In this coaching episode, Lisa talks about learning to stay present when she’s having pleasure. Currently her mind wanders during sex to making grocery lists or worrying that what she’s doing is wrong.
Leah works with Lisa to:
Lisa is a 44-year-old cisgender woman who lives in Italy. She describes herself as white, heterosexual, single & having fun, and exploring different relationship styles because she’s not sure she believes in monogamy anymore. She had a Catholic upbringing and is finally exploring pleasure for the first time in her life. She describes her body as average and athletic.
Leah offers valuable insights and tools to help Lisa and all listeners to navigate the challenges of staying present during sex.
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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.
LEAH: Hey, friends. I’m back with another listener coaching session, but a few bits of housekeeping before we get started today. Thank you to those of you who left reviews in the last couple of weeks, like this one from American Veteran18 who wrote a long review including this gem.
“As a man, I feel like I’m in school getting informed about how I can be more cognizant of my role as a man and my behavior, especially considering how I may present to women and realizing it as so many men have been conditioned by our society and misinformation about women’s struggles throughout history.”
Thank you so much, American Veteran18, and I’m so pleased that we can be here to be your school. If you have not yet left a 5-star rating and review for this podcast, I’d be very grateful if you would do that now. And if you hear something in this episode that reminds you of a friend or family member, please pass it along so they have the chance to learn from this conversation as well.
Housekeeping bit number two, you may remember the sex and relationship quiz that I announced in the last episode. You answer a handful of questions, then you’re matched up with a character from TV or movies that’s dealing with some of the same sex and relationship challenges you are. And you get a bunch of resources for moving forward.
One of the choices I made when creating that quiz was to choose characters who I felt very closely matched the things I wanted to talk about rather than choosing really well-known characters and trying to shoehorn them in for the point I was making. I also worked really hard, really, really hard to make sure that the group of characters were representative across many categories like race, age, body size and shape, gender presentation, et cetera. The result is that there are a bunch of characters who are less well-known.
So, while many of you probably are familiar with Amy Farrah Fowler from the Big Bang Theory who, in the quiz, represents the challenges of having a mismatched libido with your partner, many fewer of you probably know Sabi from Sort of, who represents the challenges of trying to make yourself acceptable by becoming whoever the other person wants you to be.
So, in the next episode, I’m going to introduce you to a couple of these lesser-known characters in a pop culture breakdown featuring Michelle Pierson from Togetherness, and Jessie, no last name, from Starstruck. In the United States, both shows are on Max, the network formerly known as HBO, and they can also be found on Amazon Prime Video.
If you’d like to watch the episodes I’ll be talking about in advance of listening, check out season 1, episode 1 of Togetherness and season 1, episode 1 of Starstruck. Yes. That’s right. I’m keeping it all in the first episode of each series because both shows are so incredible. I want you to have the opportunity to first fall in love with them and then to watch them unspoiled. So, that’s the first episode of each series, Togetherness and Starstruck.
Third bit of housekeeping, if you’d like the benefit of a free half-hour laser coaching session like you’re hearing in today’s episode to talk about your specific issue around sex, sexuality, gender, et cetera, I’d love to hear from you. Go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/session, and send me your info.
Now, let’s jump into today’s episode. In our last coaching episode, you may remember Savy, a woman who wanted to get more comfortable with her genitals and having sex. She hadn’t had a ton of sexual experiences, and the ones she’d had weren’t focused on her pleasure. Savy and I spoke about the possibility of her hiring a sex worker, so she could have some experiences where she was the sole center of attention.
Working with an experienced sex worker would give Savy the chance to ask for exactly what she wants without having to worry if she’s pleasing her partner, if her partner is interested, if her partner is bored, et cetera. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about sex workers. And, yes, I have seen a few during my sexual exploration journey. When I’m paying for somebody’s services, boundaries are instantly clarified. I am not there to please them or take care of them. They are there to make sure my needs are served in a way where both of our needs and boundaries are respected. So, when I sat down to edit this conversation, I hadn’t actually anticipated it would build quite so neatly on that topic. But halfway through, I realized this is perfect.
