What the sex clinic taught me about fear.

Image courtesy of  Pixabay .

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

STD testing.

A responsible adult thing to do when you're sexually active, regardless of what sort of protection you may or may not be using. Regardless of how often you have sex. Regardless of whether or not you have symptoms.

I go about once a year unless I have cause for concern.

My once a year due-date happens to have arisen while I'm in Florida.

I'm no longer a permanent resident in the US. Which means not only do I not have a doctor to do this magic sorcery for me, but I also don't have insurance.

Enter: the clinic.

I found the best rated clinic in St. Petersburg. And when I walked in the door, info-packs and posters about HIV and STDs covered the wall. On the TV, a 90s era film that looks like something we might've all watched in high school health class to avoid the awkward connection with our actual teacher about how to put on condoms was playing on the screen, as couples of "actors" played out very unrealistic scenes about contraceptives and what it means to have safe sex (complete with very dramatic music). The 20 minute short was on repeat, which means when you spend an hour waiting in the lobby, you really get the message loud and clear.

The vibe was super fear-monger-y.

I used to be terrified of sex because of scenes like this. Up until my mid to late 20s I literally feared pregnancy and AIDs almost every single time I had sex, particularly if my partner wasn't wearing a condom.

The only time I wasn't totally terrified about all this was if I was intoxicated. You can imagine how enjoyable all those experiences were (or imagine me at that age thinking that was what good sex was).

I guess maybe that's the point. If we're afraid, maybe there'll be less abortions, and less HIV+ folks wandering around, and generally less disease, and perhaps that will make the world a better place. Personally, I don't think it all boils down to that, but I guess I can at least understand that perspective.

But what's also happening that concerns me even more than this, is that people are literally afraid of expressing desire because desire and sex happen to intersect quite a bit. And if our desire FOR sex - a perfectly normal basic human need - is draped in fear, so is our desire for literally everything else.

That sensation of being totally out of control which I now equate to really great sex was completely inaccessible to me from that vantage point of the fear-based "safe sex" model we were all taught. And so was this life I now consider normal wherein I'm unequivocally clear that I'm in the unknown, and am absolutely delighted by that fact, such that sex happens to be the most embodied version of every other element of my life. A lot of things have shifted for me over time, but one of the more fundamental ones was unlocking the shame and fear I had around my own desire (both sexual, and otherwise).

Such that, from the outside looking in, all this fear-based sex-ed seems completely outrageous.

I feel like there has to be some middle ground here that doesn't involve shame and fear.

What if we just talked to our kids honestly about what sex is, about what STDs are, and how to prevent them?

What if we all were educated about how powerful and incredible this level of honesty can be?

What if we just had open, honest conversations with our partner(s) about our sexual history and our desire without all the judgment and panic and fear?

What if we stopped making people wrong for their desire, perceiving it as a threat, and started celebrating them for it instead?

What if we were responsible with and took ownership of this potent thing that exists in each of us and that manifests itself as the truest symbol of human connection there is (both the actual act of sex itself, and truth)?

What if we weren't so afraid to be ourselves?