There's a groundbreaking new sex book that could change my life.
With the secrets tucked between its pages, I could transform myself into the bold, knowing, beautifully confident woman I'm meant to be. All I have to do, to start down the road of pleasure and wisdom, is order the book, called, Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagoski. Ph.D.
But I'm afraid to read it.
From what I gather, Come as You Are demystifies women's sexuality. It busts harmful myths and illuminates the facts of how we operate. It reveals why and how we feel desire and pleasure. It puts you in the driver's seat. Just skimming the "Look Inside" pages on Amazon, I learned precisely why something works for me in bed, reliably. It's not luck or hormones or self-assurance. It's anatomy -- something in my biological set-up that I happen to share with about 30 percent of women.
Shame-free enlightenment awaits me, should I read on. But Ms. Nagoski's half-hour interview on HuffPost Live freaked me out so much, I'm afraid to open the actual book, with its cover photo of a change purse, unzipped and angled to look like a happy, golden-pink vulva.
That's vulva, not vagina. The words are not interchangeable, Nagoski points out. Vulva is the outside. Vagina, inside. I'm sure I was taught the distinction at some point, and it's alarming to me that I managed to misplace this basic bit of information about my body.
But Nagoski's advice regarding g-spots -- and a-spots and p-spots -- alarms me even more.
"The entire body is a spot," she says. "There's an opportunity for arousal in literally every single part of the body... the inside of a person's elbow, the webbing between their fingers... anywhere that a human has nerve endings is an opportunity for sexual stimulation, because the perception of sensation is context dependent."
This isn't entirely news to me. If the right guy touches, say, my elbow, in a passing flirtation, he can inadvertently send me spinning into thoughts of everlasting, oversexed bliss.
So, if my whole body is a pleasure zone, depending on context, and if this book shows me how to create that context, with conscious intention, why am I afraid of this knowledge?
The short answer: I'm don't want to know how much I've been missing.
This isn't sliced bread or the horseless carriage or Google; it's not an innovation to bring ease and convenience into my life.
It's potentially profound knowledge of my body, and of how I personally can connect with someone I desire.
Even superficial contact with the book has made me question the "context" my sexual arousal has always depended on -- and how limited that context is.
What turns me on has always been excruciatingly restrictive. It's as if there's an instrument inside me, a lens, measuring everything about a man's face, gait, bones, eyes, voice. Only when the man's measurements are "ideal" do I start to feel those fiery urges.
Worse yet: when a guy does get my bells ringing, I'm never sure that the chemistry I feel isn't actually being generated by an illusion: empty charms, a souped up persona, the smoke and mirrors some guys use to say, Here stands before you a hot man you cannot live without.
Ignorance is an easy mark.
What do I make of my ignorance of my own sexual mapping?
It's led to some spectacular fantasizing.
In the absence of a clear picture of my sexual mapping, I've conjured a constellation of man-gods.
I pray to the "high testosterone" charm-n-swagger guy. I pray he'll come save and fulfill me. I WANT him to have all the power, and so: I stand alone on a mountain praying to the God-Kings of Sex, waiting for one of them to descend in earthly form. When he appears, it's always as a traveler. He passes by and shares his canteen with me for 2 minutes, if I'm lucky, then moves on.
This helpless, superstitious take on my sexual fulfillment makes sense only in light of my ignorance of my body.
And it gets worse. Thanks to my un-mastery, somewhere along the line, sexual attraction became the Door to My Deepest Fears: abandonment and rejection.
Those fears are embedded in every molecule of my body, but they only announce themselves riotously when fiery sex becomes a possibility. Or rather, an impossibility. In the presence of a powerful sexual attraction, my desire and fear crest over and over. In that storm of fear, nothing good can come.
But that powerful attraction stems, at least partly, from my own sexual energy.
I'm afraid of my own sexual energy.
How do I dissipate the fear? How do I tap into my sexual self in a way that doesn't exhaust or alarm me?
"You learn to have sex the same way you learn to dance," Nagoski says. "You just have to get out there and find somebody you can laugh with and step on each other's toes and be ok with it and learn."
I've found more guys I can do this with than I can count. But the good guys rarely get a crack at me. I'm too busy praying for the arrival of a Sex God.
How might things have unfolded differently, if Come As You Are had come earlier? Operating from a more confident place, would I have been better equipped to separate out the players from the real partners? Would I have sidestepped all the catch as catch can, all the feelings of nowhere-ness?
I picture Nagoski's book as a bag of tricks, balms, formulas, and curiosities I can take with me on my next visit to a guy who seems available and honest, and say: Let's play.
"When you create a context that allows your body to feel pleasure," Nakoski says, "Desire will emerge from that pleasure, and that is just as healthy... as experiencing sexual desire as the wanting to fling yourself at each other."
Desire, she explains, doesn't come only through the lightning bolt that possesses and torments you. It can come when you feel safe, when you can laugh, when you accept the pleasure you're currently feeling -- however small or unfamiliar -- so it can do its job and open you up to more and better.
Maybe that lens inside me is scanning for something important and significant, and its findings can't be disregarded; I can't decide who I'll fall hard for. But while I'm waiting for the Big Fall, can't I get out there and dance?
I recently dated two guys who were not of the God-King swagger variety. They were vulnerable. They didn't lead with sex. I dated both for a while. When things became physical, with only the hint of Nagoski's message floating through my mind, I slowed us down enough to dissipate some fear and inhibition -- theirs and mine. In the end, something surprising emerged. Small gifts of desire and pleasure. The guys were grateful, and I felt more confident than ever. Nagoski's book is in my cart at Amazon. I'm waiting to feel ready.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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