I am often asked about questions of “attachment” when working so intimately with hands on sexual practitioners, sexological body workers, sacred intimates and dakas. I always answer the inquiries with the truth – of course there is attachment and it comes and goes. Recently I went looking for a blog that didn’t make it into Shameless – and I thought that sharing my moment of realizing that I was becoming very attached to Markus, The Tantric Tiger would be helpful.
So what follows is a scene that never made it into the book – I was driving up to Easton Mountain for a Body Electric Retreat with my friend Corrine….
And the blog begins.....
As, I drove to Corrine, to pick her up for our drive to Easton Mountain, I started to replay my last session with Markus when he gave me a lesson on giving a back rub - an kind of intro to basic massage. I had never touched his body before and it shocked me how much I enjoyed touching him and giving him pleasure.
How much I loved rubbing his back, holding his head in my hands - and having the freedom to run my fingers over his back from the base of his spin to his hair.
And then, I was hit with a startling realization. That it was not just the beauty of his body and the opportunity to simply just touch him back (something that I did not usually get invited to do in session) that I was savoring - it was the intimacy that I was feeling between us.
The relationship that had formed in almost a year of weekly three hour visits, telephone conversations, field trips and emails.
STOP THE CAR.
I actually pulled over, and sat back behind the wheel.
I was growing attached to Markus. This professional relationship was filled with REAL HUMAN INTIMACY - and it was spilling over the boundaries that I was attached to, when I started this work.
I was clear that I was not feeling romantic love for this man. I had no desire to send him valentines or leave my husband. I had no desire for sexual touch with Markus outside of session. But still, this realization that I was feeling any kind of attachment to him sent a crackle of fear down my spine.
I was not suppose to feel attachment, or love - of any kind for my Sexologist or Sacred Intimate! That was the entire point of this - no emotional attachment! But here I was almost a year after I had started working with Markus - and all of a sudden - things were not feeling so neat any more.
I didn't want to leave for my retreat without speaking to Markus. I wish that I could write him. But I was going to be away from technology. So I decided to call him.
"Good morning Goddess!!! How are you today? On the road yet?" Markus greeted me.
"Yes, I am in the car - on my way to Corrine - and I needed to speak to you before I left. Can you talk with me for a little while?" I asked.
"Sure, Pamela - I am all yours. Is everything alright?"
"I don't know how to start - and I am feeling embarrassed and scared - and I guess that I don't have to tell you this - but I want to because it is scaring me on several levels. So just let me get it all out before you respond...... I realized something for the first time. Markus, I am getting really attached to you. I am realizing that I am feelings all these feelings! And it is scaring me. I am feeling love. Love for you! And when I think about it - How could I NOT love you!!!!! Look at all the things that have happened to me because of my work with you?
How could I not loving not being ruled by food addiction? How could I not love feeling my body change slowly? How could I not love feeling healthier? How could I not love feeling in control of my food? How could I not love feeling beautiful? How could I not love feel sexy?
How could I not love feeling my divinity? How could I not love feeling strong inside? How could I not love discovering my sexuality? How could I not love finding out about my sexual desires? How could I not love finding out about spankings? How could I not love sharing my feelings?
How could I not love feeling safe and supported? How could I not love being given handouts to take home and learn? How could I not love being offered guidance? How could I not love being offered health? How could I not love someone caring enough about me to feed me frozen raspberries?
How could I not love learning how to feed them to myself? How could I not love flowers on a bed meant for me? How could I not love learning to look at my own body in the mirror and see my own beauty? How could I not love being bathed and cared for by you?
Markus - How could I not love the person that is bringing me these gifts?" And these feelings are breaking all the rules.."
I think I might have drawn a breath. "Markus are you there? Did you hang up? Is it wrong for me to love you? I am feeling so frightened that you are going to tell me that I am too emotionally dependent on you now - and walk away from me in fear!! How can I express how I feel in a safe way and honest way - because I do not know how to do anything else..that does not break boundaries - and ruin all the things that are new and loving and good?
Am I suppose to deny? In order to keep what I am loving so much? I know who you are, Markus. You are my teacher. I know who I am, I am your student. Your client. We are not friends - really. We are not lovers. Yet I want to tell you that I am feeling love for you. And that makes me feel so vulnerable. I want to tell you, and be honest with you about my feelings of attachment without the fear of losing all the things that I love. This love that is bringing me so much richness of experience. So much joy.
