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An excerpt from my new book, "Feel It All."

My new book, Feel It All, is out TODAY!! And I want you to be among the first to read it.

My new book, Feel It All, is out TODAY!! And I want you to be among the first to read it. In this book, I invite you into a new kind of sexual awakening—one that leads to greater expansiveness, deeper connection, and a more sustainable sense of security.  If you haven’t yet gotten your copy (and even if you have), I want to share a special excerpt from Feel It All with you now:

Content warning: suicidality, eating disorder, involuntary hospitalization

"You could argue that my rock bottom was the day I escaped from an inpatient residential treatment center. Or perhaps it was the following week, when I was escorted to a high-security inpatient facility in police custody. But my gut says that it was two days later, when I ate a Pop-Tart out of a gracious fellow patient’s pocket because I wasn’t cleared for entrance to the cafeteria (too many sharp plastic knives, apparently). I was deemed a 'danger to myself,' and if I’m honest, I was.

This was my fourth stay at a psychiatric ward, but this facility was unlike the others. Whereas my family’s typical ritual for responding to my suicidality entailed a short-term stay at a cushy suburban hospital, I was now being involuntarily detained by a state facility in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. No visiting hours, no paper menu in Comic Sans on which I could circle my daily meal preferences, no staff who already knew my name and played Good Will Hunting on repeat.

Instead, I encountered sexual harassment, patient abuse, and isolation from my support system. On day four, in between room checks and meds, one patient flashed a shiv in my direction while muttering vague threats under his breath. Given the little regard I had for my own life at that point, you might imagine it would’ve been a relief for me to meet someone else who could hurt me, and probably knew how.

I thought so, too, which is why I was surprised to feel within myself, for the first time in many years, a self-protective instinct: the desire to stay alive. As if I had been jolted from a comatose state, my mind was awake and, finally, clear.

Right on the heels of the realization that I wanted to live came one phrase that repeated itself over and over in my mind, like a song I’d never heard but knew every lyric to: You like women. Like-like.

This phrase pulsed through my brain as I ran from the hallway to the common area under a flurry of fluorescent lighting. Knees to my chest in a plastic armchair, Pop-Tart crumbs decorating my cleavage, I had an epiphany that would define the next decade of my life.

If I wanted to survive this—this place, this mental illness, this life—I needed to claim the truth about my sexuality. I needed to come back home to myself, a place I had been avoiding for many years, and find a way to live there.

At the time, the connection between my sexuality and mental health was still unclear. When facing death, some people see god; I saw my future wife. Why, while in a butt-cheek-baring Hospital gown feeling anything but sexual, was I having an epiphany about desire?

These are the questions I have since built my life around answering, first in my own recovery process and then in my career as a sex therapist.

Why and how is intimacy tied up in our survival? Why do people describe themselves as feeling alive after great sex? Why do breakups feel like death? How does falling in love take our breath away? Why, when we ask about sex, do we ask about people’s 'sex life'? How is sexuality connected to our individual and collective mental health? To our despair? To our flourishing?"

Aftercare

Mirroring the end of each chapter of Feel It All, I’m ending this excerpt with aftercare around what it might feel like to read a personal, potentially activating story about sexuality. Many of our sexual awakenings began from rock bottom—perhaps my experience brings to mind your own. Sexual awakenings, like any other birthing process, come with labor pains. It takes an immense amount of bravery to reimagine anything in our lives, let alone a topic that has been so stigmatized and silenced.


I hope you’ll join me in feeling all the butterflies, nerves, and fears…and pursuing an awakening anyway.