The tires of my car slid just a bit as I pulled into the driveway. The day had been long and I was later getting home than I had wanted. Gathering up my stuff I felt that part of me that likes to get everything in one trip working to figure out how to make it happen. Purse first onto my left forearm, bag of groceries next on the same arm, apple store bag next slung over my right shoulder, now to pick up the LARGE vase of flowers that had arrived at work for my birthday, finally I grabbed my computer bag with my right hand. With a solid bump from my hip the back car door was closed and I was feeling pretty accomplished.
I managed to open the back door and step up into the laundry room, the dark gray slate floor making up the base for the maze to be navigated. Mark’s tool bag, Elly’s laundry basket, snow boots, the dog…I don’t know for sure what I tripped over but it was happening, I was falling, nothing to hold onto because I was carrying too much.
I went down hard, and couldn’t stop myself, the large vase of flowers was bound to shatter, it felt inevitable.
This….this feels like a perfect representation of what the word “Sex?” does as it rolls around inside of me.
Well, that feels awkward, a bit like juggling too many things while hoping to just get into the house in one trip.
So much baggage to hold with there.
I have no memories of the word or the concept of sexy being encouraged, nurtured or blessed in my growing up years. If anything the message being sent LOUD and CLEAR was that all good Christian girls must avoid this word. No spaghetti straps, nothing strapless, no halters. Skirts much be appropriate, not too tight, not too short, not “too” anything. Breasts…well, keep them covered, appropriately garmented, and really let’s not talk about them and maybe they will go away.
Even today, the word sexy is hard to wear.
It takes a fair amount of effort to keep the voice of my critic quieted inside of me; she seems to be on high alert! Noticing the anxious ten-year-old part of me that feels foolish and the nineteen-year-old part of me that feels dirty, the critic notices and her voice speaks words from the past about being appropriate and where I’m over the edge. Reminding her that all is well and all shall be well even if we are playing with the fiery word “sexy” is a very real thing for me.
Yep, that’s got a lot of baggage with it also. I mean really the word sexy and the word “sex?” are all part of the same thing inside of me.
This is a place where I really like it best when Mark hears my car in the driveway and is waiting for me in the garage. He gathers up all the bags effortlessly and all I have to worry about is carrying my relatively small purse into the house. He’s cleared the way in the laundry room, and it’s a smooth transition from the garage into the kitchen where a lovely glass of cold chardonnay is poured and waiting for me.
You get what I am saying here, right?!
When Mark is willing to do it all just the way I like it, anticipating what I need without me asking for anything or taking any responsibility for all my baggage I don’t have to really be present in my body. I don’t have to risk falling and I don’t have to face my fear of the vase shattering on the slate floor.
We lived like that for a lot of years.
That question mark is the perfect punctuation for the word.
It honors that for me, at 51 years old I have still have questions about sex. I am still discovering what it means for me to be sexy in a way that feels comfortable, playful, and at rest inside of me. I am still growing in my willingness to bring all of myself to my husband, my body, my desires, my fears, my anxiety, my heart.
Every time I wade into the word “sex?” I have questions and I feel the unsure-ness that lingers in me. I fear that I will surely fall with all I am carrying and inevitably the vase will shatter.
“Sex?” is all about faith inside of me. It’s a place where the damage of abuse collides with the aching of my design as a woman. The damage is felt in my fear, my hyper-vigilance, where I am frozen inside, where the betrayals of the past feel current and palpable.
The aching is deepened by the moments of goodness, anchoring places inside of me where arousal has led to sweet moments of passionate surrender with Mark, and where I have worn sexy and felt like myself in ways that brought a smile to my face and joy and delight from friends who were with me. In that collision risk is present and I am left to choose, shutting down and quitting or taking the risk of remembering and believing that God is present and that deep joy is possible.
That even if I fall the vase doesn’t have to shatter. Because in fact the vase did not shatter, I was bruised and sore from the fall that day but the flowers and the vase stayed intact, it was a bit miraculous. It was a bit like “sex?”.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). She is the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for 28 years, she is mother to five kids. After a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is.
This is beautiful. It made me think about my girl, Waco, and how she is much the same: Wants to be led, wants me to instinctively know, wants to know how sexy I find her every day.
I don’t always get it right, but so far we haven’t shattered the vase.
Thanks for responding. I love that you keep returning to her even when you don’t get it right. Blessings to you and Waco.
I love your picture of falling down and shattered glass as the way sexy often feels inside…broken and precarious. I have seen your sexy when you believed joy was possible, and it is very good! 💗
Broken and Precarious…yes. Thanks for being smiling and delighted face in my life when I am walking in the precarious spaces.
“Sex?…It’s a place where the damage of abuse collides with the aching of my design as a woman…” This statement so eloquently describes the tension I have experienced. Your wise words and honesty set the table with an invitation to hope for so much more. Thank you, my friend, for sharing–always honestly sharing– your beautiful heart! Love to you, Christine
As always, it is so good to hear I am not alone, none of us are alone. Love you too Christine!
Your writing paints a picture and shows us, your readers, so much. Sex is often a precarious balancing act of our past/present/insecurities/desires all colliding at once. You address that so well with the over-filled arms and the vase of flowers and the laundry room floor. Thank you for sharing so honestly and as always, beautifully, from your heart. I love reading your stories.
Thank you for your kindness Barbara, my heart can feel the warmth of it. So Grateful.
I love how this resonates in my heart…the angst and the surrender and everything in between. So many mixed emotions…so many expectations for the sweetness of sex. You have said it well…carry on, my friend!
the sweetness of sex…yes. your response reminds me it something to be savored.
Your words about such intimate places — sex, physical connection, adequacy, hesitancy, body image — are well offered. You were so kind to yourself in this sharing. And your kindness spills over to me as I read and am known in my own precarious journey of sex.
Thank you. I had hoped to be kind and it is good to have that affirmed. Knowing there are compassionate companions on that precarious journey with me is a good thing! Blessings as you journey!
Oh so good! The weaving of it all and what a beautiful ending…a true picture. Beautifully intimate.
Thanks B…it was fun to share the story together over my birthday evening together. Your yes face to the idea of writing it was a blessing.
I loved this Tracy. I was intrigued where the story would go and what was going to happen next. The journey was easy to relate to and the analogy to carrying too much to sex was brilliant. I felt allowed into the circle of being a woman, a human being, a mother, a wife, etc. Thank you for weaving what I had forgotten about being, “sexy”. It seems like a long lost friend that I’d abandoned because of practicality. I think I will pick that word up and try it on again. Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Lovely writing…you seem to do it with such ease….
Thank you Becky. “Abandoned because of practicality”…I get that so much, sexy seems very unpractical! Hoping your Valentine’s wearing of sexy brought sweet things for you and Dan.
Much gratitude for this post and the timeliness of its arrival. I love the analogies made, and they connect on deep levels. HUGE. Thank you dear one.