Debbie was formed by experiences of both pleasure and pain. She was blessed with good early relationships, but also is a survivor of the epidemic of sexual abuse in elite women’s sport. Her faith in herself helped her choose to heal.
Debbie is a 52-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as white, heterosexual, monogamous, married, and post-menopausal. She describes her body as average.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach Leah Carey and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!
LEAH: Hey friends. You know I love it when people approach me to be interviewed on the podcast. Usually, a listener will submit the form on my website which you can find at www.goodgirlstalk.com/guest. And based on that form, I usually know their age, race, sexual orientation, relationship status, and whatever small tidbit of their story that they choose to share.
But in some cases, when I connect with people through other means, I know almost nothing and that was the case with Debbie. The only thing I knew about her prior to the interview was that she’s post menopausal. Because it’s often hard to get women who are post menopausal to have these conversations, I jumped at the opportunity to interview her even without knowing anything else.
And that’s how we ended up in the middle of a conversation that I had absolutely no idea was coming. And I’m going to let it unfold for you just as it did for me. But I want to let you know before we start that if you’re familiar with the world of competitive gymnastics, as I am, our conversation may bring up some questions for you. It certainly did for me. So partway through the show, I’m going to break in and do my best to clear up those questions as much as we can.
But there’s a lot of story before we get there so let’s dive in. Debbie is a 52 year old cisgender female. She describes herself as white, heterosexual, monogamous, married and post menopausal. She describes her body as average. I am so pleased to introduce Debbie!
Debbie, thank you so much for being with me today. I’m really excited to talk with you.
DEBBIE: I’m looking forward.
LEAH: You sound a little bit nervous and I want to tell you that that is so normal.
DEBBIE: It would be weird I think for me if I weren’t. So yeah, I am. I’m feeling excited rather than nervous. It’s changing. I can feel my body changing from nervous and like “What the heck” to excited and anticipatory like “What’s going to happen?”
LEAH: Well, let’s dive in. So the first question I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?
DEBBIE: Oh my Gosh, actually what a great question, pleasure. I’m going to be blushing so much.
DEBBIE: Okay. My first was my first boyfriend.
LEAH: How old were you?
LEAH: And do you remember what the things were that were happening that caused you that experience of pleasure?
DEBBIE: My first vivid memory which was pretty cool was he was such a sweetie pie. I think he had learned from older friends or magazines or somewhere this really cool thing using ice. It was just really lovely. I think what was so lucky about that was I had full trust so I could just relax and be really vulnerable and relaxed. And at the same time just be in my body and yeah, so I just was able to lie there. It was in my bedroom, the classic high school childhood bedroom.
DEBBIE: But no one was home.
DEBBIE: One of those things.
LEAH: And your clothes were off? How much of your clothes were off?
DEBBIE: Yeah. I was completely naked and he just was putting the ice cube melting. It was summer. We were really hot. I’m from Southern California, so melting this ice cube on and in me. And it was just really lovely honestly. It’s funny how that came to me right away and I had kind of forgotten about that time. But that would probably be the first time that I remember really.
LEAH: That sounds really lovely. Yeah.
LEAH: So you moved right into a nude experience with that boyfriend. But I assume you didn’t get naked with him immediately, so let’s back up a little bit into your earlier years. Had you started masturbating at any point before him?
DEBBIE: I don’t think so. It was around that time. I think my memory is that it was because of him and with him. We learned together. It was very certain that he wanted to wait until he was married before he had sex and I talked him into it. I thought that it would be a really good idea for us to have sex.
DEBBIE: And I didn’t have to talk him into it. It didn’t take that much talking to him.
DEBBIE: It didn’t take much. I’m sorry I’m turning away. It’s just easier not to look. Is that okay?
LEAH: Yeah, it’s fine.
DEBBIE: Like not look you in the eye because I don’t talk freely about that to many people.
