“It’s the process of writing and life that matters… We are trying to become sane along with our poems and stories.” -Natalie Goldberg

I have been indulging in novels this summer. I have been lucky enough to find stories that capture my attention so much that I can’t stop reading, staying up late into the night, and cutting out less pressing goals in favor of reading time. I just finished reading Island Beneath the Sea by Isabelle Allende and although I have learned many of the facts of slavery over the years of public education, I didn’t realize until reading this book, how much I didn’t understand about the meaning of prejudice and racial injustice. This fictional account of the history of prejudice in America offered an insight into the felt experience of being black, both free and slave in America through a character I grew to care about and who opened in me both compassion and empathy. 

What I realized today when I was thinking of the range of stories I have been told by authors and friends recently, is that how we perceive, interact with and respond to our sexuality is pivotal in every life. Looking at a story character’s life through the lens of their sexual experience tells you volumes about what it meant to live in the world at different time periods and at different levels of culture.

I just started a first novel by Jillian Lauren called Some Girls. It is a fictional account of a girl who, little by little, chooses prostitution as a vocation and lifestyle. Listening to the voice of the girl who lies at least as much to herself as to her family, awoke both compassion and fear of how easily weak self esteem and the wrong circumstances at the right time often conspire against us.

How each character deals with the sexual experiences that shaped their lives, both chosen and forced, becomes the center around which life stories are built. Dr Paul Tournier wrote: “Recounting of a life story, a mind thinking aloud leads one inevitably to the consideration of problems which are no longer psychological but spiritual.” There has never been a spiritual problem that is not also a reflection of a sexual issue according to Carl Jung. Our stories about our selves are linked to our sexual lives in pervasive and influential ways.

Since the beginning of recorded time, humans have become story tellers. It has provided us a context for us to understand the plot of our own lives and a way to give it meaning and purpose. Clarifying your sexual experience can only make the story better.