I was talking with some Christians the other day and somehow the topic of sex came up and they mentioned how happy they were that they “saved themselves” for marriage and they told nostalgic, humorous, and affectionate stories about their “first time.”
And it made me remember other conversations about this topic.
And it made me think about how the way I feel when this topic comes up is so different now that I remember more about what my dad did with me when I was very, very young. Because if I choose to join in to such conversations, I will talk about the first time I chose to have sex as a young adult—not all the times when it was forced upon me as a child. Before I even knew what it was. Because ain’t nobody wants to hear about that.
And I wonder who else is covering for themselves in that way. Secretly carving out their own safe place, protecting themselves from others who bash and blunder around from topic to topic never aware of what that stirs inside of those less fortunate—those who were left in the hands of a beloved family uncle, the hands of their fathers, the hands of a trusted friend, the hands of the Canadian State. The hands and the mouths and the bodies and the sweat and the cum. What, one in five boys? One in three girls? Based on the work I have done, I suspect the numbers are actually much higher.
For years, the following re-occurring nightmare was the only way in which I was capable of remember “my first time”:
I am lying in bed. It is the bunk-bed I slept in as a child. It is late at night but I am awake. Suddenly, two giant, hairy spider legs appear at the foot of my bed, rising up from the ground below. They move noiselessly through the air and plant themselves on the bed-frame on either side of me. Other legs follow and then, just as noiselessly, the pulsing, dripping, barbed, and hairy body of the giant spider pulls itself up over me. I am frozen in terror beneath it. It is the most horrible thing I can imagine. Just as it begins to lower itself onto me, I awaken.
For those who can look back on awkward, fumbling, disappointing, over-too-soon, not-over-soon-enough, first encounters and laugh now—now that they have happy, healthy sex lives (or because such encounters took place in a moment of mutually shared vulnerability, intimacy, shyness, excitement, nerves, and wonder)—that’s nice. It would be great if everyone could do that, right? But, I’ll be honest, it sometimes smacks a bit of condescension in relation to those who don’t look back and laugh or those who find that sex isn’t always nearly as happy and healthy as they would like it to be (no matter how hard they try or want it to be). By all means, celebrate what you’ve overcome and where you’ve gotten to in life, but try and do so in a way that doesn’t hurt others.
So, I suppose what I’m asking for is a little more gentleness and a little more attentiveness to not only what others share with us but also to what they might be keeping from us. Sometimes I’m good at this and sometimes I’m not. I’m learning as I go. But if we can all agree to have this as a shared goal that we work on together, well, I would like that a lot.