Tuesday, September 21, 2010


by Jody Coughlin

I've been digging into some compelling literature lately. The book I am reading now is called The Soul of Sex, written by Thomas Moore. It's a fast read. An easy read. I almost feel like I am in a classroom listening to one very long interesting and captivating lecture.

So much of what I am reading is making sense to me. I was most intrigued when Moore spoke about Jesus and how he seemed to represent one kind of person in the Bible (to the author and others I am sure) and quite another in the realms of controlled religion. He spoke about Jesus being a man of compassion, joyful enrapture in constant communion with God. Jesus was about Love above all and not nearly as concerned with the sexual orientation of a man or a woman as organized religion would have us believe. I would have to say that it has been my personal experience with the Divine that this is the case. I will say, though, that I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination and I am no more interested in offending someone who takes their religion to heart than I am in pretending I am Jesus himself. So, I think I will say no more about that just now.

It's just that my heart and mind seems to find the permission to look inwardly when I read about others who share a similar point of view and this author and I agree on so many things. It's so interesting! I find myself able to admit the things that I have known all along about life and myself and above all-sex.

I was a very sexually curious girl. I lost my virginity when I was 13 to a boy whom I both feared and adored. I feared him because I knew at the time the profound sense of bliss I had discovered in the realms of physicality was not necessarily shared by him. I feared he was doing what they say all teenaged boys do at that age. I feared he was taking advantage of an excellent opportunity for self gratification. I feared that he would walk away and I would never be able to convey what my relationship to him meant and in time, I was right. That is exactly how it went, of course. I didn't have the word power back then that I have now and even if I did, I am sure it would have fallen of deaf ears. Teenaged boys are not known for their attention span, are they?

Yet, we developed a modicum of relationship satisfaction and blissful experimentation that seemed good for a long long time. Of course we were young. Too young by the standards of any parent I know today. In fact, I would likely have a very hard time accepting it if I found out that my kids were sexually active at such a young age. Who am I kidding? I would likely have a full-blown heart attack!

But I? I did not feel young at the core of my being. I never have. I was young, physically and especially emotionally, but my spirit seemed to understand I had ushered myself into something that would become sacred to me and my sense of self all my life. I have not lived a promiscuous life, but sex and the connection I feel toward another human being, be it through the actual act itself or a quick peck on the cheek when my husband heads out the door to go to work, to me, means everything and yet it does not define my existence. It enhances it and that is the core of our searching, I think. We want our lives to feel enhanced. Intimacy with another person offers that and it somehow connects us to all we will ever be. It represents the beauty and mystery of our humanity.

From sex springs forth life on the positive side and utter destruction on the negative.

What this tells me is that sex is nothing to take lightly, nothing to reject as frivolous and certainly nothing to be mocked as it often is (which I find deeply saddening and disturbing).

We need it in some capacity or more to the point, we need to be accepting of our sexual nature and not be ashamed of it. We need to respect our selves and others and through that respect we need to form a healthy bond. It might mean something different to everyone but it need not be destructive by error of oppression. If our love is properly nurtured we will be good to each other and ourselves. If we repress ourselves? We've all seen the news headlines. We know how bad things can get in the world of sex. I could go on, but I recommend reading the book if you seek a more in-depth explanation.

Again, I am no expert. Just observant.

So, one thing I am so pleased to understand about myself is that because my sexual awakenings happened when I was young I carried a lot of grief and sadness. In plain terms, I didn't understand what was happening to me. A powerful element of life had lit itself inside my heart like a million watt lightbulb and yet, I was still a kid, basically. I was alone in this awakening. I didn't dare speak about it to anyone for obvious reasons.

I blamed my "misbehaviors" on my lack of good parenting. I had a mom that was always physically, mentally or emotionally absent. I had no father to defend my "honor". For a long time I played the wounded victim of a relationship gone sour because my father was not around to kick this boy's ass for loving me and then leaving me (as it where). Don't get me wrong, there are a few instances in my relationship history when I wish my father had been alive to do just that, but for the most part, it was what it was because I wanted it to be that way.

Now I think I am beginning to understand I wanted things to happen. I wanted to open this mysterious book, so as to speak. I wanted to leaf through the pages and study every little thing I could. I wanted to learn. I wanted to unveil the mystery and it seems now that I was willing to take that risk come what may. I don't regret it. The only regret I may have is that in all my brazen curiosity, I may have hindered more than helped the emotional development of my partner in all these crimes. But that is my heart speaking now. I think too much. I care too deeply. Somehow that seems to be a fault in me or so I've been told.

Anyway, this is quite a ramble about something some would say is personal. But I don't really think it actually is all that personal. Sex is on everyone's mind. We want to know if we can have it. We want it. We don't always understand it. There is so much to be learned still. After all these years, humans still do not have the monopoly on the mystery of desire and I hope that never changes. We try. We make some pretty good substitutes, but we cannot beat the real deal.

Another aspect of the book I found deeply satisfying is how the author pointed to the fact that for all our advancements and technology, we still fall short when it comes to our moral fortitude. By that I think he meant that there is a huge difference between pointing fingers at others who do not share the same point of view as you do within your lifestyle and a true sense of what is right and wrong. The kind of moral self-righteousness that seems to run rampant in the hard-core environmentalist mentality (for example) or those who are against this that or the other thing is not a truly moral system at all. It's just not. It's weak and ineffective at the best of times. It is not the same as being morally conscious.

A morally conscious individual first and foremost considers the person he or she disagrees with and then choses not to create a violent division within that differing point of view. There is a real difference in the so-called morals of the finger-pointer and the one who realizes hurting someone by diminishing their life choices has repercussions beyond the current conflict. It becomes morally out of the question to diminish an individual by preachy put downs. Within that type of conscious awareness we can become more of a loving force within a community and a real agent for the changes we desire.

My mother subscribes to an almost Pentecostal form of Christianity. It isn't that exactly, but it is pretty close. Well, we have always disagreed about many things, but wearing dresses because women in men's clothing is against the "law" of the Bible has been one that really sticks out in my mind. She always says to me with such an air of authority it freaks me out that "God is a very exacting God" and by that I it seems to me she means he watches our every move with a fine-toothed comb and a magnifying glass and he especially wants woman to wear "women's clothing". This is truly frightening to think about, but it is what I grew up hearing. And yes, this debate could go on ad nauseam. But please, not today.

I want to yell at her to open her eyes, but she would never listen to me on this. She would say I am the one who must open my eyes. Well, I don't know much, but I do know that wearing a dress everyday sucks. I tried it. I lasted for about six months and then I said to hell with it and I grabbed the first pair of jeans I could find and I put them on. I've never looked back on that issue and I never will. I don't fit in with her Christian Ideals, but she doesn't fit in with mine either. All I know is at the end of the day I feel much better about it all if I show her respect for her beliefs and keep my own to myself. I refuse to fight about it ever again.

Respect comes first. Discussion second, if possible. And then love. Always love, hopefully. Moral high grounds breed contempt, arguments, hatred or worse. A truly moral person works out the fabric of their own life and through this action develops compassion for others and respect for self.

And I am learning this as I go along. When it comes to sex, you'll find me in the "classroom" learning as much as often as I can manage. I am just thankful I have a partner who is brave enough to try to understand me even if, at times, he doesn't.

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