"...the book was most helpful in approaching death because it describes in detail the deepening mental states through which the dying person passes and how to prepare for them... we pass through these states each and every day when we go to sleep or end a dream, as well as fainting, sneezing or orgasm." ~ Forward in 'Advice on Dying' by the Dalai Lama
I have spent the last few months making time to masterdate. You read that right. Earlier this month I took a weekend off of work to take myself on the perfect dates in honor of my favorite holiday, Dia de los Muertos. I grew up without holidays so I have no sentimental affinity for any holiday except this one because when I was experiencing the death and grieving process of the end of my marriage a beautiful Mexican friend introduced me to The Day of the Dead as it was her favorite holiday. Simply recalling the introduction to something I never knew before gives me chills. This resonated so deeply and I had yet to understand why. I didn't want to disrespect a tradition native to someone else's culture and not my own so I took my time getting to know it and understand it. There is a deep reverence and sacredness to this time period and I wanted to honor it with the respect it deserved. For now, I will explain what it has come to mean for me and my views of sex.
In years past, when experiencing heavy grief or numbing from trauma I would turn to sex in order to feel something again. Desire came from a space of lack. In grieving sex offered not only an escape but also a palpability to the pain of my experience. When numb it was the only thing that felt safe to feel. These experiences offered a sanctuary from my own emotions, my heart, my mind and my spirit. I couldn't process life when I felt as though all I knew was death, death of my self, my ideas, my dreams, even my realities. I remained in the darkness but the darkness wasn't scary when I had sex. I will expand on this more in the future...
Now here I am, years later, giggling with myself for calling my self care escapades "masterdating" (a Facebook friend deserves credit for that word) and feeling comfortable with feelings of discomfort. I have known various forms of death and as I rebuild my life on my own I find contentment in aloneness. There is a surrender required to truly heal and grow beyond your stories. So now I can be fascinated with the state of dying because I am not currently in that state (any more than any living creature anyway) but having known the closeness of it, having become intimate with it the fascination returns when I awake from a dream, when I catch myself falling into meditation or experiencing Yoga Nidra while riding the bus to work, but most of all I still experience that state in sex but much more so. When you release fear of death it becomes easier to drop into these states.
When you are not a victim to your own drama anymore your choices become much more conscious as do the people you choose to surround yourself with; the more intimate the relationship the more particular you become. This is because you are acutely aware of your own sacredness. You don't forget your humanness and you are by no means close to perfect but life is manageable. When a majority of people you see struggle to manage their life and their own feelings as they are easily swayed by anything that triggers them (other people, social media, politics, etc.) you must fall in love with aloneness for your own sanity.
This brings me back to sex. Now I can see so clearly when desire comes from a space of lack and not just sexual desire but any desire; decisions and choices are made from fear because the focus is on what one does not want and when I look into someone's eyes I can see it, it looks almost crazed to me and it's familiar because I know that space all too well. You see more of what you fear, more of what's "wrong" and less of what is a blessing, what has deeper purpose. When I am familiar with that empty feeling and can compare it to the feeling I have now after working so hard on myself so that I can be of service to others, those feelings I have of fulfillment and of gratitude, then how could I possibly invite that old fear into my space on any level, especially a sexual one?
It's easier to have a stronger internal boundary when you have been blessed to know men on an intimate level that set the standard, they are the standard as opposed to men you find yourself assessing to see if they meet "a" standard. If you have to think about it then they don't measure up; either they are the standard or they aren't and I for one, deserve no less. This is the man that joins with you from a space of equality eager to share a spiritual awakening through orgasm with you. He doesn't come to take from you something he is lacking within himself, instead he knows that the experience will challenge you both to go deeper within yourselves as well as one another and he has the courage to allow the experience to unfold as it's meant to. Fear is overcome with courage as you explore the states of consciousness that join death and orgasm. Old patterns of needing to attach meaning to this shared experience can be tempting but then you remind yourself that you are both safe and allowed to explore different realms of consciousness together because that shared moment is why you are together. It teaches you to remain more present and to give up the need to control anything by defining it because you know that will limit this one thing that is meant to help you both transcend those old limiting beliefs; those old unhealthy patterns.
