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Comprehensive Disclosure

Comprehensive Disclosure

Tonight welcomed in a strange moment for me.

The man I once called my husband, who abased and destroyed me emotionally and mentally and left me fishing for dignity, self-worth, and any remnants of pride in who I am and all I can be… this man was sitting in my living room and we were laughing and holding a friendly (if respectfully distant) conversation.

If you had told me a year ago that this would be happening right now, I would’ve been completely confident that you were wrong.

This is a good and beautiful thing, and redeems a lot of pain for me. It was accompanied months ago by profound and sincere apologies, and has gradually evolved into a confident acceptance that things are over, and done, and were very, very wrong, but that people can change, and redemption can look like moving forward as parents to our son in an amicable and respectful fashion.

This is where things are now. In many ways because I have found myself; found my own two feet, my “balls”, my confidence in my beauty and strength and abilities, again. It took at least 11 months to do so.

Here is where you should probably stop reading, if you’re a very religious person, my parents, a man (this may wind up coming off as male-bashing although this is not the intent) or an interested party.

So basically, if you’re a female, non-lesbian, non-relative, uninterested atheist, this is for you… ha.

Here’s where we get into the gritty, gory, messy details of the rebound confusion and self-discovery phase post relationship.

*God alone is my judge.*

—–

After my ex and I split up last year, I was lost. So incredibly lost.

With the culture I grew up in, all I knew was monogamy… committed, defined, going-somewhere-(and-fast) relationships. The only man I had “known” was my husband.

I was naive, abased, had no sense of value, and no real understanding of the world when it comes to relationships, sex, and male-female interactions outside of monogamy.

Where was I? Where did I want to be? Who did I trust?

It has taken me a while to figure these things out. During that first 6 months of a rebound phase, sex just happened, quite a few times. It really did. But not in great ways.

I went from someone who had waited 23 years for sex to someone who was so stupid and sheltered, she would place herself in situations (a car at night to talk, trusting and agreeing to “just sleep, no sex” in bed with someone, late night outings or isolated movie times at someone’s house) where someone would make a move, I would be taken aback, but then have so little self-value that I simply caved even when I really didn’t want a hookup.

I remember many promises men made “not to f*ck [me]”, many suggestions of interest in a relationship, cards played, mind games, blameshifting, tactics, working of angles to confuse and manipulate me.

I was weak. Lost, unaware of the value I held. I caved. Over, and over. A few times I said no… the kept going, and I simply gave in and felt empty, used, disrespected, stupid, almost like throwing up amidst it all.

There was #1.
He was a “no”. I was in a situation I shouldn’t have been in, sleepy and disoriented and alone with him. He seemed aloof and respectful, and then he wasn’t. And I just didn’t care anymore. I gave in after faint protests.

There was #2.
A few days later, lessons unlearned, the “two adults taking care of each other, no big deal, just sex” card played, taken. I said no a few times this time, I felt dirty and empty… and cheap.

There was #3.
Through a friendship, one I trusted. I didn’t know how to relate to men without sexuality after so long being that for one person… I was beginning to enjoy realizing I was wanted, after the one person I really wanted did not want me…. and it was consensual, but still so empty of meaning.

There was #4.
A player, the best at his game, manipulative, crafty, a liar, and a douche bag. Ignored attempts at asking for respect and the strangest, most awkward engagement so far.

There was #5.
If you count him, some favors given and received after he pushed me to believe he wanted a relationship, and that “men need sex to feel love”. No sex, but sexuality. More emptiness when a few days later, he admitted to zero interest in who I am as a person.

There was #6.
A major front given online, to others, to the world. Supposedly, a man of honor, integrity, who treats women with respect. Who drew me into a situation after months of talking on promise of helping with my career, and pushed physical boundaries, made me feel guilty for saying no. .. and so very stupid when I gave in and realized a day later that I was doing the walk of shame, and that that was all he wanted from me.

Over, and over, and over.. this continued for a while. I was desperately searching for something to mimic the companionship and consistency and intimacy of my first relationship, back at the beginning. I longed for it.

During this time I began to realize a few things about myself and the world. Here they are:

1. Far too many people trust themselves.
Men, and women. Even the good men think they can keep it to “just a kiss” or a cuddle, but any straight heterosexual male who has been in my bed has quickly forgotten those restrictions. I think I can keep them at that door, “keep the wolf at bay”, if you will, but I am weak in certain situations.

2. Wisdom looks like learning to not put yourself in situations where those boundaries and willpower may be tested.
The more I remove myself from those types of interactions, the less drama is in my life and the less regrets I have.

3. Sex has become the H2O of our generation.
People reach for it and ask for it and demand it and feel entitled to it from others like one grabs a bottled water in a checkout line.

