Mar 20

The Best Sex Of My Life

My journey to ecstacy took a long time, but it's been worth it.

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At a certain point, I thought sex was just about procreation. This is me with David and Phillipe Blonde when I was pregnant with my first child.

Hey,

We never talk about sex. I mean, sure, we’ve danced around it. But usually, it’s through the lens of trauma or with a least a little regret – like all the errors of judgement I made when I was younger. But today, let’s talk about…gasp…pleasure. 🤫

It took me a long time to feel comfortable talking about sex through this lens. But who am I kidding? I’m tensing up just typing this out. I’m getting more comfortable talking to my friends about it. We can only go as deep – bad pun, sorry – as our friends are comfortable with. Luckily one of my friends just luuuuuuurves talking about sex and I’ve been stretching myself in those conversations.

Being an incest survivor didn’t keep from me from having sex. I know some survivors/victims (different people prefer different terms) totally shut down sexually. It kinda pushed me the opposite way for awhile, actually. As a college student, I definitely sampled my fair share of the Columbia Football players. (Or unfair, truthfully, I was gluttonous and I have a type, what can I say? 🤷🏻‍♀️) But pleasure wasn’t what I was going for. As a reflex to the incest, I was seeking safety in their arms…in their beds. And it wasn’t until I started going out with J., my college boyfriend, that I was introduced to pleasure. I was so lucky. J. knew what he was doing.

But still, because of my complicated history with sex…and an innate estrangement from my own body, I didn’t explicitly understand what gave me pleasure. I just kind of thought J. was a magician. The lack of familiarity with my own body felt like a distinctly female issue, not unique to those with sexual trauma. In fact, when I was Editor of Seventeen, I was hell-bent on including clear pictures of vulvas in a piece called Vagina 101. I didn’t realize what I’d been considering my vagina was my vulva until I was working on this piece. (I was in my early 30s and married!) We got pulled off the newsstand at Walmart and Albertson’s for running these medical pictures (Pornography, they thought!), but it was totally worth it to give girls a clear idea of this somewhat hidden and mysterious part of their bodies. Side note, the article got us a Planned Parenthood award and I got to sing on stage with one of my heroes, Natalie Merchant, at the awards ceremony! I use the term “sing” loosely but my point is, that felt like a pat on the back from the universe, for sure.

Back to my own vulva. 💅🏼

After J., I spent so many years going through the motions of sex. I acted the part, looked the part, made all the right sounds and knew how to make a guy feel good. But me? I just assumed it was all downhill after J. and continued to use it to gain male attention and protection. I knew how to provide pleasure, but I really didn’t stay long enough to receive it. Sex was just a tool for me to get the emotional thing I needed and wanted.

Once I really committed to my marriage, and stopped using physical intimacy as a way of filling this hole inside of me (WTF is up with these puns), I was just bored senseless by sex. Other than procreation, I didn’t see the point. For the last five years of my marriage, I didn’t have sex at all. I was done. After having done years of therapeutic work around the incest, I was no longer interested in having sex with someone I didn’t want to have sex with. I saw my husband as a wonderful friend, a best friend. But that’s not who I wanted to be physically intimate with. At the same time, I was totally committed to him and our family, so I assumed I was just going to live out the rest of my life like a monk or a nun. I could think of worse things. I had a great life in so many important ways. It seemed selfish to want more.

But then I got separated.

I grieved the end of my marriage for a long time. No dating and certainly no sex for me. In fact, if you would have asked me in the aftermath of my separation if I’d ever have sex again, I would have said probably not. I couldn’t imagine it.  We all know those relatives (many of our mothers, frankly) who after divorce or the death of their spouse just close-up shop relationally. I was ready to join that club. But that was not to be. And I have had a big epiphany.

Honestly? I’m not sure how this is going to land with you, but it’s my truth and I always share my truth with you.

Having sex after doing a ton of work around sexual trauma was so different. Instead of using sex as a tool to get what I want (after all, I was taught at too-young an age the kind of power my body and sexuality gave me over grown men), I got curious about pleasure. Let me backtrack for a moment. If you were to ask me who my first sexual experience was with, I would tell you R. – the classmate I lost my virginity to, senior year in high school. Totally uneventful and a let-down, like many first-time experiences. (My apologies to R.) And I was already in using-sex-as-a tool mode. There’s no pleasure in that zone. But my first real sexual experience? My first real sexual experience was being molested. I wish that weren’t the case, but it’s true. And here’s what turns me on: Power dynamics. My partner overpowering me? I like it. We’re talking about consensual sex play, of course. Role play. Fantasies. My partners who have either shared this turn-on (for their own reasons) or just are confident and open enough about sex to enter these realms with me? A+ sex. In fact…A++. 💯💯💯

And in realizing this about myself, it made me curious about other people and here’s what I’ve found. Pretty much anyone I’ve asked, sees a direct correlation to pleasure/their turns-ons and their very first sexual experience...their real first sexual experience…whether it was positive, negative, or even intentional – for instance unintentionally being turned on by their first babysitter. I won’t share their stories here, but worth an exploration with your own closest friends.

So, here’s my public service announcement. I want you to think long and hard (I know, I will stop with the sexual innuendos, I’m sorry it’s just too easy) about what your REAL first sexual experience was. Can you accept it? Can you truly accept what it was without judgement? You may need the help of a therapist to get there. But when you do, there is a whole world of pleasure (and yes it includes fantasy, consenual role play and maybe even porn) waiting for you, solo or partnered. Accepting, instead of shaming, myself for my predilections has opened a world of pleasure for me. But perhaps more importantly, it’s a new level of self-love that I previously denied myself. So many of us are taught at a young age that sex is a sin or “bad” or even something that should be hidden, so it doesn’t require sexual trauma to fill us with shame. (Although sexual trauma, even if it’s unintentional boundary crossing, can certainly do the trick.) I guess my suggestion is that whatever your first sexual experience was, is not going to be completely erased. These experiences are kind of written in Sharpie. Of course, there is PLENTY of healing that can be done. But healing doesn’t mean erasure..these experiences are part of the architecture of our sexual being. We can keep hanging metaphorical pictures over them to distract and deny or we can have curiosity about what our fantasies might look like if we didn’t judge ourselves. The beauty of self-exploration is always an option and then…if you’re ready…with the right partner. Sex can be mind-blowing. And it can be consistently mind-blowing. We all hold the key inside of us…if we dare use it.

If we get comfortable with sex, we can avoid being creepy grandparents! #goals 🤪

Did this feel like that horrible scene in 16 Candles where the aunt grabs Molly Ringwald’s “little boobies”? Not sure if picturing what “Atoosa from Seventeen” likes in bed is comfortable for you. But perhaps if we can normalize these types of conversations, we can all have more fun. Plus, I think if we bring into the conscious what already exists in the subconscious, we can avoid awkward situations of all sorts sexually and romantically.

Oh, and hey, I’m taking a few weeks off because…I’m doing a TEDx talk next month! I gotta prepare. I’ll be doing updates for the paid suscribers on the talk as I progress because I’ll be looking for some feedback. I’ll be back to weekly letters in May, if not sooner. But I’m reachable to you, 24/7, as always, at atoosa@atoosa.com.

xo, atoosa