Shortly after I moved back to the San Francisco after a short stint in LA, I went to a party. There was nothing special about the party itself – in fact, I only remember one thing about it. At some point during the evening, a woman arrived. She came in quietly, but for the space of a breath, the energy shifted as, deep beneath the surface, everyone noticed her. Even after the moment passed, the latent awareness remained.
I admired that woman for the rest of the night – not because she was dishy, (which she was), but because she owned the room by sheer dint of owning herself. Deep into her thirties, she had nothing of the girl about her. Whereas my friends and I were pretty little kittens, the woman was a cat – strong and still and feline in her self-possession. More than anything I wanted to be that… I was 26 at at the time.
Fast forward ten years. At this point, I am extremely comfortable with myself, sexually speaking. This hasn’t always been the case. At thirty-six, I’m sitting pretty on the sexual curve – old enough to know what interests me, and young enough to… I was going to say, “have fun with it” but I don’t actually agree with that statement. I don’t see myself as ever getting too old to “have fun with it” – at least not until I break a hip or don’t know which end is up.
So then, let’s say that it’s less of a sexual curve and more of a straight, (ha), progression. I’m old enough to enjoy my sexuality without reservation or apology. Like the woman at the party, I’ve left my hang-ups behind… and darlin’, I had hang-ups, and I had them for a good long time.
While my sexual appetite has always been what one ex called “voracious,” – “your best quality, baby…”, (for the record, he was a peach) – there was a minefield of insecurity and bad experience surrounding me. That minefield made it hard for me to enjoy sex, or my partners, or myself honestly. This was very much the case all the way through my twenties.
Since I’m in a sharing kind of mood, allow me to qualify the contents of my minefield. I was self-conscious about being naked in front of anyone, even though I’m 5’10 and roughly 138 pounds. I was nervous about being on top for the same reason – small breasts and visible ribs couldn’t be pretty to look at. I was good with my hands, (still am, thanks), but nervous about giving and receiving oral – giving because I was afraid of doing something wrong, and receiving because I was afraid of not enjoying myself enough to satisfy my partner. This terrified me, and constituted my own version of performance anxiety….
And that right there is the key. Performance anxiety. For my younger self, sex was performance. I had to be perfect. I had to be beautiful. I had to be fucking excellent in bed, or I was worthless. While I was genuinely hungry for experience, part of me always stood back, tense and expectant, sure I was going to do something wrong and disappoint whoever I was with. That tension made the minefield, and that’s where the hang-ups came from.
Then, somewhere around 33, something changed. The worry burned me out, and I started to relax. It was a virtuous cycle – the more I relaxed, the more I enjoyed, the more I relaxed, etc., etc. Interestingly, it was right around that time that I began writing erotica more seriously too. In the end, my hang ups fell gradually away. Freed from my self-imposed traps, I came slowly into my own. I grew up. I stopped being a kitten, and became a cat – an experience not uncommon to women later in life.
I doubt my presence commands the attention that woman’s did ten years ago. To be honest, it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to own a room. I need to own myself and, now that I have some life under my belt, I do. I wield my sexuality when and how I choose, rather than allowing insecurity to wield me. It’s a wonderful feeling and it makes me wish I could take my younger self out for a drink to give a bit of advice… not that I would listen. Knowing me, I’d insist on nipping through the minefield to figure it out, one hang-up at at time.