Making friends with sex in menopause – Sophia

Sex is complicated when you grow up Catholic and learn that kissing your best friend feels like heaven but will send you straight to hell. Sophia explored her feelings initially but then shut down once she got married. When the sheer physicality of menopause forced her to re-inhabit her body, she embraced a spiritual path towards sexual reawakening.

Sophia is a 56-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as white, lesbian, and married. After a lifetime of monogamy, she recently came out to herself as polyamorous. She grew up in the Roman Catholic church and is now a pastor in the United Church of Christ. She’s post-menopausal and describes her body as thick and creamy.

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
Making friends with sex in menopause - Sophia
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In this episode we talk about

  • Sex and Spirituality
  • Coming out as lesbian
  • Trauma
  • Autonomic response
  • Lesbian abuse
  • Menopause
  • Non-hierarchical polyamory
  • Relationship anarchy

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Resources

Full episode text

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey. And this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. Today, you’re going to meet my friend, Sophia, in a deep and wide-ranging conversation that follows her journey from a decade plus hard lockdown of her own sexuality to a recent post-menopausal reawakening of her sexual self, which she calls her goddess.

You might already be able to tell. Sophia experiences her sexuality as deeply intertwined with spirituality. I found that aspect of our conversation particularly fascinating because there was a time in my life when I was all-in on woo. I sought out mystics and healers and was even a fairly well-regarded teacher in my own right in some New Age circles.

But around the time of my sexual awakening, a lot of that fell to the side. With no intent of trying to make this happen, now I find myself surrounded by a lot of skeptics and that feels good to me right now, which means Sophia and I have moved in completely opposite directions.

For me, rediscovery of my sexuality brought me more into the physical secular realm. For Sophia, rediscovery of her body brought her in closer contact with spirituality and the divine. And of course, every experience is valid and I’m so grateful that Sophia is willing to share hers.

Sophia is a 56-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as white, lesbian, and married. After a lifetime of monogamy, she recently came out to herself as polyamorous. She grew up in the Roman Catholic church and is now a pastor in the United Church of Christ. She’s post-menopausal and describes her body as thick and creamy. I am so pleased to introduce Sophia!

Sophia, I am so excited that you’re here. So that listeners know, you and I are friends. We’ve known each other for, I don’t know, 10, 12 years, something, some long amount of time. And you have been going through a bunch of changes recently, which is really exciting because I get emails from people saying, “My favorite guests are the ones who are in the messy middle.” And you are very much in the messy middle right now.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Yup. I think I could be a candidate for favorite at some point.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, let’s dive right in. You’ve listened to the show. So, you know my first question is always what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

SOPHIA: So, there’s two answers to this. Answer number one is my first real remembrance is a favorite pillow that my aunt had made me. It was a TV pillow, big, really fluffy and it was made of fake leopard skin. I remember one day laying on it watching TV and I shifted and shifted again and started noticing that that shifting felt really good between my legs. So, I kept shifting.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: That was how I first learned to masturbate.

LEAH: How old were you approximately, do you think?

SOPHIA: 7 or 8, I would say, at that time when I was just doing the noticing.

LEAH: Yeah. And did you at some point come to something that you would now recognize as an orgasm or was it just the, that feels fun?

SOPHIA: I don’t think so. I think it was just the that feels really good and so let’s keep doing it because it feels really good.

LEAH: Yeah. So, you said you had two memories come up. So, what’s the other one?

SOPHIA: So, the other one isn’t really a memory per se, but I’ve been doing a lot of work around my sexual trauma and uncovered for me what I believe is a memory of sexual trauma. I believe that my childhood sexual trauma happened before I was really verbal and able to understand what was happening. And I believe that it involved taking advantage of the fact that children are very oral.

So, shifting something from me that should’ve been about nurturing and pleasure to something that was trauma-related and I’m not trying to be completely vague, but I’m still unravelling all that and unpacking all that. So, I say that because I feel like that’s something that might have been a moment of really enveloping and connecting to pleasure and care that got more than skewed, got robbed from me. So, that’s why I say both.

LEAH: Yeah. I’m curious about this idea of recovering pre-verbal memories. What type of process are you going through to get there?

SOPHIA: A lot of stuff have come up in dreams actually for me. And I know for some people, that’s not considered concrete information, but I don’t believe that at all. So, I’ve had some things reveal themselves in dreams. And then unfortunately, some things that come up because I got triggered as an adult. It’s a process of both.

I had a period in my life where I was doing some really, really deep dive intense work around my sexual trauma and the veil was very thin. And by that, I mean there were worlds that were connecting. I was having dreams that felt to me like they were memories of past lives. On a spiritual level, the veil was really thin. So, I got a lot of information then that I feel like I’m more ready. I have more of the capacity to unpack now.

LEAH: So, a couple of times now, you’ve mentioned sexual trauma in a way that sounds like it’s more than just this pre-verbal memory. So, I’m not going to push you to talk more than you want to. I’ll just open the door and say what would you like to talk about?

SOPHIA: My adult sexual trauma was in both instances at the hands of a woman and that puts me in a different place I think than a lot of people. It makes me sometimes unrecognizable as a survivor in some circles. And that has been pretty difficult. It has also kept me from honoring and recognizing myself as a survivor for many years too, I think.

But I had my first girlfriend, my first relationships, there was some trauma around penetration that is still really vivid for me right now and something I’m actively working on. In fact, I’m getting ready to do work with a psychological body worker specifically around that particular piece, yeah.

LEAH: Great. I’m so happy to hear that.

SOPHIA: Yeah, me too.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: All right. So, I imagine since that’s part of your more adult history, we’ll get there in the timeline. Is there sexual trauma in your childhood that we should know about before we go through?

SOPHIA: Not that I know of. I think it’s pre-verbal, and then I think it’s adult. I haven’t connected to anything. I think my childhood in terms of sexuality was pretty normal like exploring, playing doctor, those things.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So, did you play doctor with little boys or with other little girls?

SOPHIA: Both.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But there seems to be a partiality to little girls for some reason. For some reason.

LEAH: For some reason unknown.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, at what point did you recognize, I think I might like the little girls the way that other little girls are liking the little boys?

SOPHIA: That was much later in my life.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I always just felt more connected to other girls and women. Always just the romantic inclinations were there as long as I can remember. I was constantly having crushes on other female0bodied individuals starting from my babysitter to you name it. I was pretty good at crushing.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But it really wasn’t until high school when I was like, oh. Actually, it wasn’t until I had my first kiss with my best friend who was another girl that I was like, this is what they’re talking about. This is what all the giggles in the corner are all about.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Had you kissed boys before that?

SOPHIA: Yeah. I’ve had a little peck or two.

LEAH: But no fireworks?

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: No fireworks. And I was in high school when my first girlfriend and I got together. And I had dated boys and it was fine. And I’d done some exploring sexually with them, but I’m referred to what’s called a gold star lesbian because I’ve never had intercourse with a man.

LEAH: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, for people who aren’t familiar with this nomenclature.

SOPHIA: Break it down, Leah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: There’s the gold star lesbian. I guess it goes the other direction. There’s gold star gay men who’ve never had sex with a vagina. And then, there’s platinum star gay men who were born by C-section, so they’ve never encountered their mother’s vagina either. The whole thing is really quite disgusting and misogynistic.

SOPHIA: Heard that one before, but oh my God.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Yes, wicked.

LEAH: So, I think that I have that “ugh” when I hear even the term gold star lesbian.

SOPHIA: Understood. Oh my God. All right, next.

LEAH: Okay, moving on.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you had dated a few boys. How old were you when that started?

SOPHIA: My first I would call serious boyfriend was in junior high school. I was I’m going to say 7th or 8th grade. He was a freshman in high school. He was a brother of one of my best girl friends.

