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My first experience with sex was at 14. My parents were away, I had a friend over and... well, you know.

My first thought after he'd finished poking at me while I lay there half-clueless was, "That's it?" No pain, but certainly nothing else either. The event was nothing like the flowery (and temptingly smutty) romance novel I'd found. That novel had alluded to near ecstasy. My first time was just confusing and boring.

My second sexual experience was at 16. Acting out from a home life gone crazy while my father died slowly of Alzheimer's, I screwed a lot of guys.

I was a belt-notcher. I didn't care about myself or my reputation. I made it a personal challenge to get the hottest guys to sleep with me — the ones that were out of my league. Rich kids, popular jocks, the son of important parents...

I drank a lot, I smoked a lot of dope, and I had a lot of sex in cars.

I've never associated sex with love. Ever. And with good reason. How can you throw something away and treat it so negligently if you care about it? Sex was sex. No one cared about me — why should I care about anything at all? Damned if I ever felt a thing in bed, too.

Sex was something the wrong kind of girls did. The girls who didn't care about anything. The tough girls. The scrappers. That was me. I didn't even bother to try to enjoy sex.

It's taken me years to work through my issues. They have nothing to do with men or gender confusion or anything like that. My problems have to do with finding a way to resolve that behavioral cry for attention at a time when my world was falling apart.

I wonder sometimes how different I would have been had I had normal teenage years. Would I have been more chaste? Would I have avoided booze and not even dared to smoke up? Probably. I wouldn't have needed any of that.

Would I have chosen better men for my life? Certainly. I remember why I chose Ex Number One as a partner: He made me laugh. I needed laughter those years. Ex Number Two became a partner because he cared about me.

Just not enough, and not for long enough.

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