When I say No to sex, it’s not you I am saying No to.
I’m saying No to old ways in myself that I once agreed to, but can’t agree to anymore.
I’m saying No to not being emotionally present with you when we make love.
I’m saying No to the way I used to give you my body, but resent you in my heart.
I’m saying No to all the things I shouldn’t have said No to when I was 15, but didn’t know how to then: to the hand that didn’t love me, but touched me anyway; to the voice of one who would soon forget my name.
My history before I knew you is a mixed bag, and the dark in it haunts me, and what I am waking up to now is that I am not yet healed, but I can be.
So I’m saying no to the messages that subtly but effectively teach that a woman’s power comes not from her intellect, her creativity, or her love, but from her ability to make every man want her. It’s not you who I want to leave my bed, but all the voices in my head that continue to equate a woman’s worth with her sex appeal.
Some nights I am free of these nightmares and I can be with you, be fully yours. On these nights my body feels like mine, and I can sense my breath and I can hear your heartbeat, and the only thing that matters is what is happening now. You are my beloved and I am yours.
Other nights I am trapped again, reliving all the things I wish never happened to me, remembering all the stories of suffering my sisters and girlfriends have told him from their own lives. The weight of this feels too much. I am heavy with grief and with loneliness, and I want you close, but I can’t have you in.
But, when I see the way my No hurts you, the shame of not being enough for you pulls me further from your side.
I am not trying to say the pain is all mine. It must be hard and confusing and lonely on your side of the bed too. You want to feel loved and your love language is touch. You want to relax and sex sometimes helps. You want to know all is right in our shared world. You want to escape your own fears, your own heaviness. You may not have words for what that is, but I know we all collect and carry our sorrows. Who doesn’t want to let those go for awhile?
I’m sorry for holding it against you, it being your good desire for your wife. I’m sorry for lumping your touch in with all the icky touches that made me feel less whole. I’m sorry for my icy silence and taking on the pressures of pleasing you like it was my cross. I am done being bitter. I am done feeling afraid. I am done seeing all those bad faces when we make love. I am done feeling like a cartoon of myself, dressing up and acting like someone who is not me.
And I will no longer make you responsible for soothing my anxiety. And I won't take on soothing yours.
I don’t know how long the road is, but I’m ready for this healing journey between us. I reject the lie that says that this is as good as it gets, that this is just who I am. I am open to feel more desire for you, and I want us both to feel more passion for life. I believe there is a wild and playful, wise, and sexy woman underneath all these layers of doubt, fear and shame, and when I find her I want you to be with me. On the hunt for my true self, I will bring with me crazy trust, courageous presence, and a resilient hope.
Here is what I promise. I promise to not be angry with you when you reach for me, or resent you for the shame I feel when I can’t reach back every time. I promise to find my breath and slow my thoughts before I immediately say no. I promise not to waste this moment to know you more. I promise to look for the beauty in just being here with you. I promise to let you in on what’s going on in my head.
I give you permission to hold me and remind me what’s true: that you love me, that I’m safe, that you don’t need sex from me tonight.