LEAH: So how did the two of you sort of navigate that where he thought “I should wait until marriage” and you were pushing him a little bit further and faster? Did he have any guilt over that? Was there any shame in that relationship?
DEBBIE: I am really lucky with this relationship. It’s so funny because I like that we’ve started with this because I have other things that weren’t wonderful of course. But I’m really lucky. I guess technically, he was my second boyfriend, or third, anyway it doesn’t matter.
My first serious boyfriend and it’s so funny. We met on a whim at a party and held hands. And it’s funny, we just really were good, good friends, and liked each other a lot, and loved each other, and it wasn’t like he had guilt or anything. It was just we were raised as, since I’m 52, there’d be certain expectations for good girls and good boys that you’re just supposed to wait. And I don’t think anyone actually did.
DEBBIE: So I think there was just that expectation. It wasn’t guilt laden. It was just a social norm and that’s just not even a thing anymore, but there were just more a bit of a framework still. And so we just had to have this discussion. It wasn’t like I was like, “Come on!” It was more like, “Are you sure? We love each other.” And I think I truly believed it at some level like we’re probably going to get married.
DEBBIE: Which is just ridiculous but we were too young, too fast, too close. And so when we broke up, it was difficult. But I mean that’s just life. But we were very close and it was really a lot of fun.
LEAH: So you mentioned while you’re talking about that that you went to the same church. What kinds of messages were you getting at home and at church about sex and sexuality?
DEBBIE: So here’s where my life is topsy-turvy from a lot of people. I have had fairly awful things but they were not within the church and so the church for me, it was Presbyterian Church. I still to this day have fond memories of it and I think that’s the reason why I never threw the baby out with the bath water so to speak and I remained Christian.
I have really healthy messages about sex. I mean there were the messages that you shouldn’t have sex before marriage and there were certain old school kind of messages, but they weren’t overarching. In fact, it’s funny because I often talk about the most healthy relationship experiences from my middle school, high school time were within the church.
We used to give each other back rubs. We were a very close knit youth group so back rubs happened and cuddling happened and a really healthy kind. There was this cute, I don’t know how they framed it, but as soon as you entered the youth group, all the cliques and all the bullshit, you were required to drop it. I can’t remember how they phrased it but it was kind of sweet. So for me, it was like probably the opposite of most people’s experiences.
LEAH: So you’ve referenced that you’ve had some really difficult experiences. Are you okay talking about those?
DEBBIE: Yeah, I’m really okay with that. That’s probably why I was feeling nervous before. I love that we just started talking about my first experience of pleasure.
LEAH: So I don’t know exactly what it is that you’re referring to so I can’t ask you really good leading questions to get you there.
DEBBIE: No, that’s fair.
LEAH: Where would you like to start?
DEBBIE: The most concrete public easy to frame what has happened to me more than once unfortunately is that I was a gymnast from the time I was 5 until I was 13. And my coach is one of the coaches that has been outed, yeah and publicly. It’s funny because I have it written in my diary. I have it all written in my diary. Okay, so it was the 80s and while I was at the gym, I didn’t know this at the time. He was on trial for pedophilia and violence, abuse. He was on trial and the girls that had decided to go forward with this. They’re just slightly older than me, really only slightly older than me. So they were there at the gym, but I didn’t realize all that was happening and he was acquitted.
LEAH: And were your parents aware? I mean it’s one thing for you as a child not to be aware but what about your parents?
DEBBIE: Okay, so again, it was the 80s. I came from a very conservative place. A good example of were the parents aware, one of the parents of one of the girls who was prosecuting him, one of those parents actually sided with this coach. The parents actually quite liked him, including my parents.
LEAH: I’m sorry.
DEBBIE: Yeah. So it was not a good thing and so he was acquitted and nothing ever changed. The reason I know all of this is kind of I’ve lined up all the dates and things, so I was chosen as his next person or girl or whatever right then and it’s the age that he likes. So he groomed, and of course I’m using these terms post.
