Numbers. I was a math major, so sometimes, it's easier to look at numbers.
I was 2 years old when I prayed a child's prayer to Jesus. Five before I could convince the pastor to baptize me. My understanding of Grace and Salvation was pretty rudimentary back then, and what really, what mastery over her own life does a toddler have to hand over to God? As a teenager, I learned lots of head-knowledge about the bible, but it didn't connect with heart knowledge about Who Was In Charge. I listened to the sermons about sexual activity, even prayed a promise to wait until marriage. That was before I got a boyfriend.
Didn't quite make it to Sixteen and Never Been Kissed; I was 16 the first time I had "all-the-way" sex with my first boyfriend. They really just don't cover how darn good it feels, and how hard it is to slow it down, to Not Go There.
My boyfriend lived 37 miles south of where I did, in the densely populated SF-San Jose corridor of California. We met at a Science Fiction convention in The City (SF), before either of us had a license to drive. This is the driving force behind our weekend dates. More often, he would take the commuter train up to Hillsdale station on a Friday night, and take one of the last trains back on a Sunday. When I got my license (a few weeks before he did), I started driving down to spend weekends with him. If you asked my mom about that, she'd say "he has a mother, too."
Once or twice, my dad would worry aloud about me settling down so quickly with Just One Boy. The idea being that dating many boys would keep things on a more shallow plane, physically. Looking back, I also understand his concern about me getting So Attached emotionally, at such a young age.
I get attached. Casual dating? It hasn't worked so well for me.
Flar, my husband, was my second boyfriend, my second sexual partner. Hoo boy! Almost a ringer, if we were playing horseshoes, right? We met the second or third week of my freshman year at Rice, in Houston. I fell hard and long for him.
But, there was that time that we spent the summer apart, and Flar said he thought we should date other people. By then, my idea of dating naturally included sex. Oh, not on the first date, but yeah, eventually. I dated a guy who was a lovable jerk, and I over-reacted to the jerk part and probably handled that poorly. Then I flew in love. Again. I mean, I was already in love with Flar, right? But now, there was this other guy, and he pulled all the right strings, and it was supposed to be merely a summer fling, but oh my. My memory about this is pretty fuzzy. I was planning to fly out to CA to see Flar near the end of the summer, and bless my selfish little girl soul, I was going to fly all the way out there to break up with him. Mom could somehow sense (somehow, I say, since I wasn't open about my sexual activities with Mom; she did know I was dating) some of what was going on, and demanded that if I was going to break up with Flar, that I call him and talk to him.
I can never remember if was a day or an hour. More than the latter, possibly less than the former. But, breaking up didn't stick. I still have a letter that he wrote me about that time. I remember the tear-filled conversation where I called him? He called me? And we talked and talked. He made it very clear, without doing so, that he was going to propose when I went out to CA, and he did. When I say my goodbyes to the other fellow, he was all about me finding my happiness.
So then Flar and I were married. A little rocky start, but together forever and amen, right?
At our wedding reception, we danced together to "Honesty" by Billy Joel.
Um, sorta. After about seven years of marriage, we had this "encounter" with a good friend of Flar's. And oh me oh me. There is a special frisson to newness. To the unfamiliar. To the forbidden. Flar liked seeing me come all alive, and then wrote up this long list of ideas about how we could open up our marriage to this kind of activity, to bring more excitement back into our bedroom.
Only his idea was that it wouldn't involve falling in love.
Which I did. Almost right away.
I get attached.
Over the years, our ideas evolved, and eventually we had ourselves a poly marriage. Multiple partners, permission to be with others, keep it honest, keep each other's feelings in mind, etc. etc. etc.
I went through my wild period. I went through my deeply involved period. Through the course of 15 or so years, I managed to rack up 53 partners of varying seriousness; discovered I liked pain, and I had a pretty high tolerance for it; wrecked two different relationships that Flar started by my increasingly erratic emotional volatility; accepted a collar from a man who somehow rubbed Flar the wrong way; and seriously injured my relationship with Flar in areas of trust, physical intimacy and emotional intimacy. I pretty much wrecked my relationship with the man I called Master, and when he broke it off, I was wrecked.
Sometimes it takes "hitting bottom" to find your feet.
It took me 44 years to understand that when I made that toddler's prayer, I left out something. I held back the "privilege" of being the master of my own life. It took trying to give that mastery away to a flawed, mere human to make me see that I wasn't supposed to have it at all. I was supposed to give that up to Christ way back when I made that Simple Little Prayer™. I was 44 years old, when I became a true Christ follower. I was wife to one man, second-wife to another, ex-submissivewive to another. Another love had helped knock some sense into my head during this time, and had come back into my life.
So here I was. Wanting to follow where ever Christ would lead, and in the middle of many relationships. The first choice I made was to take away the sexual component of these relationships. That decision came gradually. I discovered that before I had even made this decision, Christ had lifted away the terrible, driving Audrey 2 NEED that I had for sex, MORE sex. But making this choice took away confusion for me.
It's occasionally been hard. I thought I was ready to be friends with Camel far sooner than was true, and it sent me in a tailspin. But more recently, it's like I've just shed all of that like baggage. Oh, I LOVE agape philia eros LOVE all of my remaining partners, but I am content for this to be on a non-physical basis. And, waddayaknow, that was never a requirement from any of them? Who knew?
I spent 29 years living under a system of very selfish me-first ethos when it came to sex. I lied, as a teenager. I even lied at times to Flar, even though we had promised honesty.
I am not one to speak of ethics from experience. In the absence of God's Suggested Methods for Optimal Enjoyment, I believe honesty to be the topmost priority in attempting to build a system of sexual ethics from scratch.
I know that God didn't love me any less for liking pain, for liking humiliation, for seeking submission, for loving women, for acting the whoring harridan. I know that He wept with me when I was distraught and flailing about for purpose and guidance. I know that He celebrated with me with I turned to Him.
I understand the concepts He laid out for preserving the bestest possible experience of human love and sexual intimacy. I understand how easy it is to find pain and loss by blazing my own trail.
I love Flar; I love many others. I even love Gaucha. One thing my experience has taught me, is how very easy it is to follow God's command to Love. And how easy it is to turn Grace into License.
So, I'm poly, I'm bi, I'm a pain-slut, I'm submissive. But I currently reserve all forms of physical intimacy for Flar. And we're starting fresh with cuddling, which is more gift than I deserve, given the history we've had together.
Oh, and roller coasters are just roller coasters again. A nice healthy adrenaline rush. Kind of nice.