Dive Deeper with Leah Carey
I have been through the fire and come out the other side. Now I’m here to walk with you as you do the same.
I will help you take a stand for yourself, your desires, and YOUR PLEASURE.
Shasta is a 45-year-old, cis-gender woman who describes herself as Canadian First Nation/Cree, heterosexual, monogamous, and married to her husband who she has been with for 20 years.
Major themes in this episode include
You can find Shasta online at www.ShastaTownsend.com. Her book, Happy, Sexy, Shameless – What Our Mother’s Didn’t Know About the Birds and the Bees, is available at Amazon.
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sexual communication 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 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!
LEAH: In today’s episode, we’ll meet Shasta, a 45 year old cisgender woman who describes herself as Canadian first nation Cree, heterosexual, monogamous and married to her husband who she has been with for 20 plus years.
Shasta is an income and intimacy mentor to other women but today she dives into the moments of her own life when she didn’t have it all figured out. The lessons she learned in childhood about never letting a man “fuck” her and what it looks like when your marriage bed has grown stale and how her husband pushed her to try new things. You can find Shasta online at www.shastatownsend.com.
I’m so pleased to introduce Shasta! Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s such a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with you.
SHASTA: Well, I’m thrilled to be here. I love your show! I love what you are sharing with the world and it’s an honor to contribute to that in any small way so thank you, Leah.
LEAH: Aww, thank you. And I am I have to say excited because I’m always interested to hear from people who have different backgrounds than I do and one of the few things that I know about you is, we have not met, that you are from a first nation background that you call yourself indigenous. And I’m really interested to hear about what you learned in your growing up time, how sex was talked about, how sex was interacted with in that culture.
SHASTA: I grew up in Saskatchewan in Canada, which is a very mixed culture so you have a lot of whites then you have a lot of first nations peoples and there’s a lot of tension actually between that culture. So I grew up, to answer your question, in a home where first nation culture was not identified, it was something to be ashamed of. It was something to really shut down. And that was generally the tone
around sexuality in my upbringing period. It was something you don’t talk about it. It was really almost like a shameful thing in the sense of the only message that I got from my mother about sex was, “You are a good girl. I trust you. You’re smart. You’ll figure this out yourself.”
SHASTA: You are leading your daughter with a message that there’s shame around sexuality like whatever being a good girl actually meant and then it’s also kind of like it’s on your shoulders to figure this shit out because I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.
SHASTA: And fair enough, she really didn’t know what she was doing. I grew up in a very violent home, a very abusive home. My stepfather was a crazy alcoholic and a very, very anger addict so I grew up in physical and emotional abuse which meant I’ll tell you, I really believe almost every woman I know has experienced some sort of trauma or abuse but what that meant for me, later in my life, I had a massive mistrust of men.
And so in my sexual experience, what happened was I decided I’m never going to end up like my mother or my aunts. I’m never going to be a woman who is servant to a man or wall to wall carpeting so I actually went the other way. I was like I’m going to use men for my own purposes. No one is going to ever fuck me. I will be the one who fucked them and leave them kind of thing.
LEAH: So let’s go back to the beginning. What is your first memory of sexual pleasure?
SHASTA: Oh, gosh. I don’t think I’ve ever verbalized this but I’m going to share it now. Here we go. So I remember being really young like I think maybe three or four? And actually masturbating, I’m actually having an orgasm at that age. And not knowing obviously what the heck I was doing but feeling turned on and feeling and I’m sure that there are a lot of scientists that would argue no, your sexuality doesn’t develop until later, but I remember being extremely young and touching myself, bringing myself to orgasm.
That’s probably the earliest memory that I have of sex and I don’t know I was aware of what I was doing but the same time, I was also aware this wasn’t something to tell somebody about as a little girl. That it was something that I did alone in my room when no one was paying attention to me kind of thing.
LEAH: And did you continue to masturbate throughout your young life? Or at some point did you stop and then pick it up again later?
SHASTA: I think I continued to masturbate pretty much the entire time. I became sexually active with a man or with a boy at 16 and I’ve always actually enjoyed sex and I think I was actually pretty clear on what I liked maybe because I’ve been masturbating for years.
SHASTA: But and then it’s really interesting because when I started to actually have more regular sex and satisfying sex, I think that I actually stopped masturbating. And it was actually years that I didn’t do that and it actually has only been probably this year that in maybe the last ten or twenty years that it was even something that entered my mind.
LEAH: What do you think was the change? What made it come back up for you?
