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By Kaly Otero

Love your enemy takes on a whole new meaning when it’s the face looking back in the mirror or the critical voice housed in your thoughts. It’s the she-devil telling you that you’ve reached out one too many times and he just doesn’t care about you. It’s the love handles that wrap around you, reminding you of all the times you’ve sought comfort, and where you can find more if you need it. Listen, your heart isn’t just a muscle in your chest. It’s pinpricks of emotion and memory that live in your skin and spiral in your mind. Feelings are not fact, but really, fact isn’t even fact. I propose to you this: touch yourself. 

Caress your face in the mirror and whisper to the she-devil that it’s okay to care and be vulnerable. Watch her soften and just sink into her. Literally if you like, or emotionally if you can. Tell her your fears and secret longings. Cry because you’re powerful, or laugh because life is so fucking tragic. Buy the vibrator, name it Freud. Or start slow, lean into the fear and shame that society has prescribed to bodies that aren’t being consumed by someone else. Run your finger along your collarbone. Tickle your knee. Feel the velvety texture of skin and the coarse hair and puckered nipple. I won’t write you a Sinclair novel here, but imagine touching yourself wasn’t only a buildup to some delicious orgasm. Imagine touching every part of your body was the equivalent of every self-help novel and Spiritually Sassy podcast episode. A revelation of love. A reclaiming of the flesh you carry around every day. This is mine. This heart is mine, this body is mine and I will orgasm it into a new spiritual dimension if I so choose. 

Drop the guilt at the end of the bed or edge of the couch. I can’t stand the narrative of hatred and shame that surrounds masturbation and sexuality. It has been ingrained into our psyches by religion and culture as if our desire is somehow unnatural and degrading. As if our bodies are for only consuming and servicing and perfecting and not worshiping. My friend Maddy* masturbates to God fucking her. Also, my friend Claire* masturbates until her whole body becomes shock waves of energy. I masturbate and imagine being my absolute most vulnerable, and someone hurting me. Freud the shit out of that, baby. If you’re at a place in life where performance has become a substitute for mindfulness, I’m coming out of there—you just missed me. I live in a new place where I’ve found constantly gratifying my needs and desires isn’t as hedonistic as I imagined—so long as I’m being authentic. 

If you’re hearing outside of the noise of expectation and shame, it’s incredible where your heart will call you. It’s an incredible orgasm, it’s an incredible cry, and it’s an incredible moment to hear yourself being honest about what you need from this world. Insight is a powerful tool in navigating a world of manipulation and seduction. It may feel self-centered to break from what’s expected of you. It does to me a lot. It may, however, be the first step in believing your soul and trusting yourself again. If I can fill my heart without making demands on other people, that doesn’t feel selfish to me. If I seek what seems like desire, but is actually what sets my soul on fire—why wouldn’t I? Why wouldn’t you? The rules are changing and it’s up to us to say what flies. If we have less repression and more radical compassion and honesty with ourselves we could recognize more easily the source of our heartache. Maybe even manage to heal it. Being “real” isn’t just losing the filter on our physical being; it’s losing the lenses that we no longer identify with at our core. Hold on tight, love, take yourself for a ride. See where your heart takes you.

*These names may or may not have been changed by the author 

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