This past week someone that I love very much unwillingly shared with me a story of something she had done and felt deep shame about. Tears spilled out of her eyes as she quietly spoke, struggling to keep it all together and obviously deeply afraid of the judgement she feared from me. Looking at her I saw beauty in the way her lips curve and how smooth and clear her skin is. I saw scars on her shoulders as she turned away to hide her deep, dark eyes that hold memories only she knows. I saw vulnerability in her shaking chest and in how she used the back of her hand to softly wipe rain drops of tears off of her cheeks. I saw her with all of the love that I always see her with – that part hadn’t changed – but what had changed was that I also saw me.

One of the most difficult parts of this journey and work that I am embarking on, but also the very part that drew me to it, is that I am constantly having to look into my mirror image and so very often I am shocked by what I see. Touching myself with love and intent is more intimate than sex with another because there is no “other” to turn to, to blame, to seek. Whether my touch is sexual or not – I am forced to bring it all back to me because I am alone in the room.

Alone with myself I can’t hide behind grievances. If I don’t orgasm I can’t blame someone else’s lack of skill. I can’t rely on someone else’s hands to make me feel better, to numb feelings that I don’t want to feel, to ignore parts that are broken, to tell me I’m not that bad. This self loving practice means going deeper into my whole self and the difficulty in that is that my whole self doesn’t always feel deserving of love.

I am in constant contact with other amazing women who are seeking Bodysex certification and what we discuss and support each other with the most, is this struggle. The constant looking inward to unending discoveries of not only our strengths but also our weaknesses. The feeling that we have taken 10 steps forward and then 20 backwards. We commiserate about how easy it would be to just be a “normal” sex educator who can fire off endless lists of “10 ways to be better in bed.” When you add the “other” there is someone else to blame for everything but also someone else to seek from. “They don’t touch the right way, move enough, or make enough sound. I’m not getting what I want. I need more from them. I want him to see me.” In a way this leaves us a slave to someone else’s validation and response to us. Needing that response means that without it – or when it isn’t quite enough – we feel like something is always missing. So we keep seeking it. I keep seeking it.

I wanted to learn to practice self love so that I wasn’t a slave to others opinion of me. So that even if there was no one else to touch me I would know that my own touch was just as good because no one could possibly touch me with more love than I have for myself. I wanted to bring myself to my sexual experiences and actually have something to offer – not only the other – but myself. I could bring me to every experience and it might. just. be. enough.

Some days I feel madly in love and I can’t get enough of every inch of my body. I feel beautiful, alive, sexually empowered and a part of something much greater than myself. On other days nothing feels like enough and I can’t run from what I see inside. I struggle to feel any love for myself beneath my fingers. In order to find this love I not only touch myself but speak out loud words of affirmation: “I love you Natasha. You are okay just as you are.” This touch and these words are an act of compassion for myself and choosing this means that it is easier for me to find compassion for others.

After she stopped crying and with tears pouring from my own eyes, I looked at her and with complete conviction I said; “Thank you. I see you and I see myself in you and all I feel is love for you. That means we are both okay.”

The image in my mirror will never be untainted. I will never stop wanting validation or love from others. I will never stop messing up. That is my humanness. But the gift in all of this self loving – and being unable to look away from my beauty and my ugliness – is that all of it is an act of compassion for myself. And in choosing this compassion for myself it is impossible not to choose it for others.


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