Did you know that sexual pleasure can make you 80% more generous? In this research study, the participants who had been given an injection of oxytocin (the chemical released during pleasurable sex and climax) gave away 80% more money than those who did not receive the shot.
Bearing this in mind, here's how I recovered from a childhood of sexual shame in a religious cult.
Between the ages of 9 and 11, I was bullied every day for being ugly. I felt ugly, was told I was ugly, and believed absolutely that the bullies were right. After all, here I was in a body that I was certain was bad. It was a body that longed for pleasure, a body that felt real pain, and seeing as I'd been raised in the Christian Science religion, I knew my feelings of pain and longings for pleasure made me sinful and grotesque--because a moral person should deny everything material. Why? Because the material world did not exist.
The material world, especially the body, was to be denied if we were to escape sin. To quote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science holy book:
"Divine Mind [God] can and does destroy the false beliefs of pleasure, pain, or fear and all the sinful appetites of the human mind."
"Chastity is the cement of civilization and progress. Without it there is no stability in society, and without it one cannot attain the Science of Life."
"It is easier for Christianity to cast out sickness than sin, for the sick are more willing to part with pain than are sinners to give up the sinful, so-called pleasure of the senses."
"The sensual cannot be made the mouthpiece of the spiritual, nor can the finite become the channel of the infinite."As you'll guess, I see no truth in these quotes any more.
So there I was, "ugly" and bullied, and being advised by adults to deal with this by truly knowing that I wasn't bullied in spiritual reality, and by turning the other cheek, rather than standing up for myself. And you know what? Things got really tough. I did not believe my body was beautiful--I was covered in acne, had oily hair, and my classmates reminded me I was "disgusting" every moment they could. So why couldn't I leave my feelings of pain and longings for pleasure behind?
But I digress.
As for sex, like so many of us, I was taught I was evil to even think of it. So I masturbated in secret, ashamed of this activity I didn't understand, but knew must be beyond sinful. I even feared that God would punish me by making me miraculously pregnant--after all, if he could bless the Virgin Mary with a child, why would he not curse me with one? That would certainly be a fitting punishment, I assumed at the time. See, I'd been told there was nothing more shaming than being a single unmarried mother.
When my hand looked strange and plastic, as if it wasn't mine, I thought this was because the material world wasn't real. Actually, I now know I was experiencing a severe form of dissociation.
Sure, it took me until I was in my thirties until I could look into the mirror and see beauty there. But once I saw it, I had to learn to trust it.
Trust yourself, dear reader. You're beautiful, no matter what you've been told or how you've been shamed.
Now? At the age of forty-one, I am an erotic writer who is married to the woman of my dreams. A sex activist, I co-run an indie erotic publishing house called Go Deeper Press, where we spread the word that erotic enjoyment is deep, not shallow. I believe in a Universe that is all-loving. I believe that causing pain causes pain, and causing pleasure causes pleasure. I believe that love and compassion are the root of all beauty.
In my view, what Christian Science lacked was true compassion. And yet loving sexuality is all about compassion. Did I mention that sexual pleasure can make us 80% more generous?
What isn't beautiful or compassionate about that?
Love on, my friends.
-- A book trailer for my latest novel, Cream: An Erotic Romance