Since my miscarriage and the physical and emotional toll it took, I’ve been known to occasionally claim that “I’m dead inside.” At my lowest points, it seems physically impossible for me to get turned on, no matter how patient and accommodating Doug is.
Every so often, I have to check in with myself, because one of the red flags that my last relationship was over was that I no longer had any physical interest in my ex-husband – but I did have physical interest in other people. And now, when I have no physical interest in Doug, that memory, and the prospect of another messy and traumatizing breakup, terrify me. So I ask myself: “Do I want to have sex with Doug?” No. “Do I want to have sex with other guys?” As long as this second answer is no as well, I figure I’m doing alright. Or, not alright – it’s a terrible feeling, not wanting anyone or anything (see “dead inside,” above) – but at least safe in my relationship. I would hate to be the last to know it’s over, again.
Of course, I know it’s unreasonable to think that I should want to be with Doug and no one else. I agree with the view of monogamy that Dan Savage preaches: monogamy doesn’t mean you’ll never want to fuck anyone else; it just means that you won’t act on those desires. When Doug and I first started dating, we used to make top-five lists of the coworkers we wouldn’t kick out of bed. I think we surprised each other with some of our answers, but after spending three years in a relationship wherein the other person didn’t want me to so much as have a pulse where other people were concerned, it was nice to actually acknowledge, with my partner, that there were other attractive people in the world.
I’m telling you all this because, for some reason, my body actually feels alive today. Maybe it’s all the time we’ve been spending in the gym – the side effects of which I was starting to think would be limited to my back hurting and my mountain of laundry growing faster than I’m used to. Maybe it’s all the crying I’ve been doing this week; my therapist did tell me at our last session that crying can be like hitting the reset button.
Whatever the reason, last night, Doug and I fell asleep kissing. (I think we were both genuinely too tired to take it to the next level, although he may read this and get upset that I didn’t wake him up and tell him I wouldn’t have said no.) I had a dream that one of my exes – ‘the one who got away,’ if you will – tried to kiss me, and I regretfully turned away. (See, honey? I’m even monogamous in my sleep!) Then I went to work and, while joking around with one of my friends about our store’s bizarre choice of radio station (“Italian Bistro”), confessed that I used to fantasize about being a Mafia wife. It’s a fantasy I hadn’t thought about in years, and I suddenly realized delightedly that the very person I was talking to happens to be Italian, and from New York, and kind of a thug, and that this is probably why I like him so much. (He’s also a member of my original top-five list.)
But kissing and dreaming and flirting, although rare, aren’t completely out of the ordinary for me, even in my recent, muted state. The most surprising thing happened later in my shift, when I was washing my hands in the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I could actually feel the electricity coming out of my eyes. It’s sounds strange, but it shocked me; I made my own heart skip a beat, as I wondered,
“Who is that awake and alert and fully charged person?” and then realized it was me.
I came home and found Doug asleep on the couch, and snuck over to my computer to write before he could make me go watch football somewhere. But I should probably wake him up now and come onto him or something… Who knows how long this phenomenon will last?