Much of my adult life has been about coming to terms with lust.
Having grown up in a fairly conservative family with mainly Protestant roots, I learned early on to deny and repress my lust: for life, for sex, for fame, for love, for food.
So much so that I lived a kind of double life from my teens into my twenties.
I hid many behaviors that all revolved around my various appetites. Somewhere in my somewhat stunted emotional development, I had learned that being seen as having a need (be it physical or otherwise) was weak, unattractive.
And so I learned to pretend I did not have them.
And yet, at the same time, I also had a very strong need to be seen as a sexual object. (See Sexual Healing, my previous post on this issue.) This presented quite a war within me. I desperately wanted to be seen and treated like a sexually desirable woman – that was sort of the ultimate need. At the same time, I had shame and embarrassment around this and had strong messaging that that was bad, and that I should be a good girl with no sexuality, appetites, strong opinions or feelings.
And so I pretended to be one one way while in secret I acted in other ways.
I invested a great deal of time into creating the illusion that I was chaste, a normal eater, and had a very neutral opinion on just about everything. I monitored my emotions and watched myself around people, carefully choosing mannerisms and tones to project a good girl.
Meanwhile, I was living quite another kind of life, a life I hid from my family, my friends. A life of appetite and lust and danger.
There were certainly angels watching over me. I was often in the wrong places at the wrong time. Somehow, I survived.
At a certain point in my twenties, the jig was up, as they say.
My psyche demanded that I heal the split, and I began the process of recovering wholeness again.
Of uncovering my own genuine appetites from a place of love, curiosity and acceptance. Of letting go of the urge to keep my appetites hidden.
I began a process of embracing of my true nature and wants and needs as beautiful reflections of my own humanity. I began the shedding of the shaming nature that I inherited.
An unlearning of the social pressure that happens in middle school to put a damper on enthusiasm, to keep a lid on want to look cool.
I learned to let myself eat as I really wanted to in front of others.
I learned to let myself be seen trying, excited, wanting, sexy, hungry, angry, hopeful, happy, disappointed, frightened, messy, unhappy, empty, full, vulnerable, awkward, lonely, blissful.
I learned to let myself be seen. As I really am.
Today I value the self-honesty that I live from. Truth is of huge importance to me.
Though I am still in awe of the capacity I had within my own psyche to maintain such a dichotomy the way I did – that I could compartmentalize two such distinct worlds at once – I am so grateful that that is just a chapter in my story.
Today, I have one world with many parts: parts that co-mingle and bring me great joy in their diversity.
I celebrate my appetites, I revel in my enthusiasms and passions.
I love my lust. It is what lets me know I am human. And alive.
So today, I try to wear my lust like a smile.