Shame: Stressed Out About Sex

Hello, my name is Stephen Puiia, it’s nice to meet you all. Lately I’ve been discouraged with myself. I feel like my desire to look cool and be right is ruining my personality. I need people to like me before I’m able to like myself and am very fearful of criticism. For a several years now, I’ve been afraid of being seen in moment of weakness or having embarrassing secrets from my past unearthed and exploited. This is problematic for me because I’ve always used my own humiliation as a means of building trust. Holding onto secrets, slowly but surely, isolated me from others and my isolation has damaged my self-esteem. 

I’ve always been becoming the person I am today but there is one transitional period that I feel gnawing at my gut more than others. It was six or seven years ago in a small town. I was a tall, dark and handsome twenty five year old Yoga instructor, athletic trainer and Thai Masseuse. I was an unproven novelist who was paradoxically dour and jolly at the same time. I also had a boundless sexual appetite that was held at bay only by a truly dehumanizing amount of masturbation. For a while, it seemed, I was the delight of women and girls around town. 

I’d just gotten out of a long term relationship and wasn’t used to this kind of attention—also, in all honesty, I was a perverted. I slept around a good bit through the winter and spring and it felt great. This was the first time I felt really sexually desirable.  I went along like this without a care until I sensed that I was being slut shamed. For some reason I hadn’t considered this a possibility. In most cases I was really making love to these women and I tried, with pretty consistent results, to be a gentleman. I thought that would be enough.

I’m sure on the slut shaming scale it wasn’t so bad but I’m a sensitive guy and it cut right through me. I felt so disgusting. I imagined all the things people were saying about me when I wasn’t around. I listened to the tone in people’s voices I met in the street and tried to guess what they were thinking. I watched people at the grocery store and wondered if they’d noticed me and pretended not to because of something they’d heard. Mostly I watched myself. I thought of how weak I was to become so desirous that it had become a point of conversation amongst others.  I resolved to hide my inner pervert away so that it could never be used against me again. 

Since then, I’ve pushed my sexuality back into a dark corner in my brain. It went from a cascade of sexual experiences waiting for me around every bend to a slow drip. Now my sporadically grouped encounters are hyper-controlled failures followed by awkward explanations and hasty exits. I feel ashamed to show desire and to feel pleasure. When a woman tries to get close to me I feel afraid that it will end with me being judged. 

I’ve been trying to process these feelings in a constructive way. I used my novella, Lucky Duck Cola, to work through some of these feelings I’ve been having. In it, I explore many sexual and emotional dilemmas I’ve encountered over the years. This helped but it didn’t do the trick. More recently I appeared on Turn Me On in search of the same catharsis. I want to give others a view of my most private moments and then bare their judgment. I want to be held socially accountable for the person I’ve been so that I can stop punishing myself for the past and move forward with life. I hope the experience will bring me closer to myself and help me to open up to others again.

- Steve

Jeremie Saunders