Is it okay to ask for help?
Since I started talking about sex publicly, I’ve been getting questions from people – many wondering if what they are experiencing is “normal” and “okay.”
Today I’d like to present one such question and my answer, and invite you to send in any questions you might have!
I gave birth three years ago and my body looks different and isn’t as sensitive or responsive as before. It’s a solid block of shame in my head I’m still too afraid to deal with.
Should I be overcoming this shame on my own, or is it okay to invite my husband to work through it with me?
During my year of sexual healing, I thought I was supposed to heal my body confidence all on my own. I thought if I looked to anyone else to support me, I wasn’t properly doing my work.
But at some point I realized that what was helping me heal was hearing words from others: “I love your curves.” “Your skin is so soft.” “I love your curls.” “You have a beautiful smile.” “You have an amazing ass.” “You’re beautiful.”
As I heard others consistently saying things to me THAT I COULD NOT YET SAY TO MYSELF, old wounds began to heal. It didn’t even matter that I couldn’t believe them yet – the consistency with which I was hearing the words was making a chink in my armor.
I haven’t birthed a child so I don’t know the process of relearning and reclaiming your body after giving birth. But I have heard other women talk about it and this seems to be a common experience – when your body has been in service to feeding and nurturing another little being, you don’t have the same amount of energy and passion to devote to getting turned on and revved up for a partner. If your body is a jungle gym for your little person, perhaps it has downshifted sensation to help you deal with the barrage of elbows and knees wielded by someone who doesn’t yet know how to fully control her own body.
So – are you supposed to tough this out alone, or is it okay to invite your sexual partner to help you get your body back?
We get the message through SO MANY CHANNELS that we are meant to be self-sufficient. It’s the American way! If you can’t do it for yourself, who is going to do it for you? You can’t expect anyone to give you something that you can’t give to yourself!
But… did your husband help you through your pregnancy? Did he demonstrate concern about how your body felt while it was carrying this little human? Did he do things to help you feel more comfortable and loved? Why would you assume that his caring about your body stopped the moment that she emerged, and now it’s your burden to bear on your own?
I think that too often we push others away in the belief that we’re supposed to “do it ourselves.” But what if they not only COULD help the process, but they’re yearning to find a way to re-establish connection and we’re holding them at arm’s length in the belief that we’re not supposed to ask for help?
If you were wanting him to DO THE WORK FOR YOU, I’d throw a red flag on the play. But if you’re inviting him to play in your sandbox WITH you, I think you have the opportunity to create greater intimacy for BOTH of you.
What if your husband holds a key to your healing that you didn’t even know you were looking for?
If I were on the receiving end of this message my next question would be, “But how?” Here’s one potential way the conversation could go…
“Honey, I know that I’ve been a little off since the baby was born. My body hasn’t felt the same and I haven’t known how to handle it and I’ve been scared to talk about it. But I’m also afraid that it has created some distance between us, and I don’t want that. I could use some support and I’m hoping that by letting you in a little more, we can re-establish the physical AND emotional intimacy we had before I was pregnant. I don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, but I want to start seeing myself as beautiful and desirable again and I think it would really help to see myself through your eyes for a while. I love hearing you tell me that I’m beautiful/sexy/strong (whatever thing is most resonant for you). When you tell me I’m beautiful/sexy/strong, if I shake my head or try to deny it, would you remind me of this conversation and that my job is to believe that you believe it?”
If you have a question you’d like to submit for potential use on this blog, please send it to me at Leah@GoodGirlsTalkAboutSex.com. If you’d like to privately take a deeper look at what is going on in your relationships and your sex life, please also send me an email.