Whenever I meet someone new and we talk about how my 15-year old son is a pilot, they look at me sideways and say something like, “You’re a brave mom to let him fly.” As I’ve written about in other posts, allowing him to fly does, indeed, drag me into a regular practice of facing my fears and letting go, but the joy I experience watching his joy far outweighs the fear. His passion is a gift, and I know how rare it is to have such a clear calling so early in life, how passion can be the fire that burns through layers of the fears that want to keep us small.

Indeed, becoming a pilot has been the single-most life-changing action that has allowed our son to transform his tendencies toward staying small, partially informed by being a highly sensitive child prone to anxiety, into leading as big a life as humanly possible. It still blows my mind that the child who refused to leave the house after we moved from Los Angeles to Denver when he was two years old because he was so dysregulated from the transition now dreams of going to Mars. He attributes this internal change to his love of flying for he knew that if he wanted to fly he had to face his fears, grow beyond his comfort zone, and become more adaptable.

So, yes, it’s truly scary to let him fly, but letting him fly isn’t the scariest thing that I do. The ways that we challenge ourselves physically – and allow our kids to take physical risks – are certainly important for pushing the envelope on a variety of fears, but whenever I see someone who jumps out of airplanes or climbs to the top of ridiculously high buildings without ropes I think, “Yes, that’s terrifying, but it’s not the scariest thing we humans do.”

The scariest thing we all do is to love and be loved.

And let me be clear that I’m talking about real love where two people are available and committed to showing up for themselves and each other – not the Hollywood pursuer-distancer version, which I’ll talk a bit more about in a minute. For it’s only in real love that we’re asked to risk our most tender hearts, the part of our emotional anatomy that has been hurt, steamrolled, rejected, or abandoned, and thus, is terrified of putting ourselves in a situation where this could happen again.

And yet… as scary as it is to open fully emotionally, there’s an even deeper vulnerability that arises in intimate, committed relationships: the risk required to open fully sexually. And again, I’m not talking about surface sex, which is more about two naked bodies going through the motions and is primarily what we see depicted in the mainstream. I’m talking about sacred sexuality, which asks that we open body, mind, heart, and soul to another human being. What could possibly be scarier?

As Robert Johnson writes in his book Ecstasy:

“We want more things – more cars, more money, more clothes, more drugs, more fun – but we’re frightened of touch, of making real contact with another person. We’re more likely to take our clothes off in front of a stranger than we are to let down our emotional defenses in front of someone we love.”

If you’ve ever been fully alive and aroused by someone who had one foot out the door, a total stranger or someone you’re in a long-term relationship with but who you knew wasn’t emotionally available and fully committed, you know what Johnson is talking about: our culture conditions us to feel safe through distances and to keep people at arm’s length, and this filters into our sex lives. We’re wired to be more turned on by the chase and longing than we are by emotional availability.

The work, then, is to rewire our conditioning so that we’re turned on by the loving partner who stands naked before us, ready and willing to love and be loved. Rewiring from cultural conditioning is never easy, but it’s entirely possible. And it begins with excavating our own shame stories and early scripts around our bodies and our sexuality, then replacing them with the truth, which is as clear as water. We then learn to bathe in this truth, rinsing away the shame like washing a white dress until it illumines like moonlight, and we, too, reclaim our own luminous essence.

This is what I teach and share in my Sacred Sexuality course. Together, with gentleness and great care, we walk the roads of our sexuality, exploring, inquiring, sharing, excavating, and healing, until the gems at the core, the ones that connect us to our creativity and desire, re-sparkle and ignite.

Sacred sexuality is what we both long for and reject. It speaks to the heart of what I often talk about in my work around relationships: we crave deep intimacy yet we’re culturally and physically wired to reject it when it arrives, which is why we’re perpetually chasing after the unavailable partner. Hollywood, with its endless fascination with the pursuer-distancer dynamic, imposes the expectation that love is only alive and fulfilling when we catch the unavailable object of our pursuit. This is why most Hollywood romantic films end when the lovers, after a series of chase-and-miss scenarios, finally fall into each other’s arms. But real love, the love that we’re truly seeking, can only happen with availability and vulnerability, both within ourselves and with another. When we have the roadmap, we can find our way home to this kind of deep, brave loving, which is the only kind that matters.

This is the roadmap I offer in Sacred Sexuality. This is the community that will gather around you as you navigate into these most tender waters. This is the guidance that you should have received long ago, the one that will lead you back into your birthright of aliveness and creativity, of sensuality and sexuality. Into the places that are rightfully yours.

This next live round of Sacred Sexuality begins on Saturday, January 11, 2020, and I look forward to meeting you there.


Author's Bio: 

Sheryl Paul, M.A., has counseled thousands of people worldwide through her private practice, her bestselling books, her e-courses and her website. She has appeared several times on "The Oprah Winfrey Show", as well as on "Good Morning America" and other top media shows and publications around the globe. To sign up for her free 78-page eBook, "Conscious Transitions: The 7 Most Common (and Traumatic) Life Changes", visit her website at http://conscious-transitions.com. And if you're suffering from relationship anxiety – whether single, dating, engaged, or married – give yourself the gift of her popular eCourse