Pamela Chubbuck PhD © 2012, 2014
To live without your mask in general is frightening enough, but to live without your sexual mask is often terrifying. Being unmasked is something that takes courage, desire and practice.I meet people every day who are quite enlightened, but still, they can’t give up their mask when it comes to sex.
Let’s start out looking at some clients’ experiences. Names and some details have been changed; however, you may find some aspect of your own story here because there are universal truths in the way human beings respond to old learned destructive patterns, as well as what has to happen to change energetic pathways to lead to more pleasure.
“Pleasure is the full pulsation of life.”
~ The Pathwork Guide
Danny an intelligent professional man, remarried at age 50 to the woman he had literally dreamed of. It was to him and to friends a match made in heaven. After a good 5 year marriage, Danny stood at the bottom of the stairs and called up to his wife, “I really love you! And I have never had such great sex in my life!” Less than a week later he walked in the house looking terrified. “I could not get close to my wife,” he told me. “Some months later I pushed her out of the shower after she hugged me and I got an erection, saying, ‘Now see what you made me do!’ After two years of conventional talk therapy, my wife regretfully left because I had not touched her with affection at all in those two years and she told me it was killing her spirit. I remarried some years later, initially all was OK and now I am repeating the same thing; I guess it’s not them,” he told me sadly. “I hope you can help me.”
Susan, age 34, after an 8 year marriage and 3 kids, began therapy with me after waking up one day saying, “I hate sex.” She understood that most of the sexual activity she had been engaged in was founded on her mask. Her husband was astounded. She moved into another room and did not want to be touched. After months of therapy she is beginning to consider having sex again someday. Her husband has been loyal and is hopeful.
After leaving his marriage, Robert, age 63, had a brief sexual relationship with a woman he liked, loved and respected, when he suddenly realized that he was terrified of deep sexual contact. He had lived the previous 10 years of his life in a sexless marriage, relying on himself to satisfy his own sexual urges, which he did. Now he felt he did not know how to be truly physically/emotionally intimate with another person. Robert’s body worked but having emotionally connected sex caused him huge anxiety. Unable to sleep, he felt he must discontinue the sexual part of the relationship.
Paula, a beautiful 35 year old told me she desired connected sex, but, as she got more excited and felt close to orgasm she went kinda blank. “I just space out or shut down,” she explained. She was with a partner she loved and enjoyed being with. “What can I do?” she asked me. (See more about Paula’s healing below.)
What is occurring with these people? Isn’t sex a biological act that is supposed to just happen and happen well? Bells ring and birds sing and fireworks light up a Manhattan sky – just like in the movies? No. Not usually.
How do Humans Learn About Sex?
In most indigenous cultures it is natural for children to easily and joyfully go through sexual learning stages through contact and play with other children their age. Through seeing and hearing normal intimacy occur with older tribal members, who treat their bodies and their bodies’ normal functions as a matter of course. Women openly breastfeed their infants, and toddlers. Toddlers play in the nude in warm climates, and are easily taught to eliminate outside their living quarters. Bodily functions are seen as normal including urination, defecation, menstruation, lactation and the act of sex. People are connected to life cycles – sex, pregnancy, birth, lactation, growing up, aging, the dying process and death. These are part of them without question and often marked by meaningful ritual. Women mentor girls and young women. (I have written more about this subject in my book; Passages Into Womanhood: Empowering Girls to Love Themselves. For information or purchase: VitallyAlive.com (Products/Passages)..
In our culture, there is no really good way to learn about sex, or the cycles of life for that matter. Today toddlers in preschool are taught to sit in circle without touching another little friend; children in kindergarten are reprimanded for hugging each other. Grandfathers are taken to court by their daughters-in-law who are afraid they are touching their grandchildren too much. Breastfeeding mothers are asked to leave airplanes, photos of nursing babies are thought by some to be pornographic. Elementary school children hugging their peers are suspended from school. Old people go to nursing homes and do not get touched. At the other end of the life, death is lonely and hidden from most people, children especially. Society has gone mad!
