‘You can’t be sexy,’ they say. ‘That’s for the privacy of your bedroom, for your husband’s eyes only.’
My husband’s eyes weren’t interested in how sexy I was. I was a release for his anger and his frustration. A hand gripping my arm, a push against my back, a grunt followed by sleep. If sexy meant getting sex then I was successful. If sexy meant feeling loved and desired then I failed.
I failed at my marriage, not because I didn’t try hard enough but because I was always going to fail. A wild child, a free spirit, someone who dances to the beat of a different drum is always going to feel shackled within the confines of a contract that limits connection with other people. I shut down. I withdrew. I turned down the flame that burnt inside me lest it consume me and others.
Those years of subjugating, of submission, of subterfuge were long and painful. I was lucky to escape with only a misguided view of my body, my worth, my importance. It could have been worse – the pain of cancer, the removal of a breast or a womb, high blood pressure and whatever else the burying of emotions brings. I no longer cried, my tears long since dried up.
The explanations are too hard. The place is dark and uninviting and yet it draws me back to it again and again. Am I trying to justify what happened or to explain to myself why it happened? It makes no sense even now. I regret being with him. It’s the one thing I truly regret.
Where is the beauty in suffering? Where are the lessons? God has a plan and a purpose for your life. What was his plan in all of this? If there was a plan, it was a cruel one.
Instead of a reward for my faithfulness, my monogamy, my seal of approval from the church to live with a man, I was punished. Hung from a rope and left to dangle. The oxygen taken away from me, replaced by a gas unable to nurture life. The invisible air of abuse, the silent wind of destruction.
Can I have those years back please? Can I take them from out of the darkness and put them to better use? Can I have love affairs and friendships and random encounters that change my life and those I meet? Can I knock up against the rest of humanity and be shaped and softened by the contact? This is what I’ve missed. This is what I long for.
My loneliness trapped me inside a prison I was too frightened to leave, not knowing that fresh air, sunlit fields and soft earth were only inches away. I kept my eyes lowered and missed the beauty of the sky. This is what I regret.