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Note – I am posting this as part of a little journey of self – certain  “issues”, which shall, for now, stay silent, have prompted me to not only look at my past, but to actually question the why of it. Call it growing up – finally.

My first (consensual) sexual encounters were of the typical teenage variety – fumbling around with fellatio and then a furtive, half-dressed consummation in a treehouse. It didn’t rock my word, but it was fun and it opened my eyes to something seemingly important: sex is power.

Thanks to a past history of abuse, my views of sexuality, and my personal sexual development did not follow the “norm” – to me, this discovery that sex equaled power was momentous. It gave me something I had previously lacked: control. It gave me a sense of being in charge, of making my own choices, of having power over someone else without them controlling me.

I dove into this discovery head first, never realizing that it did not offer the freedom I believed it did, but instead wove an intricate cage to form my prison.

Girls of my own age hated me. They sensed this awakening in me, they knew it was different than their own early explorations, and they were intimidated by a fully sexually aware peer, even though they did not realize that was the source of the problem. I remember one girl saying to me, “I hate the way you walk.” That baffled me for years.

Guys of my own age were intimidated by me. They wanted a girl who quietly acquiesced to their teenage desires after much coercion on their part; one who “let them” do things. They didn’t know what was different about me, only that there was something there that was beyond them. On the one hand, they wanted, on the other, they were afraid. Guys don’t like that feeling.

During high school, I wasn’t called a slut, or thought of as “easy” – I never dated boys in my school, I rarely dated school-age guys anyway. None of my peers were aware of my sexual activities, but like the pack animals that teenagers are, they sensed something – I had some knowledge they did not and they resented it.

Those attitudes actually persisted into college, where I found people of my own age still fumbling in the dark and unaware of their own sexuality. They were still dabbling on the edges of the pool, dipping their toes in, perhaps even wading, where as I had swum out into the depths, and had dove fully to the bottom.

I don’t claim to be proud of my youthful activities – it is simply a part of who I am. And I don’t claim to have been better than my peers – in fact, quite the opposite, I believe my early sexual awakening kept me from understanding deeper and more important issues.

I learned, through the years, that I could get what I wanted through sex. My few girlfriends joked that the “good” guys were all either taken, gay or head over heels for me. It’s not that I was prettier than they, or smarter, or anything else. It was that I understood male sexuality and desire and could, would and did satisfy it – to a degree that had my partners completely and utterly at my feet – even if I had not “slept with” them. It was the potential promise, the flirtatious awareness, the desire and willingness they felt.

I happily used sex to get what I wanted. And there is the dark side of this picture. Thanks to that history, I felt I had no value aside from what I could provide through sex. I could not feel loved except through sex. When I did not have a sexual relationship with a man, I didn’t understand him, I couldn’t control him, and I didn’t feel loved by him.

My entire image of myself was wrapped up in, and warped by, my sexuality.

There it was, what seemed at first to be power and freedom was actually a cage built by my own actions. I didn’t understand how to define myself outside of my sexuality. I didn’t have any sense of self without that.

There is no point in describing chapter and verse of my life and mistakes. But I learned lessons over the years, slowly coming to the understanding that sex was indeed powerful, and did equal power, true – but it could also warp and twist, it was power that consumed rather than fulfilled.

Now, many years and some hard life lessons later, I am finally understanding myself, finally no longer defined by my sexuality, but fully embracing it, no longer controlled by it, or controlling with it – but instead reveling in the full confidence of a woman for whom sex is an expression of love, not a means to attain it.

And that, I believe, is the true “power” in sex.

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