I was groomed in a way that was quite interesting because he had a preference for girls really including me to a T. He called me princess and then had this I’m spoiled and stuff like that. Taking advantage of that feeling in me that I know I’m not spoiled. I don’t want to be like a princess. I’m tough. Fuck, I was tough.
It was a very good gym. So here’s where it gets interesting. There was this one funny interesting odd summer where me and my best friend who happened to be Chinese. So what happened this summer was that there was a Romanian coach who defected and he came first to our gym, Doug, and so we just called him The Romanian.
LEAH: Okay, here is the promised explanatory break in. As I’m sure you can already guess, Debbie is about to tell a story about sexual improprieties by both her coach and “The Romanian”.
If you’re not familiar with the world of gymnastics what Debbie just said probably meant nothing to you. But if you’re even passingly familiar with the world of competitive gymnastics, mention of a male Romanian coach who defected in the early 80s probably brought the most famous name in women’s gymnastics to mind. You’ll notice I’m not saying his name. All we have here is memories from 40 years ago and some conjecture so I think it would be irresponsible to say his name and create the illusion of a direct connection that may or may not exist.
Instead, I’ll call the person that I’m thinking of “The Big Coach” and I’ll call the man in Debbie’s story “The Romanian”, just like she does. They may or may not be the same man. The Big Coach has been publicly accused of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse of the gymnasts he worked with. It is well documented that gymnasts were sexually abused by others at his facilities. But to my knowledge, there are not public accusations of him sexually abusing the gymnasts he trained. The gym owner that Debbie was talking about Doug was banned from USA gymnastics in 2010. His gym did host The Big Coach for a while in the early 1980s. All of that is a matter of public record.
But any assumption made based on timing remain only that, assumptions. As a gym that trained elite athletes, it’s possible that other former Romanian coaches came through those doors and I’m not in a position to connect any dots. When Debbie calls him The Romanian, that’s not something she’s doing to protect his identity. It’s the only thing she’s only heard him called at the time. “I literally was never given a name”, she told me, which actually says a lot.
And while my curious brain would really like to know whether this line of questioning is legitimate or not, ultimately it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that there are multiple levels of power differential here. These were adult men coaching just barely teenage girls and they were powerful coaches who could make or break an elite athlete’s career.
The world of elite gymnastics unfortunately has been rife with sexual predation. The very public downfall of Larry Nassar is likely just the top of the iceberg. And you’ll hear in a bit how healing it has been for Debbie to watch the scores of former and current gymnasts confront Nasser in court in 2018.
One final thing I want to mention before I go on. While telling this story, Debbie talks about another young female gymnast who was also abused. I was so caught up in her story that I didn’t flag that she was saying this other gymnast’s name. That young girl, now woman, did not ask to or consent to be part of this story, so to preserve her privacy we’re bleeping out her name. I don’t usually make a big deal about which interviewees are using a real name and which are using a fake name. But in this case, it’s relevant to say that Debbie is a pseudonym for today’s interviewee. Okay, let’s get back to the story.
DEBBIE: Doug and The Romanian were really, really good friends. So Doug and The Romanian and me and [redacted] were only the four people together in this special thing he was doing which in fact, where was my mom and dad?
But all day in the summer, it was like all day and we would be in his apartment. He had an apartment and a house with a pool and we would be at the beach and we would be at the gym. And Doug liked me and The Romanian liked [redacted] and it wasn’t good. And it got worse and worse and suddenly, and this is where it’s interesting, again everyone, my mom was thrilled because obviously you’re chosen by him. It’s quite an honor. But a little voice in me, I was going into 9th grade, a little voice in me just went “Stop.” It was the weirdest thing. I still don’t know. It didn’t make any sense because in my diary, I would write things like, “I want to marry Doug.”
DEBBIE: I was being groomed. “I want to marry Doug. Oh, I hope he likes me.” And all these things were in my diary along with all the other stuff. And it was my only love, I had life size like these huge posters of Nadia and Olga on my bedroom walls and I just used to stare. My only magazine subscriptions were International Gymnast. It was my entire life. My dad took me to the Olympic trials.
