If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, then you’ve already seen some version of this. I think it bears re-sharing because it has been powerful for me. And thinking about self-love and how we frame relationships is important for all of us.
“I love how he makes me feel.” Sitting at a stoplight, musing about the night before those words tumbling around in my brain. The old romantic refrain that we learned in Disney movies and read in magazines and then in bodice-rippers. Find the right man and HE will make you feel all the right feelings.
I caught myself and reworked the sentence and the feeling, “I love how I feel when I’m with him.”
In that shift from passive to active, from letting another person own my feelings to claiming it all for myself I/we step into full ownership. In the sexual world this is the shift that allows women to own their sexuality. To invite desire into their lives.
The best sex of our lives doesn’t arise from laying passively in the bed, mouth tightly shut, waiting for her Prince Charming to switch all our buttons, rendering us wonderful sexual creatures by his magical touch. For his pleasure. And bragging rights.
Let’s talk about the shift from passive to active. If I stay with “I love how he makes me feel” there is a bit of me saying I can’t create my own feelings of desire. That, romantically I need someone else, a man, (because this is the quintessential heteronormative experience) to bring me alive. I become Sleeping Beauty, waiting for some Prince to awaken me and bring me to life.
I often find myself writing in the passive voice. I’ve lived a good bit of my life in the passive voice. As a woman that’s not all that shocking, sadly. Imagine my delight in discovering all that’s possible—just weeks away from my 63rd birthday.
The change from “how he makes me feel” to “how I feel with him” is a simple shifting of perspective. And it’s a powerful example of taking ownership. Of feelings, of desires. Of the ability to feel and show up, to create the experiences we want to have in our lives.
There’s a lot of “I” in this passage, in my declarations.
It is way past time for women to start saying “I” more. To look at interactions and experiences from our own perspective. To figure out what we want and need, then state it clearly. It’s more than asking for what we want. In a gentle way, this is women claiming what is theirs. And, as I’m hearing in my writing retreat this week, it’s about us individually giving ourselves a hand, being responsible for our own needs. And thinking about how affirming that it—that knowing that we are capable of being responsible for ourselves.
In writing and speaking about sexuality I often talk about the need for women to speak up—to ask for what they want. Those conversations have to run deeper, we have to talk about cultivating an awareness of our self-worth as women, and our right to have anything we want. And to stop placing our needs behind those of the men in our lives.
Show up. Two words that demand a foundation of bodily understanding, of owning our bodies, and our desire. Ideally we strive for a deep understanding that includes learning how to use our voices with intention and a bit of daring. To say, “this is what I need” is a good start, but we have to go a step farther and make sure those words are not still some version of giving a partner the responsibility, and power, for bringing us to life. The good news: it is doable and rewarding and there are men and other partners who will be drawn to that self-confidence and awareness we radiate in that awareness.
The bad news: others are going to be less comfortable. They will try and silence you. Or shame you.
Let them go. Once we know what we want we no longer need others to validate and give us permission. We are giving ourselves permission. Every minute, of every day.
Because we’re living in accordance with our wants, our desires, our intentions, and our wildest dreams. Invite someone to play with you, or not. Just be the one in charge.