When Captain Laser Pants returned from his first business trip since our little duderino was born, he left his luggage in front of my closet for over a month. He tripped over it on his way to his bathroom at night, it partially blocked the mini- hallway from my closet to his, it collected dust, the dogs wrestled on it. It was totally and completely in the way. Finally, sometime in May (it had been sitting there since March), I cleaned it out and put it away in the closet where it belongs. Granted, it was only a carry on sized bag, but that one inconveniently placed piece of baggage interfered with our routine every day until I removed it. My bedroom is not for luggage storage!
Ok, this just kind of blew my mind- I in no way had any intention of starting this post about intimacy and baggage like this. Hello, epiphany, it’s nice to see you again.
Unless we lived under rocks until the day we were married, all of us are carrying around some kind of baggage from our past. Some of you have modest, backpack sized histories with neatly tied emotional packages that stow away perfectly in a shoe box in your hall closet. Others, like myself, have a cargo plane full of the baggage/ damage inflicted upon us and by us. Between the idiot ways I treated myself and the ways allowed myself to be treated by others, I am the epitome of the crazy bag lady.
This stuff is about to get real, ya’ll. I have to confess some things.
Today I went to the doctor (whee) for my annual lady visit (TMI, yeah, yeah). We talked about the prospect of Team Gwinn adding another member, and I am seriously struggling with the idea of it. Pregnancy and postpartum ravaged my body. I am so, so fearful that round two will be worse than the first, and leave everything in even crappier shape than it is now.
Rewinding even further back- I’ve had someone tell me I was fat, then too skinny, crazy, hard to look at (especially without makeup, he said), and pretty much every other horrible thing you can think of to say or do to another human being. I tolerated it for four years and crawled out of the rubble that was my self esteem with little more than threads of sanity to claim for myself. Captain Laser Pants is literally a saint, it isn’t even fair to compare the two. My husband is gentle with his words, sincere, generously loving, witty and intelligent, thoughtful and discerning, immeasurably giving AND he’s freaking hot. This man would jump in front of a train to protect his family, and I can call him my own.
How unfair is it to him that I bring my baggage into our relationship?
I would consider myself an absolute authority on insecurity. Some people have swagger for days, I’ve got insecurity for months. What started out as a routine exam this morning turned into a cryfest on my way home. I felt betrayed by my body. When I stopped by to visit my husband at his office and pick up our son (he took our baby to work this morning so I could go to the doctor in peace- so thoughtful, right?!), I saw that his office has a new intern. She’s like 18, crazy thin, blah blah blah. After picking apart my own body at the doctor’s office, I see this girl (who literally has nothing to do with anything) and it makes me feel worse. In the parking lot my husband made out with me (sweet), got frisky and we said we’d see each other later, but I felt shame and insecurity hanging over me. With my perfect baby in the backseat, I boo- hooed on the way home. How ironic is it that I’m writing a blog on insecurity, baggage and intimacy when I suffer from these issues all the time?
Bringing all this baggage into my bedroom has made it very crowded. It is impossible to feel sexy and confident when my 75 year old boobs and my 14 year old face are mocking me. It’s hard to hear my husband’s sweet voice tell me he loves me and thinks I’m beautiful when words from years past still haunt my ears.
Let me tell you, reader, intimacy is a great (and I mean GREAT) remedy for insecurity, if you just put down your barriers to let it happen. There is nothing so soothing as the comfort of your spouse’s arms. There is nothing so peaceful as your partner telling/ showing you that they love you, warts (and baggage) and all. Your husband (and mine for that matter) doesn’t see the tiny imperfections you magnify. Your wife is significantly more forgiving with you than you think- you just have to let your spouse step up to the plate and prove this to you.
So, what is marriage supposed to look like, even though baggage is present? I heard a really awesome idea, and though it’s not my own, I’m going to share it with you. The act of marriage – what it looks like – is sex. Where you are vulnerable, naked, raw, honest and SAFE – that is marriage. I can remember being in high school and hearing the youth pastor condemn sex before marriage, but not really taking the time to explain why. As an adult (and you may not agree with my religious beliefs, and that’s ok) I understand that every time you give a piece of yourself away to someone that isn’t your husband or wife, you receive more baggage in return. The rejection and the abandonment that one experiences after a sexual relationship is over is deteriorating to the heart. You can’t reconcile that loss. You just end up moving on, bringing along another piece of luggage to the next relationship. In marriage we should be able to shed the past and be made new as one person in our union, but more often than not, we drag along the past rather than cutting the cords we use to tow it.
Don’t bring your baggage to your bedroom. Your spouse already knows it exists and will help you combat what needs to be defeated and will help you put away what belongs in a closet. It is easy to create a chasm between us and our partners when insecurities and baggage are standing between us. You vows included “better” and “worse”. A friend of mine said that “emotional baggage is like wearing sunglasses” in that your perspective is impaired and colors are viewed in the wrong light. I am going to remember that when I start to skew my perception of my marriage and myself. Your partner doesn’t want to hurt you, and you owe it to your spouse to give them your trust.
Speaking of trust, once that light is on in your head, it’s easy to be intimate with someone you trust. It’s easy to be honest with your best friend when she’s never spilled the beans, right? Your spouse has earned your trust- reward that. Physical intimacy is a beautiful response to the hurt insecurity can leave. Even when I felt deflated after mini- Gwinn was born, and exhausted from the complete lack of sleep, the comfort of my husband was vital to my survival. We reconnected when I felt alone, I felt beautiful even when I could fold a Christmas present with my extra stomach skin (eww!), and I felt safe with him. It can be really difficult to find time and energy to reconnect physically after the birth of a baby (heck, it can be difficult period), especially when the mummy isn’t feeling yummy. I suggest (from personal experience) investing in some nice “in between sizes” lingerie that flows away from the body. A flowing sheer teddy is flattering and forgiving. Bring home chocolate and flowers for your wife- it’s cheesy, it’s easy, and it works. Be nice, give genuine compliments. Hug. Kiss. Kiss again. Intimacy isn’t just about taking things to the bedroom. It’s about displaying the act of marriage- where you are vulnerable, honest, open and safe- to one another regularly.
I’m going to close today by apologizing to my husband for imposing my insecurities on him and thanking him for being the rock in my life. You weather my storms, my ups and downs, you wrap your (big, manly) arms around me, you tell me you love me, and you give me unending grace that I don’t deserve. Thank you for seeing our marriage through the good and the bad and the crazy. I love you endlessly.
Coming soon: the chemical romance, and whatever else you guys tell me you want to see! Let’s see some comments on suggestions for this series. Thank you for reading!!