I know firsthand what it is like to feel disconnected from my body, and trust me, it's a painful place to be. Pre-pandemic, I always felt connected to my body. I consciously decided to live a reasonably healthy lifestyle and rarely had any health issues outside of a common cold. I worked out regularly, went for morning runs, and was a regular at my local yoga studio. The work I put into my body contributed to my confidence, and it showed in other areas of my life. At the time, my dating and sex life were as fluid as any other single girl in New York City. When it came to my body, I felt like I had it all. I had good health, a healthy sex life, and a sweet peach to go with it (thanks, squats!).
The early days of the pandemic is when the relationship between my body and I began to shift. I could no longer attend the gym due to COVID. Yes, I could have done an at-home workout, but staying in bed and watching movies became more appealing. My dating life, sex life, and social life came to an immediate halt. Like many of us, I had to sit with myself for the first time in a long time. The only company I had were thoughts I had suppressed.
My mental health eventually took over my physical health.
So there I was, depressed, lonely, and horny as hell. I've never felt further from myself. I tried following the suggestions of every wellness page on Instagram, but nothing worked. Until one day, I came across an article on Goop titled "Finding the Pleasure in Your Body". The article discussed how using our sexual energy can help us connect to ourselves. Now I have to be honest, I didn't agree with everything in this article, but it did inspire me. I then found my erotic ways to tap back into myself. Here are sensual habits that helped me reconnect with my body.
Indulge In Self-PleasureShutterstock
We are all adults here, so let's keep it real. Have you ever felt triggered, stressed, or depressed, but then you have an orgasm and you feel fine? Don't lie; God is watching. I'm not saying self-pleasure will help solve all of your problems, but it sure as hell will alleviate some stress. It definitely cleared my mind.
After indulging in self-pleasure and having an orgasm, I felt lighter for the first time in months. There is something special about being entirely comfortable with myself that felt so empowering. Knowing that I can give myself an orgasm better than any sweaty man and not have to do the walk of shame was liberating.
Engage In Sensual Body Movement
Sensually moving your body creates a pathway to accepting your feminine energy. You can sensually move your body at any age or body type. Most people assume you have to know how to dance or be a good dancer, but this is not the case. Sensual body movement is moving in a way that allows you to listen to your body and feel good. A few sensual body movements can include: moving your hips, pole dancing, twerking, or moving in a way that freely expresses yourself. I wouldn't consider myself a professional dancer, but I can move like Beyonce when alone. However, the sensual movement was a different experience.
Tapping into myself through sensual activity felt uncomfortable at first. I found myself in my head, wondering if my movements were awkward. These thoughts only proved how disconnected I was from my body. To get past the voice in my head, I decided to create a character, just like Beyonce. Her name is Alexandra, and she moves sexier than Sasha Fierce herself.
Once I got out of my head and into character, there was no stopping me. I was no longer Celeste, who was subconscious about sensually moving her body. I was now Alexandra, who had no problem dropping it like it was hot. Alexandra felt sexy, free, and fully aligned with herself. In her head, she was the baddest thing out there, and her body was out of this world.
Take A Spiritual Bath
Spiritual baths are every girl's Instagram dream aesthetic. You can fill them with all kinds of elements that can make any woman feel like a goddess. You can customize your spiritual bath with roses, oranges, strawberries, crystals, herbs, and so much more. Spiritual baths are recommended to correct any spiritual or physical blockages you might be feeling. Although spiritual baths are not scientifically proven, they have been a part of many cultures and religions.
Spoiler alert: I'm not much of a bath girl. I'm a shower girl all the way. Now I know what you're thinking, "So, how did you take a spiritual bath then?" I simply incorporated it into my shower routine. Before my shower, I took a gallon of water and put strawberries, blueberries, freshly squeezed lemon, oranges, and let them soak overnight. When it came time for me to shower, I rinsed myself with the infused water. I also surrounded my bathroom with candles and played lofi music to set the mood.
My spiritual shower experience was...well...relaxing. As I poured the infused water over my body, I truly felt like I was washing away every blockage that took me further away from myself. I rinsed away thoughts of disapproval, judgment, and hurtful narratives I had told myself about my body. As silly as it may sound, I felt like I had initiated a rebirth between my body and me. I was making a new path of love, acceptance, and awareness for myself. I vowed then; I would no longer allow myself to become disconnected from myself.