These connections are what I wait for now. This has been a new layer of learning for my body who is used to getting what it wants when it wants. Now my mind, heart, spirit and body are beginning to have a mutual understanding and appreciation for what the sacredness of sex has the potential of being. Once you have this kind of shared experience with someone, just the presence of the other person has a profound effect on you, it can be unsettling but infinitely worth it. This is how a sexual experience can trigger the death of something you no longer need to hold on to in the healthiest of ways. Some deaths are welcomed.
I received a question the other day from one of my YouTube viewers; they asked "How did you deal with the loneliness at first? How do you become ok being alone?" This question prompted by my video, Recovery from Love Addiction. This is probably the most exquisite question I have gotten so far. The answer can sum up recovery (of any kind really) and I am thrilled to make the video in response and I am even more excited about the direction this question gave me. But this isn't the best and most professional response. This will be my personal, rawest and most real response that I will merely reference in my upcoming video. I can give a general response for everyone but if you are curious how I became comfortable alone this is it...
To begin, let's be clear that there is a vast difference between being alone and lonely. I have never felt more alone than when I'm with people. I grew up believing that there must be, at the very least, one person that I wouldn't feel lonely with so I began to become attached to the idea of what that person would feel like when I was with them. I had absolutely NO frame of reference, this was all fantasy and that was my undoing. I got caught up in relationships that were toxic and abusive and my behavior spiraled to the point of being suicidal.
You see, in my world, loneliness was only felt in relationships, not out of them. I felt loneliest lying next to anyone who controlled me, betrayed me, punished me, ignored me, loathed me, demanded of me, and on and on and on. The space between us was palpable but being touched was worse, it was as though each touch was meant to take something from me, to use, to consume, to alter, to mutilate. Even when I found my refuge, when I had the opportunity to share a bed with a man who truly knew me and cared for me deeply, who was my safe space from my nightmares, I remained lonely because it still wasn't love, not the kind of love that is secure in a way I needed most.
But in my lover's eyes I would see my bruises reflected as well as the girl that was still trapped inside. I discovered myself, my power, my truest beauty, my womanhood again and eventually I had to say 'goodbye' to the mirror I loved, this mirror who had saved my life as I also said 'goodbye' to the lie that had brought me there.
Loneliness then became losing everything. There is no greater hell then losing the ability to see your child on a regular basis. There is no greater emptiness. And no other kind of love can fill that void. When I first lost my home I stayed with a close friend who opened up her home and sometimes would fall asleep talking with me. This was the least lonely I ever felt, sharing a bed with a close female friend that was willing to simply be present. My screams would wake her though. For those few nights someone else heard my screams, I wasn't alone and I didn't feel lonely.
That's the thing about having deep scars from the past. You spend years doing the physical, spiritual and psychological work on yourself, healing trauma, PTSD, and anything that may have brought you to the choices you had made in romantic partners (addiction, avoidance, past abuse, codependence, etc.) but that doesn't take away the many more years locked away. The mind has an interesting way of deciding when it's time to heal something. One thing dating has taught me is that no one can hear you scream anymore - no one except you. You will still wake up to the sounds of your own screams. You will hear your voice screaming in your dreams. The sound of your screaming comes and goes but no one else can hear you... not really.
You can look at someone else, try to explain it and only feel more lonely when their empty eyes look at you with confusion or their cold responses leave you feeling as though you cut yourself wide open just to fall to your knees bleeding alone all over again while they just watch you, with no compassion or worse yet, complete disinterest.
To me, loneliness is the emptiness you feel when an expectation is not met. So, if I expected a fairy tale, I was lonely every moment I was with someone that didn't give that to me. As I matured, healed, became educated, loneliness has become the expectation of a shred of compassion when a relationship comes to the point of needing to share more about my past and receiving nothing. Not feeling lonely has become loving who I am, accepting myself, forgiving myself, being compassionate with myself and surrounding myself with only those who treat themselves the same way. And most of all, just loving people as they are while loving myself enough to honor my own boundaries.
Spiritualists will tell you that expectations break your heart, not people. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with expecting compassion when you open up about something painful with the goal of being closer to a partner, connecting on a more intimate level and being able to release something that is ready to move from your psyche and your spirit. This also is in line with the Buddhist teaching of romantic love so when we talk about expectations, let's be clear on what expectations are reasonable and realistic and which ones may be exaggerated. That's all another topic for another day.
Image Credit: GoodVibes Photography
Micah's confessions and lessons that have helped with self-forgiveness, healing and acceptance.