I grew up in a non denominational fundamentalist Christian home and church, and I believed the Bible with all my heart. At the age of 13, I was baptized, and invested even more into the dogma and lifestyle. I was a good Christian daughter so I didn’t secretly explore ANYTHING about sex as a child or teen. I do believe I may have received a couple of vague Health/Sex-Ed classes in junior high and high school, but they were far too late to counteract my indoctrination.
At the age of 18, I walked away from the faith for a variety of reasons, and into a secular world in which I had no idea how to function.
This meant that while I had the indoctrination of a fundamentalist Christian, now I was a non-Christian, and in my mind, this meant I threw out all the moral standards I was given. According to what I learned, non-Christians didn’t have any morals. Talk about tossing out the baby with the bath water! Basically, I was re-set to what I was taught humans were before they accepted Christ into their heart. Try wrapping your head around that mental puzzle.
A Sordid History
I kissed a boy once when I was 15. We were dating. Well, he kissed me, briefly. And then he stuck his tongue in my mouth.
I freaked out. It scared me. I mean, I knew men and women kissed. But I’m fairly certain I hadn’t even seen a french kiss on TV at that point. I was extremely sheltered. And I’m definitely certain I wouldn’t have understood it if I did see it.
I didn’t kiss a boy again till the day I had sex–I was 19. I was a newly minted heathen, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well okay, maybe one time when I was very drunk–one of the very first times I was drunk–at the age of 18, but I don’t remember it. I was told about it later.
I thought that kissing equaled sex, you see. That’s what I had been taught in church. All sexual and sensual activity meant that sex would happen. And sex before marriage was a sin.
I didn’t know that a person could just make out, without sex happening. I didn’t know that limits could be drawn at kissing or french kissing or heavy petting or oral sex… or well..anything that would lead to pleasure for me any time, let alone my first time. I was never taught any boundaries because no one taught me anything of substance about sex during my formative years.
Needless to say, my first time sucked. But then, I picked that guy and time because I essentially wanted to get the whole thing out of the way. After all, girls didn’t really enjoy it anyways, right? I had sex with this particular guy three nights in a row, and they were all terrible–straight to what I like to call PIV (penis in vagina) sex.
Thus began a series of heartbreaking sexual events that lasted at least a year or two.
My Litany of Encounters
For the most part, the following list is made up of terrible situations I got myself in to because I was a naive girl who had just left the Christian faith. I was alone, depressed, and essentially functioning with no moral compass, since as I said, I believed that non-Christians had no morals.
There was the guy at a party whose penis was too large, and it hurt but he wouldn’t stop. At the same party there was a guy who I 69-ed with. I didn’t really want to—I had been napping, but he joined me in the bedroom, and I was too drunk to resist.
I had many situations where I would be drunk (when I was 20 I frequented a local bar to play pool) make out, and end up having a one night stand. The alcohol would lower my inhibitions, I was able to feel horny, and then I would end up going home with someone. Usually, though, by the time we actually reached the “having sex” stage I was sober enough that my guilt was shutting down my libido, so that I didn’t want to have sex…but I would anyways, because that was how it worked, right??
There was the guy who raped me, after I kept saying no after a certain point (and fighting back). When I went back the next morning to pick up the wallet I had left, he was so clearly devastated by the fact that I hadn’t wanted to have sex. Apparently he thought I was pretending? In addition, apparently I had made out with his roommate at some point (which I don’t remember) because the next morning his roommate said he was disappointed I didn’t “go all the way” with him.
There was the guy that I made out with and then I told him I really liked him, and he said he knew and felt bad, but I was the bar fly. See, most of those previously listed experiences (and then some) happened on nights when I went to a particular bar, got drunk, and went home with various people. I was devastated because I didn’t realize that’s how the guys saw me. I was so humiliated at that point that I stopped going to the bar. This was around the time I went through an outpatient therapy course, which began the start of healing.
There are many more terrible examples I could give, but I think you get the point. And it’s okay with me if you conclude I was slow on the uptake. I look back now and it reminds me of someone hitting their head against the wall, repeatedly.
Why did this happen?
Why do I list out these encounters? I think because it illustrates how what we are taught–or not taught–as children, as young adults, as humans, dictates the course of events for our future…even if we don’t believe the doctrine anymore. Despite the fact that I was in so much pain, and was depressed, I did not change my behavior for a few years because I had no understanding that I could change. My view of the world was so narrow, and so programmed into me, that deprogramming had to be much more than me choosing not to be a Christian or someone simply saying “You’re worth more than that” or “Sex doesn’t have to be that way.”
In retrospect it dawns on me that these instances were not entirely my fault. Yes, they were “my fault” in the sense that I put myself into these situations. That’s why I do not consider most of them date rape, and only two instances actual rape. Because I was stupid, and drunk for the most part. I am not saying I don’t bear responsibility for my actions. What I mean by this is: I behaved this way because I was depressed, alone, and functioning on an instinctual level, and I had been taught that girls who wanted to be sexual were sluts.
In other words, what happened to me was an unintended consequence of my education about sex.
My history is a result of the fact that the only sex education I received was: Sex before marriage is a sin. Don’t do it.
Okay, so there were a few other things that were part of this education:
1. I had been taught that sexual desires were wrong, so much so that I didn’t have the capability to express them while I was sober. This led to a lot of drunken one night stands because of alcohol’s tendency to lower inhibitions, and I was able to access and express my sexual cravings.
2. I thought sexual interaction MEANT intercourse. This is because I was indoctrinated with an all-or-nothing belief system that unintentionally taught me how to behave in extreme fashions. Additionally I was taught that because humans were sinful, any sensual activity would lead to sex. Slippery slopes and all that, you know.
3. I had NO concept of consent. I was never taught about my own bodily autonomy. And I grew up without TV, so no secular input, either.
To be frank, sometimes I wonder how I survived those years.
Certainly, this chain of experiences resulted from my own special mix of genetics, which I used to call “my own personal crazy.” But now I think this could have been effectively mitigated by an appropriate sexual education. I tell my history, partly as a healing tool for myself, and partly as a cautionary tale for parents.
But mostly I tell this story to those all those people out there who are wrongly beating themselves up over similar events: Sex is not a sin. Sexuality is not a sin. And you can choose when you want a sensual experience to stop, whether it’s at first, second, third or home base. Unlike baseball, you aren’t trying to score for anyone but yourself, and you get to set the rules.