Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Eve's Agony

Reaching out
To touch a stranger
Electric eyes are everywhere
See that girl
She knows I'm watching
She likes the way I stare
If they say -Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
If they say -Why, why, tell em that is human nature
Why, why, does he do me that way
I like livin this way
I like lovin this way -
Human Nature

I wrote this blog a while ago and as with so many other things I write, I opted not to post it. But it's one those pieces that stayed with me; there is a psychological importance to what I talk about here. Certainly to me and possibly to somebody else who grew up the way that I did, whose sexuality was forged in that terrible crucible of fundamental Christianity. I dare say not everyone grew up to be quite as fucked up a personality as me. I hope not. I heard Human Nature on the radio today, and I thought, "This is my nature." Maybe nobody cares about that or maybe they do. Either way, with my writing I seek to honor those things in me that twist and gnaw and hurt. I want to present myself not the way I wish I were, but as I actually am. That being said, here is me in all my despicable and strange glory. Do with that what you will.

"Here's your coffee, ma'am". She takes it from his hand and when she does, his fingers lightly, unintentionally brush her hand. And then it happens, because it has to happen these days. She feels the rush of arousal and the inevitable wetness that always follows it. This guy doesn't even know. He is all baseball capped and young and about to get off his shift at Starbucks and probably go meet his girlfriend at the movies. She'll be wearing something adorable, maybe a denim mini-skirt and a tank top, and she'll smile when he hands her a latte. "You're so sweet!" And he'll smile and bide his time until later when he can get her naked and panting and begging him to show her just how sweet he really isn't.

"Have a great day!" she sing songs and then walks away wondering if he could even tell the dirty thoughts pervading her mind. Pink excitement flushing her pale skin, quick, shallow breaths.

This is the way of it these days. Every moment is tinged with the color of fucking, sepia toned pornographic images, one after the other, on a perpetual loop. Distracting, invasive thoughts that make it difficult to live those mundane moments.

When she was fourteen, this was always a problem. She had her peculiar yearnings in bed at night. What was that about? She didn't know. Then it started to bleed into everywhere. In church, as the preacher stated his case for chastity from the stage, a sign containing some poignant scripture hung behind him, she sat, still as a statue. But she was a bad girl. So when he talked about fornicators and unclean behavior, it only served to make her excited. The rush, the wetness. Every muscle tensed, poised and ready, building, building, nobody knows. Then when it hits it is almost painful and unwelcome. Nobody knows. This is God's house and she is balling her fists at her sides having an orgasm. God knows.

She spent a long time at prayer. She spent a long time reading holy literature. "Deaden, therefore, your body members that are upon the earth as respects fornication, uncleanness, sexual appetite."1 It was not good to feel so alive. It was better to cut off your hand than to allow it to do an unclean thing2. Better to be dead than full of sin. Yet this arousal came unbidden and soiled her heart. It was going to get her killed eventually.

Unclean things - Romance novels stuffed under mattresses, hidden beneath piles of theocratic books and a heavy bible. She learned about carnal pleasures from the bible first. But those seedy books completed the education. Nightly, there were re-imaginings of those wicked scenarios. The push and pull of desire. "No, don't." "Yes. You will like it." "It hurts." "You have to." The heroines were always conflicted about their appetites. Good girls will never admit that they want it. They are afraid of their orgasms, of what they meant. She wonders - What does it say about me if I want that? She doesn't have to admit that she wants him hard inside her. "You have to." Her pleasure has a price. Her punishment is pain. Her pleasure is pain.

It's OK if somebody makes you.

When she was nineteen - in her boyfriend's car, intense kissing turns into unbuttoning pants, into hot whispers in her ear "just touch it, just a little bit." And she knew how to do it, too. But she said, "No. I can't. I shouldn't." His request intensified, "Do it, please?" She only wanted him to love her. No, that's a lie. She wanted to know how it felt to hold it in her hands. He pulled her hair tightly into his fist so it hurt and said firmly through gritted teeth, "Do it." So she did.

