My guest Michelle Roberton writes:
My Life has been my learning. At the tender age of 48 and what appears many lifetimes later, I am not sure there is any life situation I cannot empathise with.
Life has taught me well with its tapestry of colours…
From a childhood of sexual abuse, anorexia, to drugs, to homelessness, to the loss of a son, from life threatening illness to near a death experience, from marriage to single parent hood, to the loss of both breasts.
But I sit here, writing to you hand on my heart, knowing I would not change a nano second of this life.
All these experiences have woven together, to enable me to share from an authentic place of “knowing how that tastes,” and to offer an invitation to see beyond what may feel at times desperately hopeless and broken.
To be able to connect and “meet” the other, neck deep in their hell and offer a kind, knowing hand to show even the smallest glimpse of light …
Of another way.
This life has made me the woman I am today and enabled me to share and hold, from a place of raw and real bones.
From passion and soul.
This Episode’s Guest
Michelle has shared with her work with many, for 19 years, specialising in Sexual Trauma & Intimacy as a Tantric educator, body worker and counsellor for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Her passion stems from her own journey of discovering the medicine in the poison as she set it upon herself to reclaim her body, her breath, her sexuality and sensuality and express that in new, life enriching ways.
Michelle very much believes that our mind can only take us so far into any release of body trauma and healing of our sexuality. The discovery of who we authentically are is not hidden in our thoughts but in the sensuality and home of our body. Her touch has been described by many as her gift to others.
Her gentle, authentically honest & calming approach, a comforting breath of fresh air.
Michelle lives in the colourful, vibrant city of Brighton with her four superstar children.
- Work with Michelle
- Belief Beyond the Binary self-paced course
- No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
In this episode, sexual trauma survivor and healer Michelle Roberton and I…
- talk about dissociation as a protective mechanism for surviving abuse
- discuss how Michelle’s process of embodiment resurrected buried memories and flashbacks of her sexual trauma and how she worked through that
- discuss how talk therapy re-traumatized Michelle and how felt sense and somatic work helped her heal and reclaim her sovereignty
- share several ways that our sex is traumatized beyond physical sexual abuse, including menopause, childbirth, and religion
- explore the reclamation of creativity, expression, play, fun, pleasure, and more when we heal our sex
- share the ways nonphysical sexual trauma shows up in men
- discuss the overall detrimental effects of porn on our sex
- explore how sex begins outside the bedroom and what that looks like
- discuss the role of acceptance and forgiveness in healing sexual trauma
- share how Michelle deals with triggers and her daily practice of talking to herself
- share how Michelle playfully and creatively changed her language to create a reality in which she was whole and not broken
- talk about patterns of self-sabotage and noticing the feelings in our bodies while offering nurturing and nourishment to our whole selves
Hi there. Welcome to another episode of the holistic trauma healing podcast. I am so grateful you’re here. I know that you could be spending your time doing. Anything else, and you are choosing to spend it here. And I’m so grateful. I will just briefly share a little bit of a personal update. Um, I am currently experiencing a resurgence or recurrence or relapse, or I don’t, I don’t know what you want to call it.
Have some anxiety and insomnia. And it has not been fun. It has been uncomfortable and it is really forcing me to continue to practice what I preach. I deeply know that. I have found so much healing and have made so much progress. At the intersection of nervous system work and awareness and consciousness.
And so as I navigate this resurgence or recurrence of. Very uncomfortable symptoms that I know are related to my autonomic nervous system. I am continuing to just tap into that awareness into my breath. Noticing constriction in my body and breathing into it to invite and expansion. And space. Um, anxious energy for me is.
The feeling that I hate the most in the world. And my instinct is to resist, resist, resist. I want to fight it. I. I have the inner voice in my head that says, this shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be feeling this way. You should be past all of this. You should be more healed than this by now. See, you’re not healed. If you were healed, you wouldn’t be experiencing this again.
So I’m noticing the voice. And I’m choosing to. Instead. Reframe the story and remind myself of the healing that I have experienced and that relapses happen resurgences of old symptoms happen and it doesn’t mean I was doing anything wrong or that I did something to deserve it, or it’s a punishment of some sort or a consequence because I’ve made some bad choice.
It’s just. Part of life. This is part of the journey. This is why healing. Isn’t a destination. It’s a journey. And so I am sleep deprived. I am feeling brain foggy. Um, I haven’t had any panic attacks. Thank goodness, but I feel like I’ve been on the edge of one for about three weeks. And I continue to use my tools. I continue to practice nervous system hygiene.
I have thought about the ways in which I sort of put my life on hold and shut down. The last time I experienced or about of anxiety and insomnia like this, which has been a long time. It hasn’t been since. The beginning of 2020. So two years since I’ve experienced this, which is proof of healing, right? If you can assist stain.
No anxiety, no panic attacks and good sleep for two years. Like there’s no way you could say that you weren’t healed. It’s there’s just no way. And I did it. I did sustain it for two years. Um, and part of that time, I was actually going through a benzo taper. So I sustained sleep and low anxiety. Even while altering my neurochemistry.
So. All of that said, I just wanted to give you an update. Um, I, I know that it’s not great marketing as a trauma coach. To share my struggles. I know that, or I think the voice in my head tells me that I’m supposed to have this all figured out. And how can I possibly serve you? If I am experiencing the very same things that I help my clients with and the listeners of this podcast with, and I just noticed the voice and I noticed the ego trying to make meaning and make a story out of something that doesn’t need to have meaning or a story. It just is.
And I can just be with it. And I can ride the wave for as long as I need to ride the wave. And it’s been also really interesting because as you know, I’ve shared a lot about my divorce from toxic wellness culture and how for a decade, I tried to out supplement. My brain and my nervous system. And I was experiencing so many nervous system symptoms and nobody ever connected the dots for me and said, Hey, guess what? All these chronic industrious symptoms you’re experiencing the root of this as your autonomic nervous system.
And your brain is inflamed due to trauma. And there’s actually things you can do about that. Instead, I was put on the hamster wheel of wellness where I was constantly chasing. Symptoms and chasing relief from those symptoms through various diet changes and supplement protocols. And I learned a lot during that time. I mean, I don’t have any regrets about it at all. I know.
I feel like with the thousands of hours I’ve spent researching, I could hold multiple degrees at this point. But it just, the paradigm shift came for me whenever I realized that I was never going to heal by restrictive diets and supplement protocols. And that they had actually been more detrimental to me than supportive because I was, it was like trying to put out a forest fire with a garden hose. Like I was never going to take enough.
Elfie and EAN to sleep. You know, um, I was never going to take enough vitamin D and enough probiotics to supposedly heal my gut and stop experiencing anxiety. Like it just, it was never going to happen. And I feel like I’ve completely divorced myself from that world. And it’s been interesting that the pendulum was on that.
Side that it was swinging that direction for so long. And then whenever I finally unplugged myself from it, it was like the pendulum dramatically swung the other direction. And I’ve sort of been in this place of like, fuck it. Fuck it all like I am so not buying into any more restrictive diets. I’m not taking any more supplements. It’s all bullshit.
I’ve been in that place for a couple of years. Um, and I have allowed myself to sort of do a fuck it diet, which if you’ve listened to my episode, Um, a couple of episodes ago with Caroline Dooner, we talked about, um, my journey with orthorexia and toxic wellness culture and restrictive dieting. And how I was doing it all in the name of health. And when people are doing it in the name of health, it’s celebrated, it’s encouraged in our society. And it’s really just creating another set of it’s creating another eating disorder. Um,
So anyway. I’m saying all of that to say that the interesting thing is, is that that was a binary in my life. I was either in wellness culture, or I was out of wellness culture. And binaries are being challenged in my life all the time. And anytime I find myself operating in binary thinking, I’ve learned how to be very graceful with myself and very gentle and notice the binary. And then just be like, I wonder what else is possible here? I wonder what nuance I’m missing.
If I just opened up myself to other possibilities. And it’s been incredibly. Amazing for me. I mean, I, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress. Um, in the way that I think about social issues, cultural issues, political issues. Because I’ve been able to notice binary thinking in my life, understand the connection to binary thinking and my nervous system.
And then invite expansion where there was constriction and holding onto one opinion or one belief or ideology. I actually have a course about this. If, if this is something you’re interested in kind of unpacking binary thinking and where it’s living in your body and in your life. Um, and it’s a course called belief beyond the binary.
And it’s a very inexpensive course. There are six modules, video lessons, journaling prompts. Um, it’s a very deep course. I’ve been told a lot that it’s extremely under priced. And that I should raise the price of it. Um, it’s $222. It’s a self-paced course. And so you can go through it at your own pace. And when you purchase it, you have lifetime access to the materials and any updates that I make.
