I never had “The Talk”. The first time I heard about sex was in the 6th grade when a friend told me how my parents made me and I responded with “My parents didn’t do THAT”. Typical.
What is a little less typical was the first time I experienced sexuality. I was in the 2nd grade. I was crossing the street to my house from the school bus when a man asked me for directions. I was 6, so I said “I don’t know”, and continued on. As I was punching in the code to our front gate, there he was again, asking if I could maybe try and show him to the place where it was he needed to go. So, being a good girl, I said ok, or just followed, I’m not exactly sure.
What happened that day dictated my belief of how the world works. About how men behave and what the only thing is that they care about. About what sexuality is, and that the physiological feeling of sexual pleasure is bound in with fear and guilt.
My parents called the police and they asked me questions to try and help catch the bad man. Little did I realize then that I didn’t tell my parents what actually happened. They had a whole different story in their minds. Only at the age of 25, sitting with a trauma psychologist, did I figure out that I never told anyone what really happened. And so, for 20 years I was sure I was overdramatizing things. It wasn’t such a big deal. There are worse things and I’m lucky, which I am, but this led to many internal self-defense techniques that I established over the years.
I didn’t think I had a real problem. Yes I was scared to walk alone, even in the daytime; I got nervous when a stranger spoke to me; I didn’t like hugging my friends or being touched too much. But my external personality didn’t show any of that. To my friends I was a leader, not afraid of anything and always up for an adventure. But when I was alone, things were different.                                                                                                                                            

I got engaged, and started learning with a kallah teacher before my wedding. Despite what she was correctly teaching me, I absorbed the halachot as more stringent than they are, without realizing it. I also ignored all the emotional aspects and just looked at everything from a practical point of what had to be done. . The kallah teacher perceptively asked me if I’d ever experienced a sexual trauma, and that was the first time I admitted it. She warned me that being sexually active could bring unexpected and difficult feelings to the surface for me. She also encouraged me to tell my fiancé, which I did. He responded with sympathy and support. The week before my wedding my mom asked me if I wanted to see a psychologist to talk about  what happened to me when I was little. I said no. I was fine. I didn’t have an issue.

My first time being intimate with my husband was so technical —  I made it that way. After that, even once we figured out what gives me pleasure, it was horrible. Every time I would get turned on I would freak out, crying and shaking with fear, not understanding what was happening to me. We blamed it on the pill. Every time he wanted to be together sexually, I had to force myself to respond, feeling traumatized, but at the same time loving him, wanting to give to him and enjoy it myself, but not being able to. So much frustration for us both. Preparing for the mikveh always brought on extra stress, and I felt that I could never do it well enough.
After 6 months of being married we stopped the pill and I immediately fell pregnant. It was the best thing for me. I was free of the pill, which did make everything worse. And I enjoyed new feelings of trust and safety with my husband. It was the first time I was able to let go and enjoy being together.
Two years went by, with many ups and downs. My husband was so strong and always my anchor of stability. I was pregnant with our second child when he said, “We can’t continue like this anymore. We need help, I need help. For myself and for us.” I knew he was right. I knew it wasn’t normal to scream from fear in the middle of being intimate or to have flashbacks while you’re with the love of your life. Or to need to turn the light on to make sure it was him. Or to act like a 6-year-old and throw tantrums. I started having nightmares that woke us both up night after night. Everything was getting worse, so bad that it was hard for me to function.
Finally, I started therapy at a pediatric trauma psychologist and then moved on to a sexologist. It is a long process that my husband and I are still going through together and I’m so lucky to have his complete support. Only once I could understand myself and what happened to me, including the consequences of the trauma, was I able to start my healing.
With my history I wanted to be able to help girls like myself. Recently I heard about a kallah teacher training course, I enrolled and am loving every moment. I’m looking forward to being a kallah teacher that can understand.