Learning to Love Love.

(These pictures of my boys have nothing to do with this post.)

(Oh, and I’m sorry for all the talk of intimacy and whatnot lately, but that’s what really going on, so that’s what I’m really going to write about. ha. Also, you should know that my husband is 100% for me writing about all of this openly and honestly. He’s has encouraged me to do so and I feel that I should, so I am. If it’s not your cup o’ tea, no worries! I will resume normal writing subjects soon.)

(I think. )

:)

*********************

I met a friend last night for coffee and came away feeling clear headed and more hopeful for my marriage than ever before.

My marriage is and has been completely wonderful and life-giving, but last night I got a glimpse of the fact that it could even be so much more than this.

For YEARS before I was married, intimacy was associated with painful, gut-wrenching emotions. It was centered and planted deep in feelings of shame and embarrassment and secrecy, as I’m sure it was for many young people who grew up in the church and knew it only as something God hated. (Until the magical day of matrimony when He suddenly loved it!)

And, all these years later, I am realizing that when I said “I do”, it didn’t magically wipe those painful feelings away. They are still there… still have been there for 6 loooong years. I have been trying to ignore those feelings for all this time, but recently I got to a place where I just couldn’t ignore it any longer. But I feel hopeful now for the first time ever that this huge part of my heart that has been boarded up and empty since I was seventeen can be full of life and warmth and laughter again.

I have hated sex. Like, loathed it down to my core HATE.

How sad is that?

The picture of intimacy that has been created in my mind is ugly, distorted, and broken. As a result, when I hear people say things like “the intimacy of God” I get a little bit sick to my stomach. And I think, “Uuuuummmm NO NO NO NO THANK YOU.” And then I want to smash something with my fist.

I desperately need to paint a new picture.

To do this, I need to change some things. I need to stop looking to my husband to meet my deepest needs. HE CAN’T DO IT. He was never meant to do it. My deepest needs (of security and worth) can only be met in God.

I’ve been looking to Chris for these needs, and (of course) have never found myself satisfied. I’ve been looking in the wrong place this whole time and only just now realized it. It has made me critical and harsh. I have been expecting something from him that he cannot give, and have let that create distance between us.

Also, Chris and I need to go back and rebuild, from the ground up, our idea of intimacy. Without the heaps of shame and guilt and soul-killing remorse. I need to learn to re-associate it with true thoughts of love and safety and freedom and trust (and fun)! We have help in this process, and we also know now that if we don’t first have an intimate relationship with God, we won’t be able to have one with each other.

So simple, yet so easily forgotten.

Last night, after I was driving home from meeting with my friend, a song came on the radio. A song that is pretty much the epitomy of cheesy cheese-ball. But it spoke to me so deeply I couldn’t stop crying.

“Desperado” by the Eagles.

A song about coming down from your fences, opening wide your gates, and actually letting people LOVE you.

Before it’s too late.

20 thoughts on “Learning to Love Love.

  1. I'm one of those girls, too. I grew up and have lived with the same feelings as you stated here. I wish we could get together for coffee, because there's a million words I would like to say but won't type for the internetz.

    There is something bright ahead, your reach for it is beautiful and brave. And encouraging.

    You're loved by me <3

  2. We were gifted the book “Holy Sex” by some good Christian friends when we were married and it really helped me figure out some of the stuff you brought up in this post. Especially the idea that so often we are taught that intimacy is ugly and sinful, but really it can be one of the most beautiful and holy acts a married couple can do together. It really helped us in our early days to have some prayer time before we “got down to business” so to speak. It helped us both to open our hearts and minds to God's presence within our marriage, even the most intimate parts. Not a be all end all book, but it helped us get talking about that stuff!

  3. Way to be brave and open yourself up! What a healing process it will be. I'm scared shitless to be vulnerable. I am content to let my walls stay up. Which means settling. I know. I'm just scared.

  4. I love that you are writing about this. It's so timely in my life as well. I have not associated sex with shame etc. but before I met my husband I thought I was in love/going to marry someone else, so I gave him my flower (yack, sorry, I just gagged). It's turns out he was not a trustworthy person nor was he careful with the gift I gave him. I associate sex with betrayal and heartbreak, now I feel like I give my husband now a dirty gift, like a re-gift. I feel like my sex is broken and I am trying to give it to someone like they should ignore all the cracks and treasure it regardless. I know he does but I always question myself and ask “Why would anyone appreciate a broken gift?”
    And it doesn't help that I have had 2 children and my lady parts feel even more off limits. We are working on it, but I feel like I am at the foot of a giant mountain. PS-sorry for all the cheesy metaphors.

