I know. You probably think that since I used the word "haunting" that I'm referring to something eerie like a ghost or spirit. Nope. If your sexual past has you seeing things, I gotta be honest and own that I'm not qualified to help you out with that. Naw, when I'm talking about your past sexual experiences being able to haunt you, I'm coming from the perspective that, no matter how much you try to shake some of them off, they keep coming into your mind and heart, almost like they are taunting you and keeping you from getting on with your life. It could be a particular man, it could be the sexual experiences that you had with a few men or, it could be the act of sex itself.
The reason why I do feel like I can speak on this kind of haunting is because, for many years, I was haunted by different forms of my sexual past. It seemed like no matter what I did or how hard I tried, certain partners and experiences, I just couldn't seem to shake. Because of that, it was very hard for me to emotionally heal and move forward. And trust me, staying stagnant is a surefire way to set yourself up for some pretty unhealthy—or at least totally counterproductive—approaches to life and relationships with other people.
Time is precious; far too precious for sex to be haunting you instead of blessing you. So, if you're reading this and there's something tugging you to not click off of this page, I'd say that's the first sign that something in your past may be taking up way too much of your present. Just to be sure, here are seven spot-on signs that you may be sexually haunted.
You’re Always Making Comparisons
Knock virginity if you want to but waiting until marriage does have its benefits. For instance, there's someone I know who's been married over 15 years now, who used to say all of the time, "I don't know if my husband is great in bed or not. I know he's great to me because I don't know any different."
Those of us single gals who won't have her same testimony on our wedding night might find it to be a little sad that she didn't get to "kick it" before saying "I do". But you know what? I've dealt with my fair share of couples who have some pretty sucky sex lives and, a big part of it is because, their spouse isn't as good as someone from their past. Sure, they love their husband or wife but if they had to pick someone to join them in the bedroom, some other names would come before them.
You can't control the past that you had or even the memories that come from them. But if you're currently sexually involved with someone and you can't enjoy them because you're always comparing them with someone else, this is one sign that your sexual past is definitely haunting you. Not just haunting you but having way too much power over you too.
You Keep Going Back (to the Sex not “Him”)
There is someone from my past who I had sex with, off and on, for years. For a myriad of reasons that are about a book-length long, we knew that being together, long-term, wasn't gonna work out. But that sex was sooooo good (WHEW!) that we kept coming back for more. Then one day, out of the blue, he told me that I was like crack to him and he chose to no longer be addicted. I never heard from him again.
A few years ago, I looked him up to see what he was up to. I discovered that he was doing very well. I left a message on his work phone saying, "This is crack" and I asked him to give me a call if he got a chance. He called that night and we spoke for about eight hours straight. Y'all, he still looks and sounds just as fine as I remembered him. Anyway, when I asked him what made him blindside me with that phone call almost 20 years ago, he said that he was so caught up in what we had going on that it was sidetracking him—"Shellie, I was literally considering leaving college and moving to Nashville, just so we could have sex all of the time. It was getting out of control." He tells no lies there.
The moral to this story—sex is a part of a relationship but anything that is all-consuming isn't healthy. If there is someone you keep going back to and the only reason you've got is because the sex is good, while I hate to say it, that reason isn't good enough. Believe it or not, there are men in this world that can offer you the complete package. Don't remain in a dead-end situation just because the orgasms are good.
You Carry Past Sexual Guilt
I've always been really candid about my sex life. I'm not sure why; I think it's because I'm a pretty open person overall. That doesn't mean that I haven't done some things that I regret (regret means remorse so, it's a good thing to have regrets sometimes). An example is I was once the wedding planner for a couple and I was sleeping with the groom at the time.
How can I share something so low-down? Because, while I am repentant, I don't carry any guilt (or shame) about the situation. It was years and years ago. I apologized to both parties. I've forgiven myself. I've moved past it.
If you have a sexual past, chances are, you've done some things that you're not exactly proud of either. While a certain amount of initial guilt can be good so that you'll learn your lesson and not repeat it, remaining in a state of guilt is bad for your mental health and emotional well-being (check out "10 Things You Didn't Know About Guilt").
If you're having a hard time being in a relationship or having a satisfying sex life and you know it's tied to some sex-related guilt that you're holding onto, I'll share with you one of my favorite definitions of forgiveness that I once heard Oprah share—"Forgiveness is accepting that the past cannot change."
Guilt keeps us looking backwards. Release it so that you can move forwards.
Or You Hold onto Past Sexual Fear
When I speak of fear, I don't mean the kind of fear that may be connected to sexual trauma. If your sexual past is haunting you due to something like that, you are warranted and I encourage you to see a professional and reputable therapist. Counseling or even trauma healing can be life changing; they really can.
Actually, where I'm coming from is the acronym for fear—False Evidence Appearing Real. Another indication that your sexual past may be haunting you is a past partner may have made you feel self-conscious about your body or sexual performance or, a sexual experience that you built up in your mind ended up not being all that you fantasized and that has hindered you from fully enjoying sex now. You don't want to show your body, you prefer to have sex in the dark and/or you build up a wall so that you won't be disappointed…again.
