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122. So, I Started Wearing My Purity Ring Again

Nicole: Well, dear listener, it is my birthday. The podcast has a fallen on my birthday, a Wednesday, August 23rd, and so I thought, Hey, you know, this is my podcast. I think I can take up a little bit of space here and make a personal message, a personal statement. And I thought that maybe I would talk about sex and what it means to me and my journey with it.

And this podcast will fall on my birthday again in seven years time. So in seven years, I am confident that I will have a. Different answer, or maybe I shouldn't say different answer. Probably a deeper, more nuanced answer with the benefit of time and more exploration. But here we go. In terms of, uh, answering my connection to sex and what I've learned so far, and obviously I can't cover all of what sex means to me.

There's so many parts of it that are ineffable and should stay that way, in my opinion. The, uh, just the beauty of what can be connection and the power of pleasure and the body. I mean, some of those things will never have words, and I'm okay with that. But there are also many pieces that I have learned and I have grown through, and I have things that I would want to share with the world.

So today I'm gonna do a little bit of that. Right now I am looking at my Post-it wall. If you have been a, uh, listener of the podcast since day one, you've heard me talk on a handful of episodes about this post-it wall that I have and how I have all these quotes up here. And one of the, uh, first ones when I was making at the podcast itself was a.

Note that said, opposing the status quo for the unashamed pursuit of authenticity, the unashamed piece. I think that's the word that is really sitting with me as I am applying for internship applications coming up in the fall. And I'm deeply afraid of, uh, how this podcast may impact my ability to land a position given the fact that I am so out about these areas of my sexuality and identity that are still really taboo.

And the research that I did for my dissertation would show that, yeah, non-monogamous folks experience bias at a higher rate than monogamous folks. And we can add intersecting identities on top of that to create a fun storm of an experience. But, Unashamed, right. What would it mean to step into this space unashamed and proclaim my journey with sexuality and tell you my story to tell you more of the nuance of my pieces that I bring into every episode.

And, and, you know, thinking about hermeneutical existential theory, the reality that I am within my own lens when I'm coming up into these conversations, I can only meet these guests. In a way from my own lens, which is limited in my own privileges and lack of privileges across that spectrum of all of those things.

And so maybe the ethical thing is to actually share more of myself with you, dear listener, so that you can see where my biases are coming out in conversation, where you can see where my lens might be different than yours and where you might disagree with me. And you can write me a letter and I'd love to learn together with you in this space.

Uh, yeah, there's been a few times where I've thought about not. Releasing this episode or not doing this. Um, and just playing it safe. And, you know, playing it safe is relative. Every single conversation on here is probably not playing it safe for the person trying to move in this world of professionalism where we're not allowed to talk about ourself, let alone ourself, sexually, et cetera, et cetera.

But to have a episode that is very personal about my own pieces is a whole new level to, uh, this experience for me. And I do get excited about these spaces where I can step into a deeper expression of my authenticity. And, uh, I remember even releasing the episode way, way back about abortion. Coming out and talking about my abortion felt so scary and so radical at the time.

And I look back on that with joy that I stepped outside of that box and release the shame to name my narrative and to name my story and to hopefully in that. Action, help other people. Certainly helps myself if nothing else, but to hopefully help create more narratives around these things and more space.

So I'm gonna do it no more. Uh, thinking about jumping in. Let's just get down to business. Before we do, I wanna take three deep breaths. Dear listener, as a psychologist in training that knows the benefits of the somatic experience and the ways that our emotions are embodied. Yeah, I keep coming back to the benefits of the body of being there, of feeling and connecting.

And so before we get into all of this, I'd love if you could take three deep breaths with me and maybe close your eyes or bring your gaze down if you can in this moment. Let's take an inhale through the nose. Exhale out through the nose.

Taking that full inhale.

And exhale. Out

deep inhale and exhale.

I'll invite you in this moment, dear listener with me, to really feel your feet on the ground, feel your feet on the floor, and if you're sitting to feel your hips grounded to whatever is supporting you, and really come back to your body and feel that in this moment,

and to continue to do that as we talk about this, the reality is many of us have pain with sex. Many of us have trauma. And especially the larger trauma of growing up in a puritanical society or one that taught specific genders and people that they're supposed to give their bodies away. We'll get into that.

Yeah. So take care of yourself. Continue to stay present with your breath, and yes, I don't give trigger warnings because I trust you that you will be able to leave. The content. Content and have the ability to self-regulate in that way and to walk out. And so yeah, if at any point this conversation becomes triggering or overwhelming for you, uh, I don't even like the word triggering, right?

Like activating trust yourself and leave and that's okay. And trust yourself to use grounding practices like taking some deep breaths, like maybe taking a bath where you can feel the water on your skin or doing mindful eating where you can really slow down to taste the benefits of a raisin. Y'all check out the raisin meditations and try those ones out.

Those are fun. And with that, I say let's dive into it. I wrote a little bit in my notes to a little bit of a like monologue I wanted to say, and uh, I continue to reflect on what I wrote and feel like it's incomplete. Every single day of my sexuality and my journey in this space, I continue to learn more and more and more.

And so even this piece that I wrote a few weeks ago for this episode feels outdated in between now and then. And what a beautiful journey to know that it's continuing to unfold, that our relationships to sexuality and eroticism are changing every day. You know, the Buddhist saying is that, Change is the only constant.

