Rewriting Trauma Into Pleasure
I just had one of the best orgasms of my life. Ok, maybe just the last two weeks. But seriously it was like 30 minutes of waves and shocks and pulses… I was grateful my house was rated to withstand earthquakes. After rolling around in our shared fluids for a few minutes, searching the back of my eyelids as I struggled to regain orientation to time and space, a wave of calm presence came over me. It was unlike my usual post orgasmic bliss. It was embodied groundedness. Full integration of all the parts of myself, open and expansive, relishing the confident belief that my pleasure is important. You see, despite being a sexuality professional and slut extraordinaire, I had lost my pleasure. HOW? You might ask? I certainly was more than a little befuddled, okay deeply in despair.
I let a man suffocate me, take every last erotic breath, squeeze me into a tiny box where survival meant accommodation and sacrifice. By “let” I mean I had no choice because of TRAUMA. It was sneaky. It started with an offer to help grow my business. Then, a list of 30 things he needed to teach me. Then, a seductive transition to domination and controlling my access to pleasure. Validation, loving words, pleasure and connection came with contingencies. I was going to be the best and win over this obtuse and distant alpha. This was very familiar, I knew this script. My good healer self would prove to the “bad” traumatized self that we weren’t repeating it, we were better, we were in control and insightful this time. Every ounce of my being was subverted. He was a black hole I couldn’t see into, couldn’t navigate coherently, and yet couldn’t escape. He was a wayside, a cave with a tiger lurking, with only illusions of safety and sustenance but too dark to navigate out of. Intergenerational threads of gender and sex related trauma wove through every ounce of my being. I deeply needed to be seen and chosen by a certain version of man, THIS man, who somehow seemed to possess the map of the universe. I thought he was the sun. He was a reflection of all the prior suns I followed, all the suns that burned me, scorched my spirit, put out my fire so I could follow theirs. He was My God. My dad. My husband. My Rapists. My Minister. Masculinity. Power.
I started having dreams of this man paired next to every man from my history. Literally interacting with them or replaying their story, unearthing sensations and responses deeply hidden away in the darkest corners of my being. The subversion of my sex for a millennia. A story of trauma in my body, somewhere forgotten, emerging and overwhelming. Survival and safety required subjugation and suffering. A little girl hiding in a bedroom, unable to assert her power for risk of harm.
Then a cataclysmic shift pulled me out of the black hole. He cut me off. What a phenomenal gift. Eliminating the shackles meant I was left with only my body’s story of trauma… ripe and ready to heal. Authenticity, exposing vulnerabilities, opening doors to unfathomable strength. He was not a person but a transport to the next layer of shit, of transformation, to presentness within. A Willy Wonka tunnel of pictures and stories, themes, patterns, hurts that must be re-lived, re-experienced against my will, to ensure they are left behind, fully healed. I began the slow path of purging and integrating him and the remnant of one million stories of my relationship to the masculine. Accessing all of me. Most notably, greeting the parts that spent the last 35 years in complex trauma reactivity. Baseline was unknown in my nervous system, I was activated, reacting, surviving, moving out of my power, my voice, my heart, in order to stay safe…most of my life. I started to yell.
My words began to emerge: I’m not your Android or your pet, I’m not interchangeable, I’m not along for the ride, I’m not at your beck and call, I’m not one of the stops on your rotation. I’m not your mom, your maid, your dopamine supplier, your back scratcher or your ego boost. I’m not your sex toy, your cum dumptster, or your idealized femme ready to serve. I now had the opening within myself to renegotiate my relationship with masculinity, power, love, sex and pleasure. Reclaim butt stuff. Grow my bush. Renarrate my pleasure’s importance.
As his voice silenced, others emerged. Notably, that of my mom. When I explored where I learned my survival strategies, her reflection was unmistakable. I was in the next layer. Dear Mom: You’re inability to forgive yourself means I am reliving your patterns. You won’t let it go, move on and heal, but instead keep pulling me in, reminding me of the terror and inability to function outside of the traumatized system. It’s not my trauma. I didn’t get to have mine because I had to hold yours. I’m still holding yours. I’m still consoling you. Telling you you did the best you could. Offering forgiveness. Silencing my own experience as the terrified caregiving child. This week she told me about my dad raping her a month into their courtship, while she was on leave from psych; and subsequently marrying and having children. This is the traumatized womb in which I was carried into existence. The intergenerational story of sexual trauma. Her suicidality and self-blame spiral creates withdrawal and more intense boundaries on my part; which means she doesn’t know about my sexual assault experiences or my greatest moments of pleasure.
But her story was not my story. Is not my story. She had two sex partners in her life, never to seek intimacy again after parting ways with my abusive father at the age of 38. In contrast, this mindful slut continues to seek abundant connections of hearts and genitals. The complex trauma symptomatology meant I struggled to eat, sleep, remain present, regulated or track time and space. This provided daily motivation to keep doing my work, with a chosen family who saw all of me. I pet my cat, the longest sustaining and safest man in my life. I took deep breaths; gasping for every ounce of my power, noticing the nuances of my sensations, my emotions, and welcoming in self-love. As I opened up to new connections, I spent six months crying through sex primarily with femmes and queer folx who welcomed me to safe exploration of pleasure without the masculine landmines. Men weren’t bad. But my body only knew one way to be with them.
You see, trauma wants to integrate: it is survival at the cellular level, it is a piece of you that only knows one path through the terror, it is a place of acceptance, grief and curiosity. Give trauma permission to take a break, to trust the other parts of you to be strong, to have grown and learned, to forge new ways of being and feeling. I grasped at every strategy for awakening in the darkness, for creating new paths of survival. I found transcendence in building a cohesive community, Psychedelics. Art. Music. Dance. Yoga. Qi Gong. Vulnerability. Beauty. The Moon. Earth. Water. Find your Ritual. Create it, work it, savor it. Breath. Move. Feel. Step into courage to explore intimacy with the divine of your choosing again. I practiced leaning into pleasure, sharing my trauma with lovers, asking for their participation in changing my relationship with masculinity and my body. I moved through the triggers with intention, despite every instinct to retreat. Self Pleasure was the anchor back to my body. At first it feels like you’re tricking your body into believing it’s safe when it might not be. But then you do it again and again. Get that orgasm. Set that boundary. Choose a loving partner who is excited when you squirt in their face.
We rewrite the story of intergenerational trauma at the epigenetic level every time who do it differently. Every time we cherish ourselves. Every time we give ourselves pleasure we remind our little girl self that she is safe now. The man from the beginning of the story once told me about these slime mold spores, with phenomenal instincts, who recreated the complexity of the Japanese subway system. I’m more than a slime mold. I’ve tapped into the expansiveness of human pleasure and expression, as infinitely beautiful as the universe, within myself. Resonance with my own spirit, and that of generations of womxn taking back power and pleasure. I see you. I love you. I'm here with you no matter where you are on your journey to pleasure and integration.