The true love of oneself must come first, otherwise the love for another is distorted.
This is a big one. Sex and the survivor of sexual abuse are at constant war on some level. Is it good? Is it bad? Do I want it too much? Why don’t I want it at all? Is that normal? I know this is how my mind works anyway.
When sex is introduced into our lives as a children we discern quickly that our wants and needs are unimportant from the most basic ways and out. Our bodies are not our own. So most of us enter adulthood seeing varying forms or combinations of these two options: I’m going to give it away first before anyone has a chance to take it again, or we withhold it. Either way we just don’t go there. The intense emotion it takes to have an intimate sexual interaction sends us right out of our body. Then we can’t really feel anything.
As children, we develop coping mechanisms to band-aid the in-congruence in our minds and bodies. Our bodies react in a pleasurable way, as is normal, and our minds are screaming no. I want you to stop, and maybe your words are pleading. What is a young child to do with that? Many have no way around the man. Maybe he lives in their home. So the child ingeniously figures out a way to be able to get up and face another day. So we create something to disengage the pleasure. For myself, dissociation was and is a given. Dissociation began for me the first time at around six months old. It was the first violent interaction with my father. The first time that I left my body. Death was close. I watched the whole thing from above. My body screamed and cried but I felt nothing. The separation began before I knew what it felt like to be whole. So when the sex stuff started, dissociation was a way of life. When things hurt or were uncomfortable… BOOM! I was out of there.
The lingering trouble with this is that we don’t feel the good either.
So as life moves on… intimacy …what’s that? Right? As soon as things got emotionally intense… gone. So even if I was focused enough to stay all in for most of it, at that crucial amazing part… boom gone. It took me a lot of digging to find this one. We know that for women, much of the experience is a connection with the mind and body in union with a “wanted” partner. I began to notice that my mind would shift to really unpleasant things at just that moment. Monsters. The monsters had grown up with me but they were monsters just the same.
On the other hand, cool right? How cool that a child could create such an elaborate plan and access this well of resources. Astral travel and dissociation. I don’t see much difference except one is a choice and one is a reaction… at this point. So we have to turn it into a choice. We must create strategies on staying present. It is super important that your partner understand, in a forward motion way, that this is something that you’re working on. I found tantra super helpful. For me personally it took the nasty away. A could think of the act as being sacred versus animalistic.
What is it that throws you out?
Recapitulation of these experiences opens the door to being able to observe the shift of being thrown into dissociation. Often for me, it was an energetic experience. As soon as I felt that energetic push. You know that sort of animalistic feeling. The same feeling that I felt from the unwanted men from my childhood.
I want up and out of there.
Not great for intimacy so you stay with it, just like you did back then. We don’t exactly walk away uplifted.
We all have our triggers. Is it when he turns is focus completely on you? Is it the vulnerable positions? Is it certain things that you are asked to do? Is it feeling like you can’t get away?
These are some hard questions but with the answers comes freedom. I once heard healthy sexual relationships defined as every action is given and received out of want.
Our body images have suffered horribly through this denial of ourselves, our wants. We feel our bodies have gotten us in so much trouble. We feel unsafe in them. We hate the way they look. We hate the way they feel. We deprive them of food. We deny them.
My father used to tickle me. I hated it. He would keep on until I cried or wet my pants. I would hyperventilate. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get away. Until I chose not to react. I decided not to be ticklish any more. Just the same way I chose not to react sexually later on. The point is, if we chose to not feel, we can choose to feel.
After exploring how to be comfortable with ourselves we can learn to be comfortable with someone else.
We are only capable of receiving from others what we can give to ourselves. Explore yourself. Understand what makes your body sing. Practice staying present. Staying present with you is the first step. Fall in love with your body. Have fun and see what happens.
Learning to stay present is an evolution. It takes daily watchfulness and diligence. I had a psychologist say to me once… you have all of the right responses, facial expressions, you laugh when it’s appropriate but you’re not in there. He saw it, didn’t really know what to do about it, but he saw it. So from that moment on, it became a process. Being aware of my feet. I would sit and try to feel my toes every night before I went to bed, my finger tips. I wanted to feel my pulse there.
It was like a thawing out. Ticklish came back by the way!
Sex is a door that was opened for us much too early and it has been open ever since. Many of us have these distorted sexual patterns that have followed us through our lives. Childhood sexual abuse turns into rape or date rape. How close is that? And then we bring them into our home. Often the partners that we choose energetically resemble someone from the nest we came from.
The traditional positions are often very vulnerable as well. Right? Which is a physical safety issue that some of us know all too well. The feeling of being trapped… physically.
Switch it up. Back to Tantra.
“Tantra itself means “to weave, to expand, and to spread”, and according to tantric masters, the fabric of life can provide true and ever-lasting fulfillment only when all the threads are woven according to the pattern designated by nature. When we are born, life naturally forms itself around that pattern. (or unnaturally for some of us) But as we grow, our ignorance, desire, attachment, fear, false images of others (and harmful actions of others) and ourselves, tangle and tear the threads, disfiguring the fabric. Tantra “sadhana,” or practice, re-weaves the fabric, and restores the original pattern.” (Source)
For sexual abuse experiencers, this distorted threat goes back to the beginning. We don’t even know what it would feel like for it to be healthy. So it is one step at a time from the outside in. Start where you are and start with you. Be patient with yourself and begin the adventure of learning who you are, what you like, and what you want.
You’re on a treasure hunt!
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