There are a few stories I could tell here.
One is about the trigger of lingerie.
One is about how I destroyed that trigger.
And one is how I opened up and allowed myself to be vulnerable in a situation that normally scares me.
All of these stories have something in common: I'm facing my fears, people! I can do hard things!
I'm not really sure where this post will take me. I might split these stories up into a couple of posts. We will see what happens as I write.
Oh, ps, it's possible that this post might be triggery. After all, I'm writing about a trigger (but then I destroy the trigger in the end--if that helps you make it through :P).
I remember the last time I wore lingerie. I went a long time without wearing it because of the trauma associated with the addiction in my marriage. I finally felt like I could handle it. I could handle wearing it. I wanted to feel sexy. I wanted that power and, dare I say, peace of feeling good in my marriage. I don't really know what I was thinking--meaning I don't know why I would think that wearing something calling for lust would be a good idea in my situation--because looking back I see that I was pretty much just setting myself up to be a lust object. Or, in the very least, to feel like an object.
After all the work I had done fighting the trauma and the addiction, I thought I could do it. I put it on and happened to look at myself in the mirror. I looked good (no, I don't ever use sexy to describe myself). I looked so good, in fact, that I had a panic attack about it. It stemmed from a lot of things, but the main thing I remember thinking was, "I could be in a porn video. I'm dressed for the part." [Although, to be fair, I'm sure my sexy-look is much more conservative than any porn video. But, I don't know. I've never watched one.] I kept the anxiety and panic to myself at first. I felt like I wasn't allowed to ruin sex when I had basically already told him that it was going to happen. So, I sucked up the panicky feelings and tried to go with the flow.
But I couldn't. And honestly, I don't remember what happened. That is how much it jostled my brain. Either I gathered my strength, stopped what was going on, and broke down sobbing, or I went with it and then broke down sobbing afterwords. Whatever happened, all I remember is the crying. The trauma.
I. could. not. do. it.
Ben, bless his heart, was very patient with me. I mean, he was to my face. I don't know how patient he was in his thoughts. Regardless, he seemed patient with me. I'm pretty sure we went a long time after that without sex again because that last time wearing lingerie was so traumatic for me. All I could think about when I thought about sex was lust, porn, and cheating. I constantly wondered if he was acting in love or lust. I constantly wondered if my body was a trigger for him of the other naked bodies he had seen. I wondered who he was seeing and who he was loving: me or some woman in his head?
Eventually, we packed up our belongings and moved across the country to good ol' Arkansas.
We lived with my parents for ten months, and all the while, my lingerie was packed away.
When we moved into our house, and I unpacked my lingerie, it all hit me again. Each piece had some kind of memory attached to it. There was the one from our wedding night--so full of innocence and naivety. And lies. There were the ones he liked and convinced me to wear the most. Because I was sexy in them. Barf. There were some that were just fun and reflected my personality. But sex was a lie to me. And there was one that I always wore when I dressed for myself instead of him.
The memories flooded at me as I unpacked. And by memories, I'm talking about bad ones. Even the good memories had a sour twist to them because behind every good memory were lies and secrets.
I cried as I unpacked my lingerie. I felt like I could never wear them again.
And then I decided to burn them.
My idea of sex and intimacy in marriage has changed a lot throughout my marriage because of this addiction. It's not a bad thing. I think I'm becoming a better person. I'm learning more about the true meaning of love and how true intimacy works, and to me it's just beautiful. I don't need lingerie to make me feel rotten and dirty. When physically intimate moments happen, they just happen. They are becoming more perfect--in tune with God and the true reason why our bodies are built the way they are. I'm becoming one with my husband through intimacy, and I love how it is helping our relationship.
I don't need lingerie.
My decision to burn my lingerie was a solid two-three months ago. But then things kept coming up that caused me to push this event off. Eventually, I became scared of doing it and started rationalizing myself out of it.
Today, I thought long and hard about my lingerie. I asked myself what the purpose is in keeping it. I asked myself what would happen if it was destroyed. And then I felt fear and anxiety begin to overtake me, and I realized that I had to burn it. I'm not saying that everyone should take this approach to healing: I'm just saying I needed to.
You see, I've been fighting body image issues along with everything else. I don't write about it, and I rarely allow myself to even think about it because I hate it. I know I'm just fine the way I am. I actually really like my body, and I try to remind myself of that every day. But because of many factors that play into the anxiety and problems I'm experiencing in my life, I constantly have this underlying notion that I am not good enough. And I usually play that out through my body image.
Today, I hit a moment where I knew that something I needed to do physically to help myself heal in many areas was to burn my lingerie. So I did. The rotten stuff was so full of poison for me in so many different ways, and physically destroying that poison was one of the most healing things I have done (right alongside burning the addiction).
I started with Ben's favorites--the ones that make me look sexy. Blech. Need I say I hate that word? Then I just kept putting the other pieces on one by one. I ended up keeping one set of lingerie: the one that I wore for me. I kept it as a symbol of hope.
I know I'm not instantly healed just because I burned my lingerie. But I do feel like a piece of me is back where it belongs. I feel more peace, and I feel a little more hope. Or at least I feel like I can keep pressing onward a little bit longer.