So you can find more information about belief beyond the email@example.com forward slash B B B. Um, but the reason I’m plugging my course here is because I found myself in the binary of either in wellness culture or out of wellness culture and experiencing this resurgence of anxiety. And insomnia has challenged that binary. And I wanted to share that with you.
Um, I have an Instagram friend who suggested that I try some amino acids to help with sleep. And so for the first time, in over two years, I ordered supplements.
Please don’t cancel me. I’m not being a hypocrite. I’m telling you. That it is completely normal to vacillate back and forth between two opposing ideologies and understand that that is where the nuances. Like that is where the magic happens. It’s not in one side or the other. It’s in the vacillating between the two that you discover all of these.
Uh, dissonances and that’s where the critical thinking is happening. And that’s where the expansion is. Honestly. So I am trying some amino acids. Um, To just C I. Uh, ordered four different amino acids, and I’m not going to share what they are yet. Not because I am trying to keep some big secret from you, but mostly because I don’t want to share what they are now, whenever I’ve only had two days of experience with them at this point.
Um, I feel like that would be irresponsible to be like, this is what works and then put a bunch of links to a bunch of products and then you go buy those things and then it actually doesn’t do anything for you or for me. So I’m going to give it a few days, a few more weeks and see, um, how the amino acids feel. I’ve also been in touch with my psychiatrist, because anything like this, when I have a symptom flare up, I like to just keep him in the loop.
Um, I did ask him to refill a prescription for a sleeping medication that I was taking in 2020. Um, and he has, and so I have it if I need it. Um, I’ve taken it. Three times in the last month. Um, it is a benzodiazepine, so I’m very, very careful about the frequency with which I take it. Um, I have been dependent on benzos in the past and going through that taper process twice. Um, I just know that it can be playing with fire to take benzos. Um, they work they’re very, very effective for me.
My body processes them really well, and I have not yet experienced a negative side effect. They are therapeutic. So, I mean, I can’t say that it’s a placebo effect. Like they do actually work for me and also, right. There’s the nuance. And also, I need to be careful because it’s like playing with fire and I don’t want to have to do another taper if I can avoid it.
So, um, I have the tools that I have. I do not believe that holistic equals natural. I believe that holistic means whatever supports. Me and you at this point in our lives as a whole person. So if that is energy medicine great. If that’s dietary changes. Great. If that’s supplements great. If that’s pharmaceuticals.
Great. If it’s therapy. Great. If it’s coaching great. I mean, I am just a fan of whatever is supportive of you. And so I’m doing whatever is supportive of me and sometimes just having a prescription for something that, you know, works. Takes the edge off of what you’re experiencing and you don’t even really have to use it, but you know, you have it and you could use it if you needed to. So there’s less pressure. I feel like.
So I’ll report back if the amino acids that I’m taking show any promise whatsoever. Um, I’ve also increased my nervous system hygiene practices. I am intentionally not. Isolating myself. That’s something that I did a couple of years ago, whenever I was experiencing a relapse, as I sort of went internal and said no to a lot of social stuff. And, um, you know, didn’t hang out with friends as much. And I just decided like, no, that, that didn’t serve me very well at that time.
My community is the most important to me, um, now, right? Like when I’m struggling and they want to be there for me and they want to support me. So, um, I’m still gathering with friends. We’re cooking together. We’re eating together. We’re laughing, playing games. Um, We’re having an event in our town this week, that is a big community event. And now that the mask mandates have lifted and everything is open again, it’s going to be the first time that I’ve seen a lot of people in my community in a couple of years.
So that’s really exciting. Um, and yeah, I’m supporting myself with good food. Good nutrition. Um, cooking has been a frazzling activity for me lately, so I just. Said fuck it. I’m ordering a bunch of meals from daily harvest for myself. Um, I’m not typically a pre-made meal kind of person and I’m not vegan and most of their recipes are vegan. And so I do end up adding an animal protein, like some chicken or shrimp or sausage or something.
To the meals, but so far it’s been a way that I can nourish myself and not feel overwhelmed by doing that. So. There’s that. And yeah, I’m talking openly about it too. I’ve shared a lot on Instagram this past week about what I’m dealing with and how I’m feeling in real time. And I think has been beneficial for people to see that I don’t have it all figured out and.
Even though the voice in my head tells me this is really bad marketing Lindsey. This is really bad marketing. For you to share that you’re dealing with all of this as a coach. As a healer is really bad marketing. This is not what sells. Um, I know that I do. And also I can’t not be authentic. And as much as I share the ups, um, it creates balance to share the downs as well, because that is part of the, the journey that is part of the process. It’s never up all the time. Right?
So anyway, that’s a bit of where I’m at in this now moment. And that was longer than I intended for it to be, because I am now ready to dive into this week’s podcast episode with you. Um, this was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had in my life. Um, and I want to tell you about my guest. So my guess is Michelle Robertson and she has shared her work for 20 years, specializing in sexual trauma and intimacy as a tantric educator, body worker and counselor for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Her passion stems from her own journey of discovering the medicine in the poison. As she set it upon herself to reclaim her body, her breath, her sexuality, and sensuality, and express that in new life, enriching ways. Michelle very much believes that our mind can only take us so far into any release of body trauma and healing of our sexuality.
The discover of who we authentically are, is not hidden in our thoughts, but in the sensuality and home of our body. Her touch has been described by many as her gift to others, her gentle, authentically honest and calming approach and a comforting breath of fresh air Michelle lives in the colorful, vibrant city of Brighton in the UK with her four superstar children.
And this, I mean, listening to her voice, if her gift is her touch, then her voice also is because her voice. Was just incredibly healing to me. I could have talked to her all day. Um, so I want to share this quote from her as well. Um, so this is from Michelle herself. She says my life has been my learning.
At the tender age of 49 and what appears many lifetimes later? I am not sure there is any life situation I cannot empathize with life has taught me well with its tapestry of colors, from a childhood of sexual abuse, anorexia to drugs, to homelessness, to the loss of a son from life-threatening illness to a near death experience from marriage to single parenthood, to the loss of both breasts.
But I sit here writing to you hand on my heart, knowing I would not change a nanosecond of this life. All these experiences have woven together to enable me to share from an authentic place of knowing how that tastes and to offer an invitation, to see beyond what may feel at times desperately hopeless and broken.
To be able to connect and meet others, neck deep in their hell and offer a kind, knowing hand to show even the smallest glimpse of light of another way. This life has made me the woman I am today and enabled me to share and hold from a place of raw and real bones from passion and soul. And so this episode is about healing, sexual trauma. And I just, I don’t believe in giving trigger warnings, we don’t discuss any kind of abuse in explicit detail, but I do feel that it is appropriate for you to understand that that is what this episode is about. And so if that does tend to be a tender topic for you,
Please proceed with caution and know your own limits. Um, again, there is no explicit discussion of any kind of sexual abuse. But I just want to put that out there. So. Without any further ado i hope that you feel so supported and feel so hopeful after you hear this conversation between me and michelle robertson enjoy Hello, Michelle. Welcome to the holistic trauma healing podcast. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you, Lyndsey. I am so excited to talk to you. Um, sexual trauma has not been a topic that we’ve explored a ton on the show. And so I think that this conversation will be extremely beneficial and supportive to a lot of people.
Um, so just to get started, I would love to know why you’re so passionate about sexual trauma and, um, the wisdom of the body. Um, I think to put all that in one, um, one sentence is challenging it’s for personal reasons, and it’s where I’ve come from. Um, I had a childhood of sexual abuse. Um, so I’ve grown.
This is where I’ve grown from, into the woman I am today. Um, and also I’m passionate about it because it’s out to me. I feel it’s our sense of a liveliness, um, and our creativity. Um, and if that part of us feels that it can’t express itself and it’s in the world, then there from witnessing and how I feel in myself, it’s like all of us, some part of us is missing and all of us is not online.
So often we can think that it’s money that’s the problem, or is the relationship, but it can also be that some part of our sexualities feeling under pressure or overwhelm or traumatized. Um, so we’re, you know, as in S best being a sexual being, rather than simply about the act of sex, That’s really beautiful.
I love that. And it resonates so much, so much with me. Um, and interestingly, I feel like in my own journey, my sexuality is the part that I have had the least access to. Um, and it is something that has been coming up a lot recently, as I’ve had some expansive experiences in my life that have really held a mirror in front of my sexuality and shown me that like, it’s, it’s not fully online and there are parts of myself that I’ve ignored or silenced or cut off or distracted myself from or whatever.
Um, As a protective mechanism or whatever you want to call it. But, um, so selfishly, I think that this conversation is going to be really beneficial for me personally. Yeah. Thank you. Say usually these things are because we have a desire for them to say no, that’s how it all started for me. I felt, I felt missing.
