Recently I was given the very humbling experience of having someone facilitate space for me to observe and appreciate my shadow. My shadow being the emotions or feelings that I regularly neglect or suppress. The light that this person cast onto this part of me that, I tread in front of was very sharp. These illustrations are a direct response to this experience. It has become apparent after this conversation that I have been neglecting a balance of masculine and feminine energy in me for some time. I want to relate this to the theme of ‘First times’ by using my first time as an example of how this imbalance occurred in my case.
My first time was perhaps an anticlimax. I was with my first girlfriend at the age of 17, we were in love, ‘first’ love, and that was the vocabulary we had to describe ourselves. This anticlimax actually has very little to do with the sex we had that day, and I want to make it clear it had nothing to do with my girlfriend at the time. A legacy of social expectations, pornographic exposure, and romanticism created the framework for that ‘first time’. There are too many elements in those pressures above that added up to the discontent or disconnection of that first shared sexual act. The one, in particular, I would like to focus on is the quality of expectation.
When I have had conversations about expectations with friends, there is usually the binary presented of whether it is ‘better’ to have high or low expectations. At the moment I would like to transition away from both. I feel that there might be ways of observing expectations as they arise without judgment or attachment, as to not to live, either with an optimistic expectation or pessimistic expectation. In relationships, I’d like to watch what parts of myself are rooted in desire and attraction, and what parts are anchored in wanting. This might sound like not much of a distinction, but I have noticed in my relationships that usually, it is the wanting something from a person that leads to hurt or confusion. I find that It does not matter if the wanting is of sexual gratification or of faithfulness. in a way this ‘wanting’ in my experience is so linked with having, our culture is built on that conversation between wanting and having. Arguably, there is a game of illusions happening within the notion that anything can be ‘possessed’, but especially with people. There is no real way, that in the ‘wanting’ of someone you could be gratified with actually receiving anything to ‘have’. You cannot hold onto sex, you cannot hold onto a lover, you cannot hold onto beauty, rather you are them as they come and go.
For a while now, I have not been able to distinguish between desire and wanting. I have in some cases removed myself from experiences where I could sense but not distinguish my attraction and my wanting of someone. This comes back to this imbalance of masculine and feminine that I shared at the beginning of this article. After experiences like my first time, because of it being an anticlimax, I looked at myself with a type of disgust because I could see that I had been asked to project my attentions into wanting sex but had not actually received anything other than a rushed orgasm which was temporary and fleeting. I criticised myself for desire because I saw it as linked to the cultural expectation of a patriarchal society that capitalises objectification. I saw my desire as objectification. There have been so many ways that men have oppressed women I sort of decided that my desire was adding to this legacy of men not being able to help themselves. In a way, I can see why aestheticism is so appealing for people. I understand that saying I neglected my masculine energy, only really enforces a distinction. But I find some use in saying that I tried to be very feminine in some ways (whatever that means) I decided to create relationships just out of pure feeling and ignored my desire. This has left me in my ‘mind’ for a lot of sexual encounters, trying to provide sensitivity and trying to remove my testosterone.
I do not think that gender comes into my experience of expectation but more that masculine and feminine qualities are perhaps only ways of describing the experience of different biology. When I was allowed to observe my shadow with this person, what I observed was that my desire was very confused, I could say that I had ignored my masculine side. This would only mean that I have been ignoring my body as a man, as a space for sensuality passion and strength. I do not want to pretend that I have understood anything here, but perhaps if I can observe my expectations as both ‘desire and ‘wanting’, and to try and let go of the wanting without judgment, I can be embodied and present without disappointment, but with space for attraction.
I have written this article trying to be rooted in experience, I wanted to write this not to provide any kind of authority on how to ride the flow of living sexuality. As in the end, words are wind. I do not wish to have my mind trying to understand the processes of attraction more so than my body or my spirit. Balance, balance, balance.
“If anyone asks you
how the perfect satisfaction
of all our sexual wanting
will look, lift your face