Forgive Yourself For All Of It

Dear Mommy,

Recently I was out at a bar, feeling tipsy, bored and lonely, and I impulsively went home with someone, even though I wasn’t very attracted to them and thought they were pretty weird. We had a nice time but the next morning, when I sobered up, I was pretty shocked at my choice.

The thing is, this a pattern for me. I’ll sleep with someone because it feels fun in the moment and then the next day feel so ashamed, like I have no self-respect or restraint. I imagine what my friends would think if they saw me with the person I slept with and I feel so embarrassed. What also feels shameful is that some part of me actually enjoys these encounters – there’s not a lot at stake in them for me, so I feel more free and relaxed than if I were sleeping with my big crush. But part of me is also aware I’m going to regret them later. I usually keep the stories from my friends because I’m embarrassed, but that only makes me feel worse.

What do you think about this pattern, Mommy? Am I being heartless and disrespectful, towards myself and/or towards the people I’m sleeping with?

My love, you have nothing to be embarrassed by. I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it’s time to set the record straight and categorically say that there’s nothing embarrassing or shameful about sleeping with someone you don’t know, sleeping with someone because you’re lonely, or having a “have banged” number that reaches to the stars. As far as I’m concerned, you can get it on with whoever in whatever way or place or time as long as everything’s consensual and respectful, you’re not lying or intentionally misleading anyone, and you actually want to be doing it. What do you have to be embarrassed about? Absolutely nothing, in my opinion.

I think you need to identify where the shame is actually coming from. Is it coming from your true voice because you don’t enjoy these experiences, you don’t feel safe during them, and/or you regret them? If the answer is yes, and you don’t feel safe or enjoy what you’re doing, then that’s a problem. simply saying, “Hey, don’t do that thing again!” doesn’t account for moments of self-destructive weakness, extreme loneliness, and just general “time to fuck some shit up” moods that we ALL experience as humans. So I won’t say it, but I will urge you to try find another way to fuck shit up or deal with loneliness that doesn’t put you in the way of harm, emotional or physical. Maybe like breaking plates in the street or performing a gentle catfish on an unsuspecting loved one (I’m JOKING, please do not catfish anyone). In all seriousness, you deserve complete 100% bodily and emotional safety all of the time and you have the right to steer clear of any situation, to the extent you are able, that makes your safety feel compromised. It doesn’t sound like you feel unsafe, and you did say the stakes feel low, but I wanted to throw this out there in case you needed to hear it.

So, if you do feel safe and you are enjoying what you’re doing (and so does your partner), then it sounds like the shame and embarrassment afterwards is the biggest bummer part of this arrangement. So again, where is it coming from? Is it society’s fake ass voice? The voice that says you shouldn’t enjoy getting it on with a stranger? That it’s slutty or wrong or shameful to enjoy it? That the people you’re hooking up with need to look or be a certain way? Indulging in some low-stakes fun when it comes your way is as necessary and important a part of life as paying your bills. I don’t see anything disrespectful or heartless about it.

But it’s also just occurred to me that maybe it’s all the options. Maybe you don’t enjoy it and you do at the same time. Maybe you have fun and the stakes are low, and you still feel like you shouldn’t have done it. Maybe it’s not just internalized crap shaming you, maybe it’s you not feeling like you line up with your own view of yourself. Maybe you feel like you do want to be doing this kind of stuff and that you don’t at the same time. Maybe you feel different about it every time. Maybe life is complicated and the absolute only thing you can consistently get right is to forgive yourself for all of it and move on when you can, to try to do right by yourself next time. Promise yourself that next time you will only go home with someone that you actually want to go home with, and if you break that promise simply make it to yourself again, and again and again until you can keep it. No one is watching you, no one is keeping track. There’s no big bearded dude up there making a list of all the times you told yourself you were gonna do something and then did the opposite. You get to start over every single day, you have all the time in the world to bring yourself in line with your image of you. If it takes your whole life and doesn’t happen ’til the day before you die, well, that’ll be a hell of a day. I’ll meet you in the underworld and we’ll party.

Love, Mommy