Today, we’re talking with Lisa. And a big part of the conversation is sorting through some feelings Lisa is having as she’s been seeing a sex worker. Let’s be clear. Just because the power dynamic in the room is clarified by money doesn’t mean everything is. Our brains are still wild and woolly places, and they can create all sorts of drama while we are not paying attention.
Also, in editing this episode, as I listened back, I realized that I missed an important factor early on, which is that Lisa and I grew up and live in different cultures. She’s from Italy, and I’m in the United States. While we both live in industrialized prosperous countries, there are many cultural differences between Europe and the US.
I wish that had been more front of mind for me in the first half of the conversation, as we explored some of her internal beliefs and judgments. It’s entirely possible that there were some large or small things that I missed because I wasn’t really listening for them. Now, you can have great coaching experiences with someone from a different culture, and I certainly don’t mean to imply otherwise.
But as a coach, it is important for me to be aware and culturally sensitive to the possibility that my cultural assumptions may not be the same as my client’s, which is why when I have a discovery call with a person from a different racial or cultural background, I’ll bring this up to make sure that I’m the right person to serve their needs.
Lisa is a 44-year-old cisgender woman who lives in Italy. She describes herself as white, heterosexual, single, and having fun, and exploring different relationship styles because she’s not so sure she believes in monogamy anymore. She had a Catholic upbringing and is finally exploring pleasure for the first time in her life. She describes her body as average and athletic. Welcome, Lisa!
LEAH: Lisa, I am so pleased to be talking with you. You reached out with a question about staying present to your pleasure and to the sex that you’re having. And I know that this is an issue that a lot of people, including me, have dealt with or continue to deal with. So, I’m really excited for this conversation. Do you want to give me a little background about how this is showing up for you, how long it’s been going on?
LISA: It’s been going on for the whole of my sex life. I actually realized it this year because I started working with tantra, so I decided to work on myself to do personal growth tantra sessions. And there, I noticed that whenever we were touching pleasure, I would just switch off. So, my mind would start thinking about anything else, and the feeling sensation was not there anymore.
LEAH: So, this is something that when you look back over your life, you maybe weren’t aware of so much at the time, but you think has been going on this whole time.
LISA: Yes, absolutely. I know it’s been going on like that. Yeah.
LEAH: Have you ever had an experience where you were able to stay really present? Is that something you’ve ever had?
LISA: Only lately, with all the work I’ve been doing through experiencing pleasure and trying to stay with my pleasure, I’ve been able to do it for longer periods and so on, but I can’t remember a time where I was just within the pleasure. No.
LEAH: And what happens in your brain when it takes off on its joyride? Where does it go?
LISA: It depends. So, I noticed that especially with the person I was working with and I noticed that I started thinking, are we crossing a boundary? Is this correct? What’s expected from me? How should I react? So, a part was, let’s say, so you need to show. I needed to show I was enjoying it.
LEAH: So, the performance piece of it?
LISA: The performance, exactly. Another part was about what I was doing and all the issues regarding, is this right? Is this not right? Is it something I can do, we should do, and so on? With my partners, I wouldn’t know. At a certain point, I just start thinking about something else or a thought pops up in my mind. And I noticed now that it’s happening, and I just try to just focus back onto what I’m feeling.
LEAH: So, one of those is very much about, am I doing this right? And one of those is just straight up the brain taking off into wherever it goes.
LEAH: Okay. So, let’s start with the first one. When you have been having these tantra sessions, when you say, is this something that’s okay to be doing? And it sounds like there’s some sort of moral judgment going on there. So, can you tell me a little bit more about those sessions and what it is that’s bringing up those thoughts for you.
LISA: Okay. I’m working with a man. And during the sessions is touch contact. And over time, this touch has become sexual, touching genitals and so on. And I noticed even from the start, so even when it wasn’t in a sexual area, in a sexual dimension, I was already having these thoughts. When we got closer to something that was sexual, they started taking off.
