A Birthday Gift To Myself: Reclaiming My Body

Woman's left shoulder with right hand resting on neck.
Woman's left shoulder with right hand resting on neck.

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This summer, I came across some old journals from my childhood. It was fun seeing the world through my third grade eyes. Until I came to this passage: "We went into the store and were in an aisle where this guy came and kept following us around scratching his private spots. I knew from books I'd read to stay where there were a lot of people. Finally, we lost him. It was scary."

I couldn't believe what I was reading. I didn't remember the event, and didn't mention it again the remainder of the journal. I couldn't believe that at the tender age of 8 years old I had read that if someone was making sexual advances towards me to stay "where there were people". But thank goodness I had.

Later that day, I had progressed to my high school journals. I had always had some rough recollection of an incident at a festival where I had been groped, but the details were hazy. Until I came to this passage written by my 15-year-old self: "Last night a man put his hand on my butt and his finger you know where. It was so gross! I pushed him away and I wish I would have punched him! I HATE HIM!"

So there it was. In my own handwriting. Another experience of receiving a direct message from a man that my body was something for his enjoyment, irrespective of my own personal needs.

Later in college, I encountered yet another man who reinforced the message that my body was not for me. As I was walking to class one beautiful fall day, a car slowly pulled up next to me and a man called out. I'm pretty friendly and expected to find someone looking for directions to a building on campus. Instead, I came face-to-face with a man looking at me intently while furiously masturbating.

I did not intend to be sitting here on the night before my 40th birthday writing about these experiences. Nor is it my intent to shame the entire male race. I know that the overwhelming majority of the men in my life will probably be horrified reading about these experiences, or have had horrible experiences themselves. But I need to share these stories... for myself... and for others who have had similar experiences. I need to reclaim my body for myself, and hope that by doing so, other women are inspired to do the same for themselves.

These stories do not define me. I am a happy person, in a happy relationship. But sitting here I know these stories have affected me. And I know that by finding my voice and sharing these stories, their affect will be lessened.

I am sad at the part these experiences played in distancing me from my own body. Not feeling like my body was safe took a toll on my self-confidence and kept me from experiencing pleasure. Being disconnected from my body meant I was unable to rely on the wisdom of my body to help me determine when I was a "Yes" or a "No" or a "Maybe" in a sexual encounter, instead having to rely on logic or what I thought I should or should not want in a given situation.

So I am reclaiming my body as my birthday gift to myself. This body is mine. This body is beautiful. This body is powerful. This body is resilient and capable of extreme pleasure. This body is incredibly wise. I will no longer let society or unwanted experience place limitations on what I do with my body. I am reclaiming my arms, hands, legs, feet, chest, heart, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and yes... my pussy... for me.

This blog reflects my real-life experiences. I'd love to hear about your experiences, so let's continue the conversation in the comments section below.

You can also check out these resources or email me at pam@downtothere.com if you are interested in classes or coaching to explore your own sexuality. I am a sex and relationship coach and if I can't personally help you, I'd be very happy to connect you with other wonderful sex educators, coaches and therapists.

New to this blog and want to start at the beginning? Check out this post about why I started a blog about sex.