LEAH: So you were on track to be an elite gymnast it sounds like?
LEAH: and you walked away.
DEBBIE: Yeah, so it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was 13 and nobody understood. My parents were pissed of course.
LEAH: Did your parents know what had happened with him? Did you ever talk to them about it?
DEBBIE: I have tried. I have told my mom and she goes in these like almost fugue states. I mean I get it, it’s that old school. So I’ll tell her and she’d be like, “Oh, honey” and then it’s like she’s never heard it if I bring it up again. Does that make sense?
DEBBIE: Yeah. She just can’t. And my dad has passed away. I don’t think he got it exactly. He tried very, very hard.
LEAH: That’s so hard because a parent’s job is to protect their child and at the same time, sometimes our brains get in the way and want to protect us from any belief that we could have caused harm just by our not knowing. So that in no way absolves your parents. They should have been there to protect you and be with you. And it’s also just so hard on every side.
DEBBIE: Yes. It was challenging and my whole life, this is an obvious thing that I’m going to say, but it’s weird to say it out loud in a full sentence because it was my child brain trying to make sense of something that wasn’t condemned by anybody at all. He won United States Coach of the Year in 2009. So this man was lauded. He was acquitted of that. That was “Wow, these crazy little girls, they didn’t know what they were doing.” It was one of those classic “Kids lie, whatever.” So according to the outside world, this man was a god, an amazing person and even though as I grew up, I was like, “No, he wasn’t.”
DEBBIE: And I did my work. There’s still the fact that until 2010, there was no outward confirmation for that. So I still had my little girl self going, “Well, there was something wrong” but I was alone in that.
LEAH: In 2009, 2010, was he convicted? Did he go to trial?
DEBBIE: The worst that has happened to him is that he has been fired.
LEAH: Oh wow. So how has it been like for you for the last couple of years to watch all of tense young women?
DEBBIE: Awesome. I am so happy. I am so happy. It’s been the most freeing and the most I’ve been able to reclaim my sexual self in a lot of ways. I’ve been able to make sense of things that have not been made sense because even though I’ve gone to therapy and obviously lots of that stuff I worked through, it wasn’t until it was public. And that these girls, I’m just like, “Go, keep talking! Yes! It’s all true and be women you could be proud of.”
And I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud of them. My heart breaks for the things that did happen to them. Don’t get me wrong. But the fact that they have found a voice and the fact that, oh, what was the woman’s name who was the leader of them? I can’t remember.
LEAH: Was it Aly Raisman?
DEBBIE: Yes! Oh, she was one of them and I was just like, “Go Aly!”
LEAH: She was incredible.
DEBBIE: I’d be crying by myself just reading and crying and happy. Happy because they have a voice now and it’s amazing. I think it’s going to be a lot easier for the little girls coming up, a lot harder for anybody to do damage.
LEAH: God, I hope so.
DEBBIE: There’s a lot of work to be done but I feel like a dam has broken.
LEAH: I’m so sorry that you went through that and that you didn’t get the kind of recognition and healing you needed. And also I’m so pleased for you and everyone else that this has broken wide open over the last couple years.
DEBBIE: Yeah. I mean honestly until 2010, life was still really hard. There were times where I’d just have to kind of explain. There were a couple of other instances that were kind of crappy as well. And so I would just have to explain to partners that there were things. I’d do the classic like sometimes I would just start crying. I didn’t know why. Triggers would happen that I wasn’t aware that were triggers. And stuff like that.
LEAH: How did you talk to later partners like what kinds of things did you have to explain to them?
