I’m laying in bed in Betty Dodson’s NYC apartment, drinking tea and looking around the room that holds the energy and stories of countless women who have sat in the Bodysex circle here. Just like me they shed their clothes, their tears, and their shame before celebrating their pleasure. It’s hard to believe that it was only a year and a half ago that I entered this same room for the first time as a participant in Betty’s workshop. Scared – yet excited I took off my clothes and found my place in the circle, having no way of knowing what a profound effect it would have on my life.
Today as a facilitator of my own Bodysex workshops, I know that even though the physical circle ends after the weekend, the circle of sisterhood keeps on carrying us long after we step out of it. Some of it through our conscious actions and some just by how we’ve been changed because of it.
A woman from that first Bodysex circle is the reason that I am here in this apartment today. Even though I only met her that one time, she wrote to me not long ago to ask if I wanted an airline voucher that she was unable to use. I had been conspiring to find a way to go see Betty, but being a student and a mother I couldn’t see how it would happen. Yet here I am at Betty’s with $27 remaining on the voucher……..and the circle of sisterhood carries me.
The circle carried both Betty and I the other night when we went out to dinner and spotted a woman sitting at a table alone. She was in her mid 50’s and I could see so much sadness yet so much life in her. I invited her over and she ended up crying and laughing in Betty’s loving arms. She has never sat with us in a Bodysex circle but our openness allowed her to be open and our acceptance of her, along with Betty’s arms, became the circle.
The circle continues with the birth of Carlin’s new baby. I sat in the circle with her while she was pregnant and it was pure joy to spend a day with her and her son this weekend. Motherhood suits her and her energy and happiness is infectious. I can only imagine how much it adds and will continue to add to her already incredible work.
I feel the circle carry me as I walk naked and unashamed through Betty’s apartment.The circle of women taught me that my body is okay as it is. It isn’t perfect and it doesn’t need to be. But it’s me, all me, and I’m okay with it. Feeling so free we share stories – not bothering to close the door when we pee or shower. “The great thing about Bodysex” Betty says “is that afterwards there is no such thing as being self conscious.” She’s right.
The circle carries us as I drink tea and read messages from women who sat in my two workshops. They tell stories of body acceptance, intense orgasms, continued unveiling of shame, and how their comfort with themselves has transformed their relationships with others. Without shame we hold ourselves differently and others notice this – seeing possibilities for change in themselves. One woman, who wrote with pride about her daughter’s new confidence and her changing relationship with her mother, said “The Bodysex circle brings on generations of healing.”
Saying good bye to Betty I held back the tears that wanted to fall and instead thought of the stories from our weekend together and began to laugh. I laughed all the way down the elevator past the door man (who laughed back at me thinking, I’m sure, of his own great stories about us after this weekend!) and into the cab. I laughed in the airport (even while nauseous from the martini’s, snails and goose liver that she convinced me to eat the night before) I laughed on the plane, and I’m still laughing while I finish typing this. I curse Betty for the ache in my stomach muscles from 4 days of solid laughter and then I laugh some more. She was a wonderful host and I will miss drinking “Dodson’s” with her everyday at happy hour, her loving words of advice, people watching while drinking nearly 3 bottles of wine, my morning kiss and hug, her dirty stories, the way she doesn’t bat an eye no matter how shameful something is that I tell her, and how she feels comforting like a grandma then the next minute whispers in my ear “I’d just love to fuck that guy.” Laughing more the circle carries me……….
First I want to thank you. With your guidance I have enjoyed more quality in my orgasms because I understand and accept my body and sexuality so much more. I feel my libido returning after a long hiatus. Now I have a question about the logistics of making time and space for my sexuality. I have two very young children who depend on me almost every hour of the day. For a long time I didn’t have interest in sex because I was so physically and emotionally depleted, and hormones of childbirth and breastfeeding haven’t helped. Now I want to make time for self-love, and physical intimacy with my partner. Do you have any creative suggestions for how to do this? For us, there is only an hour or two between their bedtime and our bedtime, and chores to finish, plus a lot of nights I am reluctant to initiate sex because I would rather sleep.(sometimes sex wakes me up and I can’t fall asleep) Currently I don’t wake up before the kids and we also co-sleep with at least one child most nights, so we are rarely alone as a couple. When/how is it okay to have sex with kids in the house? Perhaps part of the question is this: I want my children to grow up having a healthy comfort with their sexuality, and appropriate boundaries. I fear I don’t know how to model this because of the way I was raised and because our society doesn’t talk about it much. Do some families talk openly about sex? Is that after a certain age?
Thanks for asking these questions! I’m really happy that you are enjoying better orgasms and that your libido is returning. Yay! It sounds to me like you really want to be a model of positive sexuality for your children – something that was lacking for you and also want your sex life alone and with your spouse to be more of a priority. I think that all of these things are wonderful aspirations to have. As a parent of very young children – who has a libido – there are some good options for you!
