What’s the difference between a friend and a lover?
The distinction is so simple, yet we often don’t consider all that it entails.
Past lovers, whether they were with you for a night or for decades, leave impressions that can linger long after the relationship is over—and in many cases dramatically affect your self-esteem, your capacity for future intimacy, and your emotional well- being. Whether we like it or not, there is rarely, if ever, such a thing as casual sex.
In the current cultural climate, where sexual relationships swing between careless impulse and overly moralized repression, our society has lost the pulse of what truly healthy and vibrant female sexuality is. We no longer know what to do when a sexual relationship falls apart, leaving the wreckage of betrayal, abandonment, neglect, or even abuse in its wake. So many women are suffering—from mild discomfort to full-blown anxiety, from depression to total sexual shutdown; from desperate loneliness to recklessly empty promiscuity.
As women we are capable of so much more, but we are rarely, if ever, shown the way.
Female sexuality is a unique weave of physical energy, emotional connection, mental engagement, and spiritual communion. Sadly, this weave has been ignored, invalidated, or even demonized by much of our society over time. As a result, the mysteries of female sexuality are buried under mountains of oversexualized cultural patterning, dismissal of the rich heritage of deep feminine reverence and power, and ignorance of the vast inner terrain that lives within women.
In simple terms, this means that female sexuality is both powerful and vulnerable, and it is unique in a way that almost all healing modalities, therapies, religions, and even spiritual paths don’t fully recognize. For as necessary and potent as such practices can be, they have gaps in their understanding about some very core concepts related to women. Those gaps become unbridgeable chasms when it comes to reclaiming our female sexuality, caring for that nature, and understanding and clearing lingering sexual experiences.
If you are like so many of the women I work with, you picked up this book because you are carrying heartache, grief, pain, and unmet longing—all of which can be traced back to one or more past lover-ships. These experiences may also have resulted in the formation of sexual habits that don’t fulfill your deepest needs, such as shutting down your sexuality, or overgiving to your partner. For so many of us, after enough heartbreak and disappointment, the desire to love deeply, securely, passionately, and with integrity ends up either dimmed almost to extinction or enflamed with a frustrated anger that burns almost everything it touches.
We must remember and honor the fact that we were created to be sexual creatures, freed from the pendulum swing of oppression and reaction to that oppression. Liberated from all that push and pull, we have the opportunity to recover and know the radical truth, wisdom, and sexual wholeness that is our birthright. This is not a cultural, social, or personality-based liberation. This is a recovery of deep feminine power and knowledge that will free you regardless of circumstance.
Think of “breaking the grip of past lovers” as code for freeing yourself of deeply unconscious limitations and misunderstandings you have inherited about what it means to be a woman—particularly a woman of sexual desire, longings, emotion, and passion. The breaking free process will require you to be more vulnerable and more sensitive with your- self. The good news is that the freedom that awaits you is vastly more powerful and healing than you can imagine.
In my case, the journey to shed the residual impact of past lovers was not a well-intentioned choice toward self-improvement. It was a necessity born of devastation.
When I was in my mid-thirties, my marriage of seven years (my second), was falling apart. After enduring multiple betrayals, I had accumulated a convincing distrust of intimacy—both with my husband and with anyone else I might be romantically close to after that. I was lost inside a tangle of grief, depression, longing, and isolation that was coloring everything, stealing the passion from my life, and relegating me to the kind of subtle despair and unmet longing that I had witnessed in so many other women. I was exhausted from the pressure of single motherhood and shattered by the experience of witnessing what had once been touching love devolve into chaos, dishonesty, and heartbreak.
Despite all of this—and because I didn’t want to lose the relationship we had built, because I was afraid of being financially on my own, and mostly because I came to deeply feel that receiving his full attention and sexual fidelity was how I would feel whole again—I ended up staying despite my partner sustaining an intimate dynamic that eroded my sense of self, my trust in men in general, and my hope of ever finding a full and honoring sexuality. As a result of that relationship, I shut down emotionally and sexually. I became jealous and paranoid. And I came to believe that I was not (nor would I ever be) “woman enough.”
I also lost important time and presence with my son in his younger years because I was emotionally distracted. I got further and further from my own sense of my beauty, my worth, my fullness, and my pleasure. I had panic attacks most nights, and significant depression. I can remember countless experiences of finding myself crumpled up on the floor crying, fighting, in desperate emotional pain. And then the terrible confusion created by all of our “good” times, when I would remember how much we loved each other and believe again that we could make it . . . only to be shattered by more dishonesty. On top of it all, I was so deeply ashamed and humiliated by what was going on in our relationship that I hid the truth from all of my friends. They would have loved and supported me, but in my state I could only imagine feeling humiliated and exposed. So I isolated myself from their support and fell even deeper into my sense of unworthiness. I was so desperate for the relationship to work out that I was hiding the truth from anyone who might call it what it was and hold me accountable to either radically change or to be brave enough to leave the dysfunction that I was tolerating.
