Michelle Roberton is a Tantric Teacher, bodyworker, and counsellor for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. She has shared her work for 16 years, specialising in Sexual Trauma & Intimacy. Her passion stems from her own journey of discovering the medicine in the poison as she set it upon herself to reclaim her body, her breath, her sexuality, and sensuality and express that in new, life-enriching ways. She very much believes that our mind can only take us so far into any release of body trauma and healing of our sexuality. The discovery of who we authentically are is not hidden in our thoughts but in the sensuality and home of our body. Her touch has been described by many as her gift to others. Her gentle, calming approach a comforting breath of fresh air. Michelle lives in the colourful, vibrant city of Brighton with her four children.
Hey Michelle, can you introduce yourselves to us?
Thank you for inviting me, it is a pleasure to be sharing with you. I am Michelle and I am 46 years old, how did that happen?!? I am a proud mother of four firstly, who are now all fully fledged amazing adults. My passion is supporting others to reclaim their body, sensuality, and sexuality, in that order. Many of us have lost touch with these three essential parts of being human due to trauma and consequently body dissociation.
I hold individual sessions and Tantric Therapy Training in Brighton, UK. I also hold Body Love retreats throughout Europe.
Can you take us through your journey as to how you arrived at where you are now?
I am not sure when or where my journey began, to be honest. I grew up in a sexually abusive environment, not that I knew that is what it was then, I just knew something was out of place, what was being portrayed to me was not what I intuitively knew in my own sense of self as truth or love.
At 28 after years of anorexia, self-destruction, loss of a son, I became severely ill and had 3 major operations to save my life. My relationship with my body was forced to change and in that new way of attending to my body, flashbacks began to haunt my life, it was as if my body just could not hold the memories anymore and was detoxing itself.
I began what many adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse do, and started therapy but found talking was only getting me so far, it was my body that was needed to express and release trauma and its pain, so life could be from a place of “happening” and not tormented by what “happened.”
My life has been my learning as I have experimented with many claims as to what could support sexual trauma and found links missing in the offerings or not fully meeting what I needed. From there, what I share and teach is very much a creation of knowing how that tastes and being able to meet the other to safely hold a space for a reclaiming to happen of the body, sex, and sensuality.
What is a day in the life you like?
I love my life. Being home in my body gives me a sense of safety I never had before and I suppose boundaries. There is a contented feeling, like a home that anchors me to my life. I would say it is consistent, even in the chaos of life, I can still feel it.
Every morning I wake up, take a cup of tea and dark chocolate back to bed while I journal. I meditate. Listen to my body and then the day tends to unfold from there. Maybe some yoga or I walk my dogs. If I am not with clients or teaching, I am with my family or I delve into creativity. I love writing and clay, I really make sure my life is balanced and has space for all of my loves. I tend not to plan. I like to leave room for surprises. My day always ends warming my soul with a list of gratitude and belly breath.
As a sexual trauma and intimacy specialist, what training did you have to take?
To be honest I am not a huge believer in pieces of paper as someone who has “qualified” does not make them wise in the chosen field or an assurance that they are good at what they do. I believe we all have a gift to share and life nurtures that gift in us. I believe wisdom has far more depth and healing to it than the knowledge we gain from a book.
I feel we cannot truly share what we ourselves have not experienced, or that which we do not have for our self. For example, if I do not know or own my sex or my body, how can I share it? It would be coming from an empty place…
That said I do respect it is a requirement and I have trained one to one with a tantra teacher for a year and through that sharing my true expression of body and sexuality was empowered to renew and be authentic to who I am rather than to a class of 30 or more other attendants. I am also trained in other bodywork, yoga and a counsellor for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
What other areas are you looking at to develop your profession and deepen your knowledge as an extension?
I have recently been able to certificate a Sacred Tantric Touch course I created so I may train others in tantric therapy. I am currently introducing a course for yoga teachers so they may be more supportive to students who are living with sexual trauma and getting this more mainstream by collaborating with mind therapists.
How would you say you are helping your sexual trauma survivors to experience a new world whereby they trust their world of sensation, intimacy, and love?
I feel the initial relationship between the body, trust, and intimacy is encouraged to be with themselves and from there I support them to then meet the world around them. From the inside out.
From childhood of sexual abuse, anorexia, to drugs, to homelessness and to the tragic loss of a son, can you tell us how through your own experiences you are helping others?
As I mentioned before, wisdom is experienced not knowledge. We cannot teach wisdom. And our body intelligence and life intelligence can only share what it knows. I feel as though I am able to meet others without judgment or shaming. I know how those experiences feel and taste. I can truly show up for them and hold a space for them and I can only authentically do this because I did it and still do it, for myself.
As a strong fearlessly independent woman, we really love the fact you are championing each and every one of us to be authentic, but yet there are still so many of us that are unable to grab your invitation to help. What would you say to those that are still feeling desperately hopeless and broken?
