Sex in my forties is totally different from at any other time in my life and guess what . . . it’s better. There are several reasons for this, and some changes have blessedly fallen upon me with age and time. Some I’m convinced came from the grace of God. Others were because I finally traveled over baggage that had blocked me as I journeyed along my sexuality. For me, the baggage was the biggest boulder to conquer.
When I was in my thirties, turning 40 sounded dang scary to me, but once I became 40, I found that I suddenly didn’t care as much what others thought of me (which is true bliss by the way). By 40, I was finally OK with wanting what I wanted, and I didn’t care what others thought about what I wanted. It was a gorgeous revelation! I was less inhibited, life was more about me and what I wanted, so even sex became easier.
I felt less trapped by my life with regards to intimacy. It didn’t have to compete, as much, with what kids needed moment to moment because they could get their own snacks, reach their own cups, solve more of their own problems. I wanted my life to be more about time with my husband; I wanted to want more sex, but I still felt lacking. So, I prayed for God to grant the desire to me. One day, in my forties, it fell on me like a miraculous wall, one that has persevered, a wonderful wall that has brought me much joy and intimacy with my spouse because it has helped me separate my baggage from my heart.
Life in my forties has also meant for me that I had now lived long enough and matured enough to ditch pains from hurtful memories that stained and held back my sexuality. Somehow, I outgrew them, healed from them. Horrible things like almost being gang-raped by three drunk teen boys when I was 16, only blessedly saved because an older brother of one of the boys walked into the room. Getting over their comments, their crude “we almost” exclamations as I had walked past them in the high school hall, my eyes down, trying and failing to hide my body that was helplessly open, a feast for their gazes.
It’s hard for a young woman to fit that into her sexuality and not let it color relations with her husband. It really had nowhere good to go. It just sat as a fat sick lump in my gut, rearing its putrid head at the worst possible times when I couldn’t keep it strapped down in a box deep, way down in the unspeakable parts of me. An almost is nowhere near the absolute horrors of an actual, but that almost rape left me with scars that would rip open at times, the memory would gnash its teeth at me leaving my sexuality deformed, deflated, just gone.
Another pitfall I often fell into was the memory of when at 14, I was almost used by a family member as fresh meat, a barter, a meal ticket to get him passage backstage to the private lair of an 80s rock band, where I most likely would have been molested, so all the torrid rumors went about such things.
The lustful eyes from boys when I was a teen, leering looks along with words I don’t want to repeat, the dirty comments from drunks in college bars, the pinches, grabs as I worked as a young girl in a mob-owned bar with older men staring at me like I was the lunch. Dessert. The entertainment.
Just baggage. And mountains of it.
Trekking along my journey to sexual health in mid-life, I had to smooth over all these nasty memories from my past that lay hidden as traps in the grassy lawn of my intimacy. I would be walking along the tall greens, enjoying moments of my sensuality when I’d suddenly step in a hole. I knew the traps were there littered about, the memories always there to haunt me, permanent scars lurking beneath the tall wavy wispy greens. I didn’t always know when I’d fall into one and which painful memory it would be. Memories would grab me like an anaconda and pull me to the ground, tumble me out of wanting to be sexy and playful as it dragged me into the hole.
How does a young woman fit these experiences into intimacy with her husband? I couldn’t smooth those rough spots into my sexual self. I struggled to fit all of this crap into my sexuality for literally years; with time, I’ve come to heal, and with the help of God, things are good now and I feel blessed. Finally, I can let these memories bubble up to the top and boil off into the sky.
But, back in my thirties, there was also the coercive duality of just being a woman, with three pregnancies, births, and a miscarriage all impacting my sexuality. My body that had been a glory sexually at the beginning of my marriage was then used to make and nourish babies. My breasts that were once part of my sexuality fed each of my babies. I nursed them with the beautiful God-given ability to provide them with milk, then those same breasts were supposed to fall back and be a part of sexual intimacy again as if the other never happened. I was unsure how I was supposed to feel as I grew and birthed babies out of the very same home that housed my sexual pleasure.
Talk about body image confusion.
I certainly had a hard time with the flip-flop of being a woman, a mom, a woman, back and forth again, and on repeat. I somehow lost the woman I was for a while when I was in my thirties with babies, nursing, childcare, housework, work, life. I became more mom than wife. Now, in my forties, I’m learning and reclaiming some of the woman back, and it’s pure ecstasy.
When my husband and I were a young married childless couple, sex was easy because any time of day that we were home worked. There weren’t babies to feed, butts to wipe, meals to be made, baths to give. The simple grace of time is a giant factor in being able to achieve some intimacy as a married couple and with young kids who need help with most everything, we didn’t have much time left for ourselves.
Granted we are still busy with our boys being older with homework to help with, soccer and football practice to drive to, not to mention the ever-busy chaos of three boys’ social lives to keep up with, Mom-Uber service here, yours truly. However, now that my boys are all older, they can do a lot for themselves, so my husband and I have more time together for intimate moments. It’s just easier.
Sexuality is complex, and ever-changing, at least for me it has been, but there is hope, and a future, and healing. There is the next chapter, the continuation of story, a beautiful gem hidden in all the grimy rubble, the bad memories, the crud. It might just take a while to dig a way to that shiny glory again, but it’s there, it’s always there somewhere. I didn’t give up and I’m so thankful I weathered the whole journey of it all because I’ve found the best of my sex life isn’t over, it’s only just begun.
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