Fifty Shades of Growth: A Psychotherapist's Invitation to Action

As a sexual health educator and psychotherapist, it may or may not surprise you to know that I went to see Fifty Shades of Grey.

I've always been incredibly curious about and fascinated with the topic of sexuality and the related shadow and shame that surrounds it.

I don't generally read or watch a lot of mainstream media, but what I did see and read about Fifty Shades of Grey mostly felt sadly skewed in the direction of an "either/or" vibrational frequency -- either the opinion was one of disgust (both by people who saw it and also by people who believed they knew the topic and chose not to see it but to form an opinion about it anyway) or an opinion of what seemed to be unconscious enjoyment.

I sobbed through many parts of the movie.

Looking around the crowded theatre, it appeared I was the only one expressing these emotions and I wondered why I was alone in this reality. Nonetheless, I quickly forgot there was even anyone around me and gave myself permission to go inward and be curious about this unexpected reaction that was flowing from me like a tsunami.

For me, this film had much less to do with sex or violence as other reviews and opinions had concentrated on and so much more to do with the power and control dynamics that awaken in us as we dance with our experience of and willingness for connection, acceptance and love both within relationship with ourselves and others.

I realized the emotion pouring out of me was expressing grief for times I have been unconscious to my own unwillingness to connect in relationships and as a result, allowed myself to hide behind manipulation and curious expressions of my sexuality for attention, love and belonging. It woke me up to the dominant and submissive parts of myself that have been calling for my love and attention that I have often ignored because I felt them to be unsavory and unacceptable.

It has occurred to me on several occasions now, what if we are being called to rise above the surface -- to zoom out above what appears to be true and real at first glance and to deepen into opportunities to awaken to our shadow and bring light to the dark spaces within?

What if this film is more than what it appears on the surface? There have been plenty of books about bondage and domination behaviors but this one has become a phenomenon. Why?

It seems we are being asked to awaken our collective shadow around power, control and manipulation.

Perhaps while we are busy judging the behaviors of these characters, we are missing the opportunity to meet parts of ourselves that are stuck in unconscious patterns of bondage and domination that have been calling for our loving attention.


I found myself curious when I came across several petitions trying to ban this film and could not help but wonder how this might be a metaphor for wanting to ban these parts of ourselves that we are afraid to meet, acknowledge and love.

Today I'm being led to offer us an invitation to action.

Go within. Bring light to the shadows of the experience of giving and receiving pleasure in your own life (not just sexually although sexual behavior can serve as a powerful metaphor for the inner workings of the psyche).

Where have we abused our own power and control? Where have we used manipulation to experience love and belonging? Where has pain been the only place we have been willing to welcome pleasure?

If we are having a strong reaction to this film, I invite us to allow these reactions to lead the way to what has been left unexplored within. I don't believe we are seeing and experiencing these intense reactions to the film and these books for nothing. This is an opportunity for awakening. The question is are we willing to take it?