And we talked through this, and it’s been very useful for me. And I noticed something came up about the role of who I’m with. So, if somebody has a role who is a teacher or somebody I perceive as somebody that knows something more than me or is an authority, I feel I can’t do certain things or it’s not correct or it’s not right. And so, that’s what came up.
LEAH: It sounds like what you’re describing is the role of an authority figure. Does that ring true?
LEAH: Yeah. Okay. When you’re with an authority figure, what are some of the things that feel like, I shouldn’t do that? Is it like you shouldn’t demonstrate too much knowledge or you shouldn’t be too present in your body? What is that that’s going on in your brain?
LISA: The touch is at a certain point, I also give touch. So, I learn how to stay present while I am giving pleasure to somebody else because that’s not the part where I usually run away.
LEAH: That’s a big deal. Yeah.
LISA: It is.
LISA: And having somebody in front of me that knows more than me, so is a teacher, I would go into to this little hole of, I’m not good enough. I can’t do this as I should be doing it, and I’ll do something wrong. So, it was like little Lisa worrying to not be good enough in what she was doing.
LEAH: Yeah. So, before we started recording, you told me that you don’t ascribe to Catholicism, but that you grew up in a home with Catholic values.
LEAH: I’m curious what you heard growing up about female’s role in sexuality or in sex?
LISA: That’s a great question. Many of the messages that were passed were no sex before marriage. Typical. And by my mother, because she was angry with men, a very strong message was men are dangerous.
So, I realized that has had a huge impact on my life up to date. And the tantra’s helping a lot with that because I’m working with a man, but nothing specific that I can remember regarding women’s roles.
LEAH: That’s fine. Those two things that you just mentioned are huge. They’re really big messages. I assume that the tantric practitioner who you’re working with, you’re paying him. Is that correct?
LISA: Yes, absolutely.
LEAH: So, I’m also willing to bet that there is some moral judgment that’s creeping in there as well. Not only is this sex outside of marriage or sexual play outside of marriage, but there is that added piece of I’m paying for this. It’s not like the love relationship or the spiritual connected relationship that would have been expected in order for you to be sanctioned by the church. Would that be accurate?
LISA: I never perceived it, but as you speak, I remember another strong message. So, yes, I think what you’re saying is very deep down, and I’ve never noticed it. My mother kept on saying that, “You don’t sell your body.” So, she was very judgmental for regarding anything that was connected to selling one’s body. And I never even thought about that. It hasn’t come up.
LEAH: Yeah. And I’m not surprised that it hasn’t come up in your conscious memory because why would it? It is part of the air that you breathe. It’s part of just what you grew up in. And so, it’s planted deep in your brain. And it’s sending out these little bursts of, what? I don’t think this is okay, but that doesn’t necessarily come up to the top because you’ve got all this other stuff going on of, am I doing it okay? Am I doing it right?
What’s interesting here is that the message is don’t sell your body. And so, presumably, there’s judgment on yourself for working with somebody who is “selling their body.” There’s judgment on that person for “selling their body.” But all of that judgment is getting turned around and focused on yourself.
You’re not the one who is accepting money, but you are casting yourself in the position of I am the one who has to live up to expectations, which is usually the role of the person who’s accepting the money. They’re the ones who have to perform, but you’re turning all of those messages back onto yourself as I am the one who’s not measuring up here. How does that land for you?
LISA: It hits home because during one of the sessions we had, I had a very strong emotional release, and I tried looking between the two sessions. Between this one and the second one, I tried looking for the part inside me that was acting, reacting. And I don’t know why it came up like a small boy who was worried he would dirty people. Because I’ve worked with parts a lot, and this was a small street boy, dirty street boy, and he was worried he would dirty the guy I’m working with for the tantra.
LEAH: Hey. It’s Leah with a quick little pop in. What you’re hearing Lisa describe right now is a meeting she’s had with one of her “inner children.” This is called inner child work. And if you haven’t been exposed to it before, it might sound odd. What do you mean there’s an 8-year-old boy who’s living inside of a 44-year-old woman? The Cliffs Notes version of this is that when we experience trauma as children, we often don’t have the opportunity or skills to process it in the moment. Perhaps our parents or guardians aren’t emotionally healthy enough to support us through the process, or perhaps we don’t have the language yet to express how we’re feeling. Whatever the reason is, that trauma gets lodged in the psyche of the child, and it remains there until it gets dealt with.