Before this unhealthy dynamic, I had generally felt very nourished by my sexuality. Not perfect, by any means, but I had come to a place in my life and my sexual expression where I was free of insecurities that had plagued my younger years. Yet by the time I finally ended our marriage, I felt fractured and unworthy of love or fidelity. My light had dimmed, and I was deeply suffering from maintaining and allowing an intimate relationship that was very much in opposition to my core values.
My pain and shame, mixed with an almost forgotten hope that I would one day have the kind of honoring and passionate intimate relationship I deserved, led me to explore esoteric teachings on the sacred nature of female sexuality. I fell in love with what I found, and over a period of years I walked myself through the disentangling of my relationship and the restoration of my deep feminine nature. It was then that I began a commitment to personal cultivation practices in this area that continues to this day.
Because of the transformation I experienced, I began teaching and supporting other women to do the same, and, lo and behold, I discovered an unspoken epidemic of unresolved intimacies that most women were just tolerating or muddling through. It was stunning how similar our stories were, how devastating and confusing past sexual relationships continued to be, and how much we were all feeling compromised, stuck and lost to ourselves, some- times years after a relationship had ended. What I learned in my own journey and from helping other women recover is what you will find in the pages that followed.
When I look back now, after metabolizing the residual impact of my past lovership and recovering my sense of self, I see that what I experienced was a type of initiation. It was not one I would have ever chosen, but it was one that taught me the importance of honoring my personal power and commit- ting to never relinquishing my sexual sovereignty to the control of someone else again.
In one sense, my failed relationship had cost me a version of innocence. But as I moved through the initiation, I gained a state of personal power that now never leaves me. It was as if losing my power and reclaiming it were necessary steps on the journey to true sovereignty.
The gifts of this, including a present relationship that meets me in my values and takes them even further, have been abundant in all aspects of my life. I would never say it was an easy road, as I spent years feeling lost before finding my way back home, but as I moved through the initiation and stayed commit- ted to it, not only did I clear all residual impact of my past loverships, but I discovered that finding my freedom gifted me the ability to hold reverence and respect for myself regardless of the circumstances that may arise.
As you consider what you have experienced in past relationships, can you sense a golden thread of initiation
running throughout them, no matter however difficult they may have been? For instance, on the other side of betrayal may be the gift that you will never again betray yourself. On the other side of neglect may be your commitment to never again neglect your own essence. On the other side of manipulation may be a radical cultivation of discernment that will never again let you ignore your intuition when it signals that something isn’t right or you are not safe.
I invite you to take a moment—let the costs of past relationship choices serve as fuel for your commitments to what you will choose now and how you will advocate for yourself so that you never lose power like that again. Initiations born of past loverships change us forever, but the full fruit of these is greater love, greater power, and a fierce commitment to our own feminine essence. In my experience, this type of self-commitment actually needed an initiation born of loss and challenge in order to fully evolve. When you complete this type of initiation, you become a sword so tempered by the fire of life’s passages that you cut through any habit of self-rejection and become the greatest friend and ally you have ever known.
You have a life to live, love to share, children to raise, pleasure to experience, and so many gifts still to explore, but if you haven’t cleared the residual impact of past lovers, you are losing time, energy, power, and joy. Tens of thousands of women have now worked with the process in this book, and their stories are full of hope and full of compassion for themselves, for their past lovers, and for you as a woman who must also find her way through the tangled devastation of a broken sexual relation- ship. They are healing fully and finally from emotional neglect, betrayal, infidelity, mistreatment, and vicious manipulation, and so can you.
No matter how bleak or stuck you feel when you think about your past lovership or how deep the cost of a past relationship may have been, there is some part of you that can and will create pure gold from the anguish of it all. This is the spirit of a queen who knows her worth, and who has matured through hardship into a woman who will never abandon her throne again.
This is what you were always meant to be and what you are destined to become. You are both powerful and vulnerable, and by reclaiming both your beauty and your pain, you will free yourself to know more of your own happiness, fulfillment, peace, and pleasure than the world has told you is possible. As women of these times, we are turning the tide from habitual dysfunction to grace-filled empowerment, from collective amnesia to full remembrance of our own mysteries. I am honored to be on this journey of liberation with you. So let us begin…
Break the Grip of Past Lovers compassionately addresses issues of regret, remorse, low self-esteem, and broken trust, while guiding the reader in healing from betrayal, neglect, and manipulation, as well as from experiences that were so beautiful they have left grief and irreconcilable longing in their place.
Are you ready to explore more of how you can reclaim your personal sovereignty? This powerful book by author, healer, and priestess Jumana Sophia is available now from all major retailers and on our website. To learn more about this powerful book, and to continue reading the first chapter for free, click here.