It was 2012, and I felt numb, listless, and alone.
I toiled at a dead-end job writing about sex toys that I couldn't seem to leave. Great coworkers and a modicum of freedom, but the work had long ago lost any excitement. I wasted my days shamefully scrolling celebrity-gossip sites. I spent shifts commiserating over g-chat with my BFF, trading stories of excruciatingly boring assignments and existential dread.
After work, I went home to a narcissistic boyfriend who once told me, "you know, your body would be perfect if you got a boob job." I took too much Xanax and drank too much wine, in part to keep up with his sexual demands, which included an endless string of threesomes. Sometimes I liked sex with him on a primal level, but spent much of it checked out, in an effort not to feel my emotions. I never felt like I was enough for him.
Finally, I broke up with him. He moved across the US, and I fell apart.
After the break up, I hit rock bottom. I began dating someone I hated. I drank more. And on one horrific night, I was sexually assaulted.
At around the same time ... my ex popped back into my life and asked me to visit. I wanted desperately to yes, to hide out again in the addictive cycle of our push/pull love. Yet in my post-assault trauma spell, I could only say no.
Feeling disoriented and confused, terrified that I had ruined my chances with him, I booked an appointment to get breast implants, the ones he had always wanted.
My inner child reaching out for the approval she oft mistook for love. "Look at what I'll change for you. Look at who I'll be."
A couple of weeks before I was set to leave on my boob-cation (the plan was to travel 1,000 miles to get breast implants; apparently I wanted to cause as much strain on my healing body as possible), I attended a New Year's Day yoga class near my mom's house. Just your standard hot, sweaty vinyasa class.
I'd been an on-and-off yogi for years. Yoga was my beacon, one of the only places where I felt real, where I had no choice but to feel all my emotions, and to face myself. To face the incongruence between who I truly was, and how I was living my life.
There was something about yoga, the way it broke me open, the way it forced me to get quiet, the way it showed me what was True.
I couldn't escape it. I ran from yoga for months at a time, because the Truth pissed me off.
Yoga was tough love, a trusted friend sitting me down and telling me: "There's another way. Stop giving yourself away to men who don't honor or accept who you really are. Stop pretending for their approval."
(The irony in that: it's not like these men benefitted from me pretending to be their perfect little women. In the short run, sure. But in reality, I was fake and filled with resentment. No love was being transferred in either direction. Just two people playing out their childhood wounding, entrapping one another in a cycle of hurt.)
At any rate, in savasana that day, New Year's Day 2013, yoga again had her way with me. As I lay on my mat, sweaty and used up, I saw something Divine. A green light, emanating from my chest, connecting my heart to the cosmos.
For five minutes, I remained in awe, watching the light dance and pulse. I didn't know about chakras, or that the heart chakra is traditionally depicted as green. I just knew something from beyond the veil was speaking to me. Something deeper. Something more.
I remember driving home from that yoga class, deeply knowing that something HUGE had happened. A portal had opened, an irreversible path revealed. The inexplicable had chosen me. I knew instantly I could keep throwing my life away, keep giving my gifts away to jobs and men that weren't big enough for me ..
or I could step into the unknown.
I could trust the call.
I could choose life
instead of this slow, painful death
I'd been inflicting on myself for years.
The next week, I cancelled the boob job, and used the loan I had taken out to start yoga teacher training instead.
(Yes, you can clap and cheer.)
Was it all golden light rays and infinite love from there on out? Mmm ... Not exactly.
It's not easy to change your life.
(Though I must say, it’s 100 times more doable than people think.)
It's not easy to ignore that drip of energy down the back of your neck, the prickle of the skin that says, "Hey, Lynn, it would be really fun to go out dancing tonight, get wasted, and meet some random guy to spend the night with. Who knows? Maybe he'll be The One! And we can stop having pain forever because we'll be seen, understood and taken care of. Oh, and we'll have amazing sex for the rest of our lives."
... You don't have that voice? Well, perhaps you have a version of it. That voice that makes your addiction sparkle, that makes it temporarily glisten with hope and possibility, that hides its deadened, muddy colors with a glossy sheen.
My yoga mentor explained it succinctly: when we remove the negative aspects of our lives (i.e. our addictions: men we desperately want to give us attention because our fathers never did, unconscious sex, drugs/alcohol, binge eating, etc.), we are left with empty space.
That empty space is terrifying. Boring. You bite your nails there. You marathon annoying sitcoms. You go to bed early and writhe awake in bed. You yearn—you long—for release.
To move through recovery successfully, you need to put something in that empty space.
For me, it was yoga. Working out. Spending time with new, awkward friends who didn't totally get me, but had to do, because I couldn't be trusted near the wily old friends.
I spent my time learning about chakras, reiki, and energy healing. I discovered self-compassion and gratitude (concepts my critical, judgmental mind had literally never encountered), meditation, ecstatic dance, shamanism, astrology, and other personal growth tools to fill the space—painfully-slow-like. I found an amazing therapist and coach. I became more spiritual and open to life. I discovered sacred sexuality. Though I still encountered setbacks, I began amassing the tools that would help me out of sticky situations and low spells just a little bit faster.
A couple of years into my journey, I found myself single again (I actually was quickly married & divorced, but that’s another story). I began drinking a bit more, and staying out late. Hanging out with pretty much any dude in my city that I hadn't dated yet.
And then, him.
I found myself drawn to a man with dark, charismatic energy. Repelled yet magnetically wanton, I made my way to his bedroom, and had shitty, rough sex that I felt unable to stop. I went into freeze, into past trauma, and abandoned myself.
It seemed my karma of catering to narcissists, letting them feed off my compassion and softness, wasn't done yet.