LEAH: So, is that how you ended up in each other’s orbit and got to know each other?

SOPHIA: Yeah, exactly. It was serious. He gave me his high school ring. I used to wear it around my neck.

LEAH: And did you have those romantic crushing feelings for him?

SOPHIA: I liked him. I think I was certainly curious about sex. And so, that’s who I was supposed to be curious about sex with. How convenient, he’s right there. But I don’t remember ever feeling for him or any other boy or man the way that I felt the first time I kissed my best friend.

LEAH: Now, is that the sister of the first boy you dated?

SOPHIA: No.

LEAH: Okay.

SOPHIA: Don’t make this more complicated than it is. That’s later in my life.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Okay. So then, you kiss your best girlfriend. How old were you then?

SOPHIA: I was a sophomore in high school.

LEAH: And how did that come about?

SOPHIA: Her last name was right before mine in the alphabet. So, in homeroom, she sat right in front of me. So, that’s literally how we met because of our last names. And we just became really fast friends, really good friends and everything you imagine a high school best friend to be, the person you talk about sex with and all the rest.

And we were just hanging out in my room one day. And she was getting ready to leave and went in for a hug, which was pretty usual for us. I know that I had started noticing that I wanted to not leave that hug, not so soon. I was pretty happy just staying there for a long time. I did start to notice that. I think on some level, definitely I felt my body responding, but I didn’t really know what was happening because I hadn’t experienced that with boys before.

So, I was like I don’t really know what this is. And we just broke apart from the hug and you know when a kiss is just right there? There it was. And next thing I know, we’re kissing each other and I’m freaking the hell out because it feels so damn good and because oh my God, I’m not supposed to be kissing my best friend.

LEAH: Yeah. So, it was mutual?

SOPHIA: Yeah, very.

LEAH: And what happened after the kiss?

SOPHIA: Months of wanting to see each other, wanting to be together because that felt so good. What is that? I want more of that. Let’s figure that out. And so, seeing each other. And then, a kiss happening again. I think my body was just responding all over the place and didn’t know what the heck that was. And then, getting really awkward and making sure we weren’t alone in a room together.

Suddenly, there was conversation about what boy we were going to take to the prom, all that. It was like all that “try to be normal,” but all this stuff happening inside. Yeah, so it wasn’t until our junior year. It was a whole year before anything more happened than a kiss.

LEAH: Did the two of you remain close friends trying to navigate this or did you separate some?

SOPHIA: No. We still managed because it was just like I don’t want to be without you and I love all the stuff that I’m feeling and you’re my best friend. But also, oh my God, what the hell is happening right now? And this can’t be happening. This can’t be happening.

She was also Roman Catholic. So, we had that on us and I was really involved in the church even in high school. I sang in the church choir. I taught religious ed to little kids. My whole life, I had been Italian Catholic. I was really Catholic.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And all the baggage that comes with that and trying to navigate that in my own head and heart because the church had really been a family for me. I had priests and nuns that were like aunts and uncles to me that used to come to my house. I was in it.

So, trying to on this side, I got all this feelings that are going on, all this fireworks, all this love going on. And then, on the other side, I have this message that, no, no, no, that doesn’t belong there. That’s wrong. That’s bad. All the messages that you get whether someone expressly gets in the pulpit and says, “You’re a sinner and you’re going to burn in hell,” it’s just in there. It’s in all the messaging.

LEAH: Yeah. So, what about your parents? What relationship did you have with them? What conversations did you have with them around sex?

SOPHIA: None.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I got the obligatory book when I was maybe in junior high school or something like the beginning of junior high school. And I was like that was way too late.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: It was focused on the act of a penis going into a vagina to make a baby. All those books were back then. There was no conversation about pleasure. There was no conversation and nothing in the book. So, it was all a damn mystery to me. The only information that I had to go on was what I was feeling in my body, which if I could’ve just stuck with that, that would’ve been okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. And we grew up in a time before there was any representation on television. So, you couldn’t even look there to understand that at least this is a thing.

SOPHIA: Yes, exactly. So, it was pretty scary actually because I didn’t understand what was happening. And all I had was these really loud messages coming at me and I pretty much backed away from the church. I didn’t want to wait for the church to tell me to go to hell. I just slowly dropped away and stopped doing church choir. I stopped teaching religious ed. And it was really painful.

LEAH: Wow, it must have been because it sounds like that was such a huge part of your life. Did anybody else notice that something was going on?

SOPHIA: I had one friend. The place that I found my place of refuge in high school was our high school music department. That’s the other thing too. The other thing that was happening in the world then was AIDS was starting to emerge in the world. And although the focus and attention was on gay men, I still could make the connection that that’s part of my community. That would be part of my community.

And therefore, I took on all those negative messages as well. So, I had one friend who was part of the music department who also singing in the church choir who definitely did notice. What’s going on with you? And she became the first person I came out to.

LEAH: Wow. If she’s deeply involved in the church, how does that conversation go? How do you get up the courage to have that conversation?

SOPHIA: I was so desperate for somebody else to know that I was willing to risk it. She was actually really, really amazing and I don’t know how or why. We were pretty close in and we did talk about stuff. The first time she had sex, I was the first phone call afterwards. You know what I mean?

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: So, yeah, she was amazing and really supportive and definitely instrumental in me really embracing who I was and being brave enough to start to come out to more people including my parents.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Do you wish your partner would touch you differently, but you’re not sure how to bring it up or what to say? I get it. Until a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine asking for anything I wanted. I thought I wasn’t allowed to have wants or needs. I thought good girls laid back and accepted what they got. I thought if I asked for something outside the regular repertoire, it would make my partner think that I was open for anything, and then they’d start pressuring me for extreme things I definitely didn’t want. I built it up in my head to the point that it was hard for me to communicate at all during sex.

Instead, I played the dead fish game, laying on my back and waiting for it to be over. Even those times when someone said, “What do you want?” I was so used to not speaking that I didn’t know how to ask for anything. And I was pretty sure that they wanted an answer that could be done for 30 seconds before they got on to whatever they wanted to do, which made it even more unappealing to build up the courage to ask for what I wanted.

All of that changed when I started learning that I was allowed to have a voice during sex, that I wasn’t doomed to a lifetime of whatever anyone else wanted to do to me just because I was born female. I can help you take the same journey to finding your voice because you deserve a deeply fulfilling intimate life and you can have it.

I would be honored to be your coach on the journey. I am queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly. To find out if we’re a good match, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. Again, that’s www.leahcarey.com/coaching to book your free discovery call. And that link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening on now.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: What happened when you came out to your parents?

SOPHIA: So, my parents were divorced by this time. And again, a little unusual, I was living with my dad and came out to my mom first because I had a sense that there would be a little bit more understanding. And pretty much there was. There was the immediate, “You’re young, honey. You might not know yet, but it’ll be okay,” initial reaction.

My father, on the other hand, I’m first generation on my dad’s side. So, my dad came here from Italy in 1956 and although he is very much not stereotypical machismo Italian man, he still got a lot of messages again because he was brought up in the church. So, I decided the way I was going to approach this was I bought him a copy of Loving Someone Gay, which was the book back in the day that you gave to parents and friends to try to educate them on how they could support you. And in big dramatic fashion, I gave it to him on Christmas Eve.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Hey, dad. Jesus is born and your daughter’s gay. Yeah, not so good.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But I gave him the book. That conversation didn’t go so well. And I can look back now and understand that it was a lot about for him being worried about how the world was going to treat me was more underpinning his reaction than him loving me. But it was a big ask. It was a big ask for him.

