Completing a sexual inventory can be uncomfortable. Do you want to complete one? I was always tempted to keep it general and say something like, “This really isn’t my field of expertise.” Or, “My grandmother always told me it was impolite to speak of such things.” Or “The modern woman does not kiss and tell.” This did not fly with my sponsor. Instead, I was encouraged to be as specific as possible.
Oddly enough as I started really giving my sexual inventory my full attention, I realized that my family system had taught me some pretty weird things about sex. I had received some very strange messages and I needed to unpack them in order to understand my own sexual history.
Here is one example of weird sex stuff in my family of origin. In my late teens my father took a job managing properties for a local bank. One day I went into the branch near our house to make a deposit and my father happened to be there. This was unusual. He worked in some big warehouse in the Northside of town where the bank kept all manner of things banks need to keep buildings up and running. I waved at my dad who was sitting behind a glass partition with a woman. I got in line. I knew the teller from high school; he was a couple years older than me. We caught up on his life, I got my deposit and went about my day.
At dinner that night I could feel that my dad was “off”. I felt nervous. I pushed my food around my plate and waited for the proverbial shoe to drop. Soon, he stared at me. He chewed his food. He asked me to explain myself to the family. I had no idea what he was talking about. A wily and inveterate liar at this point in my life, it was hard to keep up the storyline that was designed to keep my father from knowing too much about me. I had no clue what exactly he had found out or how to escape his gaze.
He started, “I saw you at the bank today.”
I replied, “Yes, I saw you too. That was weird you being at the branch. What were you doing?”
“Don’t try to avoid the subject, this isn’t about me. It’s about you.” To make a long, traumatic and in some ways boring story short - he accused me of flirting with “his employee” and acting like a slut.
At the time I just shrugged and told my brothers, “Dad is a wackadoodle.” I did not understand how all these accusatory sexual innuendos were inappropriate and harmful to me. It made me feel awkward around guys and self-conscious. If my friend hadn’t been in a teller’s box surrounded by a nice glass window I’m not sure I would have had the courage to speak to him, much less flirt! As an adult, I know it was simply a polite conversation. As an unhealthy teen living in an unhealthy family, I wondered - am I slut?
It is possible that as you think back on your own sexual inventory, you may have some thoughts, feelings, or curious questions about your own sexual history. Write it all down! If it isn’t helpful for your Fourth Step, your sponsor will tell you. But you may find some interesting backstories that will have your therapist intrigued!