In the beginning of 2009, I corresponded with a male poet who had found my writing "liberating, revolutionary and one-of-a-kind." He said my power of language was "amazing, breath-taking and powerful." These descriptions not only pump up my ego, they make the blank white page less intimidating. I value them too much and need them more than I should. I'm well aware of that. He wrote to me, "I am going to invent a new word for lust, something to use when speaking about you."
His sonnet, written especially for me, said there was no one word that combined spirituality and lust. "That is what you embody in your soul and writing." He gave me the name: Venus Libertina, Venus the Freewoman. I liked the title but not enough to stage erotic stage shows on Skype for him. He really wanted and pushed for the visual of what I've been privately describing on the blank diary page for years. I turned him down repeatedly.
As a result of only sending one email the following week he blocked me completely, punishing me for not being a good enough friend.
This is a pattern I've encountered during my lifetime of experience with men. I have been a free woman. I never married, by choice. I've encountered, communicated with and even dated many men. I've discovered a similar pattern that seems to repeat.
They are titillated by the possibilities of grounded intelligent erotic discourse. So many women either play coy games of withholding or aggressive movements that don't appeal to man's masculine need to pursue. I suppose I'm just present, available, communicative and open. This is all delight and discourse until concepts meet in the flesh. There is something so primitive and territorial about erotic expression between lovers. Society says we must cage it in and make it safe as well as appropriate.
I'm not the kind of free woman who sleeps around with many men. By the age of 50, I've sampled plenty but don't experiment for experiment's sake. It's not that I want to own a man or be owned by a man. I just want to be wanted solely for myself, not as a sidebar or caretaker. I want to be the main attraction, the main urge, and the delight at the end of each day or the wondrous reward at the end of a long week.
For twelve years I was so attracted to one brilliant suave man I allowed myself to be his sidebar. I convinced myself that receiving the full focus of his attention, even though limited and shared with another, was worth the cost of missing him at other times. During those years, I found few others of any interest at all.
For my own psychological health, I pushed forward by ending that connection. I was finally convinced there had to be more. So many had loved me whom I'd left, early on in life when I had so much living to do. Certainly there would be one I loved who loved me as much now that I was wise with experience and deep with understanding of the miracle we are as lovers and individuals.
Suddenly there was a man utterly enticing with unbelievable physical appeal. He had the assisted energy of nostalgic concentration as he was my age, went to a sister high school and knew many of the same people who'd shaped my teen-age heart. I'd not been with someone my age for many years.
With him, I felt like a kid again. We joked around, laughed for hours, wandered like tourists in our own environment, and were completely swayed by the sensuality we shared. The twelve-year relationship was staid, controlled and only released when altered by weed or wine. Whereas the former connection was mental with eroticism, the new man was all heart and horniness. We'd both been alone a long time. We each had painful baggage that was heavy to hold. When we were together, we often dived beneath all the heaviness, and experienced only the joy of touch, talk and giggling.
I met him last summer, during the time most people were away on vacation. Though I was at home, typical life was quiet because so many loved ones were gone. Those first two weeks our magnetic attraction connected us like glue. When others returned, I seemed to wake up and remember I was almost fifty. I had work to do, writing to produce, publish and pass out. I had bills to be paid, money to be made, routines that were staid but necessary.
Mr. Body said all the words a woman wants to hear about how attractive she is, how special her allure, how unique and breathtaking her ways. After being with a man who found giving a compliment caused him to lose power, being ravished by someone so vociferous with passion and appreciation was hard to walk away from, even to return back to the world in the other room where my computer stood sulking, feeling rejected, anxious with unfinished tasks religiously ringing on the bell for me to return.
Each step I took closer to my own coordination with self, Mr. Body balked. I soon discovered he had a way of stripping away all the nice things he'd said the night before, when bullishly stomping around my porcelain shop of a heart. I wanted to hold onto this one who wanted me to promise that we'd grow old together, always in touch and able to touch, but I needed to have the me capable of holding his hand.
I needed self, first and foremost. Space to be with and develop me. Space allowed me to give instead of resist. I'm one of those energetically sensitive individuals. As Judith Orloff says, "We're superresponders; our sensory experience of relationship is the equivalent of feeling objects with fifty fingers instead of five."
From then on it was a battle. I felt like a ping-pong ball, being smacked back and forth during a game. The one I was playing with was playing to win, not just for fun anymore. Not just for pleasure and laughs, but for his own sustenance and survival.
Venus Libertina hit the flytrap. She'd brushed up against this strong furtive form that wasn't a petal or a flower. It wasn't a branch or a leaf. She'd been free like a butterfly or a bee, flying, seeking nourishment. Upon encountering this strong unusual shape that wasn't a Fava bean but kind of looked like one except it was split open, she thought she might rest awhile within. In her slumber she barely noticed her bed was turning into her tomb.
It's a wonderful analogy I could keep playing with ad nausea. But the night I explained to him, deeply thrilled to finally be in my long-awaited white heat of creativity when engrossed in my Ortus story, that I had a pattern of being with men who tried to destroy me when they couldn't own me, was the night we changed completely.
The next day he betrayed me, did the one thing I begged him to not do, what I'd said I couldn't forgive, and then called me all kinds of nasty names no right-minded woman ever would forgive. I hadn't seen how I was living the same pattern again, until that very moment. I woke up just in time, extracted myself from that which was closing in around me, stretched out my bruised wings and once again, returned back up, into the air.