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My sensual life...


I remember the sensations… the feelings in my body. 

There was an embodied sense of excitement and fear… my breathing changed… and at some point I started to shake… my hands were shaking… I was trembling in my body… I felt hot… and although this experience was strange and new… it made me smile… and maybe even laugh a little. 




The girl I was kissing… pulled back a bit… looked at me… and asked if I was alright… she said “you’re shaking… are you ok?”


I think I might have said something about being ok… feeling a bit strange… and I said that I had never felt like this before.


We held each other and talked for a while. We shared how we felt when we were kissing… we shared what we thought it was… we smiled at each other… we laughed… and after that evening… I never saw her again. 




We were both around 15 years old… at the same school I think… but she was not in the same class… or possibly even the same year as me… I had not met or noticed her before the night of this party… where we ended up in a bedroom… by ourselves… kissing. 




She had a French name… Chloe… and a slight French accent… she may have been on some sort of exchange programme I guess… I have no memory of us having much conversation before we started kissing… but we must have.


Her hair was shortish… dark and curly… sort of ringlets almost… like a mop of curls.

She had dark eyes and when I kissed her… I was overwhelmed with sensations that I had not experienced when kissing other people before… it took my breath away… I could not access thinking… but really felt that whatever this was… I wanted more of it… I wanted more of Chloe… without really understanding what that meant. 




We kissed for a while longer… slowly… and my sensations calmed a little.


Although I never met her again… it is one of those moments that hasn’t left me… even though it happened decades ago.



Chloe had something that I now know is rare… she had something that took me beyond just a craving… beyond the objectified logistics of sexual encounter… beyond my ability to think… rationalise… reason or understand.


Maybe it was the we… together… that had something.


That sense of connection to other… felt… and still continues to feel… special. 




I learned that to fancy someone… to be turned on by someone… is not the same as an undeniable sense of connection that lies beyond that… and this new experience… new possibility… new knowledge… changed me.


I liked it.


Ever since kissing Chloe… I have carried the idea… and lived the experience… that some people engage me… and excite me… in ways that others do not. There is more to intimacy and connection... than sexual attraction... for me.


Over the years… I have had the experience of those deep feelings within intimate relationships…. and as I look back over those moments and people in my life that I got emotionally entangled with… there maybe some patterns that I can see from here. 



I have a sense… now… of a need to feel my way through my experience of the excitment and overwhelm of intimate connection… to tell the story of how these relationships fuelled… fed… and often floored me… and my partners… without any understanding of where this writing might go.


There is a background feeling that there are opportunities for celebration… grieving… joy and pain… an appreciation of the beauty… an acknowledgement of the repair of the wounds… and a gratitude for the healing powers of my well worn heart.


A couple of years after kissing Chloe… shortly after turning 17… having trained as a hairdresser in Manchester… I moved from my home town to London and was working in a trendy salon in the West End… mixing with other young people who had an approach to life and fun that was probably considered unusual and modern… maybe even outrageous… to so many others around us at that time… not that we took much notice of what anyone else felt about the ways we looked, lived, worked, loved and played.




By the time I arrived in London… I had kissed a few more people… and some of those people were great to be around and be with… but when I met Marianne in London… my understanding and experience of sex and love and relationships… developed and grew.


Marianne was clear with me… she would stay overnight at mine… she would get naked with me and sleep in my bed… but she was not ready to have penetrative sex with me.

So we spent many hours being naked with each other… exploring each others skin… bodies… and hearts. 



As we relaxed into each other… got ok with what was and wasn’t right for us as a couple and for each other… I noticed… that the intense... and the relaxed feelings that were so connected and comfortable… ebbed and flowed… and I loved this movement from breathlessness and action to deep slow easy breathing and stillness.


As we touched each other with our hands… our lips… our skin… our whole bodies… naked and dressed… this deep sense of connection and love was only to be found here… in our embrace… with me and her… walking… talking… dancing… eating… lying in bed… listening… sharing… in what we had grown into… and enjoyed… what we both wanted… what we both needed. 




These feelings… I have now… for that relationship… take me back into that trust I had in her… me… us... back then… and as I sit here and type this… I have to stop now and again to allow myself space to breath… smile… and recall how good that felt in my young teenage self… and this stays with me… present and real and warm.


Sitting here… several decades on… I have the time… the space and the bigger perspective to see and feel into those moments in my life when I have felt connected… overwhelmed… close… detached… warm and cold… happy and sad.




My guess is that many of us have access to memories of moments in our lives when we were immersed in relationship… moments when the feelings we experienced took over from our thinking self… and we became aware of the power of our somatic… embodied sensations. 




Imagine all of those moments when an experience… cut through our cultural and familial conditioning… bought us into direct connection with sensations… feelings… emotions… deeper… and further beyond the ways we were taught to experience life.




These are the moments that stay with me… not only as wounds and scars… but as stars and lights and harmonies that shine and ring true… pure.





From here… now… sitting on my sofa writing this piece about my sensual life… I recognise that there are many cultural norms that I grew up with… and many of these norms suggested that feelings and emotions are troublesome... best avoided... or repressed. 