And so in this moment here, I will outdate myself as I read and speak to you about what sex means to me. And I hope you can allow space for yourself and me in this process to continue to learn, to continue to unfold, and to continue to connect deeper to our authenticity. But if I share more of myself in this space, does it make me somehow less professional?

Any less competent, and I guess if it does, I'm curious what that says about our humanness and even more about taboo topics like sexuality or psychedelics where I hear that clients are afraid, feel uncomfortable to be able to bring up their sexuality in. Sessions that breaks my heart when I think about the levels of trauma that have occurred.

When I think about the trauma of living under this patriarchal, puritanical, sex negative society, that breaks my heart. And so if I can do anything to change that space, to create more opportunities for people to feel empowered to talk about their sexuality in their therapeutic healing spaces or in their community, I would love to be a part of that.

I will take that step proudly. Despite my fears today of recording this episode, a psychologist can share their narrative around working through anxiety or struggling with depression, but a psychologist in training dare share her own narrative as sexuality and be called What a slut, A whore. Because she loves many, because she attempts to encompass both the Madonna and the horror of womanhood.

Y'all can see here that I'm clearly already defending myself against the critiques of, Hey, you talk about yourself too much, and how dare you put all that sort of stuff out there. And the shame and the fear of the judgment runs deep within my body. But yeah, the unashamed pursuit of authenticity. So this is my story of sexual trauma and healing.

And it's not my full story, it's pieces of right, just gentle little pieces of, but I believe that this is a story of hope, of reclaiming, of empowerment and pleasure. Pleasure that seven years ago, sitting in the wake of my assault, I would've never dreamed possible. So I do proudly proclaim my journey. And we'll keep taking all of you dear listeners along for the ride.

So coming close as I have many sweet secrets to share with you. So what did the purity ring mean to me? Oh my God, I believe I was a sophomore in high school when I got my purity ring. And what it meant was, as I look at it now on my finger, is that I would wait to have sex until I was married. I would stay pure until I could give that sweet gift of purity to my husband, and he would be the only one to.

Touch and connect with me in that way. I remember the teachings in my school with the paper metaphor. They literally glued two pieces of paper together and really allowed that to compress, and then they pulled the paper away and they showed that the glue had ripped off parts of the paper and left them on the opposite side with one another.

The paper was damaged. The paper had lost parts of itself, and the speaker proudly held up the paper and said, this is what happens when you have sex with someone else. You damage yourself and you lose parts of yourself and leave it behind with the other person. I don't really have words to describe how problematic that is.

And I think this is part of my attempt to do that. Another metaphor that I had heard in the church was thinking of ourselves as roses and being a pure rose. And when someone comes to have sex with you, they pluck away your petals and crumple the rose. And literally they held it up around and said, who would want this rose after all of that sin?

Who would want this rose? And there was a subsequent message of, Jesus would want this rose. Of course, Jesus would want this rose. But here's the thing, in that narrative, it is so deeply shamed, laid in. Like we can't just come around with this narrative of, oh, you're so bad, but it's okay because Jesus loves you.

And I y'all. You know, I have talked about how that is a abusive relationship in and of itself. Any sort of relationship to a higher power where the dynamics are inherently built on the fact that you are problematic and shameful and broken, and that you deeply need this other person to be loved. Woo. You know, like, do we even have to go further into that to describe how problematic that is?

I don't. I don't think so. I think we all see that one. But for that message of the paper test of pulling it away and saying that you're damaged, my God, I didn't know this at the time. Sitting in that chapel at school where they had that lecture for my sex ed class. By the way, that was the sex ed class.

That was not, that is what I got for my teachings. My God. Was there anybody in that crowd who was assaulted? Was there someone in that crowd who literally felt like they had lost parts of themselves because they had been raped and somehow were unworthy based on the stats of sexual violence? Yes, there was certainly people in that crowd who had to sit through that cult.

Mentality of creating narratives of meaning around sexuality. And yeah, that breaks my heart because what I know now in my own journey is that that didn't go away when I just left Christianity, uh, during my late college years. That is still deep within me. I spent decades of being in that mentality. And so it takes years to unpack the ways that that is so deep within my unconscious and shows up.

And when I did lose my virginity, if we shall use that frame right, I'm enjoying the other frame of my first sexual debut. I think that's a much more empowering, a strength-based perspective to describe this, right? But uh, in the frame of that time when I lost my virginity, 'cause there was obviously something to lose there.

I remember having sex and I was very lucky to have my first experience be with someone that I loved and trusted and felt safe with. I remember after that experience late once I was alone. Falling to the floor and sobbing uncontrollably so, so, so deeply that I had fallen into the pleasures of the flesh and allowed it to take over.

And I had lost the one thing that I could give to my husband. The one thing that made me valuable and worthy, I had ruined it. I had absolutely destroyed my opportunity to have this purity. And I fell to the floor sobbing that no one would ever want me, no one would ever want this damaged rose. Sure Jesus will love me, but my God, now, no one will ever actually want me and I'll have to repent and feel horrible for the pleasure that I felt in my body.

And I cried, and I cried, and I cried. And. I believe I cried myself to sleep that night. I don't fully recall the experience exactly, but I just remember feeling such deep pain in my body that I was no longer worthy. Because I had sex before I was married because obviously marriage is the definition of when you can do those things because marriage is the only way to be in love and relationship and et cetera, et cetera.

I mean, there's just been so much deconstruction of these ideas now that it's, it's truly, honestly hard for me to step back into that world where that narrative of meaning making and existence was so. Deeply, strictly laid out for me. And, and now the expansiveness with which I see relating and love and connection and commitment, it's, it's truly baffling to try and put myself back into this perspective.

