This is an excerpt from my Master’s thesis titled “Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul, Spirit, and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis,” it is a piece from the Introduction
To say it is difficult to write about embodiment is an understatement. Writing is a tool of the mind and splits us off from bodily experience. Language cannot fully capture the essence of being embodied, of being in a body, or of bodily sensations and emotions, but it can try. For the most part, language brings us out of our bodies and puts us apart from ourselves, especially language in an academic framework where one is compelled to be aware of sentence structure, word choice, proper citation methods, and so on. The question of how I can write an academic work on embodiment is one I have been grappling with since before I began writing it. The language that most closely aligns with the body is imaginal and poetic. With exception of the praxis chapter, my use of poetic imaginal language has been limited. I have not engaged with the imaginal and poetic nearly enough. Here is an attempt.
I really value each of the realms of spirit, soul, and body and the various ways they each manifest in the world, and I know that of these three realms the body is the most denigrated. This culture has a body problem. It has a problem in all three realms, really, but the way we approach the body is so much more backwards and twisted in my experience. We do everything we can to avoid focusing on our bodies, and that includes me. I have spent a lot of my own life hating my body, treating it as separate from my essential self, or ignoring its needs, feelings, and warnings.
My body has stiffened from the chore of sitting in front of a computer, writing (or attempting to write), while fighting against all the internal blocks I have against doing this work, my work. I can feel it in my shoulders and the back of my neck in the tension that creeps its way up and down from my head to my lower back. I get hit with it when I stretch, arching my back to hear the cacophony of crunchy popping sounds as my vertebrae realign themselves, and suddenly the release of tension sends a momentary throbbing spiraling up all the way to my temples. I can feel it in my knees and hips, the way I hold myself as I walk, where on my feet I place emphasis. I can tell when I am resisting the process and when I am not coming to my work with all of my strength by the way that I sit, passively and slouched or tall and engaged. I can feel it in how I am holding my teeth and tongue, the crack of my jaw when I yawn, the bend of my left knee when I take a step (am I fully bending it, or dragging that foot as I move?), or the pop of my right ankle when I get a twinge or stiffness in it that needs to be rotated out. My body tells me things, and I choose to listen to it or not, though the more I do this work the less I can ignore it. I notice the tension, I breathe, I move.
I do not claim to be perfect at my own methods, or to have mastered embracing the theories and praxis described in this thesis. In fact, what is driving me to do the work that I am dedicated to doing in the world, the work that this thesis is but a fraction of, is my own struggles with embodiment, connection, and belonging. I have been experiencing my own process as I have been writing about it, articulating only as far as I have been able to traverse my own self. Thus through this process I have had to feel my way through it just as much as I have had to work my way through it. I have had to nurture my own self, to build up the strength and self-love and self-compassion. To bring awareness to the things that I do, conscious and unconscious, and the patterns that I am enacting and reenacting within myself and with my lovers, friends, and family. I have gone through some major shifts and realizations within myself through this process, and also know that it is not over. This is just the beginning.
In going through this process of embracing my emotions and letting them flow, of excavating my own shadow and my own past, of working to understand the patterns laid inside of me back in the time of childhood and pre-verbal processing that still run me, of attempting to experience exquisite embodiment of the Self that is called Tai in this incarnation, I have had to confront most if not all of the parts of myself that keep me back. My self-sabotage. As with everyone, all of my issues are interlocking, threads in the tapestry of my life that interact and intersect, not just discrete problems that can be approached completely independently of each other. I have had to face head-on my own fear, grief, shame, anger, some nasty patterns of internalized oppression and repression. I have had to confront my fear of taking up my own space and what it looks like to put something so large as a personal sacred erotic manifesto into the world. This work details the entirety (so far) of my life’s purpose and my understanding of spirituality, sexuality, psychology, and their interactions with each other, and I am really taking up my own space by declaring my own mastery of it. I have also had to process and move through the grief I experienced surrounding the very sudden death of my father, and the emotional and psychological patterns instilled in me generationally and personally through him. I have recognized the shame I have held on to around being my true authentic self in a society that reviles people like me in multiple intersections of my identity. I have had moments of intense jealousy and shame around my relationship with my primary partner, and due to our interlocking patterns around intimacy and attraction we have, on occasion, fallen down the rabbit hole of destructive behavior.
