Having uncomfortable conversations with kids is challenging for parents.
Having intimate conversations with teenagers is even harder.
Growing up in the United States my parents worked hard and provided me with food, shelter and love.
Like most parents of their generation the one thing they didn’t provide was a sexual education. And it’s not like my dad didn’t try.
He took a few chances at having ‘the sex talk’ with me here and there, but I always blew him off. And he didn’t force it.
Now in my early 30’s I realize I always blew him off because I lacked self-confidence and felt ashamed.
But where did this shame come from?
When did I create the story in my head that I wasn’t good enough? That I was somehow lacking?
The Roots of Sexual Shame
I was a shy, chubby kid who never spoke to girls. In high school I lost my baby fat and developed a lean, muscular body but I was still shy.
Heck I only had one girlfriend. And we never had sex.
Even though I had a nice body, the person I saw in the mirror was the fat, shy, scared kid staring back at me.
The lack of self-confidence from my childhood years had morphed into sexual shame and fear in my adult life.
This pattern of fear, lack of self-confidence and sexual shame continued into my mid-twenties.
I didn’t go to any parties in college, had no girlfriends and I never had casual sex. Why?
- Mainly, it was a fear of failure.
- What if I’m not good enough?
- What if my penis isn’t big enough?
- What if I don’t last long enough?
- What if I can’t satisfy her?
- And my worst fear – What if she laughs at me?
I tried overcoming my sexual shame by going to prostitutes. If I’m paying them, they can’t laugh at me right?
This of course did not work because I felt no connection with the prostitutes.
For them I was just another guy to get off and never see again.
I felt empty inside and even though I yearned for companionship, I couldn’t wait to leave once I was in their presence.
And because I was ashamed I never told anyone I was seeing prostitutes.
At the time it was easier to create fictitious girlfriends in faraway places to keep my friends off my back.
But this didn’t last long.
Overcoming Sexual Shame
At the age of 28 I met a nomadic traveler in my yoga class. We hit it off right away.
For the first time in my life I wasn’t scared to be myself with a woman.
I was ready. My soul was ready. Ready to revamp the circuits in my brain to tell a different story.
Ready to face my fears and rid them for good.
This might sound very brave but it didn’t seem like it at the time. I felt I had no other choice. I had to do this.
We developed a good relationship and even had sex but something was still off.
I could not please her sexually. She was in tuned with her body and sexually confident and I was not. I had relatively little sexual experience.
But that’s not the real reason I couldn’t please her.
There was still a blockage in my heart.
A few months after meeting this woman I was involved in a harrowing car accident.
Thankfully I was physically uninjured, but I was broken open.
I could no longer hide behind my shame. I felt as if the accident had freed this heavy stone in my heart.
This truth ache was loosened and it had to come out of me. It could no longer reside within.
I had to come clean and tell this woman and my friends about my sexual history.
Only by coming clean could I rid myself of the shame and doubt I had created in my own being.
The following days and weeks were very difficult. I cried a lot. But I felt at peace. My heart and soul were finally open and free.
By dismantling the person I had created with lies, shame and fear, I created the space necessary to build a new person rooted in love, confidence and self-respect.
Nurturing this new person takes work. This is a choice I make. Every. Single. Day.
Sometimes I find myself falling back into old habits. And most times I don’t even realize I am doing it at first.
But then I catch myself, acknowledge that it’s happening and steer my sail in the direction I want to go.
Living Without Shame
Sexual shame, self-doubt, lack of self-confidence and lack of self-love can haunt us for our entire lives.
Our souls will cry out to us when we can’t take it anymore. When we can’t sweep our emotions under the rug any longer.
And it’s during these truth aches we are presented with the opportunity to create change.
We all have fears. It’s natural.
And fears around sex can be especially hard to overturn.
To create lasting change and overcome sexual shame we have to identify the patterns that created the shame and choose to tell ourselves a different story.