Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
– A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
I remember the second time I met him much more clearly than the first. My memory of our first date is a blur of nervous excitement and anticipation; all I really remember is how much I wanted to kiss him, to touch him, and how worried I was that he wouldn’t want to see me again. The second date was different. I was kind of terrified and it was more than just pre-date nerves.
I was going straight to his house this time, the house of a strange man who I had met on the internet, and we were going to have sex. *gulp* I was going to have sex with someone who I knew, having devoured his blog, had much more sexual experience than me and it was a little intimidating. This is back when I wasn’t who I am now, when I was still lost and uncertain…when I hadn’t got my confidence back. In an anxiety-laced over-reaction, it felt like I had decided that I could semi-competently boil an egg and was now going to cook it in a Michelin starred restaurant.
I remember the journey to his house, my insides a confused mess of fear and lust, but I couldn’t turn back; the only thing I knew for certain was that I didn’t want to turn back. I remember shaking as I stood outside, building up the courage to call and say I was here. I remember how he walked me upstairs into his bedroom, how we exchanged pleasantries and before I knew it, we were kissing. I don’t know if he could tell how nervous I was, as old insecurities started raising their ugly heads – would I be good enough? would I be sexy enough? would I bore him? what if I don’t know what to do? – but I vividly remember him taking a few steps away from me and just taking off his clothes. Deliberately removing one piece after another as I watched, never breaking eye contact. There was no doubt or deliberation; he wanted this and, because we had talked about it before hand, he knew I wanted it too, despite my nerves. He oozed confidence, fuck it was hot, and I was sold. When he reached for me, I went to him without hesitation. My fear had gone; his confidence had filled me entirely, and honestly, I’ve never looked back.
I am fascinated by how confidence is so personal but so affected by external factors. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of analogies and my favourite for self-esteem and self-confidence is a house of cards – a tall and impressive structure, but one that is liable to be blown over by the slightest knock. My self-esteem has always been very internal, but this entirely self-supported belief didn’t stand up well to external scrutiny and I felt like I had to hide my house of cards behind an enormous wall to protect it; I kept others at a distance because failed almost relationships, personal slights and discouragements shook me and I thought I would be better on my own.
This, of course, was a completely ridiculous notion and one that was ultimately unsuccessful. I couldn’t help but let people in and, so far, nothing terrible has happened. It now seems foolish that I waited so long. I know that I avoided relying on anyone else in case they went away. The thought of having my confidence shaken to the core, or it being completely broken down and having to rebuild it again, was too exhausting but, for me at least, it’s a risk worth taking. My house of self-confident cards is now so much stronger – the people in my life have brought sellotape and wooden struts to hold it together, and it is now much more capable of withstanding the gusts and shocks that may be thrown at it.
And this is important because I now have the confidence to do what would previously have scared me too much to seriously contemplate. In the next few weeks, I am going to my first sex party. I am so excited, but the thought of it is bringing back some of those same horny-terrified emotions that I felt before that second date. Anxiety questions crowd around me – what if I’m boring? what do I wear? how do I approach, well, anything? how does it work? what if I do something stupid or inappropriate? what if it’s obvious that I don’t belong? – and I am terrified that I will again become the tremulous, almost mute waif of two years ago.
But I don’t think that will happen because the fear feels different now. It isn’t nearly so all consuming anymore; instead, I like it. Rather than being prohibitive, it’s adding a frisson to my anticipation. Just as the risk of being caught supercharges public sex, the fact that this is so new and so outside my previous experience is undeniably hot! I want to tremble and not know if it’s with terror or arousal, I want to feel the rush that comes from taking a risk and surviving, I want to know if all of my furtive imaginings of watching and being watched are as blindingly hot as they are in my mind. And I know I can do it because I have so much more confidence now, because I am supported by the success of that previous leap of faith – I won’t be alone; he will be there too.
Because sometimes it’s good to have back up, whether that’s from friends, family, lovers, or anyone who makes us feel better about ourselves. It’s easier to push myself to try new things and test my limits knowing that someone is there holding my hand or would catch me if I tripped or fell.
This is particularly true when I try something new sexually. I was fine on my own but I didn’t have the confidence to explore. I needed to know that it was OK, I needed to be reassured by the someone else’s confidence; I needed him to look out for me, to ask what he could do to make this sex party easier and less scary so we could enjoy it together. And it turns out that I don’t need anything else, just him beside me and then my confidence soars and the fear doesn’t seem nearly so overwhelming.
In fact, it’s really quite exciting…