But those are my roots, and that is how your girl got to this space of doing all of this. Y'all, after having sex, I remember that I would wear the purity ring and felt like such a fraud. I felt so fake. How could I have this purity ring on and also have had sex? And eventually I stopped wearing it and I took it off.

And even that felt weird, you know, after wearing it for years to stop, I felt like I was stepping into some level of slut, hood and whoredom that I, uh, hadn't fully accepted yet. I was just, I don't know. It felt like taking off a, a shackle towards a specific ideology and a specific way of being. But it's funny how a piece of metal, right, and some gems can mean so much.

And I guess, you know, wedding bands, commitment bands, all these different things, they, they do have such significant meaning. And, and in this world of existential realities, we do create such deep meaning with symbols and objects. And so it, it makes sense. But as I hold the ring in my hand now, it, it, it feels weird to think about how much symbolism was tapped into this object that inherently has no meaning in and of itself as atoms and chemicals, but so deeply does when you put onto the frame of it a concept of purity.

So, I took it off and I started to step into that world, and I remember in episode one 17 with Ray McDaniel that just came out, I literally joked with them about still having the purity ring and being unsure of what to do with it. This beautiful diamond ring that I have, uh, where does it go? What do I do with it now?

It's, it's valuable in some ways. Do I pawn it off? Do I resell it? Do I hold onto it as some sort of artifact of a time? I don't know. I didn't really have a relationship to it, but it is certainly a symbol of a time where I was taught that sex is something I will give to my husband. And I think that wording is very important, right?

Give not share, not co-create, give. I know that many people, particularly women, people who are assigned female at birth know that narrative of I give sex. It is my job to serve, not to co-create, not to have pleasure together, but my job to give and the lack of embodiment and autonomy and pleasure in that is deep.

And in that paradigm I was taught that your number matters, the number of people that you sleep with. You know, as you can imagine, right? You have that paper test and if you sleep with one person and you're that damaged, they literally were like, imagine if you do this multiple times and you continue to have glue and then rip, have glue, and then rip and you continue to fall further apart.

So I was taught that if I have sex with more people, I continue to become less and less. Valuable. More and more damaged, and I'll get into this later, but that created a lot of lasting harm. And actually these days for me, it's quite the opposite. I look at sex as a dance, and you know what is really great, rather than stepping onto the dance floor with someone who has never moved their bodies before, I don't want someone who has.

Played and trained and danced multiple times. I love the person who has danced multiple times and really knows how to get into the rhythm and have that ability. And so, man, these days I feel like I am on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Rather than looking at the amount of numbers of people that I've had sex with or someone else has had sex with as a symbol of their dirtiness or their lack of worthiness, Jesus, I look at the amount of sex that they've had as a reflection of their connection to this art as their connection to embodiment and their connection to pleasure.

And my God, the people who've had more sex. Man, y'all are some of my favorite people to play with. Uh, so yeah, embodied sex, right? Embodied sex. To be able to have that sort of pleasure. And in this world of connecting and deeper with people and building more intimacy with my community around me that I can trust, right?

As someone who has been the framework of all this Christian sexuality. Stuff you can imagine that, uh, my world of connection has always had to be within deep, you know, it was supposed to be, marriage is actually only just marriage, but at least coming from that deep, intimate partnership. So the idea of like quote unquote casual sex or having that sort of connection was completely off the table.

And as a trauma survivor, there is a lot of trust that I need to have when I'm connecting with people. And so I've been doing that, I've actually been doing that, and it's been really beautiful to watch my body and my soul and my heart open up to pleasure with more people than I could have ever imagined.

And I actually had my first group play experience. And I mean, I'm sure people are like, play, like, what do you mean? What do you mean play Nicole? What did you do? But I mean, where do we draw this line between sex and play? I'd be curious about that with you. Dear listener, where do we draw that line? Is there some sort of hard definition?

And when we hit that definition, do we exclude certain types of sex, certain types of pleasure? I. I would say so. So these days I look at most of it, if not all of it as play for me. And by play I mean that I had pleasure in my body that was created by multiple people that love and care for me. And it was such a sweet and erotic and very naughty space despite having such a good experience in the moment.

I woke up the next day and went to go get coffee and tea and felt like such a whore. Oh my goodness. I literally walked out the door and I felt like ever knew I was a slut. Like I was wearing the biggest scarlet letter A on my chest proclaiming I was sinful. And I think we can think about the ways that, you know, hey, I'm a critical theorist over here.

Let's obviously talk about Michael Fuco, 'cause that's what everybody does in this space, the way that power is internalized, right? Every other article talks about the panopticon, and dear listener, if you haven't heard about the panopticon. Panopticon is a prison where there is a security guard at the center, and the prisoners are unable to know whether or not they're being watched because they can't see into the center.

What it does is it creates this world where you're constantly feeling like there's surveillance, and Fuko would say that that's how power interacts in our current day-to-day, right? Is that we live under this world of feeling like we're constantly being surveilled. So rather than having a. Public guillotine out there to show you as a citizen the ways of punishment and crime.

It's been made into this internalized experience where we self-regulate and self-control, right, because of the fear of the. Guard that is always watching that we don't see. And I think that that's an important take in terms of understanding the ways that, uh, sexuality and power is regulated, right?