SHASTA: I’ve been married for 15 years and we’ve certainly had our ups and down but we’ve always had a sensational sex life. And then were moments where we didn’t have such a sensational sex life and one of those moments was actually the sort of the end of last year where things just kind of got stale in our relationship and my husband was asking me to try new things and to try new positions, personas, and I was so triggered.
I mean it triggered the shit out of me. I was like, “What’s wrong with our sex life? We’ve been having sex for 20 years, I orgasm every time. It’s sensational.” And he wasn’t saying it’s not good. He was saying he wanted to explore new horizons. “I want to go to new edges with you.”
And I completely shut down around that. My husband actually said to me, I was away in another country at the time so we were separated. He said, “Will you touch yourself tonight and think about me?” And I was like I know in the realm of sexuality, this is not like super full of kink or anything. But for me, I was like, “Oh God, can I do that?” And I did.
It’s not like he wanted to watch or anything like that. It was just consider what you want and how that would feel for you and it was interesting because it really did take me back to being a young woman, even a little girl, and saying, “I do know what I want and I can trust myself and I can also trust this man.”
LEAH: You said that he gave this invitation and that it wouldn’t necessarily be considered kinky, but in fact I think for a lot of people the very act of talking about sex is kind of kinky. That is so taboo that it feels really revolutionary to even have the conversation and say let’s try something new. Would you consider this? I think that actually does. If you’re talking to someone who is in the world of BDSM, no of course, they wouldn’t consider that kinky. But if you’re talking to somebody who has lived a fairly vanilla sort of “standard” sex life, that is really pushing some boundaries.
SHASTA: Absolutely. I thought that we have a very open communication in our relationship and what was really interesting is I realized as we had this sort of breakdown in our relationship that I actually wasn’t hearing him so there was a part of my brain that was actually filtering out what he was saying because there’s these old stories of shame, you need to be a good girl, don’t let a man fuck with you, who was he to ask you to do something. It caused me anyways to say, “What is this shit that is coming out from me? I am completely in love, committed, enamored with this person. I feel like I’m a confident,
live woman and I’m getting super triggered by these kind of request which everything you’re saying is true.”
I think it’s sort of like middle class culture. It’s like lots of people don’t even talk about sex but we did and yet there was something that was like, “Oh, gosh.” It totally triggered my good girl story. I could be a good girl or I can actually choose who I want to be regardless of what the sexual expression is and to actually discovered what is yet another sexual expression that’s meaningful for me now at this point of my life.
SHASTA: So it was painful at the time but I’m very grateful and I think I’ll continue to do that. It’s for me, I think sexuality, even though as I’ve said, I’ve always loved sex and I saw myself as a very sexual person, It’s like, “Oh, wow. There’s my shit again.” So it’s like what’s the new horizon? What’s the new transparency, vulnerability, surrender? Here I am on an amazing highly listened to podcast and telling people, “Yeah, I actually masturbate at 45 and I actually like it. “
SHASTA: 40 year old me or 35 year old me would have been like, “Fuck no. I’m not going to do that.”
SHASTA: It’s all good.
LEAH: So when you heard those messages as a young girl, saying, “Be a good girl.” What did that mean to you? What were the markers of a “good girl”?
SHASTA: That’s such a great question. So one of them was my mother was very physically attractive. She was very beautiful and so one of the markers of a good girl is that you need to be pretty. You needed to be very physical attractive to men. And that was an interesting message because there’s a bit of a paradox in that message.
You needed to be physically attractive to men in order to have a man take care of you and at the same time, you needed to be available to men but you couldn’t come across as “available.” So it was sort of a double binding message to be attractive but don’t be too assertive or sexual in that. Make yourself available to men, make sure that men see you as attractive and what was part of that was also that. And again, I got double binding messages because it was you’re very bright, I was a very good student. I was very outspoken and assertive but the message was men don’t like that. You’re smart but don’t be too smart.
And so what I did in those messages was like it was a two headed monster. I had a voice in my head that was like, “Fuck you all. You don’t get to decide what I’m going to look like or what I’m going to say or whether I’m smart or not smart and I’m not going to make myself available to men.” But at the same time, longing for that, wanting to be seen as attractive, wanting obviously to belong, wanting to be loved, wanting to be approved of and so it was these messages that were complete opposition and continued actually in my head for a really, really long time.
But it’s interesting because I’ve spoken to a lot of women and even men over the years where the messages was, “Don’t be a sexual person, don’t be a slut or whatever, don’t be overtly sexual.” And the message that I got was, “Make sure that you’re available to men but don’t let a man use you too much and you’re really smart and be smart but don’t let too many people know how smart you are.” It’s like, who do I get to be in any of that?