And so, I left that conversation feeling like I don’t know if this is going to be okay and him very clearly telling me that I was not to tell my brother. And my brother and I are 4 years apart. He’s 4 years younger than I am. And that stuck for a long time. I didn’t tell my brother until he was 18.

But flash forward years and years and years later and my father remarries and I think largely became more comfortable and more open about it because of my stepmother. I think it’s easier because I’m not her child. But my brother and sister had borrowed a piece of luggage from my dad to go on a trip. And my brother called me and said, “I got to tell you something.” And I’m like, “Okay.” And he said, “I was using the bag to pack and I reached in the front compartment and there was this copy of this book in there.”

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: This really sentimental mushy dedication to dad, I’m like, “No, really?” And he said, “Yeah.” And so, I asked him about it. I said, “Great, what did he say?” He said, “He had been rereading it recently.” Rereading it, I didn’t even know he had actually read it.

LEAH: Wow. So, there was stuff going on in the background that you were not aware of.

SOPHIA: Absolutely.

LEAH: Did your dad ever meet your girlfriend as your girlfriend?

SOPHIA: Yes.

LEAH: And how did that go?

SOPHIA: He knew her because she was my best friend and she was over all the time. There are some benefits to being a lesbian when you’re at high school. You have your girlfriend for a sleepover and who knows the better?

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But unfortunately, when dad got wise to that, that started to shift. The door needs to stay open. I’m like, damn. I blew that.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And so, how did things go once you and this other young woman came back together and allowed yourselves to be girlfriends? How did it go?

SOPHIA: At first, it was pretty amazing, pretty mind-blowing. It was always scary because I’m not supposed to be doing this. First, it was you’re not supposed to be doing this because you could get pregnant. Now, I’m not supposed to be doing this because it’s a sin. They both are, you know what I’m saying.

[LAUGHTTER]

SOPHIA: It’s like one’s more focused on one thing than the other. But there was so much feeling that I could just let myself be in it and this freedom to explore with that felt like was really pretty amazing. First time touching her, I can still feel that in my body. So, that was pretty amazing to be able to just follow the feelings as much as I could without the cast of characters condemning me to hell the rest of my life.

LEAH: Yeah. How did you get to the moment where you were ready to say, “Okay, I’m going to do this with you?”

SOPHIA: A lot of conversation, a lot of trying something, freaking out, going away, coming back again, going, okay, that felt really good. I really want to do that again, but I’m also really freaking out. There was a lot of those conversations.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And going pretty slowly actually. Like I said, it was a year’s time between the kiss and anything else happening. And then, even after that, it was like, okay, waist up only. That’s what I can handle right now.

Another really good friend who I had gone into a bookstore and there was one book that existed at the time about lesbian sex. One, and I happened to find it in a bookstore. And then, there was no way in hell I was going to buy it, but I really wanted it. So, another really good friend went in and bought it for me.

LEAH: Oh my goodness.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And that was quite the eyeopener because there were little lovely drawings in that and gave me all kinds of ideas that I haven’t thought of on my own. So, that was quite helpful.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So, how long were you and this other girl together?

SOPHIA: We were together through our first year of college actually.

LEAH: Okay, so a couple years.

SOPHIA: Yeah. So, first admission sophomore year and right through freshman year of college, she went to school in another state than I did. So, it was long distance and taking long train rides through New England to get to each other. But there was also other stuff brewing before that.

LEAH: Like what?

SOPHIA: So, she had a pretty difficult family life and I think really struggled herself. I can look back now and say really struggled herself with a lot of mental health issues and likely sexual trauma herself.

And so, there was an incident between us that happened that I think was probably playing out some sexual trauma that happened to her. It’s really present for me right now because it’s what I’m working on. I’m going to tell you and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to let you keep it in the recording, but I’m going to tell you.

We didn’t have access to sex toys like you do now. And so, she had a screw driver like a big oversized screw driver and decided that she wanted to put the handle inside of me. And I did not want that to happen. It was really painful. That was the first time I was penetrated by anything because I hadn’t gone there myself yet even. And I couldn’t say no in that moment because I though that’s what I was supposed to want to do. I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.

So, that got lodged in my body, and then really carried that. I was terrified to go to my first OBGYN appointment because I was thoroughly convinced that the doctor was going to look inside of me and go, “What the hell happened to you?”

LEAH: Yeah. Can I ask you a couple questions about that incident?

SOPHIA: Yeah, sure.

LEAH: When she first presented this idea to you, was there any sense of maybe I’ll try that or was it immediately a no in your body?

SOPHIA: I think my brain was saying, you’re supposed to want to try this and my body was like, oh my God, no.

LEAH: Fuck no.

SOPHIA: Exactly. There was this dichotomy that was happening. For me, the trauma piece is so intertwined because it’s about taking something that is meant to give you pleasure and coercing it in, but your body still reacts.

I spend a bit of time working supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence in my professional life and the number of times that I heard women who have survived sexual trauma say to me, “But my body was responding as if I was receiving pleasure,” and how that just wreaks havoc on your heart.

LEAH: Yes, it is such a mindfuck.

SOPHIA: Oh my God. The first time somebody said that to me, it’s the gift of you get the person in front of you that you need to get to help you on your journey. The first time a woman said that to me, I was like, okay, I need to take a break because I literally called somebody else and it just hit like a ton of bricks. Right, that’s what’s going on. This was feeling good even though this was abuse.

LEAH: Yeah. So, that was the next question I wanted to ask you. What terminology do you use when you think about this for yourself? Do you think of it as abuse? Do you think of it as assault? Do you think of it as a consent violation? Where does it fall for you?

SOPHIA: I still use the word rape. And I can look at that and I can also look at it and say, yes, it was very definitely consent violation when I didn’t know I had the option to consent.

LEAH: Yeah. It’s very complicated because it sounds like you were in a consensual loving relationship where something really scary happened and you have to square for yourself, I love this person. She loves me. I’m going to guess she probably didn’t mean you any harm.

SOPHIA: No, I don’t think so at all.

LEAH: But still, there was a great deal of harm.

SOPHIA: Yup. When I look back on the relationship too though, the other piece that was really present that I take into consideration, there was a power dynamic happening there too that was really alive and eventually was I think part of what got to me be like, can’t do this anymore.

There was a lot of almost feelings of ownership and jealousy coming from her end that just started to feel not okay. And so, this was almost like a manifestation of all that in a lot of ways.  So, anyway, just another piece of the puzzle.

LEAH: Yeah. So, how long did the relationship last after this event and how did the two you navigate that?

SOPHIA: It lasted almost a whole year after that went. That was the other thing. I think that was the last big thing we’re going to do with each other before we go off to college. And of course, that was playing in the background of my mind, but I was continuously trying to talk myself out of what I was feeling about it. Again, because it’s somebody I love who loves me and I’m supposed to want to do stuff like that.

So, it took me a really long time to be able to step back and it wasn’t until actually I had an internship working at an organization that supports survivors of domestic and sexual trauma in my junior year of college. I had an internship and they were one of the first places in the country that really worked with lesbian survivors of domestic violence because again, that was something that wasn’t recognized for a really long time as an issue.

And I remember going into the office one day and there was a piece of literature that was about rape between women. And that was another, I got to go. I don’t feel so good. I got to leave. There was both being completely horrified by that and also I get why I responded the way I did now.

LEAH: Did the two of you ever have a conversation about it?

SOPHIA: Nope, never. And she actually reentered my life years later over a decade later. We reconnected as friends and that didn’t go so well. We never talked about this. That didn’t go so well because she was violating all kinds of boundaries left and right that weren’t okay. So, that was it. After that, I just ended the connection.

LEAH: So, after that relationship, when you were involved with other women, did you have issues around penetration?

