I’ll admit, I was totally superficially obsessed with this guy.
For me, he was the picture of pure, gorgeous perfection. I considered him out of my league.
It’s also worth revealing that I had placed a lot of my own projections on this guy. To me, he had it all. He was like the class jock, high school quarterback kind of crush for me.
You see, I had a woman’s body almost as soon as puberty started. Any curve a girl could have, I had. This didn’t bode so well for me growing up. I was teased, touched inappropriately and, mostly, mortified at my body and how I was in no way in charge of it, what it did or how it looked. I became shy and repressed around sex, men and my desire.
As the years went on, I grew more and more shy around my body; not only was it bigger and curvier than our cultural ideals say a woman’s body should be, but I also had a voracious sexual appetite, also not a culturally appropriate attribute.
These things combined had me shut down and disapproving when it came to my desires around men, especially men I deemed out of my league or perfectly gorgeous.
I can barely admit just how drawn to him I was. Having grown up the ridiculed one, it had become difficult for me to let the enormity of my desire really see the light of day. Especially for a man as beautiful and perfect as I thought him to be.
We had an on again, off again relationship for about a year. I knew early on in our little dance that we were both working out some patterns we had around the opposite sex, and, despite the hot and cold nature of the relationship, I carried on. It was our dynamic that became the crucible in which I truly examined myself, my worth, my body shame and my relationship to men. It was one of the best growth opportunities I’ve ever encountered.
For almost the entirety of the relationship, anytime we engaged in anything sexual, I was in my head rather than my body. And I never, never, ever took my shirt off. A deeply intuitive person, I think he knew this was an edge for me and he never pushed it.
I was hiding something. I was hiding being fully exposed to this man, literally and energetically, by keeping my shirt on. So certain that if I were fully naked with him, he would reject me right there, in bed, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. We would be hot and heavy in the midst of sex and all I could do was listen to the looping tape of fear and insecurity, and what he must think of me.
Until, close to the end of our relationship, I finally did it.
As we made out, my body on top of his, I sat up and took my shirt off. I knew that in doing this, I was revealing more than just a naked body. I was letting myself fully surrender and be seen, naked, in more ways than one. This was no longer about looking hot or perfect or any of the other critiques in my head; it was about letting go, letting myself be seen and giving myself the permission to be fully out and exposed.
And his response saved me. I don’t mean to suggest that I was looking for a savior. I had mustered the courage and resolve to finally reveal myself fully to this man. It was my inner work that got me to this place. But in that act of courage and vulnerability, he met me with the most tender and generous kindness any man could ever give a woman. He could have not responded, or just kept at it, but him meeting my vulnerability and nakedness with such approval broke apart that story I had carried around for so long about my attractiveness, my worth, my desirability.
This is where we can unlock and help one another out of our patterns and beliefs. This is how a man can help a woman change the story she has around her body. He doesn’t do it for her; he meets her when she is willing to go there herself.
Instead of my horrific visions of him rejecting me and being totally repulsed by me fully naked, he grabbed all of the parts of me I didn’t like. He grabbed me like an animal would tear apart its prey. “Oh, I see I get a treat tonight”, he responded as he devoured me fully. Something deep and old inside of me shifted. By taking off my shirt, with this perfectly perfect man, I had faced all the taunts and jeers, jokes and humiliation I had experienced as a child. And what I received in return for my courage was the exact love, acceptance and worship I had always wanted and deserved.
We all want to be seen exactly as we are. Fully exposed, naked—physically, emotionally, energetically and everything in between. And in that place of exposure, to be met with pure approval, gentleness and love can move mountains of shame, fear and insecurity. It’s an act of love.
I don’t have much of a relationship with this man anymore, but he showed me just how generous a man can be with a woman, and this I will carry with me forever. He irrevocably opened the door to my own acceptance, love and confidence in my body and sexuality. This is how a man can help rewrite the story of a woman’s body image.
Author: Amy Jones
Editor: Caroline Beaton
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