by Solanna Anderson
In all the years I’ve trained at the Haven, I’ve more than once thought “I need to leave this place right now and never ever come back”.
One moment really sticks out.
About 8 years ago, I was sitting in a circle and everyone was invited to complete the following prompt: “What I least want you to know about me is…”. I’d just finished this sentence by telling this group of people I didn’t really know about a sexual fantasy I often had which, I knew was terribly taboo, wrong, nasty and bad. It also consistently turned me on.
As I sat there, face flushed red and frantically trying to recall if there were any late night ferries off Gabriola, our facilitator invited us to turn to find a partner to “debrief this experience”. I was sitting next to a quiet, soft-spoken woman. She immediately reached out and grabbed my hand and with a huge smile and sparkling eyes said, “I would like to be your partner”.
I exhaled. We then dove into a thrilling, fascinating, scary conversation about our most shameful sexual fantasies. I not only abandoned my plans to leave the Haven and never come back, I miraculously came to appreciate myself and the juiciness of my creative mind.
That night was a beginning; an opening to the realization that I didn’t have to be alone in my erotic world and I didn’t have to smoother my sexuality under a blanket of shame.
Looking back, I’m not sure why I chose that moment to share that fantasy with a room full of near-strangers. I think something in me just longed to be known. In the words of poet Anais Nin: “the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
As it turned out, my ‘big reveal’ didn’t just lead to the connection of blossoming juicy fantasies. There were prickly conversations and thorns as well. Others told me that my taboo turn-on touched places of deep wounding from their pasts. We felt uncomfortable in our differences and closer in our knowing of each other. In sharing both our pains and pleasures, we began to grow beautiful gardens of true intimacy.
I’m writing these words in the midst of a frigid winter, from my home in Edmonton where temperatures dip down below -30 degrees celsius. The ground is covered in cold, crunchy white snow. But friends on the west coast are starting to post facebook photographs of crocuses, and I know even beneath the snow here, lie the dormant roots of green grass and daffodil bulbs, waiting to burst up towards the returning sun.
For many this winter, the pandemic has been a time of contraction into our homes and away from our broader community. For those living alone, touch deprivation and isolation may have dampened a core sense of erotic connection and aliveness. For those in partnership, the pandemic may have accentuated the erotic challenges of domestic coupledom.
If you have a yearning to reach toward to the light (or shadows) of your erotic energy, I invite you to take the risk of joining Jay Wade and I, for our online workshop, Pandemic Pillowtalk, this February 14th. I don’t know exactly what pleasure and pains will grow in the garden we’ll plant together. I feel a hint of the same excitement and anxiety I felt so many years ago in that circle at the Haven, as I wonder who will come and what we’ll share and discover about each other. Deep beneath my fears and desires, I have a burning faith in beauty and the potential of spring blossoms.
About the Author:
Solanna Anderson BA, MA is a Vancouver- and Edmonton-based Somatic Sex Educator who works with groups and individuals to support their erotic learning, sensual pleasure and intimacy skills. She is certified in Counseling skills (Haven) and Somatic Sex Education and her research on sexual health has been published in international peer-reviewed journals. Solanna also leads programs on anxiety and stress at the Haven.