And then there really was a message as I said my mother said, “You’ll figure it out. You’re a really smart girl.” So it was almost a message of self responsibility which I think can be helpful in situations but it was what I got out of that as a young woman was I don’t want to let my mother down because she does think that I have a level of intelligence and she had me very young. She had me at fifteen, which means she started having sex at least at fourteen so she was very sexually active at a very young age by Canadian standards.
And I think that she always wanted me to “successful” but really had her own stories about men and her looks is what really allowed her to move through her life, in her story at her time anyways. So there was this interesting story of always as I said, make sure you’re attractive but don’t be too attractive and be available to men, but not too available to men.
SHASTA: But other than that, figure it out on your own.
LEAH: So you mentioned that one of the things that you took away from that was this idea that I’m not going to let men fuck with me, I’m going to fuck with them instead. How did that play out for you in your early flirtations, romances, sexual relationships?
SHASTA; Well, what it would mean is any time that I had a sexual relationship is that I really would be in a position of dominance for lack of a better word. And I don’t mean that in the BDSM term, I mean in the sense of ensuring that I was the one that was pursued, ensuring that I was the one who was “leading” what was happening in the relationship or the bedroom, ensuring that my pleasure, orgasms, satisfaction, always happened and it happened first and not allowing a level of mature emotional connection or intimacy with men. And really becoming frankly very adept sexually, really learning skills so that it was almost like you wanted to leave a man wanting more from you.
I used those things as a wall and as a defense mechanism. As women, we have been hurt, we’ve been abused for hundreds, thousands of years, of course, many of us naturally go to a place of defensiveness and building walls, but we’re really wired for connection, we’re wired for pleasure and we need to be discerning about who we let into our bedroom and in our hearts but there are opportunities for great transformation and great love and great pleasure in this life by allowing those walls to “be breached” so to speak.
LEAH: Yeah, we had an interesting conversation just actually two or three nights ago with my partner because I recognize that I am often having come out of a background where sex was not about pleasure for me and was not something that I enjoyed.
Now I’m in a relationship where I do enjoy it, I tend to be the assertive one in the relationship. I tend to be the one who asks for it, who makes the first move. And I’ve mentioned this to him a couple of times, it’s okay with me if you do. But the truth is, I don’t really give him space to do that.
And the flip side of that is that he was saying to me that he has seen so many women that he cares about having been so profoundly hurt by men taking advantage or being sexually aggressive in a way that wasn’t welcome that it’s sort of the flip side of the Me Too movement, that he has begun to fear making that first move because he doesn’t ever want someone to feel like they have to be afraid of him or be nervous in his presence.
And that has sort of come into our relationship that even though he knows that I do want him, he still always wants to make sure that I really want him in this moment before he makes a move. And I think that none of this is to say the Me Too movement is off the track because I don’t think it is at all, but I do think that finding this balance where we allow ourselves to be open and not use that openness as a shield is really challenging for everyone involved.
SHASTA: There’s no question that we needed to really bring things up the level of sexual misconduct, sexual abuse, just bad behavior into the light. But the next step really is, “How are we as men and women if we’re in a sexual relationship together, what the heck does that look like?”
One of the things that I hear a lot from women is, “My man has no idea how to take me and how to be assertive and I want him to fuck me and take me.” And I’m like, “Hey, I get that. But bless men today, they’re living in terror.”
And there’s this thing in my relationship where I’ll say to my husband, “I’m willing to do this but I can’t do that.” Because it triggers me, it triggers my own story of abuse. And I’m okay with this, but I’m not okay with that and I want you to be an assertive man who wants me but I’m not interested in this, this, and this. And there’s no question, it takes major courage to have those conversations.
LEAH: I love reading the reviews that people are leaving on Apple Podcasts. Thank you so much for letting me know that this work is valuable to you. It keeps me motivated to keep producing in-depth conversations like this one.
Piper.pack45 called Good Girls Talk About Sex “the best sex talk ever”! Well, if you want more great sex talk, head over to Patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex where you can find these amazing extras. At the 5 dollar a month level, Shasta talks about her first nation indigenous background and what it was like to grow up as a mixed race child in Canada. She talks about the messages she heard about being a “good girl”. At a 7 dollar a month level, there’s that conversation plus the extended Q and A. At the 10 dollar a month, all of that plus the monthly ask me anything.
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LEAH: How do you feel about your body and how did that play into your sexual experiences?
SHASTA: I was the smart one and my sister was the pretty one so growing up, I got this message of you’re wanted because you’re attractive but you’re not actually the attractive one, Shasta. That’s how my little brain interpreted that.
