I WAS 32 years old and married to someone else when my new lover gave me my very first orgasm.
Not my first with him, not my first during sex - my first orgasm. Like, ever.
As the waves of pleasure wracked my body, I burst into tears. But even as I lay there shaking and crying, and feeling guilty about what I was doing behind my husband's back, I knew my life had just changed forever.
I married at 21, and I'd had two boyfriends before that. I'd had sex before, but it was fumbling young sex. One time was in my boyfriend's car at about 18, and when he put his fingers inside me it was like a dam of blood burst. I was mortified.
The next few times weren't much better and after months of pain during sex and terrible bleeding, I was diagnosed with endometriosis.
This made it pretty much impossible for me to climax. I was in constant pain and could never relax during sex as I was scared I was about to start bleeding.
My husband was a virgin when we got together. He was not a very sensual guy, but I was not a very sensual girl at that time in my life. I was awkward and embarrassed about my body.
My husband used to orgasm within minutes of penetrating me, and it was all over in a flash. I was never really into masturbation. I bought a vibrator that I used on myself when he was finished, but it just felt so unsexy, with him lying there spent and wishing he was somewhere else and me trying to figure out what to do.
I just assumed that my body was not like everyone else's. Maybe I was wired differently. Maybe I was broken.
Children came along and my husband and I stopped having sex altogether. Finally, I had a hysterectomy and something shifted inside me, quite literally I guess. The pain was gone; the fear of bleeding was gone. I was ready to explore my sexuality and experiment with pleasure.
I suggested to my husband that we try to become intimate again, and set a goal of thrice weekly love-making but he laughed right in my face and said "that's not going to happen".
It made me feel undesirable, unsexy and unloveable. How many times can you feel that before you believe it to be true?
I started with a drama group in my local town and I made a bunch of new friends. One of those friends was a lovely man with kind eyes who seemed to see my sadness.
We began talking after class but it was never anything flirtatious. It was just two people talking about their lives. Eventually, things did become a little more candid and somehow we discussed sex.
I said my husband hadn't touched me in nearly two years, and this man couldn't believe it. He told me my husband was mad because I was gorgeous. And interesting. And funny.
I can't tell you what hearing those words was like. I didn't believe him on some level, because I didn't believe I was those things, but it made think "maybe".
Maybe I am.
After a fight with my husband one night, a group of us went for dinner. After a couple of drinks, I was chatting quietly with my new man friend when I confessed that my body was broken and I was unable to orgasm. He smiled.
"I don't believe that for a second," he said. "If you want to do an experiment sometime, I'd be happy to help you try."
My marriage was deteriorating rapidly, I was growing a deep bond with a man who was not my husband and everything was very confusing. But I didn't fight it. I didn't want to.
It happened one night after a party. I went back to his house and we kissed slowly for a long time. I could sense this man was different. He took his time. He explored every inch of my body.
I was so nervous to begin with because I'd been with one man for 10 years but he helped me relax by taking it really slow.
When he went down on me, so gently and carefully, gradually building the speed and the pressure, it was unlike anything I'd ever felt. He slipped his fingers inside me at the same time and slowly began a rhythm that my body could not deny.
It wasn't a wild explosion with fireworks, but it was an actual sexual climax. I broke down in tears while he held me and gently stroked my tingling skin.
It has been a long journey since that night. I left my husband, but this beautiful man did not want me to leave for him so we did not see each other for a few months while I got on my feet.
We're together again now and I've realised that I wasn't only missing sexual pleasure, but the intimacy and closeness that it brings in relationships.
I'll never make that sacrifice again.
This article originally appeared on Whimn and has been republished here with permission.