I remember my mom telling stories about my grandma, that she was the “go to” mom for her circle of friends. If they had questions about anything — menstruation, breast size, boys, penises —my grandma was there to answer questions. Maybe this made it easier for me to ask my mom about things—I just always knew I could. I still explored in private, read things I probably shouldn’t have, explored bodies with friends, but my mom was there and available. I babysat for someone who had a subscription to Playboy, so I read columns and looked at pictures. Certain “steamy” books made the rounds in junior high school and I read those. I vividly recall those butterflies in my stomach and genitals and while I probably couldn’t have identified them as arousal, I just wondered. I didn’t feel ashamed at all, I just knew those were feelings I didn’t have all the time. Certain boys took my breath away and made my heart beat faster, but moving to three different places in high school kept me from dating much. I was an athlete—not so attractive at that point in time—the guys ogled after the cheerleaders, not the basketball players. Bottom line, I was kind of a late bloomer.
Men are people too: How erroneous expectations complicated my wedding night...and why that was really okay
I was 15 or 16 when I realized that sexuality didn’t make sense. I was getting ready for school, and had chosen a new spaghetti-strap camisole. I had a bra on underneath, and was proud that I had managed to hide the straps, since I had tried to wear this top a couple of weeks prior, and had been told by my mother that I couldn’t, because “if boys could see my bra straps, they would think about sex.” So I hurried out, with the straps dutifully pinned out of sight, only to be stopped by the front door.
This is not a story of having much resolved as of yet … I feel I am still at the beginning. I just know what I was taught and how I was taught it really messed with me. At 27, I have never dated, I am a virgin, I have hardly ever masturbated, never looked at pornography, know very little about my body and virtually nothing about a man’s body – beyond the obvious. I am a bit embarrassed about this, which is why I am using an istock picture that looks a lot like me. Maybe I’ll get brave and change it someday.