I’m working at home today. I have a lot of conference calls and didn’t feel like putting on a suit (being pre-menstrual will do that to a woman sometimes) and I had the rest of an IKEA guaranteed-to-make-you-insane piece of furniture to put together.
I have a nanny. She doesn’t live with me and she goes to whichever house my son is at that week. This morning, after my son got dropped off at school, she came to me and handed me a pair of black stay-up stockings, saying “oh I found these in the brown bag” (which is the bag we use to schlep my son’s stuff between our houses on drop off days).
They aren’t mine.
My ex has had the bag for the last month…the last time we did an exchange (two weeks ago; the schedule changed because I had my son on vacation) he said he didn’t know where the bag was.
So let me break this down for you. It took my brain a moment too.
My nanny had handed me a (clean) pair of stockings that belong to my ex-husband’s girlfriend.
Here’s the thing. Anyone who has read anything about my marriage knows that it was pretty much sexless for 13-odd years. In the last many years, we averaged having sex maybe once every 4-8 weeks. When it occurred, it lasted maybe 5 minutes. It wasn’t always that, way, however. My ex and I spent 2 days in bed together after our third date. We had sex, ate pie (that’s not a euphemism…we actually ate pie in bed), and talked non-stop. He was the first to try fisting with me (ironically the only ever two men I did this with were him and my faraway lover). I say this not to titillate but just to demonstrate that we had a decent and interesting sex life.
That stopped after he broke my heart a few months later. Yeah, that was January 1999. Both I – and our sex life – were broken after that. I didn’t have sex with him the night he asked me to marry him. We were in a stunning hotel on the caldera in Santorini, Greece. He had even bought me some beautiful lingerie. No sex for him that entire trip. I didn’t have sex with him on our wedding night, OR on our honeymoon. Well, maybe once on our honeymoon.
It was my fault we were sexless at that point in our marriage. All mine – I own that. I was hurt and angry at the things he did and said, and still I married him. He wanted sex so badly. We fought a lot about it. I even went to my Doctor to ask her about how to increase my desire – her first question was “are you having trouble in your marriage” and of course I said no, and convinced myself it must be medical. Eventually he stopped asking. I’m sure the constant rejection was just too painful for him. At some point we both tried every so often. Then I tried harder. But it was long dead.
The only exception was when we decided to have a child. Like good type-A goal-oriented personalities, we did what would guarantee success. We had sex every. single. day. For three months. It was nice, actually, even though it wasn’t mind-blowing by any stretch. After that we had sex more frequently but then all of the chaos and fatigue of having a child, and my continued deep-seated anger and disappointment in my marriage, pretty much guaranteed we weren’t going to have a healthy sexual relationship.
Several of my friends thought my ex was gay. That was the only way they could explain what they observed – a relatively passionless relationship, with little affection and even less sex. Don’t get me wrong, my ex is messed up about sex. Doesn’t like affection. Has self-esteem and anxiety issues. So the situation was exacerbated by those things. It wasn’t all me, but I started it.
So. Back to the stockings.
I have no doubt my ex is having a similarly renewed sex life post-split. Given he’s in a relationship, I’m sure it’s not as, um, varied, as mine is, but I’m sure it’s there. Well, I hope it is. So I have known this in theory. But he’s not one to display affection so it’s not like I’ve been literally faced with it before.
But these stockings.
I know why I wear stockings (real stockings, rarely thigh highs). I wear them because they make me feel sexy. Sometimes I wear them to work just because. It makes me smile because I have this little secret that nobody around the boardroom table knows. Sometimes I wear them because I think of the lover who will peel off my clothing later that day, and I revel in the delight they bring them. Stockings are almost always sexual.
It’s odd to be faced with the fact that someone is doing this for my ex-husband. When I was trying to save our marriage I did occasionally. One time my reward was some hot, quick, from-behind sex in my walk-in closet. Now there is someone else doing that for, and to, him. Someone else getting the delights of his…assets.
I don’t want him back, not for a moment. But it makes me melancholy to think what might have been, what perhaps would have been possible, had he been different and I different. Which of course means it would never have been possible. I do know this, in my brain and my heart. But it still made me feel strange.
For about five minutes.
Then I saw the humor. Had I not been home my nanny would have put them away and I would have worn them without knowing. There is the possibility of hilariously awkward conversations (how to give them back). Perhaps I will just wear them and say fuck it all – this is weird and messy and I will simply embrace it.