Bonus guest blog today! Sarah Beilfuss is one of the co-founders of Scarlet Ladies Talk, running regular events aimed at normalising the conversation around female sexuality. Last month other co-founder Jannette wrote a gorgeous post about learning to love her breasts, and this guest post tells a similar personal story about learning to enjoy your body and your sexuality. It’s awesome.
This blog is part of a sponsored series by Scarlet Ladies Talk, so if you like it please go and check out their website and sign up for their newsletter. They run loads of really cool events, the next one of which, on 29th July, includes live sensual massage. They’ve also just launched a free ebook – the Scarlet Ladies Guide To Solo Sex, which collates tips from experts on different masturbation techniques. Or, as the Scarlet Ladies put it, “how to wank yourself into heaven.”
Meanwhile, enjoy this gorgeous guest blog.
Owning her sexuality
For as long as I can remember, I have had a difficult relationship with my body and my sexuality. While all my friends had boyfriends or would get drunk at parties and end up snogging anyone who was up for it, I avoided boys. Don’t get me wrong, I always liked boys. Mmm… they smell so good. I, too, would get drunk at parties. But instead of snogging, I was sniffing the teenage boys that were doused in more aftershave than necessary. As I am writing this, I suppose I would not be surprised if you thought of me as a bit of a creepy teenager. I guess it was a bit creepy.
If any of the boys actually took an interest in me, if I had the opportunity for a snogging session, I’d run for the hills. Usually giggling profusely – partly because I thought he was joking and partly because I was embarrassed and at a loss. I didn’t know what to do. So I “escaped”.
From a very young age (we are talking pre-school here) there have been adult men taking an interest in me. An interest that I always knew was wrong – it made me uncomfortable and made me feel unsafe. And while I did not yet understand that their interest was of a sexual nature, I still quickly understood that somehow my sexuality was something to be ashamed of. Something that wasn’t really mine. I had no control over it and it could be taken from me at any time. So I disconnected that part of myself from me completely, then locked it away and guarded it like the treasure that mean men would want to steal from me.
But here is the thing, if you hide part of yourself away, you live your life like a hermit crab. Sheltered, sure. But never really fully out there. And it translated in all areas of my life. I did not speak up for myself when friends took advantage of me because, well, I was too busy hiding away in my shell. I did not speak up for myself when I was mistreated at work. I was very good at fighting other people’s battles. That I could do from within my shell. Imagine that kid behind the sofa shouting at you if you try to touch their toys. That was me. But anyone approached me and I’d be ducking behind the sofa again (figuratively speaking).
When I finally got sexually active at 19, it was with my best friend. I still felt like I had to just close my eyes and bear it, but with him it wasn’t so bad. I shared everything with him already anyways, so why not let him have a little piece of my hidden treasure? And once that first time with him was out of the way, it was easier for me to go back to that place. That place where I am a sexual person. Not myself: a sexual person who was different from myself. I was playing a role. Adopting an alter ego just for that moment. Like putting on a suit that I would hang away again as soon as the business was done. The shame about it was that I really liked sex. Really liked it.
I got married young at 21 and it was pretty much the same story with the man I married. When the marriage broke down 7 years later I told our marriage counsellor that I did not want a divorce because then I could never have sex again. Ooh, where did that come from? You see all this time I had not been aware of just how much of an issue I had with my sexuality until that little sentence just popped out of my mouth.
And the counsellor suggested the best thing I heard in my life: just get on with it. She wanted me to masturbate, get a toy and sleep around a bit. I didn’t get on to the toys, but I did experiment with some casual sex. And it was incredible. At one stage I was seeing four guys simultaneously which meant I could pick and choose whom I fancied tonight. Awesome! I was putting myself out there. I did not want a relationship with these guys and basically didn’t give a shit what they thought about me. When I met them it was not about how to please them. It was all about me. I was fully in charge. In fact, the more I put myself out there, the more I said “I want this, I don’t want that” and “I want you here, naked, in half an hour”, the more in charge I felt.
But here comes the best bit: during that time not only did I feel in charge of that treasure that I was now wearing proudly around my neck rather than hiding in my shell, but in charge of everything else in my life, too. I was a better, stronger and happier version of myself. My confidence shot up, I started doing the things I had been wanting to do for a long time, like starting horse riding again, cycling to work, starting to run, all the things that I had been scared to start doing. At work I did not take shit from anybody and my circle of friends changed to those people who actually appreciated me. I made a childhood dream come true and learned how to dance salsa and started to go to parties all over London on my own, tearing up the dance floor. Then I started travelling Europe, going from one dance festival to another. It was incredible. And I truly believe it is because I started to allow myself to be sexual.
You see, you cannot guard one aspect of yourself and not be guarded. And when you are, it translates into other areas of your life. Our sexuality is where we hold the most power and our very essence: once we own that, anything is possible.
Massive thanks to Sarah Beilfuss for such a cool, motivating guest blog to start a Monday! This post is part of a sponsored series that Scarlet Ladies Talk are running on my blog. If you enjoyed it, and you want to join in the discussion around sex: