my sexual coming of age story (and what i hope for my daughter's)

i only want the best for my daughter - that includes a healthy, meaningful, and enjoyable "first time."  

my first time? i asked my GTL-loving high school boyfriend if he would cheat on me if i didn’t sleep with him. he said, yes. next thing i knew he was whispering sweet nothings like, “half of me wants to make love to you while the other half wants to bleep the bleep out of you,” the radio was jamming nsync’s “would you be my girlfriend?,” and i was in the back seat of his jeep grand cherokee getting deflowered. this ever so romantic moment led to two years of passionate guido-love that jersey shore dreams were made of and ended after him confessing his many infidelities (go figure).

so excuse me for wanting my daughter to have the sexual coming of age story that i did not.

in an effort to make sense of my sexuality and my god given right to enjoy it, my therapist and i have begun sorting through my sexual experiences, starting with my earliest memories. some are mean – like crushing some fellow toddler’s soul when he proposed to me with his mother’s engagement ring that i subsequently stomped on (along with his heart). some are embarrassing – like being dis-invited to the end of year class picnic because i was caught for the umpteenth time planting unsuspecting kisses on my class crush. some are painful – like being locked in a bathroom with two classmates, and feeling scared, confined, and fearful as they pressured me to touch them. some are inappropriate / gross – like having my middle school teacher dot the i’s in my name with hearts on my tests or tell me that he gets jealous when he sees me talking to other boys. and some are sad – like being guilted into or shamed, ignored, and mistreated afterwards. 

these moments tell the story of when and how i began to shape my view of what is and what isn't healthy sexuality. as i've come to understand it (and my therapist hopes to rectify), it is using my body as means to validation, acceptance, and approval. it is not a mutual expression of true intimacy, love, vulnerability, and trust. my unhealthy belief system, based on years of unhealthy sexual experiences, has costs me my sexual freedom, power, and pleasure.

these moments, and many more, were influenced by insecurity, desperation, fear, guilt, shame, and sadness – feelings that led me to behave in ways that i wasn’t mentally, emotionally, or physically ready for. i wasn’t ready to touch and be touched, kiss and be kissed, explore and be explored, yet i was unaware of or felt unable to express my unreadiness.  in these moments, i was naive to the impact, chaos, and pain that would result from saying 'yes' when i meant 'no.' I hoped that offering up and trading my body would provide me with emotional security (that never came).  i still feel the feels that preceded every “ok” i whispered or “sure” i shrugged. and in those moments, i wish that someone would have grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes, and told me that loving myself can make the difference between owning my body and being owned. 

i will be that someone for my daughter. i look at her in her god given beauty and purity and think how lucky she is to experience life as something new - a clean slate for her to write her story on. and her story will be different than my story. i will teach her self love with everything i've got. she will not confuse sex and love. she will not seek love in unavailable places. rather she will own and use her body in ways that make her feel good. in a country that is governed by misogyny, ignores sexual harassment and abuse, excuses "boys will be boys" (in the office and the bedroom), objectifies women and demonizes their healthy expression of sexuality, my daughter will say no when she means no, and yes when she means yes, and reap the benefits of her sexual power. 

though i've just begun uncovering the years of narratives and mantras that hold me back from exploring my sexual power, i've come to realize that sexuality is as vulnerable as it is malleable. it must be explored with regard for our personal space, boundaries, and pleasures. and when it is punctured or wounded, robbed or abused, it must be taken care of like a delicate object and put back together. because it is delicate. it deserves to be loved, nurtured, protected - as we do - and we deserve to enjoy it. 

and if i could have a coming of age re-do, i would've waited until i was ready. and since i can't, i hope my daughter will.