Recite Body Affirmations
Body affirmations are a way of retraining your mind into body acceptance. Several studies show that if we continue to repeat affirmative dialogue to ourselves, we will likely believe it. This study also goes for the negative narratives we tell ourselves. The goal behind affirmations is to retrain our brains and retrain the way we see ourselves. This is all hard and embarrassing to admit, but it's my truth, and I want to share it with all of you.
Through my months of feeling disconnected from my body, I consciously and unconsciously told my body hurtful things. Meaning my body wasn't good enough or pretty enough. Comparing myself to other women I saw on Instagram and in magazines, and lastly, questioning my self-worth because I didn't have the fattest ass or the curviest body.
I've chosen three affirmations that have helped me embrace my body. Here they are: "My body radiates beautiful kindness"; "I accept my stretch marks as beauty marks"; "The acceptance of the color of my skin starts with me". These three affirmations have brought me closer to my body than ever before. I repeat these three affirmations when I'm feeling insecure, in the shower, or when I have a negative thought. I learned through these affirmations that acceptance doesn't start with society; it begins with me.
Wear Some Lingerie For YouShutterstock
I don't believe there is any scientific data behind wearing lingerie, but it sure as hell makes you feel good. Through my personal experiences and conversations with girlfriends, I've learned most women wear lingerie for someone else. I loved spicing it up in relationships and frequently wore different kinds of lingerie to make that special someone feel good. I picked out lingerie in hopes that Mr. Man would see my body in a sexy way, but what about how I saw my body? Did I see myself as a sexual being? The short answer is no. I was wearing lingerie for external validation, but I didn't see myself as sexy without that validation.
I began wearing lingerie before bed every night. I have all types of lingerie in my closet, but my preference was a nice silk slip (if you know, you know). Just like the sensual body movement, I felt silly wearing lingerie for myself at first. I knew it was time to tap into my alter ego again, Alexandra. I may have felt awkward wearing lingerie, but Alexandra? You couldn't tell her anything. Alexandra felt like a bad bitch. She wasn't a snack; she was the whole damn meal, period! It took no time for Alexandra and me to see ourselves as a sexy Mamacita.
I know in this article, I made my journey back to my body sound easy but I want to clarify that it took some time and practice to get to the right place with myself. I had to consciously put in the work every single day to fight past the criticisms of myself. Although it took some time, it is possible. If you're in a dark place now, just know that I am here with you. Your body may not be perfect, but you can get to a place of love and acceptance. Your body is the temple that protects your soul.
Nourish it, respect it, listen to it.
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Here's Why Very Few Relationships Can Actually Be 'Platonic'
Recently, while in an interview, someone asked me if I think that men and women can be just friends. I didn’t even hesitate to answer; my response was immediate, “Absolutely.” What I followed that up with is what intrigued them — “Life has taught me that not a lot of male/female dynamics are ‘platonic,’ though.” When they asked me to expound, the interview ended up taking a whole ‘nother turn.
As a writer who really pays attention to word meanings, something that can be a bit frustrating about our culture is the fact that based on whatever is popular at the time, folks will just up and change the original definitions of words to suit a particular agenda or whim — and the word “platonic” 1000 percent fits into this category. And perhaps that’s why we seem to continue to go in circles about whether or not people of the opposite sex can (and should) be friends and what that even can (and should) look like.
Let’s talk about it for a bit. Because as a word-literal type of individual, while again, I absolutely believe that men and women can be friends, at the same time, I think it’s about as rare as a red diamond to truly find yourself in a friendship that is…platonic.
It’s Time (More) Folks Knew What ‘Platonic’ LITERALLY MeansGiphy
So, let's do first things first — let's define what it literally means for something to be platonic. If you go to your favorite search engine and put something along the lines of "What does platonic mean?", the first thing that you're (probably) going to see is a ton of dictionary definitions that say something along the lines of "of, relating to, or being a relationship marked by the absence of romance or sex" (Merriam-Webster), "designating or of a relationship, or love, between a man and a woman that is purely spiritual or intellectual and without sexual activity" (Your Dictionary) and, my personal favorite, "purely spiritual; free from sensual desire, especially in a relationship between two persons of different sexes" (Dictionary). Yeah, bookmark that last one; I'll be circling back.