I felt broken. I felt tainted damaged. Um, so this all began because it’s where I was at. Um, which is why it works. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And you don’t have to go into any detail if you don’t feel comfortable with it, but would you mind sharing just generally that the types of sexual trauma that you have been through yourself?
Um, I was sexually abused by both parents. Oh my God. Say. That. Yeah. That’s yeah. That’s the roots of where I came from, and that was my childhood and it say wasn’t this, that was my environment, the nest in which I grew up in. So a lot of that, I didn’t understand wasn’t normal am I believe it was normal until I hit a certain age and would start questioned things.
Um, so yeah, that’s, that’s where I’ve come from, but that’s not, that’s not it’s it supports me to grow into the woman I am today. Um, why is SIS I’m so passionate about and hopefully inspiration as well because, um, You know, we, we do feel broken and shameful and, um, not lovable when we’ve experienced something like that, but that’s not how I feel today.
That’s how I did feel. And it’s not how I feel today. Um, so we can turn that poison into medicine we can turn around. Mm that’s so beautiful. I’m so sorry for what you went through, but it’s, it’s clear that you’ve done so much healing work around it, to be able to even have this conversation today without getting super overwhelmed and triggered just by talking about your experience.
So thank you for that. And you mentioned reaching a certain age and like questioning, um, do you mind sharing what that was like for you? Um, it wasn’t until I left home and, um, started to have experiences of sex and they were very played out in. I was obliged to be, but also watching other families. Um, and just beginning to question things, um, because when you’re a child and you know, we unconditionally love our parents.
We don’t question, we don’t question that no child does. Um, it’s just presumed, this is normal. So yeah, it was not until I left home that things started to not make sense. They couldn’t remember everything because as a child, um, people tend to, children tend to come out to their bodies. Um, so lots of people say, you know, I wasn’t sure if it was really happening or it felt like a dream or, you know, I’d see myself floating above myself.
People will say things like that. And it’s because it’s the only way the child can cope can survive, I suppose. Um, it’s this, it’s a survival strategy for sure. So, and, and then it wasn’t till my thirties, I started because I was coming more and more in my body that I started to get more and more flashbacks.
The more I started to trust my body and not see it as a painful place to be, the more I was in able to, um, then the more flashbacks would trigger. Um, but a lot of, I couldn’t remember, there were just things that didn’t make sense or didn’t feel comfortable or one in alignment with what I’ve seen around me once I entered the big wide world.
Um, yeah. But up until the age, I had no idea. Wow. So when you got into your thirties and you were much more in your body and you started to have these flashbacks, did you, did you know where to go to get help? Did you know what to do or was it like, just very disregulating for you at first? Or how did you handle that?
I was fortunate as in a couple of years prior to the flashbacks, I would was already exploring meditation and yoga and things like that. So kind of already had a way of knowing how I needed to be related to, um, I went for lots of talking therapy and that wasn’t helping him. It was retraumatizing me. And a lot of, I didn’t understand or didn’t know how to explain.
Um, you know, children don’t have a language for these things. It’s trying to express the unexpressed symbol. Um, so I found talking therapy, a challenge. Um, I needed something that was more meditative and of my body, more sematic, I suppose. Um, and. So I found someone that was able to work with me alongside that, but it was more, the therapy was useful, but it was more self agency.
Um, it was like I was having to meet the child. So I was 30 something with my own children. Um, and I was having to go back and meet the little girl in me and let her know that she could trust me and come forward and speak. Um, so that’s why, I mean that it was meditative. And I think that was really, I had to reparent myself and, um, be there for myself and have trust in myself and let go of self-sabotage and all those things that, um, I had done to keep creating the pain.
Um, yeah. So the therapy. Useful, but I wouldn’t say it was totally what was the happening as a happening the change. It was that I think it’s important when we see a therapist that they give us tools to work with ourselves and relate with ourselves and be with ourselves. And I think that’s the magic, that’s the alchemy.
Um, it’s something that someone can do for us. It’s something is self agency is something we have to do for ourselves. And that’s very empowering. It may seem scary. Well, this, you know, this is too big and I can’t do that, but it’s actually really empowering to know that we, we can, um, and that we are healer.
I love that so much. That resonates so much because I talk a lot in my work about how self-responsibility really is the gateway into our healing. And it’s, it’s about being, it’s about being able to say like, What happened to me? I didn’t have a choice. Like it wasn’t my choice. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t okay.
Um, but what I do with it is my responsibility and the agency and the autonomy that I didn’t have, then I can reclaim for myself now and the sovereignty that wasn’t respected, I can reclaim for myself now. And so it just resonates so much that you brought that up because I was actually going to ask you to elaborate more on self agency.
So you did. Um, and it has to be a felt sensation. And if we’re talking, we’re not having the felt experience of it, it’s a conversation. Um, and when we’ve been traumatized in the it’s the body, that’s having these traumatic sensations, we won’t offer it something new and safe. We’re given these practices.
That’s that? That’s the new we’re saying to our bodies. You know, touch and sex and intimacy and Caressa listings, doesn’t have to be like that. It can be like this. I think that’s, what’s important as scary as it seems to pass sounds in those situations. That is the healing. Yeah, for sure. So, um, you said somatic work, were you working with a somatic experiencing therapist or like what, what specific somatic work were you doing?
Because I could promise you, people are going to hear you say that. And then they’re going to immediately want like email me and be like, what was she doing? Tell me what was she doing? So, um, for it, for me, it had to be gentle and it had to be slow. Everything had to be slowed down. I was very up in the air.
Very hypervigilant, super, super hyper vigilant is like, I was always watching out for the Rottweiler. Um, that’s how it felt. Um, So I, I tended some sematic classes and, um, I was kind of playing with things and sometimes I’d be so overwhelmed that I would withdraw completely and felt like I was back at back at the beginning, but I realized I couldn’t be group.
Um, it couldn’t be within a group. It had to be one-to-one. So the person was attentive, um, to what was happening for me. And it couldn’t be too much movement because too much movement would bring up too much at once. It had to be very slow and listening to where that point was, where something had been met, but then not to go beyond, um, that meeting.
And I wasn’t finding that in the world. So I was exploited all these classes and then going home and really created it for myself. That’s what I mean by a real deep, selfless. Yeah. And a vulnerability with myself, um, because it wasn’t out there for me. And when we were talking 20 odd years ago, um, and there’s a lot more available now than there was then.
Sure. But then that wasn’t available for me. If anyone was listing, I would advise not to go to groups, somatics, and, um, to find someone that’s willing to work one to one. And especially if it’s sexual abuse, um, for that to be really, really tender, very gentle and to not push ourselves, to hurry up, to be fixed because firstly, we’re not broken so we don’t need to fix in.
Um, but we don’t want to retraumatize ourselves either. Yeah. 100%. I love, I love how you said we’re not broken, so we don’t need to be fixed. But so many people, myself included and I was not, um, physically molested or touched by anyone. Um, as far as I know, I haven’t, I have no memory of it and I don’t behave sexually as if I was, I mean like, so those signs aren’t there, I guess for me, um, my sexual trauma comes from the suppression and repression of, of fundamentalist, Christian upbringing and feeling a lot of shame and a lot of, um, You know, a lot of weirdness about my, my body and touching myself and wearing clothing or bathing suits that exposed parts of my body that I was told I was supposed to hide.
And I was really heavily immersed in what’s now called purity culture, which was this movement that went through. I think it was a worldwide movement, but it was really, really concentrated in the south, in the Bible belt. And it was. Basically like true love waits. There was a lot of emphasis on remaining a Virgin until you were married.
And when I was 12 years old, I signed my very first purity pledge. Like promising God that I would remain sexually pure until I was married. Um, I had pastor’s wives and youth pastors who would, you know, like hold up a white piece of paper and be like, this is you and your pure whole form. And then they would rip pieces of the paper off and throw them on the ground.
And then what would be left was this like little fragment of paper. And they would say, and this is what you are to your husband. If you’re not pure and, and a Virgin, when you get married, you’ve just given parts of yourself away. You’re not whole anymore. Um, Another. Yeah. Another analogy was, if you weren’t a Virgin, when you were married, you were like a piece of gum that someone had chewed up and sped out.
Um, so who would want that? Right. Like, so even though I didn’t experience the, the physical, uh, abuse, um, I, I feel like that part of me was really taken away against it makes me emotional to talk about it. It was really taken away from me against my will, you know, um, with, by spiritual force, like it may not have been physical force, but it was spiritual force.
It was guilt and shame and manipulation. And I have dealt with feeling broken. And not understanding why, because I have the intellectual understanding that that was really fucked up. Like I know that that was very messed up. That’s abusive. That was an abusive power. That was like heaping guilt and shame on little girls is not okay.
Like I had the intellectual understanding that that’s not okay, but then whenever I would want to be sexual, it was like, I couldn’t tap into that part of myself. Even though I had the understanding that it was okay, like everything is allowed now, everything is fine. I’ve unplugged from that system. I’ve deconstructed from that faith.
