If I were to give someone, a young girl advice about her lovers what advice would I give?
I would ask her to consider, when is it worth it all?
For me, the first time seemed to be worth it. It hurt like hell and it was pretty awkward, but it was love and it felt real. For some people this stays the same. For others, maybe not. It did not stay the same with me. Lots of things happened after that. There were break-ups, get-back-togethers and even new loves. In fact, it wasn’t until my later-to-be husband and I were together that I felt I learned what the term “making love” seemed to mean.
It wasn’t until then that I felt that I had a grasp on what this is supposed to mean. Why all my life there was such a big fuss over sex. However, even when I finally felt that I had a grasp on what this term meant, this modern concept of “making love,” still didn’t feel right. It isn’t a term that fits well in my mouth. Making love. That’s…so cheesy and uncomfortable.
Simply put, it brings up uncomfortable pictures of me in a lacey, white gown, hanging my bloody, marriage sheets from my window, forced to display to the world that I was indeed a virgin on my wedding night. Obviously, that was not going to happen.
In my marriage and in my quest for what I feel fully satisfies all my hopes and desires, I seek something better. There must be a better way to describe what I have been looking for. There must be a better word to describe what I expect from myself and from my sex life.
Now, to lots of people, this might sound like the deranged ramblings of degenerate with no moral compass. In some circles, I certainly am. It is true, that despite all the Southern Baptist preaching received throughout my youth and all the well-intended sermons and uncomfortable youth-room talks, I obviously did not wait until marriage. It’s official. I’ll say it. Pre-marital sex. Sorry, ya’ll. So there it is. I did not wait until marriage and I thank God for that.
I bet I have now rustled some jimmies. “Oh, how dare she!” Bless her soul, she is such a sinner.
So, here is the rest of my secret. This idea of being thankful that I had pre-marital intercourse is a new one. In my family it is not something we talk about. My mother, God help her, went running out of the room crying when I told her I was pregnant — despite the fact that I was and had been engaged for some time. I don’t fault her though. I understand the religious ideals behind it. I grew up with these ideals smothering and choking a very innocent and impressionable me with images of fire and brimstone.
Still, I wonder. If I could tell the thirteen-year-old me what to look for, if I could tell the eighteen-year old me what to look for, if I could tell twenty-one-year-old me, what would I say? How could I get around all the years of adults talking at me and not talking to me? What would I want to know about what love and sex is really supposed to be like? For me, I need something else. I need a better term for “making love.” Not only that, but I need it to mean what I have always needed it to mean. Something significant that doesn’t sound synonymous to and as over-used as “abstinence” or “chastity.”
Dear Various Versions of Me,
Hey little girl. Hey young woman. Do you know what you’re looking for? What is that special thing you seek in a partner, in boyfriend, in a lover, in a friend? What do you want? What do you really deserve? You deserve to Wage Wars.
What you want is a love. You want a real experience. Something and someone that — in the end — you would wage wars for it again and for that person again. Someone to say, “For you, my dear, I will Wage Wars.”
I think that to do that you need to be like her, Helen of Troy. She was the woman that men fought and died for. She was the woman that Paris betrayed everyone he loved for and the woman that Menelaus could never forget. You, and every young girl, are the face that launched a thousand ships.
In your story, in your life, there is no one else. At night when you are alone, there is only you. In the morning when you wake up and he is already gone, there is only you. In the evening, when you’re getting ready in front of the bathroom mirror there is only you. You need a love to wage wars for because you cannot even look at yourself in the mirror long enough to do your makeup. Did you know that experts say if you can maintain eye contact with yourself in the mirror that you have good self-esteem? Poor girl, you cannot maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds. So you try again. One…two…Stop looking away from the mirror. There is only you.
The Very Young Girl
For the very young girl, just figuring out why all your friends can’t stop talking about “it” and why the adults all assume you are doing “it.” All you can think is
Why can you all not stop talking about ‘it?’”
My little lost love, this is a hard thing to discover and a harder thing to hold on to, but you must wage your own wars for a while. Wage wars against those with good intentions, wage wars against those with bad. Wage wars in defense of a love for yourself.
Your parents have spent a lot of time worrying, caring, and deciding things for you that they think are best. It is only the last few years that they have had to adjust to the sound of your voice carrying an opinion. Remember that they love you.
However, remember that there are choices that will have to be made, by you, that may be cannot be taken back. Wage a war in kindness. Pave a pathway in communication. Speak proudly, even when the taller voices also seem like louder voices.
