I was timid in my sexuality at the beginning. Fearful. The thought of pregnancy was always heavy in my mind because there were girls at my high school who had become pregnant. I distinctly remember my mother telling me to not do this to her. The shame and fear about pregnancy kept me away from sex for a long time. But it wasn’t just my mother’s warning; it was my own uncertainty about it. The little knowledge I had about sex was what was taught in school, heard from friends or what I would see in pornographic magazines that friends would share while we giggled. I was so fearful of it all that I didn’t even dare kiss anyone until well into my 18th year on the planet. I think I was apprehensive of my own sexuality, that if I were to kiss someone, my hormones wouldn’t stop there. I would want more and somehow I would be the unlucky one to get pregnant on the first try.
This was in the ’90s, back before shows on television glamorized teen pregnancy. I was too scared to get birth control while I was living at home, lest my mother find out. But it turned out fine since I never had a boyfriend anyway. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but the universe had other plans for me, and thus I remained as virginal as can be until after I graduated high school… yay me, right? Oh, if only I could have used the excuse of religious faith for this! But sadly, it was merely just a lack of appropriate partners along with my own trepidation.
I do remember that I couldn’t wait to leave home so I could explore this side of myself free from the constraints of my hometown and judging eyes. Isn’t that what college is for? A time for freedom and exploration? A time to really expand yourself and the ideas of how the world works. When I got to college, I signed up for birth control, certain of my plan to lose my virgin identity. All throughout high school it was more shameful to me that I was still a virgin. That somehow I was less of a person because I hadn’t yet explored that part of life as many of my friends had. I have never liked being on the inexperienced side of things. I always like knowing/figuring things out and being the one that people come to for advice. But this one area, I was certainly lacking and that made me feel like a child. Oh, how I just wanted to experience it!
Finally I got my first boyfriend in college. Someone who was attracted to me, who reciprocated my feelings and who I felt I would bring me this identity of ‘sexually experienced woman’! I remember the first time we had sex; I was ready to do it and just get it over with. He was always more hesitant as he too had not yet experienced intercourse. It was a good experience with someone I loved and who loved me, so for that I’m grateful I had waited. He was more hesitant and was actually shocked when it was over that we had actually done it and he too was no longer a virgin. I, on the other hand, wanted to light up a virtual cigarette and stare into the darkness with pride. It was done! I was no longer a nerdy virgin girl.
I don’t even remember the details of my first time, but I know I wasn’t sad or regretful afterward. I was on the cusp of womanhood, ready to prowl. Unfortunately, like many women in their initial experiences, I gave up too much of myself in that relationship, put too much pressure on it to fulfill the emptiness I felt inside, made myself too needy for him and eventually the relationship died. I will, however, never forget he gave me that gift of my first sexual experience.
As my college years passed, I had other boyfriends/hookups, growing my repertoire of likes and dislikes in the bedroom. I grew more confident in my abilities as I got older. Each bad breakup got worse, but the relationships all taught me more and more about me. By the time I met my husband, I was confident in what I knew of sex in the four years I’d experienced it, but oh, how naive I was. Stepping into the relationship with the man who would become my husband brought me into a new world of sexual pleasure, positions and love of sex that I hadn’t yet known. His passion in the bedroom awakened an even greater confidence in my presence and that I too could find pleasure in pleasing myself as well as him. I think this is one of the differences with a great love as opposed to my immature relationships I’d experienced before. Love between the two of us and the love I grew for myself made sex a different experience. It wasn’t something I was giving away so a man would like me, it was something we were sharing together to express the love we had. That love has lasted 10 years now and added two boys to our family.
I’m 32 now and my sex drive is not what it used to be, even though apparently I’m supposed to be coming (literally?) into my prime sexual years. I’m a mother now, and married for 6 years. It’s hard to do it all, as so many of us know. By the end of the day, you just want to melt into the couch and become a zombie. Sex is rarely on my mind. I’ve never had a strong sex drive, but now it’s lukewarm at best. I do know when we do have the opportunity for sex, it’s always amazing and I cringe later for rejecting things when I know it will be a great time. Somehow, my chore lists, planning for the future and what TV shows I’m missing become more important. There is always an excuse not to do it, to put it off, to get sleep since you know the kids will be up early, but it’s the magnificence of the connection together that helps bring me back to reality.
Oh, how far I’ve come since my early virginal days. Now, instead of dreams about kissing studly guys and fantasizing about my first sexual experience, I’m hoping I can just get through the day without having it mentioned. Is this the new norm? Is this what I’m in for now that I’m in my 30s? I hope not. Maybe once my boys are older and less reliant on me, I can renew my sexuality. I love my husband and doing pleasurable things with someone I care about makes me happy and very grateful. I’m grateful that I live in a society that gives me these freedoms and that I don’t have to feel ashamed of who I am.
Featured image by dhammza on Flickr