The Lingerie Store Revisited

There was a crazy lady Christmas shopping at the lingerie store again this year. At first glance she appeared rather ordinary. But the growing grief and hopelessness on her face, and dejection in her body as she walked slowly from one display to another, would have been apparent to anyone with a lingering gaze. Tears gathering in her eyes, she paused, but never touched. Size availability and price was irrelevant for something that would never leave the store in her shopping bag anyway.

Not much has changed since last December when I wrote The Porn Addict’s Wife Wears Lingerie (or tries to). It is my most read post, more likely because it contains the words porn, addict and lingerie, than people are interested in the bewildering emotions of a middle aged sexually broken woman. And yet there I was, and here I am again.

A lot can happen in a year. And a lot may not happen. Healing brings breakthroughs, and setbacks, and periods of rest and adjustment. Sometimes longer periods of rest than my anxious heart handles with patience and grace.

Last December, I entered that lingerie store with a twinkle in my eye. The winter and Christmas themed lingerie answering the longing in my heart for sexual lightness and fun in my marriage. But then. The fear of unknown triggers. I dejectedly left the store with that same unfulfilled desire, along with a deepened sense of loss wondering if my sexuality and healthy fantasies would be forever tainted by my husband’s past pornography addiction.

Last week was both the same and different as a year ago. I don’t even know why I entered the lingerie store other than to poke my finger into my own open wounds. I knew before I even crossed the threshold that I would not be making any purchases again this year. But maybe, just maybe, the merchandise could offer me a tiny flicker of hope where I had none. I wanted everything that the lingerie was selling me. Everything that was embodied in that magical piece of clothing.

I felt empty as I browsed the store. And then a profound sadness enveloped me. Even the cozy, fuzzy socks and cheerful penguins couldn’t bring a smile to my face. I wondered why, after another full year of healing and recovery, my response was as filled with grief and despair as if I had just returned the following day and not a year later.

I think my sadness was deeper this time though. A year ago, I was confused. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Still a little raw in figuring out how this whole healthy sexuality thing was supposed to work for my husband and I. But I believed it would work. It just wasn’t quite there yet….

Well, a year later, and the hammer of realization that not only was it not quite there yet, it didn’t seem any closer. It is hard to hold onto hope when you feel crushed. Defeated. Mocked by the lingerie displays and menacing penguins. So I didn’t. I plummeted.

But this is where the benefit of an additional year of recovery was revealed to me. I didn’t stay in that darkness long. I visited, but there was nothing for me in that place. It felt wrong and uncomfortable and self indulgent. And dishonouring to God.

I heard the whisper to my soul. Acknowledging the deep hurt and unfulfilled desires of my broken sexuality. If there was a promise of better things to come at that moment, I didn’t hear it. But the raging discontent in my mind and heart quieted.  And that was enough.

A couple days later, God’s whisper shouted to me from the pages of my devotional book as I read about the healing of emotional wounds. An illustration was provided where several shoelaces were tied together in a knot with each knot representing a different problem in my life. Unravelling the knots and smoothing out my troubles would require time and effort. It isn’t possible for the untangling to happen all at once. I need to remember that although it may seem that I am not making any progress, God is untying my knots one at a time. In the order and way He chooses. Not in mine. My responsibility is to co-operate with God in whatever area He has decided we are going to work on first. And sweatpants just might be more important than lingerie.

I’m impatient. I get discouraged. I whine about what is missing rather than being grateful for what has been redeemed and restored in our decades long sexless and porn ravaged marriage. I want our sexual intimacy healed yesterday. Or more honestly, years ago. But there is much bondage, abuse and sexual sin in this one shoelace alone, even once it has been disentangled from the messy ball of life’s other hurts and issues.

My solution would be to grab a pair of scissors and with a few precise snips remove the troublesome knots leaving a perfectly functioning bow in its place. And I would do that after only a few minutes of frustration. But that is not God’s way.

I know because God continues to carefully and slowly heal my wounds and align the desires of my heart with His. Whether I’m wearing flannel pyjamas, silky lingerie or nothing at all. He won’t quit. He never does. So, I guess I shouldn’t either.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9

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16 thoughts on “The Lingerie Store Revisited

  1. No, sis! It not read because of the title. It is tead because it is real and honest….just like all your posts. Your last statement almost brought me to tears. You have come a very long way in a year Cynthia! And you are so right. God will not quit!

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  2. I’m glad you didn’t stay in that dark place for very long, Cynthia. You are healing. Just as importantly, you are not alone at all in feeling the way that you do. Even before discovering my husband’s affairs and addiction, lingerie triggered imposter syndrome for me like nothing else. I tried it occasionally, but it never made me feel good about myself even in my fittest years. Quite the opposite, in fact. Since last December I went through phases where I thought that maybe if I wore it more… maybe if I just looked more like the women my husband seemed to prefer… maybe that would “fix” things. Since the issue was never, ever us though, that just isn’t possible. My rational mind knows that. Now, I don’t bother to shop or even to look. That’s probably sad too, but maybe there’s something empowering about feeling comfortable with oneself in flannel and cotton instead of lace and silk? Or wearing nothing at all? Maybe that’s where the real self-esteem and empowerment is to be found?
    ❤️

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    • There is something empowering in being comfortable and secure in wearing whatever we want to wear when we want to wear it, including nothing at all. For me, I want to wear lingerie because I like how it makes me feel beautiful and playful. It is definitely for my pleasure and mindset more than it is for my husband’s. Which is part of my distress. He would actually prefer me naked and so I have little opportunity to feel sexy and fun. I often feel like this is another part of my sexuality that was stolen from me and continues to be. He doesn’t pressure me to wear it, and in fact it is completely my decision if and when I do. So what’s the conflict?! Maybe apathy on his part? That is what fills me with sadness.

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  3. The most powerful part of your post: ” I didn’t stay in that darkness long. I visited, but there was nothing for me in that place. It felt wrong and uncomfortable and self indulgent. And dishonouring to God.” What a joyful blessing for you to realize what God’s been doing in the past year. You need no longer wear a garment of shame or a spirit of heaviness. God has removed it, and you know it doesn’t fit any more, doesn’t bring any of the pseudo-comfort it used to have. Its power has been replaced by God Himself. ❤

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  4. Oohh, I love how you worded that. I have a friend who has also said that when we begin to heal and walk closer to God, our “default” becomes healthier. It most definitely is a joyful blessing to recognize the transformation process occurring! Thank you.

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  5. Beautiful and so powerful. It’s awe inspiring to me how your journey of healing and your description of the knots fits so well in my own journey of healing. Blessings to you, and your marriage and may God do abundantly and exceedingly more than you ask or imagine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I love how when we share the messages God uses to reach our hearts, they touch someone else’s. God really does use people to bring healing to other people. Many blessings are sent to you as well. xo

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  6. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I know it isn’t easy talking about these issues, but your words bring light and healing to many a woman. God bless you, sister.

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  7. Pingback: My Post Picks For December – Something to Stu Over

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