By setting out to write one article for each of my Ideal Life themes, I took this horse outta the barn. Because I am a rule-follower and finisher, I’m going to awkwardly try to ride it. It might be a bumpy, uncomfortable ride. I apologize in advance.
I am a natural enthusiast. When I like something, or when an idea scratches a creative itch in the back of my brain, I can get into a groove and become a little bit obsessed. This happens in little things (as witnessed by my rainbow dress fascination), and in bigger things, for example, writing unceasingly, literally non-stop, when I have an idea, to the point of not eating or sleeping until I get out a first draft. I just to have the words out of my brain, like they were sand under my eyelids.
I have had two distinct thoughts about sex that I remember having in my life: one when I was young, maybe twelve or thirteen. We had been given some sort of sex-ed talk in our health class. There was lots of “and it is dangerous because you could get pregnant” and also, “you could get a disease,” and at some point, someone in the class mentioned that “some people might find it pleasurable.” My instinctive reaction was to riposte, in my itty-bitty adolescent brain with the thought, “then I shouldn’t ever do that…”
What I knew about myself then is what I know about myself now: I do not moderate well. When I find something I like, I tend to binge on it. This is as true of chocolate chip cookies as it is for rainbow dresses as it is for a new sewing technique. So if something was pleasurable and dangerous, then I needed to stay as far away from it as possible.
I did say that there were two distinct thoughts I have entertained about sex. The second one came some twenty five years after the first.
I’m certainly no angel, but I am nothing if not absolutely faithful to the rules I set out for myself. I sometimes test my own rules and limits, but since I can only thrive with guardrails and rules, yet also have a distinct distrust of authority figures who try to impose rules, the only person I am ever really willing to accept rules from is myself. This requires some mental gymnastics, being at once the benevolent dictator who sets rules to regulate my behavior, and being the one who must live by the rules.
That little thought I had after our middle school health class became a default rule for myself that I set in place. Without knowing it, I set myself up for a lifetime of vaginismus.
Fast-forward to a honeymoon during which that little rule remained ingrained in my mind and wrapped up in my body, even when the context should have permitted the rule to be moot.
Fast-forward to any number of embarrassing attempts to get the ball rolling. Nuthin’. The benevolent dictator would not let go of her firm grip.
Fast-forward some fourteen years to meeting with a counselor who finally took me seriously and gave me some exercises I needed to do in order to make penetration possible. This was to come face to face with the dictator who had set the rules, and openly defy her and it was terrifying. My body had wholly submitted to her dictatorship all those years, and unlearning her rules was painful.
Fast-forward a few months after that when I started to make progress.
Enter thought number two: “What if this is something that actually feels good?
In my Ideal Life, I am a person who:
- isn’t afraid of her own body
- can regulate her passions, but doesn’t need to
- is always willing to try new things
- knows how to ask for what she wants
- gets everything she asks for
- doesn’t get too caught up in her thoughts
- can have open, honest conversations about sexuality with her partner
- is a sex-positive parent
- keeps an open mind to ideas about identity and expression
- is always an ally
- never judges another person’s lifestyle
What is working: For a real fear of TMI, and out of respect for the indulgent husband, I plead the fifth.
What is not working: Same as above, with just the little addendum that learning to be a sex-positive parent when I have spent most of my life trying to pretend that sex doesn’t exist is a pendulum swing for which nothing could have adequately prepared me.
Things to consider: I try to learn as much as I can about sexuality, desire, identity. For all the years I spent with blinders on, there is a lot of good stuff out there to read and listen to. I am learning to not be ashamed of my interest in it.
Things to do: Again, I plead the fifth. Also: wear my rainbow dress as much as possible in June.
There is so much I would like to say on this topic. Christians don’t talk about sex very well, other than to be judgy about what others are up to. This is really too bad, because there is so much good stuff to talk about and so many planks to pull out of our own eyes before we go trying to dust off other people’s vision.
I mean…if God created the woman’s body, and our bodies have a little organ that only exists for one pretty phenomenal purpose, then I like to think that by excising talk of female pleasure from Christian life, we are ignoring an incredible facet of who God is. He invented this mind-blowing superpower.
Seriously. If we are going to say “consider God’s creation and his works,” then let’s consider the female orgasm for a moment. Yes, I put God and orgasm in the same sentence. Twice. Sorry, not sorry.
Discretion, however, beyond that, is going to have to be my modus operandi for this season of my life. One day I will have so much more to say, but until then, I have my Ideal Life Exercise to keep me company.
In my Ideal Life, sex is easy.