It's OK if somebody makes you.

Suddenly she was a metaphorical Eve. These are forbidden fruits indulged in. She insists, "God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree...nor shall you touch it, or you shall die." The serpent said, "You will not die for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad." Why does the serpent want you to do the bad thing? She doesn't care. She was fully clothed but her eyes were opened and she knew that she was naked. He tried to put his hands on her place and she pushes it away. He didn't insist. His orgasm was the only thing that mattered.

When she was alone, she cried. Wet and unsatisfied, she masturbated to orgasm, wallowing in her sinful, dirty nature. Wet with tears and her own arousal. She fell asleep an unclean thing. It was too heavy. She couldn't do it. She didn't want to be like God, knowing good and bad.

"I don't want to do it anymore. I feel...dirty." She wanted his love. She was desperate for it. She had risked her reputation, her relationship with God, the love of her family to satisfy him.

"Nobody knows."

"God knows." She was crying now. "God knows. We have to tell on ourselves."

She couldn't sit in church anymore pretending to be pristine, virginal. She was full of dirty things.
This is the part that she can't even think about. When you are unclean the only thing that will cleanse your soul is confession, submission to judgment. She made her confession to the older men in the congregation. The confession took place in a library, walls lined with biblical tomes. The room smelled like discipline and authority. She sat on a metal chair shivering internally and told three grown men about her first sexual experiences. They were wearing suits and holding bibles. It was all very official.

"Where did he touch you, sweetheart?" "Where did you touch him?" "Did he have a sexual climax?" "Did you?" "How many times did you touch him?" "How long did you touch him for?" "Did he ask you to?" "Did he take his pants off?" "Did you?"

She was nauseous in the pit of her stomach. Her eyes were opened and she knew that she was naked. All her dirty secrets laid bare before these men who barely knew her. It felt like a violation. She cried as they chastised her with scriptures. Pain is her punishment.

1 Cor. 6:18 - Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself.

2 Tim. 3:6 - For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Rev. 2:22 - And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Hebrews 12:11 - All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

She wanted to repent because she was exhausted from carrying the burden of this clean disguise. She wanted it to be real. And they said God will forgive you but only if you display works befitting repentance. She was disciplined with private reproof, spared the public shame of an announcement to the congregation. But everyone knew anyway. She lost every small privilege. She didn't have that many to begin with since she was only a woman. Study the bible, prayer, ministry, church. Stop practicing the unclean thing.

You can't sustain repentance when you have so much lust burning in your veins. She tried to starve it out of herself. Even that didn't kill it all the way. Finally she knew that God would never love her. She thinks, "I am dead anyway. I might as well feel good while I'm still alive."

But it was too late.

The Lord God said to [Eve], "What is this that you have done?"
Eve said, "The serpent tricked me and I ate."
God said, "I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall dominate you."3

That was the birth of her passion. It's OK if somebody makes you. To have pleasure, first pain. You will want your husband and he will rule over you.

She watches her husband undress for bed. She feels the rush and the wetness. She can't ask him to fuck her. He crawls in beside her, his body warm, his strong arms folding around her small body, his masculine scent filling her nose. She is breathing short, shallow breaths. She is aching for him to touch her. She can't ask. They fall asleep in this nurturing posture.

He wakes her in the night, mounting her urgently. He pins her arms the way she likes it. She pretends he is making her. She whispers one or all of the following, "Pull my hair, bite my neck, spank my ass, fuck me so hard that it hurts". Only then can she have it, the thing she's thought about all day. It grips her and she is momentarily afraid. It is an agony of pleasure. Passion and suffering. They are actually the same thing.

1Colossians 3:5
2 Matthew 18:8
3Gen 3:13, 16


  1. This makes me want to kill every fundamentalist sect/cult member out there. Please believe me when I tell you that there are caring, nonjudegemental, loving people out there who also happen to be Christian. Those men were nothing short of child-abusing perverts. They have the problem, not you. Gah.

