I started out today more frightened than I’d ever been before in my life. After putting it off for months and months, after promising myself that this was the year I’d finally do it, I booked myself into the Dean Street Express and had my first STI test.

It was horrible.

Perhaps skipping breakfast wasn’t the best idea, which meant that my horrible needle phobia reared its’ head and I went all faint and dizzy after they did the first one in my finger. For the second, which was a needle in my arm, I needed some time; all the while sweating so much I think I soaked my t-shirt right through.

After the blood tests I had to go into a private room and use swabs on my throat and other areas. Then they were all sealed in a plastic tube and – poof – disappeared up a pipe and into a lab.

Now I just have to wait on the results.

I should stipulate that there is absolutely no reason to be scared; the check-up was routine and I have no reason to think I won’t get the all-clear. But oh lord, I’m frightened; that evil little “what if” voice rings round and round in my head. What am I going to do if something is wrong? What is the right thing to do? Who do I see?

It makes me realise how much I don’t actually know about sex and sexual relations. As I said to the nurse during my interview, I was “late to the party” when it comes to all of this. Even now, most of the time when I’m having casual fun with a man I won’t go any further than mutual masturbation or at the very most giving head. The nurse asked if this fear came from personal preference or from my fear of contracting an STI, and I confessed that it was more of the latter.

He suggested that I speak to a sexual health counsellor to try and work through this.

“Sex is one of the most pleasurable things on Earth,” he explained. “And it’s there to be enjoyed. You should learn how to relax and go with it.”

He’s entirely right. I love the physical intimacy that comes with having a man next to me. I love when the physical connection is matched by a mental one. But I still feel the pressure. Most times, pretty much every time, I have to finish myself off rather than being able to come thanks to his efforts, however determined they may be. And that’s the other thing; while a man can turn me on to the moon and back, when it comes to actually finishing, I normally have to retreat into my own thoughts. Only once or twice has the man managed to bring me all the way, just as himself.

Is there something wrong with me?

I think I really do need to speak with someone. I’ve had fun with my sexual relationships, and it doesn’t take much really for me to be attracted to a man in a passing away. Yet when it comes down to it, it takes so much more for me to be properly attracted to a man. I know it doesn’t look so bad written down like that, but when you’re lying under him and you know in your heart that your heart isn’t in it, it feels almost false to force it.

Sex really is more complicated than I ever expected.

And now I have to wait, like some sort of hideous call-in talent show, for the results to come in. Like I said, I have no reason to expect bad news, but what if? What if? What if? What if?

I don’t think I’ve ever been this on edge about anything. All I can do is lie in my big, cosy jumper and try to make sense of my brain. Even just doing all the horrible tests today was draining enough. If there is any bad news then I do not know what I will do.

Amazingly is just how supportive my friends were. As soon as I said to Franciscus yesterday that I was going for my first test he said: “Do you want me to come with you?” When I messaged Tom today on the walk to the clinic, he was so supportive that my emotions nearly got the better of me and I started to cry. I suddenly had to have the most intimate, confessional conversation and there were two people there willing to listen. And to offer support if the worst should happen.

I may not have had the best luck with relationships so far, but how lucky is that?


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