It’s no longer part of my life. And I still find it really difficult to access that part of myself without shame or fear. Um, And I would love for you to speak more because even though I haven’t been physically abused, I still felt really broken and sometimes still do feel like my sex has really broken.
So I would love for you to, to maybe offer some words of reassurance or a wisdom or, or whatever you feel is coming up for you about how to truly understand that you are not broken and you don’t need to be fixed well, firstly, that what you’re expressing there is sexual trauma. We tend to straightway think that sexual trauma is, is the physical abuse.
Like we say, um, rape incest, those kinds of things, but there are many things that control Mathais our sex. And you’ve shared a big one, which is religion. Um, many of my clients come to me because of religion. Um, It could be a, um, a loss of a loved one, a divorce. It could be menopause, could be childbirth.
And what I mean, is it something in our external life is traumatizing the way we feel about ourselves as a sexual being? Um, so it’s, it’s an external force. Um, yeah, the is, is attacking traumatized and our sexual selves, our sexual wellbeing. Um, so sexual trauma is very fast and is experienced by all of us at some point in our life.
Um, it’s not because of, of the life situations that we go for even being bullied at school control, monetize our sex. Um, How we attend to, to that is, well, a we’re not broken. We don’t need improve in what we need is to be able to feel and want for ourselves to go back to our sexual selves before that happened.
So we’re wanting to regain and reclaim our sense of sexual liveliness, our sensuality, um, that vivaciousness, that creativity, that freedom to express ourselves sexually. And I think it’s very important to notice that doesn’t always mean the act of sex. We are sexual beings and we are able to. I feel that hum that sensation of a liveliness throughout our body, that, um, that we then have a choice to express as an act of sex or, you know, we get this feeling, we want to dance with it or we want to run, we want to play, or we want to paint a picture.
Um, but because it all becomes, especially around religion about the act, it really can dampen a child’s, um, natural ability to express itself. You know, if we watch children, they’re so alive, they’re so full of life. They’re so full of wonder and curiosity and passion. Um, and the more we make that a lightness about an act, the more we start to peel away at that child’s identity or that person’s identity and make them see.
And that’s where we get the brokenness from, because we feel small, we feel damaged. Um, we feel part of us is missing and we don’t understand what that part is. Um, and that’s the broken back. And because there’s shame that if we feel that the, that shameful, um, so therefore part of our psyche tells us to be, must be broken, to be even wanting that sensation.
I feel that that resonates deeply. Yeah. There’s something ingrained in what we’re forcibly told as a child, cause we’re like sponges, um, in, um, that, that feeling means that. So we want to give ourselves new experiences. It’s always allowing us to play with that sensation and, and giving it a new definition in our mind and just keep returning to it gently until the body and the mind start to have the same.
The same, um, experience of it. Oh, this is okay. And when did, when I have a cessation, nothing bad happens to me. I actually feel more myself. I actually feel more alive. I actually feel that I can go out and create, actually feel more of a, a woman, a man, um, you know, wherever we define ourselves as it’s more that we feel more ourselves when we are feeling our sexual sounds.
Yes. That’s because it’s part of being human and you take away and there’s something, there’s a gap, there’s a hole. And I think the kids, people attach it to the act of sex. It kind of all, it doesn’t matter. You know, I don’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I have sets B does because it’s part of who you are, not the act of sex, but sex as the liveliness, the sensation of feeling comfortable in all these, um, Subtle rhythms and sales of our bodies.
If anything, pleasure. If anything, pleasure is felt in our body, it’d be like, whoa, that must be sexual. I can’t have it, but it’s not. It’s the sensational patient. Mm. Yeah, that’s I that’s actually something that, uh, in 2021, I realized about myself was that a lot of my S um, sexual trauma and resistance to sex and the weirdness and the awkwardness that I felt about it was because I felt uncomfortable receiving pleasure.
And it, that stemmed also from religion, because, you know, I grew up being told that the body is sinful and the desires of the heart are like lust and that’s sinful. And, um, that. It was really big in the churches where I was growing up. And in my twenties, my husband also used to be a pastor. So we were in full-time ministry for a long time as well.
And it was really driven home that the man’s number one need in a marriage was sex. And the woman’s number one need was love. And so, but if the woman wasn’t meeting her husband’s need for sex and he went and he got, that need met elsewhere. Then the woman, the wife was responsible for that because she wasn’t meeting her husband’s number one need for sex.
And there was even a book, um, that we were encouraged to read and we did read, and we even did a class as part of our, like, pre-marriage. Preparations like training or counseling or something. Um, it was a book written by Jimmy and Karen Evans called marriage on the rock. And they talk in that book about sex being a man’s number one need and how sex for women is usually like really, really far down the list, like below gardening.
Like it’s just not a need that women have. And so I was just taught that like, oh, this isn’t something I need, like, this isn’t important to me. So if I did feel like I needed it, then that felt dirty. That felt right. Um, and I wasn’t supposed to need pleasure. So it created this constriction and this closed off ness in my life towards even just feeling good.
And, and in the last year, I’ve, uh, I’ve been healing my relationship with food as well. And people might be like, wait, why is she talking about food? This is a conversation about sex, but I’ve gained quite a lot of weight over the last year because I’ve been healing, the eating disorder of orthorexia, of like the fear of eating things that aren’t clean and healthy and pure.
And so one of the things that I’ve been doing is just allowing myself to eat processed foods, to eat restaurant food, to eat all the things that I restricted from myself before. Like everything now is allowed and I’ve gotten so much pleasure from it. But I only recently had a conversation with my husband where I was like, the only way I’m receiving pleasure right now is through.
So, of course, if that’s how I’m wanting to expand in my healing, my body is literally expanding accordingly. Like my pants size is going up. My weight is going up because that’s the only way I’m letting pleasure in. And my body has been deprived of pleasure for so long that it’s just, it’s hungry for it, but food for about the last year or so has been the way that I have received pleasure.
And it’s healed my relationship with food, which I’m really grateful for, but then I’m still left with the knowing that my, my relationship to pleasure is still isn’t fully complete because I still don’t know how to receive sexual pleasure or ask for sexual pleasure. So I dunno, I’m curious about your thoughts on that, but it is a way in often when people.
Uh, where there’s a, a discomfort around sex, like you’re speaking of, um, and they can’t, they feel they can’t receive pleasure or they don’t want pleasure. It’s bad, or they’re not comfortable in their bodies. Um, we, we will seek, we will make sex the problem, and the more we make sex a problem, the more sex withdraws.
So it’s kind of like, you know, when someone is demanding sex of us or really wanting sex almost, and we don’t feel it, we become more moved on a more Nike past skin. The more and more we don’t feel warm and welcomed meant for us. And the more and more we, we, we, we repost and, and, uh, sexual self feels like faith feels under attack.
The more we make sex, the problem. About us. The more we say where we’re broken in our sex, where, you know, we’re not comfortable, we’re not good enough. The more that part of our psyche feels under attack. So, um, for myself and for when people come to see me work with me, it’s more about creating the body as a safe, loving, nurturing, nourished environment.
And then what we find is that sex, our sexual self, because it’s so natural, it’s, uh, it starts to feel that it’s got this safe environment and this nourished environment, this nonjudgmental environments come out and play in. Um, and that’s the difference you think about, um, a scab on our arm. If we keep poking at it, it’s going to get worse.
Whereas if we look after the arm, It’s almost like the wound Hills or by itself. So the more and more we create these safe environments for ourselves, the more our sexual self comes out to play and is curious. So pleasure. For example, like you were talking about, it’s great. You’re experiencing pleasure with food and then you can think, well, how else can I invite pleasure in my life?
I may have flowers by your bed or have pleasure through art or pleasure through dance. So she’s desperate to get on my lap. Um, so rather than focusing on pleasure through sex, you start expressing pleasure through other waves and you’ll start to find that pleasure through sex starts it’ll just happen because it starts to feel safe.
Um, and that’s what I’m saying. We focus too much or sex being our problem. And so actually telling ourselves repeatedly my sex is a problem. Um, I’m this I’m that I am broken. I’m not pure. I’m damaged. I’m tainted. Um, um, it, we’re not, yeah, no it’s but we’re reinforcing it. Yeah. I, I, yeah, everything you’re saying just resonates.
I could, I could listen to you talk all day. I mean, honestly, it’s just, it’s really beautiful. Um, oh no, I love it. Um, so I’m curious about. You know, we talked about how sexual abuse doesn’t always look like physical, sexual abuse, incest, rape, sexual harassment, like it, it can take many different forms and it can, um, traumatize our sex.
