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When I was a very little girl, so young that I can hardly remember this, I discovered that the parts between my legs felt good when something rubbed on them. Much later I learned that it’s quite common for children to discover this and innocently find objects, especially ones that vibrate, to use to touch themselves.
Somehow I remember that I felt guilty about it. I didn’t even know what I was doing, but I knew it was bad. When my friends and I played kissing games, or pretended like the people making out on TV, we knew we were being naughty. I think that’s why we didn’t do it around the grown-ups.
My siblings and I made a regular practice of playing by kissing and touching each other. Sometimes we made noises like the people on television, just acting it out. I know it was never erotic. It was simply play, and sometimes it felt good to us.
I do not remember how long it went on, but I remember exactly when it stopped. I was about 12 years old, and my brother would have been 7.
My mother walked in while my brother and I were playing. She asked me what I was doing, and I said nothing, and she asked why his pants were down, and I mumbled that I was touching him. She sent me to my room.
There I lay for what felt like a couple of hours. I could hear my parents crying and yelling in the other room. I was devastated because I had done something so bad and now they knew I was bad. And also I knew, from the news, that people who touch little boys are evil people. The longer I lay there the more convinced I became that I had really done something awful.
I remember my biggest fear, the thing I could most rationally imagine as the worst possibility, was a spanking with a wooden spoon. I tried to gear myself up for it.
Instead, when someone finally entered my room, they took me to my parents’ room. There my parents explained to me that they’d called the pastor and their best friends and told them. I was mortified. This was even worse than the spoon –I knew that the people they told would tell other people. Everyone would know. Everyone would see the evil person that I was. They put me in counseling, about which I remember very little. I sometimes wonder if the counselor told my parents what my several therapists would later tell me: that all children do this, that it’s not a big deal, and that it’s certainly no indication of the morality of the innocents involved.
It was fucked up, what they did to me. Excuse my language, but it was. I went into adolescence believing that I was a child molester. That I was a sexual predator. And my parents – I know they must have known that I felt that way – and they never did anything to reassure me that it wasn’t so.
In fact, one day I’d asked my mom what was going to happen now or something like that, and I have never forgotten the words she said to me. She kept putting away dishes as she calmly told me, “Well, you’re no longer a virgin. You’ve lost that gift.”
I am pretty sure that if I wasn’t a Christian I’d be a lesbian. Or I would have definitely checked it out.
I remember as a little girl I always practiced kissing with my girlfriends. We would check out how it felt, make sure we could hit lips with our eyes shut, giggle at how gross it was to use your tongue.
I remember as a little girl that I liked kissing the girls. I didn’t have much opportunity to practice with boys, but I liked the girls. I even pressured my friends who weren’t interested. I usually won.
I got older and I did the normal thing of stressing about finding the perfect right Christian man to be yoked with. The stress begins, really, in junior high. I never thought much about girls again because it was quite simply not an option. Not like that was forced on me – it was simply never presented to me as something that was done. I don’t think I even knew there were such people as lesbians until I was at least a sophomore in college.
I had a best friend in college with whom I could talk dirty, and we’d talk about if we had to sleep with a girl, who would it be? And it was, of course, Tori Amos. For both of us. I remember watching the movie “Threesome” with her and another great male friend, and my boyfriend at the time, and thinking that was actually something I’d do with these good friends of mine. We even joked about it. I wonder if anyone else ever had a serious thought about it.
I eventually got married, and I love my husband deeply. He is truly my best friend. But I am not sexually attracted to him. In fact, I find sex disturbing and painful.
I've watched a few movies, not porn, just movies like “Bound” and “Showgirls”, that gave me some mental pictures. And of course I’ve seen girlie magazines. And I’ve discovered that I can get aroused during sex if I close my eyes and imagine one of those movies’ scenes or just a naked woman. In fact, it’s the only way I can have an orgasm.
I dream about love and sex almost every night, and I am almost always with women in my dreams. I notice beautiful women walking down the street. I love to look at women’s bodies, and I am especially attracted to their breasts and their soft skin.
I believe now that it’s okay to be gay, even as a Christian, but I don’t think I am. I am married, and I am in love with my husband. He doesn’t believe I am gay and he knows me better than anyone. Maybe I’m bisexual. Maybe I’m just really curious. Or maybe I just really regret that I never got to even check and see if this was really real for me.
Because, come on, how could it be?
Here’s the weird thing about sex. I’ve had sex with two people in my life: the man I thought I was going to marry who left me through no fault of my own, and the man I did marry.