DEBBIE: I don’t know if I feel that comfortable talking about it but I had an unfortunate experience with my own dad, which is really sad. He had been horribly abused himself and I just think he suffered a bit from mental illness and whatever, so there’s that first experience. And then there was that experience with Doug. And then weirdly, my first year in university, I had what is now called date rape. And it was before it became a term that happened to me. He stalked me for 9 months and I said “No, no, no.” He caught me off guard one night, a series of unfortunate events, I blacked out and whatever. So those three, that kind of trifecta made things afterward really, really challenging.
And I would just basically explain to people. So my lovely first boyfriend, we dated. I’ll just call it rape. When I was raped, the month after that my dad left my mom, and two months after that, my mom’s now husband moved in. And the day he met me was the same day that my boyfriend broke up with me because I just couldn’t handle it. He broke up with me for very good boundary reasons I think. I was freaking out and couldn’t be a good friend. It was a very healthy thing that he broke up with me in the end.
But I was on the floor of my room. I was crying and my mom came and said, “Stop crying. This is Jim. He’s walking up to the house. This is what you have to do, whatever.” So that happened. So I guess what I’m saying is all of that happened and so I think that trifecta, so then I didn’t have any boyfriends really for a while as you might imagine or even really partners at all.
And then I started having partners, boyfriends, whatever. And I was just frank, I was like, “I don’t know but this might happen. If I cry or whatever, I just need space.” I went on a self healing journey of wanting to be really proactive, wanting to make choices because I realized that the bad stuff that had happened to me happened because I was passive.
The key thing there was that I was the passive person in those cases. I wasn’t making choices so I just decided with such a thing to flip the script, and to be active. So if somebody was interested in me, I was like really clear. Well, am I interested in them? And if I was, I was like, “This is what we’re doing.” And I became the one who is like, “This is what we’re doing. These are the rules. And if I cry this is why I’m crying but whatever. This is okay, this isn’t okay, etc.”
LEAH: And how did people generally respond to that?
DEBBIE: Really well, actually.
LEAH: At this point in our conversation, Debbie tells a story about the gorgeous Australian man she met while travelling on a train around Europe. And also, why do men feel entitled to be dating more than one woman but get upset when a woman is dating more than one man? It is a question for the ages. We also have an extended conversation about the way she talks to her four sons about sex and how that interaction has been colored by her own abuse history.
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LEAH: So were you having pleasure during these sexual experiences with all these different people?
DEBBIE: I feel really lucky because obviously the things that were bad were very, very, very bad and wrong and not pleasurable. But I’ve also had the good fortune like my first boyfriend. It was healthy. It was really healthy and I learned. We learned together how to have pleasure and all of that and it was really healthy. I say that over and over again because at the same time, we’re just two kids really just doing whatever, fooling around.
LEAH: I think that also can be really helpful for people to hear because there is a narrative for a lot of people that if you have been violated in some way then you are damaged goods. You are broken. There’s no hope and it just does not have to be true.
DEBBIE: I didn’t know where this would go but that was part of the reason why I was like, “I really want to do this” because I do think it’s an important message. And I’m not saying that everything was good. There have been some really challenging obviously experiences where I’ll be having sex with someone that I actually really, really love and care about and something will happen and I’ll have a memory. But yeah, there would be this just like flashback memory and just yeah, and that’s not good.
DEBBIE: And that’s a not a good thing. No one deserves that. And so I felt just like that little voice inside of me. I don’t know why I say little but very loud actually, strong voice at 13 that said “Quit.” I don’t know. Again, I have never lost my faith and I think that that is the reason because it’s deep. There was another thing that if I relied on, I don’t know how to describe it, my healthy instinct, it didn’t lead me astray. So that relationship with him was really healthy, each step of the way. This is healthy. I know what it looks like. It was all about that, me being active, me choosing.
LEAH: So let’s talk about your husband. Let’s talk about your current relationship and how that developed and what your sex life is like?
DEBBIE: Yeah, so we’re very, very, very happy right now and that’s amazing. I never thought about it before but we recently had an unhappy time and I think a lot of it is that we had four kids really quickly. I was always careful but anyway, I guess I’m really fertile.
