Mum-of-three Tova Leigh doesn’t feel “brave” for wearing a bikini or “embarrassed” about being caught having sex on a balcony. And she thinks the best way to banish shame is to tell our awkward and uncomfortable stories out loud.
After the roaring success of her first book, F**ked At 40, which details a life of motherhood and wifehood beyond the
norms society forces upon women, Tova began a Facebook Live show called Pyjama Party & Confessions.
“Every weekend for five years I’d sit down and read out people’s anonymous confessions about love, life, sex, relationships, parenting… all to a live audience,” Tova says. “The only rule was we didn’t judge. I quickly realised it gave people so much comfort to hear others going through the same things they were.
“These were confessions from literally all over the world but so many of them were the same.”
When Tova took the show on tour, she discovered people were willing to stand up and own their confessions without the privacy of a computer screen.
“There were suddenly rooms full of people clapping and supporting each other’s silly, funny, sometimes heartfelt mishaps,” Tova says.
“It takes bravery to say things like ‘I changed the clocks so I could send my kid to bed early’ or ‘I used a sex toy for the first time and it got stuck’. But there’s a relief when you do say it.”
Former actress Tova is also more than happy to practise what she preaches, confessing that she once pretended to be able to speak French during a toe-curling audition. Imagine that scene with Joey and Phoebe from Friends – but worse.
“I truly believe we should stop being ashamed of our secrets and instead have the courage to make ourselves vulnerable, speak out and connect,” she says.
Here are just a few of Tova’s favourite real-life confessions…
My husband of 11 years still thinks we had the most amazing sex on our wedding night that he brags to his mates about it… I don’t have the heart to tell him that he actually passed out on the bed before I’d even entered the suite and the receptionist helped me out of my dress. I had the most amazing night in the jacuzzi bath but he played no part in that. 36, UK
The first time I gave my husband oral sex I tried to be a little too keen and gagged. I threw up all over him. It haunts me. 24, Australia
My boyfriend of four years broke up with me and, as I had to move out of his place, my family came to help me move. However, I’d forgotten about the huge hidden backpack full of vibrators, sex toys and scandalous lingerie that the two of us had collected over the years. My ultra-religious parents thought they’d be useful and pack up my cupboard. Fifteen minutes later, my dad appeared with the most shocked look I’d ever seen. I realised, panicked and grabbed the bag, chucking it out of the second-storey window… but the bag landed on our elderly neighbour’s balcony and she proceeded to pick it up and look through it, then leave it on the doorstep. 23, Netherlands
My now ex-husband and I were going on our first Valentine’s Day date. He was flying us to London so I popped a little “surprise” in my bag for later. We were almost late for our flight and didn’t have time to check in our bags. Fine, we only had hand luggage. All was well until airport security asked, “Did you pack this bag yourself, Miss?” “Yes,” I confidently replied. He opened it up, searched around and brandished the “surprise” I’d packed – my fluffy handcuffs. “You can’t take these onboard,” he said for everyone to hear. 37, UK
My mother-in-law looks very much like my partner. One day I walked into the kitchen and grabbed an a**e (and, erm, slightly further round) and said “Come here, sexy.” It wasn’t my other half. I still want to bleach my hand thinking of it. 46, UK
One time when I was having sex with my boyfriend at his parents’ house, we suddenly heard his dad on the intercom (they had this loudspeaker system in the house his mother used to use to tell everyone when dinner was ready). His dad said, “Can you tell your girlfriend to please keep it down?” Mortifying. We never had sex in that house again. 39, Israel
As a teen I had sex with my boyfriend for the first time. We then fell asleep. In the middle of the night I woke up and, thinking I was home alone, opened my eyes and let out the most awful long, loud and really smelly fart. Then I remembered my boyfriend was right next to me. He woke up, looked at me and then it hit him. The smell. 19, Slovenia
I was once about to have sex with my then-husband and was on top of him. When I got up there was a tiny bit of poop on his belly. I had no idea that it had happened and he was, “Oh my God, what is that?” So embarrassing. 24, US
The epitome of a 2020 blunder. My husband and I were getting it on and he reached for the lube. But it wasn’t. It was hand sanitiser! It was OK for two seconds, then incredible burning. I bolted for the shower to find a little relief. Honestly, in what other year would this have happened? 38, US
I found a strange video on my iPad and opened it to find my mother pleasuring herself on camera. Worst few seconds of my life. She uses my iTunes account and so do my kids. I ran around checking everyone’s devices, changed the settings, then rang my mother to scream about all the therapy I would now need! 42, Australia
When I was 17 my partner cheated on me so I went out drinking. I met a lad and took him back to my flat. We had our fun and had gone to sleep when my flatmate suddenly woke me up as my “ex” was at the front door with flowers and chocolates. I hastily hid the other lad while my partner came in to apologise. He still doesn’t know to this day that I’d had my one-night stand hidden in the wardrobe. 47, UK
For a 15% discount, pre-order or purchase your copy with the code youdidwhat15 at watkinspublishing.com. Code is valid until 30 September 2021.
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