If Only I’d Known

What would you tell yourself at puberty?

One of the articles in Friends & Lovers (IC#10)
Originally published in Summer 1985 on page 45
Copyright (c)1985, 1997 by Context Institute

Vicki is part of the U. V. Family (see The Possible Relationship in this issue for a longer article about their unique relationship) and was one of the dedicated guest editors for this issue.

IN THE PROCESS OF TRANSLATING our many lectures, seminars and conversations about sex, love and relationships into book form, I realized that what made all of it sparkle was sharing our real life experience. A scan of other books about consciousness and relationships showed me that surprisingly little has yet been written about intimate love lives by people who have in some way gone through a transformative process. So, to make our book richer by including the experiences of others, I devised a list of questions and proceeded to tape record interviews with just about everyone who crossed our threshold over a 6-month period.

At the personality and lifestyle levels, our "guinea pigs" were a widely varied sampling with wonderfully unique and checkered pasts. What they had in common were two things: First, they were all people who had undergone a conscious re- examination of the traditional foundations of relationship and found them wanting, and they had at least begun to formulate a personal ethic that would work for them. Second, there was an amazing consistency among them of what this new ethic was. What follows is a sampling of what some of these people had to say in response to the question:

If the you now could speak to the you who embarked on sex, love and relationships years ago, what counsel would you give yourself?

Male: The big one is, love has to come from inside, not outside. Affirmation has to be self affirmation, not outside ego affirmation. It has to come from a place inside – no amount of performance or appeal will allow you to hear it unless it’s already being said inside. I spent years and years looking outside, getting whole armies of people to tell me what I needed to hear inside. The more they’d tell me the less I believed it because it wasn’t ringing with some resonance. We have to learn to love ourselves, and then the love we receive from others can get in. Life is the greatest gift, just being is the greatest gift of all. Once you experience that, it frees you to do all kinds of things from a place of unconditional love. What comes after that is: Relax, just relax.

Female: I would encourage myself to be vibrantly alive sexually – just let that be a full part of me and to know that what I’m really longing for is my union with God and that the closest I’ll come to finding that is honoring it in myself first and then being able to share it with other beings. Appreciate and integrate sexual play and sexual feeling of excitement and let those be signals to be more vibrantly there and present and whole in relating, rather than thinking that because there’s sexual feeling that comes up there has to be intercourse. One really hard lesson I learned: I wanted men to like me, so I flirted. Then, once I got the feedback that they were interested, I felt I had to come across with something so that I wouldn’t be just a tease. I got real bound up in that cycle. Now I see that I don’t have to avoid sex to not be a tease, but that I can integrate it and just be whole, be myself. I don’t need to satisfy anyone but myself and I can express myself when I choose to do that.

Male: Don’t let yourself be blinded by the notion that there is THE ONE – the perfect mate. Don’t discount what you have to bring to a relationship. Look inside and see what you have to bring to someone’s life and develop those qualities. Communicate. Be honest with yourself. And laugh with yourself!

Female: Love and happiness come from inside you and you’re not going to get them from the world – it’s something you generate inside and give to the world. Loving yourself is the first step; you are a magnificent human being just the way you are. Sex is not dirty; there doesn’t have to be any guilt connected with the sexual experience – it’s an expression of love.

Male: Respect the integrity of the quiet meeting with another person. There’s a communication just in physical contact. Relax into that communication. Be more concerned with the sexual presence than sexual performance – first honor the experience of being with another person and the nuances of that resonance and connection. Then, in that space, allow sexual energy its real expression. Don’t feel embarrassed about how the energy moves. Looking back, my picture was that of real sexual prowess, like there’s a certain sequence you go through from foreplay that leads directly to intercourse, and orgasm. It was a linear view of sex, instead of just allowing it to be the whole range of human encounter – talking, sex, sharing feelings. So, it’s not cut off into a chunk called sex, it’s a spectrum of interaction.

Female: I wouldn’t counsel myself any differently because my past mistakes got me to where I am today. I find it difficult to be grateful for where I am now unless I can be grateful for all my past experiences. (A man gave a very similar answer.)

Male: Give to your partner rather than expecting from your partner; experience her excitation, release and joy leading to your excitation, release and joy. Encourage your partner to say what pleasures her, what she likes and dislikes. Handle all insecurities, problems, doubts, etc. outside the bedroom door, so that within the bedroom is nothing but comfort and peace. Then you can experience surrender and flowing with each other. Every sexual experience is different and perfect in itself. Have no expectations that it will look a certain way. The sexual experience will not solidify a relationship that is shaky – it is the celebration of what the relationship already is. Sexual intimacy is never a private act; it affects people and situations outside the bedroom door.

It’s so simple, really, isn’t it? We need to love, respect and cherish ourselves and know ourselves as whole, complete and fulfilled beings with or without a mate. And we need permission to just be with each other as friends, not pasting a formula over each encounter. Our sexuality is part of ourselves and of every encounter, however it’s expressed. With self respect and respect for the other we can allow sex to be a celebration of the joyful, deepening bond of love between two whole beings.

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