People always say sex is a beautiful thing. I guess there is something almost indescribable about the ability to connect with someone so deeply. Who knew that something so empowering could leave a person feeling so vulnerable.
I really wish someone had filled me in earlier.
I entered high school viewing sex as “no big deal”. I had been pretty sexual in middle school, so sex itself seemed inevitable. I had sex for the first time when I was 15 and I went into it thinking, as I did with all the other sexual encounters I had had previously, that I was taking part in a purely physical, casual action that would result in me feeling nothing about it afterward.
It was a little awkward and kind of messy, and I left feeling like something was just… off. But I ignored it, because sex, to me, was supposed to mean nothing.
Afterward, I told people a glorified version of what happened, as people often do when they are in high school, because I was self-conscious and I did not want people to know how awkward the experience actually was or how weird I felt about it afterward. Over time, the actual sex got better, but I continued to suppress this unsettling feeling of emptiness.
In the spring of my junior year, everything hit me all at once.
Things started out like they normally did. I was at a party and I was connecting with someone I hadn’t spoken to for awhile. I had seen it all before, the way he was talking to me, looking at me, touching me; I knew where this was going. Eventually, he leaned over to me and whispered, “Let’s go upstairs.”
And upstairs I went.
When he was finished, he quickly put on his clothes, tossed mine to me, and left the room, barely saying anything. I continued to lay there, naked and exposed, feeling vulnerable and weak. It was like I was paralyzed. Something just wasn’t right.
When I finally found it in myself to get out of the bed, I walked downstairs and went back to socializing, but I could not completely ignore the deep sense of sadness that overwhelmed me. I felt like I was going to cry at the drop of a hat, and I could not identify the reason why. I went to bed that night hoping that I would wake up and these feelings would just be gone.
But they didn’t leave, and I woke up in the same state I was the night before. I felt so broken that I completely shut down for about two weeks. It was impossible to ignore how I felt. After some serious self reflection, it became obvious to me that I could no longer just have casual, meaningless sex, and I could no longer have “no feelings”, because, like most all human beings, I HAD FEELINGS.
Sex IS a big deal. It’s impossible to ignore the biological connection between your heart and your vagina forever. In high school, however, it’s hard to recognize this, because you fear rejection and you are trying so hard to impress everyone else.
So just stop. Stop telling yourself to not feel anything, stop telling yourself sex is not a big deal, stop trying to gain the approval of others. Embrace the feelings and the vulnerability and understand that having sex is not only a major decision, but also, more importantly, is YOUR decision.
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This is so raw and beautiful. I’m a mom and I work with teenagers (and have two – nearly three of my own).
When kids talk to me about “sex” they are mostly concerned about physical safety and pregnancy. It kills me every single time because the emotional safety is way to often ignored and hardly ever talked about.
Thank you for your courage and vulnerability.
I’m sorry that you had to experience so much hurt and am inspired by your growth.