Within the messages I was surrounded by as a child and as a young adult… women were… I am struggling to pin these words down… and feel uncomfortable even writing them… the ways women were so often portrayed… was as unreliable… difficult for us males to deal with… either placid and servile to the point of being bland and invisible… or stroppy and loud… unpredictable… and not to be trusted.


This came through in many of the pop music lyrics… the films and the advertising… and all of this… was impossible to ignore.


My own experience of females… led me to believe… that this cultural conditioning… this male fear of independent… able… women… was bullshit.




Making a choice to hang with a few girls… as well as to play football, climb trees… and hang out with the boys around me… pissed off a few of the males around me.



I was told by male friends… and others… that it was wrong for any boy over the age of around 6 or 7 to choose to hang out with girls… some of my male peer group even got aggressive about it… calling me out and saying I was “a puff”. 




This was long before I had any ideas of… or understanding of… sex… or sexuality… I just got the message that some of the boys felt uncomfortable with me hanging out with girls… and I didn’t really take much notice of their complaints… just carried on hanging out with whoever I liked… whenever I liked.


Later on when I was working in London as a hairdresser… much of my work involved many more females than males… and as there were lots of gay men around me too… my whole take on gender and sexuality… was something like… what difference does any of that make.


I knew I liked getting naked with females… had lots of male friends… some of who I loved as people… from there… I enjoyed these new opportunities to express myself however I liked… and was confident in the ways I showed up and shared intimacy with those around me who I trusted and felt close to.


There is something physical in giving someone a hair cut… there is… close physical proximity… touch… lots of looking really closely at this persons’ face… body… posture… and when I am was involved in a hair cut… there were moments of quiet concentration… and deep attention being paid solely to this person sitting here now.


And I liked that level of connection to this person… to this task in hand… and to this moment… each time… was special… for them… and me. 




I loved looking at someone as they stood up… watching them gaze into the mirror… pull their hands through this new shape… and work out how it changed them… because… having the chance to express myself via changing the way this person presented to their world… felt… like… connection… trust… excitement… it was scary… thrilling… and an honour.


And this brings me back to those words… intimacy… closeness… physicality… sensations… emotions… feelings… trust… confidence… touch… sensuality… surrender… giving… taking… permission… consent… understanding… connection… responsibility.




So many of these words… I feel… have been so strongly imbued with connotations of sex and sexual relations… that I find it difficult to use them sometimes… not because the idea of sex bothers me… rather because these words… and my relationship to them… stretch much further than sex and sexuality… even though they are useful and important there too. 




Aware that I am inclined to over thinking… I have invested lots of energy over the years… into being able to be present... comfortable... in my body.

I have become fluent in my internal somatic language… and this is so often a word free place.

I know what my body is telling me when I tune in and resonate… and when not told in words… told in sensations… internal sensual expressions of movement… colours… textures… densities… rhythms… and pulses of energy.


So… feeling into this now… I notice my eyelids lowering… I feel my space between my navel and my perineum… I notice my jaw… my tongue… and I notice my lower back… around where my kidneys are… is warm. 




How have we mixed up our human need for trust in connection with self and other… with sex… not mixed up… how have we monopolised the words and expression of our human needs for closeness and connection… with sexual interactions… I don’t have the answer to this… but somewhere… deep within me… I feel… it has something to do with an over emphasised yang… and a repression of the yin.


How have we entangled our physical… emotional… intuitive… responses to life… with shame… with references to darkness… late nights… with alcohol… drugs… and blind leaps into vibes of… what ever is there… regardless of quality...will do?


Maybe we haven’t… and this is just my perspective… maybe there is little or no difference between sex with a random one night stand… and the feelings involved when I meet someone who I know I want to be around… in whatever ways that might show up.

Maybe I am the only person who uses the word sensual and imagines that who ever is listening… assumes I am talking sex.

Maybe I still… think too much. 




I don’t know how it is to be anyone else… I do know how it is to be me. 



I know that I have witnessed lots of damage being done to women as a result of the men in our communities being raised in a toxic culture of male dominance… and a conditioned… filtered… view of women as being other… lesser… difficult and dangerous.


I know that so many men… struggle with managing relationships… with themselves... and with all those around them who they feel love for… and are scared and isolated by this missing depth of connection and commitment.


Not an easy place to be… nor easy to escape from... many men choose to end their life rather than take that risk.

I often imagine a community where we are all encouraged… from a very early age… to express and share our feelings and emotions… where we feel safe enough... loved enough... to be curious about… interested in… entangled with… the qualities of the relationships we choose to invest and engage in.


A community where we feel confident about trusting ourselves and each other to behave with grace… respect… and dignity… in all our relationships.


Writing this out… I notice that I feel… silly… slightly embarrassed… an underlying sense of anxiety and nerves… on edge.


And as I breathe that through for a moment… I notice the tree outside my window… bathed in evening sunlight… moving slightly in the breeze… and this is an easy… sensual… emotional dance… an intimate relationship… between me… the tree… the setting sun... and this stream of consciousness.


If you read this far… thanks for your trust in me… and whether I know you or not… you are now a part of me… and I look forward to getting to know this new part of me… that is part of you… intimate hey?




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