Day 39: Sex, Comparison, & Shame Pt. 1

Yep! Comparison is definitely the thief of joy–even sexual joy. I can’t believe I’m about to write this, but this blog is supposed to be about being vulnerable and showing the nuts and bolts of the growth process.

Through no effort of my own, I was confronted with the reality that I don’t have a sexual identity last night, primarily because my sexual past is littered with starts and stops, mishaps and misunderstandings, and plain old dissatisfaction. When I’ve shared stories about my dysfunctional sexual relationships, I’ve been comforted by friends pointing to my partners as the problem. They didn’t know what they were doing or what they had. When I found myself engaged in a conversation about sex and vulnerability last night, I began to have really strong emotions. I felt this desire to go into flight mode and get as far away from what I was feeling as possible. I was extremely uncomfortable. I felt embarrassment come over me. I even felt fear. I couldn’t really get out of the conversation, and it was best that I didn’t.

What I learned about myself last night once I got to chance to sit in my feelings is that I have pain and open wounds about my past sexual experiences with partners I loved dearly.

First, some background: sex was never discussed in my house beyond it being made clear that its the gateway to ruining my life, either by pregnancy or abandonment. Since that was the view of sex, any discussion about female sexuality was non-existent. And further, learning about what it meant to be a woman, how to express my womanhood, or anything related wasn’t in the curriculum. Neither the women in my family nor the women close to my family expressed or showed comfort with their sexuality. In fact, as I got older, I realized that all of them thought open sexuality, in word or action, to be taboo and lacked decency.

So, before I ever became sexually active, this was my sexual paradigm. Then once I became sexually active, the sexual relationships I had with my partners were mostly hurtful, confusing, and unsatisfying. Now, because of what I learned about the act of sex growing up, I never developed an identification with my own sexuality. By the time I started having sex in my early 20’s, looking back, I was trying to establish and express sexuality because I was tired of being a virgin and feeling like I was somehow being left behind. It helped that I met my first love. I was essentially performing an act based on the little I knew, and when it didn’t go well, somewhere inside of me, I blamed myself. And it seems like over time, blame turned into shame, and it’s been inside of me for many years.

Wheeew. This is harder than I thought. I’m going to have to resume this tomorrow.