A year ago today I moved into my new home. After years of renting, I could finally tick the “owner-occupier” box on the survey forms, I could paint the walls whatever colour I chose, and I could unpack all of my boxes (secure in the knowledge that I wouldn’t need to move on again in six or 12 months’ time).
I’ve moved around a lot in my current 39 years: ten different homes before I was 20, then another ten to get me to this current house (plus a stint at traveling when I was of no fixed abode). I’ve lived in cities and towns, in modern houses, tenement flats, bungalows, Victorian terraces… I even lived on a farm in the middle of the countryside (with a pet lamb and a few chickens).
I’ve enjoyed moving around. My mum says I have “the wanderlust” and rolls her eyes whenever I tell her of the latest plan to move on.
But now here I am “owner occupier” of one fixed abode.
And here’s where the story gets relevant to Sexy at Any Size:
Over the last 39 years my body has changed just as many times as my housing situation. Since the age of 16 or so when I reached my adult height, I tried to change my body’s shape through various forms of dieting. I dressed it in everything from baggy trousers to ball dresses. And I changed my hairstyle at every given opportunity.
I lived in my body but I was never truly at home in my body.
A good sex life is not compatible with simply being a tenant in my body.
When I simply ‘lodged’ in my body, I could abdicate responsibility. In the metaphorical sense: if the washing machine broke down, I wasn’t the one who had to get it repaired. In the literal sense: if I wasn’t enjoying sex, I wasn’t the one who had to make sure I found a way to improve the situation.
If my lover failed to touch me in a way I found pleasurable; if I ended up faking an orgasm so as not to hurt their feelings; if I just couldn’t let go because that would mean feeling vulnerable and having to trust another human being… I could always look outside of myself and decide the solution was to change the exterior circumstances. Like moving into a new home in the hope that this time the décor would be nicer, this time the storage would be better, this time the neighbours would be quieter…
By not accepting my body, by not being at home in my body, I told myself that this time when I lost weight I’d feel better about stripping off, this time when I had the right hairstyle my face would look thinner and prettier, and this time when I made excuses not to be sexual would be the last time because this time I was going to make sure I got my ideal body.
The ideal body (just like the ideal house) doesn’t exist.
But that doesn’t matter.
Because I’ve finally come home.
Being at home in my body means looking after it, caring for it, maintaining it, and loving it - just as it is, in the full knowledge that it won’t be around forever but I can make the most of it NOW.
Being at home in my body means speaking up for what I like and what I don’t like. I’ll happily give directions if it helps. I say out loud “I feel horny” and sometimes “shall we just cuddle”. If anyone tries to criticise my body, I will defend it like the most ferocious lioness protecting her cub.
I could have made myself at home in any one of those 20 houses and flats I lived in. But instead I chose to keep moving on and searching for something better.
Choosing to be at home in my body means I can finally stop searching. I can finally enjoy what I’ve always had. And, just like the joint signatures on the house deeds, I can choose to share it with a person I love and respect.
Are YOU at home in YOUR body?