As I edge closer and closer to 50, I am glad I have had so many wonderful mentors in my life. With each new period of life, they come back to me and remind me of how to live my age fully. The mentor mentioned above taught me at a very early point in my marriage that sex was not something enjoyed only by the young. In fact, the lesson I learned from her was that it only gets better. She glowed when she talked about her husband. Even though I thought she was "old" at the time, I could see that when she was with her husband, she felt gorgeous. She wasn't ashamed that she enjoyed herself. What a lovely gift she gave to me.
Twenty eight years into my marriage, this lesson means so much to me when it comes to self-love. Sex is an important part of a loving relationship with your partner but also with the way you can see yourself. There have been times when words between us weren't there, but sex was. It held us together. Sex with my husband has made me feel like the most beautiful woman alive through each phase of life. When I was at the height of pregnancy with our children, I could look into his eyes and see exactly what he was seeing - the woman he loved carrying the life we created together, not the big bellied woman with stretch marks I saw in the mirror. When I was in my worst pain with rheumatoid arthritis, I often felt embarrassed to show how slowly I moved or how I winced in pain, but my husband lovingly moved my joints onto pillows while checking if the position was good for me. While I often wondered how he could find me attractive as I struggled to get into bed, his eyes and gestures showed that he not only still found me attractive but was excited to be with me. To him I have been beautiful with each change life has thrown at me.
Sometimes self-love comes from allowing ourselves to see ourselves through the eyes of people who genuinely love us. How is our significant other treating us? Looking at us? Responding to us? Look closely into the eyes of the person who loves you. See yourself as they do rather than how you see yourself. When I stop and really look at what it is that my husband is seeing, I am able let down my guard and let all those negative thoughts about my body go and instead focus on enjoying sex more fully. By seeing myself as my husband does, I have gained the confidence to ask for what I want in our sexual relationship. I don't need to be ashamed to ask for what pleasures me. Confidence in ourselves allows us to ask for and receive the good things in life we deserve. By putting away the mirror and just seeing ourselves as the beautiful, gorgeous person someone else sees us as, we are able to put the negatives aside and instead just focus on the self-love we need to give ourselves.
Life is exciting. Sex is exciting. Love yourself at whatever phase of life you are at: young and healthy, pregnant, chubby, disabled, in pain, old, whatever. Be the beauty others see in you.