Recently I have been considering the notion of shame, and the role that it plays in the sex lives of all of us. Shame, as distinct from embarrassment or guilt, comes initially from an external force that tells us we are bad or wrong because of something that we do, say or like. This force could be family, school or most often religious institutions and even the media, that presents sanitised and uninformed images of ‘normal’ sexuality. Yet, given the amount of shame surrounding our sexuality, does anyone REALLY have any idea what ‘normal sexuality’ even is? And how has it come to pass that such institutions as schools, religious organisations and the all powerful media have any capacity to even determine what normality is, when the complexity and diversity of sexuality is rarely acknowledged, or discussed in public without a veil of shame or fear surrounding it? Sex and sexuality often end up in the too hard basket. This hardly seems fair, unbiased or even humane to me.
Many of us encounter shame for the first time as children. If we were ‘’caught’’ masturbating, or self-pleasuring in anyway, we may have been chastised, told-off or somehow made to feel inadequate and perhaps even damaged in some way for our behaviour or desire. We learn from a young age, that THAT kind of pleasure is not acceptable. So we learn to keep it inside.
The desire never goes away.
It just eats away at us. Our guilty little secret.
Yet we are expected to lead fulfilling sex lives and intimate relationships that maintain a sanitised level of morality, because THAT of course, is NORMAL. So, who exactly expects this of us? Often, WE DO! We are our own worst nightmare and Chief Commissioner of our very own fun police!
Let’s see this in more detail.
Once we leave school or our families of origin, we’re free! We’re free to make our own decisions and live our lives as we see fit. The shame that was once put upon has lifted and we’re open to the world. Right? Well, maybe…………………. but maybe not.
- How many of us can say that we are able to freely engage in all of our genuine desires without a degree of shame?
- How many of us are terrified that if our lovers knew this about me, they’d leave me for sure?
- How many of us have been coerced into doing things we may not have wanted to do for fear of being abandoned, yet not being able to talk about it?
- How many of us have wanted to engage in something new or different from the regular routine but been too terrified to ask for it?
- How many of us feel our body is not good enough?
Part of living in the West means having encountered some or all of these kinds of aspects of shame. You are not alone.
BUT, even though you may have escaped the school, church or family that taught you that you were not worthy, many of us find it hard to let go of this profound and at times impermeable conditioning. Our internal all-knowing, all-judging harsh moral arbitrator determines what’s allowed and what’s forbidden. We keep ourselves in a perpetual state of self- shame by remaining silent about our innermost desires, fears or passions and believing that if we were to share that side of ourselves, we would be inherently, permanently unloveable.
So, what to do about this?
The process of dismantling shame can come in many forms.
Friends, lovers, therapists, support groups, art, comedy, books, workshops, seminars are all fabulous ways of beginning to dismantle the shame walls that may exist around you. The more you begin to explore, the more chance you have of finding that there are many, many, many others who feel similarly to you. I’d even take an educated stab and say, MOST of the population.
Sanitised morality is a fabricated construction. It is NOT normal, and it is not controlled by you. Only YOU are in control of your sexuality and pleasure, and it is your right AND your responsibility to take care of your well-being.
If you haven’t already, I enthusiastically encourage you take the first step on the journey to a more fulfilled you today. You could start by contacting me for a private session, or explore any of the links on my LINKs page to find some Melbourne resources to get you underway.
You may find that it will actually change your life, forever.