Growing up, I never thought I could be comfortable with my sexuality. I never even wanted to admit that I had sexual feelings! I wanted to exist like a cartoon character, just cute, funny, and loveable... that was ideal for me, or so I told myself. I didn’t want to admit that I had sexual desires, because that was “gross” and girls aren’t supposed to want sex! Right? Well, this flawed thinking was incredibly harmful for me in my life. And I know I’m not alone. Right now, this kind of thinking is damaging to millions of girls and multiple generations of women. Who can relate to feeling sexual desire but being too scared to open up to those feelings and closing yourself off instead? This is my self-love journey and how I went from feeling shut down to feeling safer and sexually open.
When I was 16 and about to ‘lose my virginity’ to my then boyfriend, I was expecting to feel the immense pleasure I saw in every Hollywood sex scene! Yearning to know what the intensity of an orgasm was like and take the rite of passage to being a sexually liberated young women, I couldn’t have been more disappointed. It lasted about 20 seconds and it hurt every step of the way. My sister picked me up from his house and I cried the entire way home. She summed it up as a fight, and I did not correct her. Deeply embarrassed, I had a million thoughts running through my mind: What the hell is wrong with me? He clearly had a good time, why didn’t I? It definitely was NOT like in the movies... and it was about as liberating as a lip glossed, half-assed girl-power scene in a blockbuster hit. All joking aside, I felt like there was something seriously wrong with me.
As I experimented more with this boyfriend, I realized everything hurt constantly. I started to worry more and more. I clammed up at his touch, but I pushed through it because I wanted to keep my boyfriend happy. When I finally spoke up and said something hurt, he didn’t listen to me. He just kept going. I froze up. I didn’t know what to do during or after. I felt completely alone and shut down. We didn’t talk the entire week after this happened. I sent texts apologizing to him. I cried in my room. I thought I was broken. I imagined that soon enough everyone would know me as the prude who hates sex. Soon after this episode, my close to two-year relationship ended. He said he didn’t have time for a girlfriend anymore. I couldn’t shake the thought that I was to blame. That if I had been more sexual with him we would have stayed together. Never in my thought process of why we broke up did I think he was the problem or that I deserved better; somehow it was always my fault. It took me almost a decade to realize that by clinical definitions, what happened at the end of that relationship would be considered sexual assault. Instead, I blamed myself, internalizing self-hatred and shame for what could have been a lifetime.
Thus began my dance with shame monsters. Shame monsters are everything that covers your authentic self and hardens you to love. They make you doubt your power and deny yourself pleasure. They make you mean to yourself and eventually mean to other people. They represent the negative stories from culture that you adopt and start believing are true. Shame monsters rule the media and dominate politics. Shame monsters are what keep us separated from each other.
Shame monsters ate me up and spit me back out again. I let my self-esteem dwindle and eventually plummet. I thought that some women just don’t enjoy sex, and I knew plenty of people like that! Hell, before I had even thought about having sex, my best friend said to me: “Tell me when you and H do it. But don’t tell me all the other stuff, that’s nasty.” It’s taken me a very long time to figure out that it’s because we were always taught that sex is wrong, and if you’re a woman who talks about it, you are a harlot.
For a long time I felt lost and confused. I figured I would never find someone I could be comfortable with. Just when I stopped looking, I found someone that set my soul on fire. There was passion, love, and intimacy I never knew before. In college, I met people who talked about their sex lives openly, but even though I was in love, I was still very reserved sexually. I had no idea what to say! My boyfriend and I had been dating for 3 years, and it was no secret we were intimate at that point. But I still felt a lot of embarrassment about talking about our sex life. Not that everyone needs to openly discuss their sex life, but it was uncomfortable to even think about sex let alone talk about it!
Flash forward to me getting a job at the end of my senior year. After years of serving dining hall food, nannying crazy kids, and interning in the arts (making zero money) I had found a paid job related to my major, film production! My Little Yoni needed a video editing intern and I was ready for my new creative position. I know it seems odd that someone who was so uncomfortable talking about her own sex life would thrive at such a sex-positive and self-love forward company, but I considered myself a feminist and understood that women need to know about their own bodies. So I started my position thinking I could study the subject matter from an abstract intellectual perspective. I didn’t think it would change anything for me personally. Boy, was I wrong about that!
In these past 6 months, I have learned so much about myself as a woman, it absolutely baffles me. My Little Yoni’s constant messaging of self-love and acceptance has significantly impacted me. I use to wonder, “How can I be sending this message out into the world if I didn’t practice it myself?” So I started looking in the mirror and pointing out what I liked, instead of what I didn’t. I let my partner do more for me, around our apartment and in our bedroom. When I'd normally be uncomfortable and ashamed of my yoni, I starting pausing to acknowledge that she is beautiful and full of love! My yoni allows me to experience a deeper part of myself I value more than I ever knew was possible... and I also know that she’ll help me and my partner grow in our lives together as lovers.
Thankfully nowadays, the shame monsters are much smaller. They used to be so big they weighed me down, and I found myself hating everything about myself. I now try to relish in the feminine energy I hold within myself. Especially after a significant loss in my family earlier this year, I needed to lift myself out of shame monsters’ clutches and start listening to my yoni instead. She’s much nicer to me than the old stories. And to be quite frank, I’m sick and tired of treating her like this gross ‘no go zone’ between my legs. It turns out, she’s radiant, powerful and wise. She’s a little whacky and quirky, but I like that too. I feel so much more comfortable accepting all parts of my yoni now, and as a result accepting more parts of who I am as a woman. One thing I’m confident about is that my yoni is going to give me so much joy and pleasure in this life. And just saying that is a miracle. I used to feel hopeless and broken. But now I know my relationship is going to be different between my yoni and me and only get better with time. I wish all women knew that it’s never too late to change your relationship with your yoni. Whatever’s going on for you, I hope you know that you’re 100% normal. The sooner we can all realize this, the better we are for it.
Remember, the shame monsters want you to think you’re ugly and gross and that no one else knows what you’re going through. However, through my work here at My Little Yoni, I’ve heard my coworkers, customers, interview subjects, and online audience express that they feel the same things that I have at one point or another. That’s why we need to talk to each other. My Little Yoni as a superhero that smashes shame monsters and the community she represents has made me feel seen in a way I’ve never felt before. If My Little Yoni did that for me, I wonder what she could do for you and for the girls in your life? Let’s find out together and write a new story. One of positivity. One of joy. One of openness. And one of self-love and the courage and curiosity required to make a change.