Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Showed My Husband Pictures Of Naked Women, And I Didn't Mind.

I had a weird thing happen, several weeks ago. And I keep thinking about it, so I wanted to open a discussion about it.

Yep, a discussion. Something I never do here on my blog. I prefer to tack up my crazy, open heart and peace out before I read any responses that sting just a little bit too much.

But I have a question for you, because I'm having trouble getting to the bottom of this thought.

To explain.

I was reading articles on Retronaut (one of my favorite websites) and found one of Sexual Album Covers from the 1950's. I found the album titles hilarious, and slid my laptop around to show my husband.

I didn't think twice about him seeing a page full of photos like the one above. The sick pang that runs through my gut when I see women in their lingerie in the sidebar of GQ wasn't there. The hurt, the anger, the betrayal, the loneliness that we women feel when slinky, perfect, 24" waist 36" breasted women throw themselves in our men's faces...I didn't feel it.

And so I've been thinking about this.

Why did I not feel instantly thrust back into the "never sexy enough" category?

Why did I not feel like I had to compete with these semi or completely nude women, the way I feel when I see this week's celebrity's leaked nude photos?

Why could I feel like I could flip through a 1947 Playboy with my husband?

What is it that makes one woman beautiful and one woman a slutty threat?

Last week while running errands with my husband, we talked about how this generation has taken everything beautiful and tried to sexualize it. He told me how a woman with her hair up in a sundress will turn every man's head, simply because we are women, and we are beautiful. Beauty is meant to be admired. I know what he's talking about, too - because I've looked at women and admired their beauty. But for both me and my husband, just because a woman is beautiful, doesn't mean we want to sleep with them. But we struggle to believe this now, as women, because feminine beauty barely exists anymore without the thick presence of sexual competition.

And in competition, one person wins, and everyone else loses.

The everyone else? It's our husbands. Our boyfriends. Me. You. Our daughters. Our sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers. Every woman who is real. Even the woman on the billboard who looks at her photoshopped image and skips her dinner to work out, using her own fake image to motivate her further towards an unattainable, loveless, beauty-less sexuality.

Maybe when I look at curvaceous women in these 50's advertisements, I see women who are sexy because they are beautiful. Beautiful because they are women with a womanly form.

Maybe I don't get that sinking, broken feeling because when I look at those women I know that I am one. Instead of seeing a woman I can never be, I see myself as a woman who is part of the female race everywhere, inherently possessive of beauty and sexuality.

Maybe the fact that our men look at other women isn't what's really destroying us the most. Maybe it's that our men are learning to compare us to a woman that doesn't exist.

And maybe, deep down in our souls, we've known all along that other women aren't our competition - but we sit helpless, having no one else to hate and blame for our loss, as we watch our beauty be stripped from us because we are unable to play by the new rules.

But I don't know, still, really. What are your thoughts?

Oh and PS. If you want to leave a comment and tell me to stop being threatened by other women, or that my husband was lying to me and really does want to sleep with every beautiful woman, and that I'm just an insecure woman blogging about my problems, you can please leave and never come back to my blog again. Thank you for understanding, and for not being ridiculous.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Thoughts On Getting Used To Marriage - And Confessions On Not Seeing God.

Disclaimer: I adore my husband. I love that we are married. Marriage is incredible. But marriage is neither "just so amazing!" nor "always so terrible." It is both. Life is life, and the ups and downs are ever present, regardless of our relationship status. This is my attempt to be honest about both.

- - -

Last night, I shoved my feet into the boots I was married in. I don't notice anymore that my socks don't match. When you dig them out of a duffle bag for the 428th time, socks are socks and the color of the toe doesn't matter much. I did notice that my socks were too thick for these boots, and I cursed them for it.

It's been 10 days off the road, 10 days in Hollywood, and 10 days in our first apartment. 133 days of being married.

My socks should match now, but in furnishing an empty apartment with our income, new socks are not on my priority list.

So, I fought about how much we should spend on a new dresser with my husband, standing in my wedding boots, on the corner of Sunset and Vine.

Just like we'd fought about everything else this week. Food, groceries, carpet cleaner, sex, the color of our clothes hangers, the brand of garlic salt, bath mats, cash vs credit, and parking.

We were late for church. We'd spent too much money. We told the girl with the dresser "maybe," and then my phone died.

I told Max where to park. I picked where we sat. I mentally bitched at the announcement-giver and churches everywhere who ask you to "squish" down to seat people that walk in late. Our collective "squishing" just opened 247 seats for 4 people.

