(If anyone around here is uncomfortable reading about sex, drop out now!)
In “Pulling the Victoria’s Secret Dance”, Libby Anne tackles the conservative Christian culture’s strange demands on women, that they go from being perfectly virginal, pure, and innocent to becoming their husband’s personal porn stars after saying “I do”.
I imbibed enough of Debi Pearl and other Christian writers (not to mention my mother’s advice to ‘not say no too often’) to get this idea in my head that while I could enjoy sex, it was for me primarily about performing for my husband — in part to make him happy, and in part so he would never cheat.
And boy did I perform.
And I think I did a pretty decent job for someone who had never seen so much as a sex scene in a movie — since my husband hadn’t seen anything like that either, he didn’t know any better.
And I enjoyed performing. Mostly. I would sometimes get flashbacks during sex of being touched by other people, but i would push past that — I would disassociate. My mind felt like it was leaving my body and it felt odd but i didn’t stop because I believed that to stop was basically to invite my husband to leave me.
And when I say performing, I mean it. I was acting. When i didn’t feel sexually attractive, I was pretending I was.
It was all an act.
That only gets you so far. It can be fun, acting, but doing it every time is draining and regularly having sex while disassociating left me feeling a little sad and confused.
I finally realized this year that I was performing — like I was taught — instead of really being there myself.
I’ve started saying ‘no’ when I start to disassociate. I’ve started being a little less sexy, and a little more myself. I’ve started learning about what I want.
I’m relaxing more and forcing it less.
This is the part where i would love to say that everything is better than ever now. Well, that isn’t quite so. It was easier when I was acting. I knew exactly what to do and my feelings didn’t matter. I could even manufacture a version of the feelings if necessary — growing up where your ‘attitude’ and emotions are under constant scrutiny makes you good at that.
So it isn’t all a bed of roses now. We have a lot of rebuilding to do, trying to get rid of my emotional baggage and start over from a new, healthier perspective in which sex comes out of love and desire instead of duty and insecurity.
But we’re working together, connecting instead of acting, and I think it will end up being a beautiful thing.