So where do you start after years of sleepwalking?
I’d hated my body for a long time – or, more accurately, I was ashamed of it. When I’d been young and skinny I’d hated my thighs; as I got older the shame shifted to the rest of me. I had stretch marks. Lopsided breasts. I was either a gorilla or a plucked chicken, depending on how recently I’d de-fuzzed. Most shaming of all, my body contained me.
I don’t know when exactly that started to change, it was so gradual at first.
Somewhere between the end of 2012 and mid-2013, I stopped feeling quite so physically repulsive. Still not pretty, or worthy of being shown off without Very Clever Underwear and carefully chosen clothes, but not horrific. I was okay.
At some point during that my sex drive woke up again – prompting surprise, confusion, and feelings of utter cluelessness.
It was a huge piece of luck – coincidence? unconscious design? – that about halfway through 2013, a man came along who knocked my socks off.
He says he remembers every moment of that night in searing detail.
I wish I did. I can recall large parts of it, but I also blanked out several times because I couldn’t quite process what was happening.
The bits I remember have been masturbation fuel ever since. Looking down and seeing him clearly enjoying getting to grips with my breasts, waking right up despite being bone tired when he put his head between my legs because I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-doing-but-don’t-stop-don’t-stop-DON’T-STOP, being told I had “great tits” – which had my mind in hysterics while the physical me blushed and beamed – and above all, feeling attractive and incredibly sexy. Me!
He showed me that I was desirable, that I was basically wired up right, and that I was more than capable of enjoying sex – and life – when I didn’t let my mind get in the way.
So much began to fall into place once I realised that – but that’s a whole other story.
After that night, when I had a morning or evening off, I was keen to replicate the feeling. I realised very quickly that my fingers weren’t quite enough.
One Saturday night, fuelled by much rose-tinted, wine-fuelled, nostalgia brought on by 10 Things I Hate About You, I toddled off to my room, and dug about in the crate under my bed where I kept the one and only sex toy I possessed.
That poor vibrator. I don’t think it had been used since 2004 or 2005. It was clearly going to take a while to charge, but I was impatient. And slightly drunk. So I used it as a dildo. (I look at the design of the thing now and cringe that I did.)
I was left a little less frustrated than when I’d started – by no means satisfied, but it was a start. The big thing was that I’d wanted to mess about, see what happened, and I wasn’t too worried about the outcome – and despite the tools at hand I’d enjoyed it, sort of.
Over the next few weeks I discovered something new and bothersome. When I was younger, I’d been bothered by the way I’d hit a certain level of arousal and not be able to move past it. Advanced blue balls, if you like. This time around I’d hit that point then either cut out completely – feeling nothing – or have what felt like a nails-down-a-blackboard over-stimulated shock.
Anorgasmia, ladies and gentlemen. I’d managed to get myself over the psychological blocks, and now I was physically incapable instead. Frustrated?
Once I’d have taken it as another sign that I simply wasn’t supposed to have sex. But by that point enough had changed that I knew I could do something about it, especially since I had a good suspicion that my prescription was at least partly responsible.
Part of my long-term problem was that I needed more of the same drug over time to get the same basic benefits. But while they remained roughly the same, the disadvantages grew. The extra medication cut down even further on any sensation beyond the initial rush.
At my next review I was so coy with my doctor that I hated myself all over again, but I was clear enough – I’m okay and I’m doing so much better, but the drugs are affecting parts of my life that are important to my overall happiness. He switched me to citalopram immediately.
A fortnight later I had my first orgasm in about a decade. It took more than an hour, a lot of encouragement via sext from the man – 60 miles away – and my prehistoric vibrator on maximum the whole time, but WOW.
I remember curling up under my duvet and giggling like a lunatic, all the while aware that my insides were still flipping and contracting. It probably lasted less than a minute, but it felt like it didn’t stop for about half an hour.
I couldn’t focus on anything for the rest of the day, feeling the same connected-through-my-belly-button bundle of emotions that had been the saving grace of partner sex until that point.
Who was I feeling so connected to? The man in another county? My smartphone? Myself? Did I really care? I felt gloriously alive. And a bit sore.
It’s now more than a year later. I’ve seriously upgraded both the toy(s) under the bed – that’s what I’ll tell you about next – and their storage. No more hiding among the bedding.
I’ve discovered I have a G-spot, and it’s remarkably quick to respond. It turns out I’m capable of vaginal orgasms – although Freud was a lunatic for thinking they were the thing to be aiming for. I can go from reading a book to orgasm in just under 10 minutes if I put my mind to it.
I don’t miss the five act build-up – most of the time – but I do miss the intensity and length of those early orgasms. And while I miss the wide-eyed shock that my body – that the person inside it – is capable of that much sensation, that much pleasure, I get an incredible amount of satisfaction from knowing for definite that I am.