It was the Beginning of My It's Never Too Late
I attended the second to last workshop that Betty and Carlin held in November 2019, not fully understanding until later that it was the beginning of my it's never too late, nontraditional, slowly unfolding, challenging, exciting journey to understanding and being comfortable with my body and my sexuality through recognizing and undoing the layers of guilt, shame, trauma, fear, and inadequacy that undermined it.
I was raised in a traditional, not sex positive, middle-class household in the late 40’s-50’s, believing that I was fat, unattractive, not enough or good enough, and undeserving. My partner of forty years was incredibly supportive and willing to do whatever he could to help me, and sex was good, although I was seldom able to let go fully. It took to my early seventies, four years after he died, for me to decide that maybe I really did want to figure out this sex/orgasm thing. With much hesitation and mixed feelings, I began researching options to accomplish that. I checked out sex therapy, partner surrogates, sex workers, and, eventually, found Dodson and Ross. I thought, perhaps, a Bodysex workshop might be a good place to start – maybe . . . . . . .
It took several phone conversations with Carlin before I enrolled in a workshop and booked a room in New York, still nervous about my decision to attend. I felt more trepidation than excitement as I walked through the doors of Betty’s apartment building, but walk through them I did.
I left that workshop with very mixed feelings. On one hand, I was excited and hopeful. I was surprised by how easy and comfortable it was to be naked with a group of women, a new experience for me, and how empowering, supportive, and connecting our sharing was. In attendance were several Bodysex facilitators and sex therapists, and most of the women, certainly the most vocal and dominant ones, were much more experienced and in touch with their bodies, their sexuality, and their orgasms than was I. Betty was her unfiltered, direct self during genital show when she strongly, and loudly, chided me for not grooming my pubic hair, something that it had never occurred to me to do (An aside – small nail clippers are not an effective tool for grooming pubic hair). So, on the other hand, I also felt woefully inadequate. Despite that, I was hesitantly determined and followed up with some individual remote work with Carlin.
I knew that Bodysex was making a difference for me as I was slowly able to start opening myself up to new possibilities. I also realized that, while I did not love my body all the time, I no longer hated it all the time. I was also beginning, very gradually, to feel more confident in general and to act on that confidence. In the first six months after that workshop, I got a tattoo and I shaved my head, two things I had thought about often, but was never confident enough to do. The other thing that happened was that, without thinking about it or working at it, I was doing significantly less emotional eating.
I began to understand that the work of Bodysex, while focusing on providing women with the tools to get in touch with and take control of our own pleasure, was much more. Accessing our sexuality and the power that goes with it also enables us to own our power in much broader ways. Betty’s directive to “run the fuck” is not limited to the sexual realm.
Working remotely, Carlin guided me through the rock and roll technique several times before I was able both to fully recognize and to own my orgasm. I felt a very wide range of emotions: I was excited, overwhelmed, exhilarated, unbelieving, and aware of the start of some internal shifts that felt new and different and scary. I opened a bottle of champagne and my bald, tattooed, orgasmic, changing self offered a champagne toast to self-pleasure, self-love, and the empowerment of women; to Betty, Carlin, and the Bodysex sisterhood; to undoing generational trauma; to a better world; and, yes, to myself.
However, it was not an immediate or total change. Much as I wanted to feel okay about getting to know my body better and allowing myself to experience and enjoy pleasure, it has been challenging to the many years of believing that was not okay. While it has not happen quickly or easily, it is happening. As I began to allow myself that space and to venture outside my comfort zone, I began to believe that maybe I do deserve to feel good, to find pleasure, and to love my body. My own excursion into this area of self-knowledge has been exciting, scary, and gradual. It is an ongoing, challenging, and exhilarating journey.
There are days when I look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is this person?” Change is often difficult and scary, but it can also be amazing and liberating, AND we are never too old to embrace it. Bodysex has opened some major and very unanticipated changes for me. I look forward to seeing where it takes me and how I am able to open possibilities to change for other women, especially women like me.