4. 90% of men want to f*ck me.
Only a small percent of them are interested in more than just hooking up; a small percent convince themselves it’s not “just sex” so they don’t feel like tools but are completely emotionally unavailable; 10% (at most) and 10% only are interested in friendship or wouldn’t take a chance if I offered it, and the majority have so little value for me or themselves that they’re able to make “convenience store sex” the standard for performance.

5. No means no.
My original instinct is a good one. If I say no once, and that’s blown past, it’s rape. Stop, no, don’t = GTFO.

6. Just because I’m treated nicely or someone pays for dinner doesn’t mean I owe them anything sexually.
Men who work on a give and take system of treating a woman a certain way in order to acquire favors they then believe they deserve are dbag jackasses and not worth a moment of my time.

7. It is possible to have intense sexual chemistry and zero relationship potential.
This was really tough for me to learn because it was so outside of my experience. It was a shock to realize you can have physical attraction and a “spark” without relationship development. Discerning which is which (and if both are present) takes practice.

8. Men are manipulative bastards, even the nice ones (sometimes).
The good ones don’t always mean to, but still find ways to coerce you into intimacy. The bad ones do it on purpose. Sooooo many guys played or tried to play the “it’s just sex, you’re overthinking it” card, the “this will help you heal emotionally” card, the “you owe me because __ card”, the “this is normal and should be expected even outside of anything long-term develping” card, and the “you’re a bitch if you don’t” card. I’ve learned to essentially say “shut the f*ck up and stop playing mind games to get your d*ck wet”. Forgive the bluntness, but it must be said.

9. The best sex involves a marriage of minds and bodies.
Mental compatibility and a desire to explore someone’s mind, emotions, and heart make for some crazy amazing physical connections if there’s also chemistry there. The rest of sex (for me, at least) feels cheap and stupid and very over-the-counter.

10. Save that sh*t.
Screw the 3-date rule, the roadtrip rule, the time frames given or demanded by others or by what society seems to think is acceptable. Take your damn time. Don’t cheapen that type of intimacy by throwing it around. If you let the sexual side of any relationship drive relational development, the rest of the important compatibility departments like respect and fun and friendship will struggle to keep pace.

Take your sweet effing time.

After that first string of empty, unwanted, painful, confusing hookups and some tough life lessons…

There have been a few guys who never demanded it, didn’t expect it. Waited for it. Honored me, themselves.

Made me feel wanted without feeling violated, and respected without feeling unwanted.

As I’ve learned to really value myself again, to own my potential and interest and strength and beauty, I’ve quit frequenting convenience stores. I’m going all gourmet with that *sh. Making it count, making it last, keeping it for the best moments, the best people.

You can judge me all you want, condemn me, preach at me for my casual discussion of sex. But this learning curve of sexuality, of understanding how to take care of myself, but also simply rediscovering that I am WANTED, was a powerful and beautiful thing.

Simple lessons in profound ways, through profound pain and much confusion, but lessons well-learned.

*CHEERS*

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Strength vs. Control: Dating 101 PT 1

edge

In the bodybuilding world, if we’re being honest, the focus is actually on how strong you LOOK, not how strong you ARE.

This is why crossfit competitors and powerlifters and competitive athletes have my respect. Don’t get me wrong, TONS of work goes into bodybuilding competition prep, but the focus is on how you APPEAR, not how functional your fitness actually IS.

Let’s carry this analogy over into my personal experience in the dating world.

Growing up in a strict church culture, I wasn’t allowed to date anyone until I was 18, preferably later. I was in two fairly long, committed relationships between the ages of 18 and 23. I was single for about 6 months and then met my ex and was married for 3 years.

My abuse counselor has been pushing me to be open to casual dates for the sake of self-recovery and healing as I make my way through the difficult process of moving on from an deeply abusive experience. Trust me, I wasn’t thrilled with the idea.

What I’ve found is that for some reason, I have been conditioned to view a certain “type” of guy as “attractive”: the guys who give off that strong, aggressively “masculine” vibe; the military guys, construction workers, trainers, cops, coaches… usually guys in that line of work are instantly “attractive” to me by the way they carry themselves and the confidence which they portray.

The key word is “portray”.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: I am in NO way identifying these job descriptions with abusive behavior or writing any of them off. I am simply speaking from personal experience. There are wonderful, loving men in every profession and equally terrible, abusive, controlling men of every job description. I also have a deep personal respect for the careers these men choose and particularly for the sacrifices made by military men and their families. “Rah!”

No matter what the job description of the guys I’m typically attracted to, I’ve come to find that MANY times this “overtly masculine” vibe is actually a harsh mask for deep insecurity and controlling behavior.

Here’s a stellar example:

I meet – let’s call him “John” – John at the gym. John is pushing some serious weight, he’s rugged, tall, “confident”, and clearly approaches me to ask if I’m using the tricep press for one reason.