Someone who maybe doesn't come from this puritanical background that I came from could maybe have a group play experience and feel super great after it, and feel super lovely without any sort of judgment. However, because of the paradigms of where I came from, right? Because of these narratives that were told to me that sex is only between a man and a woman that are married.

And I had to unpack that to step out for sex to be between a, a woman and a woman, or a non-binary person and a woman or any of these other categories. And that in and of itself was a process to unpack full of quite literally. Shame where I felt guilty, but then we continue to take that deeper, right?

Like sex with multiple people. Oh my goodness, of course I'm going to feel like a slut and a whore. This is so outside of the paradigm of acceptability of what I have been taught in my reality. So yes, I walked out of the house and I felt like such a slut, and I felt like, yo, I kid you not, I was walking to the coffee shop and my mind, you know, the mind is powerful.

It has these random thoughts. Uh, and uh, it literally was thinking Nicole. You need to get married to a man, be monogamous, be locked up in a house, and never do these things again. You are so bad. You really need a man to come down and clamp you back into purity. And I did not connect to these dots 'cause I know that they're coming from the paradigm of fear and all the pieces that I talked to you about how sex was portrayed to me and what meaning making was possible around sex.

So, I, I came back to my partner, uh, with my coffee in hand for him, and I was like, I really need to atone for my sins. And it was half joking, half real, given the level of somatic body experience I was having, as well as the recognition of these thoughts, not being from myself, being a remnant of the unconscious realities of my previous existence as a Christian being.

And so I half joked half meant it, and I looked at him, I was like, damn, I need to put on my like vintage. Gowns that cover my body all the way down to the floor and have some level of modesty. And, uh, I, that's when I started joking. I was like, damn, I should really put back my purity ring on and step back into some level of pureness.

And so I did as a joke and as a half honoring of the feelings that were coming up for me, I put on this vintage yellow dress that went all the way down to my ankles and I put on my purity ring and I went for a walk. And, uh, yeah, this rebound, if I would like to call it that myself, after having such a beautiful, expansive experience to coming back to trying to clamp down, we call those rebounds, right?

It reminds me of my younger years when I would watch queer porn or like the first time that I had any sort of queer interaction, it would feel so good. But then there was this afterthought of, oh my god, What did I do? What have I done? And I would say that that fear, right, that response afterwards was never a reflection of myself.

It was never a reflection of my authentic desires. It was rather a reflection of the internalized homophobia that I have, right? And in these play experiences that I've had with multiple people, my rebound and the shame afterwards is a reflection of the internalized mono normativity. The internalized purity culture that is still deep within my psyche that I continue to unpack.

And so I think it's hard because I say this story of pleasure and group play and I will say it to one of my friends who are also a therapist and they're in their best space trying to support me. And they will say, oh, well maybe it wasn't what you actually wanted. Maybe that was a sign that it was too much for your body at the time or, or your heart and your mind at the time.

And I'm like, No, I wanted this experience and it felt so good, and it makes sense that afterwards I would have this deep rebound based on where I've gone and my history. There is so much space to hold for the deep rebound of stepping out of. Heteronormativity to have that first queer experience and then to feel potential shame afterwards.

That is not a reflection of a lack of authenticity in one's queer identity or that it was the wrong step to take. It is part of the process of deconstructing these realities that have been so deeply internalized. And so I just wanna say for the person who struggles, who has that experience of pleasure and then goes through shame that it makes sense, and that is not a reflection of you or a reflection of your inability to do these things or these things being wrong.

It can be a reflection of the society that we live in and the ways that those societal messages have gone so deep into our unconscious in the ways that. We don't even know. And that it takes work to unpack. And so I just wanna hold space for that. In many ways, some of this rebound, right? These same things happened for me when I first started exploring consensual non-monogamy.

I mean, I felt guilty, like I might be hurting my partner for exploring a dynamic with someone else. And I mean, part of that is also my projections as I stepped into this space and, and, and did struggle at times and felt, uh, yeah, like it was hard to. Imagine how my partner could love someone else and me both deeply at the same time.

And so I projected that out into my partner as if they were in pain for what I was doing and that I might hurt them and I would check in with them and have all clear communication and green lights from them that they wanted to hear about these experiences and that they were delighted for me and in fact, joy in my celebration.

But there was these moments where I had to realize that, yeah, I'm projecting out, or the ways that I've internalized the narratives of mono normativity had made me afraid to share these things with my partners for fear of it potentially causing. Pain for them. And obviously to be clear that we all are on different parts of unpacking these narratives.

And for myself right now, like I do have currently boundaries I guess, or around what sort of content I can hear from my partner. I remember God the first time he started telling me about being with another person. I would cry, like I would just, it would trigger so much of this feeling of being unloved, of being not important.

And so it would literally bring tears to my eyes. That makes sense based on my internalized mono normativity of the narrative. Again, like the narratives around purity, like the narratives around queerness that yeah, if my partner loved someone else, that it meant that they didn't love me or that I was lesser.

And I will say in the years of exploring non-monogamy, that response has changed dramatically in the same way that when I first started having queer sex and I felt such deep shame for it, I have learned to unpack the ways of these narratives of, you know, sex is only between man and woman. I have unpacked that to step into deeper expansion and my own meaning making, and the ways that the narratives of mono normativity taught me that the only way to be loved is in this monogamous relationship.

I've continued to unpack that and still do and and what my partner is able to tell me now about their other play and relationships. So much more expansive and possible than what I could hear even just a year ago. And even within that though, I still hold space for the reality that like this process of unpacking does bring up somatic experiences for me.

