I have been on and off birth control since I was 16 years old. I had a steady boyfriend at the time and thought that I loved him. I knew I was too young to be pregnant, but I didn’t think I was too young to have sex.
So one day I drove my old beat up Ford F-150 to Planned Parenthood by myself. I didn’t tell my parents, and I didn’t need to. Parental consent wasn’t required if you were 16. I waited forever and then was taken to a room where I undressed, was examined, handed my prescription, a giant bag of condoms, and an assortment of pamphlets about STDs.
When I first got on the pill, I felt like I was invincible, like I was safe because I wouldn’t become pregnant. I didn’t worry about practicing safe sex. I had multiple partners and no desire to settle down. A few guys I dated eventually proposed to me, but I always ran the other way.
When I was having sex, I would have a small sense of being loved and being wanted—two feelings that I craved. To make a guy want me—I thought that was the power of a woman.
But as soon as the guy was gone, I only felt empty and disgusted with myself for not being stronger. Even though I felt horrible, I still craved that attention, and somehow it made me want it all the more. I told myself that I wanted to be able to have sex like a man: to not think of it as something emotional and about love, but to just enjoy it in the moment.
But deep down I knew I was looking for love. I thought that somehow I’d find it through sex.
Eleven years ago, when I was 16 and driving to the clinic I thought that I was about to make my life more exciting. What I know now is that birth control and “safe” sex won’t really protect me. My choices then put me at risk, not only for STDs and pregnancy outside of marriage, but also emotionally because of the psychological side of sex.
My young adult life has not been easy. I’m now 27 years old and a single mom with two kids, who mean the world to me. But I’m still looking for a man who will love me and my kids unconditionally. I wish I had known then what I know now, that getting on birth control and having sex was not the way to find him.