Aug 19, 2021 • 45M

Krista Wilson on Erotic Self-Care and Religious Trauma

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Interviews about the role sex, sexuality and all-things-eros have played in people's spiritual identities and practices. This podcast especially centers the stories of queer folks and sex workers.
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Krista Wilson, a licensed professional counselor working in Chicago, is currently developing an online community for the treatment of religious trauma syndrome and the effects of Purity Culture called Existence Therapy.

We talked about how growing up in a conservative religious environment or a colonized culture can lead to religious trauma, as well as unhealthy views on sexuality. Krista talked about her own journey away from a conservative Christian mindset and how a masturbation practice can lead to a better sense of self-love and self-knowledge.


Krista Wilson  00:00

What if self-love could be full? What if it could be a mind/body/spirit connection less platonic, like world of forms and world of matter, but more like this central idea of like know within meaning is this fullness.

Jera Brown  00:17

That was Krista Wilson, a licensed professional counselor working in Chicago, who is my guest for this episode of lefthanded journeys. Krista is currently developing an online community for the treatment of religious trauma syndrome and the effects of pure D culture called existence therapy. You'll hear more about Chris's work with religious trauma syndrome in this episode, I

Jera Brown  00:47

think I told you this. But for listeners, I just randomly stumbled across your Psychology Today profile. Absolutely. And so what you're focused on so if you don't mind, just offer a little background into your practice and how you got started.

Krista Wilson  01:03

Yeah, absolutely. I am specialized in religious trauma syndrome and recovery from purity culture. And this is something that is a new condition that has been based on the work of Marlene Wintel, who is a psychiatrist or psychologist out of the Bay Area. And basically, you know, my story is I'm three years into practice. So we're still what we call a baby therapist. Because you're not really like a big therapist until you've been working for about 10 years. So I, as I've just been practicing, it's been one of those things that has very much fit into my style of psychotherapy. So I'm an existential psycho therapist, meaning that I like to focus on the ideas of being and becoming as human beings. And rather than sort of some, like really intensive forms of treatment, it's kind of like getting to know the human being that's in front of you and how to treat them. And then my, the religious trauma piece kind of comes from my own lived experience. So I grew up fundamentalist evangelical, and an pastor's kid, and grew up in the purity culture of the 90s. So had a purity ring made a purity pledge, like, did the whole thing and kind of held myself to that standard, and all of the fear and shame that came with that. So I get to spend my days now treating mostly trauma, depression and anxiety, I'm now working with people who have sought out my practice, specifically because they are coming out of the church, or are just trying to figure out how they fit in the church without the fear and the shame and without the conditioning that causes so much anxiety, depression, sometimes suicidality, those sorts of things.

Jera Brown  02:50

As a baby therapist, what were you doing before.

Krista Wilson  02:53

So that's a fascinating part of my story, too. I actually went to Moody Bible Institute, my undergrad. So I was supposed to be a famous worship leader that was sort of the calling that my community had placed on me. And you know, actually was getting kind of close to that at moody was like leading, you know, big conferences and things like that. So my first career was being a church musician. And I honestly have very fond memories of that. I think when I got into the space of like, leading big conferences and things I very much I wasn't sleeping at night, there was like, so much anxiety in my body, it was just a sense of like, I think my body and the universe kind of telling me like, Hey, girl, you're not on the right path, like this is not actually for you. And so my first master's degree is actually in biblical and theological studies. So you know, my first career, then being very much in the church kind of wanting to talk through the marriage of musicianship, and theology in the church, also was just very committed to people. And so as I sort of decided, like, I'm not sure this is the path for me, I realized, like loving these one on one interactions with people where we can be vulnerable and true to ourselves. And then it was like, oh, therapy is like that. So that's kind of how I made that switch.

Jera Brown  04:13

I think a lot of people can relate to different pieces of that. Totally. Yeah. Where a lot of a struggle is, is replacing, I mean, replacing the community aspects for sure. And replacing that sense of purpose.