But we tend to paper over those old hurts with all sorts of coping strategies that keep us from having to look at what we’re actually feeling. When you’re doing this work, it’s not unusual to find many different inner children of many ages and genders who have things they want to talk about.
LISA: So, as you’re speaking and I couldn’t understand why he came up with the message, I will dirty him. I will soil him. And as you speak, now I understand what he meant.
LEAH: That is fascinating. Yeah. What else did that little boy have to say? Anything else?
LISA: Yeah. He said everybody’s better than him because he was living on the streets. So, he was without a house, without any money. And he perceived everybody else as better than him. And so, the two big things that came up meeting with him were this, and I will dirty the practitioner. And the only way I could get through the second session, because I knew this would come up, I just took this little boy, and I said, “Okay. You’re safe. Stay here with us. I’ll take care of it,” and the session was great. I got rid of all the authority and working with somebody that knows better than me, so it was really helpful.
LEAH: That is absolutely fascinating, and please correct me if I’m wrong, I may be going absolutely down the wrong road here. But when I hear that, what it makes me think is about the cultural assumptions that are made about sex workers, that they’re probably strung out on drugs, that they’re using all their money for alcohol, that they can’t make rent. They’re living on the street. We have a lot of cultural assumptions about sex work that are vastly wrong.
I’m going to just step up on my soapbox here for a moment and say that, there are three different groups of people. I don’t want to use the wrong words here. There are two different types of people who sell sex or sell access to their body. One is people who are being trafficked. That is not sex work. That is trafficking. When people talk about wanting to protect sex workers from trafficking, those two things should not appear in the same sentence.
Then there are people who are doing survival sex work. That’s the person who’s probably on the street corner, who’s maybe not able to make rent, or if they do make rent, it’s very tenuous. They are doing sex work because that is the only way they can survive. It’s consensual, but it’s coerced because we live in a capitalist society.
And then, there are the sex workers who are doing it because they truly love it, because this is the work that speaks to them, that feeds their soul. That sounds like the person who you’re seeing. The people who are doing sex work because they love it are probably not the ones who are the homeless little boy on the street.
LISA: Yeah, absolutely.
LEAH: But that’s the assumption that we make when we think about people who, as your mother would have said, “sell their bodies.” Yeah. How does that hit you when you hear me talk? I’m stepping down off my soapbox now, by the way.
LISA: Good to know. Yes. It just rings so true also because what I have seen as a, we say, strengthening, is that growing up here in Italy, I’ve seen lots of on-the-road sex work. So, I’ve seen lots of prostitution on the roads or where I’ve grown up. So, that’s what I’ve seen. That’s what I’ve heard at home, and that’s what I’ve actually seen.
And it is sad to see, as you say, these people that are selling themselves because they need to make ends meet. And I started learning that there were other kinds of sex work listening to your podcast and to other podcasts two or three years ago. So, it’s not what’s in my system.
LEAH: Yeah. So, you have found somebody who it sounds like is a good fit for you. I’m going to maybe go a step too far here, but who fits your moral code, it sounds like. But there’s still this animal part of your brain that’s like, this is bad.
LEAH: Do you wish your brain would stop yapping and making grocery lists, so you could focus on pleasure and even having an orgasm? It’s actually a pretty common complaint. We ask a lot of our brains to be efficient, effective, organized, and to never drop any of the zillion balls that we’re carrying. But then, we also expect our brains to automatically switch off when it’s time for pleasure, so they don’t distract us.
Unfortunately, for most of us, it doesn’t really work that way. So, whether it’s you’re carrying the mom’s mental load, ADHD, keeping up with the big project that’s due next week, or any of a million other reasons, we need to help our brains learn how to relax into pleasure. We may even need to teach them how to feel pleasure. All of it is possible, and it’s useful to have a guide who can see the bigger picture and help you navigate all the pitfalls that your brain has put in place trying to keep you safe from having to change.
