Bearing it all.
The good, the bad and the heartbreaking.
To be honest, I have been on the fence in deciding to share my history with sex and relationships with you all. As part of discovering my voice, and by doing so having a platform to share my truth, it has been incredibly therapeutic for me coming to terms with my own story.
In my journey to improve my own self-esteem, confidence and body image, I have been able to reflect on my past with so much clarity to take lessons and learnings to guide me forward in the decisions I make for myself.
The below details are very personal and I am willing to share in hopes my realizations and conclusions can help others in becoming more aware to avoid going through the same pain.
The below covers sexually explicit information which may be difficult to read.
Please use your best discretion before reading on.
Looking back at my life and with the clarity I have gained, I now can come to terms with the decisions I made and the situations I found myself in. I understand now, that the impact of having poor self esteem and body image resulted in me engaging in very unhealthy relationships romantically and socially.
It is stated that poor body image can result in things like...
Low self-esteem (check)
Putting life on hold (check)
Poor relationships (check)
Dangerous eating disorders (check)
Suicide or self-harm (check)
And, yep... I am checking off 5 out of the 7 listed. My story is one like so many others where we can look back and start checking off the list. As I have talked about a couple topics earlier on my blog, today's deep dive is on relationships... and sex.
Before I get too ahead of myself, let's go back a bit further to when I was just a 10 year old kid. Realizing I was the chubby girl after being reminded by school yard bullies resulted in me trying to find my way into being accepted by poking fun at myself. Humor seemed to be the best way for me to not feel the pain of being picked on for being a few extra pounds fluffier. In desperate attempts to encourage others to laugh with me and not at me actually drew even more attention to my insecurities, becoming an even easier target.
If I poked fun at my body, for the sake of them laughing at it and not me as a person, then maybe it would hurt less. But instead I discounted me as a whole person just for the payout of the possibility that others would accept me.
What? The t-shirt I found with an illustration of a fluffy bunny and crooked teeth quoting "I am not fat, I am just fluffy" wouldn't work to distract others from truly how fluffy I was in human form? Or, making others laugh by doing the truffle shuffle and other iconic fat-person acts some how didn't keep me from getting bullied? Yes. Are you smacking your forehead right now in disbelief? Don't worry, I don't blame you. I now can confidently say that this was in a way an early sign that there was a major disconnect to how I should have felt about my changing body, and that those whom I desperately tried to get acceptance from were really not worth putting myself through shame to attract. This all comes to a much happier ending. I promise. But now, let's keep diving in.
Pleasure is all... yours?
For many years I overcompensated for not being the quintessential pretty girl by becoming the agreeable, people pleasing, over-achieving Yes-Girl. I constantly gave parts of me away without any regard to my value because I didn't see it in myself. This came in forms of loaning money, being at someone's disposal at all times, giving up my spot in line for things that mattered to me, or even sexual favors. I was dependable, kind and caring of others to a fault, and those that sought to gain something from me used it all to their advantage. And I allowed it. Time and time again.
In most cases, my kindness and giving goes without expectation of reciprocation. But when it came to seeking for affection especially from men, there was wishful hoping that even by accepting my gestures that there was some kind of affection coming my way. In reality, I was fulfilling something for them that was pretty easy to get from me. I was giving it all away and didn't have to make them work for it. So why should they?
I wasn't a confident, strong female that set boundaries and demanded her wants and needs to be fulfilled. What I didn't understand or could comprehend is that men desired to chase. And, I never let them, or the right one, to chase me or work for my affections.
I believed that any kind of affection, even inauthentic, I was lucky to have. Take whatever I could get for fear of never having it at all.
This feeling as if I couldn't possibly ever be love and chased after by someone that matched my intellect and value based on how I felt about myself, I ended up lowering my bar so low to protect myself of the idea of forever being alone, untouched.
At even 15 years old, I had this horrible misunderstanding that if I were no longer a virgin, then I have somehow achieved a major milestone AND that someone found me attractive enough to engage in a sexual relationship with, even as a fat girl.
