Sex: You're Doing it Right

 Image from the movie  Shortbus

Image from the movie Shortbus

Originally posted August 7, 2012

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The truth, though, is that nothing is really wrong. Nothing is ever wrong and nothing can be wrong. It’s not even wrong to believe that something is wrong. Wrong is simply not possible. As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.’ Wrongness is in the eye of the beholder and nowhere else—Jed McKenna, from Spiritual Enlightment: The Damnedest Thing (The Enlightenment Trilogy)

I’ve faced a mountain of resistance every time I sat down to write this article. Suddenly I would get a thousand Facebook notifications, texts, emails, voxes, insert-your-own-21st-century-distractions, which would take urgent precedence over putting my thoughts to the page. When asked what I thought was getting in my way, the answer came easily:

It’s still so hard for me to believe that I’m actually doing it right.

For example, the other night I was with my lover slowly riding the tip of his cock. The sensation was a low, subtle hum, like sonar pulsing through dense water. A tenuous thread connected us. I often felt lost. An uncomfortable scratching began to grate the left side of my pussy. The scratching suddenly ripped and out of the delicate webbing poured an ocean of hopelessness. I collapsed into tears onto my lover’s body. As we lay caught in the briars of our building orgasm, I looked over at him.

“How are you feeling?” I asked.

“Angry,” he replied. Angry and, based on the electricity vibrating off of him, getting angrier.

The surface layer of my thoughts went something like, “Oh no, I’ve done it again. I’ve fucked it all up. I let the ball drop. I made him mad. I’m too emotional. I’m clumsy. I’m a bad lover. I’m going to lose him.”

But at my foundation, I knew everything was happening exactly as it should. My hopelessness was right. His anger was right. My spiraling collection of thoughts was right. Each crackling moment was right and provided a fascinating glimpse into the hidden powder kegs of our hearts.

As I surrendered into the ‘rightness’ of the experience, my body expanded, my breath deepened and my skin prickled. I knew our sex was big enough to hold everything.

When he had finished speaking, I said what I knew to be true:

“I love you.”

And with those words, we re-established the connection and my capacity to feel intensified.

This sort of ‘orgasmic derailment’ is not an uncommon occurrence in my sex these days. Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t always this painfully overdramatic. In fact, some of the sweetest and most powerful love-making I’ve ever experienced occurred in the days following that incident.

However, the trade-off for sexual authenticity and expanded pleasure is the complete annihilation of everything you thought you knew about sex. The old tricks of seduction no longer apply in the realm of orgasm. The old movies in your head about peak experiences are just that: old and in your head. It’s like an actor trying to copy a performance she once saw or replay one from a previous time. It’s stilted, forced and not rooted in the present.

Heraclitus once said:

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.

Nowhere is this truer than in sex. ‘Beginner’s mind’ and curiosity aren’t just lofty ideals—they are vital to the immediate experience. You can’t fake sensation. It’s either there or it’s not—and if it’s not, there is usually a lie in the way. The work is to be honest when you can’t feel and be willing to reveal your desire.

The power is in vulnerability, surrender and death.

Which feels completely antithetical to everything we’ve been taught. Control, accumulation of knowledge, trophy collection and survival of the fittest all contribute to the current framework of sex. And if you’ve been operating in that paradigm, don’t worry! You’re doing it right. It’s natural to associate these momentary hits of validation as ‘proof’ of your worth. It’s all we’ve ever known.

It’s also natural to hide the wounds around our sex, since most of us adopt a belief early on that who we are and what we desire is somehow ‘wrong’ and that we must ‘earn’ the love for which we hunger in order to atone for this ‘wrongness.’

This is at the heart of what most people who work with me face. It’s never about the ‘problem.’ The fact that they lose their erections, have never climaxed, are addicted to porn, haven’t had sex in 20 years, prematurely ejaculate, experience lack of desire, etc., is simply evidence of an unconscious coping mechanism for handling high sensation. That’s it.  And they’re doing it right.

To go one step further, I challenge the notion that there was ever a problem in the first place. What if we left behind the idea that sex is a life-or-death dilemma (lest we die alone or trapped in sexless marriages) and adopt the idea that sex is a playground where all parts of ourselves are invited to play? The princess, the pervert, the virgin, the drug addict, the master, the scared child, the needy co-dependent, the king, the devotee, the betrayer—the list goes on. Is it possible to raise the white flag on the battleground of sexuality and expose the weapons we’ve kept tucked in our hearts?

