One of the most common things people say they want when it comes to sexuality is to release the shame and guilt they carry about it.
Most people are walking around with hidden shame about sex, their bodies, pleasure, their desires, or their attractions and kinks. Somewhere in the complex nexus of sexuality lies a hidden shame they are afraid to talk about or share, which weighs them down and keeps them feeling less than whole or free.
The result of carrying this shame is an isolation about sexuality that leads to feeling like you are “abnormal,” somehow not okay, not lovable, freaky or will always be alone.
Those internal beliefs will hold you back from your full sexual and intimate expression until you address them. They tug at you and can reel you into a repetitive thought train of all the reasons you’ll never have a fulfilling sexual life or can’t be healthy and “normal.”
The sad truth is that most people will go to their grave with these heavy feelings that they are not enough or not okay. Quietly succumbing to their deepest fears, they live alone with their sexual shame, and they prevent their own healing.
The Two Most Common Sexual Fears
The two most common sexual fears of being judged and being rejected are so strong that those fears keep people quiet and isolated, not able to air their feelings and release the shame they carry. Ultimately, if you are afraid of being judged, you are judging yourself in some way, not allowing yourself to be honest about who you are and about your sexual proclivities.
It’s easy to think you fear someone else’s harsh judgment, but really that stems from your own.
Exiling aspects of your sexual self to the basement or some island where they can’t be reached doesn’t erase them, it simply fragments YOU.
You judge yourself, tell yourself you are wrong, send the offending thought, desire or experience of sexuality away so you can keep a sense of self in tact, and maybe you think you’ve dealt with it.
Now you have a shadow.
The Shadow of Sexuality
We call that putting it into shadow, where you don’t have to see it and can pretend it’s not there. Your shadow about sexuality follows you and will tug at you to heal it in various ways until you do.
The result of hiding your shame, sending parts of your sexual nature into shadow and pretending to be okay is that you fragment yourself, you deny parts of yourself that are real and important, and they will then find their way to the light in ways you don’t intend. To heal, you must bring those parts home and embrace them.
When your shadows crop up, they create riffs in your relationship because you are still hiding something from your partners. They create a dissonance within yourself that makes it impossible to feel whole, healthy and free.
Some common ways keeping your shame hidden impacts your sexuality:
- You avoid sex because you are conflicted about it and you interrupt the intimacy you could have.
- You secretly watch porn, go to strip clubs, hire sex workers or live out other fantasies because you are not addressing your desires and being honest, which puts your relationship at risk.
- You avoid intimacy and partnership all together because you are so scared and your trauma remains unhealed. Your trauma becomes your identity and eclipses the healthy sexual identity you could have.
- You have an affair because you are so sure you can’t be your full sexual self in your own relationship.
- You hide your body and hide in intimacy for fear of exposure, which limits the pleasure you experience.
- You keep yourself small sexually and deny your full sexual palette because you convince yourself that your desires and fantasies are not okay. Do this long enough and you never fully experience the sexual life that could be yours.
- You deny who you are sexually and have relationships or get married to gain the approval of your family or peer group at the expense of being who you really are and going for what (and who) you really desire.
- You spend your life living up to someone else’s standard (your family, your religion, your community, etc) of appropriate sexual expression and never get to have the authentic expression that is really you.
- You act out sexually—either taking great sexual risks, doing things you don’t want to, or assaulting others and making them do things they do not want to. This causes new layers of shame, harm and pain that need healing.
- You live someone else’s life and never get to fully know who you really are.
The prices we pay for hiding and hanging on to our sexual shame can be great.
It robs us of our relationships to others and most of all, to ourselves.
It robs us of the pleasure and joy that is our birthright and that sexuality is meant to provide.
And it robs us of the ability to explore and expand who we are with the most powerful energy inside of us: our sexual life force.
Living in shame is really not living. No matter where you are right now, you get to do it differently starting today. Getting support and airing your shame is the only way to heal it.
Shame thrives in isolation so the antidote is to take it out of isolation and let it see the light. Sharing it and being met with compassion by a friend, loved one, therapist, coach or other support person is the way through and it can dissipate rather quickly when you do that!
With the dissolution of your shame and bringing your shadows to the light, you get to bring your exiled parts home and embrace all of who you are.
With that homecoming, you get to feel whole, fulfilled and authentic in your sexual expression.
This process will improve everything in your life. Start living fully! Start right now!
If you’re not sure where to start, consider coming to our Shadow Weekend Live Experience on January 23-26, 2020. Both Karin Green and I will host a 3-day deep dive retreat where we’ll help you pinpoint your shadows and get you on the road to healing.