Firstly, I just want to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day, whether you have someone to share it with or not, have a happy day. Though you might be spending the day and the night alone, as I am and always have and always will, just remember that it is only 24 hours out of a whole year. Secondly, the point of this post is to share the T-rated version of my virginity story and tell you how it’s affected me in the long term and just to caution people who might read this blog on the day before – I suspect – a lot of girls nationwide and planetwide will wake up with their virginity remembered only as a thing of the past.
Some therapists – ineffective therapists… – I have seen over the past couple of years of my life have put my social anxiety and my depression down to the night I lost my virginity, but they were barking up the wrong tree entirely. It all started a long time before that. That night was just the start of the delusions and panic attacks whenever I even contemplate being intimate with another human being again. I have wondered occasionally after I have had a series of panic attacks if I have some remnant symptoms of PTSD, but that’s unlikely and my life is hard enough without listing PTSD as part of my cocktail of mental disorders. There was a time, however, when I couldn’t even watch even the most basic and non-explicit of sex scenes without shaking…
It has to be said right now and with complete sincerity and with no blame held that my boyfriend at the time was not and is not to blame for anything that happened on that night. If anything, he was the victim and I was the culprit. It was – after all – my body that once again could not do what it naturally should have had the capacity to do. He was just as – if not more so – scared and saddened by the unfortunate turn of events of that night as me. It did spell the end of our relationship for two reasons: I could never contemplate being so vulnerable and hurt during intimacy again and what is a teenage relationship that is sexless? Doomed, that’s what!
I was only in my one and only relationship for a matter of months but this relationship spanned the rites of passage such as leaving school, passing my A-levels, going on my first holiday abroad with my friends. In short, it was supposed to be the time in which I truly became an adult, but just as my luck would have it, it was the time in which I reverted most and lost most of the independence I pride myself on. Stupidly, I had convinced myself that it was my happiest time, but in retrospect, that was childish and the trappings of being in a relationship. Though I was under the misguided delusion that I was truly happy for the first time in my life, I was not. I have something to confess here and now that no one knows about and perhaps will make people truly think I am a foul person, but nevertheless, it needs to be said. I went into the relationship with only one goal, one stupid, selfish, sinful, despicable goal in mind: to lose my virginity before I went to university. What did not occur to me at the time of planning was that not only was I divesting myself of my virginity in an abhorrent manner, but that – unbeknownst to me – I was taking my boyfriend’s virginity in awful circumstances and with terrible motivations and I did not foresee the consequences of my actions: in short, I deserve all that happened to me on that night but I regret so terribly what I inflicted on a man who was my friend and at one point my best friend and someone I respected.
When you lose what little you treasure and respect of yourself, of course, bad things will befall you and it is your lot to take them and accept them as your dues. I have done that. I know that I deserve all the bad things that happen to me in life. Though I have never possessed much self-respect, I lost the minute amount that I ever had in the moment that I decided to act on my plan and I lost everything else including my innocence the moment I knew that plan was going to succeed on that night.
Discussion and reflection aside, I am now going to tell you what actually happened in České Budějovice. At least, my story has a somewhat exotic location… I was in the Czech Republic on holiday with my friends and my boyfriend after Year 13 was over and before we all had to receive our A-level results. It was about midway through the vacation and we both decided to do it having done just about everything else. Everyone knows that your first time is not as romantic and effortless as some films and TV shows make it out to be, but it’s also not supposed to be the polar opposite! Carrie comes to mind…
It was a bloody mess. That is the frank and succinct way to describe the night. It was going quite well, but in the end, I had to bring everything to a halt because it all hurt too much. Naturally, I knew I should expect some discomfort, even severe pain, but nothing and nobody prepared me for the agony that it was. I do blame girls and women of my acquaintance and even society in general for that slightly because there are so few people with whom you can discuss the issue of virginity and what happens when you are going to lose it. You cannot talk to your mother (and certainly not my mother!) about it, it’s hard to talk about it with other members of your family and if your only female best friend had an easy ‘transition’, you’ve got very little to go on…
Once the motions had stopped, I went away and locked myself in the bathroom and was sick for about 10 minutes straight. There was also so much blood. It took me more than half an hour to clean myself up and feel steady enough to leave, in which time he did knock on the door and ask if I was still alive. When I went back out, red-eyed and already dying inside, it was clear that I was not the only one who had been weeping. He thought he had killed me there was so much blood and after a confused and awkward couple of minutes, all we did was cuddle for the rest of the night, though I’m pretty sure neither of us got a restful night’s sleep that night.
That is all the detail I am going to go into – it’s enough, don’t you think? But, the problem with the topic of virginity is that so few people speak about it openly and honestly and if people did that more, I might not hate the thought of relationships for myself and I wouldn’t be looking at a future of single motherhood and be constantly trying to repress my sexuality and become asexual. It was in the weeks before that I could have benefited from a wider circle of female friends and better relationships with the female members of my family. To give you a better picture of what I was like in the aftermath, I direct you to the BBC miniseries The Crimson Petal and the White based on the Michel Faber novel of the same name. The character of Mrs Rackham, played by the talented Amanda Hale, is a mentally ill woman who keeps to her bed after it is implied that her introduction into the conjugal bed was less than gentle and the delivery of her only child was traumatic enough to render her childlike and fragile, was basically how I felt for so long and in some ways, the sexual and adult side of me still feels like Mrs Rackham. I do encourage you to give the miniseries a chance and watch it if you haven’t already done so as a beautifully produced piece of costume drama that was my life for a month or so and really helped to get me back to the land of the sane and living as far as I ever would return to it. I still can’t listen to The Four Seasons’ song “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” without cringing, which is a shame because it’s a really catchy song but its subject is approached from such a male perspective and with that ilk of male flippancy.
I still cannot watch love scenes without recollecting what happened to me and what I did. I know I’ve said too much but it’s something that I should have told a lot of people much sooner. The only people I have told are my closest circle of friends and a girl, who just wanted to lose her virginity in a nightclub in an against-the-wall arrangement with a stranger, and I wanted to stop her from making the same mistake I did of treating my virginity callously and underestimating its power over me and my life. I would not wish my existence on my worst enemy and though I have acted selfishly in the past, I do everything in my power now to help people and stop them from making the same mistakes I have made.
Trust me, I know how self-aggrandising that sounds but I do care, probably too much, about others to watch and let them suffer as I have and do. Since I enjoy myself and take pleasure from life vicariously primarily by watching others both in reality and onscreen and by letting characters live in my head and revel in life through the vessel that is my body and mind, I have to care so deeply about what other people do and think and feel. I just wish others did the same enough to speak more openly so that other people might learn from their mistakes and avoid such unnecessary and excruciating pain and suffering.
I apologise if this post has offended you or made you wary of what you do tonight but I hope it helps just one person somewhere and if it does, it’s worth it.