I know it’s tough. Changing perspective feels like swimming upstream. That’s why I’ve been dodging writing this piece for so long; if I admit my inherent ‘rightness,’ then I have no more excuses for withholding my love. And within my emotional nakedness, I run the risk of pain, criticism and ridicule.

In Scott McPherson’s play, Marvin’s Room, Lee says to her son:

My feelings for you, Hank, are like a big bowl of fishhooks. I can't just pick them up one at a time. I pick up one, they all come. So I tend to leave them alone.

If you replace ‘Hank’ with ‘Sex’, it’s obvious why we run from it or try to cover it up with toys, techniques and romance. Fear warns us to avoid these volatile places and keep them hidden; so who in her right mind would venture in willingly?

Yet the fortresses we’ve erected are the very things preventing us from having the sex we want. We’ve protected ourselves from parental wounding, social rejection and feelings of profound loneliness, which sits on top of the fundamental lie that we are ‘not good enough.’

And, as if we don’t have enough work to do on our own, society capitalizes on this lie by reinforcing it and trying to sell us their ‘cures.’

I recently read a fashion article on the internet (obviously geared towards women) and on the same page, the following four pieces were listed as something I ‘Might Also Like’:

How to Touch His Penis - Sexy Penis Play Techniques (Cosmo)

Sexy Clothes for Women – Clothes Men Like (Cosmo)

How to Make Sex Last Longer - Romantic Sex Positions (Cosmo)

How Much Should You Really Weigh? (MyDailyMoment)

Every one of these suggests that unless a man sexually validates a woman, she isn’t ‘good enough.’ In this case, not being ‘good enough’ looks like ignorance, ugliness, incompetence and corpulence.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to please our partners and look our best—but if our motivation comes from the fear that we are not lovable, then we are setting ourselves up for resentment.

Men don’t have it much easier. Since it’s practically scientific fact that every man on the planet watches porn, and for a great majority of men, porn was their first education in sexuality, there is a formula for sex that is being continuously reinforced. It’s a one-sided script that goes from kissing to massive hard-ons to penetration to loud, simultaneous climax and cum-on-tits money shots in less than seven minutes. Cut. Check the gate. That’s a wrap.

If you know me, you know I am not anti-porn. Again, we’re doing it right. And if we use porn to escape intimacy and validate our egos, rather than in the spirit of entertainment and play, then both men and women can get locked in the pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’:

I should be hard all the time

I should want to fuck him the moment he wants it

This sex should be more passionate

I should be making more noise

I should make her cum hard and loud

I should have a huge ejaculation

Anything that doesn’t look like this can cripple someone into thinking there’s something ‘wrong’ with him or her. In reality, most of our sex doesn’t look like porn and most of us don’t look like porn stars. But to cover his shame at not being ‘man enough’, a man may avoid sex or blame his sexual partners. And a woman may take on the false belief that unless she can take it hard and climax fast, she must be broken.

On the flip side of porn, we have what’s known as ‘sacred sexuality.’ What that world has to offer is also valuable, but where we often get caught is in always trying to ‘touch God’ and ‘be one with the light’ and ‘avoid negativity.’ Again, this implies that what is labeled as ‘negative’ is ‘wrong’ and that any experience where you aren’t ‘communing with the Divine’ is also ‘wrong.’ It becomes another pressure-filled world of ‘shoulds’—just with a lot more chanting, eye-gazing and sarongs.

And since none of us wants to look stupid, scared, inadequate or bitchy, we’ve become master pretenders: pretending that we’ve conquered sex; pretending that we know what we want; pretending that our desires aren’t that important; pretending that it’s ok to only have sex 10 times a year; pretending that it’s always the other person stopping us from having what we want; pretending, pretending, pretending.

Pretending: You’re Doing it Right

The good news: sex is big enough to hold your pretender. Your pretender has valuable information—most likely regarding your truth. And, well, there’s just nothing sexier than the truth, in my opinion.

And that’s all this article is, really. My opinion. My experience. My perspective. And if it all gets flipped on its head tomorrow, that’s ok. I’m still doing it right.

And so are you. As hard is may be to believe in the moments of embarrassment and confusion, there really is no problem. Stay connected. Feel. Play. Get thrown off track. Laugh. Cry. Hide. Come out. Hide. Come out again. Be willing to share your fears, your heartaches, your joys, your hungers, your love, your gratitude…everything. This is where the most nourishing ‘get-off’ is: in the messy, mixed-up combustion of all that you are. And if it hurts, just know that the hurt is simply a message pointing you in the direction of your deepest desires.

Just keep going. And remember to breathe. You can’t do it wrong.