Shame has been a large factor in my excavation process, and shame is necessary to face when doing this work. Emotions are necessary to face when doing this work of the body. To this end the work of Brene Brown and Karla McLaren have been indispensable to me. I have realized the amount of emotion processing that goes on in the face of change, and know that is a vital aspect of becoming. All emotions are particularly powerful, necessary, and important. They each have a reason for coming up when they do and a particular purpose or gift to share with us, if we are open to them. This entire thesis process has been an emotional one, and has impacted my body as such.Labels: becoming, becoming a sex educator, being-becoming-itself, connection, education, embodiment, endings are also new beginnings, endless amounts of change, erotic embodiment, Erotic Embodiment and Integration of Soul Spirit and Body: Toward a Sacred Erotic Psychology Healing Praxis, Graduate School, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, I've maybe actually figured things out, learning, overthinking overanalyzing separates the body from the mind, poetry, poetry is not a luxury, pregnant with grad school, processing through writing, psychology, ride the spiral to the end, Sacred Erotic Psychology, sacred erotic somatic psychology, that thing I've been working on for over nine months, the only way through it is through it, thesis baby, thesis excerpt
I am dying. I am dying. I am dead. Pulling parts of myself away from the tangled mess I have weaved together throughout all these years. Endless pain and discomfort in the name of growth and abundance. What needs to die? What needs to be reborn? Strips of self that I have taken the time to mold out of experiences now need to be carefully separated from the rest of me, the parts that are useful stay, the parts that hold me back must go. Where do I go?
My back is hurting from stress, from the weight of the words that need to come out of me, but that I am having a difficult time getting onto the page. I cannot sit in this chair in a way that does not hurt me, it seems, in a way that keeps me embodied. I am out of my body, attempting to be in my mind only while writing about embodiment. How does that work?
I am carving out my space in the world. Bringing pieces together from culturally disparate places and creating a whole. At the same time I am digging deeper into myself and carving out spaces in my psyche where I can fit as well. I don’t fit anymore. I need to take what does not work and transmute it into something that does. I take myself apart so I may be whole.
My body is uncomfortable. I have a weeks-long headache of exhaustion and perfectionism. Yes, I’m having a hard time giving that up. It’s coming to the point where I do not have a choice.
I am weaving together my own ideology, my own theology, my own sacred sexology. Embracing on all the strength I have in order to focus and get this done, and it is not enough. It will be enough. Eventually it will be enough, as long as I can die. As long as I can clear this channel, get rid of this blockage, let this part of me go, it will be enough. I am enough.
My body is here. I am here. I am whole.Labels: death and rebirth, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, poetry is not a luxury, school, the only thing constant
Instead of attempting to do a catch-up post before I write the “real” post by trying to recap all the things that have happened since the last time so many ages ago that I posted on here, I just need to write. I’ve been doing so much writing the last few years, but so little personal writing. Grad school has sucked up all my writing time and now that I’m writing my thesis I’m going a little bit insane. I am having a difficult time getting words down on the page, however, and I’m hoping that a bit of a free write will assist with that.
I’m struggling. As always, it seems. I have had so many epiphanies and breakthroughs and beginnings of changing long-ingrained patterns, but it never seems like it is enough. And I suppose it will never be enough, because if it was I would have nothing else to work on or nowhere else to grow. I would like a breather, however. Can’t there just be a time with a bit of a relaxing, settling down, and not working on any major shit? No? Okay.
