Sometime after Crisis Mode, the Cold Numbness of Survival creeps in. You'd think there'd be a marked difference to note, a precise precarious moment when survival mode relaxes or hardens into this blank place of isolation and waiting... But if there is a moment to pinpoint, I didn't notice it.
Some point after the heated frenzy action of police involvement, divorce process, financial assistance, counseling, and the concerned reactions of family and friends, you find you and your frozen heart settling into Life As You Now Know It. Aside from the daily grind of Be Brave And Carry-On For Your Kids, life becomes filled with The Silent Tundra Of Waiting.
You wait for the next day to ease the physical pains. You wait for all the seeds you've planted and forms you've filled out to bear some fruit.You wait for the cold-sweats to go away and leave you alone. You wait for the grades and calls from school to assist you in the evaluation of how well your kids are adjusting. You wait for the nightmares to stop. You wait for the wheels of justice to reach a decision. You wait for the sorrow and grief of loss to pass. You wait for the phone to ring with news -- or at least a call from someone to care how you're doing. You wait for the fear to dissipate. You wait for the weight of the world on your shoulders to lessen. You wait for the next day to bring a little sunshine.
Most of your waiting is done alone. Even if you're around other people, you find yourself wearing that stupid Brave Face -- or risking annoying and alienating others by being The Downer; this in and of itself is an isolating experience.
It's no wonder when each day that the sunshine doesn't come along to warm you, you, if not die a little, find yourself becoming a frozen hard little thing. At least on the inside. The outside is a different beast.
For some of us, the weight we lost during Crisis Mode returns... And more of it too. It's not because we are eating too much; quite the opposite. But whatever we eat clings to us like the ick and fear we feel we are already coated in.
It's like our body is trying to insulate us from the cold. It has the added benefit of keeping male attentions at bay; we don't trust them near us and the fat removes us from the part of the population they'd prey on. (Although, some predators look for the extra flesh as a sign of being the weakest in the herd, so it's not a guarantee of safety; nothing is, really.)
So there you are one night, alone on the sofa after the kids are in bed, fighting off tears and fears and feeling as disconnected from yourself as you can get. You catch the image of yourself reflected in the TV screen and hardly recognize yourself.
Your clothes don't fit -- at least not like they used to. You are all soft and puffy on the outside, but hard and brittle on the inside. You laugh a bitter laugh at yourself, at those shadows that are always around you -- the echoes of their accusations that you are hyper-sexual. (That's a very common accusation thrown at women in court; nothing is as scary as a woman who owns her sexuality nor as inappropriate a parent.) You? This blob on the sofa ready to crack and fall apart? Hyper-sexual? Ha!
But your laughter snaps into tears as you realize you haven't felt like a woman in ages... There's nothing soft about you anymore, not even your tears. But then they, like you, have to fight and force themselves into existence.
Sure, you have your reasons for becoming like this. But the understandable situation is not tolerable.
Your hands seem tied. You have so few resources -- and the children should come first. But you also know that you need to do more than survive if they are to thrive. ...If your goal is for each of them to safely, happily be themselves, how do you best teach this? By example. But that leads back to so few resources. And you're constantly judged for how you use your resources...
You cry harder; the hot anguish of desire and the pain of futility colliding once again in your heart.
After one such long hard cry on the sofa I asked myself what my happier self would look like. I couldn't wave away the weight, in pounds or sadness, but I could feel better somehow... Right? And that's when I lit upon the idea of lingerie.
As long as I've been an adult, I've enjoyed the feeling of lingerie. It was something that, no matter my income level or sexual status, I've always treated myself to. Something that makes me feel alive and glad to be female.
I knew that going to try on my favorite pieces would be another devastating debilitating exercise for my ego, so I gave myself permission to take $5 and got to the thrift store the next day. With $5 I knew I could get at least one vintage slip. And while I couldn't wear that under my daily mom attire, I would be able to wear it while cleaning and lounging around the house. It would be modest enough not to cause any sort of a ruckus in court etc. It would give me something to look forward to. It was something that would feel far more luxurious and pretty than it cost. It would help me to once again enjoy feeling female.
Just putting a nylon slip on is relaxing; it feels like cool water poured over parched dirty skin. When you wear it, it slinks and slides, reminding you of your female curves. More then just a reminder of your sensual nature, you are reminded of your other womanly ways: your warm generous spirit, your resilient strength, your ability to nourish and nurture -- including yourself.
The slinky nylon gently washed away the aches and pains of my abusive and abrasive life and, at the same time, stroked the female fires -- not (only) in a lusty way, but in the deeper ways, the things you need to be restored and fed in order to feel anything akin to arousal. You have to love and trust yourself, life itself, first. The sensual nature of the slip reminded me to love and forgive myself, nourished my soul so that I had more to give my children (and later a new husband).
You see, with the slip I was romancing myself. After the years of his abuse, his hatred and belittling of me and womankind, after the beatings, in person with his fists and those blows delivered by the court, I was once again celebrating my womanhood.
I do credit slips with helping me find my way back from the dark frozen place. I'm not all the way back or healed, but I continue to wear slips and other lingerie and celebrate myself as a woman.
It was a simple $1.49 cent thrift store slip; but it saved my life. Give one a try yourself and see what it can do for you.