We had sex basically because we couldn’t stand not doing it any more. We were doing everything but, as all Christian couples do, and finally one day you just go, “fuck it” and he slips it in. And it’s over in about 2 seconds.
Every time I had sex with both guys, we would go through this horrible period afterwards of crying and praying and repenting, feeling terribly guilty and promising never to do it again. But we always did do it again (though usually we could hold out a few weeks or even months). And the wailing would begin again.
But here’s the weird thing: before I was married, sex was great. I loved it. I wanted it all the time. It was so wonderful that it completely outweighed the terrible after effects.
Then I got married, and that day everything changed. We had our first married sex and it was terrible and it hurt like hell. In fact, I was hurt so badly that we couldn’t do it again for three days. And after that it kept on hurting and it wasn’t sexy and it wasn’t fun.
I have slowly lost my sex drive over the past decade of marriage, not because I don’t love and want to be intimate with my husband, but simply because it hurts too damn bad.
Now you tell me, what kind of sick joke was that for God to play on us?
I was on a silent retreat. It had been about 12 hours since we’d started the silence. I woke up very early – probably about five in the morning. I went outside while it was still dark. I sat on a bench and watched as the sky changed to gray and lightened enough for me to read. I read some prayers from a book. And as I was reading them and praying in the quiet and the dark…this warmth welled up inside my body. It sent a shiver up my spine and made me feel tingly all over. I thought it was a shudder but it kept going. It actually rose from my vagina through my middle and up through the top of my head, then back down again. It shook my entire body, and I was sweating and panting. Through it all I couldn’t see but I could sense that God was there…that God was, actually, entering me. And it was erotic. It wasn’t just a father love or a brotherly love. It was eros. And I will tell you, it was the best orgasm of my entire life. He took me and shook me and then was gone, leaving me satisfied and cozy, out of breath but completely alive.
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Amazing stuff here. I can't wait to see the next round.
these are great. i've linked to you at my churchgal site (as well as my more profane blog, screed). and bitch. phd has linked to you, too! (she has a wide readership, not that it matters, but it kinda does. it means your audience will grow.)
i tried doing a project like this with women in the african american church and it went over like a lead duck. i don't think my community is ready/willing to talk about sexuality yet. and it does. badly.
but keep up the great work. i'll keep reading.
When I read "three" I kept having the thought that the key difference here wasn't married versus not, but "we did everything-but until we couldn't stand it". Could it be that the problem isn't a tricky deity but a lack of attention to foreplay?
(of course, you could argue that Christians are less willing to go for sex counselling, but that seems to be unrelated to the religion itself...)
Good grief, these are disturbing. OK, so I have a big tendency to interpret everything I see as evidence of why Christianity is a horrible perversion of some really nice ideas, but this just strikes at something far too close to my heart. Sexuality is such a part of a woman.. how the hell can anything that hates it as much as Christianity does have got such a hold on us?
V, Cambridge, UK
Em....have you thought of checking if you have vestibulitis? (http://obgyn.uihc.uiowa.edu/patinfo/Vulvar/vestibulitis.htm). There are no external signs, no indications whatsoever....sex just hurts. A lot. I had it, and then I was diagnosed, and I had to have an operation.....and I THANK GOD EVERY DAY BECAUSE NO MORE PAIN OMG. Really.
...oh, and honey? I think you might be just an itsy-bitsy bit gay. And it's OK. Really.
Ignorance constantly amazes me. This woman is writing a brave and honest account of her life, and people like "anonymous" and "butterfinger" comment by spouting off about things they know nothing about.
"anonymous," there are a lot of interesting discussions to be had about whether Christianity is a good or a bad thing, but asserting (without even a hint of an argument) that Christianity "hates sex" betrays a complete lack of understanding of that belief system.
Butterfinger, condescendingly assuming that we can pinpoint someone else's sexual orientation from afar is one of the most laughable fallacies of our laughable time. I would venture to guess that if anyone made so deeply personal an assessment of you based on a few short essays (and was so snide about it as well), you'd be livid with righteous indignation.
Okay, so I don't mean to be quite so confrontational, and I apologize for my tone. but can we all do a little more thinking, please?
Sounds like vestibulitis to me. Your story sounds strikingly similar to mine. I feel really sad for you. You really, really need to see a vaginal pain specialist! Most gynos don't know anything about conditions that cause vaginal pain. I just had the operation last month after undergong physical therapy. The therapy helped to "loosen things up" since I developed vaginismis (tightness) as a result of the pain. However, it did not eradicate the source of the pain, which is inflamed tissue in the vestibules. I strongly suggest you see a specialist.
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