Sure. I'm not crying anymore when I hear it. Right. In the same way that when I rock climb, I don't get at scared at the top anymore. But y'all know if I go outside and rock climb and I have to actually look at the ground in the real world and not a rock climbing gym, that scares the crap out of me. And so there's just, there's stages to all of this.

I would say gently like exposure therapy into new paradigms of meaning making that, uh, I am still going through in ways that some of my other partners who have done this for many years are much more. Calm and feel comfortable with. And so I do also wanna hold space for the realities that you can have boundaries across this journey for what you need in terms of your somatic response.

And also that obviously growth is uncomfortable. You know, like there was no point at which when I started rock climbing, I could just easily do that without feeling a level of fear. There is a level of discomfort that is present in growth that we move towards consciously, but being able to navigate that in a way that allows you to feel safe while also taking steps will be your own journey, dear listener.

And it is certainly my own journey that I'm still walking on. These rebounds I'm talking about, right? These ways where we step outside of the frame of what was accepted and then feel some level of shame about it. That's the internalization of Fuko, right? Power. These narratives exist within my own psyche so that I police myself.

And so when I step outside of the frame of the internalized power structures of meaning making, then yes, of course I'm going to feel my own punishment, which is, I'm the scarlet letter, I'm the whore, right? How dare I have queer sex? Oh my goodness, right? These are rebounds and this deeply, deeply connects to my work in psychedelic assisted psychotherapy.

We have these psychedelic experiences that often open up parts of ourselves that have been deeply held down or repressed for safety. That's really right. Y'all. Just saying this now, like we repressed to stay safe in our society. We repressed to stay safe and fit in. And so there are many parts of us that have been deeply clamped down on that.

When you have a psychedelic experience, it can bring them to the surface and often what happens is that when those parts come out, then our defenses, right? Our, you know, manager, parts of our. Psyche, we'll try to clamp back down and put it back in the box. Let's close the box, put it all back in there. And so as part of my work as a psychologist in training, when I'm preparing clients to go into these experiences, we do discuss the possibility of the rebound, right?

There might be parts of yourself that come out and then the days after processing that what came out in that session. There might be a lot of shame as you try to clamp back down on those parts, but in that there's so much healing. There's so much authentic growth in that process of connecting deeper to these parts of ourselves that have been repressed.

And we don't look at it as these moments where. We have deeper expression and then the rebound as a sign that we should step back into further boxing of ourselves. No, we acknowledge the fact that, yeah, if you've been repressed and tightly clamped out to open yourself up, you might get scared about what that means and then want to close back down.

And we can understand that through a lens of trying to keep ourselves safe and have compassion for ourselves. But I wanna be clear that that is never a suggestion that we should limit the expression of these parts of ourselves, the rebounds that I felt with. Queerness. The rebounds that I felt with my sexual play with more than one person is not a suggestion that I should go back into these smaller aspects of my expression.

It is a reality of the internalized mono normativity, the internalized homophobia that sits deep within my psyche that I'm unpacking and having a psychedelic experience because my reality is shifting. My meaning making is shifting. When I thought that the only type of sex that I was gonna have was any monogamous marriage to a man, and the type of sex that I'm having today is a radically different.

That is when the hell of a psychedelic experience of my walls, my reality. Is melting. Okay? And so again, it makes sense that we would be having these experiences. And I say that to you dear listener, especially if you are coming from a society that taught you harmful, restrictive messages about purity and what it means to be connected to your pleasure, like.

Stepping outside of those boxes are going to feel uncomfortable, but don't necessarily take that as a sign, as something is wrong with you or that you don't belong in that box. It's gonna be uncomfortable as you unpack that, I just really wanna normalize. I know that word has a lot packed into it. What does it mean to be normal?

Are you an anarchist, et cetera, et cetera. But I do wanna normalize that process of discomfort and the often conflicting feelings about expanding into a deeper authenticity and expression of self. And what has made it easier and even joyous to step into these aspects of myself is to find the wild souls who have equally walked that journey.

And I'll say that, dear listener, we are here with you. You are certainly not alone in this path, and I see you wherever you might be, and I feel you. So I do consider myself a survivor of spiritual abuse and especially when it comes to sexuality. And I'm also a survivor of sexual assault, which I've certainly mentioned on the podcast, and that is a hundred percent what drove me into volunteering as a sexual assault counselor and accompanying survivors in e ER and doing direct crisis work.

And it led me to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. Our, our pain points are always a fun journey. I wanted to go in to help people. I wanted to support people with the trauma processing after this and all of the difficulty in reclaiming pleasure. And yeah, so I decided, hey, let's go become a psychologist in clinical psychology and I'll support people there.

And once I got to that program and started doing that, I realized there was no discussion of sexuality at all. Despite the wide prevalence of trauma with this, which absolutely enraged me and certainly propelled me to create this podcast and all that, I'm hoping to dedicate my career to exploring and supporting other people with, given the stats of pain around the subject.

I just cannot believe that there is no discussion of it in training at all, and especially given the amount of repression in our society to talk about these things, you would think that it would be deeply important to be supporting clinicians and having more comfort covering these topics and supporting other people.

But that's what my podcast will hopefully do in due time, dear listener, and change the narrative around that. So I wanna dedicate my career to supporting people to finding more pleasure. Britta Love had talked about how your ability to communicate and have boundaries is almost like a muscle, right? And the person who perpetrated and caused harm repeatedly pushed past my boundaries of no and continued to push and push and push, and my boundaries started to fall away.

