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Dr. Pacik


“Understand that if we decide to have sex whether safe, safer, or unsafe, it is our decision and you have no rights in our lovemaking.”
~ Derek Jarman

In the animal kingdom, birds, bees and beasts instinctively know how to reproduce and rear young. They even know to digest specific herbs, shells, bones, and barks to cure disease or rid themselves of parasites, without any veterinarian’s prescription. But human beings must be initiated into sexual life and taught how to keep ourselves safe and healthy. As young people, we learn the mechanics of sexual intercourse mainly by description (often provoking considerable surprise!) And we must study safety. In fact, the evolving social complexity of our species distances us increasingly from our natural instincts. Ironically, our reliance on experienced others for survival rules creates a novel risk, since caregivers may teach the negative, fearful thinking or self-destructive tendencies they learned, and thus lay the groundwork for children’s retraumatization as adults.

Such harm occurs so often that many people don’t feel safe in safety. It isn’t familiar. What’s familiar is having the rug pulled out from under them. Their experience demonstrates why transparency, recovery, and accountability are so important. Only once we’ve learned how to be safe with ourselves–once we’re not unconsciously trying to kill ourselves–can we be, and feel, safe with others. For example, some may see unprotected sex as symbolic of intimacy, freedom, and honesty. But in reality it can be a cold, disconnecting act to ignore personal safety and peace of mind. If someone sees sex as only something that happens between body parts, then, sure, anything less than bare skin can’t satisfy. But when we learn to value our entire body and well-being, healthy sex includes caring for our safety and the safety of others. More explosively intimate than a part touching a part is a heart touching a heart. This sacred vulnerability necessitates the safety of sober love.

• How safe is your sex? Can you distinguish healthy risks from flirting with disaster? On a piece of paper, draw two columns marked “SAFE” and “UNSAFE,” and list your actual and potential sexual and romantic activities in the column that fits.
• Fire Drill Kits are healthy tools to use when triggered. These include phone numbers of your therapist, sponsor, or supportive friends; self-regulating exercises to restore emotional sobriety; and inspirational readings to remind you of your integrity. Assemble a fire drill kit today and keep it close.

From the MIRROR OF INTIMACY book The Daily Meditation Book by Alexandra Katehakis and Tom Bliss