SOPHIA: Yeah. I think I did a really good job of dissociating enough that I could do it, but didn’t feel it. There was no capacity in my mind to ever feel good. It was just something again that I did because I was supposed to want to do it. And dissociation is my coping mechanism of choice.

LEAH: Same here. And I see you.

SOPHIA: Thanks, buddy.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: God, yeah. So much so that I think I managed to come out of it, emerge out of it in moments in my life, but I’ve really unpacked lately how much I have really lived in that space of not being present, certainly not being present in my body, certainly not being present in my body during sex. Again, not pervasively, but overall, if I look at my sexual relationships, I go, I had moments of emerging. But I know now that’s because I didn’t know how to be a lover to myself really.

LEAH: Yeah. So speaking of, were you masturbating through this whole time?

SOPHIA: Yeah.

LEAH: And were you able to bring yourself pleasure?

SOPHIA: Yes. I had a lot of stuff about that, but yes. So that favorite pillow.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I nicknamed my favorite pillow girlfriend.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And that was for a long time the way I knew how to masturbate and to have an orgasm was rubbing against that. And that was also really loaded because I wasn’t masturbating like a real woman should. Yeah, I just keep layering it on.

LEAH: Let me just clarify what that meant for you. Does a real woman masturbate by penetrating herself?

SOPHIA: Yeah, sure. That’s part of it, but by using her hands for sure, yeah. And it was also loaded for me. That was another big real loaded piece due to my Catholic upbringing. It was literally every time I masturbated, I would cry afterwards because I felt like I was doing something wrong. And I would promise I would never do it again. I promised God I would never do this again. And of course, that wasn’t true.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. So, I asked you if you were able to give yourself pleasure and you talked about orgasms. And pleasure and orgasms are not necessarily the same thing.

SOPHIA: Yes, thank you for noticing.

LEAH: Newsflash, took me a long time to figure that out.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, were you able to bring yourself pleasure?

SOPHIA: Yes and yes. And that’s one I’m still working on untangling right in the present moment, right now as we sit here in this conversation.

LEAH: You and me.

SOPHIA: Okay. I love how much you’re joining me in all this, Leah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: This is a path that so many of us have to walk. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this to you before or not, I started calling my “orgasms” genital sneezes.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Because I was not having pleasure. I was having this physical release, but it was not really pleasurable and afterward, it left me feeling worse.

SOPHIA: Yes. Boy, can I relate to that. Yes, yes, yes.

LEAH: And I’m at the point now where I don’t want to say I’ve taken orgasm off the table because that’s absolutely not true. But when I’m playing with a partner, one of the first things that I will say to any new person is, “Orgasm is not the goal for me. One of my boundaries is that I need you to be okay with the fact that I may not orgasm. And if that’s not okay for you, then we are not the right partners for each other because I need to be able to focus on the pleasure I’m actually having as opposed to the pleasure I’m not having.”

SOPHIA: Yes. Thank you for that. That’s a huge gift you just laid on me. To be able to say that to a partner is really pretty amazing.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. New in 2023, I’m teaching a full year of live online classes. Make 2023 the year you fall in love with your sex life. In fact, that’s the name of the series, Fall In Love With Your Sex Life: A Year of Sexy Secrets. There’ll be 14 classes in total and you’re welcome to cherry pick the ones you want to attend or purchase a pass to get them all.

We’re going to kickstart the series with weekly classes in February and they’ll be on Sunday, February 5th, Tiny, Spank Me, Talk Dirty to Me: Dipping Your Toes Into Kink, on Sunday, February 12th, How can I enjoy sex if I hate my body? Sex and Body Image, on Sunday, February 19th, Wanting to Want Sex: Diving Into Libido and Desire, and on Sunday, February 26th, I’m a feminist: Why do I want to be spanked? Then beginning in March, we’ll move to one class a month, the final Sunday of each month. And all classes are at 8 PM Eastern, 5 PM Pacific.

Classes are recorded, so everyone who registers will get a copy whether you’re able to attend in-person or not. You’re welcome to send questions in advance if you know you can’t be there and I’ll make sure to answer them in the recording. Each class is scheduled for 90 minutes and I’ll stay on the line with the recording running for up to another half hour to make sure we cover as many questions as possible.

In the first class, Tiny, Spank Me, Talk Dirty to Me, we’ll break down the four letters, BDSM because they actually cover a ton of territory as well as types of kink that may not fall under the umbrella of BDSM. Then we’ll talk about the foundational pieces of getting involved in kink and how to stay safe like how to talk about what you want, setting boundaries, and how do you use a safe word if you’re gagged?

There’ll be plenty of time for questions and there’s no question that is too basic or too kinky. Registration is open now at www.leahcarey.com/classes. You can register for just the Tiny, Spank Me, Talk Dirty to Me class on February 5th or a bundle of the February classes or the entire series.

And to sweeten the pot, here’s an offer only for podcast listeners. Use the link in the show notes to leave a review for the Good Girls Talk About Sex podcast. When it’s posted, take a screenshot, send it to me, and I’ll send you a coupon for $5 off a class. If you’re feeling turned on by the very idea of having these conversations in a safe, supportive, non-judgmental space, register right now while you’re still juiced. It’s so easy to let your sex life take a backseat.

So, flip the script right now while you’re feeling the energy. Make sex a priority. Go to www.leahcarey.com/classes to register. That link is in the show description of the app you’re listening on now. Let’s make 2023 the year you fall in love with your sex life!

[MUSIC]

SOPHIA: I’m in this really intense place right now where I have declared that I’m going to be the only person I’m going to have sex with for a while, which it seems a little counterintuitive because I just came out as poly, but it’s okay. It’s what’s working for me right now.

LEAH: Just because you are polyamorous does not mean you have to be having polyamorous relationships and sex for that identity to be valid.

SOPHIA: That’s right, yes. So, I’m really in the process of exploring that whole piece for myself about not being goal-oriented and just being with whatever pleasure I have and letting that be absolutely okay and good. And I’m finding I’m having more orgasms.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yes, right. Because when you take the pressure off, you’re able to actually access the experience.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Right. So, I mentioned in the beginning that I recently crossed over into menopause. I had really spent the last 10, 12 years completely locked down from my sexual being at all. And because of that, my spouse has lived in a pretty much sexless marriage for the last 10 years.

And menopause was wreaking havoc on my life. I had all the symptoms all the time. I was the hot flashes, the insomnia, literally feeling crazy sometimes, and foggy brain and all of that. And then, just throw COVID in there too, why not? Sure.

So, this past August, I went on a retreat and my goal was to make friends with menopause. That’s what I thought was going to happen. And that definitely did happen, but a whole lot more happened too. Holy moly.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. I want to pause you there because I want to hear that whole story, but I want to hear it in context. So, usually, I would take somebody through the whole relationship history, but I think what I’m going to ask you to do is just jump us forward to when you met your spouse.

And you’ve said that you’ve spent the last 10 or 12 years in a sexless marriage. Was that how you began your relationship with them? And I should also just note that we’re using the word spouse because your partner has come out as non-binary since you were married.

SOPHIA: Correct, yes. Thank you. So, my spouse and I met when I was working at the seminary they were attending. I was also in seminary. I was studying to become a pastor. And when we met, they were already in a relationship. We had become really, really good friends pretty inseparable, connected over a lot of stuff, particularly music.

And I realized that I was falling in love with them and freaked out because they were married. They were trying to get pregnant. I was like, okay, I’m out of here. So, I started getting really weird with them and we were best buddies. We were always together.

So, finally I fessed up. And I thought, okay, this is good. I can just get it out on the table, and then we can just move on with our life. And no, because they turned around and looked at me and said, “I feel the same way.” I was like, “Great. Now, what the hell are we supposed to do?”