I’m flattered. We flirt a little.

John gets my number.

I have a deep feeling of concern which I ignore over attraction.

Texting happens over the next week or so.

John disappears. Then reappears, more interested then ever.

I fail to text John back one evening while working a 6 hour shift on my feet (no phones allowed).

I return to my phone to a string of insecure, concerned text messages such as “Where are you?” “Are you okay?” “I hope I didn’t offend you” “I didn’t mean that to sound that way” “I know sometimes I come off too strong” “If you’re upset at me you should tell me, you’re being immature” “I guess I’ll talk to you later, this is ridiculous”.

In the span of a few hours of not talking, in a non-committed relationship with someone I barely know, this man has gone from happy and confident to angry, upset, self-abasing, worried, anxious, critical, and dismissive.

Whoa. BRAKES ON.

If you find yourself CONSTANTLY having to reassure someone you’re not even dating (let alone actually in a committed relationship with) that you’re honest, loving, non judgmental, faithful, and available in order to make them feel they have self-worth and that you’re “into them”:

BACK THE EFF OFF.

One of the things I’ve learned in abuse counseling has been the vicious path that

  • begins with insecurity
  • moves on into fear
  • then to control
  • then to anger
  • and then to abuse.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Lesson #1: Don’t date anyone who “needs” you to be constantly affirming in order to feel they have value.

Here’s another scenario for you (these actually happened):

“Ryan” comes to me as a client via FB. We hit it off via email and move to texting or phone calls.

Things are going swimmingly: we have a lot in common, easy dialogue, attraction. I’m considering saying yes to the offer of a coffee date.

After a few days of talking, Ryan starts pushing a very sexual vibe into our conversations.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sex. I miss it. I had a deep, personal, intimate relationship with my ex and a very steamy sex life (at first). Might be TMI, but I’m just saying.

I’m uncomfortable with the vibe. I’ve been used and hurt and I’ve come to understand that friendship and care are the basis for healthy relationships. You need passion and sexuality, but you can’t start there.

I’m very, very hesitant to give into this type of talk. Ryan pushes and uses all sorts of manipulating phrasing and sentences like “Guys need sex to feel love” (we’re already talking about love??), “You’ve just been hurt, you need to let go of it and move forward”, “If you never open yourself up to a passionate relationship with someone again, you’ll just be lonely forever”, “You know I’m not that guy, I’m really into you”, “I’m not asking for much, just tell me/show me ___”.

SCREEEEEEECH. BRAKES ON AGAIN.

There’s a REASON time has taught me to distrust this as a starting place for anything healthy and real and lasting.

Once again, it may come off as confident and flattering, but in truth it’s from a place of selfishness and control. It’s manipulative and it’s probably not new to them.

The right guy will understand several things about me, and these may apply to you as well (guy or girl):

  1. The right person will understand your hurt and be patient with it.
  2. The right person will value you as an individual enough to wait until you’re ready.
  3. The right person will be secure enough and ACTUALLY, truly strong enough to avoid rushing the relationship.
  4. The right person will let time develop intimacy and will not ask you to prove yourself.
  5. The right person will make you feel safe, vs questioning yourself every time they want something you aren’t ready for.

I describe my previous relationships and mistakes to people often as “instant coffee relationships”:

Very hot water. Add nasty fake coffee. Strong, heady, quick, hits you right away… and then the grinds start separating from the water, it goes all lukewarm because you only nuked it, and you’re left with a bitter aftertaste.

Lesson #2: The good stuff takes time.

So French Press that bitch if you want it to last.

Be very careful to cautiously analyze whether or not someone is legitimately strong in character, intentions, and integrity.

I’m learning to redefine “strong”, “masculine”, and “attractive”. I’m reconditioning myself to appreciate the humble, patient, loving, caring, quietly confident types. Those are the good ones.

You would think I would’ve picked up on that a long time ago, because my mother married one, and 30+ years later, they’re happy as can be.

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The S-E-X Word

Yea, you read that. Let’s talk about SEX.

Whoa, whoa, fitness blog! Nah, I told you things might get spicy.

DISCLAIMER: This is my PERSONAL opinion, and I understand and respect that everyone has their own.

Let’s get the preachy part over with first.

I’m not sure when this happened, but somewhere along the way since the flower-child free-love drugs-galore era where sex as a pastime was normalized (not all a bad thing) sex has become the easy-button go-to for that empty, lonely feeling we all get.

People go through pain or emotional/relational challenges in their marriage, friendships, relationships, work environment, you name it and they decide they have a “need” that needs to “be met”. So they cash in. Maybe through a connection online, maybe through someone special in their life, maybe through someone not so special, or maybe through a “f*ck buddy”, someone they can call up when they just feel their sex-tank is on “E”.

