And then I thought about all the ways in which my body, already so seemingly out of my control, has changed and continues to change over the years – fat, then thin, then a little fatter again, periods, boobs, hips, thigh fat, wrinkles, cellulite.
Staring at my reflection I had all these competing feelings: I hate my body; I love and appreciate my body; I feel ugly, sexy, fat… Then I just thought, “Whose is this fucking body? A body for others? A body that’s not my own…?”
“Can you tell me a bit more about how you think this sense of bodily alienation, as you describe it, affects how you feel during sex,” Aleks asks delicately, looking up from her impressively ferocious note-taking.
I hadn’t thought about this much until now, but I suppose it underlies the disconnect I often feel during sex because then my body once again feels like a body for others.
Only three men have ever asked me what I like and what I’ve wanted while we’ve been sleeping together. On all three occasions, I’m pretty sure I just froze up, embarrassed and suddenly awkwardly aware of how this naked body lying beneath this familiar-stranger is as alien to me as it is to him. If I try to verbalise what I think – definitely, maybe, potentially – I want from him, I just end up sounding as though I’m trying to emulate some hot female protagonist in an erotic movie and, in reality, feel anything but.
Invariably, I recourse to redoubling my focus on making him come, just to shift the focus away from my own body and back to his. It has become, in many ways, automatic. So much so that, in some instances, I feel more like a bystander than a participant, as if I’m watching someone else go through the motions of moaning, moving and repositioning. But I’m not really there.
Am I enjoying myself? Sometimes. But sometimes, it’s more as though I’m taking comfort and seeking safety in my ability to disconnect. And sometimes, often, I leave feeling like I’ve been scooped out. Disposed of. My body-turned-vessel discarded once it has fulfilled its pleasure-giving function for another.