I said I’d go first, so I’ll go first *gulp*
I mean um, Hi! I’m Elena, your author. Since we’re just meeting for the first time, and this is a super vulnerable process I wanted to open the doorway for healing by sharing this “first time story” because it’s sweet and sour, and makes you think and sets a good mood for revealing ourselves.
Just clarifying that this is not my worst #meToo, or the worst thing that ever happened to me sexually, (if you want you can read about that day later in the book, but for now, I thought I would open with something that I feel carries the essence of the wound we all cary.
If you haven’t already, you can dive right in and share any story you want to be heard, which could be your deepest most intense story right away, or just something small that still sits badly in your memory.
In fact, I may encourage to you to share all the stories that your remember that carry the shadow of rape, because when we heal we get out what we put in x10, and you want to be 100% healed by the end of this experience!
I know not every first time is perfect…
So it’s Thanksgiving and we’ve been dating for eight months now, and it’s been full of joyful exploration, sensual play and delight.
We’d been busy getting our hands and mouths all over each other, trying everything our 15 year old selves could think of in the bedroom in the basement, we decided to jump deeper into the fires of passion, and give our virginity to each other.
We have already spent a month or more discussing if we felt ready, what we wanted for the experience, how we would practice safe sex, and what we would do if the unthinkable happened and I got pregnant. It was one of the most conscious and informed decisions I had ever made. I knew I wanted to, I was ready, and that I was excited to explore the depths of pleasure that were possible for us.
We wanted to create a safe space, and planned to have an empty house for our first time.
Thanksgiving day, his parents were going out of town, so the date was set. In the morning before they left we went on an adventure to get condoms, 2 busses and a train, to a clinic that offered free supplies to teens. When we got there, we excitedly put our hand on the handle of the door, and pulled. Nothing. Tug again, the door was locked. The clinic was closed, and we were faced with the unthinkably embarrassing act of having to go buy them from a store.
We walked across the street to a nearby convenience store. Muddled our way to the right isle, and made a choice amongst a dizzying array of different packages, sizes and colours of condoms.
We wandered through the store for quite a while with the package in hand. Embarrassed beyond belief to be going through the checkout with JUST condoms. “Let’s get skittles too” he said. “I love skittles” I replied. We wandered the store a little longer with skittles and condoms in hand, before we managed to find the courage to face the checkout. With skittles in hand, we were sure that no one would think we had come to the store JUST for CONDOMS.
An achingly long journey back to his house, we giggled, hugged, and felt the excitement of what we both knew we were about to do. When we got there, his parents were still at the house, and not running on time.
“Will they ever leave?” I wondered. We went downstairs and lay together and read Garfield comics. There was too much sexual tension aching through the room, for us to consider starting to “play”. We knew exactly what we were going to do when they left. When they finally left, it was like a bubble burst, they would be gone until tomorrow afternoon and we now had all the time in the world to enter this new experience together.
Like most of my memories of sex, the memory of our first time consists more of the before and after, than the actual details of the act itself.
I was as quenchless at fifteen as I am now, and the younger version of my self cried, “More, More, More”, and so we did. For a whole month and a half I was blissfully enamoured with the act of intercourse. I had entered a new realm of adulthood, I was blissed beyond bliss. I couldn’t imagine life could get better than it was.
We went back to that Teen Sexual Health Clinic when it was open, and helped ourselves to handfuls upon handfuls of condoms. In my mind they were still always called Skittles.
On one such day, having just returned from the clinic and excited to go celebrate my boyfriends birthday with him “in the best way we knew how”.
Then I lost my wallet.
Having searched everywhere I could think of, I asked my mom for help finding it. She listed 15 places I’d already looked and sent me off to re-check. We eventually found my wallet, and on the drive to the train station the energy in the car was tense, but I couldn’t figure out why.
Just before I got out of the car, she said “I found your Con-dohms.” then silence.
