Okay by Maddie Allard
Content Warning: Consent violation, rape, sexually transmitted infection
I didn’t want to have sex with him. I had just moved back to the city, after a stint in my hometown, and working as a hostess at a local pub to pay the bills. I was looking for friends when I reached out to an old college acquaintance to meet up.
I was about to clock out when he showed up at the pub. I was excited and nervous to see a familiar face. We hadn’t talked in years yet he looked exactly the same. We pulled up stools and chatted awkwardly.
The first thing I noticed was he kept finding ways to touch me. It was my knee as we laughed, my back as he passed me to go to the restroom, my shoulder as we stood at the bar to order drinks and food. It made my stomach churn. I had not met up with him to hook up. That I knew clearly. This was only a friendly meeting.
I excused myself to the bathroom and hid in the back, pushing down a panic attack. I pulled aside my coworkers letting them know that I didn’t want to hook up with him. I was mostly vocalizing my intentions to reassure myself. As long as I stayed sober enough, I could hold fast to my boundaries.
I struggle immensely with boundaries with men. I blame it on the abuse I experienced with my much-too-old first boyfriend, the classmate who raped me on my 21st birthday, and a lack of proper sex education. For years I’ve fucked endless Tinder dates, friends, and strangers I’ve met at bars because of a deep-rooted fear of what would happen if I said no. After talking to friends about this, I’ve learned I’m not alone in this compromise of sorts. We give consent to have sex with men because the alternative is much worse. Over the years I’ve slowly moved away from this, but I still fall victim from time to time.
This was one of those nights.
I blame the cocaine for the fact that we ended up at my house. Everything was buzzy and confusing. One second he was asleep on the couch. Then I was giving him water. Then he was pulling me on top of him, kissing me and begging me to give in. And then we were in my bed.
I was disgusted with myself. As soon as we woke up, I made sure he was out the door. Then I jumped in the shower and scrubbed myself clean.
At first, I thought it was a UTI. It burned when I peed, but then I realized it was coming from my vagina and not my urethra. Stupidly, I ignored it, sitting on the toilet with tears in my eyes telling myself over and over that it was nothing.
Eventually, I caved and headed to Planned Parenthood. I was met with free care and understanding nurses. The woman who examined me said it sounded like a yeast infection but couldn’t find any yeast. She gave me a treatment for one anyway, but I think we both knew it was something else.
The yeast infection ointment helped ease the pain until I got the call. I had chlamydia. A cloud of shame hit me. I knew exactly where it came from, and I hadn’t even wanted to have sex with him anyway. I was so angry at myself for how weak I was. Why couldn’t I just stand up for myself like I do in every other aspect of my life?
I swallowed my pride and texted him. I received a reply faster than expected.
“Oh shit, really? I had no idea.”
I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. This is exactly why we need comprehensive sex education. The fact that I had symptoms was unusual. Rare to the point that my physician at Planned Parenthood guessed that I had chlamydia and a yeast infection. Most people have no idea that they have it. As for those with male genitalia, they often don’t suffer from the many consequences of chlamydia. It’s only people with vaginas and cervixes who have to worry about lasting damage if they don’t get it treated.
My follow-up appointment was hell. Sure, taking two pills can seem like no big deal, but for me, it dug up trauma I had suppressed.
Suddenly, I was back in that hospital in San Francisco getting a rape kit. That lonely room, the somber-yet-caring woman, the discomfort of being probed, all the pills. I hadn’t cried that entire time until she gave me the pills, discussing all the diseases that classmate may have exposed me to. It was in that moment what had happened to me really hit home. It was then that I felt truly violated.
Here I was, back in a cold examination room being probed and handed pills to cure the chlamydia. I couldn’t let her examine me. I thought I could, but the moment I heard her pull the speculum out of the drawer my legs snapped shut and I started to cry.
She was incredibly understanding. She told me we didn’t have to go through with an examination and that we could end the visit. Then she left the room to allow me to get dressed.
We finished the appointment and I left, grabbing a bottle of water from the receptionist and swallowing the pills before walking out. And then I was fine.
The sun was shining and it was a pretty nice day. My stomach turned from the antibiotics doing their job, but it didn’t bother me. I surprised a friend at work and we grabbed something to eat. It was okay. I was okay. When I got home I realized that my stomach didn’t hurt anymore. Sure, I’d have to wait a week to be fully healed, but that was all right.