DEBBIE: Because I was on the pill and we kind of were like “We’re married. Who knows we might want to get a dog.”
DEBBIE: We were at that stage. And so I went off the pill thinking usually it would take a couple of years. Within 3 months, I was pregnant and miscarried. Within 3 more months, I was pregnant again with my first son. And then I was pregnant again and miscarried when he was 11 months old even though I was breastfeeding. I got pregnant again and then it was my second son. I was on birth control for my second son. I was on birth control for my third son. For my third son, I was back to work and determined to only have two kids and so happy and I thought, “You know what, I had protected sex” but I didn’t trust it. I think I used the sponge. And I thought “You know what, I’m just going to be careful and get a morning after pill before I head into the work for the day.”
So I did that and the lovely doctor said, “We just have this policy. Just do a pregnancy test before.” And I’m like, “Sure, whatever.” Do the pregnancy test. Yup, that’s son number three, so no plan B. I was pregnant and happy. Each time I was pregnant I was full of joy. I was like, “Let’s do this, whatever.” And I was thrilled. I want to be clear part of the reason I can tell that story without weird feelings is that I literally was happy each time and it was funny. So the fourth one, really literally we were kind of like “Well, let’s just make the fourth.”
DEBBIE: And then so four, I was done. My body was done and so I said to my husband, “You have to get a vasectomy.” I said, “That’s it. You got to get a vasectomy.” And he was not happy about that. He thought it was a very bad idea. He was pissed and I said, “Look. You can either get a vasectomy or you can be a really happy single father with five kids.”
LEAH: And that changed his mind?
DEBBIE: Yeah. It was one of those moments where he did it and he wasn’t happy and that was one of the things that led to us needing to separate for a while.
LEAH: Do you think he was unhappy because he didn’t want to have surgery or was he unhappy because he thought it somehow affected his manhood?
DEBBIE: I think he would agree that he was unhappy because it wasn’t his “choice”. It was being imposed on him. It’s interesting I chose as a husband somebody who has incredibly intense control issues.
DEBBIE: Yeah. I think that’s really interesting the person I ended up marrying is someone who in the end, not always, it’s not. But it can be a little bit my way or the high way with him.
LEAH: Yeah. So it sounds like you separated for a while. What brought you back together?
DEBBIE: I was adamant things were getting just intractable and he was not okay with it and again, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that it was just not his idea really. But also it’s just inconceivable. So he was making it incredibly difficult for me to even leave the house.
So I divided the house up and I made myself a separate suite in our house and I was ready. I was trying very hard to find a place to live and I was doing everything I could to get out and he was making it very, very difficult. So I told him, “You’ve got to go to counseling. You’ve got to start doing the work. You’ve got to do your work. I’ve done my work. You haven’t done any work and now you just have to.”
And so he did with this idea that we were getting back together and I said, “Look, we’re not getting back together. I mean you’ve got to do your work because whoever is going to be next after me needs somebody who is healthy and you just haven’t done anything to work on yourself.” So he did. He did and he not only went to therapy but typical him, bought himself a workbook which he had no idea. We had not really been talking at all about anything for ages, but it happened to be one of my favorite counseling theories, Acceptance and Commitment Theory.
So he actually just by chance bought himself a thick workbook on ACT and did it and went through this workbook. He went on a weeklong kayaking trip by himself where he did his workbook and did some deep, deep, deep work. And interestingly, after that, a year and three quarters, no movement at all. I’m kind of making it easy, making it non-challenging with the kids and everything for me to leave. I was still in the house technically and I don’t know what switched for me. I think a part of me was like, “Honestly, if none of this is ever going to move and this is going to be like a lifelong struggle, I don’t mind.” This is literally what I said, “I don’t mind living with you like brother and sister. I don’t mind just doing that. I’m tired. I had a good life. I want to be a good mother. I want to be clear.”
