I Said Yes To The Sex, But I Didn’t Say Yes To All Of It

Justin Wolfe
Justin Wolfe

These are the things you need to write about.

I am awake at 3 am picking at leftover scabs until they start to bleed. It’s clinical. I can’t stop until I see red. Probably more gross than metaphorical. I dig until new scars appear, new demons show up at the foot of the bed. I’m an archaeologist at work on my own body.

I just want to fucking sleep.

These are the things you need to write about.

She tells me this during a workshop. The stories we are most ashamed of, the ones we are afraid to understand, the things we’d prefer to bury altogether. We need to bring those to light. It’s the only way to ever lessen the load.

To, once again, feel light.

I didn’t even realize until many months after it happened. Somewhere between therapy appointments I missed and nights I killed a bottle of wine so insomnia wouldn’t keep making me her mistress. Somewhere between rationalizing what I shouldn’t have to and crying in my mother’s arms.

It began to crawl back up my throat.
It began to roughly press its fingers against my windpipe when no one asked it to.

Sex had always been such a gift in my life. I was in love, or lust, or like, but each time it had always been thoughtful. Mouths kissed me with trust, even if it was just for the night. Mouths kissed me like I was the one, even if we both knew I wasn’t. Mouths didn’t make assumptions. Never took it to mean my Yes was to everything. My Yes was conditional. I felt safe with those hands. Every pair.

Until the time I didn’t.

But I didn’t say No.

Because I had been so confused with my earlier Yes.

I didn’t know sex could take a turn. I didn’t know that something I ached for 15 minutes earlier could suddenly leave me unfamiliar with my own body. That a boy I had happily slept in bed with for multiple nights could hurt me like that.

Maybe I couldn’t say Stop because he took it upon himself to wrap both hands around my throat. Maybe I didn’t say No because I thought my Yes earlier meant I couldn’t change my mind.

These are the things you need to write about.

I write him a letter after we break up and I still don’t mention why I never again slept over at his place. I write him a letter after we break up to say I’ll miss him, and he’s an intelligent person. I tell him he will do something with this world. I want to let him off the hook. But I don’t think he ever even knew he was on it.

But what he did that night still haunts me.

I have sex in Los Angeles more than a year later with someone completely different. He is older and funny, I think this is the kind of guy I can trust. He raises his hands to my neck, and I flinch.

It’s been 783 days, and I’m still flinching. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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