Krista Wilson  04:29

Yeah. And I think to what comes up for me there is also learning to trust your intuition about those things about like, what type of community then does fit for you, and learning about like how to find that new purpose and that new sense of here's my meaning in the world now.

Jera Brown  04:48

trusting your intuition. I think that's a great lead in. So as I told you, like, This podcast is very new. And I was thinking about it sort of as the More sexual focused or erotic version of on being. Yeah. That idea that's so beautiful. Yeah. Because I think what happens for a lot of us and I've found this I mean, it's not just around Christianity but you know, the Judeo Christian model has influenced a lot of different types of faith and colonialization has influenced a lot of religious backgrounds. So purity cultures sort of spread throughout it in various ways. And what has been shut off is erotic ways of loving, you know, yes. And so you had specifically talked about what came up for you was what that means in terms of self love, I guess just start there like what? What does self love mean to you in this context of sex? sexuality, eroticism?

Krista Wilson  05:50

Yes. Well, I kind of come to this from like an embodiment perspective. So understanding that the fullness of care for ourselves or for somebody else comes from the body mind spirit connection. So like, there's this sense of like, I think in purity culture, like we have the mind connection, okay, we've got that part, we have this sense of maybe a spiritual connection, although that might be kind of limited based on sort of the limitations of fear and shame, but then the body connection is an interesting one because it's almost like there are sort of these two beings that are empty as they come to each other and then are filled up by the body connection. So it's almost like the body connection sort of only matters as much as it is defining or filling for the other person involved. And so this is like this weird overarching codependency where the they show up as to sort of empty people being like define me make this okay for me make it safe for me. And and so the idea there is like, talking about self love and embodiment, I think eroticism comes to the forefront in some ways. It's like this idea that instead of this being something that can only be fulfilled outside of you by someone else, and you're empty until somebody else fills it up. And then for, you know, people who are, you know, who have female genitalia, like it's literal filling up like, yeah, that there's this sense of like, Wait, hang on. What if self love could be full? What if it could be a mind body spirit connection, less platonic, like World of forms and world of matter? but more like, this central idea of like, no, within me, is this fullness. And so I, I believe that a practice of masturbation within a framework of self love, body mind spirit is quite beautiful, can be an incredible discovery and exploration. And then I think when we show up to provide physical erotic love for somebody else, there's this fullness we come from, instead of it being two empty people trying to create something that's quite impossible, which is like pouring from an empty vessel, that kind of a thing. We show up with this sense of knowing who we are, and knowing how we feel when we're full on our own. And then to your point of service from that place is just so much more full and beautiful. So those are my thoughts on it. I'm wondering kind of how that's hitting you and what's coming up.

Jera Brown  08:39

So many things. I feel like, you know, when you you have coffee with somebody and you're like, Alright, I'm going to keep points A, B and C in the back of my mind and then Yes, totally, and that's okay. Okay. I think so one of the things that strikes me is growing up in evangelicalism, I was taught a What's his name? The Narnia writer,

Krista Wilson  09:03

CS Lewis. Yeah. Yeah, our homeboy. Exactly, yeah.

Jera Brown  09:08

wrote a book about the four kinds of love. And yes, I think what we were taught is that eroticism was like the one that was downplayed, you know, like, this is very reserved for specific types of relationships and different ways of being and it was not the ideal form of love, you know, and the ideal forms of love, were often solely giving. service oriented, completely selfless. That combined with this whole idea of like, becoming an empty vessel for God. I think it really influenced the way a lot of us learn how to show up in a relationship. They were supposed to be selfless sit, only serving others, because like that was sort of the ideal Christian form and I loving it. So we have this really warped sense of what it means to love once ourselves. Because it I think it feels like there's a lot of not hypocrisy, but paradoxes inside of that that never got, we never figured out.