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But they’re the one that went in for the kiss, not me. Just for the record.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: So, the way that that played out is basically after realizing how we felt about each other and shortly after that conversation, their wife became pregnant. And so, I just said, we got to do something here. I can’t do this. So, we basically agreed to not see each other or talk to each other for 2 years. And decided that if after 2 years we still felt the way we did then, that we would figure something out. Our sexual relationship was pretty fiery because it was very much stolen moments all the time.

LEAH: So, you were having sex prior to this proposed 2-year break?

SOPHIA: Yup. And that was the other thing that was killing us both ethically. So, yeah, we stopped seeing each other and literally 2 years to the day we said that.

LEAH: Wow. So, you actually managed to make an agreement for 2 years and maintain that agreement. That’s remarkable.

SOPHIA: It’s remarkable also because we were still in the same circle. I would see them, but wouldn’t talk to them. And I dated somebody else in the middle of that.

LEAH: And so, they had a baby?

SOPHIA: Twins.

LEAH: Wow. So, you’re seeing each other it sounds like fairly regularly.

SOPHIA: All the time.

LEAH: And how were you managing your feelings about seeing them with another person? And how are they managing seeing you with another person?

SOPHIA: The person I was dating was super terrific, great person. I am completely aware of the fact that I was dating somebody because I was trying to forget them. And so, of course, that got nothing but messy.

In the midst of all this 2-year separation too, I also had a really serious accident. I had fallen off a horse and broken my pelvis in 2 places. So, not only was I seeing them, but they were seeing me hobbling around on crutches first and then a cane and having to learn how to walk again. And they told me later that was some torture for them that they couldn’t be there for me or take care of me.

But my spouse did a lot of relief work and ended up going down to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina as a chaplain. And while they were there, their wife wrote them a note and said, “I don’t think you should come home. I think we need to figure something else out.” So, I picked them up at the airport and they moved in that night basically.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Wow. And so, how is your sexual relationship through all of this?

SOPHIA: In the beginning, fireworks, fine. It was the first time that I remember desiring somebody and fantasizing about what they would do to me, not me always fantasizing what I would do to them.

That was a new world for me because I think also because I’m just that person. I’m that giving person, but also I think a trauma response is always being the one that’s in the giving position. So, you can be in control and I lived there. So, it was a whole new world for me to let myself receive from somebody who seemed at least to really enjoy giving to me.

LEAH: That was a loaded statement. Do go on.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Yeah. Our sexual relationship was really good in the beginning. And then, life happened and things got really complicated and their trauma and my trauma and it got pretty heavy pretty fast. And we got married 3, 4 years we moved in together and they tell me they feel like nothing was the same after that.

LEAH: Do you feel that way?

SOPHIA: Not exactly. I think there was still some life left in our sexual relationship after our marriage. But another thing that I observe about myself if I look back in my past relationships is that I was much more comfortable exploring my edges with somebody that I wasn’t as emotionally close with.

LEAH: That makes a ton of sense.

SOPHIA: So, it was like an either/or for me. I want to explore these edges. I want to go there or I want the emotional intimacy. But the two together, I feel like I touch the beginnings of in my marriage before we were married, and then again, the trauma and the codependency and all the stuff lots of people deal with in long-term relationships.

LEAH: Yeah. So, I’m not going to ask you about their trauma because that would be inappropriate. But I am curious about you’ve mentioned a couple times how your trauma and their trauma intersected. And so, to the best of your ability, can you share a little bit about that?

SOPHIA: Yeah. I think to put in a nutshell, we spent a lot of time triggering the hell out of each other. And our triggers were probably different. My triggers pretty much lived in my sexuality. I think that was less true for them.

So, it was more true for me that when we were trying to be sexual that I would get triggered and not know how to say it or what to do about it. But I feel like for years, we spent years bouncing off each other’s trauma and just really starting to unpack that now actually.

LEAH: Yeah. So, you eventually end up in this place where you’re essentially in a sexless marriage. Was that in any way a conscious decision on your prat?

SOPHIA: No. And they pressed me about it a lot and I kept saying, “I want to fix this. I want to make this better.” And I did, but I didn’t the faintest idea how. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know who to ask for help. I was fucking thoroughly embarrassed. So, I didn’t talk to anybody about it and had gotten past the age when you talk to your friends about sex.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I’m back in that age. I like that age better.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: It’s like if you don’t normalize this stuff, then people suffer alone.

LEAH: Exactly. That’s exactly why I do this.

SOPHIA: I know. God bless you.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And from me, from early on in my sexual development, there was this rift that happened between sexuality and spirituality. This complete divide and what I’m finally getting a grasp of now is there’s no damn divide. They are intertwined in a way that I can’t possibly take them apart anymore in a beautiful amazing way.

And I’m finally wrapping my arms around that and embracing that. And that’s a lot of what started that, little bits of that started to happen in the beginnings of my relationship with my spouse, and then it fell apart. And now, I’m like I’m in it. I’m embracing it 1,000%. I am embracing my status as a mystic in every possible way.

[LAUGHTER]

[MUSIC]

LEAH: I get so many messages from listeners saying, “Thank you for the show. I’ve listened to the whole back catalog and it’s helped me completely transform my sex life.” Are you one of those people? If so, I’d love to have your support, so I can keep growing this show and bringing a new vision of sexuality to the world.

If you haven’t done it yet, please take a moment to rate and review this podcast. I know the podcast industry does not make reviewing a show easy. So, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls. And it should lead you through the process of posting a review. I’d love to get 100 reviews by the end of the year and I could use your help.

And if you have the financial resources to support the sex positive work I do, I’d be so grateful for your support at Patreon. Donating the equivalent of a fancy cup of coffee each month might not make a big difference to you, but it makes a huge difference to me. There’s no contract or obligation. You can cancel it any time. And I donate 10% of all proceeds to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are now either illegal or heavily legislated. It’s easy to become a patron at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

And speaking of Patreon, there is a treasure trove of additional audio at Patreon that’s free for everyone to listen to. You don’t even need to have a Patreon account to access it. Just go to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex to start listening. I appreciate every one of you, whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower, or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. Now, let’s get back to the show!

[MUSIC]

SOPHIA: So, I go on this retreat so that I can make friends with menopause and I was so damn locked down. So locked down I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. I couldn’t even look into my own eyes in the mirror. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror and I hadn’t always lived there at all. I’ve been reading old journals and stuff and I’m reading some stuff about past sexual relationships, I’m going, damn girl. You did that? You go.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And also reading a lot about stuff that I experienced about myself that I was reading a journal recently where I had set up my mirror and I had made love to myself in front of a mirror and wrote about it as one of my best sexual experiences. And you know what? It was.

LEAH: How old were you?

SOPHIA: I was in my late 20s, early 30s, yeah. So, I went on a retreat. I went away to a place that is a retreat center I used to live at actually. It feels like home. It feels comfortable, but it’s also away and I happened to be the only person doing retreat that week. So, I had the whole space to myself, which meant that I spent a whole lot of time outside naked, which is exactly what I needed to do.

I didn’t have a plan for this retreat. I was just like I’m just going to go and see what happens and do whatever I feel like going to do. So, I was doing a lot of stuff that I didn’t quite really understand, but now that I’m thinking about it, I’m thinking I was doing some serious magic up in that mountain.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Like what?

SOPHIA: Just being outside naked, dancing outside naked, lots of fires, lots of creating rituals that I didn’t completely understand. And my body had changed so much from the time I was really sexually active to now between the accident and menopause, it was like a completely different body. And I had gotten to the place of menopause, which nobody talks about and I’m going to talk about as much as possible because people need to know so that they don’t panic.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Because I panicked. There’s a point where your hormones are shifting that it’s sometimes hard or not possible to have an orgasm. Your body reacts similarly to getting on SSRIs. I had gotten to that place. So, I was like, great. I’ve spent the last 10, 12 years not being sexual and now I can’t have an orgasm anymore, great. So, I’m in a Zoom call with my therapist bawling my eyes out while I’m on retreat.

