Let me tell you about the day my ethics and intuition were tested.

Let me start off by telling you that I have nothing against sex workers,  I believe there’s no crime in a woman doing what she wants with her body,  but at 19 years old I was ill-equipped for any of this.  After my rape I went through a lot of different theories about sex.  In many cases I either ignored it or I hunted it down with little to no grey area, and little to no standards for who or what I let have access to my body.  I went through more bad decisions in the span of a few months than I can remember, and I can only imagine what a miracle it is that I’m still alive and healthy.  What brought it all to a screeching halt was John.

I met John on the internet.  I know, you’re all shocked.  I was broke and fairly desperate.  My bills were due, and what passed for a kitchen in my small shoebox apartment was empty.  So, I answered an ad.  I had been giving it away free to anyone who seemed remotely interested, so my next logical step was to try to sell it.  My self-esteem had reached such a low that I considered it a boost that anyone would pay for parking to be with me, let alone pay for my time.  John offered me $100.

An hour later I calmly opened my door.  He looked decent enough.  He seemed nice.  I chastised myself for being terrified.  I had been known to let more than one stranger through that door a night.  What made John more of a danger?  Just suck it up, I told myself.  It’ll be over in an hour, and you can go grocery shopping.

John tried to make small talk.  I tried to answer coherently.  He undressed me like a little girl undresses a new doll, making sure he sat the clothes somewhere neatly, taking his time to look over all the new details, scrutinizing as he memorized all my parts.  I watched him like a scientist, trying to divine his next move and what he expected of me.  I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as he slowly removed the thigh highs he’d asked me to wear.  I knew damned well what came next.  There was nothing left to remove.

Then John kissed me.  For some reason I hadn’t expected it.  In some ways kissing has always seemed slightly more intimate than sex, and there had been several men in my bed whose lips I had never touched.  The closer we got to what he was there for the more my panic response kicked in, and the more I tried to hide it.  He asked if I was alright, and I nodded, afraid of losing my meal ticket.

The second he pulled my body close to his I lost it.  Huge, childlike tears flooded my eyes, falling all over my face, soaking my nakedness.  I prayed for them to stop, but they wouldn’t.  John looked as if I’d smacked him.  He sat up and pulled me close, trying to compose himself and soothe me at the same time.  He stroked my hair and told me I didn’t have to do anything.  I told him everything.  He took me grocery shopping.  John spent over $200 on me that day.  In the weeks that followed he took me to dinner and bought me things I’d needed for my apartment.  He took care of me.  We never had sex.

That Valentine’s day I took a trip to NYC to visit a friend.  On my way home John called me, but I missed the call.  As I stepped from the escalator at the train station he was there.  He held a teddy bear and a dozen roses.  I wasn’t sure how he had known I was there, but it scared me.  I thanked him cautiously and told him we’d talk.  I was tired.  I was cold.  We’d talk.  He was upset, but he acquiesced.  The next day I told him I didn’t think I could see him anymore, and all Hell broke loose.  He told me he loved me.  He told me he would kill himself, or me, or both of us.  I tried to ignore it.  He’d disappear for a day or two, then he’d come back with a story about attempting suicide.  I had people come stay with me at night to make sure I was safe, and I watched my surroundings like a Secret Service agent any time I left the house.  John’s final contact with me talked about how he could have given me anything I had ever wanted.  He was right, and had I been able to just accept that I’m sure I would have been very comfortable.  Either that or I’d be dead.

What John taught me was to trust my instinct.  If something seems like a bad idea, it probably is.  My intuition has a far better decision-making track record than my brain does.

What John, my phase of no standards, and a subsequent foray into swinging with Hubby taught me was that “Just sex” isn’t for me.  Sure, it’s fun.  If there’s a new experience to be had, I’ll probably enjoy it, and if it’s with someone exceptional I won’t turn it down, but for the most part I must have some kind of connection with the other people involved.  I’m not claiming I need to have love to have sex with someone, but we have to at least have some kind of chemistry.  Without it, sex gets empty and unfulfilling for me.  It was after my experience with John that I stopped seeking any set of arms that would have me and started seeking some that cherished me and valued me even with my clothes on.  Could John have done that?  Maybe, but there was not a mutual connection.  Something about him set off a lot of alarms, and I have since learned that my alarms do not go off easily.

Yes, John could have given me anything I desired, but he could not give me everything my heart desired.  Love.  Trust.  Passion.  In the end, that’s all we get to take with us to the next life.