And there is so much pain in that experience. And I'm not, I wanna be clear, I'm not blaming myself in any capacity. There is no excuse for perpetrating harm. But what I've noticed now is the ways in which I've had to rebuild the trust of my own boundaries, right? And, and to feel back into my body where those are.

There is this practice in somatic therapy that I had learned in my clinical training just this last year where we. Had, uh, me and then my colleague stand far away from me and the invitation was to feel into my body of when this person felt too close. And so they, I would invite them to take a step further and then I'd feel into my body, invite them to take a step further feel into my body.

Invite them to take a step further and feel into my body. And at some point they hit this feeling, you know, of, Hey, you stepped into my bubble. This feels uncomfortable. Please take a step back. And that process, despite going through years of therapy, despite doing yoga and all these other embodiment practices, wow, that practice stuck with me to have a safe space to explore when my body felt like it was too close, that stuck with me.

Okay. I was able to like begin that practice and this was only Jesus. Like what? Like a couple, like God, a year ago I began to feel this level of, oh, okay, this is what it feels like in my body for someone to not feel good in my space. And I didn't have that sort of sense, I would say, because it was worn down in my previous experiences.

And again, that is not blaming myself very clearly, but a result of the situation that I think needs to be discussed in terms of our healing journeys. And it was just such a powerful experience and a safe container to feel into what my know in my body feels like before it even gets to a cognitive space.

And. I would love to invite you to try that practice with someone that you feel safe with. To have them a friend, right? Does not have to be someone who you're already sexual with. And it might even be better to do it with someone that you're not already sexual with because there's more of that felt sense of when it feels like it's a space where you actually don't want to engage in further closeness compared to maybe someone where you already have that super close nature with like to be able to invite them to try to come closer to you just by taking little steps and to feel into your body of when that closeness started to create that tightness in the chest and in that moment, try and feel into that.

Like what do you feel when that happens? Is there, yeah, like I said, a tightness in the chest. Do you feel a turning in the stomach? Do you feel your body closed down? Like where is it that you're feeling that? And then being able to listen to that in our day-to-day of. Do I wanna connect with this person?

Hmm. You know, my body is closing down here. I know that's a no. In the past, I had zero connection to my body at all to even be able to tell you whether it felt like an opening experience or something that I didn't wanna do. It was all up in the cognitive and never truly in this embodied state. And so, you know, I'm still unpacking all of this and I'm still building my own relationship to my body.

And I'm pretty confident that that will be a practice that I do for the rest of my life that will ebb and flow in different seasons of my life and with different stressors and other responsibilities that I'm exploring. But I am inviting you, dear listener, to get curious about that for yourself. If any of this is resonating with you and.

I think what is so deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply painful for me to share and also I'm, I'm making meaning of it in this space by sharing it with you, dear listener, and hopefully changing the paradigm around it because that's how I find meaning in my trauma narrative. Uh, and Judith Herman, uh, one of the theor uh, theorists on trauma would say that's how a lot of survivors make meaning of our experience, is how can we support other people and.

In this paradigm of purity, right? If I had sex with one person, I was broken. If I kept having sex, I was even more broken, right? I had had sex with one person and lost my virginity, right? Had my sexual debut, and I felt like, yes, I was broken, but at least it was just one person. At least it was just one and only this one.

And obviously if I have more subsequent partners, I'm gonna become further damaged. So if I just stay with this one and I get married to this one, then I'm not further ruining my purity. It's it, I've already created this number, right? I am currently at one sexual partner. And, uh, even then, all of the sex that we had was so, uh, deeply shame-based.

Like we'd enjoy the pleasure in the moment. Then afterwards we'd be like, oh my God, we have to repent. We're so bad. And, uh, so we've, we had only had sex like, I think three or four times in that frame. And then, I was assaulted. And I think the reason why I share this is because there was a whole part of me that decided to invest in making a relationship happen with my perpetrator because they had had sex with me.

And again, now I'm at two, right? I'm at a crazy count of having sex with two people, and if I add a third, I'm gonna be even more damaged. So, God, I need to stay at two partners and try and make this happen, make this a relationship so that I can stay with this person for the rest of my life and not further get into deeper irrevocable harm of like having sex with multiple people.

So I guess I just wanna share or hold space for the amount of. People in this world who are staying in abusive relationships because of purity culture that is teaching them that if they have sex with one other person, they'll be further damaged, further unworthy. And so let me try to stick it out in this relationship since it's already someone that has slept with me to be able to stay holy.

And in this process, I do not blame myself. I know that that framework came from the puritanical, Christian upbringing that I came from, where yeah, that would make sense. Try and work it out with your abuser because anybody else is gonna make you further, much more of a slut, uh, and damage. So I do not judge myself in that process.

I have a lot of compassion for myself, and I guess I share it here. Not to ask for sympathy, but to hopefully name this narrative in a way that maybe other survivors of abuse and trauma will resonate with, and equally offer themselves compassion for the ways that that narrative created for harm. It kept me in a, a space that was further damaging because I thought that, yeah, I'd become more unworthy if I slept with anybody else in my life than this person I.

And I could stay forever on all of those pain points and the realities of how that's been present in my body. And I've worked through a lot. You know, I've talked about how psychedelics were so powerful for me to be able to come back to my embodiment and all of those sorts of pieces, right? But I've also been reflecting on what it means to not necessarily leave the identifier of sexual assault survivor behind completely, but to write a new chapter of the narrative, right?

