You Get What Everyone Gets. You Get A Lifetime
Digging through my stuff, finding some longhand writing from a couple years ago that might as well live somewhere outside of a dusty box.
I am three years old. On the bridge between two bastions of the playground fort I push down the front of my pants to show my vulva to my classmates.
A jumbled memory, maybe a teacher, maybe a tattletale, then bouncing in the back of a car, my father cursing in the front seat as he drives me away. I say something I don’t remember and I don’t remember what he slices back, except that it shuts me up.
I am naked in the living room, my fingers between my legs, twiddling against my labia.
My mother, gently– “It’s okay to do that, but do it in your room.” I am four years old.
I am two years old. My mother, with the anatomically correct dolls she has sewn for me. “This is a vagina, and this is the vulva. This is a penis, and these are testicles. These are breasts. If anyone ever touches you vulva, or your breasts, always remember you can tell me anything. Even if they tell you not to, you can tell me.”
I am in a classroom, on a carpet with two boys. I am four years old. A boy with blonde curls tells me that if I show them mine, they will show me theirs. We grip the elastic of our waistbands and count to three. I yank down my pants. Their hands still in place, the boys gape and giggle that I have actually done it. I demand that they reciprocate, bewildered that they have not, and yank my pants down again proudly, and joyfully.
The teacher –I think I try to pull my pants up before she can see– takes me away by the hand to the principal’s office. I am afraid. But the principal does not ask about showing my vulva, but asks how my day was, and gives me a puzzle to work on.
I am four or five years old. During playtime I and another girl concoct the earliest sadistic fantasy I can remember, with the empty chair in front of us. We discuss and debate elements that suit our children’s imaginations. There is a man, we agree, and rope, an egg, a vacuum cleaner.
The teacher hears us and quickly pulls me aside, and asks what we are doing. I think I tell her, quite plainly, and she hastily sets me to another activity.
There is social gathering in the living room. I am imagining weaving the form of my mother’s best friend’s fiance into my dominant fantasy. He is naked, helpless, vulnerable. I am five or six years old. There is a giant peanut butter sandwich involved. I share this with my mother’s best friend, and she kneels down beside me and says gently, “______, we don’t talk about things like that.”
In the basement of the church we are eating pizza and doing crafts. We are all seven or eight years old. At the table, I declare to my perennial friend-enemy who has just dismissed me, “I’m going to kiss your little ass off!”
There is dead silence. None of the other children look at me. They know I have done wrong. My face is heating. Our chaperone leans down over me as I fasten my eyes on the table and whispers, “We don’t say things like that.”
I am eight years old and the adults ask me what I am doing in my notebook. I am writing on my book, I tell them. They tell each other how creative I am and ignore me. I do not tell them about the naked women and men, the physical discipline, the slavery. I know they will not understand.
The internet has just reached the general public. I am still eight years old. I find a webpage with a full screen picture of a woman on her hands and knees on a snowy-soft surface, naked except for shackles on her wrists and ankles, and heels on her feet. The points of her nipples are just hidden by her arms as she stares at the viewer in defiant invitation. I stare at her for a long time, then quickly close the page. I come back to stare at her for days, adn I find more pictures, tiny thumbnails of naked men in chains, and I nearly cry when they never open to full sized photographs.
Finally, I open the page and call in my parents to tell them I have found a bad website.
I am ten years old and I have read my first book with a woman binding, controlling, and hurting a man, and he is completely hers. She is evil, he is good. She is broken and twisted by those who did the same to her; he is whole and strong and has the power to forgive her because she only mirrored her own torment.
I am twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen years old, lying in bed fantasizing about a man, bound, sobbing, screaming in pain. When I have exhausted myself, my shame sickens me. I reach down beneath my underwear, flick a finger up my labia to see if I am wet. Of course I am.
Cursing myself I jump up and run to the bathroom, pull down my underwear, sit on the toilet and wipe myself, staring at the stretchy, pearly, slick mass on the toilet paper. I think how disgusting I am, broken, my wires are crossed. I wet a washcloth and scrub my genitals until they are red, until every trace of stickiness is gone and I am panting. I will cure myself. I will never do it again.
I am in another country, seventeen, having one of a series of discussions with my friend who is open and confident about her identity as a submissive, a masochist, and a slut. I am trying to convince her that enjoying pain and allowing a man to control her sexually is not normal or healthy. I do not even remember my fantasies, do not even make the connection except once, almost, when she says, bemused by my arguments, “I’ve had these desires my entire life. I’ve had fantasies like this since I was three.”
Staring at the ceiling I trace the way the boards interlock over and over. I am twenty years old and I have just convinced myself that the emotional savagery of my father has made me a monster. And that one day, when I find a lover, I will have to confess myself, and let them decide if they still want me.
It is three months before and my boyfriend is confused and hurting that I will not let him kiss me. “You said my first kiss could be my way. That I could choose when and how. I told you, you promised.” My way, mine, when I’m ready, not stolen in his own romantic moment. He hurts, and does not understand.
I wanted him underneath me on the couch, his leg pulled up to his chest, open to me, my fist in his hair.
“So you want to initiate every time?” he asks, bewildered.
“Of course not.”
It is shortly after I have decided I am a monster, and I am masturbating for the first time since I was a toddler. I may be broken and twisted, but I will live with it. I have to have some kind of release, or I will die.
It is a year later and I have still not had an orgasm. I resort to a machine and overload my senses. The orgasm is painful, in the way that does not feel good. It wracks my body like a seizure. My vagina contracts, and contracts, and when my head is no longer snapping back on my spine, I lay there and contemplate how everything I was ever taught about sexuality is truly a myth.
A month before, I am whipping someone for the first time while they are tied beneath me, giving themselves to me so I can learn to be what I am. And it is beautiful.
I am nearly twenty-one years old, and I am coming to the turning point of a long and inevitable journey into the nature of the world around me. I have finally come to remember what I knew as a child. That trees speak, raccoons know mysteries I never will, and rocks are just as alive and intelligent as I am. And the culture of my birth is killing the planet. And it seems so perfectly clear, such an easy explanation for why I am the way I am.
Civilization broke me.
But I have to live this way. So I will live in a way that will make me happy. But let this twistedness die with me.
Six months later and I am drowning in shame and self-loathing, and a seed scattered by someone I have never met germinates and sets down roots.
What if I am not broken.
What if I am just a part of the myriad flavors of humanity.
What if my desires are not in fact mirrors of the travesties of this culture of destruction, but instead the culture took the things that were mine, that are ours, and maimed them to be used in conquer, assimilation, genocide.
What if I am wounded, but I am not wrong.