And you, you mentioned a lot of things, you mentioned menopause and childbirth and, um, stuff like that. And I’m curious, what are some of the ways that you see the sex being traumatized in men? Um, in men it’s usually they have in some form felt less than a man. So ridicule criticism, judgments, the workplace relationships, um, you were saying earlier about, um, pleasure and receive in pleasure.
Many men feel that their responsibility is a woman’s place. Um, so there’s an overwhelming sense of, to be a great lover, um, just as there is for women, but, um, a man feels responsible for the women’s pleasure. Um, and in some respects, being able to really heighten that pleasure makes him more of a man. Um, so there are many ways in which man can feel lesser, uh, sexual, uh, sexual ban.
It may be also, uh, one is, um, really wanting to express himself in a very creative and what would be seen as feminine way and, and really hiding that for him himself. Um, because he’s been told is overly sensitive or. Yeah. Yeah. And that’s rooted in a lot of like homophobia too. Just like if you’re a man and you have feminine creative expression, then that equals you’re gay or, you know, or something like that.
And then that is bad or whatever. Um, so that makes a lot of sense too. Um, yeah, so it’s usually things like that, that they, they also feel that they’re not being able to express themselves, um, and performance as well is a huge thing on, you know, porn and being a great lover. So they have this performance anxiety, which then causes ejaculation, not being able to maintain an erection, um, because it’s all about what it looks like rather than what it feels like.
We’re very, um, official sexual. Society. It’s all about what it looks like, how it sounds like because of, um, you know, some point is good, but most of it is very visual. Um, and that is to realize that that is fantasy, that is not sex. And there’s a difference between what really happens between two people, the intimacy, the conversations, the environment, the home, what happens before you even get the bedroom is really important.
Um, and things like porn are fantasy and there is a difference, um, that, that, that can’t be maintained in a relationship. Yeah. I was actually going to ask you about what, what is your experience in with porn in terms of. Does it help facilitate healing? Does it block healing? Does it create insecurity and performance anxiety that maybe wasn’t even there before?
Like what are all the ways in which you’ve experienced in the people you’ve worked with, or even with yourself, like, has porn been beneficial? Has it been detrimental? Has it hindered, helped? Like w what is that all about? I would say, you know, I don’t want to be anti porn, but I would say it’s hindered because most men that have come to me have had some form of porn addiction.
Um, and it’s the only way they really feel they can get off for want of a better phrase. Um, and they’ve lost the heart and that’s where they felt some grief and sadness because there’s no heart in it for them. You were talking about sex and love earlier, and that’s such a big thing, you know, sex and love.
There’s a disconnect between them. Now people can have sex, but they find it hard to love or they love, but then they find it hard to have sex, um, has been such a confusing message that they are one of the same, um, and to separate them into different functions separately. Ask us within ourselves. Well, that is sex and oh, that is love.
They, they work together. They evolve us together. They expand our experiences together, um, and to cut our heart out of it. Um, yeah, desensitizes a lot of our experiences and maybe that’s where we kind of define, well, this is just a one night stand, or I don’t want to relationship with it, but we can still have heart with that person.
If where there’s clear consensual that this isn’t going to evolve into a long-term relationship or marriage, this is there, but we can still show up for each other with home. And that’s how we get the full spectrum of pleasure and sensation because sex is a feeling it’s not a visual act and it’s not a thought it doesn’t happen in our heads.
Yeah, so real. It’s the sensation of pleasure. Yeah. It’s an embodied experience. It’s not a, a mental experience. No, no, but it’s so many, it’s so strange how many airports has made it that many people see as a visual thing and have lost all sense of kind of human connection and, uh, emotion and vulnerability and all those and surrender and all those things are so important to us to thrive sexually, to feel that we can surrender, to feel that we can be vulnerable and to feel that we can be seen in all of our messiness and our chaos and our noise and our sound, um, and our skin without trying to be perfect.
So, um, I do want to get back to what you said about how, you know, the expression of our sex and sexuality starting way before we get to the bedroom. Um, so I’ve just made a note of that here, cause I don’t want to forget to come back to that, but you’re sharing such great insights about, about porn and um, how overall it is, can be detrimental.
Um, particularly for men, I’m curious if there has ever been a time when you’ve seen porn be beneficial for someone. Um, okay.
I can’t say that. I mean, if someone comes along with a porn addiction, I will encourage them. We will work together in a way. Porn is it seen as something unhealthy and bad? It’s not my intention to make them feel bad so we can play with all. It’s just like having just chocolate ice cream, the porn. So it’s okay.
Let’s explore strawberry ice cream, banana ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and then go back to the chocolate ice cream. And they often find them. They don’t actually want the chocolate ice cream or their relationship with it has changed. It’s not addictive. Um, it’s not obsessive. There’s not an unhealthy desire around it.
They then use it in a healthy way. It’s not a way of self-sabotage in themselves and sabotage in their potential for a beautiful intimate relationship. Um, it becomes something else. So I’m not taking or suggesting they take porn away. The suggestion is we’re going to change the relationship to it. Um, let’s see.
So I I’ve had, I wouldn’t say any way that someone relates to their body sexually is bad. Right? I’m looking at the intention, the relationship of it, where may it be sabotaging the potential to experience other ways other, other flavors. That’s really beautiful. I like that. I like that metaphor a lot. Um, so I I’ve worked with male clients as well, and the topic of porn has come up in, uh, sessions with my clients.
And there’s kind of been two extremes that I’ve noticed. And one is that in, uh, in, uh, when a man watches porn and he’s in a relationship, um, his wife or his partner can be, she can feel very jealous. She can feel very, um, you know, like he’s getting something out of that, that he’s not getting from her. Um, it’s almost a wedge of division between the two of them.
And then I’ve also experienced working with clients who their female partner, uh, doesn’t want to be bothered for sex. So she encourages him to go watch porn and, and get off that way. So it’s both extremes and I’m curious what your thoughts are on. It’s um, is curious how the sex is seen as something that becomes a demand and that we don’t want to be bothered by it.
So we draw, some of them went off and did that by themselves. And that whole approach that sex is mechanical and it’s a function and it sets a do, and it’s an obligation. So it would be supporting someone to change their perspective of what sex is. And, you know, personally, I would withdraw from the act of sex and say, okay, how now do you explore yourself as a sexual band?
Um, how, how do you that sensation you have let’s tune into that. Let’s really feel it in your body. Now tell me how your body desires to express that. And it’s not always through the act, the act of sex. Um, so if for a, or I was come away from the act of sex and not make it a key focus, because then that’s when it starts to feel an obligation and a half, two, and a must and a shirt.
And it there’s no passion in that. There’s no pleasure in that. It’s, it’s functional. It’s the same. As when people say they’re trying for a baby, it, it kills something about the sex. Um, and as for women feeling they would rather their husbands go off or their partners go off and have sex often bother them.
It’s a thing I was saying earlier. Um, that the moon, when we pass to someone or demand someone for something, whether that’s money, sex, time, friendship, the person doesn’t feel warm and more attracted to us. They feel unattracted and they withdrawn repost. So it’s like, how, how then do we create an environment where sex was to come and play?
So making it less about a bedroom, less about the act of sex and how, how else can they be intimate? So, you know, I’ve always thought that people start flirting and engaging sexually. They get in the kitchen or during the day for self stroke of the hair or. You know, caress the back of the neck and that touch has to not have an agenda.
It’s not, I’m touching you to get sex or I’m touching you because I want sex or I’m touching you because we’re going to have sex later. I’m touching you because I love touching you. And we don’t very often, um, feel that way as a partner. And we don’t ever often approach touch in that way. Conversation. If you have in really shitty conversations during the day, then sex, isn’t going to happen.
Um, time without mobile phones, without television, just being together. And there’s all these things that are really important that happened before the bedroom, um, and for ourselves as well. How do we explore ourselves sexually beyond the bedroom rather than it all being about the act of sex? Yeah. Can you talk about that more?
Um, is, as I was saying before to really be able to tune into that sensation of arousal and rather than thinking, oh, that sensation arousal means I need to go masturbate or I need to go and find a sexual partner. It may be that you just need a really good dance. You can explore your own body with. I mean, they own nakedness with caress and love, but there isn’t masturbation.
And that if we don’t ever ask that sensation, why it’s there, how it wants to play. We say, oh, there’s a sensation. That means that. But before we were teenagers and we had that sensation, we would do other things with it. And there comes a time when it’s just a given there is, and that means sex. Do you see what I’m saying?
Like sex, the sensation of alive nets and it wants to express itself in many ways. Yeah, it’s reminding me of, um, I’m not sure if you’ve seen the documentary series. Uh, it was the goop lap, sex love and goop on Netflix. Um, it’s a really great, it’s a really, really great show. And one of the things that I love the most about the show was the sex expert that they brought in talked about, um, having less focused on the genitals and like more of a full body experience, um, especially for like people who really get turned on by central, like all of their senses being involved, so smells and, and tasting things and flavors and, you know, caresses and touch and all of that.