Krista Wilson  10:15

Yes, absolutely, yeah, so there's that I'm gonna forget who it's by. But there's a really good little book called a glimpse of Jesus, the stranger to self hatred. And basically, what the the point of the book is, is like, so many Christians walk around with doctrine induced self hatred, that there's like, this idea that like, the self needs to be so small, it is not trusted, your internal world is probably evil. And so like, let's don't go there. Let's become outward focused people, service focused people. And honestly, in my mind, there's sort of this broad codependency that happens again, where it's like, when you look to that service and those interactions to fulfill your sense of self. And so they they don't actually meet that sort of self sacrificing like true, altruistic, it's more really that you're finding like fulfillment in it, but sort of an empty fulfillment that ends up coming back to bite you and then ends up in some cases, even fueling cycles of abuse, where like, that's where you're finding your sense of I'm okay in the world. And that's such a powerful feeling that you will seek out.

Jera Brown  11:35

And in my own self worth journey, I had this amazing therapist years ago in my, in my mid 20s. The first time I was really in love, thank God, I had this person in my life to help me. Oh, I'm

Krista Wilson  11:48

so glad to hear that. That's Yeah,

Jera Brown  11:51

I don't know. I having the wrong therapist is horrible. Having the right therapist is amazing.

Krista Wilson  11:59

Yes, it's so true. So anybody who's listening, if you think even if you sort of doubt that you have the wrong therapist, go find a different thing. There are so many therapists and you get to shop.

Jera Brown  12:12

Yeah, totally. Yeah, exactly. And it's not you. It's not you, it's so real. So So this therapist happened to be Buddhist, and really led me on this Buddhist journey of discovering self worth. And that's really, when I started realizing that what I was taught about Christianity, about self worth was not serving me anymore. So learning that I just didn't intrinsically love myself, in my mid 20s, was this huge shock. And it started me on this journey of what does it mean then to like, love myself, or, or just have intrinsic worth? And the thing that was the hardest for me to figure out was, what does that mean, in my romantic and sexual relationships? Because it's built on desire, and like they need what does it matter if I think I'm beautiful? Because I'm not the one fucking myself? You know? Yes,

Krista Wilson  13:11

absolutely. Right. Yeah, I need that that like, reflected desire almost.

Jera Brown  13:18

Right? Yeah. It just created this huge conundrum. And ultimately, I think I finally at I'm 39. Now, I finally got to this point where I'm actually Okay, being alone, if I don't find somebody that thinks I'm as amazing as I think I am. And I think what kept me from ultimately, like, learning to completely love myself was the fear that the fear of being alone, you know, yes.

Krista Wilson  13:50

I think that this is a broader issue with self love in the form of masturbation, because there is sort of a connotation around it of like, well, you only do that if you're alone. And I think that that's not just evangelicalism that's actually brought our culture. And I think that this is shifting, which is very, very good. Unfortunately, underneath that is sort of patriarchal views of pleasure. I believe very, very fully that this sense of self love not being attached to fear of loneliness or sadness around loneliness is allowing it to have a full expression, disconnected from those fears and those sadnesses. Or even as a form of healing of those fears and sadnesses, but only ever like in that forward.

Jera Brown  14:42

And I think part of what helps detach those connections between masturbation and loneliness or just being alone is, there's also this patriarchal idea that's attached to masturbation that if you're in a fully satisfying relationships that you you don't need to masturbate. So you only masturbate when you're single. Right? And that, once again comes from the fear that you're not fully satisfying your partner, if they're masturbating.

Krista Wilson  15:13

Yes, absolutely. And the idea to that like that you can find this one person who fulfills every possible need that you write, which is like, it's funny, because I don't think, at least with the men that I've worked with, that is not a concept that they have of the idea that any time they feel desire, their partner should be there to, like, help them with it. They have the sense of like, No, no, I take care of myself. But when I do think that there's a little bit of a double standard there. And this is definitely a purity culture idea is like, you really shouldn't even be having sexual desire unless your husband is present or unless like, and and to kind of let ourselves go with that and be like, wow, that's not very human. Yeah.

