I Wanted To Feel Alive
Mel | Third Place Winner Of The Sexual Liberation Contest
I wanted to feel everything at once and nothing at all. For the longest time it didn’t matter what I wanted, what I craved, what I needed. It led me to not only desire control, but to ravenously acquire it by any means necessary. Everyone & everything became something to be figured out and responded to in the “correct” way. Nothing could ever just be. I could never just be. Existing meant the expectation of presence. Being aware that in this moment I am still here; I am still alive. It meant that everything that has happened was real; not just a nightmare. It happened and the world never stopped. When I need to feel, when I am forced to feel, I feel it all at once. I cry, wail and writhe until I feel like this might be the one that does it. But it never is.
I used to not know what it was exactly that I was looking for. I never knew what made me feel so “needy”. I never wanted to admit the un-ironic truth of the effects of both my abandonment and sexual abuse. It created a need for unconditional, never-ending love in every situation. Everything has to feel good and feel good forever to cancel out the bad that will never stop replaying in my head & all over my body. No matter how deeply I tried to pour into myself over the years there was always something new and scary waiting in the depths of my psyche; some uncovered memory of facts I long ago understood. Growing up and discovering practices that brought me into my body on my terms and in a way that felt safe has been enlightening. Sex, however, quickly become the battle ground for my most intense internal struggles. People became like a drug- another means of escape.
Whether it was sex with myself or sex with others it could never just be what it was. Afraid that I might trigger something unknown precisely at the moment I did not want to be thinking about the abuse. No blink, breath or body movement was without meaning. This must mean this, so I should do that, and then this will happen that way…exactly. It was one way or the other way; never any grey area. Assigning meaning to every touch had kept me “safe” my entire life, right? Knowing exactly what was happening at all times, in a way that detached me from the moment-even in the presence of those I loved the most— was necessary.
Behind this pattern was another expectation: rescue. I wanted to be saved. I needed, most especially, to be saved from myself; offered some escape from my endless emotions, thoughts and impulses. Sex felt good for this and so did drugs; but, drugs AND sex together… it became the only thing I would do anything for. I would gladly forfeit any boundary, any amount of material, spiritual or mental resources needed to get a moment of imagined peace. A moment of empty serenity. Numbness to counteract the void. But then, maybe an hour later, reality would hit back even harder. Finally, the familiar unsettling feeling that maybe nothing would ever be enough to keep me here came back; leading me on my search all over again.
How can I lie and say it didn’t make life feel worth it at the time? How can I lie to myself? How do I convince myself that accepting things as they are, enjoying the good and releasing control will feel better than past highs?
I’m reckoning with how the past informs my future. I don’t want the past to take one more thing from me. Not one more person, not one more relationship, not one more friendship. He tried to take me away from myself but did not succeed; none of them did. Releasing and allowing things to flow while realizing how much good comes when I give myself unconditional love is my new high. I want to feel alive. I don’t want to wait for a savior. I want presence and space in my relationships. I want autonomy and intimacy. I want the love I give to be the kind of life-changing love I've received from a special few. I want to be free from reliving my past and letting it decide my future. Liberation—i’m realizing— comes at a price: the death of past selves that operated in fear and survival. Accepting that these cycles and seasons will continue throughout my life is the hardest part of it all.
I know that sex doesn’t necessarily mean nothing. I realize the power it has to help me alchemize the effects of the past. I realize that I must first acknowledge my power in order for this to happen. I am no longer a victim. I am here and must reclaim what is mine for myself.