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Naked and Alone with a Man: A Story of Power

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Intimacy, Journal, Receiving, Resistance, Strength, Surrender, The Erotic, Vulnerability | 0 comments

“Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”

These were the recent words from a healer, a man who met me at my lowest point and, both by proxy and direct intervention, helped me access a state of vitality I’d not felt in years.

I found him in winter 2021. It was the height of a pandemic. I’d just moved to my fourth new town in three years with a partner I was no longer sure I wanted to be with and a child who demanded that we figure it out. I was exhausted and out of ideas.

My body took the brunt of it. Every other month I woke up with a new symptom of the emotional load I was carrying. A neck that couldn’t turn left. A vertebrae knocked out of place. A cough that ripped my throat to shreds. Pain was a constant, and I thought it would define my life from here out. It was a dreadful vista, one I was willing to do anything to get out of.

Including facing one of the greatest fears I had: complete surrender to a man twice my size.

Alone in a Room with a Man

He was described to me as a renegade master massage therapist who had trained for decades in Traditional Chinese Medicine yet held no licenses in any art. He had no fixed price list and his clients more often found him near a specific tree in a park than an office.

I had met him once before the day he first arrived at my house with his table. Both times my body noted the way he towered over me, his chest as broad as a bear’s and hands that could easily wrap around my neck.

Until that point, I always chose women to do my bodywork. Healers, I told myself then, did not trigger dark memories of times I had been naked and powerless. Healers, I told myself, made me feel immediately vulnerable; I shouldn’t have to work to find the feeling.

The idea of being naked and alone in a room with him seemed to go against everything I thought I needed. But something else rose to the top of the ocean of my thoughts: healing often comes in the form of facing the thing we’re most afraid of.

Naked Surrender

Despite my obvious hesitation, he was tender and warm. He agreed to do the first session in my home in an open space with my partner present nearby, and with me only semi-nude. As he tenderized the jagged edges of my constant stress, I felt that his touch contained a healing power unlike anything I’d previously received – it was very strong, deep, and direct. It was exactly what I wanted and had never found.

He affirmed to me that my state was untenable; things were as indeed bad as I’d imagined them. It helped to hear, as I’d been gaslighting myself through the pain for too long. As he offered Chi Nei Tsang (a practice of healing the internal organs through abdominal massage), he asked me to imagine the universe smiling at me, and to imagine myself smiling back. Tears streamed down my face as I wrestled with this idea – I could not believe anyone or anything was looking out for me, but I felt the great desire to experience this truth.

After the two-hour session, I showered the oil off my body and sat in quiet contemplation. I was overcome with an expansive sense of inner safety, and a belief that I deserved to ask for what I wanted.

A Safe Space

Though I’ve seen the term “safe space” pasted on many walls, I’ve rarely believed what was promised. Safety cannot arise in space just because we say so; it is a felt sense that must be experienced in the body. It is highly contextual, and constantly fluctuating.

The trick with feeling safe is knowing that we never truly are. Anyone who has been alive long enough knows that people are as unpredictable as a Jenga tower. Remove one block and the entire foundation can tumble. Contracts of safety are filled with amendments, and can easily be broken, often without intent.

As I continued to invite this healer back, I was starting to see that feeling safe enough to surrender requires feeling safe enough to stand tall when necessary. Even while nude and lying face down.

The Paradox of Erotic Expression

The nude body is a proxy for all things erotic. Even when nudity is in a context that is anything but sexual, the wires easily cross. Most of us are taught to fear and avoid erotic expression or situations in which eroticism is implied through nudity, which is exactly the social conditioning that led me to believe I should only receive bodywork from women.

The paradox of the erotic is that when we shy away from its expression, we are at greater risk of our limits being violated. When we don’t know what we enjoy and what we don’t like, we have no hard nos or fuck yeses to guide us. When we haven’t explored what turns us on and off, we have no voice to shape the experience of our body.

What I’ve learned through the wiser side of sexual education is that by expanding our capacity for pleasure, I am more prone to understand and stand up for my limits.

It turns out that with greater expression comes all forms of greater expression.

Finding Power in My Body

I have received unwanted touch many times in my life. Some of it rather vanilla (the congressman who stroked my arm too long as he passed me in a rally) and some so dramatic that I’ve spent most of my life unpacking its impact. Because I’d never been taught that my body was something that I owned and could stand up for, I developed a pattern of freezing and shutting up until it was over. It was a response that so rapidly and immediately triggered that I didn’t even realize it was governing my access to pleasure.

At the time when I started receiving bodywork from this man, I didn’t realize I was working on this pattern. But there it was, and there he was. Though I knew – intellectually – that I should ask for what I want, this work cannot be understood through the mind; it must be felt in the body as what it is – power.

Power in Practice

As any leader, fighter, or erotic magician will attest, gaining power takes practice.

In sessions with this healer, I practiced expanding into surrender in the presence of a man who could easily take what I did not want to give. I practiced in small ways – not enduring discomfort by asking for adjustments to pressure or pillow placement no matter how finicky I felt. I practiced honoring and managing my levels of comfort and discomfort by slowly easing into full nudity and closed-door sessions. I practiced believing that I deserved this level of care for the price I could afford. I practiced my faith in myself to shape, not just accept, my experience.

It was the transformation that I needed most, one that moved off the table and into life.

It’s Working

What never changed in three years of working with this healer was my ability to physically overpower him (despite the physical strength I carry for my size, there’s no way I can muscle down a 6 ‘3 man). But I have learned through my study of energetics and eroticism that physical strength is only one fraction of one’s power. More important than bicep curls is knowing what I want and standing for it with full legitimacy. Far more helpful than any self-defense techniques I’ve learned are the somatic protection practices that are rooted in my comfort with activating the sacred predator within me. And, perhaps most significant to this story, I practiced gauging when I am safe enough to release completely into a state of surrender.

Working with this man has resulted in nothing short of miracles. My vitality is back. My skin shines. My pain is largely gone and, even on the worst days, it’s easily manageable. And while I am grateful for his techniques on the table, I also give a nod to myself for doing my part to stop bowing to a perception of perpetual victimhood, and start shaping my experience in life as much as life shapes me.

Whatever I’m doing, it’s working.


Learn to trust your limits and explore your power. Now accepting applications for the Art of Worship.

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