My Story: Part 1
In requesting feedback from some of my friends, I have been told that although the previous pieces are informative and easy to read, they feel a little encyclopedic. I’ve been told that I should inject more of my personal experience into my writing, as that is the entire purpose of a blog. This series of posts is the hardest piece of personal writing I have ever done. It may very well be the hardest piece of writing that I will ever do. This is my story, and how I became a Nice Girl Who Likes Sex Too.
I am 28 years old, and I live in San Francisco. I am the oldest of four children. I come from a household that derives its culture from three labels that define it entirely. The household is Catholic, Republican, and military.
The first sex talk I can remember happened when I was six years old. My mother was pregnant with my little sister, and, of course, I was curious as to how such a thing could happen. It was the stereotypical “when a mommy and a daddy love each other very much”-type of a conversation, complete with drawings of sperm and egg, but no explanation of how these two mythical beings came to meet inside of my mother.
About four years later, my mother passed away in a car accident about six months after my parents divorce. I was lucky to have a very loving dad, and even luckier to have a patient, loving, and all-around incredible step-mom who chose to become a part of our lives (for reference, I now refer to my biological mother as “mother” and my step-mom as “mom”). My mother and my dad didn’t agree on religion, she was Lutheran and he is Catholic, so I never went to church as a child. Now, my dad took us to church, and I took deep comfort in the Catholic faith. At eleven years old, the thought that I would one day see my mother again, and that I could have a one-sided conversation with her in the meantime, allowed me to heal some very deep emotional scars.
The next sex talk I can remember occurred when I was eleven years old. I had an older cousin who had gotten herself into some trouble in her freshman year in high school. She ran away from home, and my mom and dad decided it was time to sit me down and have a serious conversation about the consequences of sex. All I really remember from this conversation is the acute feeling of unease I had the entire time, and my mom saying, “We think it is important that you wait until you are married to have sex, but we know that we can’t keep you from having sex, so if you decide that you are ready to have sex, please come and let us know so that we can get you on birth control.” At eleven, I was quick to tell my parents that I had no interest in having sex, and was happy to wait until I got married to do so.
After this, the only conversations that I had regarding sex occurred in school, as we learned about puberty; or in church, as I learned that the Catholic faith demands that everyone wait until they get married to have sex. I had a few later conversations with my parents too, but those were primarily to reinforce the ideas that the church was already teaching me: The most important thing that I should think about is how to remain “pure” and virginal for my future husband. I was told that my virginity is a special one-time-only gift, and that I should be sure the person who it was given to was worthy of such a unique present.
There were scare tactics used in the Church teachings too. I was told that if I ever had sex outside of marriage, then it would cease to be a special thing, and that I would have a hard time ever becoming truly emotionally intimate with my future husband. I was told that if I had sex with a lot of people, then I would come to view it as a bodily function, like eating or breathing. This is a scary idea, when you realize that I had been told that sex is an especially intimate and special thing.
During all of this, I had crushes on a lot of guys who I thought were cute, we decided to “go out”, and I kissed a few of them, but absolutely refused to go any further than that. I would daydream about dating someone in high school, going off to college together, and getting married after we had both graduated. It was the ideal that I had been given all of my life, and I was determined that I wasn’t going to end up like the girls who gave their “special gift” away before they had a ring on their finger.
In my eyes, there were “nice” girls who waited, and “bad” girls who had sex before marriage. These girls had doomed themselves to becoming STD riddled single mothers, of multiple children from multiple fathers, all living in the worst poverty imaginable. Scary stuff for a fourteen year old middle-class girl.
I had clearly internalized the virgin/whore dichotomy to an extreme, and looked down my nose at the girls I knew in junior high and high school, whose sex lives were grist for the astoundingly vicious rumor mill. I thought that I was better than all of them. It was my assumption that all of the popular girls had basically sold their bodies to the popular boys so that the girls too could be popular. Instead of being compassionate towards the girl in my junior high who got pregnant by her step-brother, I called her a slut behind her back, and felt superior that I had never gone further than kissing a boy. When a girl in my friend group in high school had to ask another friend’s mom to get her the morning after pill, I felt oddly triumphant that at least I wasn’t such a whore.
With all the time that I spent thinking about sex, and how absolutely boy-crazy I was, one would think that perhaps I would at least give myself some relief through fantasies and masturbation, right? Heavens no. Lustful thoughts and masturbation were also a sin against God. There was a joke that some of my friends told, “Everyone masturbates, and if they tell you they don’t, then that person is lying.” I finally did it at the age of 16. I was a senior in high school, and suddenly I was a happier, friendlier person. I had so much stress, frustration, and anger pent up inside of me that orgasm was an unexpected but very welcome release from all of it.
I graduated from high school at 17, and entered community college.
Part 2 will be posted on Monday.