Jera Brown  16:02

Or it reminds me a lot of Glennon Doyle's memoir, where she discovers her husband's porn addiction, and they end up getting divorced because of it. Because, you know, and I don't know, there's a lot of ... porn is such a tricky topic. And well, porn addiction is a tricky topic. But I do think that that's where men, or specifically cis men, have the same restrictions put on them, like maybe you can masturbate, but only thinking about your partner, as soon as you start having other fantasies or involving pornography or something, then it goes back into that same ...

Krista Wilson  16:42

Yes. And that actually reminds me about what you said earlier with, like, all of the limitations around Eros or erotic love. In the version we were given — and this is definitely in evangelical, fundamentalist church. But honestly, also, we have to say that through colonialism, that's really the foundation of America in some ways. So like, this idea that like Eros is completely accepted erotic love is completely accepted within these particular boxes and bounds. So Sis, man, sis woman relationship created in marriage, like, Okay, then everything's on the table, let's go and have fun. But again, not very human, it doesn't really speak to the fact that we start having these very natural and beautiful urges when we're like, you know, between 12 and 14 years old. And so what are we supposed to do with that the whole time, just kind of reject it, and repress it and deny it, exile it in ourselves. And so then, of course, we come to relationships where, well, now Eros is on the table. But I've been holding it back and denying it so long that like, my expression of it may not really feel true to myself, or it may feel way broader than I thought I wanted it to be. But now I'm sort of in this box, where this is the only kind of that's allowed. So I think that just the shame and the fear there is overwhelming.

Jera Brown  18:04

So I went to Taylor University.

Krista Wilson  18:06

Oh, no way my dad went to Taylor. My pastor dad went to Taylor.

Jera Brown  18:12

Yeah, I have mixed feelings about it. Now obviously, sure, sure, about the community aspects of it, but it was very conservative. And we had this beloved professor who taught me a lot about sociology, I guess. But he had this metaphor for sex and sexuality that he used, he talked about somebody going to a restaurant, and sitting down and looking around at all the different tables, and nobody was eating the food, they were all doing different things with it, you know, like somebody was like smothering themselves with it, or throwing it all these different ways of eating of utilizing food. And he saw that as indicative of sort of how we can use sex in culture, that it stops being nourishing if you're not using it in the right way. And wow, right. This is such a conservative Christian way of viewing it. This is the proper way. being sexually nourished and everything else is just madness.

Krista Wilson  19:17

Oh, my goodness, yes.

Jera Brown  19:18

Go Go on. You have thought?

Krista Wilson  19:22

What does that what's bringing that up for me is like so many metaphors that I that come to my office with regard to sex in Christian fundamental culture that just evangelicalism that tend to be about food that tend to be about whether or not we're consuming something and whether or not it's nourishing us

Jera Brown  19:46


Krista Wilson  19:48

And I think I I don't I don't know there's a part of me that's like Yeah, okay. There's similar connections in the brain happening with these things. I get it okay from like a neurobiological standpoint, but like It's such a reduction of what that moment can be and of what that expression can be. And then certainly a reduction of what it can be with regard to self love and masturbation.

Jera Brown  20:10

Yeah, I two things. One being I think it was a moment of revelation when I realized that any, any of my sexual play, kink sex, or whatever, didn't have to be meaningful, it could just be pleasurable, and still be completely okay. And I think growing up in a Christian mindset, like we have this idea that everything has to have this forward moving meaning in order to be worth our time or energy, which is just not true. And I wanted to then come back to this idea of instinct, then as when we're being formed, our sexual beings are being formed in adolescence, and we're getting these messages about what's correct. I think we do is touch with that. Those instinctual desires, that we have ways of connecting with ourselves ways of connecting with other people. And, obviously, masturbation, masturbation practice is a wonderful way to start learning how to reconnect to your body with its natural instincts. But what what else comes to mind about like learning, learning how to trust your body, your body and your sexual selves, innate desires?

