When I was a virgin the thought of sex was both intriguing and terrifying. It was mysterious and taboo and I was anxious to ‘get it over with.’ Adolescents know the power of sex, but are rarely given the skill sets to talk about it and primarily learn from equally ignorant peers and first hand experience.
I technically lost my virginity on my sixteenth birthday. That was the day a penis totally entered my vagina multiple times until one of us had an orgasm. You can probably guess who that was. . . hint, it wasn’t me. I had had other sexual experiences, but heterosexual sex is pretty focused on penile-vaginal penetration as the only thing considered as valid intercourse.
This person and I continued to have sex for 17 years through high school, college, post-college, marriage, a baby, and morphing into grown ups, and ultimately divorcing. At first, sex was novel and fun mostly because it was ‘wrong’. I found it sexy to live the dichotomy of “4.0 perfect student” and “has sex in parking lot with older boyfriend.” It was the classic lady in the streets vs. freak in the sheets. I was both wife material and fuck buddy material. I wore this as a badge. Now, I look back on it with a mixture of pity and compassion.
Later in the relationship sex became obligatory and expected. It was a way to stay connected in a partnership that was fraying more severely with each passing moment. I transitioned to be a stay-at-home mom and his company began to thrive and I began to question if my marriage was more like a societally condoned form of prostitution. He made the money and I offered sex. Sure, I could technically say no. But, it meant him pouting, shutting me out, or picking a fight about how ‘I don’t love him’. The weight of the consequence for the ‘no’ was often not worth it.
Towards the end of our marriage, after sex, I would sit on the toilet trying to push out every bit of the semen. I would dry heave with revulsion, cry, and wonder what was wrong with me. My body knew before my brain that this man – my husband- had become toxic and was not a safe space for me. I wish I’d listened better.
After my marriage ended, I became single for the first time as an adult. Sex has become one of the most beautiful ways to connect with other people. I love the shared energy and intimacy. The vulnerability of two (or more!) bodies seeking and offering pleasure for just a few moments or multiple years is endlessly fascinating to me. I crave the energy connection and the invisible threads that pull certain individuals towards each other.
The stages of my sexual evolution have taught me the importance of integrating the Madonna with The Whore, The Lady with The Freak. I have learned that true consent does not mean saying yes because it is too hard to say no. I am responsible for setting that boundary and for finding partners who are sensitive to this. The most important lesson I have learned is to listen to your body’s wisdom and intuition. Be curious, open, and embrace the sexual power within you.