WET: ONE WOMAN’S QUEST TO LISTEN TO HER BODY
“Nobody knew any of this. They saw a very confident woman.”
At 35, I was utterly lost. I had made a name for myself as a thought leader for single women, and often gave reassuring, upbeat media interviews on NPR and CNN, telling unmarried women to embrace their lives, with a partner or without, but after too many online dates that fizzled out after three meetings, I myself felt loveless.
I was hiding something. While I told single listeners there was nothing wrong with them, the thought that there might be something wrong with me played often in my own mind.
My friends had married lovely men and were advancing to the next stages in adult life, taking prenatal vitamins and buying houses in good school districts. No matter how many self-help books I read I couldn’t snap out of my own private vortex of inadequacy that told me I couldn’t be lovable because no romantic relationship had lasted longer than six months. I was controlled by shame and regarded this fact as a terrible thing—if any man ever found out, I was sure he would not want see me as long-term partner material.
There was another secret involving the age six, one that reached back three decades. My aunt’s foster child Scott, age 17, had invited me to come upstairs to the second floor at my grandmother’s house. I followed. My memories were vague. I didn’t even necessarily believe them, but my body tensed whenever Scott came to family gatherings.
Was there a link between this secret I had been keeping for decades and my inability to find a partner by the time I was pushing 40? I had no idea. I was a mystery to myself.
I could have kept up online dating, or succumbed to bitterness and given up altogether, and shrunk into the shadows of myself. Instead, I decided to listen to my body. I bought a ticket to Brazil. I found another path that led me on an international vision quest of sensuality that led me to answers I never expected.
There was no agenda, no package that I bought online. This was me, an over-achieving girl who grew up in New England who always tried to do everything right, 100% winging it, terrified I was throwing away prime career/marriage years to be a futurebagladyoldmaid.
In my dreams, leaving behind a secure, predictable life to moved to the capital of surf and samba in Brazil would mean finding myself again through music and dance and falling in love with my ideal Brazilian man.
In reality, when I moved to Rio I fell into the most erotically charged relationship of my life with a “malandro”—Portuguese for trickster, con artist, or womanizer. My pattern of losing myself in love took over. I left Brazil at rock bottom.
It was only when I declared NO MORE MEN in the middle of the night at the airport that things changed. I discovered tango in Colombia. I put a pause on men. Tango—the most intimate partner dance—became my training ground for healthy love. I discovered not only how to find love with a man, but more important, to find love inside myself. In my backbone, I found self-worth.
Experts such as Bessel Van der Kolk and Gabor Mate tell us that past trauma travels from our minds to our bodies, seeping into our physicality. The process also works in reverse. Tending to our bodies can also heal the spirit.
We all have buried stories, the stories we never want to tell anyone. Those stories get lodged in the cavities of our bodies, our guts, our throat. The stories told in WET come from the period of my life when my deepest-held stories bubbled up through my in my body but I didn’t yet have the courage to face them. And then I did.
When I listened to my body, I couldn’t lie to myself. I started to live my best life.
WET is not a trauma memoir so much as a sensual healing memoir.
In this book, I dance with—and make out with—a lot of men, but the key plot points happen through physical transformation, literally through growing more regal in my posture, wiping out the submissive stance of inferiority that had been lodged in me by early experiences and growing up in a misogynist society. From wearing a bikini for the first time on the beach in Brazil to learning how to speak in sex, WET is an adventure story of sensuality but this book is ultimately it is about a woman knowing her own worth, trusting herself, and finding her voice.
WET is a feminine hero’s journey—a heroine’s journey with a modern happily-ever-after, where I discover there is nothing wrong with me and my body is my home. Although I made unusual life choices, my journey is a profoundly relatable one. In this book, I search for answers to common female doubts: about bodies, about aging and not being enough or too much, about murky memories we have never shared with anyone. What’s distinctive about my approach is that I didn’t just talk about these things. For these years in my late thirties I flung my body into the unknown with outside-the-comfort-zone experiences most women would not try, that I might not try now, like learning orgasmic meditation at an organization many called a sex cult. Why? My intuition told me following my body’s desires was the way. I didn’t know what else to do.
I wouldn’t consider myself a heroine. I’m a maverick. I am a woman who sees the world differently and chooses to act on what I see. Our world can feel like a wasteland for women, especially when we believe the lies that are told to us about our worth, about only white twiggy bodies being attractive, or life being over past 40. The only options are to succumb to conditioning or strive to find another way, a transformation of awareness. I call this a wet consciousness, listening to our bodies and valuing our own pleasure.
Women often sacrifice their own happiness for others. My hope is that my story will inspire other women who have burned out and lost touch with their own desires for life, and who have been shaped by past traumas and growing up in a culture of sexism and objectification—that is to say, all women—prioritize their own joy and find their own paths of wet healing.
The title WET suggests something revolutionary about the value of connecting with our bodies. It is designed to make readers blush. Guys talk about erections all the time but women generally do not talk about being wet. The taboo, in-your-face nature of the title is intentional. When readers see the title, they may first think of sexual arousal, but WET refers to wetness and water in many forms. In many traditional cultures and in Jungian thought water is seen as a symbol of the unconscious.
To get wet is to listen to the body. To get wet is to dive in and learn whatever needs to be learned. Ultimately, wetness is about the feminine empowered.
Listen to me talk about why WET and not JUICY
Drop in on this conversation with Lindsay and Lani from the podcast Fuck Dating where I explain what WET means to me.
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