My life has been littered with seemingly innocent moments that have moved forward with the alarming speed of an unmanned bullet train. Don’t get me wrong, the ride is a thrill in the beginning. Sometimes I’m even able to fool myself into thinking it’s what I want, but I inevitably lose my sense of direction. When I’m finally able to open my eyes after I’ve propelled forward with no safety net in place to protect me, I’m paralyzed and dry heaving in the middle of a horrifying wreckage of my own making that leaves me asking, “What. The. Fuck?”
I don’t know why I thought my wedding day would be any different. I chose a form-fitting ivory gown because scarlet would’ve been a bit too obvious to wear on the day I would officially lay to rest the person I was in a shallow, unmarked grave. Beads of perspiration began to form above my lip as I leaned forward in the chair I was sitting on in the Bride’s Room while my dad knelt in front of me reminding me to breathe. His 3rd wife handed me a small glass of whiskey saying, “Drink it, sugar” because we’re all about class in my family. When I handed Mr. 3rd-Time’s-a-Charm the empty glass, he told me that it was ok to call it off if I had doubts and that marriage doesn’t always turn out like we expect it to. Boy, he wasn’t fucking kidding.
But it turns out that I didn’t completely bury who I was in hopes of having the charmed life I thought I wanted. The only portion of my personality that I was able to excise was the part that encouraged my intense sexual appetite. My submissive disposition remained, and before I knew it, I had become a mindless android with only one function.
The strong man I vowed to love until death do us part was dominant in every way but the way I needed him to be. All I wanted to do was please him, and the mere thought of his disappointment sent me crashing face first into a wall of self-degradation. He fed hungrily on the power that I gave him, never appreciating it or giving any in return. I found myself silently begging for something that my husband wasn’t capable of giving me.
It wasn’t long after I accepted my undervalued role as my husband’s less than equal partner that I decided it was time to try my hand at reproduction. I traded in my daily chairside banter with patients who saw me as witty and charming for puzzling conversation with messy short people who clung to my legs and ate oatmeal with their fingers. I retreated into the fortified cocoon of motherhood hoping that one day I would receive validation for the complex creature that I was.
That acceptance never came. Partially because the man that I married so many years ago really had no idea who I was. I never felt that all-embracing trust that allowed complete honesty, so I kept things to myself. I wasn’t honest about the number of sexual partners I’d had. I always figured if I didn’t have to hold up all of my fingers during the tally, he wouldn’t see me as damaged goods. I wasn’t honest about my feelings for him. I loved him, yes, but I was never head-over-heels in love with him. I wasn’t honest about my propensity to please, and I didn’t tell him that the lack of a power exchange in our relationship only escalated my need to gratify someone else.
I’m just as much at fault in the collapse of the life we had together as he is. I realize that it wasn’t fair to him when I said, “I do, sorta,” and I’ve learned a lot from the fallout that left me bruised and bloody. I’m also thankful. I’m thankful for the children he gave me who think I’m the coolest mom ever, and love me no matter how many times I embarrass them by wearing an AC/DC T-shirt to a school fundraiser, or kick their ass playing Just Dance. Despite my flaws, and there are plenty, they think I’m pretty awesome.
I’m still learning too, but there are a few things that I know for sure: When I race ahead at warp speed not paying attention to the voice in my head screaming, “What the fuck are you doing?” I’m not the only one who gets hurt. And I will never again give someone the gift of my submission who doesn’t understand it enough to know that a back and forth flow is vital for success or downplay the magnitude of my sexual compulsion. Most importantly, I will never ever compromise who I am for another’s approval. I am who I am, and if you don’t like me, well, fuck off.