I would be honored to be your guide toward a more deeply fulfilling intimate life. I’m queer, kinky, and non-monogamy friendly, and I’d love to talk with you on a free discovery call. So, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching to schedule yours. Again, that’s a free discovery call to find out if we’re a good fit, and you can schedule it at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That link is in the episode description on the app you’re listening in now. Back to the show!
LISA: I have to spend energy to stay with my pleasure.
LEAH: Yeah. I get that. And there are a lot of reasons for why that might be true. You grew up in a different culture than I did. So, I’m going to talk about the culture that I grew up in. And if there are differences, please tell me because I want to make sure that we’re hitting your particular needs.
In the culture I grew up in, little girls were expected to take care of everybody else. One of the ways that that would show up is that if there were a big family meal, at the end of the meal, it was the girls, the young girls, who were expected to get up and clear the table. The boys were never asked to do it.
LISA: Yes and no. In the sense, yes. It’s Italian culture. I’ve seen it. I am glad I have a British mother in that sense. So, in our house, it was not like that. But as you’re speaking, I grew up taking care of my mother. So, I wasn’t taught to take care of everybody else in that sense, in the cultural sense, but she became a teenage daughter to me. I was the one when I was two years old going and helping her out, bringing her food when she was sick, taking care of her.
LEAH: Are you familiar with the term parentification?
LISA: I’ve never heard it, but I understand it.
LEAH: Yeah. So, it’s basically when a child is put into the position of parenting.
LEAH: And it sounds like you were in a parentified situation quite young. And that brings with it a whole host of thoughts about responsibility and what is required of you and how you have to measure up and all of those things. I heard you say earlier that you make an effort to pull your brain back and focus in on the pleasure. What happens when you do that?
LISA: Okay. When I’m able to bring myself back to pleasure, some of the things that come up, I’m taking too long. I won’t get there anyway. So, I throw myself towards what I think should be an ending. I’m not living the moment.
LEAH: So, it sounds like you’re fairly orgasm-focused. Is that true?
LISA: Yes. It’s difficult for me to have an orgasm. And when I do, it usually takes a long time. So, that’s, yes, he’s getting tired. He’s making so much effort. Okay. So, yeah. And that means yes, I’m concentrating on my pleasure. My pleasure goes up. When I’m reaching a peak, usually, something comes up, and I point zero again, especially when I’m getting towards the peak.
LEAH: I know that you said you’re in an exploratory play period of your life.
LEAH: So, I don’t want to make any assumptions. Are these people who you tend to be seeing once, more than once? Do you have established relationships or communication patterns with these people. What’s your deal right now?
LISA: Right. After a first period where I was just jumping from one to the other, so I was just trying to explore what I wanted, what I liked, and what I didn’t like in sex. I’ve, let’s say, focused on for two or three people in particular, so they are people I’ve been seeing quite a lot and where there’s good communication. No couple relationship in that sense. Friends with benefits, if you could call that. Yeah.
LEAH: The term that I might use for that is sounds like play partners, people who you get together with to have fun.
LISA: I like that.
LEAH: All right. That sounds ideal for what I’m thinking about because it sounds like you have communication with each of these guys so that you could have an actual conversation with them.
LEAH: And maybe you’ve already done this. So, you can tell me. Have you already talked to any of them about what happens in your head?
LISA: Yes. Something. No, I’ve also told them about the thought I’m taking too long. Aren’t you getting tired of asking? So, yes.
LISA: And they are very open to help me with the path I’m on. So, yes, it’s good communication.
LEAH: Okay. Have any of them said to you at any point, “You take too long, I am getting tired of this, or I’m tired of you”?
LISA: Absolutely not. They’ve actually told me, “Lisa, if I get tired, I’ll let you know.”
