I’m still a bit of a kid when it comes to dealing with sex. I had only ever made love with one man, into my 50s.
My “life” (hahahaha) partner, Rog.
He gave me two STIs. One turned nasty on me years later, and I have had to deal with a serious cervical cancer diagnosis, surgery and radiotherapy.
After earlier procedures that cauterised my cervix, scraping abnormal cells off it.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I have done well since.
And today, I got notice that I will be called up for a Covid vaccine in late July.
I get to jump the queue a bit, because I am still considered immuno-compromised.
Anyway, it brought up so much of my “stuff” getting that text.
Stuff about my attitude to sexual health.
It was started, and sealed, in my teens. Growing up in the AIDS era (shit, sex could KILL you!) My Dad was shoved out of the closet, and I feared for my mother’s life. I was sure I was NEVER going to put myself at risk. No sex until I was in love, and deeply committed. Sure it was with a person who would never put me at risk.
I discussed this ad nauseum with Roger. I always had condoms in the house, “just in case there is ever a fuck up, don’t EVER put me at risk, kay?”
Anyway, so that didn’t happen.
As Chump Lady explains, we all need to have the Awkward STD Conversation (ASTDC)
“An aside — if you’re dating and sleeping with people, you NEED to endure the ASTDC. Do it for several reasons — a) to inform your partner about your state of health and b) assess their character. Are they doing the same for you? Are they cavalier about your health? Their own health? Are they considerate? Careful? Will they assume that all responsibility for birth control belongs to you? (Jerk) Or do they carry condoms and aren’t afraid to use them?”
I was pretty impressed with BG. He showed me a clean, recent STI screen, very early in the piece. He never asked for mine! Eeeek. He took me at my word that I had only been with one man, ever. I did disclose the HPV strain I had. And that he was not faithful. So I was an at risk partner, but had been screened and got six monthly smears.
This is what I imagined being a grown up was. Being sensible about sex and potential risks, both to and from peoole you might have sex with.
But Roger never used condoms with Leanne. I can’t imagine he did with Trinket either. He wouldn’t say. Which means “no, I am not using condoms, while I sleep with (at least) two women simultaneously.
With my research coming into focus again lately, I revisited my acknowledgements. My dedication to Rog aside, I re-read the opening paragraph of both my thesis itself (earlier post) but also, my acknowledgements.
And my heart cracked a bit further. I can’t read further on, about my love standing by me as I undertook this massive project. Ugh. Bastard.
But these words. I had no idea he waa still cheating. Shopping for an easy out. Instead, I felt this was my healing document. Fucker…
“Embarking on academic research is always a giant personal challenge. I
will be forever grateful I took it up. Delving into a topic that has left deeply
personal tracks on my own identity was always going to add to, and uncover
layers of emotional wounds, but also point to the human capacity for healing
and the formation of beautiful scars. More importantly, it presented an
opportunity that would help give voice to those who have survived, and
flourished since, the rupture to their relationships and homes.”
I thought I was starting to unfurl from the pain. I visualised an incredible blooming of us. I’d beaten the infidelity demon.