A space that is completely free of judgment is hard to find and even harder to describe in words. In late July, I spent four and a half glorious days celebrating Betty Dodson’s 90th birthday with her and a group of 44 Bodysex sisters from all over the world. The experience was rejuvenating in ways that I am still discovering. Imagine being in a space where nobody cares what you wear or what you look like or where you come from or whether you are in a relationship or queer or kinky or poly. Anything goes. And I mean anything!
Over the course of the weekend, we talked openly about our work and our families, we shared stories of trauma and celebration, and together we discovered new fears and dreams. And we supported each other through it all. There were lots of tears, but there was even more laughter – a constant stream of unabashed giggles. I could feel the joy surrounding me all weekend, radiating brilliantly from each of the women. When you get that many sex-positive women together with the shared intention to celebrate and own our pleasure, the result is intense! Through the workshops and activities of the weekend, we each shed more layers of shame. Even as Bodysex facilitators, sex educators, therapists, and other sex professionals, we can always go deeper – I regularly have new insights and self-realizations the more I do this work.
I had an enlightening moment one morning over the weekend as I was sitting next to Betty. I thought, “I can’t believe this is my life!” Shortly after, an even better thought came to me. This is my life because of the choices I have made – the risks I’ve taken – the fears I’ve overcome – my willingness to be vulnerable and the courage to follow my passions. I have consciously chosen to prioritize pleasure and share this work with other women. This is the life I have created for myself.
It is amazing what comes to you when you open yourself up to receive. To surrender. When you feel safe enough to be vulnerable. Every time I attend a Bodysex workshop or retreat, I uncover another layer of shame. I’ve been in therapy off and on for over 15 years and I remember recently asking my therapist “how can I still have stuff that I need to work through?!” I uncovered part of that answer this weekend. I’ve been struggling with patterns throughout my life and until I was ready to acknowledge and examine those patterns, I was destined to repeat them. I wasn’t ready to explore them years ago. I wasn’t even ready 6 months ago. But a lot has shifted in my life recently and I’ve been able to go deeper within myself and my past than I ever have. I’ve reconnected with my inner-child and been able to hear her truth without judgment or shame. Just openness and compassion.
When I hear other women share their stories—especially around sex and relationships—it’s incredible how much I can relate. We are all unique, but we all struggle with the same insecurities, the same desire to be wanted and to fit in. We all want to feel validated and have our stories believed. Storytelling and openly sharing without fear of judgment are core aspects of Bodysex and create an incredible sense of sisterhood and community. Everyone has a voice. Everyone is respected. Everyone is honored and loved for exactly who they are.