This is Sex and The Rest’s first guest post, written by the talented Sonia!
Content warning: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, depression, anxiety, alcohol
I am sixteen and my boyfriend of seven months is telling me, as he has told me, as he will tell me in the future, that if I don’t have sex with him, he will break up with me. I, he said, am denying him his masculine right. I, he said, am emasculating him, am a bad girlfriend for not fulfilling his needs, am a bad person for not giving myself to him. If I loved him, he said, I would do this. He loves me, he said, so what else do I need?
I tried to appease him. I let him do things to me. I let him do things to me in places I didn’t feel comfortable, in places that made me feel exposed and unsafe. I let him touch, insert, grab, rub, jab, and I sucked, touched, kissed, as he wanted. But it wasn’t enough. He needed more, or else.
So now I am sixteen and a quarter and I have snuck my boyfriend into my house. I bought condoms, I bought lube, I read all the articles on Cosmopolitan, I took notes in my head during sex ed, I listened to the friends who told me I “made him wait” long enough, who told me he “deserves” it because he’s been patient with me. I am now sixteen and a quarter and I have never felt so naked and alone with my boyfriend on top of me. He reaches over me and rips out the cord to my radio, silencing the songs that are crooning from the speakers. I am sixteen and a quarter and all I feel is fear and pain and cold even though he is so hot and sweaty and that is all I remember. I am sixteen and a quarter and he becomes distant for the next week and I am hurting and alone and I don’t know who to tell.
So then I’m seventeen. You’d think I’d learn but I am still with my boyfriend who has been on top of me more and more since that day, who has invaded my wardrobe and my cell phone and my friendships and my relationships with my family, who is in my computer and my blogs and my social media sites and my head. I cannot move or talk or smile without him bearing over me. I cannot wake up in the morning without having a panic attack over my clothing choices because if my pants are too tight or if my shirt sleeves are too short or if I show any wisp of my breasts or collar bones or hips or shoulder blades, he promises he will leave me, he will leave me and I will be nothing. If boys talk to me, if I petition to retain my friendships with my male friends of half a decade, if I sleep over at a friend’s house or do not text him every hour I am not with him, he will leave me, and I will have nothing. So I shed my friends. I become distant to my family, I become a wisp of a person. And then I do have nothing. I have nothing but him.
So eighteen washes over me like a wave and the love of my life of two years now tells me whenever I am over at his place, I have to have sex with him or I have no business being there. When he comes over to mine, he walks out if I do not submit. My place as a woman, as his subordinate, he says, is in his bed, subservient to only him. Eighteen and my boyfriend grabs my arm hard and yanks and pulls my hair into places I don’t want to go. My boyfriend tells me if I try to talk to him about the way he treats me, he will leave me, and I will have nothing because no one else could ever love me, because no one else could suffer through a relationship with me, because I am eighteen, but for some reason anxiety-ridden and depressed and won’t stop crying all the time and won’t fall asleep until five in the morning. So I have sex with him so he stays. All the time. I go through the motions, I know how to make his dick hard. I know what sounds to imitate, I know what faces to make, I know what positions to go in so he doesn’t see my face when I am unable to put on my mask of the seductress. I learn how to fake it, at eighteen. I become an actress to a single audience member who will walk out if they don’t find me believable. Who needs my imitations to feel validated as a human, to feel as if they have conquered, to feel as if they have absolute power over every minute, intimate corner of my being.
Eighteen rips me out into an ocean of loneliness and leaves me defenseless with nineteen, where my boyfriend circles like a vulture looking for scraps and rips apart my self-esteem and self-worth. He tells me this. He tells me I am worthless, I am stupid, I am incompetent. So much so that one day he breaks up with me, because I can’t find the will to get out of bed some days and I have no friends and I am just oh so sad all the time.
So at nineteen and a half, I step into the shoes of someone who is not in a relationship and shut my heart up with copious amounts of alcohol and a night out with my sister who wants to show off my new banner of independence. At nineteen and a half, I drink too much and stumble home with a boy who unzips my dress and sits on the bed as I drunkenly sit on the floor and try to understand what to do next. At nineteen and a half, I stumble into bed with him, tell him I won’t kiss him. And at twenty-three, he understands, wraps a warm arm around my waist, and doesn’t move it for four hours. For the first time in three years a boy does not try to push me, molest me, grope me when I say no, touch me when I remain silent and stoic, grab me, kiss me, pull my hair or overpower me with psychological abuse. At nineteen and a half, I sober up as we talk for hours, through the night and into the morning. At nineteen and a half, for the first time, a boy is telling me that I am not unwanted, that I am not a bad person, that I am not worthless. At nineteen and a half, and at seven in the morning, I consent to sex with someone, without duress or pressure. I do not regret it. I kiss the boy goodbye in the morning and never see him again.
So at twenty, I have had several more partners. Few have made me orgasm, and none consistently. Every time I take off my clothes, I feel suddenly scared and pessimistic. Every time they move in me, I know I want this and I know I instigated and consented, but my mind is in two years ago when I am eighteen and afraid that all they want is sex and I worry if they are enjoying it or if they will leave me if I don’t or if they are just scar tissue and lust like my ex-boyfriend. Every time my mind gets in the way of my orgasm, and every time, over a few drinks, me and the boy of the moment talk about why I find myself crying and feeling alone and scared that if I am honest they won’t want me and they will see how broken I am.
Until at twenty-one, I meet a boy who thinks I am wonderful. At twenty-one, I meet a boy who waits when I am stressed and never speaks harshly to me. At twenty-one, I meet a boy who is gentle, who is kind, who only holds my hand and never my upper arm and who asks if I am okay instead of telling me how I should feel. At twenty-one, I meet a boy who I tell about my past and he does his best to make me comfortable. He waits, he kisses, he touches when he is wanted, he keeps still when he is not. This boy listens, this boy watches, this boy cares. When we have sex, the whole world vanishes until it is just me and him. When we come together, I can’t think of anything else. When we touch, I don’t hurt, I don’t fear, I don’t worry about what will happen after. I can relax, soften, melt down all the jagged edges of my psyche into something that lets tremors run through me when I orgasm. The mind was never one of the organs I thought would be relevant in my release, but it was.
So I’m learning how to make myself come.