First of all we often think of sex as having to happen in the bedroom. I also co-slept with all of my 5 children and rarely had sex in the bedroom. Be creative! There are so many other rooms in your house and doing it somewhere else can add an element of fun to your sex life. Living room couch is one of the best places and can accommodate a wide range of positions. (write me again if you need help with these) Plus, when your kids get older it gets more difficult to have sex in these places without getting caught so take advantage of their age now!
Depending on how old your kids are you can also have sex while they are in the room sleeping. I know I might get judged for saying this, but keep in mind that families all over the world sleep in one room homes. The children learn about sex as a part of life at a younger age and it is less taboo. My experience in a traditional African culture was that parents have sex in the same room as their children until they are around age 7. When a baby is sleeping beside you the sex may be less adventurous than if you were alone, but quiet sex is better than no sex!
Sleep is very important and I understand that there would be many times that you weigh up which is more important – sleep or sex. I think that we need to look at our sex life, alone and with our partner, as self care that is as important as healthy eating, a good nights sleep and exercise. A good sex life benefits your physical health and marriage in so many ways. I think that children(depending on their age) can and should be taught that mom and dad need time alone. I don’t think you need to tell them that you are having sex – they will figure this out as they grow and you can open up the dialogue about that as they get closer to puberty. (a topic for another time!) You and your spouse can decide what time would work best to fit alone time into your schedule but after a few weeks your kids will understand and let you be. By showing them that this time is important to you, you will be modelling healthy boundaries and the need for a couple or a single person to have time for self care. This could also be a time for your child to learn to value their own quiet, alone time. Imagine how your children will incorporate that value of self love in their own relationships as they grow up. To me that is worth so much more than the “mommy guilt” of taking an hour to yourself a few times a week. (or more! ha ha) You are teaching them to value their sexuality and self by valuing your own.
I think that another way to promote a healthy sexuality is to allow them to see you naked. Let them see mom and dad as you are and explain to them why and how you take care of yourself. Often kids watch adults in their lives rushing around from the gym to a hair cut etc. but no one ever explains to them why those things are of value and how they make us a better person by doing them.
You didn’t bring up your children masturbating but it will inevitably happen. As part of modelling a healthy sexuality I encourage you to refrain from ever shaming your children for doing this – just remind them that it is a private thing that they can do alone. As well be careful about how you refer to hygiene when they touch themselves. You could let them know that when they want to touch themselves that they should wash their hands FIRST. This gives them a feeling that their genitals are clean and good and we want to be kind to them. Many women that I work with as adults have been shamed by their mothers about their genitals being dirty. This affects their future body image and the way they relate sexually with themselves and others. In fact it isn’t uncommon for an adult woman to have never touched her vulva except in regards to hygiene.
I hope this answer helps you. Please write again to let me know how it’s going and if you need more clarification. In the meantime –
After an intense weekend of self-discovery and self-love, I was asked for one word to sum up how I was feeling. I tried not to overthink it and the word that came to me was warm. It wasn’t until I had taken a couple days to process and reflect that I really discovered what I meant.
Warm- Physically warm, the room was hot by the time our sweat, tears, breath, laughter and energy had filled the space. Emotionally warm, in the most kind nurturing sense of the word. So much safety in this room that felt like a womb, like a mothers hug, like a nest lined with the softest of intentions huddled together so close, getting to know each other as we each contemplated taking flight. Warm acceptance as we shared our stories, warm words and warm knowing looks as we held eye contact as well as the fleeting glances and sly smiles. Warm love as we held hands and passed our acceptance and admiration and strength to each of our sisters, hoping that she truly felt the depth of our embrace and support. Warmth, as my body softened and released the fear and tension I arrived with. Warmth as the cold wall I built within myself started to crumble. Giving myself permission to speak out and risk the rejection of not being heard, permission to stand in the warm sun instead of the shadows. Warm comfort as I slowly transitioned from awkward nervousness to absolute mellow. Warmth of that exhausted, content, fulfilled, post orgasmic sense of peace where you can just fall asleep with a smile on your face.
This is the image I want people to see if I have the guts to tell them I spent two days in a room completely naked with eight other women. To describe concretely that we sit together and discuss our history and feelings about body image, shame and orgasms probably sounds either terrifying or just way out there to most people. To go on and tell them we all lay back and each touch ourselves lovingly and orgasm side by side is kind of mind blowing, I know I had that reaction when first hearing Natasha, my friend and guide, talk about her experiences. I was so impressed when I first heard about these Bodysex workshops but thought that was amazing for other women, but no way could I possibly get naked. I was terrified of being truly seen (and maybe still am sometimes). I am often ok with being a vulnerable mess in some situations, but when I walk away I am back to my old protected, isolated self. Participating in the Bodysex workshop has given me the comfort and confidence to just own who I am, not to apologize for it. I still struggle to open up and be truly honest and vulnerable with people in my everyday life, but I know I deserve it and am worthy of that voice, so I will continue to practice and grow. I am hopeful and what a gift that hope is.