I read somewhere a while back that you make the biggest gains if you deal with your biggest weaknesses first. I’ve tested the water talking about my academic record, so now I’m going to dive straight into one of the things that carries the biggest shame factor, for me. My sexual history (ugh. even writing those words makes me feel all icky inside). I don’t even know how many partners I’ve had – counting them would be too horrible. Less than fifteen I guess. I have a whole host of sexual hang-ups which I’ve been meaning to do something about for about 20 years, so why not now eh? Anything that causes comfort-eating and -drinking is bad for my super-health journey, so lets just get all this dirty washing out in the open and take a good, honest look at it from the beginning.
My mother never really had any hang-ups about her body that I was aware of. It doesn’t mean they weren’t there, just that my mum was very laid back about everything and was more likely to make jokes about boyfriends and sex than guide me or forbid me from doing anything. The sense of shame I picked up from her was really just a horrible feeling of self-consciousness because she would laugh at things that children and teenagers find painfully difficult to deal with (what size my boobs might end up, poking fun at me liking boys – she spent ages teasing me for liking someone on the telly that I didn’t actually like at all, but she seemed to think I ‘fancied’ him).
My father was the son of a lapsed catholic who lived in sin with my grandmother after walking out of his first marriage (and she, hers). I always thought it sounded like a love story, but my grandmother lived her life in terror of being found out, and I didn’t even know until she was close to the end of her life. My dad never instilled any religious teachings on us, but he was an extremely critical father. Everything I did was either wrong, or not good enough. And boys were a total no no. He did NOT approve of them at all, or of me spending any time with them.
Aside: you can see why I struggle so much with shame, right? My mum laughed at me and my Dad criticised me. Great job, people!
Okay, onwards. My first few boyfriends were innocent enough. Kisses on holiday, that kind of thing. But once I discovered the attention I could get from boys, I found it addictive – I didn’t get anything like it at home, and I never had. All I wanted was to find true love and live happily ever after. Neither my father nor my mother ever talked to me or related to me in the same tender way as a boy who was interested in me. I had real conversations with them. They listened and for the first time in my life, I felt desirable. I felt loveable.
I can’t even use the losing-my-‘v’ word right now without squirming with distaste inside, so instead I’ll say that I slept with someone when I was 15. He was 17. I was underage. There we go – I was underage (cringe).
My mother had walked out on our family after Christmas, just after I turned 15. By February I’d arranged a foursome date with two boys and a friend from school who was also a little bit lost.
I ended up getting together with her date (I honestly have no idea exactly how – I literally can’t remember the details, but I think my friend was a bit miffed that I dated the first boy briefly and then hers afterwards as he hadn’t been as keen on her). He lived a little way from us, so it was weekends mostly. He was a nice guy, really. He wasn’t a scumbag, or an arsehole, or anything like that. He seemed to genuinely really like me. And I was so grateful that he liked me, I slept with him. Not because I felt ugly, but because I got no affection from either of my parents and I was so in need of love. It was that simple. I didn’t fancy him that much, but he was nice to me and he liked being my boyfriend, so I felt like I had to reward him with what he wanted (I told you I was a people-pleaser – I have repeated this pattern many times). He did pressure me – he asked a lot after the first few weeks when I would sleep with him. In the end I did. And afterwards, I felt pretty awful.
I remember going to school the next day and looking at all the girls in their uniforms (it was a single sex school), and thinking how young and naive they all must be compared to me, now that I wasn’t a virgin anymore (ugh! horrible!). I felt ashamed of what I had done, but also strangely grown-up. I told one person at school – a girl I had developed a friendship with who lived with just her mum. She had a huge amount of freedom to come and go as she pleased because her mum worked. She was also a little lost, I guess.
I am pretty sure our sex life amounted to just one occasion. A few weeks later I went on holiday with my father and brother to France. While there I met a shy, blonde boy who I did quite fancy. I think we might even have kissed right at the end of the holiday – memory fails me somewhat. He lived on the other side of London to me, but we swapped phone numbers. When I got home, I ended the relationship with the first boy I ever slept with. He wasn’t happy. He asked if something had happened in France. I lied and said no, to save his feelings (and my shame). He stormed off from our house towards the train station and I never saw him again.
So that was that. Events following this, which I’ll come to later, meant that I suffered under the belief I was some kind of slut until quite recently. But the facts are:
I lost my virginity around three months after my fifteenth birthday. I didn’t really love or particularly fancy the boy I slept with, who was two years older than me, but he was a nice boy. Two months later I ended the relationship. I think we were together around 3.5 months in total.
How I Feel About This Now
Writing it down in black and white today is the most thought I’ve given this as an adult. To this day the only people that know I slept with him are me and him, and my friend from school who I haven’t been in touch with for years (turned out to be a pretty toxic friendship, something else I’ve had problems with repeatedly). And now of course, all of the internet. But actually that’s okay.
I thought I was a permanently ruined person for so long. I carried around this thing I’d done while still a child like some kind of sick secret. I thought I’d thrown away my chance of true, romantic love, that I was damaged goods, that no man would ever, ever want me because I’d already given it away to someone else. I truly believed all these things for years. So I covered it up, pretended it didn’t happen. Which of course came with it’s own set of problems (planning on covering that in my next shame log).
None of these things are true. It happened. I did it for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t even because I was in love or lust, it was just to make someone else happy. It didn’t and doesn’t make me a slut or slag or anything else like that. But maybe if I hadn’t turned it into a shameful secret I wouldn’t have done it again and again for the next however many years.
It was my body, and I gave it away to please someone else. It was a silly mistake. But it wasn’t the end of the world. And by acknowledging it, it makes me different. Wiser. More complete. Welcome back to the real me.
No physical pain or anger on this one. Regret. Embarrassment. Sadness for my self. But not any more. Now I stand tall and can say it out loud. I was 3 months past my 15th birthday when I lost my virginity. I would like that event to have been a more romantic occasion but it wasn’t. Hey – I can even use the word virginity without cringing now. And no, the earth definitely did not move 🙂.