Even though I have since had sex, I’m still learning how to best answer that questions.
How do I find new intimacy after a breakup?
Shame feels terrible. Hot sweats. Crawling skin. Unbearable smallness. Shame makes me feel like a little girl, not the grown woman I am.
Throughout our entire eight-month relationship, I could probably count the number of times we used a condom on one hand. To be fair, it was a long distance relationship, and we only saw each other every other month or so, but during those short visits, I always felt a lot of pressure to “make up for lost time.”
I remember bruises on my thighs, hands around my throat. I remember hair-pulling, pushed against a wall. I am surprised at how much aggression can turn some men on. And I’m surprised at how I’ve come to expect it, so much so that when someone is gentle with my body, I’m almost surprised, expecting them to handle me roughly, to take pieces of me and crush them.
It got to the point where I never thought I’d be able to have a real relationship. I was convinced that the anxiety attacks would always be debilitating, that they’d never allow me to get close to someone. I felt powerless, beholden to my body. I had resigned myself to forever experience intense and unpredictable physical pain.
30% of women and 5% of men 18 years or older reported experiencing pain during their most recent sexual encounter. So why do we tolerate bad sex? I’m not talking about uneventful sex or sex that feels kind of good but doesn’t wow you. I’m talking about sex that’s actually painful or uncomfortable.
I think I’m a self-proclaimed serial orgasm faker because I’m a little bit afraid of my vagina. I’m afraid of its power and capacity for pleasure. I’m afraid of the intimidating dark cavity that I was barely ever taught about in high school. I was taught a lot about what it looked like internally, showed many diagrams that looked like alien brains, but I was never taught about its external appearance, and never about pleasure.