I can clearly remember the first time I got good and slut-shamed. Well, not completely clearly. I don’t remember the dude I banged in the story I was telling my dear friend Matt about, when asked about my weekend. I was banging a lot of guys at the time, finding my sexual awakening post college, because during college I was too afraid of being called a slut to actually let many dudes penetrate me. I totally respect anyone’s decision to or not to bone. The problem with me in college was that in fact, I wanted to bone a bunch of dudes but believed that somehow if I was an “everything but” girl that it would satisfy my equally paralyzing fears of getting knocked up and being called a slut.
Thankfully, in my post-college years I realized that no one cared about who went inside me except for me (and hopefully the guy doing the entering) and felt finally free to have all the sexual adventures I had wanted for myself. And low and behold, I found that sex between two consenting adults is awesome. Awesome, awkward, at times embarrassing (hellloooooo farting while being little spoon), but mostly pretty liberating to realize I didn’t have to care what anyone thought.
Until Matt Silverberg.
This “friend” wanted me to know he was watching, from a distance, and was not liking what he saw.
He said to me: “Alisa, you’re sleeping around, sometimes with more than one guy in a weekend. Frankly you are acting like you have daddy issues, and you’re better than that”.
Matt ‘Slut-Shame a Girl’ Silverberg.
This Drake-inspired, ‘you’re a good girl you just need a good man to remind you’ message from a guy I can say confidently has watched too many Aaron Sorkin productions, landed. And it landed hard.
Because he was right.
Being a survivor of child sexual abuse is complicated. It was complicated that the man who abused me was my father. It was complicated for me to face this truth about my childhood later in life, after college, when I had the power to leave his grasp, to make the decision to stay and drown or to blow up my entire family and and save my own life. But to do this, amidst the suicidal thoughts and lethal levels of internalized guilt, at the same time that I was trying to live that fun, young single lady in the city thing you see on TV shows about white girls with money, was...complicated.
I looked around me for validation, for some sort of example that I could deal with the horror of what happened to me in my childhood and still be a healthy, high-functioning human. I wanted to see that I could be a survivor and also be sexy and not be afraid of my own body, and what I found was bleak. The amount of shit out there about the narrative of the chick with daddy issues that has low self-esteem and is looking for validation through sex is pervasive, and boy, is it a bummer.
Because for me, having sex was the first example I could hold onto that I had made the right decision. That, despite the emails from my grandmother insisting that I was killing my father by cutting him out of my life, and the horror when I realized my sister found it easier to blame me than our father, it was all worth it. Sex demonstrated my own survival.
For the first time in my whole entire life, I didn’t hear that voice in my head telling myself that boning would make me a slut. For the first time, I felt safe when I touched myself. For the first time, I could let a man lie on top of me and, for whole minutes at a time, be able to let go of a fear that instead of seeing the dude on top of me, that I’d see *his* face.
I had just freed myself from the anchor that was dragging me down to the depths of the ocean, drowning me. And now, for the first time I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin as I floated to the surface of the water.
It wasn’t perfect, all these years later it still isn’t perfect, I can still get triggered during sex and PTSD is a life-time commitment to understanding that it’s possible for that to happen. And it’s scary and it’s fucked up and it’s disappointing, but it’s also surviving.
So when Matt ‘Concern Trolling’ Silverberg told me he didn’t approve of my actions and that he thought I was better than my “daddy issues” behavior, I was genuinely confused. I wish I could tell you all that I told him to fuck off. I wish I could tell you that it didn’t take several more months for me to realize that this person was not actually a friend. But it took time to get there.
Because I do have daddy issues.
It is a goddamn issue that my father sexually abused me.
It is a goddamn issue that for years I blamed myself for what happened to me.
Yes, I have daddy issues. But in that moment, frankly the only issue I gave a shit about was this garbage dude on the other end of the phone that believed my way of surviving was not lady-like enough for his delicate sensibilities.
Yes, I will always have issues. But at least today I can say the Matt Silverbergs of the world are no longer one of them.
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