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  • Writer's pictureJessica Childs

That Time I Said "NO" to Sex (Part 2)

Hello, dear readers... thanks for bearing with me as I slowly tell this story. I often hear from people how grateful they are for my vulnerability and my ability to share the parts where my heart breaks, normalizing it for them. It's a mixed bag. It has been helpful for me to pace myself with this one. A few weeks ago, I let a little bit of this story out. Then I needed to take a pause. To see how it landed. To gain a sense of safety with having shared so vulnerably, so publicly. And thank YOU. Thank you to my readers for holding it gently with me and giving me loving, encouraging feedback. 

So without further delay, let's boldly go forth in this together. I DO want to tell you about this profound movement in my sex life, my body, my LTP (long-term partnership) and I hope the benefits of following along with it give you more permission to be greedy with what helps you stay present...for yourself...for your lovers....for the universe at large. To claim your erotic birthright to pursue and feel entitled to what it takes for you to experience pure pleasure.

I left off last time with a bit of a cliffhanger. I had just told my partner that my body read their arousal as threatening and that I was no longer willing to engage with them sexually in that condition. And I told the story so far from JUST my perspective. Today, I want to include the viewpoint of my partner. It's so important to bridge this gap. In today's world, people are learning about and setting boundaries with one another. We are exploring consent. And what gets less attention is the other side of the equation : the other person's experience. They way we, as a culture, take in boundaries or "no".

Boundaries involve more than one person.

This IS the gap to bridge. 

This IS the gap that creates armour. 

This IS the gap that keeps us caged in.

This IS the gap, when successfully navigated, that leads to more connection, more intimacy, more potential to maximize pleasure.

And this is the territory I want to bring you all into.

A simple interview.....

Jessica : Thinking back on that night in the hot tub, what was the first thing you noticed that told you something might be shifting?

Eric : Your eyes. It was a quick and dramatic change. You went from deeply looking at me (always turns me on when you look at me like this) to looking right past me even though your eyes were still locked on me. 

J : What happened to you when you noticed this change? 

E : Panic! I said, "Shit! What did I do wrong? What should I do to fix it?" As this was happening the shame started to pile in. Being so locked in with you and feeling like I was doing everything right, I felt like I must have done something wrong and all I wanted to do was get it fixed! 

J : What came next for you?

E : Once you got back into your body and were able to communicate to me, you said something like "I cant do this." My shame turned into anger and disappointment. I felt like I had done everything right. I had checked all the boxes and here you were rejecting me. I even think my mind was trying to "blame" you. Being the man I was conditioned to be, I kept this feeling inside. I chewed on in like a bitter, tasteless piece of gum you have been chewing on for hours. Doesn't taste good but you don't have anywhere to throw it anyway. The walls of my protective box came up, strong and solid. The box that is supposed to keep me safe.

J: I love how you described me there.  “When you got back into your body…” that is so exactly how it felt - like I had been knocked out of my body and I was allllll in my head.

OK back to you...I felt what you described above flood your nervous system. Only I was already fully in my feelings so it was complicated. I was shutting sex down…and the really twisted message that people socialized as female receive is....if we don’t have sex when we have turned some one on, we are “a tease”, “a bitch” and basically "No" is not an option once the ball is rolling. In the most extreme cases of me saying no, I have been threatened with violence. So yeh…that was all in the tub with us that night. So my perception of your shame and your dissapointment immediately got entwined with allll of that and it further exacerbated my internal state of alarm.

But here's the catch. After nearly a decade of fumbling about and barely eeking by as partners, for the past few years we have slowly been building trust with one another. Exploring our "no", not as an exclusion, punishment or judgement, but with curiosity. Slowly realizing that own individual needs, desires and wounds are not solely a result of the actions of the other, but they have long histories reaching way back to our childhood. Discovering that we can have empathy for those parts of one another. And I could feel all of that somewhere underneath all of this. There was the BIG FAT DEFENSIVE CHARGE rising up in my body and yours AND there was this underlying curiosity about how we set one another off. More and more I am trusting the curiosity. And you saw that that night. I felt allllll of the feelings AND I also was anchored enough to the curiosity to slow the fuck down. I used my own SOS tools to defrost my nervous system (this process is a wayyyyy more involved conversation than can fit in this post) and I re-engaged with you again.

And there you were. When I came back to my grounded self enough to see, your anger, fear and sadness were so obvious. This is where my brain started organizing around the problem. After years of trying, I DO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT TAKING CARE OF EMOTIONAL SHIT WHEN IT HITS THE FAN. And so I did. I leaned into the tools I have learned from countless mentors…Celeste Hirschman and Danielle Harel (Somatica Institute), I leaned into my knowledge and experience with the nervous system as laid out by Stephen Porges (Polyvagal Theory) and Peter Levine (Somatic Experiencing). I was able to self-soothe enough to return to this, to us, to seeing you as opposed to getting caught up in the vortex of two bodies endlessly triggering one another. That night we didn't have sex but we did find our way back to connection. In fact, that vulnerable share of me saying I wasn't OK, the intense rupture that followed as we both were triggered into our defense systems and the subsequent skillful repair has had a HUGE impact on our sex lives. It was a BIG DEAL.

J : How would you describe sex between us before this challenging moment?

E: Our sex was opening up to a new dimension before. More connected and less of an experience that I was just having on my own.

J : How has the sex been since this difficult night?

E: It has taken on a whole new ethos. Almost like we started from scratch. I have to come back to the connection piece because the energy that's created now is so fluid between us. Before it felt like I was doing something and you were doing something somewhat separately. I don't want it to sound like that night changed everything, but it was definetly a crescendo on our journey together.

J : Where do you think sex between us is headed now?

E: This question makes me feel super juicy. Our connection these days is giving me a new sense of trust in myself and in you. In us. That trust has been opening up doors that I never thought could be opened. Phew! I can only imagine and I'm excited to see what's next.

I'll just finish this blog post up by adding that this experience gave me permission to more fully own my desires and what it takes to acheive them. I feel sexual in my muscles and my bones now. In comparison, sexuality felt shallow skin level for me. I feel greedy now...and I feel that it is ok to be greedy. Eric has described sex we have had since then as "the best sex he has ever had". So that feels like permission for me to lean more fully into what I want and what I don't want and to let more of that sexual baggage just fall off the back of the truck.

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