Check out this podcast episode (link above) with brilliant marriage and sex therapist Esther Perel explaining her view of the erotic to Krista Tippet. Perel describes the erotic as a deep, spiritual quality of play, pleasure, and curiosity. It's an energy that allows people to experience a feeling of aliveness, even in the face of trauma, tragedy, and loss.
The episode called to mind one of Audre Lorde's famous writings "Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power." In it, she writes: "The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling."
Both Perel and Lorde encourage us to tap into the knowledge that resides inside of us and to be curious about ourselves. About our desires. About our fears. About our need to feel alive. They assert that the erotic is not exclusively sexual and that it is never superficial. You can harness the erotic in your work, in play, in seeking adventure and joy in nature.
How do you feel the erotic in your life? Do you feel it? When do you feel most alive? Most free?
If you don't feel it right now, I encourage you not to shame or judge yourself, but to instead be curious. What's blocking it? What are the worries? The fears? What messages from your family, your culture, or the larger societal pressures block you from your intuitive knowledge of yourself?
If you're feeling worn down, exhausted, angry, or tremendously afraid of the heightened worldwide white supremacist capitalistic patriarchal violence, you are not alone. If you're worried about homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia, and ableism you're not alone. If you're worried about climate change, you're not alone. Coping means trying to find the balance between disconnecting enough to enjoy what’s good in life now versus paying enough attention to take action (if you can) to address the very real threats to human rights in our larger world.
Here are some self-care strategies that people have found helpful in these trying times. Find the ones that fit best and add them to your regular routine. Self-care is usually most effective when it's something you do on a regular basis rather than just in a crisis: