This is a story that’s only ever been told to one person. It’s the story of a boy with stratospheric self-confidence and absent self-awareness. I’ve kept it to myself for years and don’t typically air my dirty laundry on the internet. But when I think about how our kids will look back on this point in time, I want to count myself non-complicit with society’s rampant objectification of women. If it gets me fired from work, ostracized from social circles, or abandoned by friends, that’s what I deserve. But there is a lesson in the mistake and that is a better story than silence.

Here it is:

With respect for her confidentiality, I’ll withhold any details on when this happened. I want to focus on the what and, as best I can, the why. I broke up with this individual in the most respectful way I could imagine at the time. Between tears she tried to ascertain specifics but I was more resolute than thoughtful. The conversation lasted late into the night. Trains stopped running. I had no other reasonable method of getting home so I called and asked if I could crash in her room until morning.

In my mind we were still friends. I didn’t want to talk to her every day. I didn’t want to deal with fights and complications but somehow, I thought, we would maitain the ‘fun’ things. I was fast, I was young, I was handsome, I was talented. I thought I was irresistible. I was able to disassociate sexuality from fidelity. In other words, I thought she would love to have one last night together regardless of our relationship status.

So I forced myself on her despite her persistent objections.

It wasn’t until the next day that I realized fully what I had done. The delay is probably a defense mechanism for justification but it doesn’t at all palliate the fact that I forced a sexual encounter upon an unwilling person. It was years until I worked up the courage to apologize. I told her that the memory haunts me and I never knew how to adequately demonstrate my remorse. When I started dating other people I realized how I had damaged her, infringed upon the desires of her intimacy. It manifests itself in my present timidity towards women. I labor to make up for that night but it’s materially impossible.

My goal here is not to reveal the deed and thereby absolve myself. My goal is to help us realize how infectious and nefarious our culture’s gender perceptions can be. Our popular media is latent with masculine aggression; women are the objects of desire while only men are able to desire. This experience did not occur in a vacuum, but was reinforced by messages around me. I don’t forget who I am; I pray every day to transcend it.

1 Timothy 1:15

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