Category Archives for "Self-care & self-confidence"

13 A love note from me to you

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Hi you,

This week, I wanted to sit down and write a little love note – from me to you.

Maybe it’s because we’re coming out of Mercury in retrograde or because everything seems to be moving so damn fast all the time, but I’m feeling tender this morning, a little raw, a little unsure, and in need of something gentle.

I thought you might need something similar.

Perhaps we can share a virtual cup of tea (or hot chocolate!) and chat.

Because I want to tell you something important.

You are enough.

You are exquisite and powerful.

You do so damn much – so much more than most people ever realize that you do.

You work so hard, you dream so big, you take care of so many people, and you’re always imagining what’s next. You’re always looking for ways to be better, stronger, smarter, more successful…for ways to be MORE.

And yes, you are capable of amazing things. You will go amazing places.

But don’t you know that you are already amazing?

Your spirit shines so brightly that I can see it from here. Your power is limitless.

For all the places you want to go and all the things you want to achieve, I invite you to pause for a moment.

Right now.

Breathe.

Soften.

Soften some more.

Open to the beauty that is you right now, exactly as you are. No pushing, no doing. Let’s just be. You and me. Right here. And allow ourselves to FEEL it all.

What are you running from? What are you scared of?

Failure? Being wrong? Being seen? Losing it all?

I have those feelings, too.

That maybe, just maybe, I dreamt too big, wished for too much, and it will come crashing down around me.

Can you feel your own vulnerability?

Can you feel those tender spots that you dare not poke or prod for fear you’ll crack open?

What if we loved those spots fiercely today?

What if we, together, let our fears move through us, shake us and scare us, until there was nothing left of them but a glorious emptiness waiting to be filled.

Filled with a knowing that you will be alright, no matter what happens, because you are strong and powerful and talented and unbelievably important to this world.

I don’t want to be driven by fear, I want to be catapulted by hope.

So let’s sigh into the places that we don’t love nearly enough.

Let’s caress the spots that we neglect.

Shall we sit for a spell, you and me, as we bask in the warmth that is our own glory?

No place to be. Nothing to do. (For just a few moments, at least.)

Except to fill ourselves with the knowledge that we deserve love.

We deserve to be seen.

We deserve to know our dreams and to see them come to life.

But more than anything, for each of us to know deeply and profoundly, that we are whole and complete and glorious right now.

As is. Just right. Perfectly imperfect.

No caveats. No asterisks. No footnotes.

And isn’t that a magnificent thought?

I think so, too.

Let’s sit with that just a little longer.

You and me and our enough-ness.

With love,

Dawn

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14 Life after sexual assault or rape, my personal story

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I am a survivor of multiple sexual assaults and rapes.

I wasn’t planning on talking about this on the blog just yet, but there’s a reason I share this now.

Several months ago I did an interview with a podcast called Ending the Sexual Dark Age. One of their listeners wrote in saying she’d been raped and was asking for help. In a moment of bravery, I saw their call on Facebook for people to interview and reached out.

JV and Shara were wonderfully generous and kind. To be honest, I didn’t remember much from the actual interview because of adrenaline and being in my on-air head space.

Well, the episode went live today. You can listen to it here.

I will say BIG OL’ TRIGGER WARNING on that link. I speak pretty bluntly about my rapes and my triggers, and it won’t be easy for some of you to listen to.

You can hear the listener question at 6:25. I come on at 14:18 and speak for about 20 minutes.

One quick note – towards the end of my interview it sounds like I’m getting choked up. In fact I was choking. I’m not crying when you hear my raspy, gaspy voice. That is me having trouble swallowing. Ever the professional, eh?

I am very proud of this interview even though it feels scary to be so public about something so personal.

That said, I conducted this interview wearing my sex coach and sex educator hat.

I sound formal and put together (I think), and I wanted to share something else with you that creates a more comprehensive picture.

I happen to put on a really good show.

The truth is that my journey is on-going and complicated and scary. It’s scary as hell.

Some days I don’t think about it at all – the trauma. Actually, most days are like that. But the days when I do think about it, I get angry and so sick to my stomach.

My body doesn’t feel damaged, but my mind does in those moments.

Because rape and sexual trauma are the ultimate mind fuck.

Know when it’s the worst? When I’m in a sexually charged situation – like a play party I recently attended with my partner or when I’m in a dungeon watching all the fun, kinky things going on.

It’s like all the most broken pieces of me rush to the surface and I can’t make sense of what’s real and what’s not.

I didn’t want to admit that that was my truth because fuck that sucks.

I teach sex for a living! I talk about it every day! With my clients, it’s barely a blip on the radar. On my podcast where I talk about all sorts of sex and sex acts, nothin’.