Krista Wilson  21:35

Yes, wow. I mean, this is such a hard one, because the messaging started so young, gray. So there's a little bit here of understood, I think I honestly, where my mind goes to is a concept called radical acceptance, which is the idea that like you have to look at your life as what it is, and then begin the process of how you would honestly like to change it. But so many of us spend a lot of time trying to push forward change when we haven't accepted the reality. So the reality here is that from the moment that you were able to intake stimuli, and messaging and programming and conditioning, you were told, this is what sex looks like, this is what it's for. This is the only time you can trust your body around it. And you, I think that it's a process of unlearning and relearning and beginning to really trust your worthiness and your intuition to teach you this again. So in a way, like I do, there's a little bit of like, maybe inner child work that comes up here to me, which is like to go back to those moments. When you were like, you know, I don't know for like, for me, I have a moment where like, when I was little, I was caught masturbating. And I was like, given a stuffed animal to be like, try and hold this instead, like, and this is, like, this is the comfort you really want is this stuffed animal. And I mean, I love stuffed animals, like who cares, right? But, but it was this moment of like, and my honestly, my parents were very kind about it. They weren't in a space of like you terrible human, like, there was a sweetness about it. But it was still the messaging of like, this is not a safe space for comfort. And I really believe that part of my work has been going back to that little kid and being like, Yes, it is. It totally is. Like, you get to believe that that's actually a safe space for comfort and pleasure and like allowing you that release at the end of the day to fall sweetly asleep. Get to have that friend, I think for me, I would say where I go to about how do we start to trust that again, is like it what what you spoke to earlier belief in our innate worthiness, and then that from that comes the ability to trust our intuition. And then the grace to have with ourselves that this is a practice. This is like going to the gym, it's going to suck at first we're going to hate it. And then two weeks in, we'd be like, Oh, I felt a little better. And then three months, and we'd be like, this actually feels okay.

Jera Brown  24:15

So, radical acceptance reminds me ... Tara Brach wrote a book about radical acceptance. And I was listening to her podcast, and she has an episode two episodes, really about the wisdom of the body. Yeah, that it's really good. By the way, she's really good. And she talked about how in Buddhist mindset, the mind is incredibly powerful, useful, but it should be a servant to the body. It shouldn't lead the body and that your body holds the wisdom of the universe inside of it. And I've been thinking about that. And it's very humbling to me to think about this. The I'm so minori Dude, I just feel like, then I am a novice when it comes to seeking wisdom, because I'm not listening to my body for it, you know? And absolutely,

Krista Wilson  25:12

Yeah, that feels. So just as you're talking like, that idea hits me in a place that feels like very tender and very precious, like kind of this sense of like, what if we got to become a people who trusted that first? And what if in like those moments because, you know, evangelical culture is so centered around reason. It's really one of the ways that it developed was like, What if we begin to teach these things to our children in a certain way? And like, what if we begin to say that Bible is inerrant and like, I mean, this is kind of where it came from. And, and these are not right, these are not bad ideas from their start. But the play, the way that they went, was into this space that is so separated from the material world, that like that idea that we have this innate wisdom within us, that is a good and beautiful, trustworthy, safe thing. But we've sort of gone into this, like, No, we need to be more cerebral. I think that those moments would be so transformed as we teach our children and as we care for each other, if we and as we showed up sexually for ourselves, and for other people, like imagine going into, like, for you your work, and like, you know, for me, like self love, and then sexual experience with the idea of like, I'm going to trust the wisdom of my body. And I'm going to tune in to the wisdom of this other person's body like, wow, different. So So definitely.