And, um, It really, really resonated with me. And so I you’re, you’re you’re resonating along the, the, that frequency as well. Like it’s, it doesn’t have to just be genital focused and it doesn’t have to just be bedroom focused and no, because if sex is a sensation, another way to invoke that and make it larger expand, it is to play with our senses.
So if you think about our modern day world, we eat quickly, we don’t really taste the food. We don’t really smell smells. We don’t really listen to sounds. Um, when in our bodies we’re in our head. So our whole sensual vibrancy that we had as children, um, has dulled down, has desensitized. So to expand our pleasure, to expand upon our sexual liveliness, we want to move more into our senses, um, just by, by playing with food, by playing.
Um, different forms of touch. Could you hear that? I think it was my
I had a, um, a phone call come in and I heard it in my headphones, but I didn’t know that you could hear it. No, I didn’t. I didn’t hear that. I just heard.
Um, yes. So I think there’s lots of things we can support ourselves with in our environments before the bedroom. Um, that’s really important. Um, and to me, you know, a sexy, a sexy, a human being doesn’t mean that they’re actively re actively sex sexual, um, is, you know, someone who’s really creative, really loving life.
Um, that that’s sexy looks as though they’re comfortable in this skin and no self criticizing and self judging. That’s sexy. There’s just a, oh wow. She looks really at ease or he looks ease. Um, that, that sexy, I think idea of sexy doesn’t support us at all that traumatizes ants that we’ve got to look like this behave like that.
That’s to me that isn’t sexy. That’s that’s fake it’s surface level. There’s no depth for quality to it. There’s substance. Yeah, absolutely. So this is, I mean, I’m so. I’m mind blown by all of this. I’m like, I mean, not mind-blowing in the sense that I didn’t know any of it, but the way that you explain it, it, it just is really feeling like a yes.
In my body. And that’s something that I try to teach my clients to do is to learn what feels like yes. And what feels like no in your body. And like, it, it won’t lead you astray and you may get it wrong occasionally because you haven’t, you know, always been in tune with that. But this just really, really feels like yes, and my body.
And, um, I’m looking here at my list of questions just to make sure that I, that I covered everything. And I think I did, but I don’t want to stop talking to you. I’m like, oh, I’m looking for more questions and I don’t see them. Um, so listening, I think it’s just really important to. You know, they’re listening because they were attracted to the title, their been about sexual trauma, sexual abuse, to know that that is there, but attend to it in a much more tender, gentle way, as in how can I create my body as a nourish and nourishing and nurturing nest that this part of me can feel safe.
And, and that’s what it is. It’s like this body finished so safe that we feel that we can go out and explore and express and be playful and be sensual. But we have to have a safe festival in the world to do that. And if we’re not feeling safe in our body, that’s not going to happen. You know, we think about safety being our environment, being safe in our home, our bodies, our home.
So we can have all the safety in the world in our environments. But if we’re not feeling in our body, then there’s not, there’s going to be a dis-alignment that. Um, so that’s why I would let go of, um, and feeling, you know, that sex is about two people. Sex is about one person. We can’t share what we haven’t got in.
You asked me for some money and I haven’t got any money. I can’t give it to you. If you ask me for sex. And I don’t feel I have my sex, I own it. I can feel it. I know it then. How can I share it? Yeah. That’s, that’s what I want to ask you. Say, you say my sex, my sex, like, what exactly do you mean by that?
Because I know you don’t just mean the act of sex or masturbation or porn, or what do you mean by my sex? It’s it feels like part of who I am part of myself. That I believed was taken away from me as a child. And there was always part of me that felt missing, um, and ashamed and bad. Um, but it’s not this sec, the sense how I feel my sex is creative, playful, curious, um, sensual alive, joyful and wonderfully, um, innocent and pure because I didn’t feel those things anymore, but there is an innocence and the purity to my sex.
And I have a choice how I want to express that the world, I may want to express that for level. I may want to express that for something else. Um, yeah, I feel I fully have my sex back, which, and to realize that someone couldn’t take that away. The, I believe they taken away and they’d ruined it and they’d broken down and they dirtied it and shamed it and made it a sin like you were sent, but it was, it was never missing.
It was, it was just covered up with someone else’s crap and ideas and beliefs. And it was just removing that, removing the debris and the untruth, and then finding this perfection. That is me, that is in, within each of us underneath. That’s what I’m trying to say. Yeah, no, that’s beautiful. That’s a wonderful explanation.
And I feel like. I can like visualize all the different ways that sex can express outside of with a partner or in the bed or whatever. Like it can express in so many ways when you explain it that way. So that’s lovely. I am curious about your own healing journey. Did you have a partner or a husband during any part of that and, or, or did you find someone after you had learned to be back in your body again, or was being in relationship part of your healing?
What, what did that look like for you? Um, for, you know, in hindsight, things will be different. Um, I was married, um, but when water flashbacks and, um, the realization of the, the extent of what had happened, um, it became, it became damaging for the marriage and. Um, my ex-husband couldn’t manage that or the way that I started to sometimes express that because it was mucky and it was so, you know, often we self-sabotage ourselves because that’s what, where we believe we, we are worthy of.
So my own journey, you know, as well as was about really meeting these ways, I was self-sabotaging and meeting that part of me that believed that that was love, or that was okay, or that I deserved that treatment. Um, I know then once I was moving in, I don’t have a partner right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sexually alive or sexually active for sure I am, but it’s for myself.
And I don’t mean that means I’m, I’m exploring myself through masturbation or any of that. I just feel sexually vibrant. Um, and, and yes, since my, my marriage, I have had lovers, which, you know, they’ve bought their own gifts that’s but just being different ways of noticing where I’m still working from an untruth and where I have moved into something much more nourishing and, um, love because for me, love and sex was very confused.
Um, and I felt very obliged a lot of the time that that was something I was meant to do and have to do about even question. And if I wanted to do it, because that’s something I’d always just, it was a given, um, I wasn’t ever asked, so there was lots of things that I was well in my relationships. So there were so what my childhood was.
And so the more and more I began to see them and I was just replaying, I was creating relationships and situations just to reenact it. Um, and the more and more I began to notice that the more and more I was able to make a choice to move away and make my choice. What do I want? What am I worthy of rather than, you know, when your life is just running this theme, it’s almost like there’s this silent narrator direct in it.
And yeah, it was just realizing that the drama and the chaos and the hurt and the pain was only there because I was believing that was meant to be there. And do you feel, you know, like my, the source of my sexual trauma comes from the church, which is like, it’s a system, right? It’s like a, it’s a, it’s not a person, you know, it’s like, it’s a whole system of belief.
It’s an ideology. But for people who have like yourself experienced sexual abuse or rape or incest at the hands of individuals, um, what in your experience is the role of. Acceptance and or forgiveness or, um, how does that factor in at all? Is there, is there yes, completely. I mean, for myself it’s challenging because there’s a natural love for parents, no matter what they do, there’s an unconditional thing.
Um, and I have love for my parents. Um, the forgiveness people think, um, forgiveness is to mean that that was okay, what they did or what, uh, when this happens to someone and it’s not meaning that it’s okay, it’s wanting to leave it in the timeline of events because not forgiving them or not forgiving the person doesn’t mean they’re like they can give a monkeys.
Um, it ruins our life. It’s more, I’m really, really sensitive. I don’t mean that in a, in a wishy-washy way, but I see forgiveness, I could feel it in my body, the unforgiveness, it was something like 18 me and I didn’t want that feeling anymore. So it was, the forgiveness was for, to forgive them, was to support myself and to be able to move forward.
Right. And that’s the way I was able to put into perspective. I wasn’t saying that what they did was okay. It was not okay. Right. Definitely not. Okay. Um, but I wanted to move on from that time, because with trauma, there’s a sensation and a belief. This is still happening our body, because if we’re still feeding it and the environments and our beliefs about is like, oh my God, am I called?
It’s still happening. It’s still happening. So we have to come to a place where that happens. And leave in the happened and now deal with what is happening now in the present moment. And that doesn’t happen overnight. Um, and as I say, I’ve been sharing this for 20 years, but there was still be something like when my daughter turned a certain age, there was, you know, something would happen that would trigger something in me and I would think, oh, okay.
And now there’s another layer. So I’m always feel like I’m evolving and growing more and more into myself. Um, and I think that’s another thing we, we expect to be fixed in six sessions. It’s, it’s a not, it’s a real learning and growing and, and to see the beauty and the wonder and need adventure in that rather than the failure.
Oh, I’m not, I’m still broken. I still need healing. You don’t need healing right now. You’re perfect. Right now we’ve dealt with what we need to deal with. We’ve got to where we are and that’s, that’s magical. That’s perfect. That’s amazing. Um, always looking at how far I’ve got to go and not how far we’ve been and celebrating, celebrating that.
