Is there a third partner in your bed?
He might be hoping it is the playboy playmate of the year. You might be hoping it is Fabio. But wait, no!
It’s not a sexy third playmate, but rather the unspoken insecurities that one or both of you may be feeling.
As children, we are not self conscious of our nakedness. I remember as a little girl I would often share a bath with my two sisters. I did not compare myself to them. Being naked was just being naked.
This indifference soon turned into curiosity as my sisters and I played what’s different with our next door neighbor who was of course a boy.
Our curiosity quickly turned into a taste of the forbidden when my mother caught us and broke up our neighborhood sex-ploration club. I grew up with a healthy curiosity about sexuality and a natural acceptance that I was a sexual being.
Then, at the age of 28 my self image was shattered. You have multiple sclerosis were the four words that sent my confident sexy self image spiraling. Being told I had an incurable illness, made me suddenly doubt who I thought I was.
I felt labeled as defective. I looked the same in the mirror, why did I feel different?
Sex with my husband became less frequent as the stress of our new life’s situation fell on us as a heavy shroud. The sexual dynamics of our relationship changed (after all, I was the sick one) and the decrease in our sex life left me feeling alone and rejected.
It is time we blew the doors wide open on the discussion of the effects of an illness on self-image and how being sick can inadvertently define us sexually.
You might think that having an illness (chronic or acute) means you have bigger things to worry about than a healthy sex life.
This is just not true.
Of course, it is not only an illness that can cause a plummet in self-image. As we women age and our bodies no longer look like a that of Victoria’s Secret mode (if we ever did, we are are left thinking what the hell happened?
Sure you might say that this is an exaggeration. Just ask women over the age of forty how confident they feel strapping on nothing but a pair of red stilettos and performing a lap dance for their partner. If you are one of those that say I am, hooray for you. It is time we joined you and all shed our insecurities.
When I found myself divorced, the mother of two children, and struggling with an illness, I was lost. Yet, in that aloneness, I found me.
By the time I met my new partner—now my fiancé—I had undergone a metamorphosis. My childlike innocence had returned. I was ready to just be me.
Love me or not.
In this reclaimed innocence, sex became a whole new playground of possibilities. I was not letting old hang ups get in the way of our sexual intimacy.
What had changed? Not my body, or my wardrobe or even my health.
I had changed. I loved myself. I accepted myself. I was willing to let him see the true me.
Intimacy with your partner can put a bounce in your step better than any prescription meted out by your doctor. The touch of a lover’s hand on your naked skin. To be held in another’s arms and cherished for the beauty that is you.
Are these things not worth overcoming the fear of being defective, or not good enough?
I learned it’s not worth letting body image stand in the way of exploring all that is possible when I let my lover have the whole me.
Be kind to yourself and understand your partner loves you just the way you are. You have not changed in their eyes, only your own critical self view.
Instead, enjoy each kiss, each caress. There’s no script. The story is entirely up to you. When you can be open with your partner about your own insecurities, this allows you to be vulnerable.
When you give your true self, a deeper intimacy than you ever thought possible will leave you spellbound.
Take off your mask and let your lover see the naked you.
Cindy Lee Lothian is a writer, mother and lover of life who has learned that her twenty year dance with the disease M.S., has given her Multiple Strengths. She writes about love, laughter, healing and hope. Follow Cindy’s blog, Still Sexy After MS.
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Assistant Ed: Lori Lothian
Ed: Kate Bartolotta