See when I was growing up, people weren't as sexually transparent and no one (at least to my knowledge) was publicly feminist or publicly liberal. But then again, social media wasn't really a thing and information didn't travel as quickly as it does now. No one told me that deciding to engage in a sexual act with another consenting participant didn't result in me "losing" something. Certainly no one told me that sex was about me too; or that I even really mattered in a way that was fully human, in a way that my pleasure wasn’t just an afterthought.
So when around 19, I finally decided to have sex with my first love- the man I would have "lost" it to at 13, or 15, or 18 if I’d decided- I thought I had made a good decision. Even though at some point he "lost" his along our journey, I held on strong, telling myself that when I was ready, I would just know. My body would just tell me, you know? But now, I mean in retrospect, I realize that I fucked up.
I won't put you through the suspense so I'll just tell you now- I think my waiting too long fucked me over. I was right in that my first experience needed to be with someone I was comfortable and familiar with. Someone with whom it would be "good". But I’ve come to realize now, that what I really meant with the latter was someone with whom it was worth it. And “worth” for me, (albeit unbeknownst to me at the time) meant how much time had been spent waiting. Since it was with him, I thought that not having any doubts, something I considered a sure sign of ‘readiness’, meant things had gone, and would continue to go as planned. But here's the thing about this bitch called life right? The curveball it threw me still leaves me shook. Seriously.
Because I knew that something was wrong the first time we had sex. It was very seriously - I promise you I'm not exaggerating, and yes I exaggerate a lot- the most painful thing I had ever felt. I felt like someone was ripping into me. I writhed around in those sheets trying to find the "good balance" that seemed to have been eluding me. He was nice- he calmed me, and reassured me that it was because it was my first time, and of course, the size of his dick, that I felt so much pain. That the more I got comfortable fucking, the less it would hurt. Only, that didn’t happen. In fact, it hurt so much that I spotted into the next day, and it in fact continued to hurt, every other time we had sex.
When we tried after that initial time, it was better in the way that it wasn't new, but was still for the most part, painful. Despite the fact that I was no longer spotting, penetration was still unpleasant- it either was unachievable, which came with its own emotional blow, or not-totally-unachievable but very painful. It always felt like a strange object was being inserted into me- one with sharp edges that lit me up inside, in a way that was excruciatingly painful as my body seemed to have been rejecting it. Quite simply, I had to always ease him (whomever he is) in, and then spend the next few minutes trying to relax my muscles and convince my mind, which would then convince my vagina that I was safe- thereby commanding it to open up. Since my body is apparently as feminist as my soul, I quickly realized that there was no commanding this one- she does whatever the hell she wants to do, and that, as you can imagine, left me often frustrated.
Once, he had gotten distracted in the way that men often do- bastards- and he'd pushed a bit too hard, too aggressively. It was painful, but I didn't want to ruin the experience for him. Eventually, when we stopped, we were sat on the couch in his basement living room when I finally mustered up the courage to tell him how not-so-pleasant the experience had been for me, thanks to said distraction. See, I wanted to be considerate of his ego- by this age, I was aware of these sorts of things- that boys had egos and that these egos, especially where their sexual performance was concerned, needed to be handled with care. (LMAO ode. Can you people see that I was not really serious about this feminist thing?)
So I told him nicely. Still, he was upset- but not for the reasons you’re probably thinking. See, my then twenty year old lover scolded me- lovingly- because (according to him), that wasn’t the type of thing you kept quiet about. He expressed that sex was supposed to be something we both enjoyed, and that there was no point in even engaging if the both of us were not fully enjoying it. I wish I could end this post here- I wish I could tell you that those words then, were as revolutionary or as important to me as they are now- but I cannot. I do however feel the need to tell you that I hadn’t always been a lame ass bitch. Before we ever placed the pressure of penetration on our relationship, we had had a good number of years exploring each others bodies. He was my most familiar lover- we had grown up together and although not all of our pre-penetration experience was great (we did after all, grow up watching porn), at least I wasn’t yet burdened by my body or the pressure to perform, and essentially, ’make him cum’. During our formative foreplay days, I was a wild one- a Virgin hoe- I somehow was more sexually liberated and explorative- this could’ve been because I was just another horny teen or because the pressure of performance wasn’t yet present. Yet, because I had never been the girl who deluded herself into thinking she’d wait it out until marriage, in those younger days, there was no pressure; there certainly was no shame. I was allowed to just explore, to just feel. And so I did.
