This is hard to write. I imagine that might make this hard to read as well. A big part of me doesn’t feel like I can publish these words and is terrified at the thought. But it’s that very part of me that is also whispering, keep going. I want to give voice to what hides. I want to trust that what is revealed is tied to our freedom. That is my intention, to push beyond the wall that was built for protection, but now is keeping me from the very thing I seek. When the lines between what we fear and what we long for start to dissipate. When it’s time to name our desires, even if it means finding them in the dark places we have been avoiding. I hope you can trust me enough to keep going with me. I will do my best to hold us in this discomfort. This is me trying to find a clearing in the woods so the moonlight can give shape to what I cannot see.
At some point, a script was written. I’m not sure when. I imagine it was written long before I arrived. And in conscious and unconscious ways I have studied it ever since. Memorized it. Embodied it. I think it first became conscious when I was 7. The first time hands, not my own, touched parts deemed private. Without my invitation. Without my say in any of it. My petrified silence. Totally unprepared and unsure of how to navigate that full body confusion. Him, 10 years my senior, a troubled kid from a troubled family that went to our church.
I can still see the dirty bar of Ivory soap stuck with wet slippery stick to their bathroom sink. I can still see his room—in my memory a shrine for ceiling high piles of dirty magazines. The beginning of my deep dislike for pornography. Glossy and farcical. Charged with energy that felt too large for its two-dimensional reducing. One-sided and dangerously misguided, representing nothing that felt true to my body.
Never has my pussy been bald and thin and cotton candy pink. Never my tits so huge they remain mountainous while reclining. Never has my my naked skin looked slick and shiny while perched backwards, ass up, cooter out, balancing on a stationary motorbike. Never have I liked being stretched out by more than one appendage or blinded by the white warm haze of some shaggy-haired man’s emission. Never.
Though in moments, I have tried.
To find some way to be acceptable, desirable, appropriate for this highly proliferated and limited version of what is sexy. Of what is sex. I’ve tried waxing my bush. Paying someone hard earned money to torture me. Walking home chicken-skinned and sticking to newly exposed parts of myself. I’ve doused myself in coconut oil and stood with my tits topless in the freezer hoping to make my marshmallowy soft nipples look more like the requisite eraser tips. I’ve tried to like things I did not like. I’ve tried to want things I did not want. I have tried to move so much faster than I wanted to go.
I have come to relate to sex as something to desire and protect myself from in equal measure. Something I have ached for only to be afflicted by. It has been a complicated mix of excitement and regret. Release and re-wounding. Always trying to untangle the terror from the full-body hoping for pleasure. Trying to peel back all the layers to reveal the deep and pure need for letting go. Letting it be okay to want something that exists beyond my careful controlling. Letting it be okay to want to do all the things I was taught I shouldn’t want to do, but my body just goes right on wanting.
Just wanting to enjoy the beauty that lies underneath all the guilt, all the fumbling. All the shame and complication. Aching to find my way beyond the insecurity and the fear. Continuing to feel that such a thing is possible. That such a place exists. Despite all the times I’ve ended up buried somewhere in-between.
Sex has made me pee blood. Sex has sent me to the emergency room. Sex has made me hide my face in the sheets. Sex has yielded some of the most beautiful and life-affirming moments of my life. The most ecstatic and euphoric joy. The deepest connection. The most of all the things I am always wanting to feel. And that is why I keep trying. We try for that. We get so many variations on the way there. Some somewhat forgettable. Some undeniably damaging.
It is so charged. Its potency unrivaled. It is this elixir of life that we mix and we drink, participating in, almost trance-like with the alchemy of life-making. We fuck, therefore we exist. Perhaps it is this very hugeness that has inspired the reductiveness of The Script.
I’m not sure how much involvement I had in the writing of this script I have followed countless times. But I have definitely followed its dialogue and plot lines with relative dedication for well over twenty years. I have made edits here and there. Amendments. Improvements one could say. But even now, 38 years around the sun, I still find myself unwittingly falling into the ruts of its well worn narrative.
The script I’m talking about is the one I almost imperceptibly slip into, read by rote anytime the potential for S. E. X. presents itself. Before I give myself adequate time to assess whether or not sex is even what I am wanting in the moment. Seeking intimacy, I sometimes mistake sexual tension as a bridge towards it, rather than the precise fuel needed to burn the motherfucker down. And so, in the midst of that potent hoping, I skip the necessary step of slowing things down. Failing to check in with myself before I proceed to unconsciously visit ghosts of hook ups past.