Um, because there are going to be times when I’m triggered by a smell or something, but it’s not to recreate the, oh, it’s happening again. It’s not happening again. It’s and yeah. For you to elaborate. Oh no, that was a beautiful description. And I would actually love for you to elaborate more on how you have learned to face triggers when those things happen because they inevitably happen.
So what do you do in real time? What do you do in your, your personal time, your spiritual time or whatever to deal with? Okay. Um, so the way I start my day is really important. It has to be slow. Um, so I don’t wake up to an alarm cause it shaked it straight away would affect my nervous system. Everything is, um, slow and almost like moving from a darkened room into a slightly lighter room, into a slightly lighter.
And so there’s things I know that I need to feel safe in the world. And I see I’ve created that as a daily lifestyle, um, breath to breathe and allow the. So even if it’s just putting my hand, I meditate every day and I don’t mean it’s cross-legged, but life is more of a meditation. I’m making sure I’m breathing into my body and that feels good and that feels safe.
And if it doesn’t just notice him why he doesn’t aware it doesn’t, um, it’s almost like I’ve created and I support others to create a and Mary Poppins bag of tools, um, that they know they have to keep themselves feeling safe, nurtured, loved, supported, and no one is doing it for them. They are doing it for themselves.
Um, and I do this for myself. So what I share isn’t, um, isn’t something I do. I’m sharing who I am. Um, I’m sharing how I live. Um, it just feels effortless. Um, in, in being able to share that with other people, um, I’m supporting them to create a lifestyle that holds them and allows them to thrive. Yeah. I absolutely feel the same way about my work.
That true healing is whenever you’ve created a lifestyle that supports supports you. And it’s not a thing that you check off. No. So even I walk in, am I, am I, am I my feet? Can I feel my feet? Am I allowing my feet to go? Oh yeah, there’s the pavement. Um, I’m very much making sure being attentive to my body all day.
Um, and if something has made me shoot out or what, or the desire to. Um, what is it? And just checking, checking in with that and knowing I have something to support myself to come back, come back to herself and no, no, go away with whatever may appear, frightening or resent resemblance to the past. You know, it’s interesting that you brought up Mary Poppins because it just feels, it feels so synchronous.
It is to me because a couple of weeks ago, um, I had a very sexually expansive experience and I went into it because I know that I have this, this trauma, and I know that I have. The shame and, you know, and I, so I went into it very slowly, very gently. And the whole time I was like, okay, stay in your body, breathe, feel your toes, feel your feet on the ground, like the whole time.
But at a certain point, I just, I just went numb and that’s never happened to me before. And it’s so interesting that you mentioned Mary Poppins because at the very same time that this was happening, um, I was reading the book, no bad parts. Have you read the book? No bad parts. Okay. It’s uh, Richard Swart Schwartz is the author and it’s the basis for a therapy called internal family systems.
And essentially how we all have parts. You know, there’s a, there’s a part of me that feels this. And there’s part of me that feels that. And there’s a part of me who experiences, fear and this, um, and it’s like an, a family that lives with. And each of these parts is it is a part of us. And what I discovered in reading the book, literally it was the day after this experience and I was processing it and I was reading the book and it perfectly described what I had experienced in a way that was digestible and understandable.
And he talks about the types of parts that we have. So we have exiled parts. So those are the parts of us that they’re just not allowed to be here anymore. We’ve sent them away, like they’re not welcome. There, they’re an exile. And then we have the, the manager parts, and those are the parts of us that, you know, control or try to fix things or perfectionism or whatever.
And then we have protector parts and typically the exile parts are guarded by a protector. Mm. So you have to get the protectors permission and ask the protector what she or he needs. And to step aside before you can actually get to the exile part, and the reason that I’m sharing all of this, because it actually has something to do with Mary Poppins is that I discovered that I have a sexy promiscuous teenager Hart, who is an exile.
Yeah, and she is being protected by a very uptight and rigid Mary Poppins part. So I love that you’re like the Mary Poppins bag of tools, because I’m a big fan of, of having a trauma healing, toolbox, and having different tools that you can reach for. But it’s so interesting that you use Mary Poppins specifically, because you could said a toolbox.
You could’ve said a bag of tricks. You could have said anything. And you said, Mary Poppins and I have been working with and noticing, and being with this Mary Poppins part of me who is very uptight, she always has her top color buttons. She always has. Her legs crossed very proper. She’s always put together and she has done a damn good job of making sure that sexy promiscuous, teenager, Lindsay.
Stays locked away and protected, and she’s not allowed to come out and play. And I’ve recently started working with an internal family systems therapist on this in particular, because I was like, all right, this is coming up. Now I’m listening to the universe. Clearly this is what’s ready to be healed. So buckle up and let’s go.
Um, so I think, yeah, Mary Poppins is she’s magical and she’s played and she makes the daily, the daily ordinary extraordinary. So maybe when we change our perception, uh, perspective. All of a part of us is protecting another part of us. Then we suffer and they soften. Um, I think, you know, as you said, that book about bad, when we deem some part of our span, we exile even more and new America is, is not bad.
She was when she is doing, doing a job. Uh, but she felt was for your highest good. So one thing I, another thing I do daily every morning before I even go into the world or talk to anyone else’s journal and I, and I don’t mean Janet Lynn as in like diary, but I talk with myself and that, and it may sound strange, but I’m noticing how I’m feeling.
And I’m, I’m, I’m having a conversation with that. Um, because you know what, what you’ve just said, there is really important when we’ve been through some kind of trauma we’re wanting to bring home. All parts of ourselves and not one part of us seeing bad, broken, shamed, sinful, all those things. Um, and the Misa, we have to love them too.
We think that we’ve got to go in and heal them. And most of the time, all those parts want is to be loved and welcomed and accepted. And, but when we, we judged them in some way, the we’re not being welcome and not being loving, we’re doing what everyone else did to us. Right. So we want to, even if it’s slightly challenging is to love your Mary Poppins and thank her because she was doing something and then she’s part of your psyche.
So that’s what I mean by kind of Janet Lynn is more of a, a way of writing myself together. Bring it as par parts in. Um, and yeah, usually when it’s the trigger is because some part of us from the past doesn’t feel welcomed and met and heard or listened to the so will act out or something will happen.
It will feel afraid or vulnerable. That’s what we’re doing on a timeline of events. We’re allowing all those different ages of us to be where they belong. Um, and often that means as you, as the woman, as you are your age and me and my age and everyone else there may just decide to go back and reparent those parts of us.
They say, no, you weren’t, you know, it’s heartbreaking sometimes to go back and look at ourselves as a teenager or a child. Um, but that’s so much self-compassion in that. And it’s very, very healing. I’ve got full body chills when you said that. Um, so marriage is isn’t bad. No, she’s not. And it’s so funny. My husband hasn’t read the book, no bad parts.
And Richard Schwartz would agree with you that none of these parts of us are bad. So, um, that’s why the book is called no bad parts. My husband has not read no bad parts. So when I was talking to him about this Mary Poppins character, um, he was like, we’ll just tell Mary Poppins to fuck off. And I was like, no, no, no.
Like it doesn’t work that way. Like Mary is allowed to be here. She’s she has served a purpose and she’s allowed to be here. And I might be a little bit annoyed with her because. This has come up, but I don’t need to exile her as well. Like maybe she does need a long vacation cause she’s been working hard for a really long time, but, but you know, really, I need to heal that.
I need to give her a new job. Like that’s what she needs. She doesn’t need to go away. She just needs a new job. Yeah. And you find the actually, and then I see our life is a pathway and then we get to a certain level, get to a crossroads. And it’s usually because we need to go back and collect some part of us that has been lost or forgotten.
And it’s usually our creative and our sexual self. And then that part of us is rediscovered, um, remembered reclaimed and Imma go along Mary on our pathway again. And there’ll be, we’ll come up against another puff crossroads. No. Okay. Now this is the time when this part of us feels ready to come home. Um, but I also think with trauma, it’s important not to create an identity of that.
And so I don’t say I have trauma or, well, you know, it’s my stories where I grow from it’s where I’ve come from. It’s not who I am. Um, and often our, you know, trauma can become an identity or an excuse or a validation of why we can’t have something or do something or be something. Um, so it’s not to minimize trauma at all, but it’s also to notice where we are excused and ourselves or where we are keeping our self stuck because all the time we were saying, I have trauma or I am there, I am broken or I’m not sexually vibrant, or I don’t like sex.
We reinforce him. We’re having a language conversation with our body. You’re still broken. You’re still. Allowing pleasure. You’ll still know this, you know, I believe our bodies is so innocent. It’s like when we tell a child it’s thick, it believes it’s thick. If we keep telling our body, it’s not, um, it’s not sexually well, or it can’t have pleasure, then the body goes, oh, okay then.