I’ve changed so much in the last few years, even just in the last year. I used to be terrified of, well, just about everything. Of myself. Of other people. Of getting what I want. Of my own power. I’ve been on a path of discovering and rediscovering my own personal power and shedding those things that have been in the way of my embracing and expressing it. My pathways were clogged for so long, and finally some bits of my own light are able to come through them and shine out of them. Still not all of them are clear, and others are gathering new gunk, but that is one of the continual processes.
Golden Dawn spiritual work, grad school, my father’s death, relationship changes, explorations in polyamory, coming into my own as a Hierophant and High Priestess, all these things have shifted and changed me internally to the point of sometimes I actually realize how strong and competent I am. Other times I am still frightened of the world and my part in it. I’m still insecure. I’m still socially anxious, self-deprecating, and uncertain of myself a lot of the time. I have worked on and healed a lot of wounds and changed old patterns for the better, but I still fall into the old pit of depression sometimes.
Aside from the stress of school and relationships, however, I am arguably the most content and least depressed that I have ever been, or at least for as long as I can remember. I am doing my work in the world, and sometimes failing at it. I am at least moving toward my work in real and tangible ways, and getting better at what I do.
I am not as enlightened or close to my ideal self as I would like to be, but I’m at least working on it. That is something. I’m grateful for the chance to be getting this really ridiculous self-designed degree in a subject that doesn’t even seem realistic or plausible to the majority of the world. I realize the privilege in that and am astounded by it. I think I’m calling it Sacred Erotic Psychology now, though even that isn’t quite right. It’s gone though a bunch of different iterations.
Relationships are consistently a struggle right around the end of the quarter. It’s like all the stress likes to get saved up until right at the end. So that’s fun. Onyx and I have had some rough patches in the last few months specifically, though we always go through alternating rough and smooth times, as is the nature of long-term relationships it seems. We had a period of really great connecting after a major shake-up in our relationship due to a rather major breaking of our agreements just before the end of last quarter. We both have come to a lot of insights of our own patterns in relationships and the patterns in our relationship with each other that we need and want to break. It has been really useful and there have been lots of growing pains. The period of connecting was really lovely and some of the best moments of our relationship in recent memory, but that too was broken and we’re now in a slightly awkward phase again. Yet not as awkward as a lot of the last year has been, so I don’t know. Only now there is a limited amount of time and energy available to really get back to smooth due to thesis writing.
So. Thesis. Yes. I need to be writing about the theoretical orientations that are foundational to my thesis, as well as historical background related to the body that informs my thesis, and the beginnings of articulating my own theoretical synthesis as well as my praxis approach. It’s a lot.
My current thesis statement/elevator speech is this: I am articulating how I as a practitioner can present eroticism as an embodied experience of love that promotes and nurtures intra-, inter-, and trans-personal connections. By integrating our embodied and mythological experience of our minds, hearts, and body/genitals though the process of identifying the disconnected parts needing to be integrated and using a variety of psychological and bodywork techniques to foster mutually beneficial relationships between ourselves and these parts we move toward experiencing and expressing our Whole Erotic Self through embodied sovereignty. This is important because loving connection and embodied erotic experiences can advance our own developmental learning, enhance our quality of life, and benefit the earth.
Not bad, right?Labels: change, connection, depression, exploration, Graduate School, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, learning, life, love, loving, poly, polyamory, psychology, relationships, Sacred Erotic Psychology, sacred erotic somatic psychology, struggle, the only thing constant, thoughts, what am I calling my degree again?, will
I’m feeling small and sore from beating myself up today. I’m thinking a lot about what it is like to practice gratitude and self-compassion, and trying to practice it. I’m wondering what I will be like on the day I find myself much closer to the non-perfectionist end of the perfectionism spectrum and am able to marvel at the change that has occurred.
I’ve been trapped in life-paralysis for so long, waiting (not consciously) for some external force to knock me back into reality, but I’m realizing the messages I’ve been getting: the only way through it is through it; do the fucking work.
All of my life my self-worth has been connected to my accomplishments. I was told “what matters is that you do your best,” but then what was considered “my best” was also dictated to me. I was praised for excelling and giving disapproving and disappointed looks when I didn’t meet the acceptable standards. This wasn’t so bad, as I often excelled, but I also became terrified of not producing perfect work.
