I started blogging to be completely honest about myself and accept myself so here goes:
Sexual hang ups are not new issues for me. There are a number of events and occurrences I can point to illustrate why.
Deep down, the ideal for me growing up was to be completely disinterested in and unaffected by sex. I had internalised the idea that sex was something for deviants, the unholy, the wayward. I felt it was something for me to rise above and something I always failed at.
I was raised to be Christian and when I lived with my grand mother in the Caribbean, the influence of religion (Seventh Day Adventist) was much greater. I was taught that sex involved an exchange of power that would leave me a lesser person. I was taught that virginity was sacred and that thinking about sex was a sin. I saw that girls only had to be perceived as easy (usually through arbitrary things such as the circumstance of their hips or their cup size) to be derided as whores or ‘force-ripe’. I saw this and I covered up my body in baggy clothes, hating it for having the temerity to accept the changes of puberty. When I had my period, something my mother had made seem was a thing to be celebrated before she died, my dad firmly told me that this now meant I could get pregnant and I would need to be wary of boys.
Pregnancy hovered over my head like a curse. I was more afraid of that than any STD. Surely my parents would kick me out of the house if I became pregnant. I witnessed girls in my school being denied the opportunity to graduate because they had become pregnant, I saw how my father pointed out the ‘loose’ girls who had become pregnant (typically by men much older than them).
To withhold sex was to resist a siege upon my body. Former primary school teachers came on to me, bus conductors, married men , boys my own age tried it to. I thought the problem was my body and I started to see men as potential ruiner of my life. You see I never accepted myself as one of those classical beauties that are courted and showered with romance. With my dark skin and awkward demeanor I knew the men looking at me were only looking for a vessel for their desires and I would be discarded post-haste.
I was told to wait until marriage to have sex. When the urges started and that idea proved unrealistic, I moved the goal post to waiting until I fell in love. I didn’t have sex until I was 18 and I convinced myself I was in love when I most definitely wasn’t. I don’t use the expression ‘lose virginity’ because it implies that women/girls lose a part of themselves when they have sex, that you will be irrevocably changed by the act and that you are somehow lesser than. The truth of the matter is that when I did start to have sex it was a huge let down. I felt taken advantage of just as I had always feared, and it was something that stayed with me throughout the years. I had become what I had hated: uncontrollable, naive, stupid and soiled. I hated myself so much for that choice.
The realisation that I was actually attracted to boys back in high school was devastating. Even more devastating was the realisation later in life that I also liked girls. Sexuality has been something I have always wanted to cut away from myself, to deny, to hide away so people could not see the cracks in me.
The truth is, I am very interested in sex. I am often fascinated and simultaneously repulsed by it. Separating the shame from the pleasure is something I’ve been trying very hard to do. I enjoy sex with men and women and I’ve realised my sexual tastes can fall outside of what some may term as ‘vanilla’. Sometimes its hard to tell whether a genuinely dislike something or if I am again trying to cover up some shamed part of myself. Accepting my sexual orientation is also something I am having to work on as every now and again I still work under the illusion of being straight. Coming ‘out’ is inconceivable to me right now, but I feel some sort of responsibility to others who are like me and feel unable to be themselves.
I’ve often felt jealous of those who appear self-possessed, confident and know what it is they want and how to go about it. Sometimes I do feel like that, but I wish it was permanent. I’m not quite sure how to reconcile my upbringing to my current reality, maybe there is no need for such things. I know its going to take a lot of work to truly be free and to trust. I deride myself for being a ‘prude’ and a ‘freak’ in equal measures, but neither of these labels apply. I’m just me. And its time to embrace that.