I was just like, “I’ll do this, I can be friends with you. You’ve done a lot of work.” So we started going on walks together. He had changed. I said things like, “The next woman you’re going to find is going to be really happy. I have to admit. You really have done your work. This is really great. She’s going to be really happy. Still, this is great but I have no love left for you.” And then something just happened. Something just switched in me. I don’t know what it is. I really still don’t. That’s why I still say it was grace because I was done and I didn’t need to be married. I certainly didn’t need to be married to him. So I said, “Look, the ball is in your court. I’m willing to go to counseling with you. I’m willing to go to couples counseling with you now.” And we did and it was amazing.
LEAH: How long ago was this?
DEBBIE: So it was probably late 2018, summer of 2018.
LEAH: Oh, so that’s fairly recent.
DEBBIE: It’s really recent. That’s why I can say I’m like giddily in love with him now. We’re like little kids, well not little kids. That’s gross, but we’re like teenagers.
DEBBIE: Yeah, so it’s kind of cool.
LEAH: So what is your sex life like today?
DEBBIE: So again, after he did all this work and it’s vulnerable. It’s vulnerable for the very first time where we’re both from fairly conservative backgrounds and so really vanilla stuff, but lots of talking now, lots of communication, lots of “do this, not that, let’s try this.” Very vanilla but man, mind-blowingly pleasure and I do know of which I speak.
LEAH: You said very vanilla a couple times, which makes me wonder if you want it to be something else.
DEBBIE: I don’t. I don’t. And it’s funny. I have a really good friend in town. She’s single and she tells me all about all these things she does and I was like, “Tell me more. Tell me more.” And I love listening but then I think about it and we’ve been a couple of times in the local sex shop together, she and I. And she’s shown me the things she’s bought and all this stuff and I’m always like, “That’s really cool.” And I think, “Nah.”
DEBBIE: Literally, I’m just like, “Nah.”
LEAH: You mentioned before we started recording that you have recently been having some pain that has changed things for you. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
DEBBIE: And that’s just simply that I have really, really bad chronic tendonitis in my groin, in my hips. So it really hurts, like really hurts. For the first time ever, instead of just moving around and doing whatever, I have to be like “I can’t do that. It hurts.” And even though I’ve been “Oh, we talk and it’s vulnerable”, I’m still really shy that way and I think for good reason. It’s really hard for me. It’s never been easy. It’s been a thing that I do when I’m like, “This is what I want.” And so it’s that, I’ve had to say that “That really hurts” or “Can we do this” or “Can we do this way” or whatever. And I have to touch myself because of the certain positions that I can’t get into because they hurt too much my groin and so I can’t get into certain positions where normally that’s just where I like to be. I have to do other things where I have to touch myself and he thinks it’s awesome.
DEBBIE: But I know I’m 52 and I know that but I’m still like “God, I don’t want to do that in front of you.” And it’s silly, well, not silly. But it’s awesome because when I’m forced to do that obviously it ends up good, better and that’s almost an added layer of excitement and stuff. So the vulnerable part is just that, me having to actually say, “I need this.”
LEAH: Yeah. So you have also told me that you are post menopausal. How has that changed your experience of sex if at all?
DEBBIE: It hasn’t really. Just now I’m dealing with that taboo of, I don’t even want to say I believe in this, I didn’t think I did but old women shouldn’t have sex. Yeah, and I’m embarrassed and a little pissed at myself I guess that I care. And that’s just where I am right now. That’s a full acceptance as to where I am right now. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel that at some point, I’m going to embrace it more and stuff but that’s where I’m at. And it’s pissing me off because obviously, I had a decade of pregnancy.
DEBBIE: Pregnant breastfeeding, so it’s kind of like, “God damn it, I just want to enjoy myself finally.” And I do but I don’t know.
LEAH: And now it’s time for the Lowdown, the things we’re dying to know but would usually be too polite to ask any good girl.
LEAH: What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?
DEBBIE: Approximate would be 10, somewhere in that range, 7-10.
LEAH: What’s your favorite sex toy?
