October 2007 was a pivotal year. The shame associated with my sexual choices were being revisited all over again. Just like high school, someone was shaming me. However, this time it was different but nonetheless more intense. First, I was an adult and second, the setting involved attorneys and a courtroom. This all felt like a tape loop replaying itself again and again.
Same Person, Different Face
Adult relationships are complex. Take the years of suppressed feelings from previous failed relationships and sprinkle in egoic behaviors, and you have a recipe for disaster. People warned me about my this new lover interest, even his dearest friends. When his criminal DUI lawyer asked, “What are you doing with that criminal?” it would have been advisable to run for the hills. But I did not. Instead, I let my heart overrule my head.
My slut-shamer was a man I trusted and loved without question. I shared my deepest secrets and offered plenty of juicy details concerning my previous sexual encounters. My sexual history is a smorgasbord of experiences which included straight sex, gay sex, hardcore BDSM, fisting, oral and anal sex and even public BDSM events. He found the tales enthralling. It was my “weirdness” that turned him on the most.
The honeymoon did not last. The once self-assured man started becoming jealous and suspicious. He would accuse me of cheating and allegedly taking pornographic photos of women “in his home without his permission.” He was hoarding resentment as far back as the beginning of the relationship. And just like a CVS receipt, he spouted all of my misdeeds the night the relationship ended. The last things I heard him saying, “Well, at least I didn’t have all that weird sex with all those people.”
My response is “At least I did not have to pay for sex workers while working out in the oil fields!” That’s certainly not sexual freedom.
I want to be fair in saying my behavior during the relationship was not very nice either. So, I will not place the entire blame on my ex. I take responsibility for being a pill addict, shopping addict and taking somewhat financial advantage. However, this still does not excuse being relentlessly slut-shamed, especially when it comes to previous events that happened way before the relationship.
Let the Games Begin
One can only imagine how many words it takes to fill a journal. When you multiply years upon years of intimate thoughts and observations about life, love, and sex, you wind up with stacks of diaries. It’s like archiving your life. All my words were written in complete confidence. I never thought one day my journals would serve as priceless tidbits of information for an adversary.
Journaling the Journey
I may have left possessions behind while moving state-to-state. But never a diary. So, imagine the devastation after the person you trusted was found snooping through private writings.
He not only read the journals but made copies for sharing with his friends. My life—the good, the bad, and the ugly ended up in the hands of lawyers, judges, complete strangers, and yes, an agent of the Secret Service.
It took me a while to get over the anger. Then something hit me out of the blue. My ex-boyfriend was not really upset about content but more about what I had to say about him. He was pissed because I was expressing sexual freedom.
What he also did not like was me writing about his abusive behavior. Intimate thoughts revealing the truth about our relationship did not sit well with him. As revenge, he used the court system and his attorney as a means for public slut-shaming.
With substantial legal resources, the ex and his henchman subjected me to three depositions, in which I was repeatedly questioned about my previous sexual encounters. They asked questions about BDSM, the lover’s I’ve taken, and so on!
Shame in the Courtroom
The six years of legal sparring finally culminated in a trial. Lurch, my ex-boyfriend’s attorney strode into the courtroom. Following along was an entourage of assistants wheeling in boxes of evidence, much of it generated from my journals. He had a projector and screen set up. The show was about to begin. I sat nervously in the witness box.
“I see in your own handwriting, Ms. Lieben—isn’t it true that you called yourself a whore, slut, deviant, weird, goddess, lover, and prostitute,” the hack DUI-attorney asked while he pounding his tiny, angry fists on the lectern.
“Well you wrote it, so it must be true, right?”
For two days, I sat thinking of how the whole situation seemed surreal. I could not believe this was happening again. It felt like a Lifetime Movie. I was playing the scandalous women with no morals, who duped and manipulated an old helpless man. The attorney constructing the story of my life with the building blocks of personal thoughts, musings and imaginings.
The trial was like an episode of “This is Your Life” gone totally awry. I felt like this was the trial for my life, and it made me feel vulnerable. They even went as far back and grade school and moved their way forward to present time.
The Gist of It
The personal history I openly shared with the “ex” was being used for punishing me in a courtroom. Along with carefully selected pages from several journals, the attorney’ stitched the perfect story. They presented nude photographs of me and love letters from ex-partners. The lurid details were courtroom entertainment. Essentially, it was a distraction from holding him accountable. The so-called upstanding business man has a lengthy criminal record. He was a drunk, washed up, used car salesman, who did not know how to fuck!
The Big Lesson Revealed
I believe we are all responsible for the shit that happens throughout our life. We make choices every day which can impact us immediately or in the future. It was my choice to venture into a relationship with a man who I knew was mentally unbalanced and violent. It was stupid of me to believe my actions and love could make him a better person. I was naive in thinking my love could heal his wounds.
However, what I learned through the entire slut-shaming experience is surprising. Almost like a camera lens coming into focus, I could clearly see how using sex in relationships is akin to prostituting my power. I discovered a repeating pattern of mixing adventurous sexual exploration with giving my power away. Sex is my power and I used it to rule over men and get the thing’s I wanted. That’s not sexual freedom when you use it to hurt others.
Jewels to the Self
The book Sacred Contracts by Carolyn Myss put everything in perspective. A series of questions helped me in determining which archetypes are connecting with certain behaviors. One archetype especially resonated with me: the Prostitute.
The archetype’s role was the one thing undermining my own integrity. I had used my power of seducing men for financial gain and security. Although I did exchange money for sex with my ex, it basically amounted to the same thing. Through the prostitute archetype, I gaining a nice home, fast cars, and a closet full of shoes. But I there is always a price to pay—happiness.
Here is how Carolyn Myss describes it:
The Prostitute archetype engages lessons in integrity and the sale or negotiation of one’s integrity or spirit due to fears of physical and financial survival or for financial gain. This archetype activates the aspects of the unconscious that are related to seduction or control, whereby you are as capable of buying a controlling interest in another person as you are in selling your own power. Prostitution should also be understood as the selling of your talents, ideas, and any other expression of the self—or the selling-out of them.
The True Meaning of Sexual Freedom
I now know there is nothing wrong with sexual experimentation. Through all the slut-shaming experiences, I can now use my sexual power in more fulfilling ways. Sharing sex with a person who reciprocates is an even exchange of power, not one-sided.
When evoking a certain mood, I can confidently don a mask, play a character, or surrender to a role. What I’ve realized is that there is an arsenal of sexual archetypes at my disposal.
I can be a whore, slut, tramp or prostitute because I “own” my sexuality. This tiny nugget of truth feels like a priceless jewel. And for that, I am grateful to my ex for showing me more than he will ever understand.
I am a slut—hear me roar!