Do you remember a time in your life when you felt totally free? Maybe it was when you were a child and time was limitless, especially on a long summer day. Maybe you’ve felt that way on a vacation or sabbatical. Maybe it was when you finally left an unfulfilling marriage and realized how much possibility the world holds for you and your life. For me, the first time I felt that way was in college when I was studying abroad in Samoa. I was finally free from my home – in the conservative south. Free from my “business school” image at university – my classes and cohort and all of the expectations that came with that role. Free from my incredibly loving, yet overly nosy, curious, and involved parents – from that far away, it didn’t feel like I could disappoint them, which was always my greatest fear. But mostly I felt free from the boyfriend I’d been with for nearly 7 years. I broke up with him before we left and told him I wanted to explore my sexuality. And that I did – a LOT! But it was also a time when I tested other limits and learned more about myself than I ever imagined.
Recently, I was with a dear, long-time friend who shared that experience with me and we decided to watch the video footage I took while we were studying abroad. I was just expecting to have a few good laughs while reminiscing about our time there. What I did NOT expect was to have this massive revelation about who I was then and who I am now and how far off-track I have ventured over the last 15 years. I could not get over how genuinely happy and free I looked in all of the Samoa footage. I mean, I know I was struggling A LOT with coming out back then, but I can tell from the video how carefree and full of life and adventure and curiosity and excitement I was. I didn’t have a care in the world. I was so present and really being true to myself, probably for the first time in my life. It was refreshing to watch – eye-opening in a way that pictures alone have not been. I mean, I knew I had an incredible time there, but watching myself on tape – the way I moved my body, the way I laughed, the way I smiled – I was so playful and fun and beautiful. And I don’t think I realized that I felt that way there. Or maybe I did. Either way, I haven’t felt that way in a REALLY long time and that made me angry and sad.
I feel like my Bodysex journey has brought me back to that state of being. When I am in the circle, I feel empowered, curious, adventurous, real, genuinely happy, fully present, and joyful in the sacred, healing space. Through Bodysex, I have discovered that sense of freedom again. The curiosity. The sense of adventure that I’d buried deep down inside of me but have known for years was still there. Three years ago when I did my first workshop at Betty’s, my entire world shifted. I’d found my people, my passion, my dream. There was a lot of fear and self-doubt and financial stress and “omigod how can I do this as a mom of young kids.” But through it all, my passion for Bodysex kept me going. Finding Betty’s book in college sparked my curiosity from that young age. Meeting Betty in person was empowering beyond words. Masturbating with her in her rent-controlled, Manhattan apartment where she’s had numerous sex parties and hundreds of women before me who have done Bodysex there was indescribable. Getting naked that first day and joining the circle was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I am so glad I did. My life has changed so much in these last few years in such positive ways.
When I thought I’d already come so far (and I have), I can’t believe this new layer that has just unfolded. This sense that following my dream of becoming a Bodysex facilitator has reconnected me with that version of myself from 15 years ago. And oh, if I could only give my 22-year-old self advice now I would tell her that it will all work out. It is okay. I didn’t need to fuck men to try to make myself straight. I didn’t need to “prove” anything to anyone. I was beautiful and strong and radiant back then – why couldn’t I see it then when it is so clear to me now. I would tell her that being openly queer would become one of my favorite parts of my identity – and that I would draw from that identity in so many aspects of my life – from parenting and wanting to raise open-minded children to working towards LGBTQ+ equality in my workplace to going back for my MSW and finally to embracing my love for sex and masturbation through Bodysex.
I keep coming back to the parallels between my Bodysex journey and my coming of age journey. The fear and shame and secrecy I felt for so long about these beautiful aspects of my life bring me so much joy and pleasure. I CRAVE the sensation I feel when someone makes themselves vulnerable with me and I to them. It is addicting. I love that I have people in my life who understand, appreciate, and support these parts of me.
I want to be the person I was in Samoa – that playful, curious, fully present, adventurous young woman – with so much potential and a future that expands beyond my wildest dreams. I want to be her. I want to show that person to my kids. I want people to see me as her. I want to be her. I am her.