Someone who really knows me quite well recently said to me, “Pamela, you are a hot number. You are sexy and alive, and I don’t think you feel seen that way.” This statement took my breath away, as this man had stumbled onto what I call my “Core Erotic Wound,” the part of my sexual nature that I have been struggling with since it was initially damaged as a child. It startled me that this wound could still be seen so clearly. After all, I have spent nearly a decade working on healing it.
I know exactly when the wound was created; the memory is quite clear. I was in my family’s kitchen in our beautiful affluent home on Long Island. My father had a business associate in from Italy. He was a gorgeous man, and he was a Count. With a cleft in his chin and stunning eyes, he looked like a movie star. I was about seven years old, but I remember how I flirted with him. I knew even at that young age that I was woman and he was man! I remember enjoying feeling pretty with him and feeling so alive. It might have been my first real experience with sexual attraction, and I was having a lovely time with the Count, who was happily playing along with my flirtation.
My mother walked in and stumbled upon the scene and this is what she said to the man: “Please tell Pamela that handsome Italian men don’t like chubby girls.” My mother was very worried about her chubby little girl and was willing to use any and all ends to keep me from eating. I remember my cheeks burning and the tears welling up behind my eyes. The shame and fear in my body was overwhelming as the Count stumbled to deal with my mother’s desire for “my lesson” and a hurt little girl. Somehow it is from that moment, with the shaming of my body while I was feeling sexy, that my core erotic wound was created. It was that fast, and it has lasted for decades. Ever since that childhood moment, I have actively worked on the issues that resulted from feeling so sexy and being told that I was not seen as sexy.
Jack Morin, PhD, author of The Erotic Mind puts it this way in his book:
“The most serious damage is often inflicted, with or without conscious intention, upon the young. I’m not simply referring to the devastating effects of overt abuse or neglect, but also to what happens when a child is consistently prevented from following his or her natural curiosity or taught that pleasurable sensations are to be feared rather than enjoyed. Whether we realize it or not, all of us who are close to kids are sex educators, a responsibility that involves so much more than disseminating facts. What matter most are the everyday messages we give our kids about their worth, the value of their bodies, and the importance of their sexuality. These messages are communicated most powerfully through touch and direct observation. There is no better sex education, for instance, than observing an obviously affectionate bond between one’s mother and father. With deep-rooted self-worth, clear information, consistent care–and a little luck–children as they grow will be equipped to cope with the hard realities of sex and love.”
So many of us in the healing professions have confronted our own wounds so deeply that we have dedicated our entire lives to helping others heal while we have been quietly or not so quietly healing ourselves. Every day I speak with women who are addressing core erotic wounds very similar to the ones I experienced as a child that followed me into adulthood. We weren’t necessarily overtly abused or neglected; we simply grew up in a culture where what we looked like was carefully measured and judged. We learned quickly that how we felt inside was not perhaps how the world saw us. For many women this message, delivered at a very young age, separated us from the natural connection between our bodies and our own sexual natures.
It is from this place that so many women in my coaching practice express to me that they cannot feel safe in their bodies and cannot open or allow themselves to feel sexual pleasure though deep inside they know they should. They simply disconnect from their physical selves and become walking heads.
This place of disassociation from their bodies is often achieved by numbing their desires with food, shopping, and other addictions. For me, and for many of the women that I speak with everyday, it is incredibly helpful to be able to identify when the “core erotic wound” happened.
Like any wound, knowing its source can make it so much easier to heal. From there, it is a process of moving from our minds, the shame and pain we are holding, to this wonderful place back in our bodies. Once we can connect back to our bodies and open to a place of loving acceptance, then our wounds can heal.