The adrenaline of fear thundered in her chest. Wearing gym shorts she leaned slightly forward on a bench outside of the batting cages where they talked. She ran her palms down the smooth muscle of her thighs before she slipped them beneath her legs to hide the shaking in her hands. Her mouth turned upward with nervous amusement and her light blue eyes searched his face for clues as she said,
“You know, I’m not really looking for a hook-up.”
Her pulse pounded beneath pale skin and she worried that it revealed her fear. At age thirty-three, she was just beginning to speak up for herself. It had been a long and difficult road to learn that she could say no, to sex on the first date which had happened so much of her dating life. Through some assumptions, she’d believed it was expected, and to say no suggested someone prudish and uptight. She wasn’t looking for a husband, but casual sex felt different now, like there was more at stake. She had begun to realize that every time she “hooked up,” there was an energetic exchange that could stay with her for long periods. It was an invisible plague that stuck to her soul and couldn’t be washed off in the shower. The power and worthiness that had come from feeling desired, she had discovered, was false. It was as thin as smoke.
Now the worst part was having the conversation with someone that she really liked. The truth was that she wanted to be desirable and interesting without needing to have sex first. But an imagined dialog ran over and over in her mind where only the worst outcome happened.
“Ok, well I’m not looking for a relationship,” he’d say, or “That’s cool, I understand, but I don’t want to be tied down,” or even worse, he would never call her again like it was her who had the plague. As she thought about these scenarios her negative inner-voice said,
You’ll never meet a decent guy. The only thing they want from you is sex. Nothing more. You’ll always be alone. But this time she wouldn’t go there. She was determined to change her negative thought patterns, so she took a deep breath, pursed her lips and blew out the scary thoughts. She smiled and told herself, I am worth something. I am creative, funny, and strong. I don’t have to sleep with him to prove it. If he doesn’t want to get to know me, then good riddance. He’s not taking a piece of me with him.
Her smile deepened and strength filled her body. When the moment came, her heart hammered, her hands shook, and her mouth dried, she said,
“No, I’m not really interested in “hooking up” with someone I hardly know.”
“Yeah, I get it. So let’s get together. When is your next day off?”
She didn’t yet know how it might work out. Maybe he’s just another jerk who was counting on second date sex, but it didn’t matter. She felt strong and empowered. She would go forward and see what could happen. For now, she had triumphed over the fear of the future, fear of rejection, and fear of unworthiness. She had squashed her negative inner-voice. That she thought, was a pretty good start.