Your current partner is not your past one. Unless he gives you reason to think that things will be like before, make a conscious decision to give him the benefit of the doubt. When fear knows that we don't believe what it's telling us, oftentimes, it tends to fade away.
You Constantly Use Sex as a Way to Move On
I've shared before that a saying that is truly like fingernails on the chalkboard to me is, "The best way to get over someone is to get underneath someone else." It files right up there with "If you like it, I love it." (Because we usually say that when someone is doing something stupid or self-destructive. So no, I don't love it.) Anyway, if you're someone who believes that rebound sex is the best way to move on from someone who turned you out and/or broke your heart, do your future a favor and check out "We Should Really Rethink the Term 'Casual Sex'". The oxytocin that surges throughout your body during sex has no idea if you're doin' it and doin' it well (shout out to LL Cool J) with someone you're in love with or someone you just met.
And since oxytocin is designed to bond you to your sex partners regardless, well…if your way of getting over someone is to be with someone else, I hate to break it to you, but all you're actually doing is adding more men to the list that you'll have to get over—one way or another. You're setting yourself up to remain sexually haunted for a long, long time.
Sex Is Your (Main) Self-Esteem Booster
Who doesn't want to be told that they are good in bed?! Anyone who says they don't care is LY-ING. However, I'll raise my hand in this class and admit that when it comes to about half of the 14 sex partners that I've had (I break all of them down in "Each of My 14 Sex Partners Taught Me Something New"), a part of the reason why they were able to "get in" at all is because I had seasons in my life where I thought that the only thing that would draw—and hopefully keep—a man was my sexual performance. The problem with that is 1) all of us have more than one thing that makes us special and relationship-worthy and 2) that is a lot of power—too much power—to relinquish to one particular aspect of your life.
Take it from me, if you are in the habit of using sex—or your sexual performance—as a way to feel good about yourself, there are a ton of men who are just waiting to manipulate that breakdown in your psyche. Not only that but, during your sexual dry seasons, you could find yourself in mild bouts of self-hatred or depression because you aren't able to rely on your "fix". And since you've convinced yourself for so long that sex is the only way to remedy the issue…do you see the vicious cycle that you've created?
Sex Is Your Coping Mechanism
Speaking of sex being a "fix", if you run to sex, because you don't know how else to deal with a bad situation or difficult emotions, that's a sign that you're misusing sex more than you're actually embracing it. Sex is proven to reduce stress and make us happier, but if you don't know any other way to handle what's transpiring in your life, not only are you setting yourself up to have "haunting feelings" about sex itself but you could send yourself on the path to becoming a diagnosed sex addict.
So, what should you do when life seems to be a little painful or out of control? Get still and don't be afraid to feel what you're feeling. Do something like take a bath, listen to some relaxing music or even take a nap in order to give yourself a bit of a break. Then try and come up with a plan of what to do next. Then actually follow through with said plan.
I know this isn't the kind of topic that gets explored a lot. But it should be. Sex is too awesome for it to be out here haunting you. Exorcise the past so that you can openly and freely get on with your sexual future!
Featured image via GIFS
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- Signs You Have Emotional Connection During Sex - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Here's How Trauma May be Affecting Your Sex Life - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, & Wellness ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
They say you can’t heal in the same place that made you sick. And I couldn’t.
The year was 2019, and I knew I had to go. My spirit was calling me to be alone and to go alone. It was required in that season. A few months prior, I had quit my job. And it was late 2017 when I had met trauma.
I was completely broken, and every part of me hurt. I was no longer the lighthearted Camille that everyone loved and knew me to be. I remember a family friend saying, “You’re not the same.” And I wasn’t. I no longer recognized the girl looking back at me in the mirror. I needed major healing.
It was 2018 when I found the courage to seek mental health therapy. At that point, I knew there was nothing more that my friends could do for me. I was all cried out, and the silence was killing me. At the time, I was diagnosed with clinical anxiety, depression, and PTSD. How?
How did I let trauma take complete control of my life? But I had to forgive myself for all the things I did not know.
At the time, my therapist introduced me to journaling as a coping mechanism. Words ultimately became my best friend. In many ways, I would like to think that writing saved me. I am in love with words, and I always have been. My writing was and still is my safe space. It unlocked opportunities I never imagined – like writing for xoNecole.
And with this gift, I can now tell you a story about my own trauma, healing, self-discovery, and the journey to learning how to celebrate myself.
Starting a Healing Journey
In early Spring 2019, I was told by a Reiki healer that I was going to embark on a journey. She told me it was going to be lonely, but I was never alone. The thing is I never once mentioned to this woman my travel plans. It was August 2019 when I planned my solo trip to Europe. It was going to be 38 days alone on a continent I knew absolutely nothing about. By the end of summer and a nine-hour flight later, I touched down in London.
I fell in love with every single thing. I fell in love with everything I could see – colors, cobblestone streets, spiral staircases, adorned windows, architecture, garden terraces, nature, and people. I fell in love with everything I could hear – accents, language, history, and music. I fell in love with everything I could taste – wines, foods, and desserts. I fell in love with everything I could feel – ocean breezes, white sands, and well-designed buildings. I fell in love with everything that fed my soul. People, stories, and connections. I fell in love with myself.
I always say women have the ability to heal others naturally. It was here in my travels that I started to pay attention to the concepts of purpose, connection, energy, alignment, and universal signs. I began to truly realize not only my strengths and universal gifts but also how to use them too. I started to step into my authentic self. I began to realize who Camille really was. A free spirit with a heart of gold.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
A New Season
By the time I had returned from Europe, it was late Fall 2019, and I was a completely different person.
I spent most of my time pouring into myself. Self-development and self-love became key. Everything that I previously settled for in family, friends, and relationships – I went and gave to myself. Read that again. I became completely in love with who I was becoming, and I still am. I had let go of tradition, conditional beliefs, people pleasing, and living my life to make my parents proud.
I had let go of being a “straight arrow,” and the idea of having it all figured out. I outgrew tradition and cultural norms. Sometimes, those things can be so blinding.
I began to shift. I adopted and altered the things that aligned with my purpose and values.
I became risk-tolerant instead of risk-averse.
I canceled my fears.
I welcomed uncertainty, knowing I would always land on my feet.
This newfound level of confidence came out of nowhere. It was no longer a question of if I can do this. The question became, how can I do this? I stayed open to possibilities and opportunities in whichever form they came to me. I became selective and intentional with my time and energy, too. I went from being a 9 to 5 government employee, then a corporate consultant, to a small business owner not once but twice by 2021.
If you ask me who I am now, I would say I am authentically a creative. I write from my heart, and I speak from my core. My voice is my power, and my words hold weight. By trade, I am a paralegal and a business consultant.
How Trauma Shows Up in the Body
Even though I was able to heal my heart, my mind, and my spirit, I wasn’t quite done healing. And I didn’t even know it. In the last seven years, I gained weight. This was a direct result of a broken heart, emotional trauma, mental health issues, stress, and poor lifestyle choices. I was a good 50 pounds overweight, too. I knew something was wrong with my body when it stopped responding to my dietary and lifestyle efforts.
I started to advocate for my health in the winter of 2022 to get clarity and answers. I sought the care of medical specialists, asked the right questions, requested second opinions, and tested and retested my blood. Not one doctor could properly diagnose me, either.
When Western medicine failed me, I chose holistic medicine. What I learned and what I understood was that my physical health issues were a straight-up trauma response. I cried. I was always conscious about my health, and now I’m sick with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Yes, PTSD triggers and is linked to autoimmune diseases.
I remember thinking, “I did this to myself, and I have to fix it.”
I spent the majority of 2023 detoxing with Chinese herbs, making every lifestyle change possible. My body was holding on to dead weight – it had to go for me to continue to become.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Summer 2023 couldn’t come any faster. I completed my holistic detox with sacrifice and ease. While everyone saw just a “body transformation,” for me, it was an emotional release.
I was no longer reminded of what transpired. I cried again.
There were so many days, months, and years that I thought I would never get me back. And I believed it. I mean, who wouldn’t? Medical experts adamantly told me that there was nothing wrong with me. All I wanted was to feel like myself again. I missed me so badly.
I looked for me everywhere. I couldn’t find her until I paused and did the inner work.
I wouldn’t change one thing about my healing journey. It all had to happen so I could be in this current moment. And this girl right here – I know exactly who she is. I know what she stands for through and through. And I’ll never stray from that.
I’ve grown so much, yet in some ways, I’m rediscovering who this girl is again. It’s so intoxicating.
Courtesy of Camille Ali
Returning to Europe
I have always wanted to go back to Europe. Europe is a magical place to be. It's the energy, the people, and the lifestyle for me. But the timing wasn’t right. It took the wedding of a close friend of mine to make my return happen. I returned to Europe in August 2023. This time to Greece.
At first, I didn’t realize the significance of the timing. But make no mistake, this was alignment, a full circle moment, and a testimony to myself. I started a healing journey in August 2019, and I returned as a completely different person this year.
Happy, whole, and healed. Resilient and confident.
I knew I was meant to share a pivotal moment in my friend’s life and celebrate myself. My word for 2023 was joy, and I wanted all of it. More importantly, I deserved it.
I fell in love with everything all over again. Everything that I can see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, that is. I created moments and memories. And I felt each moment and memory deeply in new places and with new faces. Greece owed me absolutely nothing. Europe will always and forever have a special place in my heart.
My five-year healing journey taught me to always choose myself. I am grateful because my entire journey brought me home to myself. And one thing about me is that when I am in the right environment — I thrive. Always.
The journey to self-discovery is worth the uncomfortable moments and ugly crying. It’s worth the undoing, redoing, and reprocessing to finally come to a place of happiness, peace, and being comfortable in your own skin.
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Featured image by AzmanJaka/Getty Images