Jera Brown  26:54

Tara was talking about a on the podcast again, she was talking to a friend who tried to stay with the body throughout the process of the day. And when he wrote on the subway, he could stay in his body, and it was fine. And when he was sitting on his desk at work, it was fine. But then as soon as he tried to get into a conversation with somebody, it got so much harder. And he realized that when he stuck with his body, all of his interactions with other humans were more vulnerable. Yes. And that was another thing that struck me is I mean, I wrote a piece on my blog on Scarlet shut calm about how hard it is to keep my eyes open during sex. And this is Oh, yeah, sure. This is what it reminds me of is that listening to the body actually means listening to something core inside of us, as opposed to the messaging. And when we're connecting with other people in a more holistic way, if it's through our body, or through a spiritual connection, and not just this mental mask that we wear, then it's it is more vulnerable. Absolutely.

Krista Wilson  28:12

And yes, because Okay, so this, what this kind of brings up for me is the, and I think that these are somewhat reductionistic terms, but the, you know, Freud's understanding of the personality, which is that we have the super ego, which is kind of the internal manager or parent that sort of lives in our brain or hovers above us. We have the ego, which is centered, like the the sort of internal adult that is connected to the wisdom of the body, that centered more around like our heart or our stomach, like where our emotions and intuition live. And then we have the ID, which is the child that's kind of connected to our sex center. So like a little bit lower in our body and very connected to the body, but in terms of instincts, and like fear and survival kind of stuff. And so what what's fascinating about that is like, if we talk about what you just, you know, set about sort of where you find your consciousness during sex or during interactions with people, I think so many of us go into that sort of internal parent or manager mode, where we're attempting to protect and control rather than showing up in the ego, where like, we are open and in touch with both our reason and our emotions, actually three things and our body like there's this, this more centered feeling. But I think that like one of the reasons we do that is it's so much easier if our internal parent or manager this like sort of cerebral projected space of us, if that part gets rejected, and so much harder. If that grounded space and us gets rejected.

Jera Brown  29:57

There's so much there. You know about it. And once again, I think I think what what we're getting to is the point that learning how to stay connected to the body learning how to listen to the body's wisdom, acting or living through an embodied self love is actually completely transformative of No, yeah, rewrites the whole story. Yeah, choosing sexual partners that one can be comfortable with, in this way, learning how to handle rejection. Yes, learning how to show up in the moment, like all these things, and I think this is why it takes time. But then it one of the things that I keep thinking about is like, oh, the mistakes are going to be so much more painful, you know, and yes, then going and say, This is still worthwhile, and the authentic, more fully lived experience that I will get to is worthwhile.

Krista Wilson  30:58

Absolutely. And that that to me, then comes back to that trust of our innate worthiness and our trust of our intuition. Because if we have the resilience and resourcefulness of those two things, then when the mistake happens, and it's big, and it's scary, and our vulnerable self was actually on the line, we'll be like, Nope, I am a worthy child of the universe. I get to show up here, just like the trees in the stars. And so here I am to try again.

Jera Brown  31:25

You went from Moody Bible Institute, being this called on worship leader to somehow learning how to trust your intuition and rejecting purity culture. Was there any big moment where that happened? Can you touch on that?