And I had been masturbating, but it was very mechanical. It was like go for the release. So, when the release wasn’t happening either, it was like this is a real fucking bummer. So, I one day in retreat had gone on a hike, and then I went to the outdoor showers. The outdoor shower’s the best thing in the whole world. And it was a really sunny day and I walked back to my cabin completely naked and fell into bed and lit a bunch of candles and made love to myself. Totally different feeling and felt it in my body, felt it in my heart.

And not just unleash this, blew the cap off of whatever the hell it was I had locked down for the 12 years and whoa, that retreat was lifechanging for me because I got myself back. I got myself for the first time really. Learning a new body was exciting like having a new lover. Nothing was where it used to be. Nothing had worked. It was like, whoa, who’s this? Fun.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And had no problem giving myself an orgasm actually because I slowed down because I took my time because I loved other parts of my body besides just my vulva. It was amazing and came back, yeah, I’m friends with menopause now. No problem. Came back completely committed to talking about what it’s like to go through that process in that body because people don’t talk about it or they talk about it in a way that it’s like a disease or it’s so medicalized.

But for me, embracing menopause and working through that and landing 100% back in my body and loving what I found there was a completely spiritual transformation. My last night, I made a fire. I went around the property and I collected plants. And I made a vulva out of flowers, and then I started writing stuff that I wanted to let go of and burning it in the fire.

And then, I found myself texting women in my life and saying, “What do you want to let go of?” And writing them down and burning them and made a commitment that no more in a year’s time from that time that I was going to be around a fire with those women. Because I was creating ritual like I wanted it to be a ritual for this transition. It was actually exactly a year from the last time I had bled that I was on this retreat.

LEAH: So, this was your actual moment where they declare menopause? Wow.

SOPHIA: Yes. The actual moment of walking into wisdom years, yes. So, it was a full moon. There was a lot going on. I got back and I was saying to my friends like, “I don’t know what I did up there exactly, but oh my God.”

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And I remember I wrote in my journal, I am a mystic. I am a healer. I am magic. Yeah, I’m owning that now. I’m totally owning that. And the other big piece that broke loose from me, so what I realized was the lockdown was about my trauma, yes. The lockdown was also about me trying to keep caps on holy shit, I’m polyamorous because I was afraid I was going to blow up my marriage.

LEAH: So, you come home from this massively lifechanging experience. How do you integrate back into these sexual relationship that you’ve had with your spouse for the last 10, 12 years?

SOPHIA: I don’t.

LEAH: What does that mean?

SOPHIA: I did not do a good job at reentry. So, if anybody’s ever been on a retreat, you come out of retreat and if it’s a powerful retreat like mine was, you lit up like a Christmas tree. I’m all connected in, firing in all cylinders. I get the body back. I’m like, whoo.

And I recognized a whole lot of patterns in my marriage that kept in a more shut down place. Not because of what they did, because that’s how I responded. And I keep saying that out loud because I don’t want this to sound like it’s something they did to me. It was me. I did it.

But I didn’t do reentry really well. So, in order to keep myself from getting back in codependent patterns, I threw some pretty hard harsh blocks up with them. And that launched us into a pretty solid month of fighting.

And what’s really unfortunate about that is before I went on my retreat, we had spent 2 weeks on vacation. It’s the first time we had really carved out vacation time in a really long time. We had really started to put some stuff on our bucket and I think we were both feeling like we’re going to get back there. We’re going to get on this path. We’re going to get back there to rebuilding all the good things in our relationship and rebuilding a sexual relationship. This is great.

And I definitely did feel that, but I didn’t realize still at the time how much I wasn’t present, how much of myself still wasn’t present. So, when I came back, the other thing was that I did not tell them right away that I had come out to myself as polyamorous because we had had enough previous conversations for me to know that it was not going to end well. So, I kept it to myself.

LEAH: And by not end well, you mean that they would not be accepting of that? Okay.

SOPHIA: Yup. So, I very much kept that to myself with them. I had really good friends that I told pretty much right away actually, one, who were amazing and phenomenal and loved me up and embraced me and celebrated me. And that was exactly what I needed in that moment.

But then, had been between the writing I was doing in my journal of all my encounters with my new lover and hiding my phone because I had all the stuff of polyamory on my phone, they started thinking I was having an affair. So, I was with me.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But eventually, it came out. We were looking for a couple’s therapist anyway because we had so much we had to work on before this arrived. And I luckily found somebody who had some expertise in ethical non-monogamy. So, I feel like we might have a chance, but the first couple of weeks was pretty rough.

There was the immediate reaction that I expected including give me your wedding ring back, which was hard. There has since been some shifting and opening about maybe we can make this work. If we get us back together, then maybe we can. And I hear and understand that sentiment, but I also feel like how can we really get us back together if all of me can’t be there? That’s where I’m really sitting right now.

LEAH: And is that something that you’ve been able to talk about in your couple’s therapy?

SOPHIA: That’s this week.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Okay, yeah. And I know all of this is really, really new.

SOPHIA: And so, our last couple’s session, our therapist saying, “Can you try to help them understand?” Because what I kept hearing back was how do you know? And it’s like I know. If I look back on patterns in my relationships, the number of really close intimate connections I let go of because they also contained a sexual spark and I didn’t know how to handle that or deal with it or to talk about it or address it, I’ve let go of so many amazing people in my life that if I had understood my relationship structure differently, would’ve at least given me the opportunity to explore what that might look like if I had had that freedom.

So, I’m not waiting to explore it. I’m really looking at all my connections right now in my life, the people closest in, and thinking about what do I feel about that or what do I want out of that? And for some people, I may be able to have some really honest conversations. They’re able to go there with me, which is pretty remarkable.

And giving me an amazing opportunity to practice saying what I need and what I want something I never knew how to do because I didn’t even have access to, I didn’t even know what the hell I wanted. I didn’t know what I desired. I had no freaking clue.

LEAH: So, you’re using the word polyamory and that can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. So, what does it mean for you?

SOPHIA: For me, it means a capacity to love more than one person very deeply, to have intimate relationship with more than one person. Will that always look sexual? No. Maybe not. But might it? Yeah. That’s the other thing. There’s a request to have a blanket statement that it won’t be sexual with anybody else and I’m like I can’t do that because I don’t know who I’m going to meet. I don’t know what’s going to be there and to not buy into this prioritizing one relationship over another.

That monogamy box to me feels very much like it’s invading in my freedom. It’s put there by the patriarchy. Let’s face it. Monogamy was created and put there by the patriarchy to control women. Period, end of sentence. That’s where it lives for me. A very good friend recently turned me on to this term relationship anarchy. You’ve heard this?

LEAH: Yeah.

SOPHIA: I’m loving this.

LEAH: So what does that mean to you?

SOPHIA: So, it’s the whole concept of basically not buying into the box of monogamy and just completely blowing up all the rules about what a romantic relationship should look like or who you should be doing what with or who you should be sharing what with.

I’m just in the beginnings of learning about all this, but it feels right. I feel like since I’ve allowed myself to embrace that label, I am able to experience more love and let more love in than I ever feel like I have in my life. On a regular basis, my friends are saying things to me that have literally brought me to tears because I’m able to let it in. I’m a better person. I’m a better pastor because I feel like there’s no box around my heart. It can just flow.

I’m having deeper connections with people who I’ve had closed up in my life, some of them for a long time. And I feel like the doors are being blown open for what I can imagine our relationships could be. And that just feels really good.

