One Saturday, we sat down at the kitchen table and she was armed with pamphlets from the organization called Planned Parenthood. She read some facts from the pamphlets about Menstruation etc. and then took a pad of paper and pencil and drew a stick figure of a man with the penis and a woman and had them facing one another and she simply said, "The man puts his penis in the woman's vagina and that's that." She said the pamphlets would explain it in more detail.
My Mom never spoke about the beauty or thrill of making love. And that's because it never was that for her. I grew up feeling loved and protected but very sad. My parents fought all the time and although there was no physical abuse or use of alcohol, drugs, etc., there was a great deal of verbal abuse between my folks. I escaped the fighting by going to church and funeral homes. These places provided the peacefulness I longed for.
My best friend was God and I talked to Him continuously and then my Dad became worried that I would become a religious fanatic, so he grounded me from going to church. This made me want to go even more. And the churches I went to were usually very fundamental the operative word here is MENTAL!!
In time, I became conflicted between the church's teachings and my personal relationship with the God of my understanding. I was unable to connect the goodness of God with the base of sexuality. I saw them at odds with one another. How could a God of purity and holiness endorse the erotic side of men and women? I struggled with my own feelings of sensuality and tried to deny that I had sexual needs or that I really did enjoy titillating photos or movies.
I remember at about age 7, my sisters and I would "peek" at my Dad's Playboy magazines and I would feel this rush of heat in my genitals and would promptly feel guilty about those sensations. I knew that I wasn't attracted to girls in any way other than friendship, so why was I feeling this excitement? I always analyzed and questioned and thought deeply about things, but never knew anyone that I could freely talk to about these sexual matters. I never fit in with the church ladies and most of them probably had "constipated clits," so how much help could they have been?
I briefly attended a Christian university hoping to become a missionary, but that dream was not to be. I worked at a variety of jobs and while working at a bank in 1977, I decided to take my 2-week vacation and go to New York City. While in New York, I had an interview at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan to check out the drama school and enroll for the fall semester. While waiting for my interview, a number of students came down these stairs on their way to rehearsal and the girls were dressed in sleeveless short dresses and immediately I freaked out and began thinking up all these excuses why I couldn't attend this school and pursue an acting career.
I didn't stop to think of all the reasons why I should pursue acting, which had really always been my first love. I had enjoyed success and fulfillment while acting in and working on many high school plays and had earned my Thespian pin and certificate. I was a friendly and outgoing person and just really loved people. I knew just about everybody at my high school and was involved in many clubs and organizations, including my job as a school newspaper reporter.
I was open and expressive and although I was not beautiful, I was cute. I was 5' tall and weighed about 105 pounds and my measurements were 34-24-35. My boyfriend was the captain of the basketball team. With all these accomplishments, it is hard to believe how deeply insecure I was. The reason I freaked out when I saw those girls in sleeveless dresses was because I never wore anything sleeveless because of a large scar on my shoulder and the feelings of shame about my body and low self-esteem took center stage at that moment. So, I'm sitting in the lobby of this prestigious acting school with the door of opportunity beckoning for me to walk through and I walked away.
I thought about other opportunities in my life that were missed because of being too self-conscious and unable to accept and love myself and insensitive remarks made by a boyfriend I loved and trusted. Those insensitive remarks would haunt me for years and prevent me from letting go sexually. I remembered the many relationships with boys in high school and college where I used sexual behavior to try and overcome hang-ups about my body. The overwhelming guilt and shame I felt in connection with my sexual needs, coupled with my belief in God, and the use of sex for the wrong reasons, all combined to make me nearly go crazy.
I left New York City and left behind the last of my dreams. I got a new job and met this quiet, sweet guy who had never kissed a girl or been sexually experienced at all. Once again, I went through "the motions" sexually with him desperately needing some kind of approval in order to feel good about myself. And all the while, I found no pleasure in anything sexual.
After dating this man for two years and feeling comfortable enough with him, we got married. It was on our wedding night that we first had sexual intercourse. I was 26 years old and had waited until I was married to have intercourse and it was horrible!! He didn't know what he was doing and I was just as lost. It was so mechanical and without any sort of passion or thrill. It was incredibly PAINFUL!! It felt like knives were being shoved in me and twisted!!
The honeymoon was just as pitiful. I started my period and so we never had intercourse that whole week and then when we got back home, our house was infested with bees and was to be exterminated. We spent the next two weeks at my in-laws house and my husband kept the bedroom door opened because he was embarrassed to have his parents think we were doing anything in there! Truth is, we weren't!
It would seem that at age 26, my husband and I were mature enough for marriage and indeed we were very mature about financing a house and remodeling it and paying bills and all the working aspects of a marriage. But we were emotionally and sexually immature. I married for all the RIGHT reasons he was decent, hardworking, kind, considerate, trustworthy, faithful, etc. I never figured passion or chemistry into the equation. I didn't think they really mattered.
