Thursday, July 1, 2010

1. I am a 22 year old woman and have identified as bisexual since I was 15.

2. Even though I identify as bi, I have never had sex with a woman before. I have had crushes on women and had incredible romantic feelings for some, but never had the... opportunity I guess you could call it, to ever be as intimate as I'd like with them.

3. Up until I was about 19 I was quite 'safe' when it came to the bedroom; only a few positions, nothing ever 'taboo', and only really with men that I'd had incredibly strong feelings for (with the exception of two nights at uni-res).

4. When I was 19, not long before I turned 20, I was raped by a colleague at work. For the longest time I did not see it for what it was, and blamed myself for it eventuating. I was repulsed by him, and it was not in the least bit consensual. I was working at a bar at the time, and at that age was completely naive to how manipulative and selfish some people could be. I also really liked to drink. The bar manager encouraged me to drink when the patrons at our bar ordered two shots: one for them and one for me. I got blind drunk, and after closing he told me that he had to start work at seven the next morning and his house was the other side of the city. Feeling obliged I offered for him to 'crash at my place' as I lived very close. It happened in my bed, and at the time I was far too intoxicated to really realise what was happening; all I could remember was saying "no" over and over. I sobered up a little halfway through and realised (somewhat) what was going on. All I could bring myself to do was to put my arm over my eyes and pretend it wasn't happening. I was fired from that job a week later because of "discrepancies in the till", and haven't set foot in there since.

5. It wasn't until seeing a counselor about six months later that I considered even using the word "rape." I knew what he had done was wrong, but the term seemed so harsh to use. In my mind it had strong implications of violence and force - and when it happened to me there had been none of that. But this counselor made me see it for what it was; in no way was I giving consent for him to have sex with me by letting him into my room, nor should he have expected it. I also realised at that moment just how calculating he had actually been.

6. Not long after this incident, less than a few weeks in fact, I started having casual sex with someone who was 11 years my senior. That same year I had just started exploring the "alternative" or "goth" scene, and had met him at an industrial night club. He had just broken up with his girlfriend, but was still sleeping with her, along with another woman. I put up with this horrible arrangement for two months until he eventually got back together with his ex. It was one of the most emotionally draining times of my life. Two and a half years down the track, I am incredibly close with the two of them; they are some of my dearest friends, while the other woman in the uh... "love square", if you could call it that, loathes me, as I do her. It's funny how some things work out sometimes.

7. Said man was, and still is, one of the "gothiest" (in want of a better word) people I have ever met. I had not so much been attracted to him, more intrigued. He was slender but very toned, and had the most incredible sex drive I've ever come across. He was the one who first introduced me to bondage and toys, but at the time I was too timid to explore it much. Since then I've been craving it, but have not found anybody with even a slight interest in it. Being with him at that time was so liberating after what had happened, and allowed me to put it out of my mind for a while; had I have not been with him then I probably would've turned to self-harm. I am so glad I never had to go down that road.

8. For the next year after that I only ever had a few one night stands, and funnily enough, all the people I had sex with at that time I have now ended up becoming really close friends with. There was nobody who really inspired me romantically, not like I had been with my first boyfriend when I was 16, or anybody else since. In all truthfulness, I've only ever been in two 'official' relationships. But I digress, not long before I turned 21 I was diagnosed with HSV type 2, more commonly known as genital herpes. I was mortified and disgusted. So much so that the little progress I'd made since being raped went out the window, and I went right back into my shell. For the first time ever in my life I became terrified of intimacy. My first instinct had been to blame the man that raped me, however had that been the case that meant that I may have unwittingly passed it onto one of my friends, something that I was unable to deal with at the time. I went into complete denial and went on as though I'd never heard the diagnosis, telling myself that I would only tell a partner in the future if I wanted to have sex with them. I have still not told any of the people that I'd slept with that year of my diagnosis.

9. What prompted me to get tested was when I started showing symptoms. Unfortunately for me they were incredibly severe, but I have not experienced any symptoms at all in the one and a half years since, and I hope that it stays that way. By the time I got to the sexual health clinic I was in a terrible state, not only experiencing "downstairs" symptoms, but also a severe flu-like sickness. At the time I was in so much pain that I was relieved to hear the diagnosis, as it meant that I could start medication to stop the pain and fever, but a few days later when the fever started to clear the reality of the situation set in, and I realised that I would be stuck with a horrible social stigma for the rest of my life. I was terrified to look at what was happening "down there"; scared of what it'd look like, and also of scarring. Thankfully no such thing happened, and it's as though it had never happened.

10. STIs are something that nobody talks about, especially considering how many people statistically are meant to have one. I told no one at all asidea from my parents of my diagnosis for quite some time, for fear of being rejected or the centre of rumour or ridicule. Three months or so passed when I met a man. He was a friend of an acquaintance, and I was instantly attracted to him. He was the type of guy I had lusted after since I first started noticing men; he was tall, thin, indie, with a boyish sense of humour and stretchers in his ears. Instantly I wanted to jump him right there in the club. I got his number and we caught up a few times after that, but it had come at a really bad time for me; I still wasn't dealing with being raped or my diagnosis, so rather that stopping things from progressing, I simply ignored my problems. This later came back to bite me in the arse.

