Growing up in a traditional family, I was never encouraged to express myself or share my thoughts and views. Keeping up appearances seemed to be priority. We didn’t discuss personal problems. Showing emotion was perceived as a weakness. And of course, no one talked about sex. As a child, I was told to shield my eyes from the mere sight of a kissing scene on TV.
The only form of sex education I had was a technical explanation of how our reproductive organs work, in Biology. There was hardly any mention of condoms or the pill, or the dangers of unprotected sex, apart from unwanted pregnancies.
When I was 16, my mum threatened to break my legs if she caught me with a boy. And for many years, my dad cautioned me of the dangers of ‘making a single mistake that would ruin my life forever’. They didn’t have to say the words for me to get the message. (I would add that after many years, I finally came to understand that they were only doing what they thought was best. This was how they had been brought up; they didn’t know any different.)
Yet, despite their fear of me discovering the ‘sinful’ pleasures of sex, they were completely in the dark about my secret: I had started masturbating at the age of 5. It was just a desire I had to satisfy. Yet oddly enough, I sensed it was something I had to keep to myself.
By the time I was 15, I was masturbating several times a day. I was an expert at pleasuring myself. Still, I had no idea what sex really entailed. I had a vague idea of how a penis looked like, from my Biology book, but nothing could have prepared me for my first experience, or the ensuing trauma that would haunt me for the following decade. Of course this was way before the Internet came about. There was no Google, and no alternative source of information available.
I was 20 when I lost my virginity. I was a fresh undergraduate in England, having the time of my life, being finally free of my parents’ obsessive control. Yes, it was the freedom I’d been craving for, for so long. Little did I realise exactly what ‘total freedom’ meant.
I had no idea the first time would hurt so much. It didn’t help that the guy I did it with was a self-absorbed jerk who had only one goal in mind: to get his satisfaction. He was oblivious to my body tensing in pain as he pushed his way in, he was too engrossed in his own pleasure to hear my cries of pain, and he only stopped when I had tears in my eyes.
It felt like he was tearing me apart from inside. I was bone dry. And he didn’t care.
The only thing he did right was to put on a condom. After he reluctantly pulled out, there was no apology, rather, he acted like a spoilt child who’d had his candy taken away. I was 20, naive, and completely unaware of what ‘sex’ was.
I’d been giving myself orgasms since I was 5, so I didn’t expect sex to be so excruciatingly painful. The trauma of it haunted me for the next 10 years. Every time I tried having sex, I would tense up in memory of that first experience. It wasn’t long before I resigned myself to the idea that I might never be able to experience pleasurable sex. Ever. Because of that jerk who shoved his way in with absolutely no regard for my needs.
It wasn’t until I was 29, when I started going out with a German guy, did I finally get over my phobia. He was incredibly laid-back yet confident, and somehow managed to ease me into my first mind-blowing orgasm from sex. It was a huge breakthrough for me. Finally, a proper full-on orgasm! It was the most beautiful thing ever.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I’m a huge proponent of healthy conversations about sex. Not because I’m obsessed about sex (though there would be nothing wrong with that!), but because I know many women, like myself, who’ve experienced similar first time encounters and been put off sex because they think that’s the way sex is supposed to be. Many who’ve never experienced an orgasm, and have no idea how amazing it is.
I’m not saying it’s always the guy’s fault, rather, I feel it’s due to the lack of open and healthy discussions, especially in more conservative cultures where sex is still largely taboo.
As I always say, there’s sex, and there’s pleasurable sex. Huge difference between the two.
Sex is meant to be pleasurable. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Have thoughts you’d like to share on this? I’m all eyes. Let’s get #naked about things that matter.
Image: Sarah Scicluna