I love you and I love your body. I feel honored and happy that you choose to share it with me sometimes.”
We were talking on the phone, having stolen away a few minutes to share with each other how the day was going. When he said these words to me I was only half listening, but something about them spoke to some hidden part of me. As though he had uttered magic words, I have walked through the rest of my day feeling a slow metamorphosis change me from the inside out.
There are things that I believe utterly and hold sacred. That each person owns themselves is one of those truths. Yet, it’s hard to overcome the programming of sexual abuse. Sure, it’s great to own one’s self and body, but if no one else believes it and violates your right to choose, it is very difficult to feel empowered. If he had said anything about me owning myself I would have mentally gone, yeah, yeah, yeah, and moved on. But no, he expressed gratitude that I have chosen to be with him. His appreciation goes straight to my heart. I weep that I am so respected and valued.
The next thing I noticed was that he had no expectations. There was no implication that I was now required to meet any kind of need for him simply because I have given myself to him in the past. His love is not dependent on me meeting his needs. There are no assumptions that I will choose to share with him again. He is simply grateful for each and every time we make love or talk on the phone or make dinner together. I am my own person and he is happy to have me when I choose to give myself.
This brings up the issue of consent for me. I’m not very good about giving clear consent and I think it’s hugely important. In his way, he has always made sure that I was giving full and clear consent to our sexual encounters. I have blossomed in this environment, but it has also confused me. Having given myself initially, I felt that he could do what he wanted with me. When he refused, it felt like rejection. All of a sudden today, I feel like I understand. Even though we are in a serious relationship, we gift ourselves to each other anew, every time we make love. We don’t necessarily have to negotiate, but we do offer consent. This concept makes sex so much more powerful and emotionally driven. We make love because we have something to share. We each bring something to the other and we choose to be there.
When I contemplate his statement some more I am struck by how lucky I am to have him in my life. Like all of us, he struggles to balance too many things. Sometimes I am resentful at how little of his time I have, but when I think of it in terms of what he said to me today, I have to believe that every moment he spends with me is out of choice. He is with me because he loves me and wants to give himself to me. Strangely, this makes me feel better about the times that he is not with me – both because I can choose to devote myself to something else (not being tied to him) and because I feel more confident about him coming back to me. It makes being polyamorous easier. It means that all of us in the system give ourselves where we will, out of love and desire.
I feel so special. I want to hold on to this feeling – like maybe I’m 50 feet tall. I have known intellectually that I owned myself, but I haven’t been able to break away from the culture I grew up in. Whether these were the magic words that transformed me, or the key in the lock that turned the truth golden, I feel freed from a trap I didn’t know I was in.
Darling, I am grateful for your words. I am happy to share my body with you when I choose. I feel so blessed to have you give yourself in return.