November 1, 2011
A Guest Post by DIRTY IN PUBLIC
Picture a man with a slicked back pompadour, white t-shirt with a pack of Camels stuffed into one of the sleeves, jeans with the belt loops removed, and black leather motorcycle boots. Now throw in some hippie philosophy and a dash of John Travolta’s swag in Grease and you’ve just met the young adult version of my father. Although he ditched the smokes and opted of polyester bells in the 70’s, he was pretty much the same man.
Perhaps my mother wasn’t into polyester, because it was around that time that she chose to file for divorce. I was just three years old and even though she didn’t want custody, my dad was still forced to prove he was capable of being a good father in court. Lucky for me, he was eventually granted full custody; a unique situation for a man in the mid seventies. While growing up there were no topics off limits, including sex, at our house. If I had a question, I was encouraged to ask my Daddy anything and to expect an honest, straightforward answer. He taught me lessons that were free of fairytale ideals, without the slightest hint of shame, with the fervor of a preacher on high.
Sex was natural.
Sexual desire was a part of the human condition.
And perhaps most importantly…
If you think you’re old enough to have sex, then you’re old enough to have a frank discussion about all that comes with it. And with sex comes great responsibility.
By the time I was sexually active I was on the pill, knew about STDs, and was aware of the consequences (both emotional and physical) of having sex. My father did not rely on the school district to do his parenting for him. Thank God! With his quiet tone and dry humor, my father was able to enlighten me about the birds, the bees, and the importance of staying true to myself.
My first sexual encounter was like most. It was awkward, uncomfortable, and exciting. Quite frankly, it sucked and I was relieved when it was over. I went home and immediately took a shower. As I peered into my own eyes in the fogged bathroom mirror, I realized that I wasn’t ready to be sexual active. I was a freshman in high school (no wonder!). I was also not under the delusion that my father would’ve approved of my actions. So, I worked up the nerve to tell my boyfriend the very next day (I’m a rip off the band –aid quick kind of girl). His response? He did what most compassionate, hormone surging teen boys would’ve done in the same situation…
He dumped me.
I was heartbroken but stood by my decision (apparently my father’s longwinded lessons on sex and being responsible had sunk in), and my vindication for being unceremoniously kicked to the curb came six months later when a mutual friend informed me that my ex had knocked up his new girlfriend. He was going to be a father at the ripe old age of 15.
Phew. I dodged that bullet!
After that I really started to appreciate all that my father had taught me. However, it wasn’t until I was an adult in my 30s, divorced, with a young child of my own, that I became completely aware of the positive impact his teachings had had on my life. After my divorce I was bent but broken. Still, I was in no way ready for another relationship but had physical needs. I was honest with myself and the men I dated about my desire to be in their company, as well as my unwillingness to commit to a new relationship. Some men accepted it, some tried to change my mind, and others quickly turned tail because they simply couldn’t handle it.
Despite all that, because of my Daddy’s lessons, I was able to heal, meet more than a few great men, and have many amazing experiences without sacrificing my desires or myself. With time I healed and found myself in the company of a man that I could commit my whole self to. I still have a very open mind about sex while reaping the benefits of being in a committed relationship: one that affords me the freedom to explore and grow sexually without shame, while maintaining my personal integrity.
I look forward to passing the baton of confidence and a strong sexual identity to my daughter with both trepidation and honor. I plan to teach her all that my father taught me about sex, in the same honest and open way he did, in hopes that someday she will benefit from all that he taught me, just as I have.
Thank you, Daddy.