Normal sexual learning happens at different stages throughout life.
Infants learn pleasure and nurturing at their mother’s breast. They learn that there are pleasurable results when mouth and nipple connect. It feels good and it nurtures them. What Harry Harlow surprisingly discovered, in his famous monkey experiments, was that when monkeys reached sexual maturity, without the nipple-mouth experience, they did not know how to copulate. Anyone who has breastfed an infant or watched with careful attention will have noticed the similarity that sucking at the breast has with later sexual engagement. Babies work hard, they often sweat, eagerly pulling in their sustenance both physical and energetic. When they are satiated they appear blissful as they fully relax in mother’s arms. Lovers act similarly, almost drinking in their beloved’s essence. Hungrily moving against each other, sweating with the bodies seriousness of their pleasure. When satiated, after orgasm, they lay blissful in each others arms. Merged energetically. (I have written more extensively about the psychology of breastfeeding.)
Studies show that the majority of infants are masturbating by the age of 10 months. Most children four to 10, have some sexual play contact with their peers. This is how children naturally learn about their own body and the body of another. I vividly remember at age 4, riding my tricycle to my friend’s house and “playing doctor”, in a tent in his front yard, . I still recall the pleasurable sensations and am glad that no one shamed me as I was learning about my body at that young age.
Older children normally touch, look at each other naked, and sometimes just lie down together to learn and feel good. Sometimes they are copying what they have seen older kids or parents do, or what they read about sex, and in this age, likely saw on TV or a computer.
Most kids are having some kind of sexual experience in their early to mid teens. These days we read about how cut off that may be. Girls giving “blow jobs” in the back of school buses to boys they hardly know for example. “Doing it” because their peer group expects it is, of course, total mask. Later these women often need therapy to get past their disgust at themselves.
On a positive note teens explore, feeling more biologic urges that drive them to couple, and at that age, they give themselves more permission to begin becoming physically engaged with a partner.
Sexual activity with a significant partner usually begins in late teens to early twenties, but with the presumption that sex is something you should already know how to do. Few have satisfying sex and even fewer orgasmic sex. (Boys usually ejaculate but do not have full body orgasms that are only possible when the body energy flows without fear. Girls often fake it.) Young people pretend to know, pretend they’ve done it before, pretend to like it. Pretending is always a mask.
First Sexual Encounter is Usually Negative
In reality, first and beginning sexual encounters in western cultures are usually hurried, fumbled, uncomfortable, anxiety provoking and big disappointments. In order to get past the truth of their discomfort many kids turn to alcohol, or drugs to let go of some inhibitions. Many will just “space out” – disassociate. I see adults in my practice who have not gotten past that discomfort, some who still use mood altering substances to momentarily mask over their fears, and others who simply – “leave their bodies.”
Healing From Mask Sex
Growing more aware, and working toward releasing old stuck patterns of physical and emotional holding, is the task we must seek consciously or we are doomed to repeat the distorted lessons of our childhood and young adulthood. Unless we consciously seek our own healing, we continue to have unsatisfying sex. And that is simply not what life is about. Pleasure is the full pulsation of life, as The Pathwork Guide says, We deserve it, we can have it!
Normal Progression of Sexual Awareness
This bears repeating therefore here goes with a little different twist. In infancy we should learn pleasure, nurturing and blissful satisfaction with mother or caregiver. We are energetically merged with mother. Later around two, children need to learn more about being separate. They need to individuate; find out who they are as other than mother.
Early childhood is a time of exploration of own body and that of other leading to learning how to pleasure self.
Teens begin to learn more about being who they are as individuals and if they have not masturbated before they begin now. They also begin to seek merging – mirroring the infant stage as biology urges connection. They share some pleasure by touching and more pleasurable deeper kissing.
When in our twenties we should be learning more about our own body and that of partner. They question how can I bring pleasure to him or her? In normal positive experiences we learn to care more for feelings than the ability to perform.
