Dismantling The Roadblocks to our Pleasure: Ending the Legacy of Shame and Trauma

by Ian Ferguson
Erotic Freedom

You are not broken in your sexuality!

But you may be suffering from shame, trauma, ignorance, lack of self-acceptance or disempowering inherited beliefs.

It took me 22 years of adult living to wake up to my lack of ability to be real about my sexual needs and to being a good lover.

That’s ridiculous.

It shouldn’t be this way.

And yet I know I am not alone in having lived a life of sexual ignorance.

An ex-girlfriend from 30 years ago reached out to me a couple of days ago from out of the blue.

It was a surprise, for sure, since I hadn’t seen or spoken a word to her in at least 30 years.

Why was she reaching out to me?

Apparently she had mistakenly heard through the grapevine that I had become ill and died. She wanted to make sure I was still alive and well.


I am not dead!

During our talk she mentioned something that was a powerful marker for me…

She said, “I remember, when we were together, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other in public, but in the bedroom the communication was (pause) lacking.”

My sexual ignorance at that time in my life was vast, and I’m sure our sex life was far from satisfying.

I didn’t initiate deep conversations about what turned me on.

I didn’t ask, with open curiosity, what my lover desired?

I allowed myself to stay in my bubble of sexual ignorance, because I was scared and didn’t know how to talk about sex.

It was easy to stay ignorant. None of my partners called me on it or used their voice to express their disappointments, needs and desires.

I’m going to guess, they were playing their own role out of the shame, ignorance, trauma and societal expectations they carried.

None of us wanted to lose love, so best to not rock the boat by speaking up.

I feel a deep sadness at these lost opportunities.

Where I could have experienced something deeper, discovered the true depth of intimacy in these early life relationships, I stayed stuck in perfunctory mechanical sex.

Get in bed. Do the thing. Assume that the heavy breathing and claims of orgasm from my lover were a true expression of sexual satisfaction. Ejaculate. Rest.

OMG!! What a disappointing experience. And I didn’t even know it!

I never forced myself on a lover. But the shadows that cloaked each of our feelings around intimacy may have covered up resistances that I couldn’t see. There may have been a sense of “obligation” or “this is what I need to do to be loved” that drove our sex lives.

I’m sure there were some fulfilling frollicks in between the sheets, because it was the right timing, we had high levels of turn on, the excitement of attraction and our hormones were firing, or we were a good match due to sheer luck, but…

I’m also certain I left my lovers wanting more. In many cases, much much more!

This is not a problem that needs to exist!

I grew up in a cone of silence around sex. There was no conversation about it in my household.

Sex education in school was only about the biology of sex, not about pleasure.

Having unfulfilling intimacy was a pattern in my relationships that repeated throughout my adult life until I finally got the wake up call.

I was married before Jaiya.

After six years in the marriage, my wife told me, “I want a divorce.”

A big reason that this deeply loving relationship devolved into a broken one??

I sucked at providing pleasure.

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Put more bluntly, I sucked at sex!

She was the first partner I had who did speak up for herself. She did it on our honeymoon.

She revealed that she was deeply unsatisfied with our sex life. She felt it had been all about me and it needed to be about her now.

She had not once come to an orgasm with me in our 2 years of relating and that didn’t work for her.

There’s a lot to this story, but the sad, naked truth about my response is that I did not rise to the occasion to meet her needs.

Instead, I emotionally collapsed.

My fragile little ego didn’t know what to do. I didn’t take any empowering steps to learn or get educated. I didn’t allow myself to be in the discomfort of my ignorance around being a good lover.

I made lackluster attempts for the next 6 years of our marriage to be the lover she needed.

And my response was unfortunate proof that I couldn’t really hear what my wife wanted or needed from me.

The little boy part of me that says, “I’m not enough” got in the driver’s seat of our sex life, instead of the adult who was willing to grow and discover how to become my wife’s ultimate lover.

This desire to protect our partner’s “fragile ego” is a big reason a lot of us don’t speak up.

Other reasons we don’t speak up regarding the suffering and pain we’re in when it comes to an awful sex life…

  • Fear of being coerced
  • Fear of being shamed for our desires
  • Fear of not being seen by our lover, yet again
  • Fear of boundaries being broken, being physically forced to have sex we don’t want to have
  • Fear that if we say what we truly want, we’ll be gaslit by our lover. “Oh that’s not what you really want!” or “You’re being a tease!”
  • Some of us are literally without a voice to speak up because of past trauma. We’re disassociated from our bodies, because it’s not safe to be in them

Sexual ignorance, shame and trauma are massive roadblocks to our ability to open fully to the deep connection and the confronting truths of authentic intimacy and pleasure with another person.

My “traumas” around sex have been pretty small. I’m very fortunate.

But I consider the ongoing lack of fulfillment in my previous relationships, a continuation of inherited cultural trauma.

We have a society that can’t talk honestly about sex and pleasure, so we continue harming each other and perpetuating this trauma from micro-agressions all the way up to intense emotional and sexual violence.

In this work, I’ve now heard thousands of tales of deeply disturbing emotional and sexual violence done to every gender, race, age group, sexual identity, etc.

And the perpetrators of these hostilities are, more often than not, victims themselves. I’m not excusing anyone’s behavior with that statement, but…

We all have ignorance around how we may be harming others and the harm we do to others, has often been done to us. Sometimes we even do it to ourselves.

Hurt people, hurt people.

Healed people can help to heal people.

Can we stop this cycle of pain, please?

Stopping this cycle of pain, ending trauma on the planet, is part of our mission.

This work starts with every individual, every one of us.

The first step in my journey of healing was to become very, very present.

To begin the process of deeply being with my lover, no matter their emotions, desires, expressions, so I could listen for what they truly need and learn how to love them.

To listen to the voices inside myself that were scared to speak up, to ask a question, to say what I desire, to admit that I don’t know what I’m doing… so I can begin to learn.

I wish I could snap my fingers and heal this planetary issue.

What I ask of you, is to open yourself to love, loving self and others with compassion, vulnerability and a willingness to step into someone else’s shoes.

It’s time we all stop letting others overstep our boundaries and we definitely need to stop crashing through the boundaries of others.

Sometimes this work of listening requires deep patience and the willingness to completely let go of an agenda, so you can listen so deeply that you finally hear what your lover is unwilling, scared or unable to say.

The work is to provide total safety for the other to say what’s needed, with the guarantee that they will not be punished for their truth.

What can be a painful and difficult process is to keep listening for what is truly going on below, past what may seem unfair, unjust and even cruel to hear.

When people get really angry, there is usually either deep sadness or incredible fear driving the bus.

To be accountable we need truth. To be truthful we need trust. To trust, we need to know that we are 100% safe.

Can you be a container of total safety for your lover?

There’s much work to do, but the work becomes easier when we come to it from unconditional love.

As one of my mentors says…

Unconditional love for ourselves first.

Unconditional love for me, from me.

Once we get it, everyone gets it!

(By the way, Unconditional Love does not mean you don’t or can’t have boundaries. Healthy boundaries are part of loving yourself.)

Let’s get present.

Let’s end this cycle of trauma together.

Fill your heart with love and your life with pleasure,


“Our compatibility has gone through the roof…how to be pleased. How to ask to be sexually pleased. How to please you (your partner) sexually. How to experience not only the orgasms we were already having and the ecstatic pleasure that we were already living, but now to have it magnify and multiply and go to whole new levels. It feels like we’re starting our relationship again!“

Satyen and Suzanne Raja

Embrace what has been buried and shamed in your body for thousands of years.

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