I used to have a strange relationship with my body.
We became disconnected when I was abused as a child. In the stealing of my innocence, my abuser took from me the ability to communicate with my body, or see her clearly, or respect and appreciate her for the sacred gift that she is.
Because I didn’t love and appreciate my body, I didn’t require that others treat her with love and respect. In fact, I believed for many years that she was ruined. She was damaged and stained, and no one would ever find her appealing.
Though it hurt, it was no surprise when my ex-husband stopped kissing me. It was the first thing to go in the declining of our sex life. Passionate kissing left our relationship long before the obligatory, mechanical, empty sex did.
Feeling him inside me without the courtesy of a kiss was not unlike the abuse I remembered from my past. It was emotionally similar to rape—but without the cuts and bruises.
It was a quiet violence.
A gentle violation of the most sacred parts of me.
Certainly, I had willingly given myself to him. I wanted nothing more than to be ravished, to be desired, and wanted, and cared for. I would have given anything to feel some passion in his touch, or see longing in his eyes.
But, I needed him to touch me like it meant something to him—that is what I had consented to. And in my desire to be touched, to be intimately loved by my partner, I allowed him to disrespect my body.
Sperm toilet. That was the only way I could say in words what I was feeling.
A literal, nameless, faceless, inanimate receptacle for his genetic material. No longer flesh and bone, I had turned to porcelain under the weight of his body. Worthless and hollow, to be used and discarded—without feelings or needs of my own. I had become his sperm toilet.
The lack of love and affection that I accepted all those years left me broken. I was sexually starving. I needed to feel like a woman again—desired and worthy of affection.
I had gathered up a huge pile of false, negative beliefs about my body that I needed to let go of.
I needed to know that the shame I felt inside wouldn’t last forever, and somehow, I would heal and enjoy sex again.
When our marriage ended, I went out into the world believing that I deserved to be treated like an inanimate object. Naturally, that expectation created more opportunities for me to feel worthless.
I thought that having sex with casual partners would help me to get back in touch with myself. What it did was provide a temporary distraction from all the things I didn’t want to deal with. Like, my looming divorce hearing, the stress of returning to the workforce after being a stay at home mom for the better part of 10 years, or the scars from my youth that had begun bleeding again.
Gradually, the newness wore off of my new found freedom. I was no longer giddy at the thought of another meaningless sexual encounter.
My body began giving me feedback. I felt that little twinge in my solar plexus. The one that says, “Don’t do it.” I ignored that little twinge for as long as possible.
Then, one of my “special friends” sent me a text one night:
“Hey, beautiful! I’m going to be in town next week. Wanna f*ck?”
The words stung. For whatever reason, that was the night that I could no longer suppress my inner guidance.
“I’m not doing casual stuff anymore.” I replied.
“Well that’s a shame. We had some good times doing casual stuff.”
“True. But, I know that causal stuff makes me feel like a sperm toilet. I can’t do it anymore.”
I shocked myself. It was my first confession of the silent brutality I had suffered.
I certainly would have felt safe with him. He was right—we always had a good time together. But, the whisper inside was becoming a roar. I could ignore it no longer.
I was still hurting inside. I realized that before I would be able to experience real intimacy with a new partner, I would have to spend some time getting to know myself again. I would have to learn to love myself—with all my flaws, and the wounds of my past, and all my insecurities.
I would have to learn to honor myself as the goddess that I am, without the male validation that I craved so deeply.
“I am truly sorry if I have ever made you feel that way,” he responded expertly.
His kind words opened a floodgate of tears. It was as if he was apologizing for every man who had ever treated me poorly, used me for sex, objectified my body, or otherwise disrespected the divine feminine spirit who dwells inside me.
In that moment, he was my abuser, my father, my ex-husband, and every partner who had ever left me feeling used.
He was every man who felt it appropriate to grab my ass when I walked by, or stare directly into my cleavage instead of looking me in the eye.
He embodied the source of my pain, and his apology swept across every transgression.
“It wasn’t anything you did. It was me not loving myself the way I deserve to be loved.” I replied.
I knew that in that moment, I was changed. I was healed. I could see the pattern clearly, and had no choice but to break it.
I could no longer trade physical gratification for my self-respect.
Today I know, maybe for the first time in my life, that I am whole. The abuse and neglect from my past does not define me.
I am no longer porcelain. I am a brilliant diamond, faceted and radiant with beautiful light. I am a goddess—divine and sacred. Uniquely and perfectly created with purpose.
I know that I am worthy of love in every way—emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual—I deserve to have it all.
Today I know that we teach people how to treat us. When we accept less than we deserve, it only reinforces our feelings of inadequacy. This becomes a vicious cycle of feeling badly about ourselves, allowing others to treat us poorly, feeling badly about ourselves…rinse and repeat.
We can break that cycle the minute we decide that we are worthy of love and respect, and begin demanding it from others.
When we look outside ourselves for validation, we can really only find pain. When we offer love and approval to ourselves, it becomes unnecessary to search for it in temporary distractions.
When we honor the divine feminine spirit inside us, it is impossible to settle for less than we deserve. When we offer unconditional love to ourselves, we teach others how to love us. When we know our worth, we teach others how to cherish us like the amazing miracles we are.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Misty Pittman/Unsplash