Friday, January 24, 2014

Staying Together: Shared Mythology

My experiences with clients and review statistical data suggest that it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay in long-term relationships. Couples and polyamorous families, regardless of sexual orientation, are finding it more difficult to stay together. It is challenging times. Particularly in Western society, the cultural rituals that help people stay together are no longer appropriate for diverse populations and erotic ways of being. In addition, many of the institutions that helped people stay together are losing their power. It is becoming more and more difficult to balance the needs of work, family, and self.  As things become more and more expensive and as the “good life” is flaunted in our face by the media, creating wealth becomes more important than family and self. Our erotic worlds are neglected.

As a result increased environmental and personal stressors, real and imagined, we do not live holistically: our bodies, our spirits, our emotions, and personal experiences are ignored. We concentrate on our individual mental knowledge to push us ahead. The pressure from the world drives us to seek answers for ourselves, creating individual mythologies or ways of being. We head in different directions than our lovers and loved ones. Staying together means creating shared mythology (mental knowledge, emotional knowledge, somatic knowledge, spiritual knowledge, and knowledge from past experiences). Forming a shared mythology means knowing when it is time to create a new way of being together and communicating what you need and desire for the present and future.

I coached a polyamorous family of two women and two men. Some of members of the family were bisexual, some heterosexual. Some did not date outside of the family; some did. When they came together, they shared the same vision for what they desired, but as time passed, children came, jobs changed, and each individual experienced personal success and failures. With the passing of time comes change. We change as individuals: for example, our bodies change affecting our entire personal mythologies, how we view the world. Our loved ones change too; moreover, the environment around us changes. As a result, our shared erotic mythologies no longer work because they come in conflict with individual changing needs. While working with these extraordinary individuals, I assisted each one in realizing how each of their mythologies had changed. The conflicts they were having as a family came from the friction of change. Most people in long-term relationships fail to make adjustments as their individual mythologies change. They just end the relationships. As humans, many of us see change as right and wrong, so we look at each other with anger, blame, and hurt clouding our vision, instead of seeing change as a natural part of living.

Individuals dedicated to staying together must speak and listen. The purpose of speaking is show yourself. The purpose of listening is gain understanding of others and empathy for others. You cannot gain empathy without speaking your truth; additionally, you will not share common mythology with loved ones if you do not listen. You cannot control others, but you can be responsible for your speaking and listening. This dialog, this honest open exchange will be difficult at times. Listening is not always easy, and we cannot always speak our truths because we may not have the words or consciously know our truth ourselves. However, the communication is necessary nonetheless. Through communication and sustained action you will be able to envision, create, and transition to a shared mythology.

It is difficult for us to accept change. It is easier to blame our mates or lovers for being wrong than it is for us to admit that we have changed, our situation has changed. Many of our conflicts represent our changing mythologies. It is critical for individuals who wish to maintain their long-term relationships to check in with each other and create mythologies that direct them towards each other and balance the needs of each of them and needs of the relationship. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Change and Our Personal Erotic Mythology

Reflecting on our erotic way of being, our personal erotic myths, can tell us a great deal about how we react to life habitually. An erotic personal myth is our emotional knowledge, our somatic (biological) knowledge, our personal histories, our cultural knowledge, and spiritual knowledge centered on a particular aspect or theme of your life. These components of your erotic myths are not truly separate. They are interrelated, and they affect each other continually. Our many myths make up our personal erotic mythologies, which form our erotic worlds.

Emotional Knowledge
Your life have an emotional context and background from where you make decisions and view the world. Extended periods of a specific emotion can become moods, such as depression, that affect you over extended periods of time. Some of your emotions and moods are directly connected to how you are loved. to how you love, and to your attraction or aversion to particular sexual acts or experiences. For instance, a client with whom I worked discussed her aversion to oral sex with me and revealed that she felt the emotion of shame when she performed oral sex on her partner and even when she received it. Her shame was connected to her culture and personal experience. When she was growing up, the girls who performed oral sex were often outed and disgraced. She connected shame with oral sex. Therefore, the emotion of shame came over her whenever oral sex became the focus of discussion. Once she became aware of the origins of her shame, she began to release the shame, knowing that it had no place in her loving relationships. Gaining emotional knowledge through reflection is a vital way to learn and transform yourself into the being you wish to be.

Somatic Knowledge
Your body has a lot to tell you. Your general health can affect how you see the world, and as your body changes over time, your self-image often changes with them. Additionally, your body creates muscle development, neuropath ways, and chemical compositions that affect your behavior and support your current behaviors. Hence learning or changing your behavior means changing your body. Lastly, with reflection, you may even realize that your postures, tense muscles, and other bodily sensations can predict how you react to a given situation, For example, you may feel a sensation in your stomach or tension in your shoulders before you explode with anger. Your body may not respond sexually if your body does not like the situation. Your body has a lot to tell you, so reflect and listen.

Personal History
For humans to make sense of the past, we give meaning to past events. If someone looks at you in a particular manner, you give it meaning. If someone does not perform a sexual act for you, like oral sex, you often place meaning on their lack of interest or inability, whether or not our meaning is true. You bring the emotional significant past with you. If you have been abused, cheated on, or pained in anyway, you have experiences that now affect your thinking. You are able to see some opportunities, but you are blind to others because your personal experiences affected your emotions and biology. You might not try something again or take a chance on loving a person who reminds you of someone from the past. By using avoidance as a way of protectiong yourself, you may avoid some pain in the future, but you will also miss out on beautiful possibilities too. To move forward in any aspect of your life, you have to reflect on the lessons you have learned over your life: Do they still make sense in the present? Are the lessons you learned in the past holding you back in any way? Your past history is a strong part of your personal erotic mythology.

Cultural Knowledge
Humans are born into various cultures, and we become part of other cultures as we claim and profess our sexual orientation, political affiliation, profession, etcetera. Many of my clients come from family, racial, ethnic, or religious cultures that outline how men and women should behave, whether or not any orientation other than heterosexuality is accepted, and what sex practices are considered normal. Culture like personal history can supply you with structure and direction. On the contrary, some cultures have created stories about gender, other cultures, and sex orientation in attempts to control behavior. Has any of the cultures to which you belong supplied you with any attractions or aversions that now limit your ability to grow?

Spiritual Knowledge
Spiritual knowledge is not religious knowledge. Atheists can be spiritual beings. Spirituality is the knowledge gained from our connections with other beings, with the earth, and with the universe. It is the knowledge we gain from dreams, visions, daydreams, visitation from spiritual beings: altered states with a numinous quality that challenge the individual's established ways of construing reality. Your spiritual events have the ability to change you immediately, affecting every aspect of your life. Reflect on your spiritual world. Pray. Exam dreams. Meditate. Follow the rituals that adhere to your spiritual sensibilities. Your spiritual knowledge can give you insight into the knowledge of you unconscious world and align you with your love(s). Do not neglect your spiritual side if you want holistic change in your life, so you can find the path to change.

Your personal erotic mythology, accompanied with reflection, has the potential to free you to explore new possibilities and new erotic worlds; however, it also has the potential to enslave you if your mythology has not room for change and reflects universal reality. Explore.