DEBBIE: That’s just it. I don’t have any. I’m so boring.
DEBBIE: And I don’t want. I’ve had girlfriends like, “You need a vibrator. I’m going to send you one. This is ridiculous.” But I’ve never needed one or wanted one.
LEAH: That’s great. If you don’t want one, there’s no need to have one!
DEBBIE: I know but what the hell.
LEAH: Have you ever felt a sexual urge that confused you?
DEBBIE: So definitely confused sometimes by where the fantasy goes when I’m masturbating. Sometimes I’m like, “Why would I want?” And then I can just therapize myself and I’m like, “Well of course I want control.” I want someone to control me in my fantasies and I think that’s just out of a tired like not really wanting to always be in control.
LEAH: That’s also really common among people who have experienced some type of assault or violation to want to play that out again in a way where they know they can say no, where they know that there’s an endpoint so that’s super common.
DEBBIE: That’s exactly as you were saying. Yeah, kind of confused and then also no, but that would be the one where I’m always like, “Well, that’s weird. I guess that’s where I’m going today and yeah.”
LEAH: So we have done it. That is the end of the questions.
DEBBIE: This has been a joy and thank you for letting me indulge.
LEAH: Yeah. It’s been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you.
LEAH: That’s it for today. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcriptions are produced by Jan Acielo.
And I’m incredibly grateful for the financial support from Good Girls Talk About Sex community members at Patreon. If you’d like to support me in telling these stories and answering your questions, head over to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. You can find Show Notes and Show Transcripts at www.goodgirlstalk.com. To ask a question about your sex life, your desires, or anything to do with female sexuality, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX.
And before we go, I want to remind you that the things you’ve probably heard about your sexuality are not true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. I work with women just like you to reflect their true sexual nature back to them without the judgment, shame or fear that could get in the way of us seeing it for ourselves. As a coach and PJ party hostess, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. I’m here to help you sink so deeply into your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak up for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!
- 3:40 – Debbie’s first memory of sexual pleasure is at age 16 with her first boyfriend, who had learned a fabulous trick with ice.
- 9:13 – She shares about growing up in church, conservative but with a touch-generous loving youth group.
- 11:18 – Debbie then opens up about a deeply traumatic experience: she was molested by her gymnastics coach. She talks about him being charged and acquitted, and about subsequently being groomed in his tutelage.
- 20:44 – Getting her parents to admit what happened was difficult. The lack of public condemnation was even more harmful.
- 25:52 – Debbie discusses two other painful sexual traumas.
- 35:17 – She speaks to the fact that despite the trauma, she is not broken, and she wants to assure other victims that a healthy sex life with pleasure is still possible.
- 42:20 – After they separate, Debbie’s husband buys a self-help workbook and actually does the work. Things become peaceful, and then they turn around in a big way.
- 47:16 – Debbie still deals with chronic tendonitis in her hips, which impacts sex, and she talks about being post-menopausal.
- What’s the approximate number of sex partners you’ve had?
- What’s your favorite sex toy?
- Have you ever felt a sexual urge that confused you?
Don’t forget – ALL audio extras are FREE at Patreon!
The Patreon extras for this episode are:
Debbie tells a story about the gorgeous Australian man she met while traveling on a train around Europe. And also – why do men feel entitled to be dating more than one woman, but get upset when a woman is dating more than one man? We also have an extended conversation about the way she talks to her four sons about sex, and that interaction has been colored by her own abuse history. PLUS, the extended Lowdown Q&A!
As of July 2020, all Good Girls Talk About Sex audio extras are now FREE! They can be accessed at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
I’ve done this because there are people who need this material but don’t have the financial means to access it behind a paywall.
But there are many costs associated with producing this show, so if you’d like to support the work I do, I am grateful for your contributions at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.
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WORK WITH LEAH:
Host / Producer – Leah Carey (email)
Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Administrative Support – Lara O’Connor, Maria Franco
Music – Nazar Rybak