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Snapshot:  I was three months pregnant with my first child. I was on my knees in front of the toilet bowl, having just thrown up for the sixth time that day. Suddenly, movement at the bathroom door caught my eye.

He was standing there. Naked. Touching himself.

“Are you done yet?” he asked impatiently. “C'mon baby — let’s get it on.”

My stomach lurched. Tears filled my eyes. “I’ll be there in second,” I replied looking down. I pulled myself up off the floor, brushed my teeth, and proceeded to our bedroom to fulfill my ‘wifely duty’…

That pivotal event haunted me for the rest of my seven-year marriage. Anger surged towards him: How DARE he expect sex when I’m obviously sick as a dog from carrying his child? Then, anger surged towards ME: Why don’t you just dam well say ‘NO’?

But then the excuses and placations settled in: “Don’t be so selfish Delaine. You KNOW sex is very important to him. You should feel lucky that he desires you much, even when you’re at you’re worst.  It’s not his fault you have morning sickness.”

From that day forward, I didn’t just ‘tolerate’ having sex with my ex-husband, I hated it. But it was my best kept secret. I thought there was something ‘wrong with me,’ like he accused. If I ever said no, he retaliated by ignoring me, barking at me, being grumpy. I hated the tension, I hated the disconnect. So I made a choice: to give in.

Smiling, pretending, I chose to stuff my feelings inside me and serve him my body like a plate of chicken.

I thought it was such a small price to pay to keep him happy. Afterwards, I’d literally find him whistling around the house and more than willing to help out with chores. There are more important things in a marriage than sex, I told myself. You need to be grateful for the many other blessings of your life.  For yes…my ex was indeed a good man.

Now I’m divorced. And looking back, I understand the dangerous choice I made that day: I wasn’t just handing him my body, I was handing him my power. By refusing to say ‘no, I taught myself to squash my voice, to believe my voice was less important than his, AND I taught myself to detach myself from my body — an extension of my Spiritual Self.

Being single again has shown me I have healing to do around my sexuality. Not just my sexuality but my sense of Self AND my overall relationship with my body. Cause my body KNEW — it KNEW something was terribly wrong in my marriage. My non-existent sex-drive was a neon warning sign of how I felt OUTSIDE the bedroom: belittled, unimportant, disrespected. At the core, my body was telling me things my head and heart were unprepared to hear.

So now, with my body as my guide, I move forward into the next chapter of my live. I’ve discovered that I’m FAR from sexually dead; in fact, my sexuality is more alive than it’s ever been my whole life. I’m choosing to give myself permission to explore myself — my identity AND my body, through sexuality, sensuality, even ‘promiscuity.’ I’m attempting to do this from a higher place; that is, from the perspective that each sexual experience I carefully choose can teach me something about me, life and/or men. I’m examining how my sexuality ripples into other aspects of my life. For example, my ability or non-ability to vocalize what I want and how I deal with bad/selfish lovers. I’m exploring new sexual desires/ fantasies, and ‘owning’ my orgasms instead of making them contingent upon one man’s love or one man’s sexual prowess. Truly, my sexual Self is acting like a metaphor for the rest of my life.

At the end of the day, this body of mine is MINE. It is my power, my truth, in its rawest, purest, most honest form. I thank God I chose to exit a disempowering marriage. I am grateful to have this second chance to create a passionate, fulfilling, meaningful life AND sex life for myself. And I know I will never, EVER, be guilted or emotionally bullied into serving up my body like a plate of roast chicken again.

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