“Be nice to your friends.” “Share.” “Don’t hit. Don’t punch.” “Follow the Golden Rule.” All these things are said by those who believe they know best for you and sometimes think they know best for others too.
Even in a publicly-funded junior high you are forced to sit awkwardly with two hundred other teenagers listening to a poorly-conceived lecture about chastity. As a girl you are specifically cornered by one of the male speakers for refusing to take a special, cream-colored, laminate “V for Virginity” card. Why wouldn’t I take one? Take one. Here, take one. All your friends are doing it. Take one. After all, surely writing “V-Card” on it with big, angry, red letters and leaving an ominous space for our names will certainly persuade thirteen-year-olds to sign something they don’t even understand anyway.
But, you aren’t a little child any more. You make decisions about how you see yourself. Often, you even make decisions that sometimes the grown-ups, the taller voices, don’t like. Sometimes your parents even make decisions that other parents don’t like. Lots of people have good intentions for you, but some have bad intentions in disguise. The worst part is that sometimes those with bad intentions have quieter voices, but make the most noise.
The Young Woman
They pulled you out of class in junior high to discuss chastity. In high school they have girls and boys stand in front of the health class so they can stick a piece of tape to your new, pink shirt. Then, they rip the tape off of you and put it on the next person in line. It’s that cute boy who sits next to you. Both your faces turn red in embarrassment.
Then, the tall, serious looking blonde woman continues to the next person and the next. The sound of the tape being stripped from each shirt is at first deafening in the quiet classroom, but becomes less and less each time. Finally, the tape doesn’t stick any more. “This is what happens every time you have sex.” The tall, blonde woman from The Elizabeth New Life Center says, with a cold smile across perfect teeth. “You are just like this dirty piece of tape. Would anyone really want this gross piece of tape?”
This is a scary, embarrassing, and horrible experience for you. Everyone starts to look around. It’s high school. A lot of us already know some history and reputation of our peers. The star basketball player laughs it off, but he hasn’t blinked since he sat back down. Rumor has it that his girlfriend’s mom forced the girl to have an abortion last year. It’s just rumors, of course. But she is in this class and was the last in the line. She was the one left holding the furry piece of Scotch. This lesson certainly has left an unfair impression on these impressionable youths.
Wage wars against this my dear. We all make decisions and we all live differently. That girl is not worth less than the girl who still has her laminated V-Card from middle school tucked away into her Bible. The girl who carries her Bible is not worth less after prom night, because she threw the card away and is longer wearing her Promise Ring. You are not worth less than anyone for considering having safe sex with your boyfriend next Friday. Wage wars for yourself. Think about decisions you make, protect yourself and be sure, but do not let anyone else determine your worth.
Young woman. Dancing Queen, only seventeen. This means that he needs to treat you with the respect you deserve. It also means that you need to command the respect that you deserve. You don’t do what is uncomfortable. You say no when something feels wrong and you leave when he doesn’t listen. No, you will not move to the back seat of the car. Yes, you are hurting me. No, that is not okay. You will wage a war for your own rights, you will wage a war for the rights of those like you.
Your good friend’s boyfriend asks you, “I make her happy right? You know I love her.” I think you do. “Why can’t we just? Can you ask her to? I don’t understand why it’s such a big deal.You could talk her into it.” She said no. Why would I every do that?
Older and Wiser
Now, older, wiser one. Life is stressful. He is so sweet and it feels so good. You need to wage a war for yourself. When it comes down to it, you must see yourself as though you are Helen of Troy. In your life and your story, you are. You should be. You must be. In that moment, you are the most beautiful and the most special person in your Paris’ life. You should expect nothing less from those you are the most intimate with.
You have been around this block, and you need to know what exactly you are looking for. If it is forever, when it is over, and you are both sweating and panting, you should feel like it was so good you could not live without it.
You could not go one more day without him. God help anyone who stands in your way. Ask yourself, when it is all said and done, when you wake up next to him in the morning — if it was do or die — would you wage a war if it meant that you got to spend just one more day with them?
Ladies. Some of us make love. Some of us have that “our mothers would be so proud, waited until the wedding night, hang the virgin sheets out the window” kind of sex and kind of love. This is okay too, but what matters most is the kind of life that comes later that morning, that evening or that night.
Can I look my friend in the eye after telling her that he was no good? Will he respect the fact that I said no last night? Will I break it off because he tried to take it too far and almost didn’t stop? You must wage a war for yourself and you must make love in a way that you can live with. What matters is your ability to live with yourself and who you are. Can I look myself in the mirror today and not look away? One…two…three…