I Fear Intimacy

A while ago, I wrote a post about how I was scared of losing my virginity. That post has been on my mind a lot recently, simply because the fear I’ve described has increased so much and it’s only now, after a recent experience, that I’ve started to delve into the reasons why.

In this post, I’m going to be talking about some topics that could make people uncomfortable; if you aren’t comfortable with reading about fear of “physical things”, you shouldn’t have to read this post. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this all and I’m still not there yet but bare with me. Maybe, if I’m a little more open on this blog, I’ll properly start to process this. If you relate to this, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

I’m neither the type of person who talks about this a lot, nor the type of person who never talks about it. I fall somewhere in the middle, only talking about it in terms of what I call The Fear or letting people know things that have happened; I never feel quite comfortable with talking about this to people who haven’t directly seen me being afraid because it’s difficult to explain. I contradict myself and that’s part of the issue.

What overshadows pretty much all my thoughts on “intimacy” (that word makes me cringe URGH) is experiences of the past. They’re not bad (the opposite, from what I can remember because it’s kind of painful to re-think them) but they happened and the fallout, or the effects that people have had on me, have caused what I can only describe as those memories to “warp”. Without going into graphic detail or sounding like I’m involved in a science fiction novel, I find it impossible some days to think of certain people, certain dates, certain events or even the topic of sex without getting worried, upset and paranoid at myself. I’ve never had a bad experience, no traumatic experiences or events, but I have a habit of holding onto memories to help me get through. Some of them are of specific people – and when those specific people make me unhappy, or something changes, I can’t think about it any more without feeling wrong or guilty, so those memories go into the “Don’t think about it” box I talk about in this post. I think because I’ve been unable to let myself process them, I’ve become scared of the memories and scared of intimacy in general. Whoohoo, my mind is glorious sometimes.

On the subject of processing things, I have a lot of trouble sometimes registering things when they actually happen. In a recent situation, it took about 10 minutes for me to understand that even the smallest thing had happened and I was getting panicked, just because it didn’t feel wrong. With other memories, I’ve lived in the moment as much as possible and then got confused afterwards and second-guessed myself; a long time ago, when I was prone to being a bit of a dick with my emotions, I only realised that I was desperately unhappy when it was blatantly pointed out to me. This has made me always worry that next time I even kiss someone, next time I want to be involved with someone, I’ll take it for granted and not understand the significance of it until it’s over: I either don’t live in the moment at all or live in it too much that I forget it when it’s over. I’m extremely scared that I won’t approach situations in a good way and that I’ll accidentally screw people over because of my inability to trust my own emotions or responses. (Also, just a side note, I half-love and half-hate how I’m being so vague about all of this shit).

Above all recently, trusting people has been so tricky: back in May last year, when I wrote that post about virginity, I had a lot of “trust issues” which have still remained and have actually got worse. Before anything happens, I worry that I’ll just be replaced; afterwards, if and when I am replaced, I take it too personally; my trust got absolutely trampled on by a herd/gaggle of elephants last year to the point where I would think about sex, or even kissing someone, and would nearly cry and so I’d repress it all. Not a healthy way to be but I did it, partly because I didn’t see any other way and also because to me at that time, I believed everyone would lie to me and let me trust them before throwing that trust so hard into the sea that it sank to the bottom of the ocean. (Crap, did I come across as too bitter then?).

Okay, this one’s kind of awkward for me but I’m going to go for it anyway. I have a persistent fear of losing control, whether that’s control physically or emotionally. The former makes me uncomfortable and I’m still trying to figure that one out but the latter is relatively simple: I’m terrified of getting feelings, of trusting people that I shouldn’t, and of repeating everything I’ve done before. Separating the physical from the emotional has done irreparable – at least for now – damage to the way I respond to emotions which means that I’ve had to be overly self-controlled, on top of my already existing fear of being vulnerable. People who have tried to help me with the former “problem” have made the latter problem come to the surface without knowing but it’s still there and so if I’d ever want to get involved with someone, they’d have to understand that despite me sometimes rushing into things, I SHOULD NOT DO THAT because it makes me panic and afraid.