Instead of identifying with that label to identify with a new one to one that incorporates the reality of this chapter that I walked through previously. It is one that is informed by that previous chapter without a doubt. And also at the same time, I wanna step into this new chapter where I'm not just a sexual assault survivor.

I am a sexual goddess, a queen, a mystic, a researcher, a slut, and an activist. These days, my sexuality is all about play and it feels so good. The sluttier I've become the slower I've moved towards any sort of sexual connection with people. I personally, for myself know that I won't have an enjoyable sexual experience with someone that I have not first established an energetic connection and felt their presence.

I like to feel the person's presence and observe their relationship to play in other areas of their life. And I think that can say a lot before we even get into some sort of body dynamic, the way that they giggle or that they're able to be light and joyful or just their embodiment that you can notice in the way that they move throughout the world.

It all can say so much. And so I've just found that, yeah, the deeper I get into this, the slower I move towards exploring that sort of connection with anybody. Uh, I like to get to know someone on an intellectual and soul level and then learn their stories and see them and. I can understand the narrative and experiences that created this human being that is standing before me.

And with that, then I know the power of, and the beauty of who is touching me. I allow my nervous system to relax in their presence and melts into sweet union through breath and holding deep eye contact and. Yeah, that is something I couldn't have fathomed in years past. I had to explore the reaction in my body and relax.

The hyper-awareness, the tension that would arise in my body, that one I didn't even realize. I didn't even notice. And that's where psychedelics became very powerful to me. To be able to have this level of embodiment where I could feel what I was holding and the tension, and to actually relax and let that go was really profound.

And it gave me a template for in my day-to-day ordinary states of consciousness to notice that and to have a deeper mind body connection and let that go one breath at a time, deeper and deeper. Into pleasure. Part of that process included listening to my somatic response, where is a feeling of no, or this person is too close for comfort in my body, and how can I listen to that without even needing to go into the cognitive space of how I feel?

That's a practice that I'm still learning to get better at each day, and ultimately that's a meditation of our mind and body connection and, and these days I often think about sex as a meditation. For me, I guess I have a very responsive desire. If we wanna go into the frameworks of Emily Naski, where I don't necessarily have this like burning horniness that's just existing for me.

I will often have days where I make a conscious choice to explore sexual pleasure, where it's not like I have this deep yearning, but I know that once I get into it and start to build that experience, I'm going to. Feel so much pleasure in my body and in that way it reminds me a lot of meditation. Right?

In the yoga teachings, they say that, you know, the actual practice requires discipline or we call tapas. Right. Like there's a discipline to showing up to the mat even on the days that you don't want to, for the benefits of the meditation and for the benefits of the spiritual practice. And yeah, there are many days where I think about my sexuality in that, where I'm showing up for the benefits of the practice, whether my mind wanted to or not.

And you know, after each class of yoga, I typically feel better than where I started. And let me tell you, these meditation experiences with sexual pleasure in my body, yeah, I feel much better than when I started. And that doesn't always have to, at least for me, come from a space of horniness or desire. I know that I can create and cultivate that level of presence.

And so sexuality is often a meditation for me of embodiment and also a meditation of spiritual practices and getting into the divine pleasure that is possible within my body. The healing journey of this took relationships. Sure. Like my therapy relationship that modeled healthier relational dynamics than I received in my childhood, which ultimately changed what types of people I'm attracted to.

I'm sure I will continue to study the ways that are, yeah, relational dynamics affect attraction and sexual desires, because that's a really deep space in terms of. I don't wanna go Freudian on myself, but, uh, definitely the models of love that I was taught in my early relationships certainly created the expectations around love and my adult relationships.

And there's been a lot of learning in that department, but it's also the relationships with my many lovers who have become corrective relationships in the same ways that therapy has been a corrective relationship. I've had lovers who created space for the expression of my clear and embodied yes. And the expression of my no.

Were met with a thank you. That was a radical one, or thank you compared to stepping over my nose to have partners who are grateful that I expressed where my boundaries of connection lie, and where my safety and my embodiment lies with nos. Yeah, when I express boundaries with my play and my body, I'm never pressured or coerced or questioned for the autonomy over my body and my pleasure, and that dear listener has made.

All of the difference. Relational cultural theory puts it pretty simply when it says you need good relationships to leave the bad, and our sexual relationships are no different. When I play, I drop that genital focus and I see what sort of rhythm we can create together and the dance of our bodies and the breath.

And it's so hot to check in and talk about all of it. I know there's the paradigm of, ooh, you're losing the mystery and you're losing the, uh, like who, you're losing the eroticism by talking about all these things. But I've found it to be the opposite. I mean, nothing makes. My pussy wetter than being able to feel safe and trust and have negotiations and conversations.

One partner that I've been exploring intimacy with, even withheld a kiss on the lips for weeks to drag out the tantalizing nature of a slow burn tease. And my God, I used to get this rush of chasing after emotionally unavailable partners. And in reality, all I needed was a really available one who knew how to tease me properly.

And there's so much power in the eroticism that plays with the mind rather than just the genitals. My sexuality is an erotic narrative. I've spent hours with another partner talking about the narratives that bring us sensual vitality. I like to surrender to the power of, of their control. I like to be worshiped.

The word worshiped for them brings up a negative connotation to existential theory here of our own meaning making with language. We talk together about the narrative that we wanna create in our play. They like to play with defiling others and degrading and shame. And for me, that starts to get close to some of my trauma experiences of assault and certainly Christianity.

