Take time to flirt with your partner; become curious about who they are today. Plan a special evening or romantic dinner.

 

Meditation for Week 3 -- NEGLECT

"It's not love's going hurts my days
But that it went in little ways."
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

Neglect is more harmful than once thought, especially for young children. It comes in the form of disregarding or ignoring a child's needs, whether emotional, physical, or psychological. Being neglected can wreak terrible damage on children's sense of themselves, and therefore on their self-worth and esteem. These under-valued children may carry the baton of neglect into the rest of their lives. Many of us struggled from the supposedly “benign” neglect by our caregivers, which left us feeling shameful about our appearance, bodies, morals, or intelligence. We may heal ourselves from these wounds. But making such a fundamental change in the way we see--or don’t see--our true beings requires stopping and taking an inventory of the self-disregard we still tolerate in our lives.

Survey your life: Take a look at your home, car, work environment, wardrobe, relationships, and spiritual state, and see what parts of yourself you may be neglecting. What has become shabby in your surroundings? In your appearance? In your work? Do you settle for neglectful, cavalier relationships with friends or your partner? If you show indifference to yourself, you can expect nothing more from potential lovers, friends, or bosses.

If you're neglecting your primary relationship then that "garden" won't flourish and grow either. So often we assume that once we're in a relationship it will sail on automatic pilot seamlessly into the future. Since no one ever put attention or care into them, persons neglected as children may have particular difficulty grasping that living relationships, like living beings, require tending, hard work, and love. Promise yourself to care for your relationship, and for yourself, and put those vows into practice.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • Take a moment to look at your life and consider your most deeply desired vision for the coming year.
  • Do the persons and things in your life reflect that vision or are you tolerating scraps?
  • Remove all tattered or shabby things in your life and stop neglecting yourself.

 

Meditation for Week 4 - INTERDEPENDENCE

"A marriage is like a long trip in a tiny rowboat; if one passenger starts to rock the boat, the other has to steady it; otherwise they will go to the bottom together."
~ David Reuben

When two beings depend on each other, an interdependence occurs that’s fully natural because, as in all of nature, no single being can thrive alone. In interdependence both parties are mutually reliant, while in dependence, one party leans entirely on the other. A period of dependence may be crucial for children, puppies, kittens and other young to survive, but interdependence is an equally crucial adult developmental task. It’s essential not just for a couple but for larger entities as well: for a family or a business, for human society, and for our earth. By tending to your lover, family, neighbors, and the living earth, you're ultimately tending to your own "garden."

Homeostasis, the balancing "wisdom of the body," is key to all healthy interdependent systems, including relationships. It keeps the system’s equilibrium, much as healthy bodies keep a proper temperature. Because attachment is so central in our development, we can describe a relationship as though it were a physical body, with vital organs and points of vulnerability. When one of these points is injured--say the "trust organ" or "respect organ"--the entire system might shut down.

Robust systems, relational or physical, correct themselves through both positive and negative feedback. Negative feedback tends to balance systems and positive feedback tends to grow them stronger. When something is wrong in a relational system, negative signals usually grab our attention and call us to reparative action. In a relationship, that’s the time to own your part in a problem by admitting your challenges to your partner. But don't forget that it's equally important to build on what's going well, to take time to celebrate moments of joy! For interdependence works only with each member’s full participation in the health of the system.

Daily Healthy Sex Acts:

  • Take the emotional temperature of your relationship or family today. Are you living in a distressed or sick system? If so, what one action can you take to correct its course?
  • When things are going well in your relationship, do you amplify the positive states? How do you do that?
  • Are you living in an interdependent system or are you overly dependent? Do you carry your own emotional, psychological, financial, and self-care weight? If you're vulnerable in one of these areas, talk to your partner about it and ask for help in order to keep the ecosystem of your relationship healthy.

 

Sign up here to receive free Daily Meditations by email written by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss of Center for Healthy Sex to help you develop sexual and emotional intimacy.

 

Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T., is the Founder and Clinical Director of the Center for Healthy Sex in Los Angeles. more...

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