The last thing, and possibly the one that boils more towards the surface and that isn’t repressed is that I’m wildly insecure about my body. This has been a recurring theme on a few posts, casually mentioned sometimes but it’s very real and gets in the way of me feeling wholly comfortable. I don’t do enough exercise and so I think I look drab and boring; I’m very small, utterly unremarkable in my own eyes; I dislike my skin; I just don’t think I’m appealing whatsoever. I know this is something that can be worked through and is about self-esteem and self-confidence, the willingness to try, but I get this incredulity whenever I think that anyone would be remotely interested in me. Yes, it’s damaging and yes, I can solve it easier than the rest but the insecurities have been around for just about as long as I’ve been criticising myself.

All of this stops me – not from getting close to people, because I do that far too often for my liking but from me utterly engaging or feeling happy with everything. I feel like people will get sick of me talking about it but it’s good to talk about and to open up. Whenever I get paranoid that this will always remain, I shut down and don’t think or talk about it because I never take people’s advice and I end up despising myself and becoming absolutely furious. If I could learn, inside my own mind, that shit was okay and that my own self isn’t something to be hated or desperately frightened of, that losing control won’t destroy me, that the people worth trusting are the ones that don’t get tired of you or who are only interested in you for one thing only – the Fear might get a little better.

As you can see, all of these reasons tie into each other; I can’t address one without another one cropping up somewhere. I think I need to find someone I truly trust to help me through those issues but I don’t know how to go about doing that without looking stupid, crying, sounding pathetic or doing all of those. The one person I do consistently trust to talk about this with has helped reassure me but the Fear is increasing. I know this can be considered “normal” but the entire thing worries me, considering that I always seem to wait for things to go wrong.

Whereas before, in the post I linked at the top of this one I thought it was all about my lack of ability to trust people, really it’s a lot more complicated than that. For me, it wouldn’t just be fair to say that I hate losing control or that it’s only past experiences that have made me like this because one affects the other hugely. To get through it, I might need to be more trusting or need to help myself get over my fear of helplessness and you could say that this could be done with the help of someone else but I don’t know if I trust anyone right now. Trusting in myself is the most difficult thing of all.

This has been such a cathartic post, where I’ve let out some emotions and confusion. I’m still figuring it out and this is so disjointed because because I’m unclear as to what I feel, how to solve it or where it all came from. This is an introduction – or rather a re-introduction – into me being more free with my thoughts.

The post that inspired me to write all this, that made me think a lot about my own feelings, was written by Kirithika and it’s one of the best ways to talk about it – casually and reassuringly. You should seriously go and read it!

This post isn’t to tell you how to get over the fear because as you’ve read, I haven’t yet. I don’t have any tips, any advice – just my own personal experiences and worries. If I tried to tell you how to help yourself, I would be a hypocrite. I just hope that, at least, anyone who has gone through a similar thing can feel comforted that they aren’t alone here.

One day, my fear will diminish and I won’t simultaneously want to get close to someone whilst also wanting to shy away and explain, numerous times, why I’m afraid. My mind is complicated but at least I have an outlet for it.

From Elm 🙂

I’m Scared Of Losing My Virginity

In the traditional sense of the word, I am a virgin.

I’m not ashamed to say it; I don’t want to hide the fact and I’m perfectly willing to be open about it. You may wonder why I would write a post on this topic if the fact of it doesn’t bother me so much. It’s simple: I’m scared of the idea of “losing” it.

I’ve spoken about sex with my friends before: S recently because he’s listened to my ramblings about the subject, Robin on holiday and at Christmas (she’s been my main source of information and I love her for it), Rapunzel, Wren and Red but there are few people who have heard me plainly say that the thought of having sex for the first time, of losing my virginity if you will, scares the living shit out of me. With friends and with advice, I’ll be as open as I like and I’m not afraid to talk about that kind of thing but the reality is, I have no clue what I’m doing. It’s time I truly admit to myself that I’m nervous of it and that it’s okay to be.

Searching for articles online, watching videos from Youtube and talking to people about my worries has helped me to figure it out but it still doesn’t make sense. I don’t really care about the pain: it doesn’t necessarily have to hurt. I’m only mildly paranoid about pregnancy because I’m aware of birth control – have a look at this if you’re unsure. With the practicalities, I’m not too fussed: you can get good advice with that and also, I know that it – of course – won’t be perfect the first time. Nothing ever is, usually, and that’s okay.