But there I was for the first time, realizing that I had really fallen off. The 16 year old me was more of a G than this 19-ish year old was; there I was, 19 and full of more anxiety than life. Full of pressure both real and completely mentally fabricated. By then, I was already aware of the parts of my body that I didn't particularly like, and was generally, less free spirited.
There of course was also that incident. The one with my older cousin, more fog than memory, and the one where, in my embarrassment with needing any aid at all, I asked for a tampon, which I thought was more popular and less lame, instead of a pad, which I was more used to and would’ve been my preferred emergency aid from the nurse’s office. I made my way into the bathroom, forced my tampon inside me, save for the little chunk that was still hanging, the little chunk I found it impossible to fit. So with my tampon inserted halfway, I somehow thought it was a great idea, somehow had forgotten the discomfort of the thing itself, and sat down at my lunch table, nowhere near carefully enough. Till now, I can still see myself jolting up from the pain. By the time I returned to the bathroom, I was unable to tell which blood was from my period and which one was from my scarring.
My lover and I eventually stopped speaking, and thus I continued on into the world. By the time the second guy came around, I knew what I had was called vaginismus; a type of sexual dysfunction. To cut it short, my village people won. I had told my friends about the pain and discomfort that seemed constant even after the first time I had sex. Not to anything that was their fault, they suggested that maybe I needed to have sex more frequently, but essentially that I was fine and that with time, my symptoms would subside. But they didn't, and one day, while watching "Master of Sex", I watched the episode with a woman, who had a sexual dysfunction that disallowed men from either being able to penetrate her, or being able to penetrate without pain. I listened to her as she explained that it wasn't something she controlled, but that just happened. How at the end, she had repressed memories of a particular sexual experience from her childhood that scarred her- that she was so protective over this repressed memory that it essentially crippled her sexually. And I wept. Seriously, I sat there and wept. And then I grabbed my computer, looked up "vaginismus" and wept some more. I was relieved- I knew I wasn't completely crazy- there was indeed, something wrong with me. And finally, I knew what it was. And at least that, I could work with.
I was of course naive, because just like anything in life, knowing doesn't always transform into doing. It took me at least 2 years after I found out I had vaginismus before I began therapy. Guys, I go to a pelvic floor therapist, who teaches me how to relax my…..well, pelvic floor. *whispers, my walls * We complete a number of exercises (read she inserts her fingers in my vagina and teaches me to breathe, tighten and release my hold on her fingers, and did I mention breathe? Apparently I don’t breathe enough) per session, and we just talk through it. But the thing is, I can't remember the last time I was there. I certainly haven't been there this year, and last year, I must have stopped going just about when winter began. Sometimes I think that maybe I was too complacent. Maybe with this, like everything else in my life, I've just been lazy. Maybe I'm scared. It's strange because truthfully, I want to be well. I want to enjoy sex the way it was meant to be enjoyed, without restriction, without pain, without insecurities. Just freely. The way I used to enjoy sneaking around with said first love when I was 16. But that's too late- I waited too long. I wish I had realized then that amongst all the things I thought I needed- comfort, familiarity, perhaps love, value- that the most important was comfort. And that that much value should not have been placed on penetration. So much so that I stifled myself. So much that by then, I was too familiar with the burdens of what it is to be a woman: to feel discomfort and be silent, (because you know that things are just easier that way) to have constant internal battles between who society wants you to be versus who you know you are, and especially to be aware of how much worth the society places on your vagina.
By then-despite telling myself that I made the decision at the most perfect time- I had already begun to associate sex with guilt, and internalized shame. And at the risk of discounting myself, let me tell you that I have made quite the journey- from rediscovering sex and my understanding of pleasure, to going to therapy, to actually accepting and owning that I matter during sex, and to accepting most importantly that this thing is for life- that I will need to constantly learn and unlearn all the stifling, toxic bullshit society has taught me. And I'll continue to get better, fingers crossed.
I’ll return to ‘pussy’ therapy- in fact, I’ve just started going to a behavioral therapist, and I am looking into other solutions for vaginismus as well. Right now, I’m not concerned or looking to a man to please me. I’m trying to do the work of understanding sex and pleasure for myself and not forcing my vagina to fuck it’s way through the guilt. When I’m done, it truly is over for you bitches and yo daddies.