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Conscious Slut

Boys always gave me such a rush.


The pursuit, the flirtation, the temptation, anticipating if they liked me, and if they did then what was going to come next? All of these feelings lit me up, they took me out of the stressful, tense life that was happening at home. In the first grade I can remember the rush of kissing Thomas out on the playground behind a tree. It was electric. Or the time I was 12 and Danny slid his hands down my blue jeans, feeling my untouched pussy for the first time. I’ll never forget the thrill of chatting with Justin, a hot 8th grader on AIM. We planned a very risqué meet up in the stairway during school. He pushed me up against the wall and we made out. I can still remember how it felt to melt away against that railing with his tongue against mine. Pure bliss. True Euphoria as I knew it. There was nothing like it.


In the seventh grade I was in a play with my older sister and a bunch of our friends. During a rehearsal one day I remember walking into the basement costume room and hearing whispers.


“What’s going on?” I said


“I don’t think you want to see this,” a friend replied. “Someone wrote something mean about you.”


I gulped. “What does it say?”


As I approached, the writing etched into the wood table became clear: Julia Shepley is a slut.


To this day I can still feel the lump in my throat when I recall those words and I can still feel the impact that moment had on that little girl. I was crushed. Humiliated. I felt exposed, dirty and wrong. I felt scared and alone in that moment. Like I didn’t belong; in the world and certainly not in my conservative very prestigious middle school. It was the first moment that it became clear to me that being sexual, explorative and flirtatious had consequences. In an instant, what was once an exciting euphoric life force for me, turned into something much darker.


When I look back now, I am grateful that Harvard Graduate Jacob B wrote those awful words on that table. Those words created my shadow. The naughty, slutty, hungry, dark, explorative parts of myself I shamed for many years after that day. The more I suppressed and disapproved of her the more she came out sideways. In ways such as cheating, lying, going after friends boyfriends, having awful sex, having lots of sex with lots of people. All of it. All my shadow wanted all those years was to be seen, acknowledged for all her mess and loved by me. She wanted me to be conscious of her. To be a conscious slut!


I think about a world where we teach about shadows. To love the parts of ourselves that aren’t praised and approved of in society but will always be there. The darkness, the juice, the anger, the taboo. If we approve and love these parts that will always exist in us, then our shadows wouldn’t come out sideways in ways like calling girls sluts. Boys wouldn’t be bullies. Women wouldn’t be raped. Families would communicate. People wouldn’t have affairs. There would be less divorce. We wouldn’t have a world plagued with violence, war and rage.




Today I love my shadow. It’s an everyday practice to approve of my shadow in a culture that teaches me otherwise. My shadow has taught me so much. I incorporate her into my life all the time. She loves my attention. She is so naughty and fun. She no longer comes out sideways. She no longer feels shame. Loving your shadow is the most rewarding healing and challenging journey of all, one that every single one of us deserves.

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© 2018 by Julia Shepley.