Sometimes the Basement Floods and Other Erotic Foreplay
When I went to bed Saturday evening, I remember feeling a sigh of relief that on Sunday morning I would finally get to experience an uninterrupted, slow morning. There’s something incredibly soothing to me about laying in my bed surrounded by my fluffy, white feather down comforter and feeling no sense of urgency to move. This fantasy led me into a blissful slumber and the deeper I sa
nk into sleep, the more solace my body experienced, slowly letting down its anxious guard.
Sunday morning rolled in, the sun peaking through the cracks of my blinds, and the tiny toes tapped lightly in the hallway outside my door. Nothing felt jolting, just tranquil. Then I hear my son from the hallway bathroom, “Why isn’t there any water coming out of the sink?”
Well damn… Still relatively unphased by the twist of events, I meandered to my own bathroom attempting to run the water. Just as my son had communicated, indeed there was no running water in my faucet. Now my investigation hat goes on and I begin my descent downstairs where I hear something that resembles a loud faucet of running water. Did someone leave a downstairs faucet running all night drying up our well? No, there’s no running water down here.
Then it dawned on me, Oh shit, that’s coming from the basement. I yell for Jeff, who I was hoping to let sleep. After all, just because one of us gets up doesn’t mean both of us has to. Up he jumps and down he goes. Ah, yes. Our sprinkler line burst and our basement flooded. We would spend the next hour moving holiday decorations and miscilaneous items of this and that from the basement storage room into the half of the basement that fortunately had not yet flooded. Barefoot and miserable, we trapesed through the cold, wet conundrum that was our Sunday morning; I couldn’t help but sigh a little disappointment. This is what has become of my solace.
Eventually, we got to the point where there was no more to be done aside from waiting for the basement to dry and then assess the equipment necessary to fix the problem. Surprisingly, we were actually able to move on with the rest of our Sunday relatively unaffected by the “rude awakening” we received that morning.
Later that evening Jeff headed to town to pick up the necessary supplies to take care of the issue. When evening rolled around, we settled into our typical Sunday routine, packing lunches, preparing baths, and enforcing sleep. Once the kids were both finally asleep, Jeff headed to the basement and I to the family room where I would work on tackling one chapter of the latest book I’m exploring.
From the basement I hear a string of very intense language. Sounding as though he were having an encounter with his worst enemy and preparing for battle, I couldn’t help but squirm in my seat listening to the madness going on downstairs. I sat for a while wondering, what should I do? As the discomfort built up in my stomach – not a discomfort of safety, just a pure discomfort of not know what my right move would be – I continued in my contemplation; do I go help him? Do I give him his space? My history with Jeff reminded me that when he’s trying to do something and he feels frustrated, he just happens to cuss at the thing and occasionally throw a tool. I think it makes him feel better. I decided to go to bed.
The next morning as everyone was getting up and preparing for a Monday he pauses with me in the morning, “Sorry about my intense terrets last night. Do you know what I was doing in the basement?”
“Oh, it’s totally fine. I know you were working hard trying to fix the pipe. It was an unexpected pain. It’s totally fine that you were having a moment. No, I don’t know exactly what you were doing down there. Based on yesterday, I think I could imagine to some degree.”
“Next time you go down there, it will all make sense,” he replies.
Mornings are not a time for us to slowly meander and start our day in solitude. No, mornings are this place of welled up angst and chaos as I generally feel one move shy of my entire day going to hell in a handbag. Thus, I didn’t run to the basement to make better sense of Jeff’s situation. With my youngest in tow, I shuffled out the door, one breath shy of a panic attack as my four year old protested to another routine Monday.
The day was long, but I made it through. I found myself back home attempting to decompress. Once recalibrated, I went down to the basement to make heads or tales of the mess that ensued due to my seasonal decorations getting shuffled from one half of the basement to the other. While down there, Jeff joined me, helping to put the belongings back in a respective order. While shuffling over, hands full, barely able to see past the tower of stuff, he grins asking, “Did you see what I did?” as he points over to a new steel shelf he put together in the basement. “It all makes sense now, right? Now, if this happens again, we won’t have to risk our things getting ruined.”
I got it. Jeff did that for me.
Later that week, seeing a couple for sex therapy, a wife in my office was crying out, “What’s wrong with me?!?! I want to have sex with him like all the time, and he doesn’t always want to! If he tells me no, it’s because he doesn’t love me, he doesn’t desire me!”
As I’ve been working with this couple for quite some time now, I have a good sense of who each person is. My client simply was not correct about her assumptions toward her husband. I’ve seen spouses who outright reject their partners; this guy isn’t one of them. In my curiosity I asked, “How did you come to that conclusion?”
Crying, she explained, “When I have sex with him, I feel so incredibly loved and connected. I feel so cared for. If he doesn’t want to have it as often as I am asking for it, I assume it’s because he doesn’t want me anymore.” As an attachment therapist, I knew that I knew her logic part didn’t believe what she was saying, but her emotional part and consequential fears and a history of conditional, disconnected love was telling her otherwise. That part felt incredibly unsafe and vulnerable.
I responded, “I think you have a couple false assumptions about love and sexual desire. I am not sure that I’m with you in the idea that love merits certain “sexpectations”.”
So I asked her, “Is it your personal belief set that intimate partner love is confirmed through sex?”
“Yes, I need him, I want him! And if he doesn’t desire me sexually, then he doesn’t want me, he doesn’t……… love me.”
“I understand that you need him and want him sexually, but in all this time we’ve been sitting together in this space, he’s never communicated sex as one of his own affirmative needs. He likes it, but he doesn’t crave it as a measure of his love. He wants you to understand that is ok. Is there any way we could take conditional love off the table and talk instead about your sex drive and how to calibrate it with your husbands so you both feel seen and heard?”
She paused again, started to weep and declared, “No one has ever loved me unconditionally prior to him. I don’t know if I know how to do that.”
Quietly, gently, compassionately I respond, “Let’s try.”
That evening my mind couldn’t help but reflect back to my flooded basement as I simultaneously recounted the session with my clients. Through a flooded basement of all places, Jeff was expressing his love for me, his care for me, his fantasy of affirming his love for me. When I looked at the shelf he constructed through the frustrated labor he asserted, I felt this lift of butterflies in my stomach. He took care to take care of me; not because I pressured him, just because he’s here with me – living committed to the passionate expressions of love that exist in the simple now. That to me was incredibly hot, erotic, and sexy. Before we ever connected in the bedroom, we connected first in a flooded basement.
The greatest obstacle in my client’s case has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with my client developing the belief set (long before she ever had an intimate partner) that sex is indicative of love, and sex is a necessaryattribute to feeling loved. That is 100% untrue. Within love, sex can be an amazing connector, but is reliant on much more important factors within a partnership and, dare I say, within each individual having sex together. All of the sexual performance he has to offer will never be enough to heal the primary rejection and undefined emotions she was experiencing in her body. Sex was not a healing factor, it was a shot of whiskey.
Regardless of sex, a relationship affirms or deconstructs itself through the preordained conditions each member brings to the team (please note: I am not talking about premarital sex). While sex is an amazing 20-30 minute expression that undoubtedly releases some feel great hormones, the desire and consequential fantasy foreplay happening in a long-term relationship is reliant on the trust within the connection which builds outsideof the bedroom and started at each person’s beginning.
As you explore yourself as a human being and a sexual being, remember that some sex is playful and casual, some sex is healing and relational, and some sex is revealing and painful (among many other things). Whatever sex is communicating to you, remain curious; sometimes it’s not about the sex.