Learning to Differentiate
Learning to differentiate between the direction of touch and who it’s for heralded a profound change in my life. I looked back at my past experiences, able to parse clearly for the first time where I had been unconsciously taking, where I had been taken from without my agreement, where I had tolerated touch, where I had served from a place of martyrdom, as well as where there had been joyful serving, and immersive accepting.
I was thereafter able to apply that knowledge to my experiences as they happened, too. I found that I accumulated fewer dubious or confusing encounters, and when I felt pushed, I felt empowered to push back – including telling an insistent senior work colleague that I would not hug him, putting my hand up for ‘no’, and extending my hand to indicate that a handshake was the limit of the physical touch I was prepared to engage in with him. How I wish I’d had that surety two, even three, decades earlier!
My reflections on my past experiences illuminated this new understanding of Serving, Accepting and to an extent, Taking. What I realised I knew much less of was the experience of Allowing. So, enthusiastic Taking and full-hearted Allowing became a passionate exploration of mine – and with my partner’s agreement, our relationship became its laboratory.
Our experiments took many forms, but the most profound discoveries were during sex. Learning how to truly take through performing fellatio was a turning point for us, where I discovered I could get highly aroused from going down. This was something that had never happened to me before. My partner says he felt profoundly desired and that it boosted his sexual self-esteem.
One day during intercourse, I could feel the weight of my partner on me, could feel the deep arousal in my body and I whispered, “What do you think about trying Taking and Allowing right now?” He nodded enthusiastically. We agreed that he would Take, in that moment, and I reassured him that I was aroused enough that any depth or speed of his thrusts wouldn’t cause me discomfort. He began to fuck differently: the rhythm a staccato, then still, a deep plunge, another deep plunge, a sigh. I watched him immersed in taking his pleasure, aware he was trusting me to look after myself in my Allowing, so he could relax in to focusing entirely on letting his body move as it willed. I learned something new about the ways of moving his body that feel good for him. I also learned something new about myself – my joy in consensual surrender. The landscape of memories from tolerating unwanted or unskillful touch widened to invite the possibility of a future with no enduring, only inviting and allowing, done with agreement and with a full heart.
He asked me if I wanted to switch quadrants and I opted to change position so I was straddling him. Bringing myself down on him, s-l-o-w-l-y, teasing myself, was an experience of extraordinary pleasure. Finding the speed and depth that felt most exquisite to me was easy, but choosing to stay in that and focus on my sensations, knowing that it was ‘my turn’, had moments of challenge as I am more attuned to giving sexually. But I reassured myself – and he reassured me – that this was good, this was right. This experience brought a realisation of how I can sometimes derail my own pleasure by so often defaulting to the other person’s wants (or what I perceive them to be). I also made the gorgeous discovery of a new angle of penetration that felt like it shot me into the cosmos, a starburst of fireworks erupting in my body. I opened my eyes and he was grinning from ear to ear. “Carry on, if you like,” he said. And so, I did!
Since then, we continue to dip in to the practice during sex. At times, we play with it non-verbally too, and after we do, we’ve discussed how we can each feel the shift in energy when we dance between consciously Taking and Allowing.
The Wheel is a lens through which I have come to see the world, mapping as it does on to an array of human encounters – between lovers, with work colleagues, while parenting, and in day-to-day interactions out and about. I am excited by the thought that exploring Who It’s For in a broad sense is a lifelong journey of evolving clarity.