So I always had a story in my head of, “I’m the smart one and she’s the pretty one.” And so as a young woman and as a child, I was attractive. There’s no question about that. I’m not saying that egotistically, I was a beautiful girl. I’m a beautiful woman. I feel very sexually alive but I kind of had this like, “I’m a nerd. Men will think I’m kind of a nerd.” So even though I wasn’t, I had this sort of nerdy story going inside.
And yet at the same time, I would have the story of kind of like the femme fatale. I don’t think I dressed overly provocatively but I developed very young. I had larger breasts as a younger woman, accented those the best that I can. I have a very hourglass shape so I would accent that the best that I can kind of like in my mind, you’ve got to use the assets that you have because you’re not the pretty. You’re the smart one so make sure that you accentuate what’s working for you.
I was never really thin, I was never overweight but I was always the curvier girl so I always remember also having this story in my head like I’m not the skinniest girl in the room so I needed to ensure that my curvaceousness was an asset rather than seeing it as something shameful though I did see it as something shameful.
And I don’t remember being particularly freaked out by my body early on but I remember thinking men want you to be pretty and you’re not the pretty one so you’ve got to use what God gave you kind of thing.
LEAH: Let’s move forward to when you met your husband and got involved with him. What was your relationship with your body at that point?
SHASTA: I had gained some weight at that point in my life. I was probably around the heaviest that I’ve ever been. I’m actually two sizes smaller now in my 40s than I was in my late 20s so it’s interesting because I saw myself as kind of not overweight, but heavier person.
And I remember my husband, we’ve been friends for a while before we became lovers or involved intimately and he was enamored with my body. He just was like, “I think you’re the sexiest woman on the planet.” And I was like, “Oh God, I gained weight.” And I didn’t feel that way about myself so that’s interesting because I know there’s this time and I know this is not going to be a feminist approved statement but there was something about him reflecting that on me that actually gave me a level of sexual self esteem because this wasn’t a man that was looking for a skinny woman.
He liked that I had hips. He liked that I had breasts and I didn’t feel so ashamed of that because I had gained weight. I had gone through a little bit of a health crisis that caused me to gain some weight and it’s an interesting thing because I actually feel like now 20 years later, not quite, I’m a little bit smaller than I was back then but the shape of my body hasn’t changed but I feel like that man is crazy for my body. He’s crazy for the curves that I have and there’s something I think very sexy about that in our sexual self esteem. I don’t take my self esteem from him but I think that it’s wonderful to be a lover that’s enamored by your body that whenever I’m a size 16 or I’m a size 8 like I am now, he loves me just the same. He’s sexually attracted to me just the same.
LEAH: We do get this message that we’re supposed to find our self esteem within ourselves and not need a man to give it to us and this spiritual, religious traditions will say, “You have to find it in yourself. You have to love yourself first”, all of that. All of which is lovely.
LEAH: And I think it is really important to find our own inner well of that. However, I will stand up on my soap box for a moment and say that I also think that for some of us, it is incredibly important to find people like you’re saying with your husband.
For me, the messages that I got from my father were that I was fat and ugly. I was not properly mirrored by the person who was supposed to give me messages about my value and worth in the world so there was no way for me to develop that on my own because I had absolutely no foundation for it.
The loudest voice in my head was the voice telling me that I was fat and ugly. That was the only market that I had. If anyone told me something different, I thought that either they were lying or they were crazy and they couldn’t see what was right in front of them.
It wasn’t until I started being mirrored by people whose opinions I actually valued telling me you are beautiful, you are attractive, I want to touch your body, I love your ass, you have great breasts. All of that that I started to believe it and then start building on those stories for myself. It actually required some external voices in order to begin to build that so for anybody who is hearing this, I have to do it all on my own, that may not actually be the only way forward or the right way forward for you.
SHASTA: Very well said, Leah. I love it. It’s so true the way you talked about the voice of your childhood being really the inaccurate but the loudest voice in your head and then finding, as you said a sacred mirror, someone who you love and trust. It’s powerful. I love it. I love your clarity.
LEAH: Let’s talk about your sexual relationship with your husband because you have mentioned that it is spectacular. How did it begin? Did it begin good and get better? Or did it begin less good and require work to get to where it is?
SHASTA: Well it began with a slow burning fire because I was friends with my husband for about five years and in fact I was dating his cousin. And yet literally I remember just the day meeting him and it was like a thunderbolt went off inside me and I didn’t have the skills nor did I have the self confidence at the time to dissolve the relationship that I was in because the relationship that I was in with his cousin was in its early stages. It could have completely dissolved without a lot of drama and heartache. And I allowed that relationship to continue and so he and I became friends.