I would say you are not broken or tainted or damaged goods! That it takes courage and heart beyond what many other people could possibly fathom, to live through sexual trauma and fear of intimacy and still be standing, even if that standing feels a little wobbly.
There is hope, and that journey does not have to be hard or have a time scale. All it takes is the courage you already have to choose not to let the rest of your life be swallowed up in what happened, to choose you, and to reclaim everything back that was yours before.
Have you ever suffered from a lack of support from any one close around you whilst embarking on this journey to help others? If so, how did you overcome that hurdle?
I know it has been difficult for my children and my ex-husband and to be honest, it was often more a case that I isolated myself not that they were not ever there.
Where can you see your self within the next 3-5 years?
I do not tend to plan ahead. Part of body dissociation is not being able to feel present or be present. An anxiety of what the future may be, so now I relish what is. I do today, today and tomorrow, tomorrow. I know I would love to write and I also know that time will just open.
How are you planning to evolve your helping of others?
I have two new training courses to share which I am enjoying. When inspiration comes I act upon it, so its an organic evolving not a planned or defined one.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
The whole stigma around tantra and what western society limits that to be and mean have been occasionally difficult in the past. We are still a very sexually immature culture, but I have this year seen that changing and that is exciting.
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
I have two mentors, that I keep in touch with. I feel that is important for anyone in the tantra and body world. Someone to reflect and share with. It keeps me fresh and growing. I do not know how to describe it really, but it offers space for what I share to keep evolving.
What outlets do use to market your services?
I blog and I enjoy my websites and speaking to people, actually spending time with them, interacting, listening to their experiences, answering questions. I feel to hear someone’s voice or notice how we feel around them is lost in social media. I find social media is a tough one. It is not a joy to me or an inspiration, let’s say. It feels like a have to and I think I am old fashioned and just loved life before social media. I also add to You Tube.
What do you believe are the common misconceptions of being a sexual trauma patient?
There are many misconceptions about sexual trauma which really only add more shame, isolation or self blame. Just to name a few including that most sexual abusers are strangers, that if a “victim” did not want sex to happen they could stop it or that if sexual assault was true then “victims” would report it. Often we believe that only men abuse. thus only women are abused and lastly, that sexual abuse does not effect children as they do not know any different.
How are you helping to break the stigma attached?
Every single experience of sexual abuse is unique to that person, not one circumstance is exactly the same and that needs to be heard as that person’s truth. I also feel the more we share, the more we educate healthy sexual relationships in our children through our actions not just preaching, the less abusive behaviour will manifest in the world.
What is the best piece of advice you have received to date?
Oh my goodness. I have no idea, I have met lots of wonderful people, I think one of my greatest teachers was cancer, it taught me acceptance of what is. Not in a defeated way, just acceptance allows change rather than the fighting against which leaves no space.
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
To be very clear and completely unashamed about who I am and what I share.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
Cancer changed that. I have since purposely have created a structure for my week, for play, rest, creativity, and sharing with others. Work is not work at all, I love sharing so just had to learn to not run empty.
The highlight of your career so far?
I do not have one highlight to be honest. Every single person I have worked with has been a highlight to me. I do not feel words do it justice really, but people arrive so far away from their bodies, so out of touch with their own heart desires pleasures in life. Often fear-full and then I see them opening, relaxing into them self, at complete ease like they just sighed for the first time and slipped into their skin. From there, I hear how their whole life changes, relationships, just such an amazing journey people allow me to not only witness but share.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
Feeling someone at last feel they can “stop running” rest and be safe in their own skin and bones.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
The teachings that Osho left behind have supported my own journey, he is not alive anymore of course but I admire still how his voice creates change. I also admire Ma Anada Sarita and Diana Richardson, the work they share in creating a opportunity for our sexual understanding to change. They have a presence about them, that just feels warm. Finally, I love Clarrisa Pinkola Estes for her voice and stories.
How would you say you are intending to use your voice to educate others in this industry?
Just keep sharing, speaking and teaching. And hopefully, it will reach the right ears.I feel I have a lot to offer the sexual trauma field, particularly the body work and movement I have created for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Simply because so much out there is one way and based on psychological knowledge and sexual trauma in a very broad approach. There are specific body requirements that I personally needed to rebuild my relationship with everyday body sensations and so too have my clients but it is just not out there and what it has in some cases caused overwhelm and further trauma.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
The most recent book I read was not related to what I share at all. I tend not to cram my head with too much. I wanted to have a cave day so I tucked myself up with supplies of tea and chocolate and read ‘The Queen Of Bloody Everything.’
How do you measure your own terms of success?
The days when I am happy and smiling for no reason at all.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
#BEYOUROWN, to me, simply means be you, we are not all meant to think, feel and look the same, that makes a very dull life and exhausting.
Lastly, what is next for you throughout 2018?
No idea as I am not striving or pushing to achieve anything in particular, just feeling my way right now and open life’s surprises and new possibilities.
Website link: https://michelleroberton.com/