LEAH: Yeah. I just want to talk for a second about relationship anarchy. And another term that you may be familiar with non-hierarchical polyamory. For people who are not familiar with these terms, there’s hierarchical polyamory, which suggests that you have a primary partner, which is often the person you live with, which in these communities would be called your nesting partner.

And then, if you have other connections or other relationships with people other than your primary partner, they would fall into these secondary or tertiary roles. So, there’s very much a hierarchical structure. Your primary partner is the one who you prioritize in all things. And then, your secondary partner, you prioritize behind your primary, and then your tertiary.

And for some people, that really works. And then, there are people for whom that feels really shitty. And so, they practice non-hierarchical polyamory, which means that every relationship exists in its own capsule and no relationship is more important than any other. And even these people may have a nesting partner. Maybe married. But they don’t consider that relationship any more “important” than any other one. Relationship anarchy is a version of non-hierarchical. There are so many words. Oh my God.

SOPHIA: I know. Tell me about it.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, relationship anarchy is this idea that you could have all sorts of different kinds of relationship structures with all sorts of different people. So, for instance, for me, the easiest thing I could think about is I have a friend who identifies as a relationship anarchist and non-binary. They have many partners, some of whom are sexual, some of whom are completely platonic, some of whom are primarily emotional partners, some of whom are primarily the people they hang out with for the really fun stuff.

They have lots of different people who feel lots of different roles in their lives and they consider each of these people to be so important to them that they consider them a partner. So, I’m not necessarily saying all of this for your benefit because you’re living all of this, but I think those terms can be incredibly confusing when you’re first contacting this whole world.

SOPHIA: And I’ll say that I feel like pretty much where I’m going to land is non-hierarchical. That’s what it feels like to me right now. That’s what feels right in my body when I think about it. But yeah, I get questions.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: It’s like can we just talk about scheduling for a minute? My life is so fucking busy already. It’s like I take care of people.

LEAH: Oh my God. The Google Calendar.

SOPHIA: I know. And I need somebody I’m in a relationship who have skills in the calendar department.

[LAUGHTER]

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Do you stop yourself from initiating cuddles or kisses because you’re afraid it will automatically lead to sex that you don’t really want? You are not alone. I’ve heard it from countless women. How would it feel to know that you could kiss or touch or cuddle your partner and also know that there is no expectation of sex that you could get to set the pace and call the shots?

With one client recently, I have been workshopping how she can tell her partner that she wants to be able to interact with him without it automatically becoming sex. In the middle of our conversation, her eyes got wide and she said, “Wow, he’s not the one who expects it to turn into sex. I do. I think it’s what I’m supposed to do. So, I’m the one who keeps driving us there. I’ve been blaming all of this on him, but maybe it’s not actually his fault.”

The conversation she wanted to have with him suddenly changed. As we gamed out the words she now wanted to say, I asked how she was feeling about talking with him. And while before, she had said she was completely terrified, now she said she was feeling excited about the possibilities.

This is the kind of shift that’s possible when you have a guide who can see the bigger picture and help you navigate the self-sabotage your brain has created believing it was keeping you safe. I would be so honored to be your guide on this path. I am queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly. For more information and to schedule your free discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching and we can find out if we’re a good fit. Again, book your free discovery call at www.leahcarey.com/coaching and that link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening on now. Back to the show!

[MUSIC]

SOPHIA: So, I got that going on and I’m really trying to work on my trauma stuff myself, work on this path, but this whole marriage for me of the spiritual and the sexual has really erupted for me and having these very visceral experiences of making love to myself and experiencing, for lack of a better word, God there with me. And God for me is gendered female, although she/they pronouns for God for me.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And so, really embracing that. So, I don’t even call it making love to myself anymore. I call it worshipping at the temple. That’s my euphemism for loving my body and I’ve had some really mystical experiences. I am reading the mystics a lot these days.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Lots of mystical poetry in my life right now and writing mystical poetry in my life right now.

LEAH: So, I don’t want to go too far, if you look 2 years into the future, what do you hope in terms of your spouse and other relationships and what do you hope that your sexual and relational landscape will look?

SOPHIA: If I could have everything I wanted, I would still be married.

LEAH: To your current spouse?

SOPHIA: To my spouse. I would still be married to my spouse in that I would have worked through enough of this trauma to feel like I could attempt to have somebody other than myself as a lover.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you would potentially have an active sex life with your spouse?

SOPHIA: Yup.

LEAH: That was very tentative the way that you just said that. Okay, go on.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: It’s because it’s just really hard right now. It’s really loaded right now because they had a lot of feelings about the fact that we haven’t been sexual in 12 years. And now, I’m like, sorry, I’m only having sex with myself. That’s fucking human to have that reaction.

LEAH: Are the two of you still living together?

SOPHIA: Yeah, we are.

LEAH: And are you still sleeping in the same bed?

SOPHIA: I set up a temporary bed because right now, we’re not sleeping in the same bed together. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. Even just my hot flashes have really subsided, but I was 1 million times a night  throwing off covers and all of that, so really disturbing their sleep.

But also because I need a space to be able to explore whatever’s going on with my body whenever it props up and I don’t get much time alone in the house. None. And one of the things has emerged for me is getting my voice back. I have a very favorite toy.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What’s your favorite toy?

SOPHIA: I’m sure you must have heard of the Satisfyer.

LEAH: Yes.

SOPHIA: Yes. I love this thing.

LEAH: Which is interesting because that is an external toy and does not have a penetrative aspect to it.

SOPHIA: Yup, duly noted. Although I’m starting to explore there too, but I’ve always been the kind of person that direct stimulation’s too much. So, that’s the other reason why this really works well for me and unexpected surprise of this thing is I cannot be quiet if my life depended on it.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: It is a shut the windows situation. Let me just tell you. So, very surprised by that because I’ve always been really locked down and quiet. And I think part of that was also because I had these fantasies going on in my head. And I was like I can’t let that slip. I can’t let that slip.

So, I’m really needing the private space so that I’m really consciously working on letting myself say out loud what I want, say out loud my fantasies, and feel it all. So, no, we’re not sure what we’re going to do right now.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, I just totally took us off track. The question was what would you like to see in 2 years? So, we got that piece.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: The Satisfyer tends to take you off track, yes.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: And exploring and another relationship, that’s emerging right now. I see 4 of us connected and supporting each other and having a life together, which it sounds weird coming out of my mouth, but it feels right.

LEAH: When you say you see 4 of us, what does that mean?

SOPHIA: I see myself with my spouse and I see this other person with their spouse.

LEAH: Okay. So, are you currently developing a relationship with another couple or with one member of a couple?

SOPHIA: It is emerging, a connection with one member of another couple. And they are in a relationship situation where they can be a little bit more open about what’s going on for them. So, they are also in the exploration phase of polyamory, let’s just say the discovery phase of that. Mostly they’re just a really amazing friend.

LEAH: Good. This is a moment when you need that.

SOPHIA: So, so much. But I would be lying if I wouldn’t say that there is definitely more emerging there.

LEAH: So, what questions do you have right now? And I’m sure you have a multitude of them.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: But what questions do you have about sex, sexuality, monogamy, polyamory, all of that?

SOPHIA: It’s certainly a lot of questions about the nuts and bolts of polyamory. I wasn’t joking when I was like, okay, how the hell do you do a calendar for this? How do you negotiate? Because one of the things that’s emerging in this new connection is we just freaking want time together, but we feel like we can’t ask for it because we can’t be open about what’s going on for us.

So, yeah, nuts and bolts would be great. Okay, Polysecure and Ethical Slut, great. Can somebody write a book about the nuts and bolts of figuring out polyamory? I need that book. And I’ve read some stuff online, but how do you transition from a 15-year monogamous marriage? That’s a big ask. That’s a big fucking ask for anybody, especially when your relationship is already in a hard space. If it was secure, then it might be a little bit more wiggle room. But that’s a big ask.

