"6": Fantasy and taboo
It's always been like this, for a long as I can remember.
A friend sent me a link to this article in the Economist, Secret Cinema. A few highlights from the article: "Some people, not unexpectedly perhaps, fantasise about celebrities. A handful imagine romantic tenderness with their real-life partners. But many of those surveyed say they like thinking about doing disgusting things with, to, or in front of, total strangers, or (perhaps more unsettlingly) the people they love.... The upshot is that nine out of ten people have sexual fantasies, mostly pretty lurid ones—and Mr Kahr thinks the remaining tenth are crippled by shame, guilt or repression."
We all have them. Some of us (though I'd wager it's a small number) act on them. My first foray into playing out fantasies was with a very willing partner. He had an acting background, was very animated and could improvise very easily and convincingly. He was game for every fantasy scenario I suggested: Me, office slut interviewing for a job, must fuck every employee daily; me, on my way home from grocery shopping, I am thrown into my stairwell and molested by forceful stranger, etc. However, no matter how engaged he was, or we were, the fantasies were never quite satisfying. I never felt like I was completely in them, like they could take on a life of their own.
Until I met Andre. With him, the line between fantasy and reality was constantly blurred. Since I agreed early on to concede control to him, I never knew what was going to happen next. We journeyed together into my dark places and the territory felt very real, and very fraught with uncertainty and potential danger.
I could say no at any time but I had challenged myself not to. Ever. I was a perpetual yes. I exposed to him the underbelly of my desires and let myself succumb to them. To him. To myself. The more I *realized*, i.e. made real, my internal experiences, the more the nature of my own reality began to change. By unleashing my demons, the secret, masturbatory fantasies I'd carried with me for years, I found myself feeling different after these experiences. I felt less fear. More self-assured. More whole. I felt less concern about what other people thought of me and freer to be more of who I was/am. The less I judged myself (by owning my fantasies and sharing them openly, outwardly), the less I felt susceptible to judgment by others. I simply wasn't fazed any longer about what people thought of me. I felt free to be myself. I've also found that being able to share these parts of myself with a lover, someone who accepts me, and vice verse, has brought us closer together. I think a lot of us live in fear of judgment about our sexual desires, when in reality, these experiences are amazing portals to self-realization.
This idea that the key to wholeness lies in exploring and understanding our "dark sides" is a theme that is repeated consistently in mythology and psychology the world over. I'd hesitate to label these areas as truly "dark" though. They are secret, often uninhabited areas of our psyches and, from my own experience, fertile territories for growth. For example, the Greek story of Persephone sees her banished to spend six months (half the year; quite a long time when you think about it) in the underworld. When she returns to the earth's surface for the other six months, spring accompanies her - rebirth and illumination.
Jung talks about the shadow as being areas of the unconscious that are socially unacceptable, as well as undeveloped positive potential. He suggested that the more these thoughts and behaviors were suppressed, the larger the shadow grew. "In spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity."
The Senoi dreamers of Malaysia apply the same concepts of approaching "darkness" to their dream travels: whenever encountering danger in a dream, the dreamer was encouraged to confront and conquer his or her attacker. Once obliterated, the dreamer asks this now defunct "demon" for a gift. There is transformation.
The greatest gifts I've received from the people in my life, Andre being one of them, was their understanding and utter acceptance of me and my myriad shadows. This lack of judgment - of ourselves and others - liberates us. It isn't achieved without courage though, both in the revealing and the accepting.
Photos: Lauren Bentley, "Where I buried my secrets"
Other photos: Sources unknown.