How Three Unlikely Things Came Together to give me Clarity, in the Shower

My brain and the Universe have two things in common, they both work in mysterious ways and they both somehow manage to enlighten me when I least expect it. On this most recent occasion, I was in the shower, the place where I do most of my important business brainstorming. Interestingly, there is science behind that. You see, when we step away from a problem and engage in seemingly mindless and routine tasks, like showering, going for a walk, or making tea or coffee, our brain can rest and wander. In my case, as I reached for the body wash, my ‘Aha!’ moment occurred. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so first, let me explain my problem. You see, even though I completed my studies over a month ago, graduated, and am now a Certified Sex Coach, I have been struggling with how to market myself. The main reason? I still didn’t know who I wanted to market my business to. Without someone to speak to, I was at a loss to know exactly what I should talk about.

If I could, in an ideal world, I would help all the people. I recall saying that on a few occasions when asked who my niche client is. I just want to support everyone. I even set out to do just that, bucking the system that told me that I couldn’t do it all. For the record, I’ve been trying to buck systems for quite some time. Trying being the operative word here. So, there I sat, for months, even before I graduated, trying to figure out how I would get around this system and be superwoman. I would be a fully accessible coach, open for business to anyone that needed my support. Who needs to niche, not me! You probably already see where this is headed; I have done my best to set it up for you. Instead of having amazing and brilliant topics to talk about, a plethora of things to say, endless ways of connecting with people on social media, I sat stumped in front of my computer. So instead, I tried to go cerebral with my content, I wrote about sexology and science. It wasn’t enough, and what little content I was posting wasn’t really getting much engagement. Something was definitely missing. I was saying things, but not really speaking to anyone. Worst of all, I wasn’t even getting deep into the topics that really sit on my heart and beg to be let out into the world.

To say this didn’t take a toll on me would be a complete lie. I was in a complete depressive funk. How would I ever get my business going if I couldn’t figure out how to connect with people? I was getting so frustrated that I basically just shut down. I went into default mode. For me that involves putting on the mask and going through the motions. Smiling and telling everyone that things are great, because that is what you are supposed to do. Years of dealing with high functioning anxiety and depression had turned me into a really great actress. I know exactly how to act and what to say so that no one finds out that I am a complete mess on the inside. I’m not supposed to be falling apart, after all, I have too much to do. And certainly, I should not be putting any of my burdens onto anyone else. At least that’s what I have been conditioned to believe.

Enter, from stage left, a book about Evangelicalism failing a generation, a conversation about consent and social media, and a cartoon horse named Spirit. These three things converged together in my brain and came out as my Aha! moment in the shower.

Earlier this week I began reading the book Testimony: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Failed a Generation by Jon Ward. I am about halfway through the book, and so far, have been taken on a journey through Jon’s early years as a child and then young man growing up deep within the evangelical church. While I was not as deep as he was, many of his stories echo that of some of my own experiences within this movement. One of the experiences that has stood out the most for me, so far, is the ability of the church leaders to ingrain messages of complete detachment from body, mind, and spirit in their followers. In removing all autonomy and bodily agency, church leaders were able to maintain power and control over their congregations. This book has been fascinating and eye opening so far, and I’m sure will be filled with additional insights and thought-provoking stories.

In a recent group meeting related to the sexuality field, I brought an idea I had for a group discussion. Consent and social media have been on my mind lately, especially with the recent removal and short-term bans of several sex positive educators from a popular social media outlet. This has brought up many thoughts and feelings for me around how I show up in the social media space. Both as someone that posts content, but as a consumer of the content that others post. What is our responsibility as content creators? How do I show up in a way that represents who I am, provide content that is accurate, informative, and entertaining, and respects the boundaries of those that view my content? While there is some implied consent once someone clicks that Follow button, are there situations where boundaries may be crossed? Boundaries and autonomy get quite tricky when you cross into the digital world of excess. This is a space where people have access to us in a very unique way, not physically, but mentally and emotionally. While physical harm cannot be inflicted, mental and emotional harm runs rampant. How do we protect mental autonomy and agency of people we don’t even know? Finally, are we even responsible for doing so?

Image from Spirit movie by Dreamworks

Spirit, for those that may not be familiar, is a character in a Dreamworks franchise. Spirit is also a horse, but not just any horse, he is an American Mustang that cannot be tamed. Spirit has been a staple in our home for a few years now, thanks to my daughter’s healthy obsession with all things horses. Because of this we recently viewed one of the Spirit movies. What stuck most in my brain about the movie was Spirit’s battle to not only return to his herd, but to also maintain his autonomy. Throughout the movie Spirit is repeatedly captured. Despite the fences, chains, ropes, and constant attempts at riding him, humans fail to break his spirit. There is a point in the movie when Spirit does allow someone to ride him, but only when he consents. Finally, at the end of the movie Spirit is freed for good. He returns to his herd, bodily autonomy fully intact.

Well, here we are. My pivotal, Aha!, here’s what keeps me up at night, what sparks my soul, shower moment. Ironically, it is something that I have spent many years fighting for, but in the disability space, not the sexuality space. If you have made it this far, you will have realized that my big realization most certainly includes reclaiming autonomy and bodily agency. But it is bigger than that. It is about helping people feel whole. I spent many years of my life feeling like pieces of me were spread out everywhere. I gave parts of myself to my job, my husband, my kids, my parents, to friends, to past partners, to school, and on and on. I let the emotions and opinions of others determine how I felt and what I did with my life. I gave everything away to everyone else, living completely disembodied and outside myself. I was so disconnected from what I wanted; I didn’t even know what I wanted. I had no idea what it felt like to feel real joy or what brought me pleasure.

I finally took the time to slow down, to reconnect with myself and put the pieces back together. Yes, some of that was forced due to the events of the last few years, but it was needed. It is an amazing feeling, one that I want to support others to feel too. Patrick and I named our company Unwinding Pleasure because part of making something whole is untangling the mess and putting it back together again. It took three unrelated things to jumble together in my brain and then unravel into a whole picture, and I couldn’t be more joyful about it.  

Carli Guzowski is a Certified Sex Coach, Clinical Sexologist, Sexual Health, and Wellness Educator, and Pleasure/Kink Activist. She is owner of Unwinding Pleasure, where her main mission is to spread messages of peace, love, pleasure, and acceptance for all. She supports her clients in recognizing the role pleasure plays in leading a more fulfilling, empowered, healthy, and joyful life. She offers Sex/Intimacy Coaching, and Sexual Health/Wellness Education and Workshops. In her free time, Carli enjoys gardening, fast cars, adventures with her family, and sparkly boots.