In our thirties we can be aware that we are on a true path seeking sexual intimacy. We must discover that sexual intimacy is about shared pleasure that can and will end with satisfying orgasms for both partners. We learn that intimacy is what sex is about. And learn that intimacy is about being unmasked.
In our forties, fifties and beyond we continue this process of discovering ways to feel deeper and more profound pleasure. To achieve this we seek deeper and more profound connection with other that eventually leads to the energetic merging that is most like our merging with the divine. Spiritual merging is our goal. Connected sex is the vehicle to attain that goal.
What shall I do If I did not grow up in an indigenous tribe? What if I wasn’t breastfed? Am I doomed – my mother/father pretended sex did not exist?
Doing the Emotional and body work of Core Energetics and Bioenergetic Analysis is the place to start healing. Core Energetics is designed to assist you awaken and heal your bodymindspirit. These modalities are the experts on healing from sexual wounding.
The Healing Alchemy:
John Pierrakos said that we must move our molecules quickly in order to elicit physical and emotional change. In other words, kick, yell, cry, rage, and have pleasure in order to vibrate our bodies molecules at a higher rate than usual. This movement is the alchemy that opens us to the positive change we desire.
With a partner you care about and trust, you can heal immensely.
Having a willing partner who wants to share in your healing, and have you share in his or hers, is a huge blessing. Having a partner to move along with you on your path is one of the true blessings of relationships.
Start with Conversational Intimacy
Start by talking and sharing who you really are with another. Pay attention to leaving out important information, or stretching the truth in order to look good . That is your mask. Tell your deepest truth. Share the secrets that you fear will make your partner abandon you, get mad or kill your energy – shame you, be shocked and so forth.
Real intimacy, that turns into love, happens by revealing to other what you think and feel you must hide. Tell your hopes, fears and especially talk about sex in this context. Share your sexual history growing up, your first sexual experience, and your feelings and emotions about all of this.
Consider what you hide, first from other then from yourself. Your shy little boy? Your lusty woman? Let them show.
You may even dare to share some of your sexual fantasies. And later play with them.
Susan, once told me that her first sexual intercourse experience, at the age of 17, was a disaster. She and her steady boyfriend had been making out, petting and getting closer to penetration when one day they decided it was time to “go all the way”. This would be the first time for both. Susan was ready and she looked forward to intercourse with excitement. They planned to be in a safe secluded place the next night, and when they were, nature took over and somehow it happened. Susan remembered no orgasm, little satisfaction, but she did say she felt closer to her boyfriend. But the next day when she saw her boyfriend he called her a whore and blamed her for seducing him. She was so devastated that 15 years later was still dealing with the ramifications of this deeply wounding experience. The young man was in a religious group and by the next day he allowed, what must have been his outer induced guilt and shame, to overshadow his biological imperative. It overshadowed what I consider his God given right – good, pleasurable sex!
Fear of pleasure is a huge problem for most people.
Fear of pleasure is scarier than fear of pain for most of us. We know suffering, in some ways it’s our friend. We are told it builds character. We are told pleasure is wrong, bad, and ungodly. We aren’t encouraged to feel it much. So why did “God” gift us with many more pleasure receptors than pain receptors? Because pleasure keeps the human race going. Simple as that.
Yes, I want pleasure! Yes, I want to feel good!
And finally, yes! I want to let go completely to my pleasure!
Coming Alive Sexually
Paula, the woman mentioned above, needed assistance to come alive sexually. Paula’s mother was uncomfortable with her body and therefore afraid of pleasure. Mother was uncomfortable around Paula when she exhibited physical pleasure as a young teenager and Paula naturally felt that discomfort and it made her tighten up, hold her breath and pretend not to have any sexual feelings that were in fact zooming through her during adolescence. Paula’s father was comfortable with his body and natural occurrences but withdrew his energy from Paula when she went through puberty and began to look like a woman. During her therapy we analyzed all of this history and I helped Paula work to enliven her body and allow her natural alive sexual feelings to flow for herself. Not for her partner.