LEAH: Okay. I assumed that that was going to be the case, but I didn’t want to assume. Great. Okay. So, your rational brain has the information that it can step down because they can take care of themselves. Your animal brain does not care. Totally fine. Those two things are completely separate. But at least we know that your rational brain has heard that message. Okay. When you have sex or sexual play with any of these people, is it always two-way touch where you’re both touching each other at the same time?
LISA: No. Not always. And I actually tried to establish this. So, I’ve tried to get to the point where they receive pleasure without touching me and pushing myself to receive pleasure without feeling I need to. And this is part of the tantra, so thank you. It’s helped me in this. Yeah.
LEAH: Yeah. So, I think that one-way touch is extremely powerful. That’s what I would call what you’re doing, which is one person is receiving and there’s no expectation on them to give in return. And here’s the thing that I would suggest you try. While they’re touching you, I was going to say as soon as your brain goes off, but you don’t necessarily notice it right away. So, as soon as you’ve noticed that your brain has taken off.
LISA: That’s right. Yes.
LEAH: And have this conversation with them first, so they know that this is what you’ll be doing. But say, “Hold. We need to take a quick break.” Breathe. Come back into your body. Really get yourself centered back in your body because you’re doing tantra, I think you probably know what that means when I say that. Really bring yourself back and then say, “Okay. Let’s start again.”
What we’re trying to do here is interrupt the pattern. So, your brain right now has built up this habit of I feel pleasure and I drift away. So, what we want to do is interrupt that and say, I feel pleasure. And as soon as I notice that drifted away, I bring myself back. I actually interrupt the action. It’s not just I’m going to try and bring myself back while it’s still happening. You’re going to actually interrupt the action.
This can be a way to interrupt the old neural pathway and start to put a new one into practice. The goal is that over time, first of all, it’ll happen less frequently, but when it does happen, you’ll notice it quicker, and you’ll be able to bring yourself back into your body quicker. Chances are that we’re not going to eliminate it totally. I just don’t think that that’s a reasonable expectation.
LISA: Not a problem.
LEAH: But if you can put this into practice and have it happen less often so that you can stay present with your pleasure more often, it sounds like that would be a win.
LISA: Sounds great. Yeah.
LEAH: All right. And is that something that you would feel comfortable expressing to the people who you’re playing with and that you think they would receive well?
LISA: With one of the two, no problem at all. So, I’ve got the person I can do this with, and I think he’d be even more happy to help me with that. So, yeah, it sounds great. Yes, because it gives me an actionable thing to do, and I realize thinking about, as I said, the energy I was taking before and bringing myself back during the act, the stopping, interrupting, and starting again. Good for me and also good for him. Give him a break.
LEAH: Yeah. But what you just said, I think, is really important. You are spending a huge amount of energy to bring your brain back while there’s also this other stimulation happening. I think that you’ll find it’s more effective to bring your brain back when there’s not this other stimulation happening. And, also, when you’re trying to bring it back while the stimulation is happening, you’re teaching your brain for just a minute, we need to not pay attention to the stimulation, so we can get back in our bodies, which is actually not the message you want to be giving it. You want to be giving it the message, let’s pay attention to the stimulation.
So, Lisa, we have, I think, covered the things that we wanted to talk about. Is there anything else that has come up since we’ve been talking or any lingering questions from the things that we’ve been talking about?
LISA: No. I think you’ve given me some great ideas and also talking about the, I’m not going to be able to say it in English, neuro divergency, I think that has just switched on. I’m going to go down a rabbit hole there, I know, because it was already lingering. So, thank you because you’ve given me some clarity also regarding the little boy. So, now, I’m taking lots of great things home with me from today’s session. Thank you.
LEAH: Wonderful. Thank you. I’m so glad that you chose to do this. And, Lisa, before we go, I want to ask you one final question, which is what would you like to be appreciated for right now?
LISA: Wow. For going back to being a teenager I never was because, yeah, that’s what I’m doing now.
LEAH: That’s lovely. Lisa, I would really like to appreciate you for giving yourself the opportunity and the experience of going back to those teenage years and letting yourself have those experiences. That is so powerful.