Keeping this in mind (and please do), where does the word "platonic" actually come from? From what I've researched, the philosopher Plato once penned something entitled "Symposium." In it, he addressed the topic of two people sharing the kind of love that is free of any type of sensual desire, one that is based on divine love alone. An author from the 1800s broke it down this way: "Platonic love meant ideal sympathy; it now means the love of a sentimental young gentleman for a woman he cannot or will not marry." A write-up on Merriam-Webster's site stated that "The term platonic was initially used to mock non-sexual relationships, as it was considered ridiculous to separate love and sex, but eventually this connotation faded away leaving us with today's notion of close friendships." Yeah, we used to live in a culture where love and sex were not separated. Hmph, that's another article for another time, though (check out "We Should Really Rethink The Term' Casual Sex'").
Anyway, as with many things (especially in our culture), the word "platonic" is kind of used in "broad strokes" these days (bromances, female friendships, etc.). However, because there continues to be this forever discussion — and oftentimes debate — about whether or not men and women can be "just friends," I'm going to tackle this topic strictly from that angle — from the place where platonic actually originated.
Yes, Men and Women Can Be Just Friends. But…Giphy
At this stage in my life, I'm pretty sure that I have more male friends than female ones. There are layers of reasons why, yet I think a huge one is because I like the balance that masculinity brings to my femininity (especially as I'm learning to embrace different aspects of my femininity, intentionally even more). And while every single one of my male friends is respectful and is a super safe space in my world on every single level that I can imagine (and have been for years now), there are probably only a couple who I would say 100 percent qualify as being…trulyplatonic.
Why would I say that? Well, I'll illustrate this point with something that one of my male friends once said to me. He's super cute. He can sing his ass off (and definitely has one of my favorite speaking voices). People see us out together often, and some have told us that they assume that we've had something going on at some point. Anyway, after hearing someone share their theory about us, I told it to him.
Me: "I told him, 'He's my brother. We would never mess around.'"
My Friend: "Correction, you are like a sister. You are not my sister, though. Under the right conditions, you could still get it."
When I shared that exchange with another male friend of mine, he basically cosigned on the sentiment: "Shellie, I have never approached you like that because I really respect you. I want to be good for you for the rest of our lives." (That reminds me: check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?" when you get a chance.)
Then I went to one more guy homie and ran both statements by him: "Girl, yeah. If I didn't want to keep you in my life long-term, I would've tried to holla a long time ago!" And he and I have been friends for almost 20 years at this point. When did he get around to telling me this? Eh, maybe two years ago. LOL.
So, my takeaway from all of these "for real?!" exchanges is even though men and women can be just friends, there is a certain level of intention, self-control, and ability to see into the future (on some level) that must go into account — because, just because something more-than-friends-like may not have gone down, that doesn't mean there isn't a "dormant seed" lying around somewhere…whether it's one-sided or on both sides of the friendship dynamic.
As you can see, I just provided you with three instances where the male friends in my life; we've had nothing sexual or even physically intimate beyond a hug when we greet each other in nature — although things aren't exactly platonic if there is some sort of attraction or sexual/romantic curiosity that simply never got explored. Because again, according to Plato, a platonic relationship is free from all of that kind of…tension — or possibilities. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
And now you probably get why I entitled this article in the way that I did…right? I mean, just think about it — out of your male friendships, where is there NO sensual desire or dormant romantic interest…on your side and/or on his? If you're not sure about "his"…have you ever asked him? Or them? Because again, once I really let the definition of platonic sink in, I think maybe two guys in my life totally fit the bill.
This brings me to my next point.
Are You Platonic? Or Are You Friend-Zoning?Giphy
Now that you know that probably 70 percent of the people you know (both online and off) have been using the true meaning of platonic all the way wrong, let’s go about deeper: when it comes to your friendships with men, are they genuinely platonic or…is it more like you’re friend-zoning them?
A few years ago, I penned an article on the topic entitled, “Before You 'Friend Zone' Someone, Read This.” If you’re skimming this on your lunch break, I’ll summarize friend-zoning as knowing that a guy has so-much-more-than-platonic feelings for you, yet because you basically want to keep the benefits of the friendship or even his emotions around, you will string him along on some level.
Personally, I can’t stand friend-zoning. I think it’s selfish, with some sprinkles of manipulation and wasting someone’s time. Don’t agree? How would you feel if a guy was friend-zoning you? (Yeah…exactly.)
