Sometimes, the “icky” things our bodies do show us wonderful things about the relationships we have.
It’s 6:00 pm, I am finally home from a 13-hour day at the gym, coaching CrossFit, and hours and hours of front squats. (Well, I worked out myself, for the last hour, which was an entirely questionable decision.) My husband was at the firestation yesterday, so it’s been a long time – according to my body, which so loves to touch his body – since we had sex. I mean, really, it’s been about 3 days, which is a long time for us, but I do know that it is not the end of the world. But it’s also at the end of two months of recovery from surgery and extreme illness. Our bodies haven’t been doing what our bodies usually do because my body is on an unfortunate odyssey. And tonight was the night, damn it. I said so in texts, and in furtive crotch grabs when we intersected briefly at the gym this morning.
It’s 6:00 pm, I am finally in the shower. It’s been about 3 days since I got in the shower, which is a long time, I know, but life happens. I am diligently cleaning every nook and cranny in the hopes of nookie later. But there’s a problem.
A big problem. Hemorrhoids from hell. Yup. That last bout of serious illness was gastrointestinal, and it has ravaged my body from input to asshole. Literally. I don’t mean the relatively civilized hemorrhoids that happen now and then, like angry little zits, but will be gone by morning or respond to a quick dose of Preparation H. I’m talking James and the Giant Peach here. Except, instead of being inhabited by adorable talking critters who will embrace their own power on a flight of fancy, my pulsing peach is filled with pinscher crabs, and they won’t stop fighting each other in a territorial war that is ravaging my neither regions.
Which is why 13 hours of deep front squats in spandex pants and a thong was NOT the direct path to sweet love-making with my man tonight.
I’ve been dropping contradictory hints all day. One minute, “we really need to have sex tonight.” The next, “these hemorrhoids are killing me.” Poor guy.
But, in my head, there’s something sweet about it. This man loves my body. And I know it. I know that I don’t have to shave, or moisturize, or even shower, for him to dive in with delight. And that feels so good. I walk through my days knowing I am desired, and whether we want to pin our self-esteem to other people or not, being desired by the person you love feels damned good, on a soul level.
I want him to want me. But, hemorrhoids? There’s virtually no way to make that sexy. So I throw him soft balls. Well, more like flaming balls of mixed messages. It’s my way of feeling out where he is. Letting him make these choices for himself, but in a way that will give him the information he needs to take my feelings into account too.
Oh, who are we kidding. As I’m in the shower, trying to simultaneously shave every little hair off my neither regions while steering clear of the pulsing pod of pain and shame that is growing like an extraneous organ, I know I need to talk about this directly.
I soap it all up, because, on the off chance I get lucky tonight, it’s gonna be clean as a nun’s Sunday panties down there. And as I touch it, I know, I have to actually talk to him about this. There’s no way that he won’t see it if he’s down there. Or feel it, if he’s poking around getting ready for an expedition into the deep beyond.
I mean, I’m me, right? I’m all about direct communication. Even about the nasty stuff. But you all do know that it’s easier to give advice than take it, right?
Hours later, I’m clean, moisturized, we are sitting on the couch eating Thai food while he’s watching football and I’m agonizing over how to approach the burning matter in my ass.
“Honey, they really hurt.”
“What does?” (It occurs to me that he might think I’m talking about something on the screen, that those football people just did, as if this might be the first night that I care about football in any way.)
“The hemorrhoids, they’re, like, huge.”
“What do you mean huge?”
“Well, I mean, I tucked them all back in and stuff, but…”
“Tucked them in? What does that even mean?”
And there, amongst the Pad Thai and Tom Kha, I broke to him the horrifying truth that most women who have had babies – and anyone who enjoys anal sex – probably already know, yes, they can get so big that they fall our your butt like grapes spilling from a horn of plenty.
He seems to genuinely not have known that this was possible. (Men, just so you know, most women who have pushed babies out of their birth canal – also known as a vagina every other day of our lives – already know this. It can happen even without babies and anal sex, I’ve had it happen after particularly vigorous vaginal sex. Or diarrhea. Or constipation that painfully resolves. Or….. It just happens, okay. It really does. There is an entire aisle at the drug store dedicated to the reality of hemorrhoids.)
“So, if we have sex, which, I swear, I so totally want to, you can’t look, okay?”
“You just can’t look, okay. Actually, no feeling around either. Everything above it is working fine, so we’ll just, like, warm everything up and then it just goes straight in, okay, I mean, if we do it, you know.”
(Note, if you’ve heard that women like hot sex talk, this is NOT how you do it.)
The look he gave me! Imagine the cookie monster presented with a sugar-free, gluten-free cookie while being given a wedgie. Pretty much that.
But here’s what that look said, and I know this from years of being loved by this man. That look said, and to be clear, I’m making this up, because looks don’t actually say things: “Honey, I have seen you color your hair, and worse, let the roots get crazy, which only YOU care about. I have seen you not shower and shave for 11 days in the desert. I have nursed you through surgery, held you while you puked, watched you pop Xanax and cry for hours trying to get through trauma, and you think that a hemorrhoid is going to make you unattractive to me?”
What he really said was something more like, “okay,” and then went back to watching football.
The game ended. We crawled into bed. Him in his usual bedtime outfit, naked except for a hat and socks. (Yes, I find this hot. That’s how deeply in love I am.) Me in a pair of his old boxers, wool socks, a down bed-jacket and reading glasses.
I look over at him. He tells me I’m cute. “Yup, I’m really pulling out all the stops on the sexy train for you tonight. All this and hemorrhoids too.”
It was my last warning to him, making sure he knew what was going on.
And he slowly takes off my glasses. My jacket. His boxers that are on me. We kiss, and our bodies are finally pressed against each other, which causes my soul to relax in a way that really only happens when there is no space between us physically or metaphorically. It’s this, this deep oneness that makes all pain, all exhaustion, all fear, all shame simply vanish.
Being loved for who I am, what I am, and where I am in any moment. I got exactly what I wanted. Gently.
And when it’s all over, as always, he brushes the hair away from my face, and looks me in the eyes.
“I love you, baby.”
No matter what.