Former housewife rediscovers identity, sexuality, post-divorce

Living Unbridled - by Barbara McNally, author of Unbridled

Some people have always enjoyed being single, while others have flocked to it after a bad break-up or for a chance for self-discovery. For me, it was sort of all three.

As a former housewife and divorcee, I spent years in what appeared to many to be the 'perfect marriage,' although perfect was far from reality. I excelled at the role of dutiful wife, nurturing mother and smiling hostess, but my independent, thrill-seeking nature kept getting me into trouble. Our marriage was one of social expectations and smokescreens, and I felt stuck in an unhappy union, longing for excitement and adventure.

After our divorce, I was finally liberated to live life for myself and embrace all that the world had to offer. One of my biggest adventures post-divorce was traveling to a Hedo resort in Jamaica. It was impulsive, daring and sexy- just what I needed to push myself to step outside of my comfort zone and embrace the single lifestyle. Jamaica taught me that there are many ways to go through life, and traditional marriage is just one path. After spending years focused on the needs of my husband, I finally feel liberated to live for myself, by my own terms.

I decided to chronicle my journey from stifled housewife to sensual, uninhibited living in my new memoir, Unbridled. I hope that my story inspires others to indulge their sense of adventure and live life to the fullest. Here's an excerpt:

Shortly after my mom dropped the bomb about my dad's affair, I boarded a plane for Jamaica. The demise of my parents' marriage and that of my own left me wondering if traditional relationships were destined for failure. I set out to explore the unconventional. Hedo or bust.

I had never been a "clothing optional" kind of girl, but maybe I would be in Jamaica. I had missed a lot of sunsets and summer breezes in my life. I was tired of revisiting the past and worrying about the future. I wanted to live in the now: free, wild, and possibly naked.

Although the beach was clothing optional, the resort's swimming pools were segregated into two groups: nude and prude. While both pools had a swim-up bar, there was hardly anyone in the prude pool. The nude pool had more vitality, so I picked it. It's what Grandma Pat would have done-because of the people, not the nudity. I stripped off my bathing suit and dove in.

As I waited my turn at the swim-up bar, the man next to me ordered a front-end lifter, a drink made with ginger wine and Red Bull.

"Honey, don't you think he's hot?" he asked.

At first I thought he was talking to me, but a petite woman on the other side of him leaned in for a closer inspection before she answered. "Oh, definitely," she said. "He's very handsome."

"If you want to use him as a toy, go ahead. We'll both pleasure you," the man said to her, winking at me. I glanced at the ring on his finger, then at the one on hers.

"Don't you get jealous?" I asked the man.

"Oh, I don't own her," he answered. "She's my wife, not my possession."

"Yeah, but ." I looked past him at his attractive spouse. Her wet hair was slicked back in a way that accentuated her high cheekbones and her almond-shaped eyes. "Isn't that a dangerous proposition, even if you approve?"

"What bonds us together is love and respect, not sexual exclusivity."

We were several minutes into our conversation when I realized I was talking to complete strangers about extramarital sex while sitting at a nude swim-up bar where the water only came up to my waist. My breasts were fully exposed. Was it the conversation with the two of them that helped me let go of my inhibitions or was it the alcohol?

Barbara McNally is the author of Unbridled, a memoir chronicling her journey from stifled, predictable housewife to independent and joyous living. A mother and philanthropist living in San Diego, California, Barbara is also the founder of Mother, Lover, Fighter, Sage, a foundation inspired by her own journey and dedicated to providing women with opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

Visit her website at http://unbridledfreedom.com/
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