Collateral Damage

I was 16 when I lost my virginity. Confused but horny, I wasn’t forced to undress and lay down but I kept shaking my head, uncertain if I wanted it. I tried to slide up, push him off, roll over, to no avail. As I moaned in pain, as he thought he was bringing me to euphoria, I escaped and started thinking about what brought me joy. The Tyra Banks Show, movies, baking, talking on the phone late at night, playing games on my new cell phone.

His mom arrived home from the grocery store shortly after we untangled ourselves off his mattress in the living room, hastily dressed and opened the windows. The whole lead up (I can’t even call it foreplay), the fumbling and penetration, the disassociation and finish all lasted about 15 minutes but it felt like hours. His mom walked in the living room and stared at me a beat too long. She must know.

More than anything, I felt guilty. Guilty that we were doing the do in her living room, guilty that I hadn’t explicitly said no, horrified that it continued as I lay there motionless. Guilty I didn’t know if it was an attack or not, but the thought that I had been violated and that he now possessed a part of me (my virginity) consumed me. More than anything, disoriented that I didn’t feel comfortable asking my mom what this all meant.

I questioned a friend at school that Monday, giving her the lackluster high five she insisted on. I had completed some sort of social right of passage, and I wanted to take the ritual back. When asking if him continuing despite me shaking my head and trying to roll away constituted consent, she whispered with authority,

“All guys our age act like that.”

“But is it ok? Like, does it count if I only kinda wanted to?”

“But you liked it right? You said it wasn’t all bad. Trust me, all guys act like that but then they practice and it starts to feel better.”

That was that. I still felt some pleasure, still desired part of what happened and undressed myself, albeit not out of anticipation but compliance. Renigging apparently wasn’t a thing.

Besides, all my sexually experienced friends in high school who had been body rockin’ knockin’ da boots a la H-town since they were 13, must know more about these things than I did. I thought their 3 year head start made them the professors of all things fucking. And they proclaimed I really wanted it because I still did it, rolled their eyes and huffed that I was

“16 already. You’re horny and wanna do it. Don’t feel bad. At least someone wants to do it witchu, so you know you can make him feel good and he makes you feel good.”

For years after that, as I blankly accepted any sexual act he wanted performed, I swallowed the guilt along with his cum. Still furious at myself that I wasn’t “strong enough” to give a harder NO. STOP.

Buried inside me was the thought that I was collateral damage as he navigated puberty and maturity, that my discomfort didn’t matter because I wasn’t absolute in that emotion.

After we broke up for the last time my junior year of college, I revisited what my old high school friends had said. You know you can make him feel good. That sounded like power to me, and I wanted to feel powerful in my intentions and actions. Guilt be damned, I wanted to be in control.

It wasn’t until 2017 after a summer romp, after I told the man who had been casually insisting on a threesome hell no, that I paused long enough to intrinsically analyze what I wanted. And I was drawing blanks.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but knew that I wanted to experience whole hearted intent behind my actions, an unequivocal fuck yes I wanna fuck you. I decided to be celibate to relearn myself, to listen to those whispers in the wind about who I was outside of a man. I mentally hugged 16 year old me; I’ll be damned if we end up collateral damage again.

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