  2. This is the best post I've ever read, Gwen. I am glad you bit the bullet and hit 'publish'. Thank you. You are right that so many good, powerful and natural things in life are pleasure spiked with pain. The power of sexual desire has always had elements of confusion (though not so vast as yours) for me as well. Mine is more about a complete lack of education than an utterly misguided one.
    Ultimately, this is such a good example (for me) of the power of WANTING anything. What would happen if we were taught to consider it a gift? A powerful and amazing gift? Something we can be grateful to have and enjoy? Something we can be taught to respect? What if?
    Simply lovely, my dear. Thank you.

  3. This was such a powerful post. The imagery you used was quite effective in getting your story across, even to a guy (that would be me).

    Thank you for deciding to share it.

  4. Gwen, this is painfully brilliant. And incredibly moving. Thank you for sharing it. I think I need to let it sink in a little and then come back and read it again. And maybe again. Wow.

  5. I don't even know what to say.

    I'm speechless.

    Just, WOW!

  6. I love the biblical quotes and style of writing. WRITE A BOOK!!!!!!!!!

  7. Man am I glad you decided to publish this. It was incredibly good, and incredibly painful, which just illustrates your point, I guess.

    I find myself a little tongue tied, but I wanted to say that even though I don't have any experience with fundamentalism or with much sexual shame, really, this was powerful for me. I was always taught sex was natural but private and best indulged in when married, but I still have force fantasies. I think even in families where sexuality is accepted and not demonized, society manages to inculcate us anyway. Or human nature does.

  8. My god, you just described my own inner turmoil as an adolescent/young woman. Thank you so much for taking the courageous step and posting it. It helps a great deal to know that I'm not the only one dragging warped (read: fucked up) views on sex into my post-church relationships. This is an incredible piece of writing!

  9. Thanks for the comments everyone - I was worried nobody would respond and it would just be...awkward for me to have posted it at all.

    Here in Franklin - You are right. I don't blame Christianity or Christians for what happened to me. I also don't know how much of what I experienced was actually the religion's fault. I may have over-internalized some of the pressures to be good, misinterpreted the messages. Certainly the religion taught that sexuality had a place - in marriage. It wasn't taught that it was dirty or wrong to make love in that context. But I felt very ashamed of my very strong sexual urges and curiousity. They scared me. This is what happened as a result of that. So maybe it was just a perfect storm of factors, so to speak, that brought me here and nobody is really to blame for that.

    MG - That's quite a compliment. Of course, I don't feel worthy of it. But that's my MO, as you know. You are right that so much of this is about wanting and feeling ashamed of the wanting and like I deserved to be punished for the having. It's very complicated and it really does translate to a lot of aspects of my life outside of my sexuality. If I could learn to accept that I am worth life's pleasures it would be truly amazing. I believe that is possible.

    Sci Fi Dad - I'm glad that you understand what I'm trying to say here. I think there are a lot of men who have very conflicted feelings about sexuality, maybe from the same perspective or the opposite one. I'm reading this book called "Men in Love" which is a volume of mens' sexual fantasies. It is very eye-opening to me, to look at sex through the eyes of the other gender. Certainly my experience isn't representative of all women, but I know many others that are like me.

    Zen Mom - thanks for thinking this piece is brilliant. I was terrified to post it. What will people think of me? It brings back old shameful feelings in a way. But it is also liberating. Hence the "see that girl, she knows I'm watching, she likes the way I stare." Does that make sense?