Oh, okay. Just, it just does what we say. Yeah. I mean, that’s, it’s creating a reality, right? Does that play with something very physical? We’re informing our, sound’s informing our body all the time with our language. So what are some shifts that people listening? You know, if they are telling themselves a story of, I can’t have this, I’m not vibrant sexually, I’m broken.
I’m unclean. I’m dirty. I’m. Um, I’m not sexy. I’m whatever the story is. What are some perhaps reframes or new stories that they could begin telling themselves? Um, one of the first things I did for myself was, um, change my environment. So I got rid of all my self improvement books cause I didn’t need improving.
Um, I put up, I sat down with my children were young men and I made all these posters with glitter and pens. And I wrote all these messages to myself because as I said, we absorb words, we absorb language unconsciously. So we we’re receiving messages all the time from our environment. So I put them up, you know, by the catalog.
Drawers. When I opened cupboards, when I opened in the car, I, there was just all these messages that I would love as a child to receive, to have received, or what really helped me was, you know, is this good enough for my child? And if the answer was no, and it wasn’t good enough for me. So I, I, there’s a lot of self-reflection over time and really noticing my relationship with myself.
Um, and then once my home felt less critical of who I was and less, I need healing, your broken, you need to be improved. Then I started to work more of my body and a lot of that was breath and touch self-corrects. Um, and I don’t, it took. Time, um, for that to move towards my genitals about shame. So it’s just noticing if it feels comfortable to touch your arm, if it feels comfortable to touch your breasts, if it feels comfortable to touch your neck, um, and really breathe in with that as well.
Um, you spike of food, really noticing our self-sabotage. So for me, it was, um, I I’ve been through lots of self-sabotage drugs, alcohol cigarettes, um, and I noticed that as I would reach out do something that was a fading in my body that was creating the impulse to reach out for something. Um, and I Le I would lay my hand on where I could feel that.
Um, desire to reach out for drugs or cigarettes or alcohol. And it would feel like a really rejected, abandoned, neglected child. And so therefore I would find something more now, Russian, um, that I would probably do for my own child. Like, you know, go and ask for cuddle or even hold myself or because all I was doing with the drugs and the cigarettes and alcohol were adding to that feeling of, cause it made me feel Danity.
So I was adding to, I’m not lovable. I’m not touchable. I’m disgusting. I’m dirty. Do you see what I mean? So I was always filling up my environment with stuff that there was adding to what I believed I was. So I, I, there’s a difference between what life designs us, to being who we were created to be. So we want to let go of what life has designed us to be.
And we really want to move into who we really are and noticing where in our life, where in our environment, there are things are informing us still that we are not lovable touchable. We’re not allow pleasure. And so I always have flowers by my bed and then my gift to myself because I deserve them. It’s just simple, simple things.
Everyone thinks that healing is so complicated and it’s going to take time. So then we need to let go of measuring time and coming back to simple, the simplicity of flowers, the simplicity of going for a walk and just feeling the sun on your skin. There’s lots of ways that we can support ourselves to soften and feel safe and nourished, um, rather than reaching out for that.
So I, if I was going to reach out for some drugs or reach out for this, I would go and do that instead. I’m sorry. No, it’s okay. I have two dogs myself, so it doesn’t bother me. The other thing is we can plan how to, um, change things, but we can only change it in that moment to still, to me, I can’t say I’m going to give up cigarettes.
We can only give up that cigarette in that moment. So they noticed in the impulse and the desire and then changing it in that moment. So sort of a reaching out for that reach out for something. It’s set a new choice and says, all we’re doing is giving ourselves something and a new experience offering ourselves something new rather than always go for that old and habitual and unhealthy.
Yeah. Yeah. And you said, oh, sorry, diver, because it is habitual because it is unhealthy. Doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s supported us to where we are, right where we are now, but now we won’t want to explore something new. I, again, the ice cream, um, it’s I mean, it’s when you, when you S I see things through the lens of the nervous system, and when you see things through the lens of the nervous system, and you see, it’s very clear that drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, porn, Zoning out in front of the TV, scrolling on your phone.
It’s really easy to see that those are all tools that the nervous system is using to try to regulate itself. And what you’re describing is, uh, it’s exactly that it’s like those tools got you to where you are today and they served a purpose and now you’re ready to expand and grow beyond those tools.
And, you know, yeah, it makes total sense to me. And I, I love that so much. Um, and I know I want to be really conscious of your time. We’ve been going for almost an hour and a half. I said I could keep talking to you all day. Um, I know you said you threw away all of your self-improvement books, which good on you.
Um, but I am wondering if you have any books on that are in alignment with your message around sexuality and sexual trauma and wholeness and not being broken, um, that you could recommend. And if not, that’s totally okay too. Um,
I would, I wouldn’t encourage books. And I don’t mean in a weird way because I would love to write one. Um, but because books is still ahead, experience is filling ourselves up with information. Um, um, what makes the change in trauma is a felt experience. So we can fill ourselves up with all this information, but we haven’t felt it.
And the body hasn’t felt it, um, to have a new felt sensation and that’s in our bodies has had so many traumatic sensations. We’re wanting to nourish our body with pleasurable and healthy and. Nourishing sensations. So that’s the only reason why I would differ from books because it can also still keep us stuck in the land of intellectual rather than body intelligence.
Um, and yes, so awesome, amazing, wonderful books out there that passively, I would advise people to move into more exploratory felt experiences well for then keep reading and keep reading because also we can become junkies when we just read and read and read and, and there’s still no action coming into it.
Yeah. And what you’re saying is I tell clients this all the time, because they’ll see me doing something on social media or in a session or whatever. And they’re like, explain to me how you do that. How, like, tell me how you do it. And I can try intellectually to explain. But I have come to understand deeply, but there is a difference between an intellectual understanding of something and an embodied understanding of something.
Yes. And sometimes you’re absolutely right. The books, the podcasts taking in more information, doesn’t translate down into an embodied knowing, um, which isn’t always explicable with words, right? So, but other times it starts intellectually and with intention and practice, it can organically move into an embodied, knowing I think books and podcasts and all these wonderful things.
They’re an inspiration and they can be a, a, you know, an ignite, something within us to go and see. Um, or to get up and feel or to have, or to do, and they’re inspiring. They’re, they’re a catalyst. Um, but I can’t, I can’t at the top of my head say which book, because passively I encourage the more our body intelligence rather than.
The intellect only because, um, from someone who comes from a, from a space of, sometimes it can overwhelm and adds to the idea that this is who I am. This is my identity. I’m so far. But if I, if a home is full of books about trauma, um, we can freeze in, in that environment to see what I mean, that I have all this too much information on trauma around me and because I’m broken.
Um, so it’s about, I think it’s about balance, um, having these things, um, and making sure they’re not telling us that we’re broken and venturing off into sensory exploration. Yes. I love it. Well with that, I would love for you to tell folks what you do and how they could work with you if they’re interested in doing so and where they can find you or follow you.
Um, just share everything that you can about that, please. Okay. This is the tricky bit uncomfortable. Um, well I’m in the UK, so, um, people come and see me on a one-to-one basis. Um, where we, I show them body touch at body work sessions, we explore movement. Um, we explore the senses. Um, we explore, um, ways to express ourselves through a medium, be that paint clay.
Uh, way of expressing the unexpressed bubble. So that was how a one-to-one session looks and it’s, it’s a process and they’re very much in it just because they come once a week. They have contact with me during the week as well. If there’s something that’s come up that they feel vulnerable about. Um, I went with couples as well, support them in meeting each other in, uh, in the arena of their sexual selves, um, and create an intimacy and in different ways that makes the sex feel safe between them, um, and playful.
Um, and I also shower online as well. Um, so that wouldn’t be a, a body experience, but it’s more the, the coaching and the listening and like fill in the, be met. And then I offer home play and he go away and play with a home clean and they come back, were discussing. You know, the celebrations and the challenges and move on if it’s time to move on to some new home play.
So, so people in the United States or other where otherwise they could work with you on, in an online capacity. Okay. So I have, um, in, uh, interactive video courses where there’s video courses that you can move through in your own time. Um, but you get to interact with me as well for one-to-one conversations or, um, yes, there’s, there’s many ways of working with me in person or in person.
That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much. This has been one of my favorite podcast conversations yet.
Yes. We’re over 70 episodes in, and this is honestly, probably in my top five. Like I just enjoy connecting with you so much. Thank you. Thank you. I really enjoyed it too. You’re lovely. Thank you. You as well. I think we could talk forever. I think so too. We might have to do this again. Okay.
📍 did you enjoy the show? I’d really appreciate it. If you took a few moments to rate the podcast,
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