You see, a few months before I met him (we'll call him The Darkness), I had discovered sacred sexuality and the yoni egg. My practice was delicious and nourishing. I had awakened the feminine within myself, and participated in shamanic ceremony, forgiving myself for my past. My sexuality was shifting; I was truly becoming mine, instead of belonging to, and changing for, a man. I even got a tattoo to alchemize the experience. It read, “I am Mine.”
Yet there I was, dating The Darkness.
I was dating my Darkness too, to be honest. Courting the the familiar pattern, the ease and comfort of mounting doom.
You see, when you claim a new identity, life tests you. When you claim yourself, as I had done, life will give you the sexiest narcissist ever (one who spouts spiritual sermons to boot), to see if you really do belong to yourself. To see if you can stay the mission.
Will you self-abandon to your addiction again? Or will you give yourself the life and love you deserve? Will you pretend that salvation can be found externally ... or will you come back to the Source within?
I spent a month dating the Darkness. A month, in what felt like an altered state—observing his alcoholism, the ways he pitted his friends against one another, how he used his off-the-charts charisma and intelligence to set people up to hurt themselves.
It was fascinating.
And intoxicating. In his beautiful moments, he was hilarious, creative, and alive. He lavished me with compliments that somehow managed to be both see-through and ego-boosting. He kept me close: a confidant.
I wanted to help him. Fix him. Make him into a reformed bad boy, a King fit for a Queen (me, of course). I wanted him to desire me so badly that he would just fucking change already. I wanted to be the catalyst, the impetus for his monumental shift, from Darkness to Light.
What I'm saying is, I was in my ego a little bit too.
Week four of our month together. It's the same week I'm studying Kali in a jade egg course. As I immerse in the goddess of fire and destruction, the Darkness recounts a particularly gross night of debauchery. A night spent with a 17-year-old girl (he's 35). Last night, to be specific.
Why did he have sex with her?
To get back at a friend.
I let this percolate.
It's. the. last. straw.
Kali moves through me quickly. I destroy him. I do so with compassion, I think. I do so as that friend who sits you down and tells you who you really are. No sugar.
And I leave.
And (ugh) it's not as easy as you think it would be.
I think about him, and I dream about him, for months.
I berate myself for it. I go over and over what I should have said, what I should have done, fixated on my mistakes.
Then, through a podcast that comes just at the right moment, I learn about trauma bonds, and the way our brains are designed. When someone hurts us, they make a stronger imprint on our amygdala. When we can't stop thinking about a lover who was awful to us—that doesn't mean we have some deep, cosmic connection. It's just science.
So, I set about my work of getting over him. I use ritual to unwire my body and brain. I dig into my tools. Yoga. Emotional release writing. Ceremony. Fritz Perls' Empty Chair Process. Tarot. Jade egg. Energy work.
Most importantly, I forgave myself, and emerged into the light.
What do life and love look like these days?
I can smell a narcissist, even a "spiritual" one, 1000 miles away.
I have stronger boundaries than ever (though I'm always learning how to be a highly sensitive person and be in relationship to others; I think that's a life-long soul path.)
I have a nourishing self-pleasure and jade egg practice that keeps me free from sexual addiction AND disappearing libido.
I choose loving, stable partners who take care of me and shower me with love, rather than approval.
I have really beautiful sex with my partner. Full of joy, intimacy, love and expression. I'm able to say, "I like it this way" and "Right now the entrance of my vagina hurts, so I need to stop." It's a co-creative experience in which I have agency over my own body and pleasure.
Self-pleasure is much different now too. More expansive. More joy, more bliss, more sorrow ... more permission to feel what's really there.
These days, I go slow during sex and self-pleasure. There are certain tools I've learned over the years that help: both practical and more esoteric.
I stay present—and I notice when I'm not.
I practice sex breaths, sounds, movement, relaxation, and visualization that move energy throughout my body and raise my capacity for pleasure.
I use my yoni egg to transmute and let go of the past.
I work on sexual development solo and with my partner, the same way I work on personal development.
When it comes to sex:
I let all the emotions come up. Bliss, desire, boredom, frustration, grief. I voice them.
I only have sex when I want to, and without alcohol or substance.
I check in with my partner, and I request that he checks in with me.
I co-create the experience rather than depend on him to read my mind or lead the way.
I cultivate gratitude, rather than focusing on what's missing.
My sexuality belongs only to me, and I honor my needs and desires first and foremost.
How did I get to sexual and personal autonomy?
All of the above, and ...
Becoming aware of my patterns and false beliefs, learning self-compassion, and truly listening to my body and nervous system.
Putting my need for self-expression above my need for connection, and realizing that when I act against what I really desire, just to get approval from a lover, I don't get the real connection and love I desire.
Specific Taoist, Tantric sexuality practices.
And now my work in the world is to help you become truly yours, in life and in sex. My story doesn't have to be your story—the trauma inflicted by our culture of shame may have made you hyposexual (low desire, shut down around sex) rather than hypersexual (the way I used to be).
Most of us don't know ourselves around sex. We haven't been given any sort of education, any model of what it might look like when sex is healthy, pleasurable and empowering. We haven't parsed out what society and our parents told us about sex, from what sex could be, what we want it to be. We haven't made it ours.
And that's where I come in. As an empowerment coach and a sexuality coach, I support you in unravelling your sexual conditioning and come into a more comfortable, savory, joyful expression of your own sexuality.
I'm also here for you if you want:
a higher libido
different types of orgasms
more intimacy with yourself or your partner
to feel less shame around desire, sex and self-pleasure
an ability to say what you desire and feel good about it
the ability to understand/speak your yeses and noes
Please take a look at the coaching packages on my site, and fill out the form for a free 45-minute Alignment Session if this speaks to you. Saying yes to this work, to your heart and your power, will open your life to joyful possibility in countless ways