By 16, a school friend volunteered his 'servicing' for the goal of me losing my virginity. It was arranged by a mutual friend, so this whole thing was very transactional to a degree. So, preparations had begun. My best of friends would map out drawings and illustrations on what to do. We bought copies of Cosmo for the latest in sex tips on how to please him. I took notes from 1980s porn videos we could steal from our parents' hidden stashes. It was all overwhelming. I not only was insecure about my chubby, round and pale body but also freaking out that...
1) Sex would hurt and I would cry screaming in pain
2) I'd bleed all over the place
3) My body would make weird noises or there'd be embarrassingly strange smells
4) I wasn't sexy enough to help him 'get it up'
5) My legs weren't skinny or long enough to do those insane positions I saw on the pornos
6) The sight of a couple stretch marks around my breasts would be a huge turnoff (bring on the concealer)
7) Pubic hair? Am I supposed to have some? No? What is too much? What is too bare? What shape is it supposed to be shaped into - strip, heart, triangle?
8) I couldn't do dirty talk just right, or I wouldn't make a sound or move enough and it would be like having sex with a dead person, or I'd groan too much and sound like a crazy person, or... AHHHHHHHH!!!
I was excited with the prospect of losing my virginity but was also terrified that it wouldn't be this completely perfect experience I was made to believe sex had to be.
Even the journey of preparation to losing my virginity was a story of terribly false information that influenced even more terrible decisions about my sexual health.
I was so desperate to at least alleviate my first-time nerves about breaking my hymen that I was trying to figure out how to 'lose my virginity' before officially 'losing my virginity'. I heard a story on Love Line about a woman who used some kind of fruit or vegetable as an alternative to a dildo, and the inspiration hit. I decided to use a frozen banana with a condom on it. Yes. I told you this was going to be difficult to read. Let's just say this method is highly NOT recommended. Freezing cold hard fruit does not make for a good alternative.
My first time to my first time was a massive failure. But I stuck to my guns and followed through with the goal to lose my virginity. I went over to his house with his mom away during the day. We kissed on his couch while porn played in the background, and because this was so distracting, I urged that we continued in his room. Kindly he placed a towel under me in case I bled, and then we got to work. It hurt on the first few pushes, but after that we kept going until he was satisfied. I thought this was what sex was supposed to be. To just go until he finishes and then that's it.
I engaged in several sexual encounters through my high school and college days with a few different partners. All of these were about checking some box that, yes, even this girl got laid. But each of these relationships were so focused on them either...
1) treating me like I won some kind of golden ticket to have sex with them - as if they were doing me a favor and I'm lucky to get what i got.
2) completely centered on their pleasure alone.
"Lights off, don't touch my stomach and no cowgirl."
This became a script in almost every sexual encounter I had. I became incredibly (I still am) about my jiggly belly and being seen in a vulnerable state. So lights, off. Don't touch my stomach. And I'm not getting on top facing you to see me in all of my jiggly glory.
Relationships with the opposite sex have been unhealthy to my wavering self-esteem and confidence as I reflect back on them.
At 16 years old I was in a long-distance relationship and each visit was intensely sexual. He was older than me by a few years and in actuality this was a wildly inappropriate relationship to be in.
Having a sex buddy through college with a guy known to sleep around... a lot. I was just a tiny number on his extensive list of regulars and would get a random text when he needed to scratch an itch after numbers one through seventeen didn't respond back.
A friend that needed to satisfy his needs after breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. In the moment I was consoling him after this loss as a caring friend, but it quickly turned into having sex together. I was simply a rebound girl. I gave a piece of myself to him when either of us were not emotionally available to have that kind of a relationship. We did it once, and never acknowledged it after that night together.
There was one experience I will never forget as it still haunts me to this day on where it could have gone. A mutual friend, much older (late 20s) when I was about 18 years old, and I engaged in a drunken (on his part) encounter. What went from kissing and touching turned into what could have been a violent attack against my will. Looking back, I didn't understand what was happening and how I should have avoided that situation. Today I cannot change what happened, but I know now how to protect myself. As he tried to hold me down to penetrate me, I threatened to scream which eventually pulled him off of me. But, the aggression continued as he said "well the only way you can walk away from this is if you give me a blowjob". And I believed him. I was meant to feel that because I didn't allow him to enter me that I owed this to him. Nearly choking as he pressed my head down forcefully, I did it.
