Solution: Reconstruct the Reality
A few nights ago I wrote about 7 arousing images and what about them bothered me. Because I was writing it in the early AM, I sort of spiraled onto a tangent. So, I’m going to edit that post and get to the point I had really wanted to make. The old post is in blue. New comments in black.
There’s something that happens to a woman after a certain age. She has to shed her skin and become a new woman. Reinvent herself. So many think that reinventing should mean “re-claiming”. I did. That’s what I was trying to do for such a long time. I was trying to reclaim myself. Reclaim the sexuality that I had not just flaunted but frankly earned through all those years. But instead, I am trying to keep the door open a redesign, a reinvention. But in order to do that I have to lose that part of myself. I have to shed that skin.
I really do. For the longest time my identity was of this sexually confident woman, but yet someone who wasn’t entirely secure with that confidence (oxymoron anyone?) I questioned it more often than not, allowing phrases like “promiscuity equals low self-esteem” to permeate my consciousness. The first big change to my sexual identity happened when my husband and I decided to become poly. The second big change happened after I was outed. And here were are in the third wave of change. Change isn’t scary, it isn’t bad. However, what is scary is to “change” only to realize you’re exactly where you once were…and it’s uncomfortable and tight and massively unhelpful.
Which brings me to where my life is today. A number of events have happened over the course of the past few months that have caused me to examine my beliefs about my own sexuality. And while to others it may look like a full-on stalling, for me it’s taking inventory. Checking my stores and making sure I have what I need for the journey ahead. Getting rid of the old items that won’t help me along the way, and deciding paring it down to the necessities. If I am truly going to enter into my own with my sexuality, I best be sure I take stock of my skills, my supplies and my assumptions about myself.
Another analogy that I use quite often is that of the “Tower”. Think of the Tarot meaning for it…massive, core-splitting change. I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but in essence there are times in our lives where the metaphorical tower we live in needs to come down. Where the structure doesn’t support us any longer, doesn’t fit who we are. It can either be by brute force of nature, like a wrecking ball from the universe. or it can be by choice. This is one of those times, looking at the patterns around me, I decided to make it my own choice. I’ve been through enough wrecking balls.
The Outing was a time where a wrecking ball had come smashing through. Frankly, I can look at that time and know it was necessary, that the change absolutely had to happen. However, I did have plenty of warning. i was too wrapped up in my own drama to recognize it. …I’ve been rebuilding since. Recent events with the ex opened my eyes to a ton of what I hadn’t seen before in myself. I had been trying to rebuild in essentially the same image by trying to “fix” the more superficial issues that had caused problems with us. the problem with that of course is that I wasn’t being true to myself. I wasn’t being true to my feelings, nor was I being true to what i expected out of myself. I was trying to squeeze back into that same skin without bothering to recognize that I had outgrown myself long, long ago.
So when it came time to try that on, it kept feeling so restrictive, so tight and uncomfortable. Because it wasn’t me. It was trying to squeeze my current values, ideas, concepts and processes into a body that is just not vast enough to encompass them all. So things were being sacrificed so I could be that woman again. The old patterns started returning, not because that’s what I necessarily believed about myself or about him, but because I hadn’t bothered to change the structure of how I approached him or our foundation.
It only highlighted the obvious flaws in my system. At best all i was changing was the color and the window dressings. but there was something, in how I approached him, how I processed feelings, how I viewed myself, that needed to wholly change…down to the substance of the bricks and foundation upon which i built it all.
But what highlighted it even more was some family drama I had during the same week the ex came back into the picture. Core-shaking sorts of stuff, especially about my sexuality. When these two recent events collided, I knew I should have taken a step back to sort it all out, to understand what I really wanted and how I really wanted to respond. But I dove right in thinking that I would be able to quietly balance all if this and still maintain the progress I needed to see in my professional and personal life. I noticed the old patterns really permeating everything in my life…from my comfort level with the non-profit I work with (and becoming overly reactive to everything there) to my conviction that i can do this independent consulting work. It finally all came out in some writing on Friday night (that i didn’t share here).
Once upon a time all it took to heal from things was a trip to Lake Michigan on a cold winter morning, a few prayers said at the lakeshore and some symbolic gesture. that’s when I was 18. While I know I am completely in control of deciding to accept healing, I also know that back then I was somewhat skimming the surface. The hurt was much deeper than I had realized…and i went through a phase of about 4 before I really could feel like myself again. Here, I am wise enough to know that I live each day with the hurt in my household and it sneaks up on me when I least expect it and in some very intimate ways. I will heal from all of this, but because it’s a different hurt, the way I heal will be different than before. And I’m willing to make that happen. but if all I do is cover it up, it will fester and it will keep seeping. I need to address the cause of my pain, my frustration and the source of the patterns. Ultimately, what i want is to have confidence in myself. To absolutely adore the sexual being I am and understand that everything I am is utterly beautiful and sacred, even my brokenness and especially my healing.
Personally i think every woman needs to experience this message on some level or another. Maybe around 30. Maybe earlier, maybe later. but I think each woman needs to experience it fully and completely. And so, it’s not about re-claiming who I was. It’s about re-creating who I want to be. To live as that person each day and make my choices match that. Here, I was living as one person but kept choosing to try to be someone else. And it just didn’t fit.
So, that’s where we are today.
Part of what happened to me was shame. Shame from other sources (my mom, my family, etc.) and shame from myself (cultural upbringing, societal programming). The latter is the most important. the cure for the shame from other sources is to know within yourself that you are beautiful, you have done what is right for you, it’s okay to make mistakes, whatever it is. But if you don’t have that belief in yourself, you’re not going to do so well at combating those other messages. At the same time, I can’t combat these messages if I’m using assumptions about myself that just don’t work any longer and don’t face my reality.
My reality is that i’m scared. In part because I am blessed with a horribly long memory. I’ve had a life full of rich and rewarding experiences…and also terrible, frightful memories. I have lived long enough to know the consequences of my actions and to be mindful of those when making decisions about future events. And well, have your picture plastered in places you didn’t expect and well, you might be more guarded than most. Or maybe it’s just me. But that’s the point, this is the real feeling I have right now. Rational? Maybe. Helpful? fuck no.
But because i’m so damn fearful of everything I can overcome this by seeing it as an opportunity to redefine and re-create what my sexuality means to me…and especially what I find sexy. So, I’ll tackle that in the next post and one of the discoveries I made over the weekend.