The last unit in my childhood development class was on sexuality and puberty. It has been bringing up a lot of unresolved issues for me from that time period and this post is going to be used to process them. It is definitely going to be an instance of To Much Information so you should stop reading now.
Yeah, I didn't think you would stop.
Anyway, it may come as a surprise that I was much more socially conservative as a youngin than I am now. I think a lot of it had to do with my peer group, being of the more nerdy side of things. (BTW, I find it hysterical that my spell checker accepts nerdy as a proper word). As most (all) people I had all sorts of confusing thoughts and self-esteem issues in my early teens. Questions of identity and self-confidence problems. I don't recall really having any lady friends, not close ones anyway, until my late teens.
Discovering my Dads various videos and magazines as well as late night TV was how I dealt with the feelings of lust and such during those times. Ogling members of the opposite sex at school was also a common past time. One girl in particular, whom later became my first and longest relationship, I had a strong attraction to. My parents, particularly my mom, described puberty by going through a popular book aimed at children about to deal with these issues (can't remember the name of it right now) so I knew what was going on physically. Mom even strategically placed pamphlets here and there to be found and read that helped as well. I remember one in particular about negative self-talk that helped my awareness.
It wasn't until, I think, the summer between my sophomore and junior years at school that I started to date. The first girl I asked out turned out to be the longest relationship of my life (very very long) and had the most ramifications for both of us. As I mentioned earlier, I was insanely attracted to her. The roles were somewhat reversed, however. She had more experience dating and with sex than I did so I followed her lead in a lot of things. She initiated the first kiss, for example, on the way home from a trip to the Renaissance Faire in a van with my brother and step-sisters. I couldn't stop laughing. Something I'll never forget.
Not to dive too deep into her issues but something is relevant here. Due to things that happened to her she didn't feel sex was that special or really meant that much. Me, on the other hand, having these nice socially conservative views from god knows where didn't want to have sex until I was married. Go ahead, laugh it up. It was the dark ages of my life from a perspective point-of-view. Anyway, I kept declining her advances. We did a lot of stuff but stayed away from full on intercourse for over a year. My biggest concern was that I would change after wards and I wasn't sure I wanted to. I knew she had more experience than I did but I don't remember being all that jealous of it up to that point. It wasn't that big of a factor since we were in love.
So eventually I gave in and we decided to have sex on a New Year's eve, I guess in my Junior year assuming my memories of the time line are right. We did, it was great, and we proceeded to be a sexual couple from then on in. I was right, though. It did change me. And not all in awesome ways.
Because she had been taken advantage of so much in her past I didn't want to be 'that guy' so I never pushed for anything. It would always be from her lead. This led to problems later in our relationship and still makes it hard for me to be that initiator that our society generally looks for in intimate relationships. I just never learned it any other way. Once again, self-confidence thing.
We were on and off for something like 15 years. The first break up was the worst because I didn't see it coming at felt extremely betrayed. That is an entirely different story but I never was able to get the trust and intimacy back I had that first time around. Jealousy became a HUGE issue for me, and rightfully so in some cases. In subsequent relationships it hasn't been an issue, thankfully. But I have grown A LOT from those years and have a much greater perspective than I did then.
Here is the thing that drives me nuts though. I'm reading the book and it goes on about how different family of origin issues can predict all kinds of things. And I keep making comparisons back to what I know about her family of origin problems and how it affected her sexuality and how those issues, in turn, had an affect in my development and then it just pissed me off. While there were a lot of good things about that relationship I feel that I did myself a great disservice by robbing myself of the experiences I could use now as I re-enter the dating pool. While most of my friends were getting experience with dating and developing those skills and confidences, I distinctly remember being glad it wasn't something I needed to worry about because I already took care of it. At the time it was a relief but it also played into what turned out to be the co-dependent nature of our relationship that made it so disastrous for us both. And now I'm fucked, to put it bluntly. I feel like I'm going through things now that I should have gone through in my late-teens, early 20s and it frustrates me to no end.
The other thing is that has to do with the true self versus familiar self that I talked about in previous posts. That relationship is the familiar self for me. For better or for worse it is my frame of reference. When I'm having a dip in self-confidence I begin to worry that I may never find certain unhealthy aspects of that relationship that I miss and crave but are not of the true me. It helps to remember that that is just familiar self stuff and bring it back into perspective and I usually can slide right by it now. So that is a good thing for sure.
Ultimately, however, a real, loving, intimate relationship is what closes the door on that old familiar self. If only I knew how to do that.