I am not sure if I didn't have that threat of screaming for help from people in the next room if he would have stopped or if I had the strength to fight him off. It is shattering to think of what could have been.
Years later I started a long-term relationship with a man that actually pursued me. I accepted his affections as it felt authentic at the moment, but over time I was shown that he wasn't someone I should have given so much of myself to.
Our first time sleeping together was meant to be romantic and sensual. Mid way into it he accepted a phone call from an ex-girlfriend and engaged in a conversation with her for well over an hour while intermittently giving me attention. This should have been the first sign that this was how he would value me, but for whatever reason I allowed him to treat me this way. I completely excused this kind of behavior over and over as at least I wan't alone. This is what I prioritized over my own self-worth.
He played mental games with me. Not showing up at all after telling me he was on his way over to discover he just 'didn't feel like it' and leaving me worried without word. Bringing me flowers showering me with love one day and then disappearing to go visit an ex-girlfriend a state away without notice the next day.
Essentially over sexualizing my body to being hyper critical of every inch of me.
Sex was also pretty much cyclical as well. Shocker, right? Randomly he would be overly fixated on my pleasure. But in most cases, he would go until he was satisfied and even get up to go clean himself off before helping me finish as if he just moved on mid-thought.
The relationship was cyclical in how he treated me. From being completely head-over-heels in love, to on the turn of a dime, leaving me in the dust to just return back to as if I was the only person that mattered to him. I, again, was in a relationship where the man used me at his disposal and I allowed it.
This was our norm. Constant highs and lows. To the outside, I built an illusion that I had a perfect relationship as I kept much of this to myself. But my friends and family saw right through it. Perhaps they thought it wasn't serious and it was just a phase. Or, in some thoughts that at least somebody was loving me?
I put everything I had into that relationship. And when the signs were there that in the end I didn't mean much to him, I chose to ignore them for fear of being alone. Even after being cheated on repeatedly, I kept on believing that he would somehow turn into the perfect doting husband to me. I was left wanting.
Going on six years and learning that I was again cheated on by him, I realized I couldn't do this anymore. I wasn't quite at the point where I was standing up for my self-worth and value, but the pain, anxiety, mental games and lack of love was just not worth it anymore. It took several months for that urge of needing to be love and seeking to be needed by him to go away. But it did. I finally felt a complete separation from him and others from my past. As each year progressed, I discovered what I valued most in a partner and relationship.
With courage I continued to focus on healing and forgiveness of myself.
A Happy Ending
I can state, maybe with some embarrassment, but mostly incredible pride that I have abstained from sex for 8 years. This doesn't mean that I haven't wanted to find myself in a long-term committed relationship with a healthy sex life together. I absolutely do. But, I have learned a few things from my past that I promised myself I would never repeat.
1) My body is not for anyone's disposal
2) Sex is about pleasure, equally, between partners
3) I deserve a partner that matches me in every capacity - strong, powerful, bold, unique, intelligent, kind, generous, sincere, authentic and loving
4) Sex isn't perfect. It's real, raw and unscripted. And it's for all bodies.
5) Don't ignore the red flags. Being alone and happy is worth a million times over an unhealthy relationship.
I was told by someone a few years ago after passing by several profiles on Tinder that "you can't afford to be picky". So, here's my response to that comment.
I have earned every fucking right to be as picky as I see fit.
That's right, damnit. I have lived half of my life engaging in unhealthy relationships riddled with red flags that I chose to ignore. This is now about searching for a partner that sees my value and reciprocates true affection and love in the capacity that I give it.
I am cautious with someone that fetishizes my fatness. I am much more than my fat body.
It's tricky to finding someone that is open, loving and respectful of me in any size while deeply valuing me as a complete person. But he's out there and the moment I am meant to meet him will come when I am most ready to receive him in my life.
And for now, there is no shame in the self-pleasure game
In absence of sex, self pleasure is key to keep sexual muscles strong and limber. And when all you have is yourself, might as well get comfy.