That’s the word for me. To develop exceptionally early or exhibit mature qualities at an exceptionally early age.

I taught myself to read before kindergarten. I grasped cosmic concepts (the immutability of time, the certainty of death) before age 5. I was a generally strange kid who didn’t socialize well, from what I remember. And sex. Well, sex came entirely too early for me.

It wasn’t even my cousin telling me the plumbing of how it worked. (We were like eight and six, respectively.) It wasn’t even when my mom caught me playing with the Barbie dolls. I think it was when she found out I’d been playing “house” with the neighbor kid, and the not-minor freakout she had over this knowledge. Before third grade, I not only understood how sex worked, I understood that it was important to hide this kind of activity from my parents, lest they have a gigantic meltdown. No talk. Ever.

I’m never going to forget the way she asked me, stooping down to get in my face, in a confrontational manner. “Did you suck his dick?” she asked, browbeating me. “Did he jack off in your mouth?” I felt like a horrible, filthy, sick, perverted, twisted, disgusting person. I was eleven years old, eyeing older men, wondering at what an act of rape would be like, wondering at the experience of sex.

Because I couldn’t trust my parents, everything I ever learned about sex was something I learned from somewhere else. Pornographic magazines, the internet, the radio. I’ve talked before about how Sue Johanson is one of my personal heroes; I’m lucky to have had her while growing up. I’m lucky to have grown up riding public transit, where the government publicized links to places like sexualityandu.ca. I feasted on reliable and correct information, and used all the birth control correctly.

I was armed with a false sense of security, knowing what facts I needed to know to keep my body from being physically damaged. I was completely unaware of what place sex served in a healthy relationship, however, and so when my boyfriend-at-the-time started correcting me every time I said “If we have sex” to say “when we have sex,” I didn’t take it as the pressuring I should have. I didn’t see how he was trying to control my boundaries, by setting them for me verbally. I didn’t feel the profound sense of violation I’d feel now, knowing my boundaries. Boundaries had never been explained to me. I was a slut. Sluts don’t get told about putting up boundaries. I was wrecked anyway. I was sixteen. I was fucking a man nearly four years older than I was. My mother was convinced his relationship was based entirely around his ability to use me for sex. I believed otherwise.

The day she figured it out, or rather, the day she screamed about me fucking him, throwing it in my face, and I gave her an answer that wasn’t “fuck off,” … that’s a day I will never forget. There was tons of histrionic crying and hysterical screaming, shouting, threats, shows of violence, and emotional abuse. For the next six months, my mother froze me out of her life. I fantasized about suicide.

“I just don’t know how I’m going to tell my family that my daughter is a slut,” I remember her whispering, between sniffles and tears. I fantasized how my skull would fly apart from a self-inflicted shot to the head. I imagined dying slowly of a wasting disease, leaving home, becoming pale and cachectic and thin. I wondered what it would be like to die of a drug overdose. I was too scared to jump off a building. Guilt, guilt, guilt. My boyfriend was no help. He lived alone, and complained about my mother constantly. I ground my teeth down to painful stumps. He threatened suicide. At first I was scared, concerned for him, missed him, loved him. Later, the attention-seeking behaviour became exasperating. Then, came the Master.

My Master met my boyfriend and lived with him for a short time. I was pressured often to spend time with him, in compromising situations, often asking me to use my Master or my best friend as a pretext to borrow a vehicle and be afforded additional freedoms. At first I exploited this, and Master was given many opportunities to observe me with this strange man. I was depressed and sullen. Then came a night when I deliberately didn’t invite him along somewhere, because I knew he would try and make me have sex with him, and I had no interest in being effectively date-raped. It was at this time that I realized he didn’t respect my body, or what I wanted, or my boundaries. I began avoiding him in earnest, and the histrionic behaviour erupted in full. I didn’t break up with him, because I was terrified if I did, that he’d kill himself.

My Master, who by then had moved out of my boyfriend’s apartment, felt that this was an opportunity to act. I remember listening, horrified, as he detailed to me the list of things he observed while living with the man who would come to be known by many names besides his own. The behaviour obsessing around sex (and calendar marking to match.) The misogynistic comments. The sense of entitlement. The arrogance. The ignorance. I sobbed on the phone, after my boyfriend had yelled at me for lying to him to keep him from being able to have sex with me. He knew I was avoiding him, but I had no idea how to tell him I was terrified of him, that he made me feel unsafe. The Master stood up for me, tearing a strip off of this man on my behalf. The act was sealed when Master returned with the report of how guiltless, entitled, and arrogant the boyfriend had been when Master insisted he treat me as I deserved to be treated. “Are you going to talk to her, too?” he asked, as if my Master was my parent to mete out punishment on the boyfriend’s behalf. Instead, he told me the truth. Master saved me from a pitiful little man, rescuing me from a situation where I, and my precociousness, were being taken advantage of. I smiled for the first time in years.

The ideas about sex stuck, though. I was shocked when I was discovered to be having sex with Master, and my mother was amused rather than infuriated. I was convinced, down to my bones, she was going to kill me and gouge Master’s eyes out with her fingernails. With no explanation, she laughed instead. I learned nothing.

