By the tender age of 22, I had participated in any number and variety of sexual liaisons. My laundry list of encounters (girls, boys, threesomes, fistings, rimmings, roofs, backs of buses, classrooms, bar bathrooms, upside down, inside, outside, inside out) reads like an application for sexual veteran status. As a precocious (and intolerably stupid) adolescent, I had set out on a purposeful libidinal odyssey, set on learning the truth about love and sex and the mysterious world of male genitals.
The result was a humiliating, terrifying and hilarious multitude of errors and a substantial education. As my mission for sexual experience progressed, I developed relationships with boys, girls and a few men. Eventually I fell in love.
Though I was schooled in techniques of fellatio and tantra (don't bother), being emotionally engaged with another person taught me more about psychology, sociology and gender studies than the sum of my university education, and rivalled the insight picked up through years of fondling at whim.
Something that I'd never experienced, however, was being dumped.
As a classic dominant, I revelled in my ability to send my partners to their knees in submission. My creation of the tone, patterns and timeline of relationships, romantic or otherwise, meant that when it was on for me, it was on.
I've had several lovely and willing individuals play along with my demands, and I became accustomed to ending things at my discretion. Completely in charge of my sexual sphere, I had little understanding of heartbreak. Sitting in endless coffee joints listening to countless friends bawl about their breakups and beg for consolation, I was totally unable to relate.
It took almost 10 years of dating and fucking to be unceremoniously kicked to the curb. And it was by the individual I was intending to sail into the urban sunset with, no less.
My record ended one week ago, when my long-suffering boyfriend dissolved our fiery but tumult-ridden relationship with solid finality. My ex-boyfriend, I mean. I was dumped. And not the kind of "dumped" that indicates an amiable end of partnership, but the practice of slicing open your chest cavity, carefully removing your still-beating heart and heaving it into space.
After an evening spent at a house party with close friends, good music and excellent pot, we went home inebriated. The feisty energy that comes from such a night and usually leads to blurry fucking instead led to a final, epic argument.
I was thoroughly and completely devastated. Experiencing the end of two and a half years of being young and in love brought bad, bad pain. It's hard to let go of a person who understands why a trampoline and a case of beer are the epitome of fun, whose record collection inspires awe, envy and all-consuming respect in others, and whose method of scratching his face and yawning, "I need a shave," brought me to near orgasm with its sheer, brutal masculinity.
But the bigger and more underlying hurt was being dumped itself. How could he not want me? He'd been the one interested in the romanticism I found grating and the commitment I'd found suffocating. Like any other couple, we had problems. But if there was dumping to be done, I was supposed to do it.
Lying curled up on my bed, eating sideways and thus mostly spilling the clichéd (but for a reason) deluxe ice cream one is constitutionally entitled to in such situations, I let my hurt simmer. The feeling of crushing powerlessness was a new one, and a dark sense of realization compounded my misery. I'd subjected a long list of people to this very situation, with little remorse and often little respect. The master had become the student, so to speak. He should have dumped me. He should have done it soon after I cannily plucked his virginity. I'm a bitch.
As shame is less apparent in the evening, I later stumbled to a show, spent 80 bucks on beer (which I inventively drank through a straw, thank you very much) and took a friend of mine home with me.
After a drunken sequence of oral sex, I passed out, sprawled across his chest - a chest that was, oddly and perfectly, very different from my ex's canvas of black hair, which I loved but suddenly couldn't really recall. Our goodbyes on the shockingly white morning after ended quickly. Usually I'd pat myself on the back, call my friend May with a rundown of events, shower and get on with it.
Instead, I found myself slumped against the shower wall, a quantity of tears I wouldn't have thought possible streaming down my face and unflattering, dying-animal sobs of regret and loss emerging from my throat.
Recreational sex let me lick and fuck my way into some kind of knowledge of other people. I discovered how to successfully entice, seduce and, more importantly, get (both me and them) off. Falling in love let me explore the complicated inner workings of a delicious, awesome guy.
Being dumped was the first time that love and sex had compelled me to focus on something other than understanding and manipulating a partner; instead it forced me to stand naked, cold and alone in my shower and contemplate myself.