11. After a very drunk night out at the pub with him and some mutual friends, I ended up going home with this guy. A few of his friends had gone back to his place too to drink more, and at an opportune time the two of us slipped out the back to make out. A few hours later I found myself in his bed, still kissing and groping him. He wanted to sleep with me, and I was aching for him too, but my conscience was niggling me from the back of my mind. At first I said no, but after a bit of persuasion I gave in, and we had sex several times that night. I broke the promise I'd made to myself, to only sleep with someone after telling them of my diagnosis, and in the following months the guilt niggled away at me. He still doesn't know.

12. The most horrible thing about the incident is that he was the first man since being raped that I felt safe with, even intimate with. Every time I had been with a man since the incident at the bar, I had my eyes closed, putting my arm over my eyes, mimicking the pose I took when it had happened, as to only focus on the physical. With this man I was able to look him in the eyes. It was because of this that I made the same mistake another three times in the following months. I fell in love with him and the security he gave me.

13. I have been celibate since sleeping with this man. He had his own problems at the time, and as sad as it is to admit, he never felt the same way for me as I did for him, even when he tried. The saddest part though is that my problems and insecurities even got in the way of our friendship. At one point we were quite close, but I ended up pushing him away with my "crazy", as an acquaintance so delicately put it. We barely speak at all anymore, and that is the part that tears me up the most.

14. I still feel that I am an incredibly sexual person, and strangely enough, I love sex. I have an at times unbearably high sex drive. I am though too scared and guilt-ridden from the experience mentioned above to act on any of it.

15. To get past this I own a vibrator. Though I'd never admit it to anyone, I use it and masturbate to thoughts of being tied up to a table and fucked by two men. It is a fantasy that I have long wanted to play out, but because of my hang-ups, I'll probably never find the courage to do it.

16. One time, whilst unpacking boxes after moving into a new place, my Mum decided to help me out by unpacking one of them, and came across my vibrator in its pink casing. She held it up to me and asked "What's this?", and completely non-chalant I took it out of her hand and replied "It's a hair straightener". We both knew what it was, but have said nothing about it since.

17. Going down on a woman is the hottest thing in the world to me. I am so attracted to the female body it's not funny. Though I am still attracted to the male physique, it is nothing compared to that of a woman. I love the feeling of my mouth on her, anywhere on her, of my fingers inside her, of licking, stroking, blowing, caressing her to orgasm. Fucking a woman with a dildo is another fantasy of mine that I am dying to make happen.

18. I am attracted to men in a completely different way than I am to women. With men I want to be in the position of submission, restricted and "taken", rather than dominating. I love giving head, sometimes more than penetration. To hear him panting, to feel his twitches and reactions to what I'm doing to him, to feel him pulling at my hair and have him coming in my mouth is a massive turn on for me. I often fantasise about blowing a guy and being taken from behind by another guy.

19. I hate the thought of anal and never want to try it. Ever.

20. I realised not too long ago that I have a particular soft spot for "self-destructing" men. As morbid as it is, angry, self-hating sex is the most physically satisfying I've ever had. The only problem is that I have been self-destructing through alcohol for a while now... maybe this is the reason I'm attracted to them?

21. I am almost at the point now that if it came to it, I could tell a partner about my diagnosis and once again become physically intimate. There are days where it still terrifies me, and I have had panic attacks thinking about it, but I am getting better. The physical symptoms aren't what upset me; they are few and far between and are just like having the flu. What makes me so upset is the social stigma that goes along with it. My biggest fear is that I will become close to someone and tell them, only to have them say to me "You disgust me!" or "You are dirty!” I've tried to convince myself that I'm not, and the very close few friends that I've told have too, but most of the time I still don't believe them. I am dirty, and I will never be clean again.

22. I have come a long way in terms of my "body-image". I went through high school being the "fat girl", but after leaving I've lost weight, and developed an appreciation for my body. I love it, and I adore having the breast size I do (I am an Australian 12-G bra size for anyone that wanted to know).

23. It doesn't matter to what sex or gender, but someday I really want to get married, and to find a partner to spend the rest of my life with. I am a hopeless romantic, and though a lot of the people are skeptical about marriage, I still believe in love that can last a lifetime. Relationships need work and a certain amount of openness from both sides to work. Though a romantic, I do not expect everything to be perfect all the time. I am grateful that I've had the parents I have to look up to - because of them I believe that when I do meet the right person I will be able to spend the rest of my life with them.

24. Having said that, I still often think that because of my past and my diagnosis, that I will be too damaged for anyone to ever want. I think sometimes that I will grow up to be a spinster, living alone in an apartment aside from about ten or so cats. I really don't want it to come to that though.

25. I want to get better. I want to be confident enough to not let herpes get in the way of being happy with someone else. If I were one day by some miracle cured of herpes, I would be as promiscuous as I like, and live out all the fantasies I've ever thought of. But as it stands, I am too much of a risk to other people to be so liberal. All I can hope for now is to find someone that loves me enough to not care about my little disease. I fear I'll be looking for a lifetime.