Last week, someone I work with dismissively tossed in my face the blogpost I wrote on married sex life. He said that it was being spread around the department.
For a moment, shock paralyzed me. I was completely unprepared. The attack had come out of nowhere. Then I started talking—word vomit is more like it. I said I was proud of writing it, that I wanted to break down boundaries. Then I left.
Despite my words, embarrassment flooded through me. The thought that he and other people had read the article and were even thinking about me and sex was horrible enough. But that they were perhaps laughing at it and judging me? People who I had to work with?
It brought back all of my insecurities and conflicted emotions about waiting for marriage for sex. While the church preached abstinence, an adult virgin was a joke in the modern world. As I got older, I would think of the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin with a wince. That would be me.
And even though I knew that it was a lie, my decades-old insecurity whispered—you’re only a virgin because no one wants you. You’re ugly. You’re fat. That’s what everyone is saying. They’re laughing at you.
I made it through the end of the day and went home, able to hold back the tears until I got in my car. I had published the blogpost because I had wanted to help other women, just as reading a similar article had helped set my expectations before I got married and calm my fears when things didn’t go as planned. But maybe it had been a terrible mistake.
Finally, a coworker helped me reframe what happened. “He had been trying to shame you,” she said. Just putting a name to it helped. She was right. There’s no real answer as to why he would do that – I heard later that his girlfriend had applied for my job and maybe he was just pissed she hadn’t gotten it and wanted to bring me down some way. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter why he did it. Naming what he had been doing helped me put it in perspective: he was using my own story to try to get power over me. And seeing it for what it was helped me take back the power.
Because I am not ashamed of who I am. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of my choices. I have integrity. I am who I say I am and my private life reflects who I say I am publicly. I am also proud that I am brave enough to put my life out there in public, even the vulnerable parts. In this Facebook-frenzied, filtered, and airbrushed world, there’s a real need for what is genuine, warts and all.
So be brave. Yes, you might face opposition and derision, just like I did. But I survived; you will too. Be confident in who you are. Call it by its name when you face that opposition and feel the power of the truth. Be not ashamed to share your story, your light, and your truth with the world. We can’t wait to meet you.