Yep, there it is, the big ol’ S word. I’ve been toying with the idea of this post for a long time and put it off and put it off. But this morning I woke up and decided what the hell, I need to write about it. Sex is one of those things, like money and extended family, that can really get couples in a twist. What I’m learning is that it can be difficult for a person who honestly has few or no sexual hangups (me) to try to adjust desire, responses, verbalizations, etc. to accommodate someone who has had various sexual traumas (G).
See, most people probably think that being a lesbian is all about sex. It’s not. Well, for me it’s not. Sex with men was never a problem for me. As far as the actual sex part, I loved sex with men. As far as just a physical activity, I imagine I still would enjoy sex with a man. I love that little click you can almost hear when the spark of physical attraction ignites, love all that breathless, flirty, giggly stuff. For me, sex with men (even my husbands) was always about power. As someone who grew up feeling anywhere on the spectrum from merely unattractive to downright ugly, the realization that a man would want me in “that way” was a huge ego boost. And I was sexually curious from a fairly young age. I imagine if I had met the wrong people, I could have gone astray pretty early. As it was, I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 18 and then it was a rather planned and calculated event on my part. It wasn’t particularly good (I knew that even then), but I had done it–it was over and I wouldn’t die a virgin…something I was pretty worried about then.
So, I was lucky. My mother told me all about the mechanics of sex when I was only 10. At that time I thought it was gross, of course. Then a little while later I began to be curious. I discovered things about my own body and I liked them. I was blessed with parents who never, ever told me than any part of my body was dirty or unclean or unworthy as far as sexuality went. Being fat was a different story, but I managed to get into adolescence with a fairly good self image. I was also an avid reader and spent a lot of time in the local library reading “forbidden” volumes. Remember that book, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex–But Were Afraid to Ask”? I was at that book every time I got dropped off to do my homework. I learned about French kissing, oral sex, and a lot of other things reading that book. It was a really good thing because I would read about something, then I’d kind of freak out (fellatio!) and then I’d think about it and wonder about it and come to the conclusion that okay, I could try that if I had to. So I was introduced to the IDEA of various sexual things before I was ever confronted with their physical reality. I think that had a huge impact on me. Plus, reading tons of science fiction and trying to keep an open mind (my mother’s mantra about everything) kept me from slamming the door shut on these strange, new, rather scary ideas.
My first husband used that against me, like he used everything about me against me. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to having sex all the time after I got married. Ha! I quickly realized that any kind of enthusiasm on my part, any kind of desire to try something different, immediately got me in trouble. How did I know about such things? Who was I fucking to learn about that? What kind of a slut was I anyway? I discovered early on that the LESS I wanted to have sex, the MORE he wanted to. Guess that tells you a lot about him, right?
Having sex with men was the only time I felt really close to them–that I felt like I could understand them–that they could be vulnerable and open to me. Once we were vertical again, they became complete enigmas to me. I felt both inadequate and superior around them. I could never trust any man enough to really open up and share intimate things about myself. I could share my body but not my heart or my spirit. At the same time, I loved being around women. The strong friendships I made in college carried me through all these tough times. I sought out women to talk to, be around, laugh with. Men were just off in a corner somewhere waiting around for some physical action, but somehow, something inside me just could not ever really think that a man would be able to handle every aspect of me.
But back to sex. I’m a sensualist. I love to touch and be touched. I love the sensation of skin under my fingers, taking my time, learning the curves and contours of another’s body, finding out what spots are just right. I know how to touch in the right way–it’s just a natural thing for me. G, on the other hand, doesn’t. I guess her last partner used to rag on her about being “rough”, so when she tries to be gentle, her touch is so light it feels like a fly crawling across my skin–very ticklish. If there’s one thing I HATE, it’s being tickled. I know she doesn’t do it on purpose, but I have let her know this frequently over 10 years and I keep waiting for it to sink in. The other thing is–I like to start kind of slow. My whole body is an erogenous zone if approached correctly. But don’t jump on me. Don’t just go right for the crotch the minute I get horizontal on the bed. What happened to kissing? Can I just say right here that there is just nothing sexier than lying next to my love and kissing like there’s no tomorrow? OMG, the best. Everything else will flow from that, trust me. It’s so easy. Just kissing. How hard is that? She wants to get in and nuzzle my neck, which could be lovely, but she does it in some weird, offputting way, like she’s trying to dig a hole or something. I hardly have the vocabulary to explain it, but I guess it’s like the difference between reading about music and actually hearing music. Does that make sense? For me, the whole world is sensual/sexual–food, music, art, literature, sex…they’re all beautiful things to be experienced physically. For her, there’s a separation, a disconnect that is only rarely able to be bridged.
I know that her sexual past is tough. I know that she has abuse and neglect and lots of other bad stuff there. And she has done amazing work to come to terms with it, to put it behind her, to not let it affect and inform everything in her life. But the scars are there. There are certain things I cannot say, certain words, phrases, certain acts or scenarios that we will never perform, certain times of day that are better than others. That’s okay. I understand. But some of those things are quite erotic to me. I don’t have the baggage around them. I also don’t have the physical difficulties. Although her spirit is always willing, nerve damage at the base of her spine means that physical sensation in the genital area is sporadic and often the sensation is painful, not pleasurable. That’s so hard. To know that the act that’s supposed to give her the most pleasure actually hurts her is tough. I know it’s not about me. I know that I didn’t cause any of it. But I also never want to add to it by making demands that she can’t…literally CAN’T…fulfill. So, we manage. We talk about it. That’s the one thing we do superbly–we communicate. It’s such a blessing. It makes everything else less important, really. Just the two of us, looking into each other’s eyes, speaking from our hearts. There just is nothing more important or more powerful.
So that’s a little more about a granny’s sex life than you ever wanted to know. Getting older doesn’t keep the stuff from happening, but with luck, your life experience will give you better tools and more patience and understanding. Be kind, be gentle. To yourself and others. You can’t go wrong with that.