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The Darker Side of Pleasure

February 9, 2010

As an add-on to my post Masturbation as Meditation, I would like to share with you guys another excerpt from Betty’s Dodson’s  Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving that I really like.

While I continue to believe that my spirituality and sexuality are closely connected, if not one in the same, I don’t want to go overboard and turn sex into a religion. And I don’t want all my orgasms to be sacred, ecstatic, ritualized communions with some divine purpose. There are times I just want a “maintenance orgasm” with a scuzzy, low-down fantasy. For me, being in the limelight on a full-time basis becomes unreal and I’m dehumanized. I don’t want to deny or ignore my dark side; that mean little person who’s envious and angry and who flirts with evil thoughts and plays with fantasy violence. When we ignore the dark side, the light of our spirituality becomes dim and we’re in danger of turning into mindless automatons willing to follow a false leader. 

Aren’t books great? I could sit here all day and share with you all some of my favorite excerpts. 

This idea of indulging the darker side of our psyches is something that I’ve always given a lot of thought to. Growing up, when I was in the early phases of becoming a teenager, I found myself developing my own sense of self, and of right and wrong. That was the period in my life where I questioned “life, the universe and everything” the most. I’d have endless conversations with friends in which we would define our values and the ways in which we saw ourselves leading our lives. 

Moving away from home, when I was seventeen, was the period in my life where those thoughts and ideas would come into play and actually become part of who I am. I think that everyone goes through a period in their lives where there’s a dichotomy between the person you want to be and the way in which you define yourself through action. For example, honesty is a quality that I value greatly and aspired to, but I also found myself living the kind of life style that seemed to require a lot of lying to my parents or my friends parents, in terms of keeping certain facts and behaviors secret. 

Living that kind of extreme contradiction is rather difficult and can lead to some serious emotional/mental problems and when the stress becomes too much, like it did when I was twenty, you need to change it all around or risk harming yourself. So that’s what I did, I started to live according to this image of what I thought it meant to be a good and wholesome person. Frankly, I needed that break from the lifestyle I had been living (some crazy stuff happened in those days), but the downside is that living this ideal of perfection, although healthier in many respects, lead to another kind of extreme. An extreme in which I lost parts of who I was. And let’s be honest here, I have a wicked dark streak. 

After doing my best to change my very nature, I realized that I was so removed from certain aspects of who I was that it became an actual handicap and I needed to change things again. That is when I came to the conclusion that you can’t live a balanced live if you don’t also indulge in your dark side. I am by no means suggesting that you go out and act on some crazy desire that is ultimately destructive and only serves to hurt others, but somewhere, and this is up to you, you have to make little compromises with yourself and say “I know that technically this is wrong or maybe not the best decision, but I give myself permission to do it anyways.” 

Indulge you’re little sins, give in to the darker side of pleasure, at least once in a while and I guarantee you’ll live a much more balanced life. When you repress all those things about yourself they tend to resurface in pathological ways. No kidding, it can lead to some serious problems with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and a whole host of nasty little problems that are a hell of a lot more difficult to deal with than, I don’t know, never wearing your seat belt or having sex in public places. 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2010 3:50 pm

    I bet you have a wicked little dark streak! Ha!

    For a very long time I was into Jung, the collective unconscious, confronting the “Shadow Self” and undergoing the “Night Sea Journey”. Jung believed we are in a constant state of flux between this “tension of opposites”, the unconscious longing of our lust for fear.

    “The journey into the soul begins with a leap into the abyss. It is here that we challenge the Shadow self, the sentinel of the psyche who holds the key to our repressed desires, depraved impulses, perceived transgressions and fears.”-from my article Esoterica on the Edge

    During my university years, I took photography and film and many of the images are dark and sexual. For a long time, I tried to dig deeper into that darkness, so see if I could uncover some truths about myself. So, unlike you, I had gone the other way, not necessarily with my actions, but definitely with my mindset and thoughts.

    In recent years I have learned to embrace my “light” side, and look at life from a more positive perspective, and see the beauty without the darkness. So, I’ve come full circle now to a more balanced me. My dark side still exists, but I don’t take it so seriously and can laugh at it, as well as shine some light in the deepest, scariest corners.

    I agree, you need a balance of both darkness and light and it is good to indulge yourself in sinful pleasures, unless they become obsessions.

  2. February 9, 2010 8:34 pm

    Jung’s concept of the shadow self is something that has always interested me. I also like the idea of the Id, the Ego and the Super Ego. All those things that suggest a deeper (buried) understanding of the self, of human behavior, of our minds, desires and impulses are things that are fascinating to me. I delved into all those murky areas and indulged for much too long in extremes between my “dark” side and my “light” side. Balance is the key, but for someone like me who tended to go from one end of the spectrum to the other it’s sometimes very hard to maintain. I go to that “dark” place much too easily. Keeping it in check or not indulging in it too much or for too long is really a constant struggle, but there’s always some form of evolution or realization on my part that seems to make it easier as I get older.

    P.S. Obsessions are no good.

  3. Nio permalink
    February 9, 2010 8:40 pm

    I entirely agree with you. Just as I am disturbed by people with no limits, I am made equally uncomfortable by people who actively deny the darkness within them. It’s like those people are a seething mass of repression just waiting to explode. Brrr.

    I believe that if we don’t face the darkness within us, we fear it and it gains more power through our fear. If we embrace it in a constructive, careful way then the darkness loses its power over us.

  4. February 9, 2010 8:49 pm

    Well put, I agreed with you there.

    I’ve seen that look in people’s eyes sometimes, where it seems like something has broken in them and there are just no more limits, and it’s a scary thing to witness. Getting close to that feeling can be liberating sometimes, I mean, at least when it’s constructive. There are situations where letting go of your prior limitations can be very freeing and beneficial.

    The key is figuring out what actions or thoughts are ultimately destructive and which open you up to something better possibilities or some sort of resolution. Either way, it seems to be hard…sometimes.

  5. February 9, 2010 8:58 pm

    Yeah, I’ve been around people who’ve had that in their eyes and at times like that I need to get away as fast as possible.

    It’s not always easy to figure out what is too far… sometimes you do just have to take an informed leap of faith and hope for the best. That way can lead to liberation but I think you have to keep hold of basic principles and only ever violate them if something convinces you they’re wrong.

    Gah, grey areas are hard but so fascinating to explore!

  6. February 9, 2010 9:00 pm

    Gawd, I know, eh? I feel the same way.

    Basic principles, in these types of conversations, should be a given. It’s too bad the world is such a fucked up place that we always have to remind ourselves and others what those are.

  7. February 12, 2010 8:39 am

    As a psychiatrist, I can tell you that all of the darkest aspects already exist inside of us – in our unconscious. But recognizing and accepting that this is part of who we are is very disturbing to many people, and so they spend a tremendous amount of effort trying to eliminate every trace of it (which, of course, they cannot). That results in anxiety, OCD, depression, etc. As you have mentioned, we have more health and happiness when we acknowledge its existence. We can even allow ourselves to fantasize about a multitude of topics – sometimes very “dark.” But fantasies do not have to be acted on to for us to derive enjoyment and pleasure from them. We can decide what actions to take by asking if it would hurt us or hurt anyone else. That should be our parameter for our actions.

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