Krista Wilson  31:45

What's funny, Jera, is it was the wisdom of my body was? Yeah, it was. So I was in ...  I got married at 19 within purity culture, right. So like, basically, we were gonna have sex. So because we've been dating for five years, so like, it was gonna happen, like, so we should get married, because that's how this works. Right, guys. So, so, I was within sort of these systems of, I mean, just the systems of like, the repression of these things have the it can only show up this way, for a very, very long time. And so I mean, you know, the first really 25, solid 25 solid years of my life, and then probably between 25 and 29, I started to be like, Wait, hang on. And I was just experiencing so much anxiety in my body. So many of the symptoms of depression, which if we look at religious trauma syndrome, these things aren't they had the comorbidity they often get misdiagnosed. And I went through a season where I was so disconnected from my own body, and from my own sense of self in the world, that it was like, what's the point of showing up to life tomorrow. So starting to experience some passive suicidality. And that was a moment where like, the, the wisdom of my body was, like, open Nope, gotta change it. Like we just have to, there was this internal space. And it's not even a voice because the voices are more cerebral. It was like an internal gut, like knowing that I had to shift gears. And part of that was to start a healing journey about this conditioning for me about the fact that I was so afraid that I was unworthy, and needing to start to be like, Wait, where's that coming from? And what's happening to me? Why am I so disillusioned? I'm in my late 20s, like, aren't you supposed to have your shit together, like, and so the beautiful thing is that, like, my body just kind of shut down, it was like, we are no longer going to work for you in this space friend, like, we've got to switch. And so I went into like a space of, you know, what's categorized as depression. For me, honestly, it was an awakening. It was like, Oh, I actually don't operate healthfully in the world when I am forcing myself to operate within these constructs. And within this self denial, so it sounds it's weird to say it, but it was, you know, a season of intense anxiety and depression that kind of culminated in this moment where my body just said, That's enough. And I had to start to redefine things. And as therapists we laugh, we say, like, people don't actually change until they're like, backed into a corner and nothing else is working. And I tend to think that's true. I think we can sometimes if we really want to, but until we have that moment of like, Oh, this is truly not working for me. And so I got to have that moment and I look back on it now and Wow, it's kind of sacred to me that like, it was a beautiful and powerful thing. It obviously didn't feel like it in the moment, but it really was,

Jera Brown  35:09

what are some steps to establishing a better masturbation practice? Yeah.

Krista Wilson  35:17

So I think couching it in love in the ways that are very practical. So I think setting up the space is a really important part of this setting up not just the external space of like, Is there a candle? Is there music is there? Like, what is it that you know, feels erotic and like almost, you're taking care of yourself as you would another person. And then the internal space of like, this is a gift and a pleasure I'm offering to myself. But I think one of the really important thing is as we talk about it being a practice, and I think you're so right, that like, self-love, masturbation is such a powerful way to practice rewriting these things in practice making new connections in the brain. Part of that is to pay close attention to how you feel afterwards. So a lot of us experience a lot of us, especially from purity culture, experience, like shame and self-hatred directly after I shouldn't have done this, why can I like why am I turned on by the things that turn me on, I'm such a terrible person, this kind of thing. And that's the moment when I think our internal conditioning shows up and can be redirected. So I believe setting the space in a very loving way is setting the internal space in a very loving way. Being non judgmental, during especially about what turns us on, we are human beings. And we get turned on by what we get turned on by and then following paying close attention to what the messaging is after. So if you're experiencing a bunch of shame and fear, have grace for yourself, that makes sense. But start to maybe challenge those voices start to be like, Hey, I get why you're doing this. This was this used to be self protection, right? It used to be that you were trying to train yourself out of something you were told was very bad for you and bad for the people around you. But we don't actually believe that anymore. And so what's the intuition, your body tell you, oh, my gosh, my body feels so good. And my body feels so relaxed, and my body feels like I could be a creative force in the world for good and for anything. Oh, wow. Okay, that's a very different message than like, you just did something that's bad for you and bad for everyone else. So I think starting to hone in on that after moment, sort of the afterglow of self love, and the messaging that's coming out during that time.

Jera Brown  37:49

I will admit to not having a good masturbation self practice. And I think one of the things that I struggle with and actively working on is trying to mix up what I use to be turned on. So as someone that creates fetish clips, I'm very much not anti porn. And I think that porn can be useful. It can also be a stumbling block, I think. Because it can separate us from our bodies when we're using. Yes, looking for the next clip, or whatever it is, I absolutely, personally trying to do a couple things. One is, I'm on this journey to heal my own broken queerness while the like, messages around queerness that I've absorbed, I'm utilizing porn as a way of being like, these two femme bodied people, or whatever fucking is really hot. And I'm going to use so like, in one way, I think porn content, especially, you should always pay for your porn folks. But independent, autonomous porn can open us up to things that we've had shame around. But then also, I'm trying to utilize my brain more to imagine scenarios in which are more healing or comforting and not just being visually based.