However, the absolute terror comes from my emotions. Or rather, the messed-up confusion that they’ve become. I don’t understand it: what I want, what I’d be comfortable with and who I’d be comfortable doing things with but I’ll have a go at explaining it. I’m so glad I have this platform to express this kind of thing.

Recently or maybe since October, I haven’t trusted anyone really with the idea of physical intimacy. Even now, when I’m over the situations that have happened to me, I have a wariness I can’t shake. Whether I’m in a relationship or not, I feel like to “lose” my virginity, I’d have to trust the person a lot. That trust would be in the sense of being fine around them if something went “wrong”, being able to tell them I didn’t want to do something or trusting them enough that they wouldn’t tell people what happened if I didn’t want them to. They would also have to know me quite well because I have a few personality traits, like paranoia over very very small things, that they’d have to understand to get why I might be scared. With this kind of thing – that goes for physical and emotional relationships – it’s so important to communicate well with the person or people you’re involved with. If they don’t know how you feel, then you could wind up being scared of something and not being able to tell them or they wouldn’t understand.

To gain that trust would take a while for me; I’d be too nervous and would question everything they thought of me because I’m that sort of person. Just to say: if you find that you don’t have to trust the person then that’s completely fine: everyone has their own expectations and thoughts about sex or not having sex. Personally, the idea of letting someone in enough for me to feel comfortable in my body around me makes me scared simply because when I become capable of that, I won’t be able to rush into things which may prolong the nerves. Previously, I rushed into things a lot so I’m almost “used” to that feeling but I need to remember that not everything is about getting Experiences; sometimes, you have to take a step back to examine and figure out your feelings before you do anything.

As of yet, I haven’t been treated like a child for being a virgin except by one person and they don’t count because they treated me like a child in a lot of respects. I’m not necessarily worried about what age I “lose” it: I’m 17 now and as much as some days I’d like to have that experience now so I know what it’s like, building up that trust first is important because if I didn’t, I would feel sick with myself afterwards and I never ever want to feel like that again. I know I would be safe; it’s not about that: it’s about how I may react after.

Often, I call myself “prickly” or “worried” as a general rule. I’m able to get close to people but unlike before, it doesn’t come easily and I don’t always trust that they would actually be there for me. In terms of virginity, leading up to it or after, I have a feeling that I may then block everything out out of fear. This is why I need to have that trust so that if that happens, the person – whatever gender they happen to be – will understand.

Basically, it’s all about trust. I’m scared of myself, of people’s reactions and of that trust disappearing. I don’t know if I would be able to tell one singular person everything that has happened for fear of being judged but I suppose people don’t need to know everything because no one does currently apart from, I think, myself. I know that I will find that person but it’ll take time, time I don’t know how to invest properly.

Whenever I think about the act itself, I get really nervous because of this. I laugh when anyone suggests it because I find it hilarious but beneath that, there’s a lingering terror that it’ll never happen or when it does, I’ll feel wrong or I’ll do something stupid. I suppose, though, that it won’t go perfectly right but that just means that I have something to compare other experiences to. It’s okay for things not to go perfectly. I need to remember that.

How do you feel about losing your virginity if you haven’t, or how did you feel when you lost it? I’m not asking you to comment if you’re not comfortable because this can be a very Personal topic to some people. Just think about it and if you ever need to talk about anything, like your fears and worries, you can email me. I may not be able to necessarily help but I’ll always listen and do my best to give you advice.

Don’t be worried about talking about this. Originally I was scared of posting this because I thought it’d be too mature but for those interested in having sex, this can be an important topic and for those not, it can be interesting to read about. If you want to lose it then that’s fine; if you don’t, it’s also fine. What you feel is personal to you because it’s your and no one should control it, or your emotions, but you.

From Elm 🙂

I Refuse to Be Embarrassed When Talking about Sexual Things

Ooh, yes, I DID just write that title. And why? Because why the fuck not?

I’ve learnt everything about sex, my body in TERMS of it and about other people from the Internet. Sex education in my school was terrible; the last teacher I had for PSE was the only one that told us useful things. The rest of the teachers said, “Don’t get an STI, this is how you put a condom on, bye!” Nothing about how to deal with feelings, physical intimacy, or that pressure to do things does exist.

So, I decided to find out about it by myself, before the last teacher came along and told us that we shouldn’t have to do anything we didn’t want to do, and that saying no was okay. I used youtube, older people I knew, but I could never ever ask my parents for fear of embarrassment.