And so we talk about where the limits of the narrative of our type of play are, but also because of that pain point that makes that space so exciting and naughty to get into. I mean, growing up sexuality was so naughty and wrong that these days I still love to play in that space of the forbidden and of the naughty.

And there are definitely theorists who talk about the ways that our sexuality can often be framed through the lens of trauma. And I don't wanna say necessarily that. My desire to play with a naughty is a hundred percent a trauma response. But hey, living in this puritanical society where sex was taught is very shameful.

Yeah. It's fun to play back in that and feel like, oh, I'm so naughty. I'm so bad in a playful way that is no longer the actual pain point that it was many years ago. I mean, wow, it's hot and beautiful to co-create a sexual love story and to play with fantasy. I've always wanted a powerful partner who would worship me, and I didn't want a weak little pony.

And of course, no offense to ponies here, but I wanted a powerful dragon who would submit to me. And, uh, yeah, one of my partners has informed me that dragons worship, nothing. They adore, love, respect, and honor, but they will not bend the knee, which, I mean, I want the worship, but you know what? I want even more, the reality that I can't have it again, maybe we don't have to chase emotionally unavailable partners.

Maybe we can actually get into the joy of teasing and not getting what we want with deeply emotionally available partners. In the years past, I couldn't have dreamed of what a wellspring of creative and romantic play existed within sex, let alone even have the language to describe my longings. That's, that's wild.

I literally didn't have the words, and I still feel like I often don't have the words, and I'm learning to get more clear in the ability to communicate and co-create the spaces that bring me joy and pleasure with my partners. Sure, we can learn about positions and techniques, but dear listener, what is your narrative and meaning making of sexual pleasure that you're creating with yourself and with others?

And of course, given where I'm at, I would also be missing a large part of my narrative if I didn't mention kink. I mean, the power exchange and all of this episode that I've described is certainly kinky. When you look for a definition of kink, it's usually framed as anything that is non-normative sex. So things like the B D S M test have put non-monogamy as a kinky desire.

Anything that falls outside of the dyad, heteronormative scripts of monogamy, penis, and vagina could be considered kinky. So I am definitely having kinky sex. I think a lot of people assume that means B D S M, but it means anything outside of the non-normative. But I am certainly not here to define what kink means, and the reality is that that word to me will have a different meaning than it will to you, dear listener.

And so we can hold space for all the different associations with that word. For me, the exchange of power and control is so enticing as a woman in the society, I feel like I was conditioned to crave a man who came in and directed everything. Q 50 Shades of Gray and all large negative commentary on that.

I mean, I. One day, maybe I'll cover that conversation. That's been interesting when to watch the whole series and have my own thoughts on that. But that literal idea of this man who comes in and controls everything and loves me through some type of jealousy and possession, oof. You know, I've come to realize that.

Parts of that fantasy, obviously not the jealousy and possession parts are a desire for a dom or a top. And as a therapist and a researcher, I'm always thinking and thinking and thinking and up in the cognitive and my God, there's no greater release than to surrender to the power and control of another, to remove my ability to speak through a ball, gag or restrict my ability to move through rope or to play with the depth of my breath.

All done within the powerful container of such intimacy and trust, to embrace pain and the lessons that it has to teach me about cathartic release. Especially when I do this work as a trauma-focused therapist. I can channel emotions through moans and screams and tears. It's honestly hilarious to me that we can embrace scary movies rollercoasters, or in Chicago, there's a 7:00 AM swim club, or.

Thousands of people wake up to hop in the cold, icy cold lake. For what I mean, surely there's obviously the joy of the community there. But we hop into the lake and we jump into this cold water because we enjoy the rush of the cold pain on the body that brings vitality and electrifies your life force energy.

Now imagine that with the intimacy of a lover who knows you and wants to care for you and bring you to unparalleled levels of ecstasy and pleasure in it all. And that's just the beginning of kink for me. Is it not all divine? When we really think about this, um, certainly no theologian, but when we hop into that cold lake with the electrification of our souls, you're swimming in the particles of water with hydrostatic bonds that are mostly empty space with the quantum mechanics, mysteries of electricity and bonds, and a vast universe that we don't know the end of.

I mean, think about the scale of the universe for a moment and the size that you play in that world. I mean, what, when that lover touches my body and sends electric signals throughout my system of orgasmic ecstasy in this endorphin lists, what could be more divine than to look into the infinite mirroring of our eye gaze, one divine soul into another, creating our meaning, our own world of pleasure and play.

Now that is divine and that is holy. My purity ring has three little stones. And for me, as I reclaim what it means today, there is a stone at the center that is for me and that represents myself. And then the stone to the right represents my spirituality. And the stone to the left represents my sexuality.

And today I wear it. I wear it, reclaiming this journey. I wear it proudly stepping into a new chapter of my life that embodies all of it together. And I think that is the most pure thing that I really could do. I am proudly the divine whore. I come from a long lineage of them, and I pick up the torch and continue to carry on their light of embodying the divine beauty of sexuality.

You can burn me at the stake for my divine slut hood, and you know what? I will enjoy the pain. Until next time, dear listener, I love you.

If you enjoy today's episode, then leave us a five star review wherever you listen to your podcast, and head on over to modern anarchy to get resources and learn more about all the things we talked about on today's episode. I wanna thank you for tuning in and I will see you all next week.

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