For the last week, I have sat cross-legged in my living room, watching a man on YouTube touch his neck and moan loudly. I know how it sounds — but the guy was supposedly opening his throat chakra. Whatever that means.
To be honest with you, I have never been a fan of chakras or anything associated with them (crystals, meditation, even yoga). Trying to find yourself post-breakup, though, leads you to unexpected places. I had already been through all the classic remedies — short hair, new exercise classes, room redecorating, excessive crying — with, frankly, limited success. So weird chakra-opening meditation it was.
Every morning, I have woken up and exhaled loudly in all sorts of yogic chants with the throat chakra guy. Opening your throat chakra supposedly promotes self-expression and allows one to speak their personal truth. Honestly, it worked. A few practices in, I was able to admit something to myself that I haven’t been able to before. It’s this: I don’t want to have sex.
To clarify, when I say sex I mean your sort of classic, heteronormative penis-vagina intercourse. It’s not a religious or moral thing. I’ve always been a fan of other kinds of sexual activity — kissing, touching, licking. I’m just not a penetration kind of gal. And yet, writing that I don’t want to have penetrative sex feels strange and shameful.
The truth is, I’ve grown up with a really negative perception of sex. Being from the best city in the world also means that I have been catcalled and harassed almost every day since I turned fifteen. Even in the dead of winter, draped in an enormous coat and wrapped with scarves, I have been followed home and yelled at by strange men. From a young age, it felt like my body and appearance didn’t belong to me. Instead, they were public property, subject to the comments and touches of those around me.
In my personal life, I took note as my female friends continually engaged in sexual activities they didn’t enjoy. Their constant stories of grimy bathroom blowjobs and painful intercourse as “payment” for a nice date or a fancy dinner would get stuck in my head. For me, these stories reiterated the message that as women, we owed men sex. I began to view sex as an inherent part of my value, an enormous part of my offering as a friend, a girlfriend, a person.
When I entered my first serious relationship in my senior year of high school, I took those expectations with me. I would push myself to hook up with my boyfriend, to not tell him when things didn’t feel good. The one thing that I could never make myself do was have penetrative sex. I was so uncomfortable about the idea of simply not wanting to that I kept telling myself, and my boyfriend, that I couldn’t have sex. Medically, physically speaking. I even tried pelvic floor physical therapy where essentially, you get professionally fingered by a fifty-year-old woman. I’m pretty sure that lying in a cold medical office while someone’s hand moved in and out of me as they made small talk about their kids did not help my situation.
I do want to give credit where it’s due. My ex-boyfriend was awesome about this whole no-sex thing. He never pushed or pressured me. When I got anxious or felt like I wasn’t enough, he would reassure me. For him, penetrative sex was just another fun thing we could do, like apple-picking or kayaking. When we would hook up, which primarily consisted of him eating me out, he would urge me to communicate and let him know exactly what I wanted at that moment.
It seemed incredible to me that I could date someone who accepted me the way that I was. And so, when issues would come up in our relationship, I’d press them down. How could I possibly let go of someone who was nice and kind and cute and didn’t make me have sex with him? How would I ever find that again?
Now, on the other side of the breakup, it’s clear to me how silly that way of thinking is. In all other aspects of my life, I expect the people close to me respect my boundaries and comfort levels. Sex and love should be no different and yet, we are so often taught that they are.
Truly knowing I am enough, regardless of whether I choose to have sex, has not been easy. It is a strange and uncomfortable process that involves continually challenging many of the unhealthy beliefs I have taken on over the years. Despite this, it is work that I am committed to doing. The best post-breakup cure, I’ve found, is intentionally building a new relationship with yourself, one grounded in unconditional compassion and acceptance. Even throat chakra guy, in all of his bizarre glory, cannot compare to that.
Unsatisfied Schoolgirl is a student at Cornell University. Comments can be sent to [email protected]. Sense and Sexibility runs during alternate Sex on Thursdays this semester.