  5. You have no idea how many of your posts have inspired me to dig around in my life, but this one is sure one of those.
    I know that THIS is not what my parents or my home church intended to pass to me and that they meant well, but WHY am I stuck in this today and how can I get out??

    Thanks for your honesty – everything in your blog could present itself picture perfect: that cute 'girl' (with adorable kids), that can SING, has a unique way to dress and a goodlooking husband… I would never go on reading for a longer time, if you had not chosen to show the many different parts of your life, also the frustrating ones and this is why I am over here for reading so often…

  6. You have no idea how many of your posts have inspired me to dig around in my life, but this one is sure one of those.
    I know that THIS is not what my parents or my home church intended to pass to me and that they meant well, but WHY am I stuck in this today and how can I get out??

    Thanks for your honesty – everything in your blog could present itself picture perfect: that cute 'girl' (with adorable kids), that can SING, has a unique way to dress and a goodlooking husband… I would never go on reading for a longer time, if you had not chosen to show the many different parts of your life, also the frustrating ones and this is why I am over here for reading so often…

  7. Okay, so I have been reading your blog/lurking, for a while and have never commented before, but this hit me so close to home I had to tell you that you continue to inspire and encourage me. Thank you so much for pouring out your heart to your faithful readers (and lurkers:))

  8. What a great post. I understand what you are saying and have had those same feelings as well. I never would have been about to put into words like you do-thanks!

  9. Oh Emery Jo..wish i could be around to talk to you when your 60..believe it or not you are searching for keys that He will willingly give to you..truth is a powerful thing..the reason i wanted a blog so bad was to get honest.. really honest about feelings..life..hurts..things people don't always want to hear..again you make me cry ..thank you for opening your heart..

  10. yes yes yes yes. right there with you. thank you for being SO honest. God is doing BIG things not only in you, but through you.

    hugs sister.

  11. thank you all so much!! i feel incredibly encouraged. you never know how people will react to your vulnerability, but you guys have been so gracious and sweet to me. i appreciate it more than i can say!

    honesty and openness are hard, but SO worth it.

  12. Emery, this is a great post. I think so many men and women are in this place. Sex is so fragile and yet we often don't realize it until it's too late. Picking up the pieces is difficult, but not impossible. And no matter where we come from or how we've handled sex in the past, it seems that we all have some broken pieces in that area.
    I'd admire your vulnerability. Your words speak for lots of us. Thanks for sharing your struggle and your journey and reminding the rest of us that loving love is not impossible. I can't think of anything more important to strive for in a holy marriage.

  13. I am a therapist and work with a lot of girls (and boys) who have been sexually abused. My husband and I both waited until we were married but I can't say that I have escaped the same feelings as you have – I think of sex often as a sick, vile thing (the baby and other baby on the way sure didn't help me feel sexy either!(. Sex in our society is just dirty and gross, not how God intended it. One of my favorite scriptures to remember is the woman who had been bleeding (vaginally) for years, when she touched Jesus and he said to her “Woman, thou art loosed.” Emery, you too are loosed from your sins, by Christ himself.
    -Your sister on the path to healing.

  14. wow. so glad you said some of these things. i went through a lot of the same feelings. i really had to re-educate myself on sex/intimacy/et cetera when i got married. i was so used to thinking of it in a negative way. i was used to feeling shameful, regretful, and unsatisfied. not beautiful, loved, fulfilled and honored. even now, after 5 years of marriage, i have to sometimes remind myself that it's okay to let go and enjoy and be fully present–emotionally, physically, spiritually. it's almost scary to think that God is there when we are at our most-vulnerable. but He is, huh? and He delights, right? a still need some reassurance, i guess :)

  15. Thanks Em for your openness. Your last two entries have really spoken to me and encouraged me. Thank you for your honesty. :-)

  16. Hi I've been reading your blog for a little while now. This post really hit home. I grew up in a Catholic home and have a lot of shame following me from my past relationships. Thanks for sharing.

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