Anything But Enough
Ina F. | First Place Winner Of The Sexual Liberation Contest
Bear with me before I bare it all (the last of that sort of pun, I promise). I’d like to start with a little bit of miserable context— at least the Cliffnotes version.
My first boyfriend (who became my first at the age of twenty three, so I’ll admit to plenty of the awkwardness that comes with falling under the proverbial “late bloomer” category) spent a majority of our three year relationship with a lingering, intense attachment to a previous… significant other. She was never his girlfriend, but they were friends and each other’s crushes, one-time kinda-hookups, and she gave him “the most intense kiss of his life.” His words, not mine. He had never cheated-cheated on me, but for a majority of our relationship, he managed to be with her somehow. “With” her as in, his mind would drift to just the memory of that kiss, and all the longing and intensity I wish he had for me had always remained with her. I won’t go into all of the details of how exactly he broke this to me, or exactly how many mid-afternoons I spent folded over my bathtub sobbing. Maybe I can elaborate a bit on how it made me wonder if I was such a dysfunctional girlfriend, or such a pathetic excuse of a woman that I was never enough to triumph over her—sorry, the memory of her, in some kind of pitiful twisted rat race for his passions. But in truth, I’d already gone through enough pages in the Notepad app jotting down 4AM anxieties, insecurities, and other brokenhearted miscellany.
Now, all of the aforementioned baggage further contributed to a gnawing sense of insecurity and dread that it was impossible for me to be enough of a woman, enough of a sexual being, enough of anything really. Was I intense enough? Was I enough for someone, or anybody at all? Was I even enough just for myself to be able to appreciate actually existing? That last one’s heavy, and all of it probably follows a whole festival line-up of traumas from childhood and onwards: First up on stage is the realization of having never experienced unconditional love as a child! This electrifying performance comes from being regularly reminded of the suffering your parents had experienced to give you such a good life and get you to this country and how you need to make sure that doesn’t all mean nothing. Acts to follow include Culturally Repressed Sexuality, and Self Worth Tied to Achievement feat. Impostor Syndrome.
So now, après-context, comes the sex. Or not. Because I’m still a virgin. But hear me out— this is still my sexual liberation story. Emphasis on the “my” because this was not a moment that I shared with anyone else, or was for anyone else, or because of anyone else. And I realize now that that in particular was very important for me to have.
So as you can now imagine, I was reeling from that gross, punch-in-the-gut feeling that a heartbroken relationship ingénue with heavy insecurity and anxiety tends to feel in such situations. At some point, I had decided to retail-therapize myself with an Urban Outfitters coupon, and I availed of the discount as the final push towards buying my first vibrator (along with a crop top, a scrunchie or two). A bullet vibrator, shaped like a lipstick.
No offense to my pillow, but what an upgrade. As long as I can remember, that list of nagging questions and all of the sad sordid tragedies of my heart would worm their way into my masturbatory experiences, dampening my arousal, cutting short whatever pleasure I was able to wring out of each attempt.
But something switched on along with that bullet vibrator. Not just upon the vibe-to-clit touchdown, but even from the moment I decided to get it for myself, the cautiously managed eagerness and anticipation I had in deciding to see what the big deal was, the realization of reaching some sort of unlisted milestone in getting my first sex toy, and the thought of being in defiance of my family’s and culture’s sanctimonious anti-sex leanings. But no, no. Even with that, it soon wasn’t about them anymore. Or anyone. But myself.
As I pressed the bullet onto my clit, as I experimented with trailing it along my labia, as I thought of my dream Agent Provocateur lingerie and how it would feel on my boobs someday, as I tinkered with the vibration speed… my body felt blanketed in all-over tingles. I wanted to melt into the vibration. I felt my mouth gaping. I suddenly became hyper aware of my skin, how lovely of a brown it was. I distinctly noticed the little bumps on my nipples, their hardening, the way my body moved with each feeling of the experience. My insecurities and my perpetually nagging body dysmorphia be damned in that moment— the more conscious I became of my shape, each motion, each curve, the more blissful appreciation I felt for the body that was mine, the body that I was.
In such a state, dressed in bliss, how could I feel anything but free? Anything but beautiful? Anything but enough? It became one of those purely distinct moments of my life in which I realized my own presence as a beautiful, sexual young woman having an incredibly ecstatic time. How could I help but feel totally with myself. For myself. Into myself. Enjoying myself. Enough for myself.
Now, of course, a vibrator is no substitute for therapy, so I’m not trying to make this out to be some sort of personal panacean discovery. What this was— what it truly, truly was— was the sort of relieving experience that at once acknowledged my pains but prioritized my healing. It was space and it was freedom. It was pleasure for myself and because of myself and in admiration of my ability to feel, amidst everything and despite everything. It was, for me, liberation.