loving ourselves with small gentle steps

every weekday i put on my passably-corporate garb, run (usually literally) to catch my bus (so as to avoid the glares and cold shoulders my late arrival consistently elicits), and play my role in this corporate giant living and (arguably) thriving another day. on so-called breaks, i walk the skyways, encountering an ocean of corporately-garbed “professionals” who would convince the casual observer they were the picture of the normalcy after which they so strive. they alternately avoid eye contact with me or attempt inconspicuous stares/glances that range from jealousy to lust to surprise and intrigue. i let my freak flag fly as much as i am able within the confines of repressed midwest office dress code policy, hoping it will function as a beacon for other half-hidden freaks. when i spot them we give each other knowing, sweetly supportive smiles and my morale is boosted knowing i am not alone. 

i wonder at so many striving for this concept of normalcy that is a failed venture at best, and at worst destroys you from the inside, via numbing and shame-induced paralysis. the drive towards normalcy in this culture is perplexing to me. i have been othered for so long i have forgotten what it feels like to desire anything resembling “normalcy”. recently a coworker looked at me in concern after i had cleared my throat a couple of times, handing me a bag of lozenges and asking me what on earth was going on that i had so much throat-clearing. i didn’t know how to respond to this throat-clearing shame, it seemed like satire but was real as far as i could tell. i tried going back to my work, feeling my throat and tiniest body-noises were now under close scrutiny and surveillance. 

as marty klein says in his book “sexual intelligence”, “for millions of men and women, ‘i didn’t mess that up too badly’ is as good as sex gets.” with this culturally-mandated approach to pleasure, it is no wonder we (the united states) are the most medicated, numbed-out adult contingent in history (brené brown). with a level of shame and self-consciousness that is sending us running for pills, surgeries, diets, shopping, and anything else we perceive might give us temporary reprieve from the pain of a constant self-and-society-induced sense of isolation, what does it take to even begin to approach loving ourselves? and if we can’t love ourselves even a little bit, there is little hope for us loving our sexuality, which can feel outright dangerous to one who has such an incapacitating (and often unconscious) terror of their own shadow-self.

my ayurveda training taught me that until you can hold darkness, you cannot hold light either; but how many of us can fully acknowledge this? we want to take ourselves the way we take our coffee- with three pumps of hazlenut syrup, 180 degrees, half-caf, and no knowledge of the more complicated aspects, such as the lives affected by those beans as they were grown, harvested, roasted, and transported to our local starbucks. but not understanding and appreciating the long and often less-than-palatable way those beans arrive in our cups also robs us of a full appreciation of the small miracle(s) of modern human ingenuity that brought us coffee, the dignity and integrity we feel when we are fully and intelligently informed, and the gratitude i suspect would necessarily arise from this full knowledge. and few things taste quite so delicious as gratitude and integrity.

so this is my challenge to you, world: take a small, gentle step each day to work towards loving yourself, and maybe someday we will be ready to have an adult dialogue about our sexualit(ies).

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