I was surprised to find that I hadn’t written a post for 10 days because it feels like I have been doing so much thinking and processing about therapy. I’ve had three sessions with M since my last post and one with my husband and H the marriage therapist. My obsessive thoughts about finding a stranger to have “forced” sex with have lessened. I’m sleeping better and feel more like myself. After our first marriage therapy session my husband tried to incorporate some of what I talked about in our next sexual experience. I didn’t find it exciting and mainly felt confused. I suspect that might have been part of what triggered the search online for a partner to fulfill my fantasy. I managed to talk to my husband more about my sexual fantasies and how conflicted I feel about acting them out even though I find them exciting. I also shared how sex doesn’t seem very associated with love for me right now. I even find it difficult when my husband tries to express his love for me particularly during sex. I can accept loving gestures a little easier the rest of the time.
I’ve explored with M some of the reasons I am afraid to talk about desire with him even though I want to. Essentially I feel like there is something wrong with the intensity of my desire. I am afraid if I talk about sex or fantasy in detail during a session I will feel that desire or arousal and that will be confusing for me and he will be able to see the “wrongness” of it. M told me he understands that I am afraid he will judge me and that I am wrong or bad for how I feel but that he doesn’t think of it in those terms at all. He thinks that my feelings create a lot of pain for me and that I probably need to make peace with my feelings in order to feel less conflicted and in pain but that isn’t the same as thinking I am wrong or bad for how I feel. It sounds like that should be comforting when I wrote it out but it wasn’t during the sessions he had tried to explain it to me. Instead I felt even more despair and like I would never be able to talk to him about it. The more understanding he is about the reasons I am having trouble telling him the story the more I think he is agreeing that I shouldn’t talk about it, that it might cause me more pain to discuss it, that I might not trust him enough to talk about it, that it is a very layered subject that involves many different threads involving sexual desire as an adult, sexual abuse and how I felt conflicted about the abuse as a child, trust and control issues. By the time he is finished I don’t want to try to tell him anymore and so I sit in a frustrated, tearful silence almost gritting my teeth to keep myself from telling.
The story that I’ve been trying to tell him is the one I described here about my experience at 14 with my first boyfriend. I managed to tell M the story briefly using the phrase “my first boyfriend and I were making out and stuff and then he moved his hand to my ass and got thrown out of my body”. I told him the part that was hard to tell him was how I felt about “making out and stuff”. M was interested in the obvious dissociative response I had and how upsetting it must have been for me to be separated from my body but I told him I didn’t have any trouble telling him about that. I think I regularly could leave my body when I was being physically punished by my parents or being lectured and yelled at. I didn’t know that everyone didn’t separate themselves like that. I thought that was how a person could keep themselves from getting angry or responding. I think the hardest part was not being able to get back into my body when I wanted to. It is even less important to tell him the details of the story because he understood from what I said that I felt the “making out” very intensely and he thinks the desire I felt at the time might have been the trigger for the dissociation but I have always thought it was a reaction to his hand on my ass. I don’t think I felt like the desire and sexual arousal I felt at the time was “wrong” or inappropriate. I felt like it was wrong to describe it to M in the present.
M tried to tell me that even though I felt like I couldn’t talk about desire I was able to tell him the story about when I was 14 and so I would be able to tell him more stories. I disagreed because I didn’t tell him how I felt and instead he filled in part of the story and while he was mainly right about what he said that wasn’t the same as me telling the story so it didn’t help me talk more about my feelings. So now I feel like I can’t talk about desire and I still want to tell him the story even though he understands the story so I feel wrong that I want to tell him about details for no good reason. I believe that M is willing to listen to whatever I decide to tell him but he isn’t willing to lead the conversation even if I ask him to. He also doesn’t seem interested in any alternative ideas I have for telling him the story. I recorded myself telling the story and told him I was thinking I could play the recording for him. He didn’t seem interested or suggest I play it. He didn’t tell me why he didn’t think it was a good idea just didn’t respond to the idea at all. I think he thinks that I just have to talk, get up the nerve and tell my story, like I couldn’t as a child. He might be right and I may just want him to help me because I think if he helps me it means that he cares about me or my feelings or that he wants to hear what I say. I feel quite sad tonight because I trust M more than I ever have and I believe that he will listen to whatever I say but I don’t know if that is enough. I don’t know if he can help me find the reasons and the courage to tell my story. I feel like sessions like I had today reinforce my belief that I can’t talk and that he can’t help me and that isn’t good.
I am not sleeping. I can’t stop thinking about sex and desire. I tried to talk to M again last night and I couldn’t. I can’t talk about things I find arousing. I can’t tell a story even if the point is to talk about dissociation or dysfunction if I have to talk about desire of sexual enjoyment first. I think there is something wrong with how I feel about sex and I’m so ashamed of it. It doesn’t matter how much I read about typical response to abuse or should I say it doesn’t stop me from falling into a pit of despair and self-loathing.
