I’ve shoveled away the pile of snow the plow left at the bottom of my drive. I’ve checked Facebook (more than once), eaten a chicken salad wrap, done 10 pushups, eaten an orange, done 10 more pushups, warmed up my tea, and done 10 more pushups.
What I haven’t done is write about sex. But I know why.
When I think about sex, and my personal experiences with it, I think shame.
I lost my virginity in high school. I thought everyone was doing it; I thought I was loved. I immediately discovered they weren’t and I wasn’t. I was ashamed at the choice I’d made.
I didn’t have sex again until college, when my mania first began to flower. It was the 70s and the sexual revolution was in full flower as well. I had sex. I had lots of sex. I had lots of sex with lots of different people. I had so much sex that others noticed and confronted me. I thought I was liberated; many thought I was a slut and an embarrassment.
I didn’t stop, though. If men could hook up—and they did—why couldn’t women? Mania made the decisions and provided the reasoning. I was along for the ride.
I did manage two long-ish term relationships in my undergraduate years. Looking back, I see a woman trying to force love out of charming but emotionally withholding men. After college, I had a series of similar relationships.
And then I crashed. Years went by without being kissed let alone getting naked. I was depressed and full of rage. At a time when I most needed to be loved, my behavior alienated every one.
So I made a plan. Boarding a bus, I put a foot on the first step up and decided that night was the perfect night to kill myself. It was a calm, rational decision: I had nothing pressing to do. I’d called my mother the day before. She wouldn’t be expecting to hear from me. And anyone else? Well, there really wasn’t anyone else who’d miss me right away. Yes, I thought, tonight is a good night to do it. Fortunately, my next thought was equally rational and equally detached. You’re making a plan; the next step is acting on it. You are a danger to yourself. I called a friend. The next day, I found a therapist.
Therapy helped me keep my rages under control, but didn’t curb my unerring ability to identify and fall in co-dependent love with emotionally withholding men. And even though I’ve been married only once and for nearly twenty-two years now, the relationship started in the worst possible way. He was married.
I realize I’ve been lucky. I’m stable now, thanks to my morning cocktail of meds, each of which is known to decrease libido. It seems ironic, by which I mean it sucks, that I am mentally healthier than I’ve ever been and far less interested in sex, but I’ll take stability and a terrific husband over hypersexuality and depression any day. It’s still difficult to talk about my past; the shame may never completely die. But I hope my story can help other crazy good parents to feel a little less shame themselves.