One upon a time, a very long time ago, I ditched school with my HS boyfriend and went home for the afternoon when my parents were at work. My BF and I had been dating for a hot minute. Getting naked together that afternoon seemed like a much better idea than showing up for Miss Moyers’ Senior English class.
I drove him up the hill where I lived on Carol Drive in my (always) filthy yellow VW Bug. Wilted pink camellia blossoms covered the sidewalk outside of the house.
We went in through the kitchen (home to many terrifying fights between my parents) and found my bedroom down the hall. Crazy 70’s yellow & orange floral wallpaper covered the walls.
I remember being nervous. This was the first time for us. (Later, there'd be wonderful moments at the beach with the sun rising, but this was new.)
Like lots of people, I had insecurities about my body, even though I was a "popular" girl who got attention for being cute at school.
I imagine I seemed confident to him. He likely didn’t recognize my feelings of inadequacy. He was (and is) a very nice boy (now a man) who would have never intentionally hurt me.
If he’s reading this now, I hope that he knows that I don’t judge him harshly.
We were both kids - maybe too young to be getting naked. I see that today, but at the time, it was the best idea in the world, teenage hormones being what they are.
We undressed awkwardly and moved to my vintage brass bed - a gift from my godfather.
And he said “You look really good with your clothes on.”
“With your clothes on.”
The words rang in my head.
Here I was, completely naked.
It may have been just a fleeting thought that passed through his mind - how I looked in my cheerleading outfit or some fancy dress I’d worn to a school dance. Or maybe my nakedness confused or scared him for some reason.
Whatever it was, to my naked self, his words cut like a knife. It felt like I wasn't good enough in his eyes. And that mattered the world to me.
I know that he loved me like only a HS BF could - in an awkward combination of heartfelt conversation, acne’ed passion (I had acne - he didn't) and post BB game groping sessions near the football field off Poli St.
We ended up managing our experience together that afternoon fairly well. We had fun. I didn’t get pregnant and neither of us got some weird disease. It was fine. But I felt the sting of that comment for a long time.
Over the years, I’ve done my healing work. The memory of those words isn’t in my body anymore the way it was when I was younger. But the memory reminds me of how even the smallest things can feel traumatic depending on where you are in your life at the time. Know what I mean?
I talked about this in a 4 minute video on Facebook LIVE this week.You can either listen (or re-listen) to it here or just read about the 3 things I shared below (with timestamps to the recording).
And, you can meet Fen - my naughty rescue puppy who interrupted everything. LOL
1:06 The story about me and my BF
2:39 When my puppy wanted to be on camera.
2:58 Tip #1 Yes, it’s trauma
That experience in my way too flowery bedroom so many years ago was a little moment in time. My BF and I took a risk in the middle of a sunny SoCal afternoon and explored our intimate physical connection. His comment back then unintentionally hurt me, and yes - that was trauma. I didn’t have a lot of experience being seen sexually by a man/boy. His implied evaluation that I looked better dressed than I did naked hit me in a vulnerable place and stuck with me. I felt it in my body and although he didn’t intend it, it hurt me. Have things like this happened in your life, too? Realize the impact.
3:29 Tip #2 And it impacts you
My afternoon delight (with hurt feelings) was a tiny trauma. But, my BF’s words hit me in a place of vulnerability and stayed with me. Is this memory why I've had to work to feel good in my own skin? No, it’s not. As a woman in this culture, my experience is like that of so many others. I've been lambasted by messages of not good enoughness from the media and the culture about my body my whole life. But little things like this one experience add up. Even though that moment in my room was many, many years ago, It had an impact on me as all traumatic events do..
3:34 Tip #3 Let it go
It's one thing to recognize trauma, another to let it go completely. I know that. Trauma sticks in our bodies. It's a physical and emotional response to a difficult event we've experienced.
You won't likely forget traumatic events. They’lll stay with you, and in many ways, that’s good. When you remember what happened, you’re able to heal. Letting go of trauma means releasing the physical and emotional reaction to the memory.
How to do that?
Move your body,
focus on one or more of your 5 senses,
do some yoga or
listen to a guided meditation.
Find a professional support person to guide you.
Let it go.
You got this.
PS: Want to talk with your partner about all this stuff but you don't know where to start? The Intimacy Workshop is the ONLY trauma-informed, consent based communication workshop available. It's only $49 and you'll get to join a bonus Q & A call with me on October 3rd at 5 pm Pacific if you join before then. Here's the link. https://www.howtofixmysexlife.com/workshop.html
PPS: You may have had horribly traumatic experiences in your past. So have I. Your micro-traumas give you insight into your body’s response to trauma in general.
My suggestion: Start with the little things and let them go first. xoxo