I have been struggling. The last year and a half has brought many things to light as I’ve worked to excavate my own self, my own darkness. I haven’t known how to ask for help. I still don’t know, as I don’t know what will help, but admitting it is a step. I have been struggling with so many things that I haven’t known what to do or where to start.
As I’ve been struggling, though I’ve also been working and I’ve been healing. I’ve been doing and changing and growing. I feel stronger and closer to that person that I want to be than I ever have felt before. I’m simultaneously nearing the end of one path and beginning another.
But, still, most days I’m struggling. I can find the strength in it and I can give it a positive spin, but I’m still hurting. I’m still feeling small and sore and there is still a part of me that is whispering “you’re wrong to feel this way” and “you’re not good enough” and “you don’t belong here.” There’s still part of me that is paralyzed and living in a state of constant fear of being found out. That part that thinks that some day everyone will realize I’m not really as interesting, intelligent, awesome, skilled, attractive, insert-positive-opinion-here, etc. as they think I am, that I’m really just unworthy of their time, energy, and love.
I know the things I would tell a client or friend who admitted this to me: everyone experiences this to some extent, some less than others, but you are not alone. I would tell them that part of themselves as their best interest at heart, it thinks that it is helping, that it is somehow keeping them safe against the threat of shame and judgment, that it really just wants them to be happy (even though its tactics are not useful). I would encourage them to feel love and compassion toward that part, to thank it, to engage with it, to work to integrate it. I would encourage them to hold themselves accountable, but also cultivate self-compassion and imperfection. I would encourage them to sit with their feelings and find where they’re rooted in the body. And so on.
These are all things I’ve told myself and am working on, but there are some days when that paralyzing part is the loudest voice inside of me. There are many days when I just break down and witness myself being paralyzed. Today was one of those days. I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to be imperfect. Telling myself to lean into the discomfort and embrace vulnerability. To fake it until I become it. To do the fucking work. To Breathe.Labels: being-becoming-itself, change, do the fucking work, fear, Graduate School, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, help, lean into discomfort, overthinking, overthinking overanalyzing separates the body from the mind, perfectionism, ride the spiral to the end, school, struggle, surrendering to gravity and the unknown, that scary feeling makes me know I'm doing something right, the only way through it is through it, worthiness, worthing
Sometimes pleasure is really difficult to access. The more stress and overwhelmed I am the more I get away from those things that make me feel good, and, ironically, from those things that resource me. My unparalleled attention to detail combined with my overactive imagination and my tendency to over think gets me in trouble more than it helps.
In the last year I’ve been gutted, split from clavicle to navel and opened up so I could see what was inside. I’m still figuring out what I found there. I’m still figuring out how to integrate that knowledge, what to keep and what to discard. I always strive for change within myself and know I can be better, stronger, faster, but I am never satisfied no matter how far I’ve come.
Of the many relationships in my life (romantic and not, sexual and not) there are very few in which I feel truly seen, truly appreciated. There are some in which I feel suffocated by the projections bring placed on me by the other. There are some in which I am able to catch glimpses of recognition. Mostly, though, I don’t allow myself to be seen. I rarely feel safe enough to allow myself to be seen, but my idea of what safety looks like is a pretty narrow band.
I’ve been greatly inspired by the work of Brene Brown lately. I’m trying to allow myself to be more vulnerable, to open up more, but it feels so… open, exposed, and like the weaker position. I know it’s not weaker, but it is a less strategic position. It feels like a less powerful position, because if I just lay myself out there than the other person can poke at all my vulnerable exposed flesh and organs. They can do as they please, without reciprocating unless they feel like it.
I try too hard. I try to be what I think the other person wants more than I try to be myself sometimes. I’m not being inauthentic, but I am not authentically showing all of myself when I do this. My own fears and insecurities bubble up and I think I have to hide some part of myself or another in order to be liked, in order to be okay. Part of me knows I don’t need to do this, but part of me worries that if I show all of me to someone they will run away screaming.