And I think not so much questions, but just really wanting to remain committed to myself to try to heal some of this trauma. So, I have full access to the full menu of pleasure that I could possibly have. I recently had experience of triggering myself, which I was like, damn, girl. You really need help.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: That’s what it locked in for me. I was like I need to work with a body worker. I really need to work with somebody because I don’t know how many people have that experience, but yeah, I was trying to do some work around penetration. And I had bought years ago when I was first starting to work on my trauma a rose quartz wand to use to do penetration to try to shift some energy, release some triggers. And I was using it the other day and I just trigged the hell out of myself because it’s hard. So, I went and bought a dildo for the first time in 2 decades.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Good because that’s something that is made for that purpose, yes.

SOPHIA: Yes.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: But I’m laughing at myself because remember I said that this isn’t the same body? So, I think I got a little overambitious with what I bought.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I’m going to have to work up to it, but that’s okay, yeah. And so, just remaining committed to that healing because I really want to be free. I really want to have the experience of totally being able to surrender to pleasure and not be on guard for this trigger or that trigger or if it happens to be able to deal with it, staying in the moment with the person I’m with and not go away, not vanish myself and not abandon myself.

LEAH: I want that for you. Like I said earlier, my coping mechanism of choice is dissociation. And it absolutely still happens. I am not going to pretend in any way that I am magically healed or any of that shit. But a skill that I have been working on developing over the last 5 years that has been incredibly helpful for me is learning how to say I need to take a pause. I need to take a break. I need to take a breath.

And the important piece of that is being able to say that to a person before we begin play so that they don’t take it personally and think I’m doing something wrong when it happens. And when told in advance, I have found people to be incredibly understanding and supportive of that. The hard part is being able to recognize in the moment, I’m going there. I need to pull myself back enough to use my words and say, I need a breath.

SOPHIA: I need a breath, yup. And so, I’m practicing with myself. Hell, if I can trigger myself, then I can practice responding to that in a positive way and laying the boundaries I need to lay right now to feel safe, but also asking for what I need.

In this new connection, I crave physical looseness and that’s okay. And I want to give myself that and let that be okay. And for a long time, I couldn’t even let myself go there because it wasn’t okay to be like that with anybody but the person you’re married to. It wasn’t okay to want to hold hands with somebody else. It wasn’t okay to want to cuddle with somebody else. It wasn’t okay to fantasize about anybody else even. It’s like all of those things that you do to yourself, especially when you’re brought up Roman Catholic.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Also giving the other person the opportunity and the space to say what they need and want too. I feel like the more I can do that for myself, the more I’m giving the people in my inner circle or the people I’m in intimate relationship with permission to do the same.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: And now, it’s time for the lowdown, the things we’re dying to know, but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?

SOPHIA: Upwards of 25.

LEAH: How old were you when you began masturbating?

SOPHIA: 7 or 8.

LEAH: We already talked about your favorite sex toy, the Satisfyer, which I will put a link to in the show notes. It is for those who are familiar with this term a clit sucker toy. What’s your favorite sex position?

SOPHIA: It’s been a while, but anything related to oral sex is good for me.

LEAH: Okay. Do you prefer to initiate or for your partner to initiate in the bedroom?

SOPHIA: I prefer to initiate.

LEAH: Are you generally more active or more passive during lovemaking?

SOPHIA: I can tell you what I used to be. I think I was more active again because I think as I needed to be in control to feel safe. I would like to strike some balance with that. That’s my goal.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Do you prefer clit stimulation or penetration?

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Clit stimulation, thank you. Although, I’m working on that too.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Yeah. Do you enjoy having your breasts played with?

SOPHIA: Before, no. And I am vibing on these babies right now. I’m wearing low-cut stuff so that I can see my own cleavage because it turns me on.

LEAH: Nice, yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you think it’s generally easy or challenging for you to orgasm?

SOPHIA: That’s shifted too since menopause. I have to use a lot more stimulation, but I can still orgasm, so I’m really happy about that.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: What kind of touch do you enjoy most?

SOPHIA: I’m definitely a sensual touch kind of person. A favorite toy would be a feather.

LEAH: Yeah. What are your hard red lines, things you would say absolute no to?

SOPHIA: I think bondage. I think that would be loaded for me.

LEAH: How do you feel about porn?

SOPHIA: Some of it could be okay.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I’m really down with ethical porn, but other stuff, it doesn’t feel okay.

LEAH: Yeah. So, among the ethical porn producers, what’s the type of porn you most enjoy watching?

SOPHIA: Interesting. I’ve never said this out loud. I actually enjoy watching men make love to themselves. I don’t know because it’s the most opposite of my own experience I guess. I don’t know.

LEAH: It’s incredibly common for people to watch types of porn that they are not actually looking for in their own bedrooms.

SOPHIA: Yes. Although I have to say, the biggest turn on in the whole fucking world is watching a woman make love to herself. To me, there is nothing more beautiful in the whole wide world.

LEAH: Do you have hair down there or are you bare?

SOPHIA: I have hair down there. I’m Italian. I’m hairy.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Have you ever had a threesome or more?

SOPHIA: Twice.

LEAH: Do you enjoy giving oral sex?

SOPHIA: Yes.

LEAH: Do you enjoy receiving oral sex?

SOPHIA: Definitely.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Do you ever worry about your smell or taste?

SOPHIA: No. In fact, I’m really vibing on that these days too.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: When I tell you I went on retreat and fell in love with myself, I wasn’t kidding.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: How do you feel about as splay?

SOPHIA: Not something I’ve explored a lot, but could be open to exploring. Sure.

LEAH: What do you consider the “kinkiest” thing you enjoy with the understanding that everybody’s idea of what is kink is completely different?

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: I don’t know if I have an answer to that question yet. I don’t think I’m there, Leah.

LEAH: All right.

SOPHIA: We’ll do the follow up one. Talk to me then, okay.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Okay, cool. Do you enjoy dirty talk?

SOPHIA: Yes.

LEAH: What is your favorite part of your body?

SOPHIA: I never thought I’d have this problem, but thinking of a lot of different parts right now.

[LAUGHTER]

SOPHIA: Wow, I’m really vibing on my breasts right now. I don’t know why, but remember I told you earlier in the interview that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror?

LEAH: Yeah.

SOPHIA: So, in the last 2 months, I’ve gone from not being able to look at myself in the mirror to being able to look at myself in the mirror and going, that looks pretty good to I look like a goddess to I am a goddess. I don’t know. It’s pretty amazing.

LEAH: Yeah. What belief did you have about sex as a child or teenager that you wish you could go back and correct her on now?

SOPHIA: That it was only about procreation, that it’s about pleasure and that is your birth right. And especially as a girl, as a young woman to know that there’s so much power in your own sexual expression. And for me, that there’s spirit there too.

LEAH: Yeah. Sophia, thank you so much for having this conversation with me. It’s been such a pleasure.

SOPHIA: It’s been so great. Thank you so much. This has been really great for me because it’s given me a place to say a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t say to myself. So, thank you for being my confessional.

LEAH: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

[MUSIC]

LEAH: That’s it for today. Before we go, I want to remind you that the things you may have heard about your sexuality aren’t true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. As a sex and intimacy coach, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like.

To set up your free discovery call, go to www.leahcarey.com/coaching. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve heard on the show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX. Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. And you can follow me @goodgirlstalk on the socials for more sex positive content. If you’re enjoying this show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts or if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls.

While listening to this show is free, producing is not. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. Find out more and become a community member at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

[MUSIC]

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