Featured Fem: Raelina Krikston
It’s not a good feeling when you come to the realization that you have just made the same mistake again. For the third, fourth, fifteenth time. The feeling of disappointment and self-hate that creeps in the early morning hours when you contemplate the ramifications of your actions. Forethought that has come too late has a sting to it. And it stings even worse in an old wound.
I hate to be the one to divulge so much about my personal life on the internet. But I think the problems that I have with myself and how it affects my romantic relationships is something that other people- men and women- struggle with as well. So in search of solidarity, I’ll metaphorically strip myself down for all the times I chose to bare it all.
I am a woman in my early twenties with a history of sexual abuse.
These experiences coupled with a healthy amount of media consumption taught me to believe, subconsciously, that a woman’s best qualities lay in her physical appearance- and that I as a woman, to wield as much power as I could, should prune myself to become the wet dream midnight fantasy of every man. The subtle effects of these thoughts detrimentally correlated to how I interacted with men and how I treated myself.
Consciously, I believed that the best quality about myself was my intelligence. I wanted to be desired for my mind, and not the body that contained it. I strove to downplay my appearance- I squirmed at compliments; I thought the only way to be taken seriously was to divorce myself from the “pretty girl” that others might see when they looked at me.
I wanted to be the strong independent heroine, but had no idea how this translated when it came to romantic relationships.
Not having a strong female role model in my life made things ever more complicated. Not only did I have no idea what I was doing, I felt I had no one to turn to for advice.
I adopted a I-don’t-need-a-man-to-open-the-door-for-me mentality, but when I found myself going on a date I felt pinned between two identities, the charming “coquette” or tough as steel wonder woman. Floundering between the two- becoming ever more confused. I would build up my tough strong persona only to watch it melt away when I was with someone, sacrificing what I had tried to make in lieu of what I thought they wanted- or expected.
Much of this came to light after my first “serious” relationship in college. Toeing the murky waters of womanhood turned out to be much more than I had ever expected. I was blind to the emotional dam I had built around myself until a wave of repressed memories and experiences came crashing down on me.
I was in my lowest moment when we broke up, but managed to spiral even more afterwards into a sexual escapade not unlike the plot line of a raunchy American Pie college flick.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it. I felt powerful. But in retrospect this newfound sexual prowess was more alike to a toddler wielding a chainsaw. Simply put, I was out of control.
Finally, after waking up one too many times hungover and in a stranger’s bed, I became cognizant to how I was objectifying the people around me as well as myself.
Ever since, I have been striving to change this idea of myself and others. However, there are still times I mess up.I find myself wishing I had the power to wind back the hours like a thread on a bobbin; altering my actions to neatly re-order the situations I put myself in. Because when you’re aware of your mistakes while you’re making them, the shame and regret is two-fold.
My struggle is real for many other women and men of my generation, and a surprising amount of this can be attributed to antique gender roles as well as the inundation of hard core pornography in the media sphere. We have chosen cheap and superficial relations instead of relationships. Unsurprisingly, we are left unfulfilled.
Sexuality is an important part of the human experience. I do not feel shameful for acting on my natural human desires. Rather, I feel shameful that I acted almost purely to fulfill those desires without a real human connection.
Now I have to ask myself how do I balance physical and emotional connection so as to create an enriching experience for myself and the other person I am with?
This is a lot to throw out there, and I’ve brought up many different subjects on sexuality, identity and my own personal experiences, so to conclude as concisely as possible I’ll end with this:
To be the most independent, and powerful woman, I have to own my appearance and not be shamed into a certain “identity.”
I can’t try to be someone I’m not when I was born to be the person I am. I can be smart and pretty. One does not negate the other.
My past experiences do not define me, nor do they make me less worthy of love.
Everyone has baggage, and the sooner you can face it, the sooner you can make real progress. Being open and honest about my past with other people will lead to less misunderstandings/confusion and foster deeper and more meaningful connections.
Seek out and cultivate real relationships- platonic and romantic.
Social media exchange and gossip is not the basis for a real friendship, but too many of us confuse the two. I have a genuine interest to get to know people, listen to what their dreams are and find out their motivations for life. With this interest as a foundation, I could consider going to a romantic level with someone.
If you’ve read up to this point, thank you. If you can relate, or would just like to send me a message, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org or @RaelinaMarie on Twitter.