When I was twenty, a boy came inside of me, without a condom on, without asking.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it,” he said casually, as he rolled over.
I didn’t say a word. I’m sure I smiled nicely as I got up and went to the bathroom. I remember looking at clippings of his hair in the sink and how filthy the bathroom was. I remember wiping what seemed like unending liquid from between my legs, still second guessing myself, still unsure: was that from him, or was it from me?
I hadn’t had enough sexual experience to know for sure. I didn’t want to seem uncool and ask, and I definitely didn’t know that I was allowed to be upset at it – I was the one who had agreed to have sex without a condom on, anyway, and I reasoned that it was my fault, and that he couldn’t help it because I was so attractive.
What’s really important about this story is that for years, I was not upset about this.
I brushed it off, I went to the store and bought myself plan B. I told no one, and I moved on with my life.
It wasn’t until I began connecting with my body and with my own sexual energy that I began to remember this moment, and other moments similar to this one.
Moments my body has been holding onto since it happened. Moments I wanted to say no but didn’t, moments where I said no and it wasn’t listened to, moments when I didn’t listen to myself or express how I felt.
Whether we consciously realize it or not, these moments show up in our sex lives.
They show up in not being able to get wet (or hard, this happens to men too) when you want to have sex. They show up when we don’t desire sex anymore and aren’t sure why. They show up when we can’t orgasm, either at all or in the way that we want.
They show up in the types of relationships we attract. In the quality of our sex life as a whole.
Almost without exception, when a client comes to me with one of these problems, it is rooted in past experiences.
It doesn’t have to be a sexual experience, necessarily; it can be a childhood experience, it can be related to what you were taught about sex, it could be that time you were bullied by other teens about your body… the list goes on.
And it’s almost never what you would consciously think. It’s what comes up when you begin connecting deeply to your body. Our bodies hold the things that our minds tell us “wasn’t a big deal.”
Our bodies store our past experiences, particularly and especially when we’ve had an unprocessed emotional experience.
And these days, most of our intense experiences are unprocessed – mostly because no one has modeled for us how to healthily process our emotions.
I began working with my sexual energy when I was 23. This meant that the repercussions I was experiencing for not processing my emotions were mild – they showed up when I didn’t get wet every time I wanted to, and when I couldn’t have internal orgasms.
At the time, I assumed this was normal, especially because that was what doctors said.
But once I began connecting with my body – through breathwork practices, sexual energy practices, and somatic experiencing practices – I had many flashbacks of events like I described at the beginning of this piece.
I began to understand the ways my body didn’t trust me, and didn’t trust the world. I began to understand why I reacted in the way that I did, why my body reacted in ways that it did.
It still amazes me, the way these experiences are seared into my body’s memory. Though it’s rarer now, it still happens every few months or so, that I’ll be having sex and in orgasmic ecstasy and a piece of one of these memories comes up to be healed.
When it happens now, it’s beautiful, because I know my body feels safe enough to allow it to come up. My body trusts me to feel the emotion fully and process it through my system. And I always do.
Because of experiencing this healing, I’ve been able to have many kinds of orgasms, internal ones included – and I now get wet every single time I want to have sex.
This can happen at any age. You can be in your 40s and just realize for the first time that your desire for sex is decreasing, and you want to explore why. You can be in your 60s and finally own that you haven’t had sex in years and you want to change that. You can be in your 20s and notice that your body doesn’t get wet the way you want it to, and you want to understand it.
I’ve had clients in all of these situations – and each one discovered how their situation was related to past experiences.
Our bodies store our emotional experiences to inform and protect us.
Usually, if we aren’t having the sexual experience we’d like, it’s because our body has marked it “dangerous” in some way – whether that’s related to the act itself, to the vulnerability it requires, or what it feels similar to from the past.
If we haven’t felt and processed the emotions from past experiences, our bodies won’t let us open more deeply – and they shouldn’t.
If we aren’t able to open ourselves to the entirety of pain and hurt, our bodies will be ill-equipped to open to the vast expanses of pleasure and joy available. Neither will feel safe.
Connecting with these pieces of ourselves is most effectively done somatically (meaning, in a body-based way). Somatic therapy/coaching and breathwork practices will allow you to begin to discover these pieces of yourself.
And if those options aren’t accessible, I just want you to know that whatever you’re experiencing isn’t your fault. Any sense of dissatisfaction you might be feeling with your body or your sex life is very much related to your past experiences, and it is absolutely possible for that to heal and change.