As you remember Paula cut off before orgasm, and I explained to Paula that her body was like a vessel that could and did hold energy. Since her body was constricted due to her fear, when pleasurable feelings/energy poured in – her body could not contain the good feelings. She would be flooded with energy that was too frightening to feel. She either stopped the feeling or became overwhelmed. Now her job was to literally stretch her capacity to feel good.
First I suggested she work (play!) to let go more fully during masturbation. She had less trouble here as many people do. She already could achieve orgasm on her own most of the time. It is easier to let go to oneself because you are always in control of your own pleasuring – slowing down or stopping, speeding up, changing position etc when you want to. And no one else can hurt you, which is often what you fear.
Next I suggested she and her amiable partner work together to help her move thorough her fear of pleasure. I instructed her to stop moving during sex and to tell her partner she felt scared when she realized she was cutting off. Later she would probably be aware enough so she could tell him before she cut off and they could stop then. She was then instructed to wait until she did not feel afraid and was aware of: 1) either feeling pleasure or 2) desiring pleasure or both. Then to start moving again. They could do this as many times as necessary and orgasm was not to be the goal. Pleasure and intimacy was to be their goal. Intimacy is about communication, I reminded her, therefore talking and feeling these things together was of utmost importance. She was to discuss all of the above with her partner and ask for his assistance. Paula did this and he agreed. They began this as an enjoyable, and sometimes frightening practice.
During this time Paula was instructed to be very conscious of her “no!”; as her body put on the physical and psychic brakes. Since this was about her own pleasure and she was aware of wanting to have pleasure, her next task was to tell herself “Yes!”. Yes, I want pleasure! Yes, I want to feel good! And finally, yes! I want to let go completely to my pleasure! She was to practice this yes alone and while she did Core Energetics exercises.
This “yes” should then be said aloud – to her partner, to herself, to god, (small g signifies that I think God, big G, wants you to have pleasure) to whomever was saying no – or without audible words to herself during sex. With each stroke of his penis (or whatever he was doing that was pleasurable) she could say yes. The body can only experience orgasm when we let go, not through tensing up or willing it. So practice letting go, letting go, and letting go. Practice saying – Yes, yes, yes! I advised.
This Yes, is the Higher Self longing for life and pleasure.
Negating the No of the wounded child (I’m frightened) or the saboteur (I will never allow you to have pleasure and I like it when you suffer) is an important practice. Replacing the no with yes and having the body experience that 1, it feels better to say and experience yes; and 2, you did not die (nothing terrible happened).
Claim Your Body as Your Own!
Kick your parents out of the bedroom, along with your grandparents, brother, priest, nuns, minister etc! You don’t want them, you don’t need them, and their negative messages. Tell them it’s your body and you can do what you want with your body! Find the positive messages and embrace them.
In order to heal, partners and single people must live and learn the positive sexual experiences that a normal indigenous tribal member, or a person with healthy parents in a healthy environment, would go through to learn about sex.
Start with early development tasks and move on from there.
The Infant needs -Holding and pleasuring, licking and sucking. This becomes kissing.
Touching & stroking first limbs, shoulders and back then belly, butt and last – all parts of the body including genitals. At all stages slow down or stop if anything becomes frightening.
Like an infant: Embrace innocence.
Like a child: Approach sex with unknowing curiosity.
Allow surprise and delight!
Like an energetic teenager go for the gusto!
Like a conscious adult: Say Yes!
Like a wise seeker:Allow yourself to expand into the universe of pleasure.
If you are doing this with a partner ask for and give feedback. That feels good, ummmmm, yes, sigh, etc. Or I don’t like that as much as what you were doing before, please do that other thing again.
Whatever you are doing – alone or with a partner:
My client, Paula healed herself over years of practice and allowing. She now has better sex than she ever imagined.
Don’t forget that to change you must move your molecules!
With time and practice you can unmask sexually and heal into pleasure!