My journey as a sex therapist really began many many moons ago, as my own sexuality began to blossom and I began to notice the plethora of messages that existed (and still do) around all things sexual. If I really delve into the recesses of my mind, into my deepest memories, into the nooks and crannies of my conscious mind, my first memories of being sexual were when I was very young, and were misguided as we often are in reference to our own sexualities and parts. Back then, the thoughts spun like a top, unhinged, no rhyme or reason...Observations lacking direction, ridden with intrigue by this concept of sex and sexual expression. They were overt sometimes, and cryptically hidden in other instances, to be found amongst the taboo and alternative topics of the world that I was coming to know.
Fast forward many years, I came across the opportunity to serve as an advocate to victims of sexual assault. Having yet to spread my licensed therapist wings, I was so inexperienced but no less passionate at connecting with people. It was through this opportunity of working with those individuals, through working with their traumas and pain, the slivers of light in darkness that a meager crumb of an idea began to form into a dream, a passion, and later a calling. I knew at that time I wanted to keep listening to sexual stories, but didn't exactly how or if I could make this dream-turned-passion-turned-calling into a reality.
Life continued on for me as life often does. I graduated with my undergraduate degree and then my first graduate degree, continuing to stay involved in the clinical realm, involving myself in advocacy work and contexts that I felt would offer future professional endeavors. My reflection to the world of sexuality continued to take this shape at this time in my life. I soon found myself entrenched in the world of marriage and family therapy, through which there was an abundance of discussion around "intimacy," which I now think of as a passive way avoiding mentioning sex directly. Very little was discussed in regards to sexuality, and I soon knew that I would have to find an outside path to pursue my goals in specializing in this apparently verboten realm know as sexuality. I came up against opposition from my mentors, teachers, family, friends, and peers. Some resistance direct, while others, much more subtle, wrapped under a cloak of passivity; all the product of discomfort, the fear of the vulnerable.
Speaking of vulnerability...Sex is scary. Really, really scary. As in shake like a leaf, shiver in your boots scary. We are given unhealthy messages, with very little follow through on how to handle the veneration. If you grew up in the world that I did (which you did-at least in some version of it anyway), you were socialized to shudder in response to, run from, feel ashamed of, be laughed at, deny, lie about, keep secrets about, be ridden with confusion in regards to your sexuality at some point in time. Maybe not all at once, but intermittently a moment, an exchange, a memory that sent you reeling as a result of our world not condoning the topic of sexuality in a comfortable way. My point? It's universal. Sexual discomfort that is. It's what intrigues me. It's what has fueled my fire. I am beyond privileged to do what I do. I am so lucky to listen to the sexual stories of others and watch the shame, the guilt, the embarrassment bloom into empowerment...comfort...acceptance. The human condition is amazing to behold and I am rich in the opportunities to witness the muddling through of the trepidatious, the rises and falls of relationships just realized, and too long forgotten. My heart is filled every day with the beauty that is human emotion and the ever developmental realm that is often showcased, but not really explored.
I was called to be a sex therapist. I have become what I want to be when I grow up...now to just keep growing...learning...observing. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you will continue, as I look forward to sharing the clinical, emotional, challenging, joyous, heart-wrenching, and everything in between. Feel free to share your feedback, and your own stories if you feel so compelled. We all have one. What's yours?