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Sexual Forgiveness

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.” -Peter Ustinov

Sexual healing is only possible through forgiveness. The injuries and betrayals that we sustain as we negotiate this most mysterious human interaction of sexuality are as diverse as life itself. How these injuries imbed in our identities defines our sexual relationships, sometimes for life. While this is also true for other emotional injuries we sustain, the pain associated with sexual encounters is deeper by definition and encodes itself on us viscerally. Because sexual education is almost non-existent and sexual topics mostly taboo, most of us have very limited language to express our sexual experiences, good and bad.

The hidden scars and unhealed injuries from our intimate past often don’t even show themselves until a new lover has breached a body memory that we didn’t even know we had. The transformation of grief that occurs when a hidden injury is met with the light of expression and the warmth of a loving ear is life changing. The courage to expose events and self deprecating thoughts that attach to sexual betrayals of all kinds is both heart wrenching and heart opening. Deeply loving someone through this process can feel almost as hard for the partner. The feelings of powerlessness and empathy that sharing sexual injuries provokes can be almost equally intense. Yet, like all storms, after the raging emotions are vented, there is a calm space of refuge. Something is made new in the process. The emptying leaves room to begin again.

There are times when talking about it provides nothing. The words are all inadequate to the experience and it is actually only through the tenderness of touch that injuries can be felt and released. This is human alchemy, impossible to describe even after you have experienced it and even more impossible to instruct someone else in finding this path. The ancient quote by roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius “The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer,” provides a hint into this process. Among its profound mystery is the power of intimacy to heal and often it is enough to move forward with the right intention and an open heart.

These are the most fragile and tender of exchanges that we humans are capable of sharing and so it is easy even with the best of intentions to hold too strongly, to let go too soon, to not feel the other person’s response in a timely and sensitive way. To err is human and oh, how human we are. Yet to forgive in this process is divine and the only way to stay together. Feel the pain with someone who loves you, even imperfectly because that is the only way to feel the love. One of my all time favorite singers and heartthrobs, Bono of U2 sings “Of science and the human heart, there is no limit. There is no failure here sweetheart, just when you quit.”

We are not trained well in love or sex or forgiveness and they are the trinity of a life well lived. Each impossible to understand or live without the others. Here is to a truly new year of release and rebirth.