I grew up in a household where sex was a taboo subject. In fact any discussion about the human body which might pertain to reproduction in any form, was taboo. We used to squirm when they even kissed in a movie, as that would invite a reproving look on my mother’s face.
I remember well when I started puberty and menstruation and normal vaginal discharges. I had no idea what was going on. The only sex education or talks about puberty had been at school when I was twelve and given by the school nurse. The thing that stuck in my mind was that she reiterated several times that there was something called french kissing and that this invariably led to pregnancy. Apparently this form of kissing was sticking your tongues down each other’s throats and obviously this was done by sticking it into someone else’s mouth first. And that girls would bleed at some point and that they should tell someone when it started. Such useful and helpful information – not.
When my periods started, I was mortified. Fortunately (I think?) it was when I was at home, not school or on an outing. I went to ask my mother what I should do. She didn’t say a word. She bundled me into the car and drove me to the pharmacy. She told me to wait in the car, then went in and bought enormous pads and then drove me home. We did not discuss anything except she told me to wash out my panties by myself and then to put the pad in and change it when it was full. I had no idea what to do with the full pad; no idea how long this would last; in fact no idea. Thank heavens for the information network in the form of friends at school, whose mothers had taken the time to educate them.
When I was 17, one of my mothers, (I had several that took me in as one of their own fortunately), decided that her daughter and I should both be on the pill. We asked her why and she said that whilst she didn’t believe we were having sex with anyone, she didn’t want us to run the risk of falling prey to a situation and not having condoms on hand to prevent a pregnancy. She also lectured us about STDs and safe sex and more. It was astounding to me that a mother did these things. Mine never did. In fact mine was of the opinion that, as a female, if you have sex outside of marriage, you are nothing less than a whore and deserve whatever comes your way. (Excuse the pun.) She instilled the firm belief in me that sex is something that is so bad, that even thinking about it is wicked and problematic. It wasn’t until I did biology that I even realised that the urethra and the vagina are not the same thing. Not to mention that the anus was a separate entity too.
The first time that I had sex with someone, I cried for weeks afterwards. I felt dirty and used. It was not someone that I was dating and I felt at the time that I couldn’t say no to him. He was probably fifteen years my senior and I was 18 and naive and on my way to being drunk. It was not a memorable experience. I spoke to no-one of it, as I had become a slut in just twenty minutes, going by my mother’s standards.
Skipping forward to when I met the father of my children. I had no intention of dating him, nor kissing him. Not anything beyond friendship in fact. I was so entrenched in that idea that I was oblivious to the fact that he was trying his best to flirt with me. Eventually he “jumped” me one night and thus caught me off-guard. He literally pulled me into his embrace and started kissing me. I was so surprised that I didn’t resist at first. Then the part of me that had been so well trained by my mother to people-please kicked in. I didn’t know how to stop it and say to him that I wasn’t interested. There was also a part of me that felt that I owed it to him. He had after all bought me dinner twice and hosted me in his home for a holiday.
The next day he kept on kissing me and eventually we ended up in bed together. I was not really that attracted to him physically, but being the people-pleaser, decided that it would only need to be a night or two and then I was going back to my home town and wouldn’t have to endure it any longer. Wow – how wrong I was.
He announced to me that I must not think that this was going to be a holiday romance. He knew that I was his soul mate and that we would be together forever and so we started dating. He flew up from Cape Town to Joburg for weekends, or flew me down to Cape Town for weekends. He sent me flowers weekly, told me how amazing I was and how he was counting his blessings that we had ended up together.
As narcissists do, he did not hang around. He insisted that to make the relationship work that I needed to move to Cape Town. I resisted for a while, as I knew not a soul there, apart from him. Eventually I caved and moved. A week after I arrived, he proposed. It was overwhelming and I didn’t know how to say no or at least to wait. He had me hooked and he was not going to let me escape with ease.