But think about it Mark, how could I not love? How could I not feel emotional attachment after all that we have done together? Can I feel those things, be honest with you about them - and not have you 'end the session'? How can I not love? After all that I have experienced - with all the gifts that you have offered me - I would not be human. Please tell me, Markus. How do I not love? Is it wrong that I love? Will I be turned away for loving? I love you and all the gifts that you have brought me. You have helped me start to change my life - and I am just beginning." Tears were flowing - and I was talking between gasps of air."
"Pamela - stop. Breathe a minute. It is all good. I promise you. I receive your love and it does not scare me. I will not send you away for loving. Pammy - I hold love in my heart for you as well. It is all good and natural. It is all received and It's all okay. I receive your love. It is real. My love for you is real.
The structures /boundaries are real too. The people have their limits- the Love, however knows none. A paradox- one of many...Pamela, we can both enjoy the journey. I am too!" Markus took a pause and then continued " Your fears are "old programs" of abandonment when feeling made ashamed of for being "too big" or "too hungry". I'm not abandoning you. You are no longer susceptible either as you are an adult, a very powerful one as well! It's just old programs."
"But Markus - I PAY YOU. I pay to see you. You are a 'hired coach of love and spiritual guidance. You are not really even my friend in the truest sense of the word."
"Pamela, In this economy/culture people pay me so that I can pay my rent and my organic grocery bills!! What you pay for is the rate for my TIME. Everything else in the session is a GIFT from Heaven. I believe that it is the "Gods" gifting me to guide the session, and myself as well!
I don't have an agenda or even sometimes an idea about the WHAT, where, or activity in some of the sessions. Most want bodywork as we are a touch starved people.
Our connection and love, your feelings- all REAL.
The circumstances are arranged- not unlike a good theater experience- beautiful, cathartic, we are transformed and moved. Kate, do we fall in "love " and go home with the players in the Theater? No, we don't need to! We go back to our lives transformed with new "spunk" for living. But Pamela - what you are saying is real ANYWAY. Our relationship is real. About what you FEEL about me is real.
But go deeper. Please go to the source of the wound:The relationship between you and me is second to your relationship with YOURSELF, between your feelings and YOU. Your feelings are Trans-personal. They go beyond our personal limits - Real love does. Our relationship is TRANS personal, it goes beyond a "married woman with kids" and "a single gay man". I am the Goddess for you. I am the God for you. I awaken YOU to awaken HER - your "not so in hiding", Goddess." Markus stopped there and waited.
"I trust you, Markus. Not to hurt me. I am just scared that this feeling of attachment will hurt me in some way. And that it is wrong for me to have these feelings. In some ways I have, from day one, given you my heart and asked you not to break it on so many levels." I put my head back on the rest in the car.
"Dear sweet Pamela, your trust is the most precious! I do hold your beating heart in my hands. I do know the trust that you have given me and I am, as always deeply moved by you. Yes, more raspberries are ready to be spooned to you with sweetness. You are my Beloved, you will always be.
Nothing can change that. That is trans relational......My goal is for you to feel that, live that, carry that seed that I (we) plant beyond the time that our work sessions comes to a close."
I felt better. I understood more - and it felt right to share and have this conversation with Markus. I guess if this was regular therapy this would be called transference. But I felt safe now in my feelings - and it was important for me to know that what I was feeling was real. And not just a part of my payment schedule. That the intimacy and affection between us was real - not imagined. Markus said a lot to me, and so much of it made sense - and gave me a context in which to look at my feelings. I had so much to think about. I never realized just how much trust and intimacy I had with this man. And perhaps - because of the safe container that I built with him - the intimacy and the caring - perhaps that is how I have been able to move on this road of personal growth and transformation. Maybe, it could not be done without love and intimacy. All of that surrendering!!!! And I was on my way to experience more.
That blog was written many years ago. I no longer do sessions with Markus - he is now a good friend. I still care deeply about him - and I never had the feeling to move past love to lover. It just never happened. But this can be a tricky landscape for some women doing hands on work especially if they are not working with a hands on practitioner that is not in integrity. That is why I tell women if they are interested in doing hands on work with a practitioner that it is often best to do this with the help and assistance of a sexuality coach that is familiar with this kind of healing work.