Most days, I consider myself to be quite lucky. I'm healthy, relatively attractive, have a solid family (who loves each other enough to fight on occasion) and a man who, for whatever reason, is crazy about me.
Conditions haven't always been so stable, and at times I still find myself questioning the whats, hows and whys.
I wonder what I've done to deserve such a nice life. I wonder why my dirtbag of an ex still crosses my mind and how a flawed individual with such an evasive past could ever be deemed lovable by someone so wonderful.
Despite previous reputations, I've never been a whore. Periodically promiscuous? Perhaps. Emotionally unstable and tragically insecure? Absolutely.
As with most people, I was simply attempting to fill a void, find the easy way out and successfully escape myself. Sex was a tool, a weapon of sorts. I used it to keep intruders at bay and to protect myself. It worked.
I knew a successful relationship would find its way to me eventually, and I was undoubtedly grateful when it finally did. What I didn't expect was to turn the tables on my own sexuality as a means of continued self-preservation.
So what happens when you decide to embrace sex as magical as opposed to predatory, you ask? Well, your sex drive sort of plummets. Yes, I said it -- plummet: as in crash, deteriorate, become a shadow of its former alcohol-induced glory.
Once sex stopped being a game I refused to lose, I realized that the rules and accompanying rewards were also no longer in play.
This isn't to say that sex is no longer a fantastic experience, especially with someone you love because it truly is. But for me, sex has evolved into something that I no longer recognize.
Now, it's an act. It's one that, with increased regularity, grew into an unaccustomed and doubt-stricken vessel that I suddenly couldn't engage in with the same primitive psychological satisfaction.
In the most twisted of fashions, sex was a means of keeping people out (usually equipped with inappropriate and problematic partners, of course). It was the moat separating my castle from the dangers of outside intimacy. I thought I was far more content on my high horse, surrounded by strategically astute loneliness.
The trouble is, I could not have been more wrong.
Through an unforeseen turn of events, these days I find myself face-to-face with someone genuine and something real. Oddly enough, despite all reasonable logic, I continue to shield myself.
Sex is no longer the most effective solution to defending my hidden mess of insecurities. Actually, it is the lack thereof. I'm still seeking out ways to hide, fearing rejection from those whom I care deeply for and feeling inadequate and self-conscious in my own skin.
Someone (my dirt bag ex) once wisely said that pessimism is easy and it's happiness that's hard.
For those of us who have conditioned ourselves to believe that relationships should constantly be an uphill battle, that comfort is a red flag. With that said, no matter how much you love someone, they will never possess the power to take you out of your own mind.
The biggest mistake we can make is failing to see the blessings directly in front of our eyes.
The act of sex is so heavily reliant on our unique mental states, and sadly, finding a person who loves and accepts you unfortunately does not mean that your sexual insecurities will instantaneously drift downstream.
The challenge of building positive self-esteem can be a daunting one, but it must be faced with tenacity, gumption and unruly self-respect.
Perhaps I'll never find a way to successfully manage my sexuality in a way that's healthy for me and balanced enough for my partner.
Then again, there's so much about life and love left to learn. Plus, realizing you finally have someone worthy of fighting for is quite the turn on.