On the weekends that I had visited, we would have sex at least three times a day. I used to go back to Joburg feeling very sore. He always said that he needed to make up for lost time when we were not together. Sex would last for hours each time. It was not pleasurable for me and he used to say that it was not just about what I wanted.
When I moved to Cape Town and was living with him, he expected that sex cycle to continue and even increase. It got to the point where I was having at least one bladder infection and / or yeast infection a month. In hindsight, I wonder if it was not something that my body did as a result of my mind protesting. I got tested for a number of different problems due to my high number of bladder infections, but all of them were clear. I did however get chlamydia from him, the implications of which I did not understand at the time.
Sex became more and more of an issue in our relationship. If I ever said no to sex because I had a bladder infection, or because it was my period (higher potential of an infection plus it was painful at that time of the month), or because of any other reason, then I had to give him oral sex. If I didn’t, then an enormous argument would ensue. I would be castigated endlessly and told off for being such a selfish partner, not to mention that I no longer loved him nor cared for him.
For our entire relationship, it was the start of many of our arguments. If I scheduled sex, to make sure that it happened at least once a week, I was told off for not loving him enough to make it spontaneous. If I tried to initiate sex on the odd occasion when he was not in the mood, I was told off for not being considerate of how tired he was. If I suggested a date night, it had to end in sex or else it was not a real date. And so on and so on and so on. It was almost always wrong, no matter what I did. And it always had to be on his timetable and his choice of location.
He often wanted to have sex in places where there was a high risk of being “caught” by a stranger. Passages in the block of apartments where we lived at one time; in the car in the parking lot; blow jobs whilst he was driving; at his sister’s house in the bathroom; on an aeroplane and more. I often refused these “offers”, as I am no exhibitionist. I was then accused of being boring, not showing how much I loved him or in denial of the fact that I had problems. It was always me who was wrong in these situations. Always me.
I started to dread sex. I feigned sleep, tiredness, illness and more as often as I could. He started to plot my periods so that I couldn’t use that as an excuse. He was upset when I said no as I had given birth two weeks before and had torn and had stitches. He was not happy if sex was not in multiple places around the house. Apparently the bedroom was not exciting enough. It was as boring as me.
Foreplay consisted of a one minute back massage, if I was lucky. Else just being groped by the boobs. If I didn’t respond, then I would be told off for several hours with no details being spared as to what an awful person I was for not wanting sex with him.
There was even the memorable night where he wanted sex after having locked our four year old in the bathroom when I was out of the house. The child was so traumatised by the incident and had been crying so hard that he had fallen and had a huge welt across his chest. When I tried to remain calm and get the “adult’s” explanation of events, I was told that he had been disciplining the child and I had no right to question him on his methods. Especially as I sometimes shouted at the children and this was much worse than locking him in a bathroom for ten or twenty minutes. When I pointed out that the child was naked and shivering with cold when I got home and heard his weeping and wailing, the father said to me that he had tried to get the child out of the bathroom but his help had been refused. I was speechless. I could not believe that he was surprised that his help had been refused after he had been the one to lock our boy up in the first place. It was the very first time in my life that I had to leave a place because I had real murderous intent. I took my child and went with him for a walk. I had an overwhelming desire to beat my then husband to a pulp. I had a very, very sharp chef’s knife in the kitchen. My second urge was to grab the knife and stab him – repeatedly. Instead, I focussed on helping my child to calm down and we went for a long walk.
When we got back and after I had put all the kids to bed, I followed suit and went to bed too. I slept in the lounge that night. The light was turned on just after midnight and he started chastising me and this went on until around 4 in the morning. I was so tired that I could not really compute what was being said to me and I could not answer. My mind literally closed down to the point where I could hear some of what was being said but not all. It sounded like he was talking to me from a distance due to the sensory overload. It felt never-ending.
I hope that one day I will be in a relationship where sex is a mutually pleasurable experience. It is not something that is forced onto one party by the other. It is something that makes you smile and laugh and feel loved and of course, to be enjoyed by BOTH parties. Things that I had experienced before I met the man I married.