I posted earlier in the year about the sexually abusive relationship I was in, you can read that post here. I know that part of the reason I allowed myself to be in that relationship for as long as I did was because of my low self-esteem issues and being convinced he was the only man who would ever find me attractive and want me.
My low-self esteem got me into other bad situations sexually – the moment a man paid me attention I would do anything to keep him happy, whether that was having a threesome with him and his friend or going home with him when I knew I had no way to get home in the morning. I had more one night stands than I care to remember, if I am brutally honest I can’t actually remember how many I did have. My late teens-early twenties were a blur of alcohol and one nighters, meaningless sex that made me feel good until it was over and then I felt even more worthless than I already did.
It was a horrible circle. Attention would generally lead to sex, which would then lead to feeling good for a few hours, which would then lead to feeling worse than usual… then the following week, month, etc a man would pay me attention and I’d end up having yet another one night stand. I couldn’t stop and looking back, I don’t think I wanted to stop. The attention was something I craved; I liked to feel pretty, I liked to feel sexy, I liked to feel like a woman, I liked – for one night anyway – feeling as if I mattered to a man.
Sex destroyed some of my closest friendships. I was a shitty, horrible friend for a while then. The whole ‘chicks before dicks’ saying didn’t really mean anything to me, I needed sex. I needed that attention, that reassurance I was just as desirable as any other woman. I am ashamed when I think back to what I did, about the friends I hurt. One friend was amazing enough to forgive me after I did something truly heinous (and if you are reading this, you know who you are…)… I still struggle with what I did to risk that particular friendship and really don’t know how she had it in her to forgive me. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to.
I am a believer that sometimes our brains block out memories we don’t have the capacity to cope with. Today I had what I like to call a mental unblockage. Driving Miss 4 to preschool I suddenly remembered something that had happened when I was 24/25, I began shaking and found it hard to breathe, I needed to tell my wife about it before I had a complete breakdown. Nope, I hadn’t even told my wife about the relationship in question – that tells you how bad it is – I share everything with my wifey.
As with my relationship I posted about earlier in the year, I chose to believe that this at-the-time boyfriend was just sexually adventurous, that what happened was all innocent fun. With the benefit of hindsight I can see that he was actually grooming me for a pimp/prostitute type arrangement. We decided one day it’d be fun to have a threesome, put an ad up on an online dating site and pretty soon after we had our third confirmed. The night came and for whatever stupid reason I agreed it could be at my house. Literally minutes before #3 was meant to arrive my boyfriend text to say ‘something had come up’ and he wouldn’t be able to make it, so how about I have sex with the guy then tell him allllllllll about it. It would be kinky, he said
I had sex with the guy, I told my boyfriend all about it… we had pretty awesome sex afterward.
The following week he suggested I could do the same thing, that he would find me a guy to have sex with and then I could tell him about it afterward. Deciding it would indeed be ‘kinky’ I agreed… I wanted to keep him happy after all. If I wasn’t adventurous enough surely he would leave me? I had sex with a stranger, again. I told my boyfriend about it, again. Before he even left to go home he suggested I do it again. I didn’t really want to but knew I needed to be more open-minded so agreed.
Four or five times this happened. A man would turn up on my doorstep. We would have sex. He would leave.
Each time I felt worse afterward. I felt like a tramp. I felt like a whore.
One day it occurred to me that that was essentially what I was to him. I was his whore, he was my pimp, only there was no money exchanging hands.
That I knew of.
I broke up with him soon after my little epiphany and swore that that would be it, no more relationships that involved me doing things I was doing just to keep the man happy. No more one nights stands, no more strangers, no more risky sex, no more risky situations. What type of example would I be for my daughter/s in the future if I continued down that path?
Again with the benefit of hindsight, looking back I am pretty sure those little sex ‘arrangements’ weren’t as innocent as my ex made out. In fact, I would be willing to bet he was actually making money out of it.
That end of that relationship brought with it a huge reality check. For the first time since I had become sexually active I thought seriously about what it was that motivated me to seek out sex and to crave male attention so badly. That period of time was full of self-reflection for me – and admittedly a lot of self-loathing – but I eventually came out the other side with a little more respect for myself and with a newfound understanding of the importance of being in control of my own self. My dreams, my desires, my needs.
As the mother of three young girls I am going to do everything I can to make sure their self-esteem is high, that they have self-worth and know they are special, that they are important, that they deserve only good things. I want our daughters to grow up confident and to have the mindset that they don’t need a man to be happy. It might sound cliché, but I want them to love themselves.