Even now, I’m telling myself that making this post is stupid. That NO ONE will want to read it, because it’s been somewhat drilled into me that talking about sex should be done in a whisper. Bullshit.

You might be wondering what the aim of this post is? It’s to show you that asking advice from people is totally fine, and that you should. You’ve heard it before, I know, but I want to discuss my experiences of talking to people. If you want me to, at some other time, I’ll continue the discussion with other topics (you can even email me to ask me to cover something).

At the moment, I’m 16. Up until a year ago, I was basically told, “DON’t HAVE SEX!” which made me worry. When I THOUGHT I was ready, I was told I wasn’t. I want to tell you that there is nothing wrong with doing anything you want to do, and that people who discourage you should think: is that them worrying for you, or just pushing what they think onto you?

I’ve been in 4 “relationships” – two of them official, and the other two very small things. Well, the thing with Jasmine wasn’t so small, except for the length of time (about three weeks in total).

With all but one, I’ve discussed sex. Physical intimacy. And with every single one, there’s been a recurring theme: “Don’t do ANYTHING you’re not comfortable with, okay?” from both sides.

I won’t talk about the specifics of each, not because I don’t want to, but rather because I literally can’t. At least one of them reads this, one doesn’t know and I doubt the other two would be okay with me saying exactly what went on.

Setting boundaries is so important. All of the people I’ve ever done anything with were respectful, and we never forced each other to do anything. I had a couple of instances of fear where I thought I’d overstepped, done something they didn’t want, which caused me to get so paranoid. After talking it through with them, they assured me that it WAS okay, and that they didn’t feel rushed. In the situation with Jasmine, where she was worried that I was getting too nervous, I told her I was okay: communication is something that’s pretty much essential, if you want to feel comfortable.

I wouldn’t say I’m experienced, but I’ve had physical experiences with both guys and girls. I remember feeling, one time, like I was trapped: I enjoyed it at the time, but afterwards, I felt so sick and worried there was something wrong with me. It took me a while to realise that it was okay NOT to be attracted to someone, but that I should never force myself to do anything just because I think it’ll make me more attracted to them. If I’d have talked it out, without being embarrassed, not as much fear would have been in my mind.

The most valuable source of knowledge came from my friends. Robin, especially, has given me so much advice. After I became comfortable with asking her, we sat in the bar in Italy this summer and just chatted about sex, what to expect, how to handle certain situations and the most important thing: things might be awkward sometimes, and you won’t know what to do, but you have time to work it out. I didn’t feel very embarrassed, and the questions eventually came to me easily.

I’ve talked to my other friends too, but not as much. Jasmine always made me feel very inexperienced and a bit stupid, but people like Wren – who understand my fears – I can talk to. There aren’t many people, besides those on youtube and the Internet in general, that I can ask about non-straight sex, so for all of that, I had to wing it. Oh NO, that makes me sound like I’ve done more than I have!

Again, I’m not exactly a bloody Guru on this. I’m still learning, and I will make mistakes with who I trust and who I get physically involved with. Even so, there are some things you should remember:

• If you feel awkward talking to your family, talk to your friends about this
• Don’t think you’re too young to ask questions – it’s better to know now, rather than get anxious later that you know nothing
• Asking about sex doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to do it right then; only do physical things when you feel comfortable
• If you’ve never felt sexual attraction, there is nothing wrong with you
• If you feel attraction to a lot of people, there’s nothing wrong with you either; don’t be afraid to explore that, as long as you’re safe
• If you don’t rush it, and you’re ready to deal with any consequences, then go for it. Don’t let anyone else judge you

I don’t want you to be in a situation where you can’t speak up. If you have questions, if you have CONCERNS or if you’re just worried that you’ll be too embarrassed to do physical things with your partner, find someone to talk to. Whether that be friends, family or someone online, don’t think you’re too immature or that you’re wrong for asking for help. Sex can be shitting scary, and also if you think you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, it can stop make you even more terrified.

Some people are genuinely very uncomfortable talking about it, and that’s okay too. Either because of a bad experience they’ve had, or just because they don’t want to – don’t pressure anybody to talk, or NOT talk, if they don’t want to.