Oh! The dude is kissing me! Oh! It’s happening! He’s kissing me! His tongue is pretty okay. I don’t hate it (notice the low standards for proceeding into intensely vulnerable territory). I can’t really tell how I feel about this…
Break out the script! All (or at least most) systems go for autopilot! Click! Click! Click! Moooooaaan. He’s following his script and starting to touch your breasts on top of your shirt. Be reluctant, but allowing when he lifts your shirt to put his mouth to your nipples as he has perfectly memorized to do. Wonder how much of him is currently in autopilot too?… Let him know you’re interested (even if you’re not really), by checking in with his hardness felt through denim. If he’s not wearing denim, don’t worry, it’s more or less the same. Here it is okay to improvise a little with cotton or linen, though hopefully not polyester. Polyester feels too closely to the lie you are trying to tell. That synthetic self-reflection might make you pause to wonder. Might make you hesitate in your recognition of the ridiculousness of the moment. Might make you change your mind. Do not change your mind! He might turn into a monster. Everything in you is geared towards preventing that greatest of fears. That he is in fact a dangerous monster. Not an equal seeker of that which you are seeking but are currently overriding, with the script.
“Boys will be boys” has always contained within it the message that there is a silent and terrifying contract. Unwanted advances cannot be prevented once things have gone “too far”. Depending on how you dress or how you laugh at his jokes or how many drinks you let him buy, you have most certainly crossed over to the other side. He doesn’t even need to be scary or forceful. He just needs to be a boy being a boy and you will follow your script of sugar and spice and everything necessary to make sure he doesn’t get sexually frustrated. You can’t even imagine what that would do to him! Oh the horror! His nuts might hurt! He might experience discomfort. Pain even. Do not let that happen, or else…
I digress (in hopes of progress).
Back to the script. Now that you have given him the sign that genitals are in play, he will do as he has practiced time and again and make moves towards removing your pants, doing his best to be smooth with the zipper. Hold your breath as you silently pretend you’re not assessing his skill level or confidence, knowing how tense this moment is for you both. Feel no less than one thousands things. Do not pause to wonder what they are. Bulldoze through that wall of uncertainty. Never mind that it is there for your protection.
Ok, we are getting so close to penetration now! You can feel it! It is unsaid and as loud as a freight train. Just a little requisite finger banging first. A moisture test really. Maybe your body is performing well and you are wet enough to avoid extra spit—a trick written in bold in his script. Not wet enough, spit on it! He enters you. You compute how you feel about this, half-in and half-out of your body. Depending on the fit, the rhythm, the willingness, the friction, you can now choose, stay or go? Of course I’m not talking about the bed or the room, only your body. Nowhere in the script is written the option of stopping this train once it is in motion. Nowhere in the script are instructions for how to honestly say you’re realizing now that it is happening—that it’s not actually what you are wanting. Or ready for. Or even enjoying.
What is written in the script is how to make the face that says he’s doing great. You wouldn’t want to crush his spirit! It’s always better to crush your own. This powerful discomfort is your cue to handle what is verging on an invasion with your own vacating. Make more room! Leave your body. Float up to the ceiling. Watch your body from up there. See that faraway look in your eyes and wonder why he isn’t noticing. Resent him for the trespassing, feeling like to anyone really paying attention, the signs are clearly there. Everything has changed. The lights have gone out. Sure sure, you are still making occasional “O” faces and the preconditioned sounds of supposed pleasure. But how can he not feel the thickness of your absence? Is it because nowhere in his script is it written to pay attention to such things? Only to stay hard and not cum too soon. To thrust. To be strong and agile and able to switch positions with authority. Pure mechanics. To leave his body too. Nothing written about what he might want out of the experience beyond his exemplary performance. No consideration of that he might actually be wanting exactly the same thing as you. True connection. An unnamed and shared willingness to forfeit completely the penetrative going through the motions in exchange for honest intimacy.
A seeking of true belonging. Belonging to ourselves. Belonging to our bodies. Our bodies belonging to each other’s belonging. Oh how long we have been longing. To be longing so long you forget to pause when your attempt at receiving might, just might be finally happening.
What if we slowed down?
Built a bridge by looking into each other’s eyes.
Took a breath, together.
Waited to find the strength to say what we were scared to say.
Said what we were feeling. What we were really feeling. All the awkward and terrifying and hopeful truths.
Gave presence to the seemingly impossible and distant question: What do you need right now to feel safe?
And then to listen.
To try and meet each other in our voiced and naked needing. Clothes. Still. On.
And then maybe, to touch. Without the script. Without a blueprint. Just a slow searching. A slow way of knowing.
Letting mouths find wanting mouths in their own pacing.
To engage in communion.
To ignite with desire.
To hold that heat and not just fear for its burning.
To remove the layers. Of clothes. Of doubts. Of painful rememberings. To ride the waves of discomfort. To welcome laughter should it arrive. To allow tears should they fall.
To invite, to open.
To feel the potent truth of that closeness. To understand with our bodies what power exists in this space.
Slowly as our shared and separate needs for safety are guiding us towards our shared safety. Our shared needs. Our sharing. Our belonging. Belonging to ourselves. Belonging to our bodies. Our bodies belonging to each other’s belonging. Finally, home.