This won't take long, but I hope it says much.
Last month one of my sons--I have four now!--was struggling with self-loathing. As we drove home from his friend's house, where they had been working on a project, he harrumphed, "Well, we didn't get much done. She just wanted to make out." I wanted to giggle, but I could see pain and fury on his face, so I encourage him to tell me more.
"I don't want to be like this, mom," he admitted, looking out at the headlights of passing cars on the highway, avoiding the ones that are my eyes. "I want to work hard, get on the right path for my future, feel successful with work and school. But then I can't help but be slutty, and these girls are beautiful. I just want to be respectful, but then I just want one night stands too."
I urged him to take it easy on himself. "Everyone your age--boys and girls--are struggling with sexuality. The hormones, the emotions, the rights and wrongs--it's a time of maturing and discovering, hun. As long as you always respect your lover's privacy, and as long as you always listen when they say no, you're doing all right."
My intense and troubled son was silent for a moment. And then he said, "Sometimes, though, it's really hard to stop. Sometimes, I want to try and get her to change her mind when she says no. That's why I try to not even start making out in the first place. That's why I don't like myself sometimes."
Suddenly, and with painful clarity, I remembered you.
We were in my basement fooling around. You were the same age my son is now, and I was about a year younger. Things got heavy, and you suggested we stop.
I begged that we keep going.
You pointed out that we had no condoms, and that one of my four brothers might wake up and come looking for me.
I told you to stop worrying. The truth is, at that point I was scared of stopping.
You and I had been dating a while, and we'd had sex before, so I couldn't understand why you'd want to stop. Was it because I'm not good at sex? Did you find me gross? In my limited experience at the time boys don't say no to sex, even when they don't have condoms or if someone might walk in, so why were you?
Suddenly I was desperate for you to say yes. My self-worth, my sexiness, and my womanliness felt on the line.
While you were being respectful of our bodies, speaking softly and kindly knowing about the molestation of my past, and caring about my family, I was inwardly falling down a rabbit hole of fear. And that made me almost angry at you for your kindness. So I chose to be controlling, having seen men who like women to take control in movies it felt sexy, and I told you that you had to keep going. You tried to back away, but I pretended it was part of the game. And then you gave up.
You didn't enjoy it, I'm guessing. Lord knows I didn't enjoy it, but I put on a good act if I remember correctly.
We weren't in my basement for long that day, but it said much.