Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Jesus killed my sex life
Myself, I took option three with a pretty close call at number four. I do my best to avoid thinking about the things I was taught, trying to live my life by my own principals. However, sometimes I see stuff like this and I have to say something.
Sadly, I don't find that letter the slightest bit surprising. Having sex when you've been told, over and over and over again, that you shouldn't. That it's painful. That you'll get pregnant. That you're life will be over -- well, it's not easy. It should be, shouldn't it? It's the simplest thing in the world, exploring with someone you love. And yet, I see so much of my younger self in that letter I want to cry.
I left home, and the church, when I was 17. I didn't have sex until I was 19, but during that time I was dating, seriously, one man for over a year. I knew I wanted to have sex with him in the first two weeks. But I didn't, for almost a year. Why? Partially, because I'm not the sort to just jump into bed with whoever. But mostly, it was because I couldn't. Not physically. But mentally, emotionally, spiritually even, I could not do it. I wanted to. I wanted his so badly it made my physically hurt. But I couldn't do it.
We came close over and over again. It must have been agonizing for him. I know it was agonising for me. I lost count of the times we'd end up in bed together, naked and ready, only to have me completely freak out at the last minute. I loved this man. I desired this man. I was so turned-on I was shaking. And I could not do it. We had protection, we had privacy, we had a committed relationship. And I couldn't do it. I would sit in bed and sob, because I wanted to and I couldn't and I didn't know why I couldn't.
During that time I sat and thought hard over what was going on and I realized -- even if we'd been married, I couldn't have had sex with him. The very thought of having sex panicked me. My heart would race, I couldn't breath, I felt trapped, I was terrified. I would have full-blown panic attacks and my poor boyfriend didn't know what to do for me. He wasn't asking me to do anything kinky. He wasn't asking me to do anything unusual. He wasn't asking me to do a damned thing I didn't want to do, but I couldn't do it.
Sex had been painted as this important, life-altering, traumatic event. I wasn't abused as a child. I wasn't raped or molested or had anyone so much as look at me inappropriately. Physically, I had never been abused. But emotionally? Emotionally I was tormented constantly. Repress your desires. Repress your longings. Don't think about men. Don't think about sex. Don't think about anything physical. If you do, you're bad. Damaged. Broken. No one will want you. No one will love you. You'll be all alone and you'll deserve it.
I don't know if I can explain how horrible it was for me, being completely incapable of having sex with the person I loved more than anyone else. I don't know if I can explain how broken that made me feel. I don't know if I can explain how it made me feel like a failure. He never said anything cruel to me about it. He was nothing but supportive and understanding. He never once attempted to make me do anything. When I said stop, he stopped, no hesitation, no question. And that, eventually, is what helped me get over it. If he'd once attempted to coerce or talk me into it when I'd said no, I'd have walked out and been justified in it. But he never did. Instead, he let me take control. We only did what I was able to do. Instead of sex, we'd take showers together or we'd bathe together or we'd just lay naked together, touching and kissing but not having sex. Because I was terrifed of penetration (all those stories of bleeding and pain and sobbing wedding nights had done a number on me), we started slow, just fingertips or tongue, until I was ready to try more. Because I was crazy afraid of becoming pregnant, he was willing to use any contraception I wanted him to. (The boy was willing to wear two condoms at a time, if it made me feel safer. Compare that to so many men who don't even wanna use one ever...Such men don't deserve to have sex. Ever.)
I was able, after a full year of slowly building up to it, to overcome the revulsion my family's faith had created in me for sex. And it wasn't amazing or anything, but it wasn't the terror I was expecting it to be. Because I'd had time, I was with someone who was patient and loving and who geniunely wanted me as I was, not just a body to use for pleasure. I cannot imagine being a "good" girl who doesn't do more than kiss or hold hands before the wedding and then going right into sex immediately. I could never have done it, and I wasn't really that invested in retaining my good girl status. A lot of the things I did with my boyfriend would have gotten me kicked outta lots of churchs. Hell, I wasn't even supposed to masturbate. (And the guilt I had from that is a whole different post in itself.) Good Fundy Girls do not shower with men before marriage. They do not let him run his hands over and into their naked body. They do not sleep naked together without a wedding ring -- and they really shouldn't do it then either. And if I hadn't done all those things before the actual Act itself? I'd have never been able to do it at all.
And now? Now I've found myself on a spiritual path that celebrates the physical body. Still not one for casual hook-ups, but no more hang-ups about sexuality anymore. And I grieve for the girl I was and for all those girls growing in with those same beliefs today who are going to go through what I went through. For those who aren't going to ever be able to reconcile what they were taught with what they want. For those that will, but only by leaving completely the life and family they've created. For alll those people that think it's okay to live a life where you can't enjoy your body, can't enjoy the sensations it's capable of, because....why? I still don't know why.