And yet, when I’m in a sexual setting with other people? I feel something ugly and dark stir in my belly. Even sitting here now, in a coffee shop in broad daylight typing about it, I can feel it uncoiling. It is cold and long and heavy and dark.

I don’t want this to be my truth or my story.

But there it is.

I am sexual assault and rape survivor, and these things have fundamentally changed who I am as a person.

In many ways, they’ve made me stronger. I have learned that my courage and bravery know no bounds. I know I am a warrior in spirit and in mind.

I also know a deeper and more profound empathy than I thought possible, towards other survivors, towards other’s suffering.

I have learned how to cope. I am allowing myself to heal at my own pace. I sit in the feelings that feel really yucky. I don’t deny myself the discomfort or the horror, but I also don’t let myself get stuck in it. I know how to let them drift in and then drift away.

That feels good. I know I’m not static or stuck. That I’m becoming something new.

I’ve also found power in communities of people like me, I’ve heard my own story echoed by others in online forums and being able to lend support feels like I’m reaching out to myself in a way.

And I find the things I do not have words for in the art of others.

This piece on PTSD captures the bizarre new reality following a traumatic event perfectly. Share it widely and liberally. PTSD: The Wound that Never Heals.

I also really love Laura Weiner’s paintings on PTSD, which you can view on her website (please note, some of the images are disturbing).

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because as important as my interview was, I feel like it was only half of the story. It was the half that is put together and objective and able to create distance.

The untold half, the half I’m writing about here, is that I will never be the woman I was before that last rape (which was the most traumatic for me).

I will probably never be able to skip into a sexual situation and feel unburdened and carefree and safe. I would love that, but I’m not going to force myself to get there. Not until I’m ready.

Right now, I feel safe with my partner in ways I haven’t felt safe in my whole life. And at some point, I hope to experience that kind of safety with others.

But I know this is not a linear journey.

There is no timestamp on trauma. There isn’t a formula that you can insert yourself into to get from horror to healed.

If you have suffered any kind of trauma or PTSD, but especially sexual trauma, I want you to know that you are not alone.

I want you to know that you are lovable and valuable and powerful.

I want you to know that it’s OK if you have bad days or if you get triggered or if you thought you were past it and then you step on a land mine and everything crumbles again.

I want you to know that it was not your fault, no matter what the voices in your head tell you or the people in your life.

I want you to know that all of your feelings are important, so please allow yourself to feel them all. And if you need professional help or support so that you can do that safely, let me know. I know some awesome therapists and counselors who can put you in contact with people.

I want you to know that you don’t have to rush to heal, but you also don’t have to stay broken.

Healing and taking back your power do not make the horrors you experienced any less horrible, just like forgiving your attackers does not make their actions OK. It simply helps to ease your burden.

And that is something I continue to work on for myself – forgiveness.

So here I am – imperfect and vulnerable and uncomfortable because I want every single person who reads this to know life after trauma can be pretty damn spectacular.

Because of my rapes, I learned the power of consent and teach it far and wide and unapologetically.

Because of my trauma, I finally allowed myself permission to become a full time sex educator and coach because I knew the world needed to hear what I have to offer.

Because of my story, I fell in love with one of the most amazing human beings on earth.

Your life is not over after tragedy.

It simply takes on a new meaning with new rules, and stumbling your way through that can and will happen – be patient and gentle with yourself.

If you want to share your story privately, I am here to listen. If you want to share anything publicly, please comment below. This is a safe space for us all.

10 You don’t need to love your body to have amazing sex

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I don’t know how you feel about your body, but the relationship that I have with my body is deep, complex, and not at all consistent. Over the years, I’ve been quite mean to both my body and myself.

In fact, there was a time when I believed myself to be so undesirable that I almost cried when a lover said he wanted to touch me after seeing me naked.

The fear and the self-disgust were paralyzing.

Thoughts around body love and sex have been swirling in my head for months, but last week I watched a new documentary called “Inside Her Sex”. One of the women in the film, Elle Chase, said something incredibly profound about not needing to love your body in order to feel sexy, and I realized THAT’S what I’ve been wanting to say.

 

Your relationship with your body can be a work-in-progress

Feeling comfortable in your skin is important. Being kind to yourself, regardless of what your body looks like or feels like, means moving through life with less stress, less anxiety, and a lot more gratitude.

But, if you are still working on finding that acceptance, it’s OK.

What so many people in the body-love movement gloss over is that even when you’ve moved mountains to transform the way you think about and experience your body, there will still be days when all you can see are the things you don’t like.

Growth and healing are not linear acts – they don’t happen in a straight, consistent, predictable line. Think of it like this success graph. Simply replace “success” with your path to body acceptance.

