Is there one moment, one singular, clarifying flash out of the millions I’ve lived in this intricate, perplexing life when I realized I owned my desire? There is, and it was transcendent.
We are minds in a suit of skin, renting homes, not of our own choosing. From a muffled peace thrust into a terrifying light, we are slammed with an onslaught of emotions that make no sense, senses creating vexing emotions we cannot possibly understand.
The wrappings vastly different, yet where do body and mind merge?
How can we own that which we rent? ‘Own your shit,’ we order people, and many of us do, we think. But do we, really? We own it to the extent that we can comprehend it. How can an eleven-year-old girl understand the next-door neighbor who craves fondling her lithe young body at the same time he threatens her? Helping himself to her shell, to satisfy his own sick desires. To this day, I cannot comprehend that.
That’s not my shit to own, though those memories have claimed their territory, rude houseguests who never leave.
Wandering through decades of callous objectification, my mind continued to push the cerebral path, ignoring the anxious cries of my body. I didn’t know how to recognize that which had no name, thinking panic and depression were simply part of everyone’s daily life. Missing the clues of this merging of body and mind, once again.
Marriage, children, jobs, home…living the rote, ‘happy’ life on paper, when in truth I dealt with an emotionally checked out partner, my faith crumbling in him, and in us, daily. I eventually began my search. A woman is more than a shell, and this woman longed to feel desire, to hunger and crave and yes, to be craved and hungered for, with a trusting, loving partner.
I sought a man who wouldn’t objectify and use me. Not love, not lust, desire requires submission, something I’d fought, and run from, since age eleven.
The moment came with his warm eyes on mine, body protectively wrapped around me, his strong hand gently around my throat, claiming and owning me and I gave myself to him. No games here, a total melding of vulnerability and passion, I submitted fully to desire, letting go completely for what was truly the first time.
I can’t tell you where I went, but I can tell you it was instinctive, intuitive, primal. Owning this motherfucking body, my mind riding fire; so in it, I drowned.
A psychologist would likely explain that I lived most of my life in a fairly dissociative state, and I wouldn’t disagree; a common coping technique for sexual assault survivors. It doesn’t happen as much anymore now that I’m in recovery and recognize when I drift (though I often recognized it as it happened, I didn’t have a name for it). To me, everybody could look at themselves from the outside and observe. That was my normal.
Owning my body, finally, meant possessing and understanding desire while evaluating how to be present. Did I realize that I had, in a way, been abusing myself by denying how fully capable I could feel? Perhaps, in the same way, one puts off spring cleaning or writing that term paper, dismissing the dangers of minimization.
Struggling with the puzzling contradiction of surrendering to empowerment makes my bewildered bones ache. How can I allow myself to enjoy sublime pleasure when that tiny nugget lingers…when I didn’t get to decide?
Fear spreads covert tendrils throughout our souls, dropping seeds of shame along the way. The hardest battle I fought in unearthing my desire: the constant sway of overt sexuality. Even as I moved with confidence into warm skin and tousled sheets, that voice would command a surreptitious retreat: are you sure? Maybe you need a reason not to do this.
Swirling questions fill my mind, quaking my confidence: does owning our beauty, our sexuality, and the way it affects others, makes us hollow? If I admit to myself that sex can astonish, does that make me ‘a bad girl?’ Wearing the neon sign of ‘tainted by sexual abuse’ already, how can – or must I — travel the path people stupidly refer to as ‘slut,’ when I’d spent years meticulously formulating the inadvertent good girl?
I caress permission like a lover in that instant. I am an adult woman who will no longer stifle the strength of my vulnerability. I make my own life choices, including when, how, and with whom I orgasm, desire, and ultimately, love. I welcome the wild, messy child of the unknown, inviting her in to saturate my being.
I weep with the beauty of discovery.