We were the kind of people at the party where we would sit and talk about everything. We never crossed the line sexually though there was no question that we were very emotionally involved with each other so I mean imagine five years being in a relationship with somebody who is your “friend” and you’re not having any type of physical or sexual contact with this person but every part of your body and every cell within you is like I really want to. So when I finally woke up and dissolved the relationship with his cousin which I had let go on way, way too long, and he and I stepped into a relationship together.
There’s no question, there were fireworks because it was 5 years of friendship, which now had transitioned into a physical relationship. And the interesting thing is that I think in some ways, because I felt so sexually attracted to him and I was very emotionally attracted to him, I actually think I became complacent, sex with him was sensational in my mind but it had become routine.
And so in the last year or so, when Ian said to me we need to try new things or go to new edges together, it was really like, “What?” Honestly, Leah, I felt like, “What are you talking about? I would walk on water with you. I feel such deep desire and satisfaction with you.” But it really was sex became routine in many ways. It wasn’t like introducing another person. It wasn’t about crossing the line into the BDSM community, which is great, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.
It was really looking at what are the things that I have shame about that I’m holding myself back in my relationship like masturbation, talking about what I wanted, role playing, trying even just different sexual positions.
And that is so interesting because there’s the physical component to that, physical sex life change, but there’s also the emotional kind of spiritual connection of like, “Okay. Well, I’ve actually masturbated in front of this man.” In my mind, it was like you can’t get more vulnerable than that so now I think a level of trust and openness and fire that I never expected.
LEAH: Before we finish up, let’s get the lowdown, the questions we’re dying to know but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.
LEAH: What kind of touch do you enjoy most?
SHASTA: I think I like a firm touch. I like a lover who is pretty clear and confident in their touch. And it is lovely to be with somebody who you can feel their desire transmitted in the way that they touch you.
LEAH: Are there sexual things that you’ve tried that you don’t ever want to do again?
SHASTA: Gosh, that’s a good question. With one of my first boyfriends that I ever had, we were
experimenting with food. [LAUGHTER]
SHASTA: And I remember that we were experimenting with ice cream and I’m telling you when that shit melts, it gets right into the mattress and everywhere.
SHASTA: I remember trying to explain why the mattress had strawberry and chocolate ice cream stains to my friend that I was living with because we were actually in her bed too and that was bad, no. So that was definitely like I’m not a big fan of food in the bedroom. I think because I still hold that, “Oh shit, we made a mess of her room.” And she was not impressed with me so I probably won’t do that again.
LEAH: That is hilarious.
LEAH: Do you have hair down there or are you bare? SHASTA: I have some hair.
LEAH: Do you landscape it? When you say you have some hair, what does that mean? SHASTA: My husband landscaped a landing strip.
LEAH: That’s kind of super sexy when your partner is the one with the razor. [LAUGHTER]
SHASTA: Definitely, very erotic.
LEAH: Have you ever had a threesome or more?
SHASTA: I have in college. Not a super fun experience but I’m glad that I did it.
LEAH: If you were to do it again, what would you want the configuration to be? Male, male, female or female, female, male?
SHASTA: Well, I’m yes to all of it but I’m pretty sure my husband is like no way, not anymore cocks in the bedroom.
SHASTA: So if it was going to happen, it would be female, female, male.
LEAH: Have you ever had public sex?
SHASTA: Public sex. Yes, I have. I have had sex in a swimming pool with definitely people around.
LEAH: And could they tell what was going on do you think?
SHASTA: There was kind of a party going on so I don’t think people would have noticed at the time but probably if you were paying attention, yes, you would know, definitely what was happening.
LEAH: And was it exciting because there were other people around?
SHASTA: It was exciting. I remember thinking that. I remember thinking we shouldn’t be doing this but I
don’t care, we are so doing this. LEAH: How old were you? SHASTA: Oh, Gosh. [LAUGHTER]
SHASTA: I’m going to be honest, it wasn’t that long ago. This was with my husband. [LAUGHTER]
SHASTA: Maybe like 6 or 7 years ago? Not that long ago.
LEAH: I love that. That’s fun. Well, thank you so much for being here. This conversation has been such a joy to have with you. I really appreciate it.
SHASTA: It’s definitely been a pleasure for me and I’m so grateful for your space and your courage and everything that you’re doing.
LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on this show, please email me at email@example.com You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at IamLeahCarey.
I was only able to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible. If you’d like to step outside a box that’s no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. I have lots of tools to help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. For more information, visit leahcarey.com.
I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time. Here’s to your better sex life! [MUSIC]
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