I still believed, as I had when growing up, that I was broken or tainted or unworthy in some way, because I was a slut. From being made fun of by my little brother for being a closet lesbian, getting caught using porn, slurs based on my more boyish appearance, my strangeness was polarized for some people. I hated myself. I wasn’t a virgin, I wasn’t thin, I wasn’t pretty, I wasn’t stereotypically ‘hot’ (big-titted-narrow-waisted), I wasn’t popular… I didn’t even think I was particularly smart. I’m almost ashamed to say that my relationship with Master was not one of romance — I leapt out of a sick and sorrowed relationship, out of a fountain of emotional abuse, into him. I crawled up his leg, into his bed, and unloaded, piece by piece, my months and months of pent-up need for, and lack of, love.

Fortunately for me, Master was smarter than that. He insisted that that not be the direction things take, and caught me, carefully, and put me down. I tried to take advantage of him, sexually. He held me at arm’s length, until I stopped with the force, and he held me close, until he wanted to do more. He picked me up, bandaged my wounds, and didn’t let anything complicated develop until he felt comfortable with everything. He was gentle and careful, calculated and slow. For months and months, our sexual activity consisted of me crawling into his bed, naked, so we could nap together. I had no idea how to expand things, how to get what I want. I had no idea what I really wanted. We built a sexual relationship out of teenaged fumblings, and it’s taken a great deal of time to get comfortable talking about sex and about what feels good. I still feel guilty for asking for things (such as oral) despite many reassurances to the contrary. I still feel like an asshole when I tell him to stop because it hurts.

My precociousness and my armament of knowledge didn’t lead me into good choices, and I was unable to distinguish between sexual attraction and an actual relationship. I wasn’t protected by being shut out. I was unable to seek advice. What should have been a strength became a weakness. I grew into this idea that I should be this totally willing and submissive little thing, a real slut, with no desires of my own, since I was value-less after having lost my de facto virginity to the man before Master. My precociousness, my early development, should have been an opportunity to teach me how to wield the weapons at my disposal, how to protect myself. I was taught to ignore that part of me, and later, taught that it diminished my worth. “Who wants to marry a person who’s not a virgin?” asked my schoolmates, at Catholic school, and later at college. “Not me!” they’d chime. I’d remain silent, trying to shrink myself smaller.

The first person I had a healthy sexual relationship with was my Master… and it seemed the strangest thing, at the time. He insisted on the above — that I tell him to stop when it hurts, that I not have sex I don’t want to have, that I not do anything I don’t want to do. This seemed foreign to me at the time. I remember being stricken with a dermatitis or vestibulitis of some sort from having reacted to a particular brand of lube, and every act of sex was excruciating. Halfway through, Master noticed my pain, and I was sorely chastised for letting him hurt me like that for his own benefit. I have value? I was bewildered. This man I had known before Master, this man who was three-plus years older than Master, who was so much more experienced … he’d never made me feel as if I could ask for what I wanted, or refuse. He’d never made me feel valuable, sexy, beautiful. I had missed out on the best part of sex entirely.

I thought back to my sexual experiences prior … on the ex’s inflatable couch, being groped, knowing that within a time frame of hours he was going to take me to his room and try to have sex with me. Instead of acknowledging the feelings I had on the subject, how distasteful I found the idea, instead of refusing, I simply talked myself into it, trying to relax, detached, for when the inevitable moment came. I ignored my revulsion at the completion of the act, and tried to ignore him as much as possible while he was performing it. I was emotionally detached.

I think my mother’s idea was that she was protecting me, by making sure I knew nothing. Her idea backfired in the sense that I learned everything there was to know — factually — but nothing about what there was to know — functionally. I could tell you brand names of birth control pills, but nothing about intimacy. The solution my mother came up with was to pretend that intimacy wasn’t possible because of my age, my sluttiness. Or maybe she just forgot to mention it, what with all the talk of what a whore I was and asking me if I did it ‘so I could feel loved.’ I was never asked a single question about sex that didn’t sound like a personal attack before I’d even answered. I was terrified of her, but knew sex was as normal as breathing. I had to figure it out on my own, somehow.

I hear this type of thing is genetic — my grandmother developed early and so did many of my aunts. My child might end up being much like me, in this way, and I think about it all the time. How will I handle it? Will I have to explain to an eight year old or a six year old, one day, what sex is, without lying to her or making her feel as I did, as if she were a filthy valueless little thing? And if I don’t, if I indeed tell her (or him) the truth, how many people are going to come crashing down on me, thinking I’m setting my child up to be assaulted sexually? Truth be told, I had no concept of what sexual assault was until I was over the age of 18. Several of my friends had experienced it without realizing, this non-consensual-but-not-totally-forceful sex, myself included, without seeing that we were being taken advantage of, with no advice on how to protect ourselves from things besides pregnancy and disease.

I had no power to say ‘no’ and no idea of when I should say ‘no’ or why. It’s this that I feel it most necessary to correct. I had a significant decrease in my self-worth with the knowledge that I was a slut, and so have vowed to never make my child feel ashamed about their sexuality. It’s a huge part of me, and of my life, and trying to shut off that part of my personality, or not being allowed to experience it because I’ve been taught it’s ‘wrong,’ is one of the bigger travesties of my teenagedhood. It’s part of why I have felt it so important to write about sex, and my sex life, and my sexuality. I need to come to grips with this somehow, to jackhammer the idea out of my head that this is somehow wrong, or bad. Fortunately, I have Master, T, and my good friends around me. My children will grow up happier than I did. That’s a promise.

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