Push Hard to Open

“The deepest work is usually the darkest.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Chapter 1 – Homing

What is homing? It is the instinct to return, to go to the place we remember. It is the ability to find, whether in dark or in daylight, one’s home place. We all know how to return home. No matter how long it’s been, we find our way.  We go through the night, over strange land, through tribes of strangers, without maps and asking of the odd personages we meet along the road,

“What is the way?”

The exact answer to “Where is home?” is more complex… but in some way it is an internal place, a place somewhere in time rather than space where a woman feels of one piece.

– Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD.

I don’t feel home in my own home. Sure, I feel protected from the elements and comfortable, and some of my things are here. But, I haven’t found my home, yet.

Every time we’ve moved, I’ve had trouble unpacking. Our house today remains unfinished. No art on the walls or pictures. Generic, as though anyone could step in and live here. I’m not really here.

I had a film poster of It’s a Wonderful Life professionally framed for him one birthday. It’s on our wall. In our room. Next to our bed. Mocking me.

I told him my fantasy of us divorcing: The pleasure of having joint custody. Allowing me time to myself to fuck and enjoy a man who desires me. Space and time to be truly and unapologetically myself. Free from the shame and sadness I feel every day.

It felt good to be honest and true. And he accepted it, in that moment, without his usual venomous response to “balance the scales.”

I confessed, “Lately, I find myself sizing up men when I’m running errands. Would I fuck him? I can tell he’s attracted to me. How about him and him and him and him? I don’t know if I can allow you to take up any more of my time. I don’t think you understand how serious this is. I’m not going to do it anymore.”

He met me with silence.

“Why can’t you just tell me why it’s been this way? Can you at least tell me you’ve been in love with someone else all this time? Or that you’re gay? Give me something. If you’re not attracted to me, it’s okay to tell me.” Say something, say anything please.

He says, “You’re one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met.”

“You must not be attracted to beautiful women.”

He says, “You look beautiful right now.”

Sitting across from him on the sofa, I cry and stare through the window at the waning moon.

“Can I hug you?”

“No.”

“Can I rub your feet?”

“Why?”

“So I can be close to you and touch you.”

I don’t believe him. “My feet stink.”

He rubs them anyway.

Bob Dylan’s song, Don’t Think Twice, popped into my head. “You just kinda wasted all of my precious time…”

Don’t Think Twice, Covered by Susan Tedeschi

He pleads, “Tell me. What can I do?”

“I’ve told you. I never wanted to be here. I can’t let you in now. You have nothing to give.”

He begs, “Please don’t leave me.”

“But, you will be free, too, my dear. Free of me asking you why? Free of whatever stress I cause you. Free of an intimate relationship with me that you do not want.” 

I don’t even want him like that anymore. I’d just like to understand.

“It would have to be instantaneous. Whatever it is you think you can do now. I can see through the bullshit, the fake. I’d need to really feel it because I’m not giving it a year or five or ten or twenty. We’re out of time.”

He’s out of time.

He says, “I’m sad and angry with myself. Do you even love me anymore?”

“I don’t know.”

I’ll warn you now, if you don’t like the word fuck or if you’re expecting me to find fivehundredbillion different fluttery, butterfly ways to describe intimacy, you will not find it here. Fuck is the shortened version coming from an angry woman’s mind.

I’m not saying all I want is to get fucked. I mean, I do, a little, and with the right person if it makes sense at the time. But in general, I want the whole shebang.

I want kind and considerate, sensitive sex. I want kinky sex. I want angry, make up sex. I want angry, mad at you sex. I want we’re bored sex. I want happy sex. I want funny sex. I want vacation sex. I want morning sex. I want oral sex. I want sex in obscure, public spaces. I want shower sex. I want pregnant sex. I want sad sex. I want spiritual sex.

I want. I want. I want it all.

I mention how hurt I am when I think of all the special places, holidays, and anniversaries that went by and how we never had sex in those places, or on those holidays and anniversaries. Sex couldn’t even be mustered up Valentine’s Day.

I recounted every opportunity for intimacy: Days we had nothing going on, days when the sky was pretty, nights by the fire, nights when the electricity went out from a storm.

Every. Missed. Opportunity. Every vacation ending with the exact same argument. Him acquiescing, once, to shut me up.

We’ve gone years, yes years, without sex or intimacy.

Later in the week, we found ourselves discussing what I thought we were no longer discussing. Instead of engaging, I scrolled through Facebook. An article popped up in my Facebook feed about sexless marriages.

He asked, “What are you reading?”

“You wouldn’t be interested.”

He asked again, “What are you reading?”

“It’s about sexless marriages.”

“I would be interested in that article. Send it to me.”

So I did.

He said, “I had no idea that’s how you felt.”

“What the fuck? I’ve only been telling you this since before we married, and you convinced me it would all work itself out.”

Thank you for making me feel like an ugly, insane, crazy bitch with unrealistic expectations. Expectations that were only unrealistic because they were aimed at you. I didn’t expect the best house, clothes, cars, or vacations. I expected true and deep intimacy and playfulness with the man I chose to share my life.

This disconnect permeates everything I do and every encounter I have every minute of every day.

Sexless married women (and, men): We are beautiful, smart, funny, fit, and well-rounded. We walk through each day, through each interaction feeling like we’re worthless. Because, in our safest relationship, we are turned away, neglected, and made to feel wrong for wanting something so primal.

I wrote down the excuses he used over the years to sort through and understand. As the list grew longer, it opened my eyes. It became clear how ridiculous I was for staying all this time. The list revealed that I did not exaggerate or make up stories as he led me to believe through his arguments and avoidance of the topic.

I felt insane every time I tried to discuss this issue. My 30’s are gone. I’m 40 now. What’s next? Menopause? Me drying up? Possibly never having the experiences I most desire? A fully intimate and spiritual connection with another.

Even as we discuss it, his eyes tell me this is my problem. I’m the one who’s wrong.

I don’t know if it’s his master plan, but he’s trying to keep me here. He’s trying to convince me one more time, until there is no more time.

On a beautiful, warm, late summer’s day, not long after I wrote the list, we sat in the screened-in deck. Gwen was napping. With heaviness yoked around me and tears rolling down my face, I cried, “I can’t do this anymore. I know it’s not me. I no longer need an answer from you. But. Is there anything you want to tell me?”

“No.” His face twitched. The blank stare, the one he uses when he’s not pouring the blame in my lap, could not mask his eyes. I don’t know how he’s held it in so tightly all these years.

I need to understand why I stayed so long. I need to find the courage to believe I deserve to be loved. And, love the way I want to love.

“It’s as though you think you can keep pushing this… Until I reach 80, and finally stop trying. As though, I will eventually give up on all I want.”

He begged again, “What can I do?”

I don’t know how to articulate what I need from him. What he needs to do can’t be taught or described. I’ve tried. It’s either there or it’s not. I don’t want a forced or fake experience.

How do I explain that which naturally happens between two souls? I see it in the eyes I’ve met on the street in passing. Flirts in the office. Clients. Strangers at the grocery store. Mick.

It’s just there, something opens—a dance begins, and you decide whether to say yes or no.

In our arguments over the years he’s screamed, “I do want you!”

“Why tell me that if you can’t act on it? You’re keeping it to yourself under lock and key. I don’t give a fuck when you say want me if you never act like a man.”

He asks again, “What do I need to do?”

“Be a man.” Be a fucking man.


“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

― Maya Angelou