I can hear the disapproval in her voice. My mind raced to my backpack, and a visual of my mom in searching for my wallet, opening the zipper of my backpack, to an overflowing stash of over 100 condoms freshly acquired from the teen clinic. I can see her face contort in shock, as she realizes that her teenage daughter was having not only sex, but obviously a lot of sex. I can see her close the pocket, close her mouth, and keep looking for the wallet. I can suddenly incredibly deeply feel the pain in her heart, and my heart sinks. I feel I’ve done something terribly wrong, and my inner space is conflicted. I get out of the car, thank her for the ride, and spend the next hour riding the train to my boyfriends house. I don’t know what will happen next.
I was shamed, scared, and doubt began to creep in. Could the decision I had made been wrong somehow? Why did my mother obviously feel so intensely about something that was SO beautiful for me? Did she still love me? What was it going to be like at home now?
These feelings clouded the joy I felt that day in our intimacy. The seeds of doubt as to the goodness of what I had previously seen as the best decision I’d ever made had been planted.
Three days later I was delivered a sealed envelope from my parents. In it was a letter saying that they loved me very much, that sex before marriage was a sin, and they did not condone my behaviour. The letter reeked of pain, sexual shame, powerlessness over my behaviour, guilt at being bad parents, and the culture of the Mennonite religion we had all be raised in. I cried and was furious, I thought they were stupid, I knew that I had made my own right decision, and was being told it was wrong. They said they loved me, but the disappointment and disapproval over arched all of it. I was no longer allowed to have my boyfriend over at the house unsupervised.
A few days later the four of us had an incredibly awkward and painful conversation about it. It was the first time I remember seeing my mother break her iron face of non-emotion and cry. Even at 16 I thought the ideas of marriage and sin and sex were out modeled and caused a lot of pain for people. I had seen my parents struggle with each other for years already and had accepted in my heart that if they wanted to get divorced it would be sad, but probably good for everyone.
I was steadfast that I was not changing my ways, but the poisonous seeds of disapproval had begun to take root. My teenage rebellion had a focal point now.
The already sometimes distant relationship with my mom became bleak. I had always been close with my dad, and felt I could talk to him about anything. In a late night conversation about what was going on, he shared that he personally felt it was important that I feel safe to explore sex, but that as parents they had decided it was more important to provide a unified front. I was horrified, confused, and madder than a hornet at my mother for corralling not only myself but my dad. For being shamed in myself by my father, for something he didn’t even really feel was true.
In a later chat with my dad, where he tried to give me his frank version of the birds and the bees, I realized that I knew more about sexuality already at 16 than my dad did at 46. He revealed that my mom had been absent in intimacy for years, and that he was incredibly frustrated with it. I felt pity for him. Even stronger was the anger towards my mother for depriving him of the beauty that was love and physical intimacy. I vowed in that moment to never be her. To never leave a partner wanting more of me, to never create the dynamic of love but no sex, and to never be a prude in bed. At the time I had no idea the far reaching implications of this vow, and how it would shape my sexuality and my relationships as an adult.
From then on the guilt of my parents was always with me when I had sex. I gave myself more fully to my intimacy, not wanting to be my mom, and knowing that I could find approval and love with a man between my legs at least. I avoided their house as much as I could considering I lived there, going straight from school to my boyfriends house and returning home just before bedtime.
After our awkward letter moment, there was no more discussion of it. Silence on the topic was a bandaid solution, but every time I passed my mom in the house the underlying tension of “You’re no good, you’re a sinner.” permeated every moment I spent within their walls.
Living between the disapproval of parents and my new selfless sexual giving in sexuality without regard for my own desires and needs eventually created an end to the relationship.
I remember vividly the moment that would haunt me for years. Laying on my back, legs spread wide, fully in my mind, thinking “I’m not having fun at all, and I’m not going to say anything.”
I know it’s over.
Silence and shame have poisoned
what was once been beautiful.
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