Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Let's Talk About Sex

Rule #5
Sex: For the next year, I will not engage in the act of sexual intercourse with another person. I am still free to socialize and date and will allow myself the freedom of kissing whomever I wish, however even in the act of kissing, there must be some connection with the other person and they must know about my intentions to remain celibate before any physical interaction can occur.

I broke this rule two weeks after I made it.

Some of my friends thought it was pretty funny that I couldn’t make it two weeks without having sex. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about this – the fact that my friends think it’s funny, not that I had sex. I know why I had sex.

My friend the chiropractor said it best, as he usually does. I told him the next morning through text that I was weak. He told me that I wasn’t weak but that I had made a weak declaration. I knew instantly he was right and started thinking about why I made this rule to begin with.

This particular rule was the jumping off point for all the changes I wanted to make in the next year. The previous four rules I had added after the fact and yet, those ones I remain true to. Even as I read the rule above which is written exactly as it is in my journal, I know that there is a lot more to it than simply cutting myself off sexually. In fact, simply saying I’m no longer going to have sex is my own way of not actually looking at my relationship with sex and what is has meant for me in the past, what it means to me now and what I would like it to mean in the future. Celibacy is almost a cowardly way for me not to deal with my own sexual intentions and beliefs.

Therefore, I’m trying something a little new with this rule that I hardly ever do. I’m asking for help.

I was at work the other day discussing my blogging project with a few of the other servers and one server said she had been catching up on her blogs the other day. I asked if she had read mine and she said yes. I asked her what she thought and she said “I thought you said not to tell you!” I found this very amusing – yes, I requested little to no feedback when I first started writing for a couple of reasons. First off, I didn’t want to be discouraged right away if people thought it was garbage and second (and most important for me), I didn’t want people to tell me what I wanted to hear. I have been getting that my whole life and because I so deeply crave real human connections based on honestly and vulnerability, I didn’t want to be fed any more crap sandwiches.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that now that I’m getting deeper into this project, any feedback that one might find valuable or helpful or anything that someone feels compelled to share is more than welcome. Once again, and I’ll say this a lot, I believe it’s through authentic and genuine sharing that we see we are not all that different after all.

On all of my rules but this rule in particular, I am looking to my peers for guidance and support as my intention for the next year is as I wrote in my journal:

My intention with these “Rules” for the next year is to create a stronger, healthier, aware and confident version of myself. Through this, I will change my energy to attract positive energy into my space. I will attract meaningful relationships and connect with my existing relationships on a different level of vulnerability and authenticity. I will attract prosperity, wealth and opportunity through my actions to become a big contributor to life and all it has to offer. I will sail into my 31st birthday feeling proud of my accomplishments, new relationships in tow and with a completely refreshed view on my life and what I have to give.

So, let’s get into a little history here…

When I was around the age of 6 or 7, I first learned how to “get the feeling” if I rubbed up against something just right. I didn’t have any idea what it meant until I met a girl that named Kristy that showed me a few different ways to achieve this happy feeling. She and I used to masturbate together after we’d play. We wouldn’t touch each other, just be in the same room. She had a mother who had a very open relationship with sex and had many books with illustrations that we would look at. Kristy told me that she had walked in on her mom having sex with her boyfriend a few times and described it to me in fascination. I remember hearing my mom and dad having sex at night and thinking that I wished they would stop. It made me really uncomfortable to hear the sounds they would make. Looking back, and even now, I don’t find my parents to have a very affectionate relationship outside of the bedroom so it didn’t make much sense to me what they were doing behind closed doors. I even remember shouting out a few times from my bedroom for them to stop.

My mom walked in on me and Kristy masturbating one time but we quickly stopped and later, when she tried to talk to me about it, I lied and said that we were pretending our stuffed animals were having sex (we used toys sometimes to “get the feeling”) and she left it at that. I’m sure she didn’t buy it, but it wasn’t discussed more than that. I remember a few years later, Mom sat down with me and gave me a book to read on what sex was and sat there while I uncomfortably read about things that I already knew about through television, school and the erotic books I found under my mom’s bed. Plus, I had been masturbating for a few years at that point so I mostly felt as if I was going through the motions. My family hasn’t always been great at talking things out. I can’t really blame her though; it is a rather uncomfortable subject and she probably thought she wouldn’t have to explain it to me at such a young age.

In high school, I had one of the best teachers a $25,000 salary could buy – her name was Mrs. Campbell and she was open, honest, funny, pure and taught Sexual Education straight from the heart. I learned everything I needed to know about how things worked, sexually transmitted diseases, the importance of protection and also that it wasn’t as “taboo” as I felt it was. I felt normal finally after having felt weird for being an avid masturbator all those years.