This all needs to go on record because, knowing that a guy wants to “take it there” with you (whether sexually or romantically), you not full-on addressing it and/or giving him just enough hope to take you out, listen to all of your stories about other men and give you the attention that you need knowing that he doesn’t have a shot in hell — that is NOT a platonic friendship and honestly, you’re not being a good friend at all. Friends protect each other’s hearts, not abuse them.
A platonic friendship means that you both have no interest in each other, and, as Plato put it, while you may have a strong and solid bond, it’s spiritual love that connects you. And what exactly does that mean? Spiritual love also deserves its own article, yet the gist would be that you recognize there is a purpose in your friendship, yet it’s about wanting what’s best for one another and even helping each other to get there.
For instance, a platonic friend of yours may know that you desire to be married one day, so he has no problem setting you up with a good guy in his life. And if things go well, he would have no problem standing up as your own best man (without feeling like he’s dying inside) because he never saw you beyond anything but a friend. A guy in the friend zone doesn’t move like this; he likes you too much to help you move on with someone else. See the difference?
Why Relationships Should Start Off As NON-PLATONIC FriendshipsGiphy
Before I end this with some tips on how to properly care for the few platonic friendships you may actually have, since the use of the word may require a bit of mental reprogramming, I do think we should also address that if you've got a good guy in your life, who right now is a friend and either you've never thought of him in that way or the topic has never come up — he's someone that you may not want to brush off.
What I mean by that is, it's one thing for there to be absolutely no interest in someone vs. never considering it before — and the reason why you might want to give it some thought is because, ask any healthy married couple who's been together for more than five years and I'll bet you my next rent check that they will say that the best relationships are birthed out of friendship (check out "Are You Sure You're Actually FRIENDS With Your Spouse?").
Yeah, just because you've filed someone in the "I see him as a good guy" category, that doesn't automatically mean that y'all's friendship is platonic. For instance, I have a male friend who is fine and I adore on many levels, yet the reason why it would never work on my end is because there are certain relational standards that I have that he does not meet. However, don't get it twisted — I've considered him because, on so many levels, we "fit." So, the mere fact that I ever seriously thought about him on that level means that we are "good friends," yet it's not exactly platonic.
I'm not free of potential sensual desire…I just choose not to act on it. Yet because I get the value of having friendship as the foundation for my own future marriage (should life play out that way), I am wise enough to know that I would've been a fool to not at least…ponder him and the possibilities.
So yeah, if there is a male friend in your life that the thought of dating or having sex with him doesn't make you want to throw up in your mouth, there's a pretty good chance that it's not a classic platonic dynamic — and you might want to consider if it could/should go to the next level — if not immediately, eventually. Because there's a pretty good chance that if you are thinking that way, he probably is as well.
Protect Your Genuine Platonic Friendship(s) At All CostsGiphy
Let me end this with how one of my platonic friendships rolls. We both think that the other is attractive, yet neither of us is attracted. We both give each other opposite-sex insights. We both have said that the mere thought of dating each other makes our noses turn up like there’s an odor in the air. And even when I try to imagine us together, my mind goes blank. I love, love, LOVE this man — oh, but it is absolutely nothing more than platonic — and he feels the same way. It’s as close to familial love without being blood relationships. It’s a rare dynamic, and that is what makes it so special. There is definitely a spiritual type of love there; no more, no less.
If you’ve got someone in your life who you feel the same way about (again, it’s got to be mutual; he must feel that way, too), you’ve got a gem of a situation going on because there is nothing like having the kind of friendship where you and a guy can hang out, exchange perspectives and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, knowing that’s all it is and will ever be. Things will never get weird. No one’s feelings are gonna get hurt (from the whole friend-zoning thing). You don’t have to walk on eggshells. You can just be.
And that’s why I’m all for platonic friendships. And listen, if you’re blessed enough to have even one in your lifetime, be fiercely protective of it. Don’t take it for granted. Nurture it in a way that your male friend needs (because it probably won’t be the exact same as your female friendships). Y’all, platonic friendships are so bomb because, if it’s honored and protected correctly, it’s the one male friend that you can probably keep for life because even your romantic partner will not find it to be a (true) threat — hell, they honestly could probably end up becoming (some level of) friends with your platonic homie as well.
I hope that I broke this all down enough to where, when you decide to use a word to describe your opposite-sex friendships, perhaps you will pause and ask yourself, “Wait, is this a platonic friend or a good or close friend?” Because the clearer you are on the differences, the easier it will be to know how to maintain your friendship — and feel about your friend. Feel me? Cool.
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