My husband was just so happy to have found someone to love him because he never thought he would ever get married. We were never able to really talk about matters of the heart. I would beg him to tell me what he felt or thought and he just shrugged his shoulders and said it was too hard for him to come up with something to say. This would lead to arguments and frustration and anger.
I believe it is so true that a skilled lover makes love to a woman between her ears before he ever makes love to her between her legs. Intercourse remained a torture for me. For him, it was a quick, satisfying release. He tried to please me in other ways, but it was always like he was a little boy asking for permission.
I went to the first of many gynecologists about three months after we were married and told the doctor about the horrendous pain during intercourse and just burst into tears and he immediately said, "You and your husband need counseling." The doctor then pulled out a card for a group session and said it would cost $100. My husband refused to go to counseling, and that was that.
Gynecologist # 2 said my problem was that I had too much time on my hands and that I needed to get pregnant and he tried to force fertility drugs on me. I refused and basically told him he was nuts.
The third doctor was always cracking jokes with his nurse during the gynecological exam kept saying, "These damn virgins have more sexual problems than anybody I know. There should be a law passed that nobody can get married if they are still a virgin!" His recommendation was that I buy a book for $25 that explored areas of sexuality and that my husband and I should take flashlights and sit in front of a full-length mirror and study our genitalia.
I bought the book and began to ask my husband questions from the work sheet and he got so angry and embarrassed that the next day, I burned the book in the fireplace.
The final # 4 gynecologist exclaimed that my whole problem was that I still had my hymen intact and he would perform a simple operation to remove the hymen and all would be fine. Well, that was not the solution. The pain got worse, the level of anger kept increasing and was compounded by the fact that I could not tell my husband the truth which was he simply did not turn me on.
But I had made a promise before God and witnesses to, "love, honor, and cherish, for better or worse, till death do us part." I think most women avoid telling a man the truth about how unsatisfied they are because they don't want to hurt his feelings or bruise his ego. So, many women slip quietly into the bathroom and masturbate to be able to cum or wait until the man is gone to have private pleasure time with themselves.
I couldn't even find release in masturbation because I believed it was sinful. And when I did pleasure myself, I would cry for days afterwards and ask God to forgive me. So year after year passed and miraculously, I got pregnant and had a child. I say miraculously, because the year I conceived my son, we had intercourse only 3 times!
The last time we had sexual intercourse, was 12 years ago and it was still painful and miserable. In 24 years of marriage, we have had intercourse maybe 12 times! I was the one who said, "No more!" And being the quiet, agreeable guy that my husband is, it just ended without any discussion.
I did oral sex on him because I thought that was the least I could do for him. I did not want my husband to do anything to me sexually and so he didn't. We eventually stopped kissing and hugging, even though he kept asking. Two years ago, I stopped the oral sex because I realized I was just going through the motions and had no desire at all to do it. To continue to do something sexual that was not in my heart to do seemed really dishonest.
Also, about two years ago, I started a personal sexuality study to understand many things, which I had never explored before. I confronted this conflict of Christianity vs. Sensuality and have found a peaceful resolution that has given me a more genuine relationship with God and allowed me the freedom to discover my body's capacity for pleasure and intense orgasms.
I learned from a Christian website that there is nothing in the Bible about masturbation being sinful. It is not God, but man-made religion that teaches it is evil and dirty to enjoy touching oneself and explore the heights of ecstasy that can result from having such an intimate knowledge of one's body. This kind of activity leads not to the portals of Hell, but to the gates of Heaven. And so I can shout loud and clear with the champions of truth "Free at last, free at last, thank God I'm free at last!"
My husband and I continue to live as brother and sister. We are not content with this bizarre situation and attempts at marriage counseling have been too little, too late. We do not communicate at all and this cannot be a beneficial environment for our son.
I love my husband for the wonderful person he is, but to sleep in the same bed with the man I am married to and be like strangers is a sad and sick way to live. I lied to myself for years that I could happily live without passion and sexual satisfaction from a man, but I don't want to die and never know the joy of making love. So now, I am faced with a major decision about my life and marriage.
How I wish I could go back 25 years or more and do things so differently. If I had learned to let go of my religious intoxication and been able to speak with unrepressed people who were knowledgeable about sensuality and humanity, my life would be so different from what it is now.
If you are reading this story and are at a crossroads in your life or about to commit to marriage, please consider carefully the importance of not stifling your heartfelt desires and choose to SELECT the life you really want. DO NOT JUST SETTLE!!
Too many people settle for something or someone and then wake up one day and realize what a huge mistake they have made. Seek out people of understanding and enlightenment to talk with and learn from.
I thank God for Lisa Lawless and the wonderful work she is doing to educate people about the love and joy of healthy sexuality. It is through her hard work and devotion to the truth that many people will be pulled out of the mire of sexual shame and will come into the sunshine of sensuality. I have found Lisa rather late in my life, but oh, how blessed I am to have found her! May she continue to enrich the lives of all who pass her way and they, in turn, pass it on.