(Warning: there is some slightly graphic sexual content in this post.)
A part of my life and my thoughts have revolved around “making myself a better person.” Or “healing myself.” Or wondering why I do things that don’t feel good and then judging myself. I have gone through periods of time where I don’t really know who to talk to about this and other periods of time where I am calling someone every day or every few days and “checking in” about the state of my inner world.
The conventional wisdom is that an “unexamined life is not worth living,” but what about an over-examined life?
About five months ago, I was contemplating what to do on a Saturday night. I didn’t have plans but for some reason, I took a look at Facebook and a friend who I hadn’t seen in years, partially because he throws what I consider decadent parties and I had been abstaining, was throwing one of his annual wild parties. It involved wearing dresses – for the women and the men. Preferred color – red.
I thought I’d go.
Today, reflecting on that choice, I can see it unleased something that probably wouldn’t have been unleashed if I hadn’t gone.
My question is, am I glad to have unleased this, and now, where do I go from here?
To get more specific, I had met a man at a dance the weekend before and he and I conferred about attending the red dress dance as well. I had flirted with him. He seemed interested in me. We didn’t exchange numbers but exchanged names so that we could say “hi” to each other on Facebook.
I could tell he was into me. I wasn’t sure how I felt.
But I chose to go to the red dress party because a voice in my head said, ‘you will end up missing this and staying at home and then feeling woe-be-gone for days until something else fun comes along.’ And, I DID have fun. And HE was there, wearing a red dress and braids. (He has long hair.) The chemistry was still there. I don’t know how it happened but at some point he and I went downstairs where all the dancing was happening and he pulled me close and held onto me. I felt wanted and desired.
We both managed to peel ourselves away from each other and go back to our respective homes. I hadn’t fallen that quickly for someone in a while (ok, I had just broken up with someone two months prior.) But, I was cautioning myself to slow down.
But I went to my open-minded, open-hearted church the next morning and the minister was preaching on allowing in all the pleasure we could stand. (Can you believe it?) She was challenging our old Judeo-Christian habits of not allowing ourselves to enjoy our lives.
I left before the sermon was over, rushed to my car and asked if he wanted to have lunch with me.
An affirmative ‘yes’ and after a cozy Thai lunch, we went to my place and consummated our new relationship.
I am reflecting on these events of February this year. Now it’s the end of July. After the lust wore off, I started thinking maybe this wasn’t meant to last. I am grateful for the passion that being with this guy unleashed in me, but I also discovered that parts of me weren’t showing up when we were together. For example, last night, I was feeling emotional pain. I had stirred up a well of anger and not-so-carefully shared it with someone at my community garden. I think my anger was justified, but perhaps I could have gotten the intensity of it out a little more before talking to anyone at the garden who I felt angry at. I had spoken to the person who I thought had wronged me, but I feel like I had come from a place of blame and not a place of goodwill. I didn’t like how I was behaving. I ended up coming home after and then taking a nap. When Brad reached out to me, I was wrapped up in a blanket of self-pity and really didn’t want him to try to be cheery with me, but my brain said, it’s not healthy for you to hang out in self-pity. See, your buddy is calling up to make sure you are ok. This will be good for you.
So, I let him talk me out of my mood and I came over to his place. Usually this means sharing a meal, hanging out and chatting, often mindlessly and not very satisfyingly. Often not feeling heard or seen. Often just wanting to be held but putting up with all the static waiting for the moment I am held and seen.
He made an effort to be ok with me feeling “tender.” He had given me a hard time a week ago about feeling tender when I came over and I had expressed, perhaps in a text, feeling like my emotional needs weren’t being met. He was making an effort. I wanted to slow him down even more, but at some point he pulled out his erect penis and I started sucking on it. It gave him pleasure, so I kept doing it. He was expecting it. I was waiting to feel seen and heard. Then he went off to get the clean sheets. I waited. He came back and we made up the bed. I think he started touching me sexually. I think I took off my underwear.
But this is how it always goes. I just want to feel seen and heard and I show up and do whatever is expected of me waiting to be seen and heard. Once the sex is over, we cuddle. I enjoy the cuddling. I am grateful for the cuddling.
The sex is awkward to me.
I don’t feel seen or heard. He doesn’t hurt me. I am able to ask for what I want, sometimes, but I don’t feel seen or heard.
I enjoy it in a somewhat detached way. I have trouble looking him in the eye because I don’t feel like his eyes see me. I feel the intensity of his eyes, but I don’t feel seen. I don’t see his inner self acknowledging my inner self. I don’t see love. I see him receiving pleasure from touching and entering my body, but I don’t feel warmth in my heart. I don’t feel harm, but I also don’t feel loved. He says things like, “you’re so nice!” And I think, well, I guess I am too nice. I almost didn’t come last night. Would it have been better for me to sit alone in my self-pity or to come spend the night with a man knowing he’d have sex with me and I would feel detached. I know I would get cuddles that I really love and enjoy and feel warm and caring, but do I need to have detached sex to get to that? It’s not fair for me to go through that to get another need met. I feel raw and pain writing this. Am I willing to let go and allow in something even better?
I want to call people and ask them what to do. Instead, I thought I’d write this blog. It’s personal. It’s detailed and it’s honest. It’s also an opportunity for me to reflect on my own choices from the standpoint of being my own healthy adult.
If I were my own healthy, loving parent, rather than being me, what would I say to me. Here’s a start: ‘Your body belongs to you. You don’t need to give your body to someone else, even if they experience pleasure, even if you experience pleasure, unless you really want to. Unless you really really want to. This is happening because you have a lesson to learn. Maybe the lesson has to do with ownership of your body. Maybe the lesson has to do with where you get your love from and what you do to “get” loved. No one owns the love that you are wanting. You don’t need to trade things for love. This may be a good time to reflect on the nature of love:’
2 Corinthians 13:1-13 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong-doing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
“Some call you love, I call you the king of Love. You are beyond all imaginings, taking me places I can’t even dream of. O Ruler of my Heart, wherever you go….Don’t go without me.” Rumi
by Erin Hanson
You are not your age, Nor the size of clothes you wear, You are not a weight, Or the color of your hair. You are not your name, Or the dimples in your cheeks,
You are all the books you read, And all the words you speak, You are your croaky morning voice, And the smiles you try to hide, You’re the sweetness in your laughter, And every tear you’ve cried,
You’re the songs you sing so loudly, When you know you’re all alone, You’re the places that you’ve been to, And the one that you call home, You’re the things that you believe in, And the people that you love,
You’re the photos in your bedroom, And the future you dream of, You’re made of so much beauty, But it seems that you forgot, When you decided that you were defined, By all the things you’re not. ‘
Maybe it’s ok that I am where I am, sitting at my desk, typing this blog. Maybe it’s ok that I am shedding tears, longing for a more mature and civilized sort of love, wanting to love myself. How can I love myself? I think first of all, I am setting the intention.