Re-thinking Impotence

“Re-thinking impotence”

ImageA lovely seventy-something man named Ralph visited me for a session in New Orleans. It was the second time I had seen him, the first a few weeks ago when I was visiting the area. Ralph was making sensual massage a regular part of his lifestyle and was seeing a practitioner in the area once a week. Despite being familiar with sensual bodywork, he was tentative, however, when he saw me. When I asked him if there was anything he wanted to tell me about his body, he told me he was recovering from radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Then I witnessed what appeared to be a wave of shame wash over him. “I’m impotent,” he quietly confessed. I sat quietly with him while he spoke.

“I rarely get an erection and don’t ejaculate, but I very much enjoy sensual touch and please don’t feel disappointed if I don’t get an erection while I’m with you… and please don’t laugh at me…” there was silence in the session room. I could feel the deeply tender and vulnerable place from where he spoke. I simply held space for him to express what felt like the most vulnerable part of him… I smiled warmly at him “I’m so glad you’re here,” I said. When I said that I noticed his shoulders soften and a bit of relief come over him where anxiety had previously existed.  “I have no expectations in our time together. And I invite you to release any you are holding too. I am simply here to support you in how your body and spirit want to express themselves.” I also asked him what he would like to get out of our time together.

He mentioned to me that he enjoyed being sensual though he was impotent and wanted to receive touch though he knew he could never satisfy a woman again. His belief of never being able to ‘satisfy a woman’ hung in the air like a dense cloud of oppression.  He explained to me his nerves were fried from radiation but that the area of his pelvis and genitals were still very sensitive. “How wonderful you can still experience pleasure there,” I said. “Did you know your entire body is capable of experiencing pleasure and also orgasm?” He patted my hand as if I was a child telling him… did you know the Easter Bunny is real and I’ve met him…

He undressed and got on the table lying face up. We started slowly with gentle touch and cradling each part of his body, letting it know it was loved. His face softened and spread into a wide smile.

I told him there was so much more to a woman’s sexual sensual happiness and pleasure than penetrative sex from a hard penis and also so many different ways of experiencing pleasure for differently-abled people but for now let’s focus on him and being present with the sensations of pleasure that wanted to unfold in his body… He patted my hand again as if to say “Yes Isis, I know you, you’ve told about your experience of meeting the Easter bunny before…”

The simplest and most basic need people come to me with is desiring acceptance and love. It is our absolute most basic emotional and spiritual need. When love is present we rest deeper into our own becoming and the pieces of ourselves that feel unlove-able come up to be reframed and integrated in a new way. When there is a space of love held, a new model for self-love can emerge. Generally after that need is met, there is another intention that enters into session space, which is the desire to deepen the individual experience and self-expression of pleasure and intimacy.

Ralph lay on my table. We worked gently, almost in slow motion with touch and energy, focusing much on cradling and holding different parts of his body, resting in dynamic stillness and deep breathing and moving energy through his body with breath and sound. After his body felt held and all parts of him present, I stretched him this way and that with different Thai yoga positions.  He sighed, moaned and groaned on the table and thanked me for being so kind and good to him… the Easter bunny story was becoming real. He relished the attention but mostly because it gave him a new dimension of experiencing pleasure in his body, not only isolated in his genitals which were now experiencing pleasure and sexual energy in a different way post radiation therapy, but his entire body had a new experience of pleasure – a whole body experience.

After about 2 hours into our session, we began a Tantric breathing exercise that moved sexual energy through Ralph’s pelvis and up his spine – the energy that unlocked in him was so powerful he trembled and his legs shook. The awakening from this breathing exercise started in his genitals and shot up his spine and his hands clenched and face contorted. It then moved through his spine out from his body in what energetically to me felt like a bubbling volcano. He soared through this energy orgasm that erupted for at least 2 straight minutes, energy moving and rolling through him, subsequently through me and what felt like through the entire French Quarter of New Orleans.

When we looked at each other after the experience subsided we both looked like we had just been blasted up through the cosmos, twisted round in a whirlwind, pummeled by the ocean and plopped back down on the massage table in New Orleans. “Wow Ralph… wow” I said. “I think it’s time you rethought calling yourself ‘an impotent old man…’

“I didn’t know that was possible with what had happened to me…” he said, sounding a bit dumbstruck.

“Something tells me Ralph that in your seventies, your sex life has only just begun…” His eyes twinkled and his mouth gaped a bit at the notion. I gave him a list of resources to look into – from my sexual shamanic teacher Kenneth Ray Stubbs to resources for sexual energy work for ‘differently abled’ people.

Good sex really unfolds from embodiment, presence and self-expression. After cancer and radiation, Ralph’s body works differently. Ralph’s first step in reclaiming his sexuality was to accept that his body works differently now, but in working differently there are different energies and experiences to him available that could possibly be even more pleasurable and bring him into deeper levels of ecstasy and connection than were previously available.

With Ralph’s declaration that he was impotent, I began to think about what that word actually means. The word itself implies a lacking or absence of potency. Ralph was certainly not short in this area – he was fun, light hearted and playful in our session and the potency from his orgasm was surely felt through all of New Orleans that day. He was anything but im-potent. His potency however required a different route of expression while his body healed itself after cancer and radiation. He booked a 3 hour session with me the following week. “I need to know this is actual possible,” he confided in me.

“Each experience of your sexuality will be unique,” I told Ralph, “but I think it’s safe to say, you can release calling yourself impotent,”

“Next week, let’s shoot for the stars!” We laughed and embraced and he exited with a potent stride and a pep in his step.

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