Can we ever put this to bed?
I was back in my hometown last week and went to dinner with a childhood friend and her parents. They were brutally grilling her about her current relationship with Nick. Nick is a 28-year-old cis male, celebrity trainer, and personal chef. He is 6’2 and possesses what might be an eight-pack, not just a six-pack. He has a degree in Kinesiology from a top university and is currently completing an MBA. The focus of the grilling was “ what could he possibly see in her?”
Julie is a recently divorced mother of one 12-year-old son, a very successful art director and designer. She recently went back to school to get her Masters in digital marketing. Julie is also 49 years old. After 13 years in an abusive relationship with a malignant narcissist, she has found deep, authentic, and satisfying love with a “younger man.” Her parents, who hated her ex-husband and helped her get away, still cannot seem happy for her because of what they feel is a bizarre and uncomfortable situation.
“There must be something wrong with him! He has “mother issues, and clearly, he is seeking a sugar mama,” Her father said. “He is going to dump you the second he wants to have children,” her mother chimed in.
It was very difficult to be present with this extremely negative energy. It was also difficult to believe that we wouldn’t be in a much different conversation if the situation were reversed. (Imagine that their newly divorced son had snagged a hot, fit, and educated woman, 21 years younger).
Julie shared how excellent this relationship has been for her, how she now believes she can be healed after many years of gaslighting, abuse, and control usurped her self-esteem and self-agency, and how she believes for the first time in her life that this partner actually sees her, the real her. And in a rebellious and provocative comeback told her parents how mind-blowing the sex is. (That was the best part!!)
The evening before, Julie shared with me the details of the empowerment she is experiencing in this new level of connection and the intimacy and pure unadulterated pleasure she is allowing herself to be present with this man. “Ironically, I am in my body for the first time, not in my head. It seems strange that I am not thinking about the rolls and cellulite I thought about all the time in my twenties when they didn’t even exist! I am fully embracing his worship of my body. I believe him when he tells me I’m beautiful. I love worshiping his magnificent body, all within the bubble of love, connection, and otherworldly pleasure.”
Julie and I discussed the strange place she finds herself now - after a lifetime of plaguing doubt in herself while in the perpetual crosshairs of the male gaze, she owns and loves every wrinkle, bump, lump, and scar as a badge of survival on the road she has traversed toward wisdom, autonomy, and the belief that she absolutely deserves this sexual pleasure. “Why doesn’t anyone tell you it gets this good when you reach 50?” I said that maybe we need to tell identified women that it is all there for them if they just embrace it and tell everyone who doesn’t to fuck off.
Society is not necessarily kind to women, whether cis or trans, gay or straight. But when Julie’s own mother was not celebrating her daughter as someone living in her truth and ignoring the whispers of gender norms, it was incredibly sad. Within her relationship with Nick and her career, she has finally reached a level of authenticity that she worked towards for five decades. But in front of her parents and especially her mother, it was hard not to see the teen girl berated and meant to conform to the feminine norms of society. The one groomed to fall for the love bombing, perpetual abuse, and eventual discard of a truly controlling narcissist.
“These messages must be screamed to the younger generations from the rooftops,” Julie proclaimed. I couldn’t agree more.