I lost my virginity when I was 14 years old to my high school sweetheart who was also a virgin. We had already been “going steady” for almost a year and a half when we finally decided to take the plunge (pardon the pun). We dated for another couple of years and even talked marriage. Very often, I think about what my life would’ve been like if I would’ve stayed with him and been with only one man for my whole life. However, at 17 years old, with high school graduation upon us and boys starting to hit on me, I got nervous that I wouldn’t be content unless I had different experiences before I decided to settle down. It broke his heart. It breaks mine only now when I think about all of the damaged relationships I’ve been in since then and all the men I’ve allowed to treat me and my body with disrespect. I have yet to meet someone who has loved me the way my sweetie did all those years ago. But alas, I must have faith in the fact that everything is happening as it should and that the path I have chosen and continue to choose must lead to something bigger.

I did a little project over the last few days in preparation for this blog. A numbers project, if you will… since 14 years old, I have been sexually active with approximately 45 men and have engaged in sexual acts with closer to 60. I have slept with two married men, two men with serious girlfriends, had one threesome with a husband and wife, agreed to sex with at least five men that I did not want to sleep with, pressured at least two men to have sex with me who didn’t want to, had a yearlong sexual relationship with a man over twice my age, had roughly ten one-night stands and can’t remember the names of at least six men that I have been sexual with. In my little studio apartment in Long Beach, after breaking up with Eric, I slept with four different men in one week, none of which knew about any of the others. I cheated on a serious boyfriend two times and let a handful of other men think that they were the only person I was sleeping with when that wasn’t the truth. I’ve even made out secretly with other men while on a date with someone. Twice. Of all the men I slept with, I can honestly say that I felt truly in love with only five of them.

A friend who knows a portion of this history asked me once if I had been sexually molested as a child. I said no and yet, he continued pressing the issue – so much so, that I actually took some time to reflect and see if I had locked away a memory that I wasn’t willing to be honest about. However, after much reflecting, I can’t remember anything of the sort. And, as you can see from earlier, I remember my sexual memories all the way back to six years old. Besides, I don’t think someone needs to be sexual molested to have an unhealthy relationship with sex. I think it really just takes having an unhealthy relationship with one’s soul or simply being confused about what sex is all about.

My other speculation is that I was/am constantly seeking affection because I come from an unaffectionate and somewhat disconnected family. We are, by no means, dysfunctional in my opinion at all. It’s just that if you look at my family’s history, it explains a lot. My mom’s family didn’t want anything to do with her and my dad, being the oldest of 11 children in a strict catholic family, didn’t really have time to deal with affection because it was always about taking care of the younger siblings while his own father was away working. To this day, even though there is a clear and apparent love between all four of us, when I hug my mom, dad or brother, it’s as if I’m hugging a stranger. We’ve never been belly-to-belly huggers, rarely holding on for more than a few seconds at a time.

There are people I hug at work with more affection than this.

That’s a pretty good recap of Tina’s sexual issues, part A. Part B is as follows…

About 3 ½ years ago, I dated someone I met online for a few months. I was still taking birth control pills at that time and he wasn’t a fan of condoms so we were having regular, unprotected sex.

After we broke up, I received a phone call about two weeks later that he had discovered a red bump in his nether regions and wanted to know if I had something that I didn’t tell him about. We didn’t have a pretty break up so the conversation was not nearly as cordial as I’m making it sound. I told him that I had never tested positive for anything and that I regularly got exams. This is the truth – I may have made some mistakes in my past, but I was always adamant about getting annual exams and stayed on birth control pills for over ten years. Unfortunately, I was mostly concerned about not getting pregnant and put way too much stock in the idea that I’m not the kind of girl who would get a sexually transmitted disease.

My ex called me back a few days later to tell me that he had gone to the doctor and they told him that the bump tested positive for HPV, which stands for the human papillomavirus. HPV is a collection of viruses that cause warts on the hands, feet, and genitals. Some HPVs are sexually transmitted and can also cause cervical cancer. While there is no actual cure for HPV, typically the body can build up immunity, especially in men, and while a person may test positive one year, in a few years they may no longer have traces of HPV in their system. For women, it’s a little more complicated because high risk HPV can lead to forms of cervical cancer.

Needless to say, I was mortified and devastated. I made an appointment right away, got tested and found that sure enough, I was positive as well.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it – how did this happen? Wasn’t I mostly careful? Yes, actually, mostly I was. Apparently, mostly wasn’t enough. And while the statistics stated that one in five women tested positive for this virus, it didn’t make me feel any better. How come I couldn’t be one of the four? Well, maybe if I hadn’t been so irresponsibly promiscuous, I could be.

A few months later, I decided that even though I was scared to death, it was time to do the full service check-up and went in to get blood work done, HIV tests included. The week before my results came back was one of the longest of my life. I wondered what I had done to myself and my poor body. I went into self-attack mode, hating myself for the decisions I made and realizing that none of it was worth it. Even after all of those sexual encounters, here I was, almost 27 years old, still single, feeling worthless and useless, without anyone really close I could turn to.

I was sitting at Buffalo Wild Wings with some people from work having a beer when I got the call. My blood test came back and it had tested positive for Herpes type 2. My world fell apart. I was officially damaged goods – who in their right mind would want me now?