The inner dialogue seems to go something like this:

“Oh man, my sex drive is growling. Must be time for some nookie again”

“Geeze, nothing in the freezer. I thought I had some on standby. Bummer”

“Since I can’t microwave this, I’ll have to grab a phonebook and have it delivered… what a hassle”

“Yea, I’ll have that… with a side of endorphins and no shame please”.

I just don’t get it.

Granted, I was raised in a culture that went to the opposite extreme, where sex was an almost taboo word and the concept of any intimacy (including hand holding) outside of marriage was a carnal sin.

HOWEVER.

Having made some choices in my past that I legitimately regret and having been out of that culture for a while; having explored various religions myself and come to terms with what I personally know and accept about God and the afterlife and standards of conduct, I STILL find myself frustrated by this convenience-store concept of sex and intimacy.

Here’s why.

My reasons don’t really have to be “biblical”. In an age where hedonism is all we live for, where generation Y is hell-bent on doing everything they can to reach the ultimate end goal of personal gratification, we get lost in the rat race for success and satisfaction and miss the cost aspect of the things we do to cheapen things that are priceless.

I’m of the old fashioned, grab-me-some-dentures and pour-me-some-prune-juice opinion that sex is INTIMATE and SPECIAL and AWESOME and reserved for someone who is in fact INTIMATELY involved in your life, SPECIAL (like no one else is), and AWESOME beyond explanation. Now that I’ve used up my ’90s child vocab…

I personally feel like the more sex you have, the emptier it becomes. I’m not talking about sex with that special person (we will get to that), I’m talking about sex with everyone else. There’s actually science that shows that we only have a limited amount of dopamine receptors, and when we max those out we will never achieve that first rush feeling of sexual gratification again.

Well that sucks.

Why can’t we keep sex on the top shelf and not make it the cheap version of what we really want to drink? We all know the thrill and intensity that comes with sex inside of a loving relationship with someone we want ALL OF, including their mind, soul, heart… we love them COMPLETELY, and there’s a special intensity that comes with THAT kind of sex.

YES, everyone has a desire for sex (some more than others), but just like any other desire, there’s ways to meet it without going A-WOL. I like sweet stuff. I choose low-sugar fruit when I’m competing because my end-goal is worth giving up the chocolate cake for.

If you can genuinely say you really don’t want a fulfilling, deep, intense, passionate relationship with someone else as an end-goal then more power to you, I won’t judge you. Your end-goal, in your world, justifies the normalization of shopping-cart sex. But not for me.

Having indulged myself in the best type of all-out, multiple-times-a-day (yea, TMI, sorry), complete, awesome, intense, passionate, loving, trusting, beautiful type of sex, I want to hold out for that. I’ll snack on fruit while I wait (how sketchy is THAT analogy) but I’ll give up the chocolate cake for the sake of coming in first place in the end.

On to the practical. Some quick bullet points:

1. SEX SHOULD BE FUN. Some positions are tried and true for a reason, but everyone should be open to experimenting. If you really trust and love someone let them do it upside down and backwards if they want to. If you really can’t physically deal with it, that’s your choice, but be open to experimenting. Sex goes stale when it’s too boring or when everything is “expected”.

2. SEX SHOULD BE REAL. Get over the movie-screen romance-novel version and get lost in the moment. You might hit your head on a wall, someone might burp, that button won’t unbutton, they might not do exactly what you want. #REALLIFE. Get used to it. When you script it in your head everyone will enjoy it less. Get lost in it.

3. SEX INCLUDES COMMUNICATION.

The BEST sex means you’re talking, to some extent. Once you get over the movie-screen version and stop scripting, start talking, start asking questions. In my relationship before things got bad, sex got better with time because you get used to asking what the other person wants. The more you get to know your partner, and they get to know you, the better it is.

4. SEX SHOULD BE SELFLESS

Now, this does go BOTH ways. BOTH people have to be focused on the other person’s satisfaction and enjoyment to have really awesome sex. But don’t forget your part in that. Get rid of the script, ask questions, and then take pleasure and joy in making the other person happy. I promise it pays off.

5. SEX ISN’T JUST WHEN YOU WANT IT

Cut the selfish act. Unless you’re physically ill or you really really have a crazy to-do list, be willing to give up the right to demand when you want but not meet when they want. Those of you who want it less often, give in and be surprised by how much fun you have. Often it’s just a mental block that keeps you saying “he has a stronger sex drive” or “she wants it but I’m too tired”.

Summary:

Sex is awesome, intimate, special. Keep it for someone who is.

Sex (great sex) is real, unscripted, communicative, often, and unselfish.

Just my two cents.

xoxoxo

-sportyspice

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