I recited all the lines in every song, thinking only about the days when single-me attended a church with enough room down front to go sing my heart out to songs I knew and loved. Thinking about how I used to go to church alone, sing alone, and disappear alone. I met God, and I met God every single Sunday. I loved it. I missed when my life was just me and God. My life. I could do what I wanted. I could make it an entire 24 hours without speaking to a soul.

And then I looked at the entire row of single girls in front of me.

I imagined what they were feeling when they sang. Praying to be able to pay their bills. Praying for boyfriends. Praying for husbands. Praying to not be alone. Waiting on God. Because that's what we do when we're single. We wait upon God. When we're single, heartbreak is ever present, and that's okay. Present in our past break-up, present in our single-ness, present in what we dread in the future. And we find God there, with us. It's rich.

I wanted to join them.

I wanted to shout that I was confused. That being married isn't a solution to The Great Ache. That love is beautiful but so broken, too. That broken and alone was easier than broken with another broken person.

But then God whispered: "Lauren, when you're lonely, it has nothing to do with other people. It has to do with you and Me."

Lauren, when you're lonely, it has to do with you and Me.

Lauren, when you're angry, it has to do with you and Me.

Lauren, when you're selfish, it has to do with you and Me.

Lauren, when you're worried, it has to do with you and Me.

Lauren, when you're bitter, it has to do with you and Me.

Lauren, when you're jealous, it has to do with you and Me.

It has nothing to do with other people. It has only to do with our heart and His.

I slowly stood and followed my husband up to communion. I stood behind him in single file line, in the dark, like I was just another girl at church. Not his wife. I felt like he didn't want to be there with me. I hoped he felt that. Because I was feeling it. And then he reached out his hand behind him and took mine, and my heart broke.

I wanted this. I asked for this. I prayed for this. I begged God for this. I am blessed. I am fed, clothed and sheltered. I am loved. I am recipient of the greatest gift in the universe. I have everything. I know this. What is wrong with me?

And so, I went to where the prayer team was, sat in a corner, and cried. Until someone offered to pray for me. If you have never poured out your hurt to someone you've never met, and had them pray with you - for you - over you - with you, you have missed out on what it means to have brothers and sisters in Christ. You have missed out on bearing one another's burdens. Overcome your fear next Sunday and just do it.

"I have never left you. I have never forsaken you. I am not a God who punishes his children without reason. I am not a God who turns his back on you. I am not angry with you. I am not disappointed with you. I know where you are."

I sobbed and asked God if I'd done the right thing. If everything was going to be okay. If I would feel Him again like I used to. If I would learn to be close to Him all over again, now that I'm married. If our bills would be paid. If this was Right. If this would be too hard for me, for us.

"Seriously, Lauren? I have stripped depression away from you. I have removed you from the place you didn't want to be. I gave you a man that you love, who loves you. I gave you passion again. I gave you Good Women Project. I gave you a Story. I gave you new friends who know my Love. I let you travel across the country. I did miracles in front of you. I gave you the awe-commanding sunset behind your wedding on a cliff. I gave you Family. I gave you a new home. And tonight, I brought you to be with children who love me - and sat you at the feet of a woman who would pray over you until you Felt me again. - - - And you ask where I've been? If this is right? If I still love you?"

I saw Him again. I heard Him, where I should have heard him a dozen times before. We forget what he has done when we do not intentionally sit at his feet in our mess. We are blind, until we ask Him to let us see. I re-learned unconditional love.

We went home silently, and I held onto his hand for dear life. Remember your first love. I kissed him and I apologized. I made dinner, and I apologized more. I refused to let him help clean up. I sent him to bed to watch what he wanted to watch and found joy in doing the work so that he could play. Love. Not-about-me love. This is what happens when we see God. It is necessary to see Love in order to give love.

I could write a book on last night, and the perspective that God righted in my heart. On marriage and learning to confess everything. On knowing that really, really hard doesn't mean really, really bad. On how it is not human nature to believe that someone is going to love you unconditionally, and that it isn't human nature to love them back unconditionally.

But instead, I share my little story of Sunday. A reminder of the blessing we have in one another. Of seeking God until we find out He's been there the whole time. And of being thankful for what we have, because it's so much better than we know.

And to say thank you to my husband for letting me pick out the bath mat. That we still don't have, because I'm unforgivably picky.

I love you. And I love that we are re-learning to love Him together.