“What do you desire?” he asked.
I danced all around the question. I gave a superficial answer. It was safe—a half-truth that I could hide behind. I spoke of connection, passion—that sort of thing.
Later, I realized what I had done. I had avoided using the most accurate word, because it was the most vulnerable. When I saw this, I retracted my superficial answer and replaced it with the scary word that I should have said in the first place.
“Love is what I most desire. I’ve done everything else, but never that.”
I spent many lonely, sex-starved years in an unhappy marriage. In the years that followed my divorce, I worked to reconnect with my body. I wanted to feel like a woman again. My desires then were purely physical.
My hungry skin ached to feel a man’s hands caressing her. My imagination was always busy with fantasies, craving nothing more than lust, passion, experience. I knew in my heart that I was too broken to offer anything else to another human being then. Sex was all I had to give.
That was a long time ago.
I’ve worked hard to heal. I experienced all I could in the world, until it wasn’t fun anymore. At some point, casual sex lost its allure. It felt empty, lonely, meaningless—much like the marriage I had ended for the same reasons.
I remember the moment I made the conscious decision to settle in my marriage. The physical part of our relationship was always lacking. It hurt me deeply to feel constant rejection from my partner. I began to hate my body because he did not desire her. Other parts of our life together were pretty great, but that one thing—it was always a thing.
I compared us to a previous relationship that was the opposite. The relationship itself was a total disaster, but the sex was super-hot. I walked away from that relationship years before, because good sex didn’t give me a reason to hold onto someone who was hurting me.
My naïve, young heart thought that these two extremes were the only choices available to me. If I had to choose between having hot sex and our life being a mess, or having our sh*t together in all areas except the bedroom, I chose to sacrifice my physical needs to have a nice life.
It literally never occurred to me that I could have it all.
Having sex, feeling sexy, being intimate with new partners—it was a huge part of the healing process for me. But, I realized it would never satisfy all of what I actually needed. Physical contact without emotional connection became a form of self-harm until I saw that it had become an unhealthy pattern in my life. It depleted me in ways I never imagined.
I put a ring on my own finger on my 37th birthday and pledged a year of celibacy, sobriety and self-discovery. I spent the next year getting to know myself again. It was exactly what I needed. Twelve months of living for me, without expectations, pressures, or influences from anyone else.
Now I realize that not only do I want it all, I deserve to have it all.
I desire touch, physical connection, and intimacy. I want to be ravished. I want to give my body without inhibitions. I want to experience all the wonderful ways our bodies come together for the purpose of pleasure. I want to enjoy sex with my partner, to express myself with him freely, to feel desired.
I want to be kissed well, and often, and everywhere.
I desire physical affection beyond sex. I want eye contact that lingers. Unspoken conversation with a look or squeeze of the hand. I want to be held closely, to sleep in the arms of someone who feels like safety, like home. I want to be embraced at the end of a long day, and at the beginning. I want to feel a strong arm around my waist in that way that says, “This one is mine.”
As much as I need that physical connection with my partner, emotional intimacy is equally important. I’m not willing to trade one for the other again. I’ve learned the hard way that I can only harm myself by engaging in those kind of relationships.
I desire meaningful conversation. I want to talk about everything, and nothing. I want to talk about quantum physics, how we can get water to the people of Appalachia, and what’s really wrong with our healthcare system. I want to talk about our childhoods, Spanish wine, the cheese selection at our favorite grocery stores, and the best memes we saw on the internet today. I want to talk about our fears, our insecurities, our quirks.
I want to talk about what makes us who we are, and why we work so well together. I want to talk about what makes us individuals, and how important it is to maintain those things.
I want to talk about love. What that means to each of us. What we want and need from each other. What scares us most in our relationship.
I want to feel supported emotionally by my partner. I want to know that none of my dreams are too big or too crazy to intimidate or scare him. I want to know that he believes in me—maybe even a tiny bit more than I believe in myself. I want him to accept me with all my flaws, and promise not to try to change me.
I also want him to challenge me so I can grow. I want us to grow together.
He asked me, and I answered. Love is the true desire of my heart.
Unconditionally, honestly, intimately, passionately, beautifully, and completely—I want to be loved. I want to be honored, cherished, adored—and for the first time in my life, I see that I am worthy of such a relationship.
I’ve learned very powerfully, that we never have to settle in love, in life. Knowing our worth, knowing our heart’s desires allows us to set healthy boundaries and expectations. We never have to choose between this or that when we know that we deserve to have it all. We deserve to have all of our needs met, our desires fulfilled, to be loved in every way. We deserve to be ridiculously happy every single day. We simply cannot accept less than that.
Author: Renee Dubeau
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Editor: Catherine Monkman