Alamy I woke up in a strange bed, naked, between two naked men. I had taken cocaine! The taste in my mouth was hideous, as though tobacco had been glued to my tongue. To my left, an acquaintance — an unclean, predatory type of guy — whom I had never had a liking for. I grabbed my clothes, stumbled to the toilet and threw up over and over until the only thing left in my stomach was guilt. Exactly a year before this awful morning, I left a relationship that had felt increasingly suffocating.
For the first time, I found myself free, and I was excited to flirt, kiss and go to bed with other men. My housemates would smirk with knowing looks as I gently shook my throbbing head, and laughed. One-night stands were casual and thrilling, and in the cloudiness of ignorance I thought I was being careful. It seemed funny at the time, but then the summer hit, and things started to change.
A moment that changed me — when I decided to repay the NHS Andrew Davies Read more The problems began when I started working in a pub, to earn a bit of money and occupy my then bountiful amount of spare time. I was surrounded by alcohol, most of which was free to me, and queues of men who loved to flirt with barmaids.
I had, unknowingly, placed myself at the heart of my weaknesses. I loved it when guys would text me telling me I looked pretty as they watched me pour drinks, or would wait until the end of my shift to walk me home. I started going back with a careful selection of these men. It used to make me feel giddy giving in to their attempts, but the moment I left their house in the morning, I would feel like a used and discarded tissue. It seems the fun for them was only in wanting, not in having.
Once they had slept with me, even those I had thought of as friends would simply ignore me. They would look at me and walk away, make a point of being served by a different bartender or even talk to someone else over my shoulder. What interest was I to them after they had conquered me? These rejections made me need constant reassurance. I probably reeked of desperation. I was addicted to the place, to the way it made me feel more wanted, yet more alone than ever.
Men who would kiss me briefly by the public toilets then push hard on my shoulders so I would go down on them. Men who kicked me out early, claiming they had work, when really they were going to have sex with some other girl. I wanted so badly to stop, but it was easier said than done. The morning I woke up between those two men was the same day I returned back to university for my second year.
As I drove away from home, I spent a lot of time thinking and calculating. In one year, I had slept with 12 people, six of whom in the space of those two summer months. I had had unprotected sex on eight occasions, and taken the emergency contraceptive pill after three of them. Three men had cheated on their girlfriends with me. I had tried drugs for the first time, and smoked and drank more in one night than I ever had before. Totting this all up in my head was exactly the shocking realisation I needed.
I went to the sexual health clinic, where I had tests done for pregnancy, chlamydia and HIV, all of which miraculously came back clear. I made a promise to have sex only when sober, and I have now been abstinent for three months. Finally, I decided to forgive myself.