  10. Candice - Thanks for reading. It's Ok to be speechless. I don't think I'd know what to say, either.

    Alisha - thanks! I know you want me to write a book. I don't know. We'll see :)

    Gypsy - I definitely think there is more at play than just religion here. We live in a culture that constantly sends out mixed messages about what is and what isn't "appropriate" female behavior. We want women to be sexual and then we kind of punish them for being that way with words like "whore". I do it, too. It's better now for us than it was 50 years ago but it's still difficult. The whole "force" thing...it's hard for people to admit that. People get so skeeved about rape, and rightly so. I'm not saying I want to be raped. But physical coercion with a loving partner is different to me somehow. People are uncomfortable with the idea of that and I get it. It feels backwards. But our sexual drives are developed unconsciously and if we can find expression of them in a safe environment with a caring partner, I think it's really OK. Thanks for the comment and the kind words about the quality of the writing.

    Susan - Thanks so much for saying that. That was one reason I wrote and posted this. I felt that there might be someone reading who thought, "Yes! That's me. I'm not such a weirdo afterall." I'm sorry you're fucked up like me, but also glad that I made you feel less alone with it.

  11. Okay. This is going to be long. Perhaps I should send you this in an email, but you know what? Fuck it.

    Gwen, this is my inner monologue within thirty seconds of meeting a guy that I find attractive in any way, shape, or form:

    I wonder what it’s like to sleep with him…What does he look like naked? Doesn’t matter. As long as at one point he is naked. But then he’ll want me to be naked, and then…no, he will never, ever, ever consider sleeping with me, because he thinks I’m fat and ugly. He probably wants her. Why are all of my friends so damn pretty? Do they feel sorry for me, because men don't like me? I'm too annoying. This guy will probably find me annoying. God, I hope he doesn’t want to sleep with me, and then we start dating, and all of his ex-girlfriends are ugly and annoying, and then I’ll know that I am too, and then I’ll have to tell him that the only person who’s willing to take a chance on me is the guy who has a thing for ugly annoying girls. Maybe he’ll sleep with me because one of his friends tricked him into fucking the ugly one. Or they dared him. Or maybe my friends bribed him. The only way that guy is going to be willing to sleep with me on his own volition is if he is threatened with death or getting fucked in the ass, and even then, I mean, fucking look at me, he’s going to prefer the alternative, because I am sad and depressed and disgusting and seriously, what the hell am I wearing? He probably thinks I’m a lesbian. Dick. Making assumptions about people. Who fucking does that? He probably thinks I'm easy because I'm not pretty. I can tell by the look on his face, he wishes I were hot. This would be so much easier if I were pretty. I wish I were pretty, or funny, or smart. He probably thinks that I'm desperate because I'm not pretty. He probably hopes I’m funny. No. He thinks I'm loud, ugly, and annoying. I just want to be funny. If I were funny, I would have something to offer, because I sure as shit ain’t pretty. He's probably one of those guys who just ignores everything girls say, and only cares about the ones that are all little and cute and fucking stupid and they know how to flirt and they just agree with everything he says but they don’t fucking think for themselves because they’ve never had to because they’re pretty. Stupid bitches, the ones who are all, “Oh my god, it’s so hard being pretty because you get judged.” Fuck you, you stupid cunt, you have no fucking idea what it’s fucking like being fucking judged because you’re a pretty, stupid, fucking cunt. God, I am disgusting. How could anyone in their own right mind want to sleep with me? And if he did, he would get annoyed when I couldn’t relax. He would get mad, and then he would tell everyone how horrible I am in bed, and then no one’s going to sleep with me and let me get some practice. I can’t take that. I can’t. I can’t let him know. Don’t tell anyone. I hope he doesn’t ask me to…what if he did? What would I do? I don’t want him to think I’m a whore. I don’t trust him. He thinks I’m disgusting. And then he’ll fuck me anyway, and he’ll be all insecure and he’ll make me feel insecure because of it. Don’t fucking judge me, you son of a bitch. Fuck you. Fuck. You.

    I do this every single time. I am terrified of sex, of being judged, and I hide in shame, and whenever anything turns me on I shove it away and start memorizing things. like Rain Man. Movies and their directors, song lyrics, cooking recipes. Because I don't deserve it. I don't deserve it, and I am disgusting.