Like anyone getting a Masters in Psychology I can trace this back down to childhood. I can point to the wherefore, but I can’t always identify it in the moment.
I keep reminding myself to expand when I get in this state, rather than contract. While there is a time and a place for contracting it doesn’t seem useful. I need to push past my level of comfort and allow myself to be open, be exposed, be real. I need to stop overthinking and just be. I need to confront the parts of me that tell me to contract, to shut down, that tell me I’m not not interesting enough or not worthy of the attention. I need to recognize that I am interesting, that what I have to say is important, that it isn’t selfish to talk about myself, that other people want to see me. I’ll get there eventually.Labels: change, fear, growth, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, life, overthinking, overthinking overanalyzing separates the body from the mind, psychology, relationships, surrendering to gravity and the unknown, vulnerability, worries
I want to open you
Show you the beauty that lies within,
Help you fill the void inside you,
That empty place
that can be full.
I want to crack you open
like a pomegranate,
Taste your bittersweet juices
Until my fingers are
stained with you.
I will lift you up to
the mirror of my soul,
Reflect you back to yourself
So you can see all that you can be.
I will not heal you,
That is your work,
But I will point you to the key
So you can heal yourself.
I’ve taken a break from the internet in the last few months, specifically this break has been from the online persona I have been developing on this blog since 2007. I experienced a mental breakdown of sorts, a deep depression that was catalyzed by the death of my father but had begun long before he passed. I had to step back from life and to go inside of myself. I no longer had the strength to keep moving forward so I stagnated for a while. It was necessary.
Life has been on an upswing for the last few months. All the things happened at once: I was beginning to feel like myself again, Stian and I were getting closer, and I began a few new relationships. Since then school has been figured out, I have a lot of ideas for the future and plans in that regard, and all my relationships are developing positively. More and more lately, however, I’ve been realizing just how much writing on here has meant to me, and I want to get back into it.
I have other ways of expressing and processing my thoughts and emotions now than I did when I began this blog. It is easier for me to talk openly and honestly about those things that are close to my heart. While that was a big part of my development of this blog it was not the only purpose of it. In my time away I’ve realized just how important writing is to me. I’ve had to do a lot of it in school, but that is less flow-of-consciousness writing and more actually-having-to-plan-things-out-and-be-organized writing. While I enjoy both types, there has been a distinct lack of the former in my life as of late. For a while I was so internal, so closed off, that I was unable to write, I was barely able to breathe. Now, though, I feel the desire to share pouring out of me.
Dance has become an integral part of my life experience in the last few months as well. For a long time I forgot how necessary it was to move my body in that way. I did a lot of dance when I was younger and I have wanted to take a class for years, but just never got around to it. I began taking a couple swing dance classes in November and began another three weeks ago. I hope to continue as best I can in the upcoming months, but travel plans will get in the way somewhat. I have aspirations of taking bellydance and burlesque classes as well, and who knows what else. It has become as important as sex to me, as important as breathing. I need to remember to dance, preferably every day.
What else has changed and shifted in the last few months since I have been away? I’ve been on a femme swing as well. My gender presentation has embraced femmeininity to the nth degree. I’ll certainly be discussing this in an upcoming post. Onyx and I have moved from being non-monogamous and theoretically poly to having other partners, and there have been shifts between us and our relationship as well both because of this change and because of the natural progression of our relationship to each other. Again, there will be a separate post. Or probably many separate posts.
There’s so much more needing to pour out of me, but this is where I begin again. This isn’t complete (is it ever?), but it is a (re)start.Labels: being in the moment, change, clearing triggers, connection, depression, disconnected, growth requires the temporary suspension of security, I probably should have posted about this sooner, it's good to be back, life, mental breakdown, moving forward, poly, relationships, ride the spiral to the end, school, shifts, thoughts, vulnerability, what I did on my vacation