When Your First Kiss Causes a Full-Blown Panic Attack


By Ryan Moreno

Photo source: Unsplash.com/Ryan Moreno

Do first kisses usually cause panic attacks?

I don’t mean a heart-racing-weak-in-the-knees anticipation kind of feeling, either. I mean a full-blown, honest-to-God panic attack.

Thought I didn’t realize it at the time, mine did. The muscle memory is still with me. My heart is hammering my chest just from the memory. I remember the physical sensations, the thoughts that ran through my head and the emotional upheaval as clearly as if it’d happened only yesterday:

Sweat beaded my lip and brow, and ran its cool fingers down my spine. I was so flushed, my body was burning up. I hyperventilated and my heart beat so hard I thought it would jump out of my chest (due to a heart condition, when I’m having a panic attack, I can look down and literally SEE my heart pounding). It felt like I was on a roller coast (I LOVE roller coasters, but I didn’t love this one – it felt more like drowning), and the contents of my stomach were threatening imminent reappearance. This was my first kiss panic attack. I was 15.

It took him hours to wear me down. Maybe days. That part is kind of hazy. He was also 15, but either much more experienced or simply more confident than I. He was persistent and wore me down. That I was quite attracted to him might’ve helped to tip the scales in his favor. Even while we were kissing – French, of course 😉 – my heart ran a marathon. That fight or flight syndrome. I didn’t know what to do, how to handle the sensations running through me. I let him take the lead and he devoured me.

Kissing came easier after that. Until a few weeks later when I became uncomfortable with him slidding his hand up my skirt and attempting to fondle my breasts. He called me a prude. I’d never been called that before and had to find a dictionary. When I told my mother he’d called me a prude, she said I should be proud of that. At 15, I was just as uncomfortable with the idea of being a prude as I was with his hands on the covered parts of my body.

I don’t know if he really was looking to “score” or just wanted to fool around a little. After establishing my “prudishness,” he quickly lost interest. And I became a subtle stalker. I didn’t have the confidence to confront him, so I prank-called his house multiple times, wrote a lot of bad poetry, broke a few of my figurines, and cried. It wasn’t the first time – nor would it be the last – I cried over a male who didn’t deserve my tears.

I hated to say no to him…when I was younger I had that “want to please everyone” personality. I hated confrontation. It made me sick to my stomach. But at the same time, I was willful and stubborn. Great tug-o-war combo. I still sometimes struggle with wanting to make everyone else happy. But I’m less afraid of confrontation.

Something inside wouldn’t let me say yes to him…So I was a prude. Until I was 19. A guy I’d known for several years (my brother’s best friend, in fact), who was a couple years younger than me, said the right words, at the right time, and wooed me in just the right way…I let him in where another male hadn’t been since my CSA 15 years before (I talk about that HERE.) Eventually, this younger guy became abusive and the end of our relationship was a disaster and emotionally traumatic for me…but that’s another story for another time…

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4 Comments

Filed under Anxiety, Blogging, Life, Mental Health, Musings, Survivors, Writing

4 responses to “When Your First Kiss Causes a Full-Blown Panic Attack

  1. Here by way of Lindsay Fischer.

    I had a different experience- I had problems giving consent. Maybe it’s partly by dint of being male, and the sexual expectations put upon men, but I found getting more attention or contact than I bargained for, I just tended to give up, rather than to say “no”. I’d feel like I was dying inside, or some other great shame, but I’d just figure I was bad, rather than realizing I hadn’t truly consented. I was only able to suss this out recently, thanks to Apryl Pooley and some other great friends that helped me piece it together.

  2. Here by way of Lindsay Fischer.

    I had a different experience- I had problems giving consent. Maybe it’s partly by dint of being male, and the sexual expectations put upon men, but I found getting more attention or contact than I bargained for, I just tended to give up, rather than to say “no”. I’d feel like I was dying inside, or some other great shame, but I’d just figure I was bad, rather than realizing I hadn’t truly consented. I was only able to suss this out recently, thanks to Apryl Pooley and some other great folks that helped me piece it together.

  3. Here by way of Lindsay Fischer.

    I had a different experience- I had problems giving consent. Maybe it’s partly by dint of being male, and the sexual expectations put upon men, but I found getting more attention or contact than I bargained for, I just tended to give up, rather than to say “no”. I’d feel like I was dying inside, or some other great shame, but I’d just figure I was bad, rather than realizing I hadn’t truly consented. I was only able to suss this out recently, thanks to Apryl Pooley and some other great friends that helped me piece it together.

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