By Diana Raab, Ph.D.is a transpersonal psychologist, poet, memoirist and essayist.
When I was 18, my family doctor gave me my first gynecological exam. The examination table was in the same room as his desk. I sat in the chair across from this pudgy 60-something-year-old doctor. He puffed away at his pipe saying, “You know it’s time you learned about love and lust. Then he handed me a copy of Rollo May’s “Love and Will.”
I cracked the book open in the car on the way home. I think I read the first page about five times and still had no idea what May was talking about. I wondered if something was wrong with me for not understanding, but was too embarrassed to ask my mother. Her only comment was, “Yes. That’s a great book.” End of conversation. It sort of reminded me of the day I turned 12 when she came into my room and handed me a little pink pamphlet, Your Secret Body. “This is all you will need to know about your transition into womanhood,” she said, and walked out.
Menstrual cycles, sex and sensuality were not talked about in school either, but I knew that my parents were intimate because a few nights a week I was asked to spend the night at a friend’s house. Why else would they have tried to get rid of me? Earlier on, as a young child, I was very curious about sensuality and played “doctor” in our suburban basement with a few friends. We took turns discovering what it meant to be aroused. Together we giggled and experimented. I vividly remember the first time I had an orgasm. It felt as if I had transcended universes. Like most people, I assume, I wanted that feeling over and over again.
During adolescence, I was always the one reading sexy books. I remember hiding Collins’ “Valley of the Dolls” under my pillow. I did not even know that I was being turned on. I lost my virginity with a junior high school guy who I had a huge crush on. One Friday night his parents went out to a party and he invited me over to watch TV. I don’t remember the show, but I do remember the drama of losing my virginity and how comfortable he made me feel. Although it was a mutual de-flowering, he was still very confident. The sight of blood was scary, however, and even more daunting was deciding what to do with the stained sheets.
When I arrived home that evening, my mother asked me if I had a good time. I smiled and said, “Yes I did.” When she asked me what show we watched, I said I could not remember. “I’m tired,” I said, and scurried up to my room to write about my experience in my journal.
My journals have always been the place to hold my deepest and darkest secrets, like the time I was invited to another boyfriend’s house to listen to music in his attic. I knew it wasn’t just the music he was inviting me for. I think males knew that I craved intimacy, but I always attracted intelligent men who wanted to converse with me first before taking my pants off.
I met my husband in 1972. I lived in New York and he lived in Canada. For five years we wrote love letters to one another. We read and compared our readings of French writers such as Flaubert, Baudelaire, and Balzac. Our letters were inspired by the writings and were therefore filled with lustful thoughts and longings.
A few years down the road, I became inspired by the diarist and erotic writer Anais Nin, who taught me that open communication, intimacy and lust were all important reasons for living.
I got married when I was 23. My father-in-law, who had lived in France for many years, bought us a copy of “The Joy of Sex.” During our early married years together, we devoured the book. It helped us achieve open and honest communication and the ability to make our desires and needs known. It accentuated all the positive aspects of our sex life.
My in-laws practiced what they preached. Whenever we visited, they would close their bedroom door each afternoon at four. It was no secret what they were up to. Would we be like that with our children?
As it turns out, children do subconsciously mimic the behaviors of their parents. I am now the mother of adult children, but when they were younger, my husband and I often did the same — we retreated to the bedroom for intimacy and lust.
Last year, I turned 60 and continue to feel lust, for life and intimacy. I do not think we change much as we grow older, but we learn to accept who we are and what we need. I realize that I have always needed lust in my life and my only hope is that I can be intimate and lustful for as long as I live. That feeling of transcendence that I felt during my very first orgasm more than 40 years ago, is a feeling I never want to lose.