Success isn't a linear line. You may love your body certain days and on others really struggle to say anything nice at all.

If that’s true, you cannot afford put your pleasure on hold until you reach some specific and often-shifting body ideal.

Your body is capable of delicious sensations and sensual experiences right now.

Whether you’re 130 pounds or 430 pounds, your skin still tingles at a light touch or shivers at an ice cube being dragged slowly across it.

Whether you’re walking with ease or walking with a cane, you can grab your Hitachi Wand or the detachable shower head and give yourself an orgasm (with or without a partner).

Pleasure isn’t dependent on body size or fitness level or flexibility. You can experience unbelievable yumminess exactly as you are, in this moment.

The trick is to give yourself permission to experience it.

But how?

Decide that you deserve this.

More than the voices in your head pointing out all of the parts of yourself that aren’t fit to be seen. More than you’re worried about how you look. You deserve this.

On my journey, after years without sex, I got so fed up and so mad that I was missing out on the sex I dreamed of that I stubbornly decided to just go for it, even if my lover ran for the hills when he saw me naked. It was an act of bravery and I was terrified. But dammit, I wanted it. I deserved it.

Sometimes it will feel like the scariest thing in the world, but just remember you deserve to feel all of the things you’re craving and dreaming about.

Fake it ’til you make it.

This is something I recommend to many of my clients for a wide variety of problems, but it works like a charm.

First, imagine how you’d behave if you were the fiercest, most confident person you can think of. How would you walk into the room? How would you climb onto the bed? What would you say if every single inch of you dripped with sexual confidence?

Now put on your acting hat and embody that person. Pretend you ARE that confident and sensual.

You don’t have to force some big gesture. Simply imagine feeling totally at ease in your body for a few minutes, and then step into the shower with your partner or climb sensually on the bed and ask for what you want or crawl across the floor like a tiger and watch yourself in the mirror before seducing yourself.

Remember that you are MUCH harder on yourself than the people you choose to play with (if you choose to play with others).

When you see yourself in the mirror, it’s easy to focus on all the things you want to change – the scars, the stretch marks, the saggy skin, the too-bony spots, the grey hair – whatever it is.

This used to paralyze me. I would spend so much time trying to hide my big, round belly and my thick thighs from my lovers.

One day I realized that no matter what, they could still see the things I was trying to hide. Plus, I never focused on the tiny imperfections littering their bodies. I couldn’t tell you if they had scars or stretch marks or uneven anything. Even if I could, it was a passing thought, not something I cared about at all.

Instead of all of that, I could tell you in graphic detail what their hands felt like, how they kissed me, how their bodies felt against mine.

And that was such a wake-up call.

Your lover(s) won’t see the things you hate most about yourself. They’ll see the things they love and pass over the rest in their quest to enjoy YOU.

So while you may not love yourself, try adopting a “well, fuck it and let’s do this” attitude. The more you focus on having fun and soaking up those lovely sensations the more you’ll forget about the way your body looks.

The trick is to get lost in how your body feels.

You have permission to have throw caution to the wind, to have amazing sex, and to roll in the pleasure you’re capable of without loving your body.

If you get stuck in your head obsessing about some part of your body you’re really insecure about? Focus all of your attention on your lover or drop into a juicy fantasy in your head and redirect yourself gently.

You can’t be too distracted by your uneven boobs if you’re totally lost in the driving your lover crazy with your tongue, right?

You can have amazing sex even if you don’t love your body. Don’t let that hold you back any longer. Throw caution to the wind, get a little brave, and focus on how everything feels rather than how everything looks. Your lover only cares about sending you to the moon with their skill, not whether you forgot to shave your legs or how many rolls are on your tummy.*

Looking for some kick-ass inspiration?

Check out these badass resources that inspire me on my worst days.

Militant Baker. Read her amazing piece Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls So I Will.

The inspiration for this piece, Elle Chase, talking about feeling sexy at 45 in a fat body.

This Mind Body Green piece on not having to love your body.

Find boards on Pinterest about all bodies being beautiful. I love this Tess Holliday look book and this awesome infographic showing different body shapes and sizes and even a gorgeous disabled body.

[callout title=”Let’s chat” link=”https://www.dawnserra.com/lets-chat/” class=”hb-aligncenter”]Want to talk about moving towards self-love or having great sex in the body you’re in? That’s what I’m here for. [/callout]

So, what do you think? What do you struggle with the most? Let’s share where we get stuck and support each other in the comments.

*If you have a partner who does comment on your body or points out things that you don’t feel great about, confront them immediately. If it’s a casual relationship, end it. Now. If it’s a committed relationship, make it clear that you deserve better and ask them to stop. If they don’t, it may be time to move on. Cruelty and passive-aggressive comments about how you look is bullying.