The first day of the summer after my freshman year of high school, I lost my virginity on my then-boyfriend’s bunk bed. When I go back and look at my diary entry from that day, it reads:
Someday I will have to tell someone about how I lost my virginity, and I will say that I was fourteen and I felt very small and afraid. That it hurt so much I almost cried, until I didn’t feel anything at all except him moaning underneath me. That afterwards I laid there and wished that he would hold me, or at least kiss me. I wished that he would have been anything but casual. But maybe next time will be better…
The events that happened that summer after I lost my virginity are blurry and sad and happy and beautiful and anything but simple. I know most people will probably read this and be horrified, thinking that I was far too young to have had these experiences. And they would be right. But I mean it when I say that anyone is too young to go through what I went through, whether they are fourteen or forty.
My boyfriend and I had started dating when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore. We fell in love over spring break, and all other things in my life quickly fell by the wayside as I spent more and more time with him. I had never been in love before. My friends warned me that he was a player, but I didn’t care. Everything about him felt beautiful, special, magical. I inherently trusted him with all of my deepest secrets. Every time he kissed me, I was astounded. Even his mouth tasted amazing. We would text and Facetime each other almost every day. One time, we ran out of things to say, so I watched him eat mac and cheese for about five minutes in total silence: and I didn’t even mind. He was all I could talk about, all I could think about, all I could dream about. I felt like I was going crazy. My friends all told me that I was going crazy.
And here we go, big surprise: when we started having sex, things changed. Or rather, things that should’ve bothered me before but never had suddenly became bigger, and harder to ignore. Things like how insecure I felt that he was older and better looking and more experienced than I was. Things like how he told his friends all about our relationship, even the “dirty” details. Things like how I always trusted him with my secrets, despite everyone at our extremely small school finding out about them anyway. Things like how he would tell me what to wear or who to hang out with, and make comments about how I should change my face and my body. Things like how he seemed to have a lot of girl-space-friends that he texted as often as he texted me, with lots of emoticons.
When I look back on it now, I think of it as “The Lonely Summer.” I didn’t spend that summer like the rest of my friends, going to the beach and watching movies. I didn’t spend that summer having sleepovers and getting drunk and tanning for hours on end. I spent it with Alex, having lots and lots of sex. He had a car, a second hand station wagon, and when you’re a teenager, a car is a window into another world. We could go anywhere, but all I remember was us looking for a place just-out-of-the-way-enough. We had sex in the backseat, the front seat, the trunk. Sex late at night when my parents thought I was at a girlfriend’s house. Sex in the middle of the day when we were supposed to be at the movies. We had sex in a strip mall parking lot, in front of a stranger’s house, in our old elementary school. Next to so many parks that I lost count.
The problem was, sometimes I wanted it, and sometimes I didn’t.
The most first memory I have, of when it really started to scare me, was one day when I was sitting on his lap and we were kissing. It was hot and the fan was running, but only enough to ruffle my hair a little and make it too loud for me to hear the music playing on his computer. Maybe that was it — the noise. Or the heat and how sweaty I felt. Maybe it was just that I hadn’t shaved in a few days. Or maybe it was my feeling, deep down, that I wanted us to do something together other than fuck, just once. At any rate, no matter what the reason, when his hand started to make it’s way down my panties, I said, “No.” I squirmed away from his touch. “Not today.”
That’s when the begging started. Why not? He said. C’mon, baby, don’t be like that. As he continued to beg me, I lost stamina. My “no” started to lose it’s meaning. I felt silly, and then I felt guilty. “Alex, please, I said not today.” Then he got quiet. His hand didn’t move from where it was. Then his other arm wrapped around me. I thought for sure that he was about to hug me, to apologize. But his hand didn’t move. Then, so fast my heart stopped, he grabbed my waist, hard. He pushed his fingers inside of me. It hurt. I heard him whisper in my ear, in a low voice that I had never heard before, “Don’t be such a little bitch.”
As he raped me — yes, I can finally admit it now, it was rape — I didn’t say a word. I didn’t move. I stayed where I was, frozen, terrified. After that, I felt afraid to say “no.” The rest of the summer I felt torn. Torn between wanting to enjoy myself and have sex with the boy I loved, and feeling sick and violated and not knowing why. That incident, on what I later found out was the hottest day of the year — record breaking heat in California — was not the only one. And I told no one because I was afraid of losing him.
In the end, it wasn’t my resilience of spirit, or my strength of character that caused us to break up. I did not leave him nobly, refusing to take anymore sexual abuse. I found out he was cheating on me, and when he saw how devastated and heartbroken I was, he left me, even after I called him and begged him to give me another chance.
At school, I realized I had isolated myself from all my previous friends. Alex had made me push everyone away. It was like I was living behind glass. When I finally got the courage to confess to a friend what had happened, and how fucked up and sad I felt about it, she said, “Well, what did you expect?”
Because how dare I, right? How dare a teenage girl want to have sex when every hormone in her body is telling her to? How dare a teenage girl fall in love with a boy who kissed her under a streetlight and told her she was beautiful? How dare a teenage girl not know how to say no, even though no one taught her yet? How dare a teenage girl confuse sex and love, even though that’s all she ever sees: on TV, in movies, in the romance novels she used to read? How dare a teenage girl do anything in this world? She’s already committed two obvious crimes just by existing: she is young and female. How can she know anything?
When I was fourteen years old, I already had a more complicated relationship with sex than most adults. Because I saw how sex can be beautiful. How it can bring two people together, and make you laugh, and feel good. But I also saw how sex can be painful, and scary, and make you feel so alone you wish you were dead. You think this is a commodity. But I was not the only one, and the ideas I learned when I was too young to know anything else still haunt me. There are still teenage girls out there, who are too afraid to speak up. Because what the fuck do they know? They’re just stupid teenage girls. And I guess I still am. I guess part of me always will be.