Jera Brown  39:14

Which once again, then, you know what, I'm just going to ask you about this, I think like you turn on, it's such a mental thing for me. Like how, how many Okay, recommend, like, balancing that,

Krista Wilson  39:28

you know, yes, yes. So this is beautiful. This is actually kind of where I'm at, in my practice of it. Because Yeah, like, I mean, for me, like, sometimes I will use porn. Sometimes I will use like, an erotic lit. But actually, there are a couple really good apps. When Yeah, yeah. So one's called coral. And the other one is called Oh boy. Oh m joy, e m j. Why, and they have erotic stories. So it's like literally like your, it's like audio book kind of, but they're like, you know, you know, between like three and 10 minutes long depending on how long you need it to be. And they're different scenarios. So you get to kind of pick one choose what you like. The other thing here is what but what those apps do, it's really cool. There's sexual wellness for women for the most part. And then what what they do is they actually have sort of guide, it's like guided meditation, self massage. So it's like, they teach you how to literally be turned on by just self touch, treating yourself like a goddess, touching yourself that way. So that it becomes something that you literally can't like, you can have something in your head if you'd like to. But it's very much about like, how do you turn your own body on just by your body, like, so I yeah, I recommend that. The other thing that comes up for me here, I am a big proponent of the authentic sex podcast by Julia Allen and kind of a lot of her work around this. And that and she's very big into sort of being able to have sexual experience that is just entirely body based and how that works. And, you know, modern, particularly like sis women being sort of very invested in clitoral orgasm, even achieve seizures addicted to because we don't know enough about our bodies to know that that's not the only option. So I would say just a starter pack of these things is like check out the coral app, check out me joy, e m, JOY, and then a bit and the authentic sex podcast. But then ultimately, like, I also think that this is a wisdom of the body moment where like, lay down, set the stage, and then explore like, discover yourself in the way that you wished a lover always would. And it's just see what happens like that, again, there's, that's a place where like, we can be vulnerable and make mistakes. And there isn't this risk, because we're the only one there. And we may need to take care of ourselves after it. But we can do that, like we can be resilient and resourceful in doing that.

Jera Brown  42:15

I think I just have one of those aha moments that as a cerebral person, it never struck me that I can just be in my body and not need like this fantasy to go along with it.

Krista Wilson  42:25

Yeah, yes.

Jera Brown  42:26

Yeah, no, that's really helpful. And once again, this is about being able to be vulnerable. And just being with the body. I think those mental escapes are our crutches. I mean, they're not always bad, obviously. Sometimes, yes. No,

Krista Wilson  42:41

I think where I would land with that is like having a balanced practice. So like, here's the thing, right? We live life for humans. So somedays the idea of like, I'm going to take a hot bath. And then I'm going to set the stage in my room light a candle and like, sometimes it's like, okay, yeah, that sounds fun if I didn't have 15 minutes before I'm dead asleep, like. So sometimes I think turning on something that just is erotic  and makes us feel good is fine. But I think that if that's the only thing that you're doing, there's this other aspect of it — this other really fullness of you that you're missing out on. So I would say balance.

Jera Brown  43:22

Love it. Well, thank you so much for joining me, I think is great. Is there is that you want to say that  we haven't touched on?

Krista Wilson  43:33

Yeah, good question. You know, just as people are discovering, or have discovered your space in the world, and the important and nuanced and human conversations that you're having, that they practice loving kindness towards themselves through all of this process, and that that's something that evangelical culture kind of, really misses out on we practice like, pressured service toward the other. And we really practice not very much towards ourselves besides sometimes like self flagellation and improvement. And so the idea of offering to yourself loving kindness during even just listening to content like this and what it might bring up for you to seeking out the support that you need if some of this stuff feels triggering, and then just giving yourself space and time to coming to hear authentic expression of you.

Jera Brown  44:32

Find out more about Krista and her practice @existencetherapy on Instagram and Facebook.