In the fall of 2015, I was not having a lot of sex. I was still experiencing debilitating panic attacks, and my relationship with Helo was rocky. Helo and I are non-monogamous, and we have “poly rules.” They’re pretty simple. We want to let the other person know before we engage in sexual behavior (aside from kissing/spanking) with someone else.
I relied a lot on my community during that time. I was a mess. I had a friend who I’d gotten closer to over 2015. We talked frequently, sometimes on the phone. He would come over and eat dinner with me while on a work break. We had great sexual chemistry and occasionally made out. My friend was there for me when I would cry about my fears, and would comfort me. My friend made it very clear that he was interested in having sex with me. I was interested, too, but not enough to talk to Helo about it or act on it. My friend was aware of my poly rules.
One night, after a small group of friends had come over, my friend and I were the only people left. We were sitting on the couch together. We started making out. We lay down on the couch and kept making out. It felt great. It felt familiar, it was something we’d done before.
My friend reached down and touched me through my pajama bottoms. I was so shocked, and so turned on. Confusion, surprise, betrayal, pleasure, all flickered through me at lightning speed. it took less than 2 minutes for my friend to make me come, with my pants still on, on the couch in the living room. I remember gasping in his mouth as he kissed me and held me down.
“oh my god,” i kept repeating. he wanted me to blow him. i shook my head and shakily went upstairs to my bedroom. he didn’t check in with me. he didn’t care that what he had just done, what I had just let him do, went against not just my relationship rules but my own personal set of ethics. my mind was buzzing with anxiety and i could barely look at him. i felt afraid. i felt like i had betrayed helo. i felt afraid that my friend would tell other people about what had happened, would tell helo. i didn’t feel like i could trust my friend, but i didn’t know what to do or what to say. Eventually through the mix of emotions, shame became predominant.
I didn’t tell anyone about this for months. Out of fear, I stayed in contact with my friend for a month or so after, then slowly stopped talking to him. In early Feb this year I tearfully confessed to Camille and Ananke.
It took a few more months for me to work up the courage to tell Helo.
I should have stopped him.
But it doesn’t matter. Even if I had stopped him, what he did was wrong. He shouldn’t have tried to touch me without seeking my explicit consent. I live in a culture of explicit, enthusiastic consent. People ask each other if they can touch or hug each other. I am so thoroughly entrenched in this world that I startle when people in the vanilla world touch me, even if it’s a tap on the shoulder or touching my arm or hand. My friend moves in this culture, can mimic it, even if he doesn’t follow the rules. He knew better. He knew he was breaking my rules, crossing my boundaries. He didn’t check in and he didn’t stop and he didn’t care. He was my friend, and I trusted him. I trusted him to be intimate and sexual with me in the way that I had defined as acceptable and to not cross that. I have similar relationships with many of my “pack,” and they are capable of navigating these complex interpersonal, erotic interactions by frequently checking in and expressing enthusiastic consent, over and over again.
I know on some level that it wasn’t my fault and that I ought not to feel ashamed. I don’t know if I believe it.