LEAH: Here are my takeaways from this session with Lisa. One, I like to highlight the important work that sex workers do because they are so often vilified and degraded. They’re portrayed as helpless victims and at the same time unrepentant villains. Currently, the far right is trying to connect sex work and sex trafficking in order to further restrict any protection sex workers might have.
But sex work and sex trafficking are not the same thing, and they should never, ever be conflated. Sex workers may have a wide variety of reasons for doing the work, but they have chosen to do the work. For some people, that choice is born of having no other choices, but it is still something they have actively chosen to do. Sex trafficking is when someone else has taken possession of your body and chooses it for you, or in other words, forces you into it.
What Lisa is so generously demonstrating for us is how a high regard for a particular sex worker can coexist with negative stereotypes about sex workers in general. Lisa has been doing wonderful work with her tantra mentor, whom she obviously respects, while at the same time, a part of her brain couldn’t let go of the idea that she was doing something wrong.
And I invite you to think about your reaction when you hear the words “tantra mentor.” Is there some part of you that resists the idea that this person is a sex worker? For some of you, there probably is. Because in our Western culture, we’ve lifted tantra to a venerated space, alongside yoga and meditation and other things that we see as a little more evolved.
Surely, the person who teaches tantra must also be owed some elevated respect, so how can they be associated with the lowly profession of sex work? In fact, there are many, many, many people doing profound healing and spiritual work who are categorized as sex workers because they touch people’s skin and genitals. There’s a big difference between the life circumstances of someone who’s doing survival sex work and someone who gets hundreds of dollars an hour for services like sexual surrogacy or tantra or sexual healing. But don’t be lulled into a belief that one is somehow more noble or deserves more respect than the other.
Takeaway number two, Lisa has clearly done a lot of processing and healing of old wounds, and nowhere is that more evident than when she brings up her inner 8-year-old little boy. That little boy was brilliant at giving Lisa the information she needed, though it needed some context before she could fully understand the message.
The funny thing here is that I would have told you that I don’t do a lot of inner child work in shorter sessions like this because my logical brain says it would be jarring to the client to dip in and out of it so quickly. But in preparing this takeaway, I decided to check myself, and it turns out I’m completely wrong. If you’re interested in hearing more dialogue with an inner child, check out the August 2023 episode, Coaching Jen.
Takeaway number three, parentification is an issue that I don’t think has come up on this podcast before, and it’s one that can be a real problem for people as they grow into their sexual selves. When a child is parentified, they are required to act as a parental figure and take on responsibilities and stress that are not appropriate for their developmental stage.
You can see a prime example of how parentification works in the Duggar family who uses the buddy system. With 19 children, two parents could hardly take care of everyone. So, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar parentified their four oldest girls, Jana, Jill, Jessa, and Jinger. Each of the older girls was essentially a third parent to their little “buddies.”
In one article, I saw reference to Jill being responsible for changing her little sister’s diapers when Jill was only 7 years old herself. And notice that the boys of the same age cohort with the Duggars weren’t required to participate. And that’s not unusual for girls to be more parentified frequently than boys, though it definitely happens to boys as well.
While there are lots of negative outcomes that can come from parentification, the one I want to focus on here is lack of boundaries. When the line between parent and child gets fuzzy, the child learns early to prioritize the needs of others over their own needs. They may be so conditioned to care for others that they struggle to say no or assert their own desires or even know what their true desires are. This is something that people brought up as little girls already frequently struggle with. So, this can really aggravate that situation.
All right. That’s it for today. If you’d like to follow in Lisa’s footsteps and do a laser coaching session, go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/session and send me your info. If you’d like to become a regular client, all of that information is at www.leahcarey.com. And while you’re there, you can set up a free, no pressure, no obligation phone call to see if we’re a good fit for each other. Those links are in the app you’re listening on now.
LEAH: Don’t forget that if you want to watch the episode I’ll be looking at in the next episode, those are season 1, episode 1 of Starstruck and Togetherness, which in the United States, you can find on the HBO Max app and Amazon Prime Video. If you have questions or comments about anything you’ve heard on today’s show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced and edited by me, Leah Carey, and transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.
Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
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