    I don't know where this thought process came from. I have no facts, no comparable experience. But I do it, and I do it about three times a day.

    So no. I don't think you're fucked up. Because self-loathing comes very, very naturally to me.

  12. Rassles - Your thought process is very familiar to me. I think that way constantly. Whenever people have sex with me it's like they're doing me this big fucking favor. I even think that about my husband. It's irrational. Why would he marry if he didn't like fucking me? But I still feel unworthy. When I want to be hurt, it just makes me feel like now he knows that I know that I'm actually disgusting and unworthy of his gentle, tender affections. Whenever a guy looks at me I always think he is thinking, "Ew. So gross. I wouldn't fuck her if somebody paid me." Sometimes when I tell people how I really feel, when I'm honest about my self esteem I think that they're thinking I'm just "fishing" for compliments or whatever. I'm not. I don't like getting compliments because I know I don't deserve them. Here's the thing: I never want people to think that I think I'm valuable. I want to let them know right off the bat that I'm a piece of shit and I'm fully aware of all that.

    When you tell me how badly you feel about yourself it really pains me. I think you are one of the most beautiful people. I know I've never met you. A wise, wise woman (Ok Gypsy) told me today that we are greater than the sum of our parts. Since I don't know what you look like except for that little picture of you on your profile (wherein you look totally cute, in my opinion) I'm not going to sit here and say that you're perfectly gorgeous physically. I can guess that you are by your stories. What I do know is that you have a stunningly beautiful soul and a wit and a sense of humor about the world I would kill to have. I know men are visual creatures, but maybe not all of them put so many stock in our appearance. I don't know. I don't want to be a hypocrite here and say, "You're awesome! Stop thinking that way." I know how hard it is to do that. I can tell that your feelings are genuine. I would give anything to make them go away so you could see yourself the way that I see you and probably so many others.

    If you ever want to email me privately I'm always here to listen or whatever. I know you're aren't looking for friends, but that's too fucking bad honestly. You have a friend in me. (email gwen6275@aol.com)

  13. Domestic Goddess - speaking of friends :) Thanks so much for the comment. I appreciate it.

  14. Wow... this is great stuff, Gwen.

    There's so much to digest and think about. It's strange that something so natural can be viewed as disgusting. Religion can have some parts that I believe aren't natural.

    I'm very happy that you've decided to post this.

    Now if you'll excuse me... I have a cold shower to attend to.


  15. I'm really glad you posted this. It must be fundamentalism, because this is exactly how I feel about sex. EXACTLY.

    It has caused me no end of trauma.

  16. Thanks for posting this Gwen. Amazing.

    I know how confusing sexuality can be when you grow up in a fundamentalist religion as I did.

    It's a fucking train wreck what those people did to us, seriously. I feel like a strong person that has been able to look back and look at it objectively, but then I go, No, I'm fucked up too.

  17. Gwen,
    These thought and feelings you have regarding your childhood upbringing are never going to go away. It's very fucked up how you were raised and that aspect of your life will never change. But you are now on yoru journey to self discovery and doing a fabulous job, I might say. You're on the other fork in the road now and I want to say Happy 10th B-Day Gwenny!! Keep truckin' ahead... life has alot to offer you still. Check out the Buddist theories...lots of good vibes going on there. You're a Momma~ you got lots to offer this world and that baby girl! Now go out there and LIVE!! Like Maude from Harold and Maude, the movie. "L-I-V-E, otherwise you got nothing else to talk about in the locker room."
    Love your posts. The best to you, always!!

  18. I really loved this post, I thought it was beautifully written. I've wanted to comment on so may of your posts, but my computer at work wont let me! So, while I may be a few days behind in commenting - I always enjoy everything you wrote, I also wanted to say I appreciated your comments on my page!