I spent months feeling sorry for myself, angry for the choices I made, allowing myself to be a victim and thinking of the thoughtless sex I had, like that doctor in Orlando I slept with that I hardly remember due to a very large amount of alcohol consumption. He took me back to the hotel room and I remember bits and pieces of having unprotected sex with him. To this day, I can’t even remember what he looks like.

I thought about the fact that I would have to have a conversation now every single time I wanted to sleep with someone and risk the likely rejection again and again. I thought about the fact that while I have never wanted kids, if I did decide to one day, it was unlikely that I could have them naturally which is the only way I believe a child should be delivered.

Basically, all I could think about was how I just went and fucked everything up.

After the initial shock work off and I shared my condition with my family, I went into a sort of denial for a few years. I thought maybe if I just ignored everything, it wouldn’t actually exist. Besides, I hadn’t experienced the kind of breakouts that I remember in Mrs. Campbell’s health class all those years ago and maybe they didn’t know what they were talking about after all. I don’t really believe doctors know as much as they claim to anyway given all of the medical mistakes we hear about every single day. Still, I was honest with every person I slept with after that and surprisingly, while a few men flipped out and wanted nothing to do with me, a couple others, including my most recent ex-boyfriend of 1 ½ years were very sympathetic and we were just sure to be extra careful.

I hadn’t seen a doctor since that phone call at Buffalo Wild Wings but recently, since I had started this new mission of getting my energy back on track, I thought it would be a good thing to check out the latest in my condition. Also, I had experienced breakout-type symptoms more regularly in the last year and wanted to make sure there was nothing further that was wrong with me.

Yesterday morning, I finally found a doctor in town that I feel I can trust. He answered all my questions, understood my request to stay off medication as much as possible and in discussing my history and my recent symptoms, he told me that he couldn’t be sure that what I was experiencing was a herpetic outbreak at all. He told me that he didn’t think blood tests were conclusive in testing for the disease and the only real thing you can do is have a culture done on the actual breakout. In his opinion and without seeing a breakout first hand, it sounded a little more consistent with HPV than it did with Herpes. He even said that many people test positive for traces of Herpes 2 in their blood but never have symptoms and aren’t even true “carriers” of the disease.

Finally, a ray of sunshine broke through the clouds. So, I have hope that maybe I’m not as damaged as I think I am – however, regardless of the outcome, I know that everything is as it should be and I take 100% responsibility for the toils I have put my body through.

Now that you know the full story, perhaps you can understand more why this rule was so important to me – and also why I may have made it hastily without setting a clear intention.

So last week, I had a friend in town for his birthday – I have slept with him before and he knows my medical past. We are very comfortable with each other, we know exactly the place we stand in each other’s lives and the sex has always been amazing. He is respectful of me and my beliefs and we genuinely just love each other as friends and people. I spent the first night denying him and the second night torturing myself by wanting to sleep with him and making myself feel bad about it. I finally gave in the morning he left and not only did we have great sex, I was completely pissed off at myself for not giving myself the gratification of being with him the previous two nights.

Yes, I want to have sex and have it mean something. Yes, ideally, I would love to have monogamous sex with the man that I am in love with and working towards creating a future with. Yes, I want to have sex for the right reasons and not for so many reasons I listed above when describing my sexual past. Yes, there are times when sex with a particular person that I know and have been with before helps me feel fulfilled. For all these reasons, I’m just not sure the rule that I set forth is really helping me achieve a greater sense of well being. I’m not sure where that leaves me as this is the only rule that I can’t seem to get ironed out properly.

I think sex is a wonderful thing, as long as it’s being done with only good intentions. So, for now, I think that’s what I’m going to hold on to. As I said before, this is the rule that I am definitely open to discuss with anyone who might have some insight.

There they are – my boundaries for the next year. Thank you to all those who have shown an interest so far. My plans are to continue blogging throughout the next year with different breakthroughs and discoveries that I have. Once again, it is my belief that through sharing comes connection. And if it is truly a genuine human connection that I have been seeking my whole life, I fear I have been going at it the wrong way, through manipulation and telling people what they want to hear and doing what they want me to do. It’s time to break the mold.

I am Tina. Hear me roar.

1 comment:

  1. All right Lion, here's my 2 cents:

    I think you should definately uphold your rule in regards to 1 night stands. I know I don't have a lot of experience, but I can't see anyway that a 1 night stand is good for your energy or your intentions for this year.

    I think if you meet someone who has the potential to become more then a 1 night stand, maybe pull an LV rule. Wait a certain number of dates or a certain number of days, basically a pre determined waiting time that is consistent across the board; before you become intimate with the new person.

    It worked out really well for Brian & I. Then you don't feel bad or beat yourself up. You got to know the person, build a connection with them and then built on that connection. I think it is a positive solution and one you can easily uphold. Especially since you are the who determines the time frame.

    This of course is merely a suggestion, if it doesn't ring true, maybe it will inspire something else that will work.

    I want you to be successful in your personal obligations and happy and healthy. So please take the above in it's intended spirit.

    I love & miss you. :)