Z you know, I’m always here if you just want someone to chat to. Maybe you didn’t get anything out of this post, but even so, if you find yourself being curious about anything and you’re too afraid to ask anyone else, I’m here. Not that I’m some high-up agony aunt, but I’ll do my best.

Drop me an email if you need to. I hope you didn’t find this post too forward; I want to be as open as possible with you, to show you it’s okay.

From Elm 🙂

We SHOULD Talk about It

I was inspired to do this post by Alex and her amazing post – if you haven’t read it, you really should. I was also inspired partly by a favourite author of mine, Louise O’neill, who often talks about consent and topics such as that.

In this post, I’ll be talking about sex. Consent. Choice. All of that – so, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t read it – though give it a go, because we should talk about this more. I really hope this doesn’t make me sound So pretentious, but here goes.

Unless you’re asexual, at some point in your life, it’s likely you’re going to want to “do things” with someone you’re romantically interested in – whatever gender that may be. If it’s NOW, you shouldn’t be ashamed, or feel like you’re too young to experience this kind of thing. At the end of the day, it’s your body. They’re your thoughts, your choice, and if you’re sensible, go for it. Just ask yourself if you’re sure. THAT’s important.

My mother would say the exact opposite. She tried to talk to me about this, a few months ago, and I listened to what she had to say and then said I knew most of it already from the internet, my friends, or from things my sister told me long before the idea of even mentioning the subject came into my mum’s head. You learn things, whether you want to or not, about people and their bodies and about sex and how it works.

You might be asking, “WHY are you talking about this? You’re not my parent. GOD just stop, you’re WAY too immature for this.” If I was, I’d be quite worried. But honestly? Someone needs to talk about this. The majority of you reading this are teenagers, and teenagers are curious. You’ll probably have got a talk from your parents, or the school (actually let’s face it, sex education in schools only tells you, “DON’T HAVE SEX EVER USE PROTECTION (which you should do) BE CAREFUL OKAY”).

If you DON’T feel comfortable doing something, with anyone, DON’T DO IT. If you’re unsure, or horrifically nervous, WAIT until you feel more sure about what you’re doing. You shouldn’t be stuck in a situation where you feel pressured – by pressure, I partly mean someone asking you over and over to do something – “C’mon, just send me ONE picture; it won’t do any harm!” Or, “Oh, it’s just ONE little thing – you’ve done all these things with me before – don’t you trust me?”

I also mean the unobvious pressure; the pressure from yourself. You might tell yourself that you’re nervous, that you’re going to do it wrong but that you trust the person – or you might be thinking, “SHITSHITSHIT they won’t like me any more if I don’t, I NEED to.” If the person’s decent, they’ll understand you don’t want to send that picture, or have sex with them – to be frank. It’s OKAY to not want to do things, but it’s also okay to do things: IT’s YOUR CHOICE, as long as you’re ready.

It seems quite surreal, me writing this post and talking about such “mature” things, but I think this post is overdue. Not everyone feels comfortable with talking about this – in fact, a lot of people don’t – but TALK. Ask questions, maybe to your friends or whoever you feel you can say the word “sex” to without cringing or screaming in embarrassment.

Another thing is that other people will act differently to you. Some people wait until marriage to have sex because of their religion or beliefs; others don’t see losing virginity as important. Some people are completely confident talking about their bodies; others feel self-conscious and upset. Remember that what people choose to do is their own choice, and though you may act differently, don’t shame someone for having had sex with their partner relatively soon into a relationship – for all you know, they could trust each other completely. As well as this, don’t shame someone for not doing ANYTHING physical with their partner – they might not want to, or their relationship isn’t about the physical aspect.

Recently, I’ve felt much more comfortable talking to people about topics like this, and I can set boundaries about what I am and am NOT okay with doing at the moment, but that’s just because I’ve been more comfortable talking to my friends about it too, so it’s made me feel less awkward bringing the subject up in other places. But that’s just me: you might be completely different.

Should I talk about this more often – about “controversial” topics – or was this WAY too mature? What do you think about the whole topic – whatever age you are? 13, 16, 19 – really, it’s okay to talk, because it’s better to know than to just jump in at the deep end and think “SHIT, what am I doing?!”

Remember: if you ever feel uncomfortable, stop. If something’s wrong – if you feel like the person who you’re with is pressuring you, even unknowingly, STOP. Consent is important, because it’s your body.

From Elm 🙂