I should be at work but instead I am sitting at home on my computer considering doing something stupid that part of me doesn’t even want to do but part of me thinks would be so exciting. I posted an ad this morning, two sentences and I’ve had over a 100 responses. I feel out of control.
I am exhausted but I can’t sleep. When I try my mind races. In my last post I talked about my sexual fantasies and how guilty and ashamed for having them. My first sexual relationship lasted for just under three years from when I was 17 to 20 years old. My boyfriend was 6 or 7 years older than me. The relationship was unhealthy in a lot of ways but I enjoyed our sex life. My boyfriend enjoyed dominating me sexually and I got used to a variety of different sexual activities. Shortly after he broke up with me which was heartbreaking I realized I was much happier without him but I missed the sex, particularly the wild and exciting sex that was unpredictable and overwhelming. I didn’t want to get involved in another serious relationship but I wanted to have sex. At the time (a long, long time ago) there was no internet and the only way I could imagine meeting men who weren’t part of my regular life was by going to bars and trying to find someone willing to have sex with me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with wanting to have sex without being in a relationship and I wasn’t worried that I would meet someone who was physically dangerous. I genuinely didn’t worry about dying and did some very stupid and unsafe things because I didn’t care. I didn’t start caring about my own safety until I had my children and then I worried about what would happen to them if I died.
What actually happened is that I got used to not having sex with someone else. I had sex with myself and developed the habit of fantasizing about sex and rape. I didn’t think anyone I had just met would want to have sex with me because I was physically repulsive. I talked about that in this post about a depression inventory question about appearance. At the time I was in my early twenties and I was only slightly overweight but that didn’t change how I felt about my appearance. I couldn’t face the rejection I was sure would happen if I showed interest in anyone, interest in sex or a romantic relationship. I have had sex with very few people in my life and all of them were men I knew for several years before I had sex with them. I hoped that if they got to know me well I would be less repulsive. That wasn’t true for my husband who showed he was attracted to me on the first day we met. I thought he was crazy to be attracted to me and told him so once months after we started dating when he called me beautiful but I liked that he found me attractive.
Writing that post and considering the possibility that I wasn’t as repulsive as I felt for most of my life has really shaken me up. I’ve felt sad about the years I spent hating how I looked and not feeling good enough to date or have sex. I think that examining that one thing “maybe I’m not as ugly as I think I am” has shaken up some sense of myself.
I’m struggling in a new way right now. I’ve been spending time online looking for casual sex partners who would be willing to “force” me to have sex. I know it is a bad idea and I won’t actually do it. I don’t want to cheat on my husband but I keep looking. I tried to tell M about it in my session today but I couldn’t. I told him I wanted to hurt myself but I wouldn’t describe what kind of hurt I meant. I had hoped talking about sex last week in therapy with M (and with my husband and H) would decrease the desire to have someone force me. I have always been excited by the BD activities of BDSM role-playing. I’m not into actual physical pain or injury but I like being tied up and forced to have sex. I am excited by being used for someone else’s sexual pleasure. I used to think BDSM games were no different from liking a particular sexual position or type of sexual activity and I am sure they are that way for many people. When I first started dating my husband I told him about my desires but he wasn’t interested and after trying a couple of times I realized that he wasn’t capable of acting that differently than himself and I resolved myself to only fantasizing about those activities.
Now I feel a lot more conflicted about that type of sex. It is probably obvious how conflicted by how many different words and initials I have used in this post to describe it. z I hate that I’m excited by fantasies of rape or forcible, painful sex. It bothers me that my sexual fantasies are very similar to my PTSD-like nightmares that sometimes wake me up feeling like I am physically in pain, terrified with my heart pounding, sweating, breathing heavy, and feeling sexually aroused. I did manage to tell M that last week. That the fantasies that I have while having sex with my husband are like my nightmares which terrorize me. It doesn’t sound like a good thing. Also those nightmares (or fantasies) are much worse than anything that happened to me when I was abused as a child which makes me wonder think there is something perverse about me. After I left my session last week I was very sad and I was flooded with a lot of memories of my sexual history and how much shame and confusion I felt. Today M asked me what memories I thought of and I couldn’t tell him even the easiest one. The one where I didn’t do anything wrong and it is only looking back I can see that my feelings probably related to my abuse. Thirty years ago I had my first boyfriend and once we managed to find a place to be alone and started making out. Mainly kissing and necking and slowly we moved onto second base. When I felt his warm mouth on my nipple it was incredibly exciting. I still can remember how shocked I was and how I felt it throughout my entire body. I was completely overwhelmed and caught up in the moment until he moved his hand down to my ass and it was like I was thrown completely out of my body. I felt like I was watching from six feet away and I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I stopped his hand and he agreed that was as far as we would go but I couldn’t get back into my body at all. We kept making out and I tried to feel something and then I pretended that it felt great and faked my way through heavy breathing and moaning so he didn’t know I just wanted him to stop.
Another memory I had been the first time I was sexually excited by a book I was reading. I was a teenager and I don’t remember the name of the book but I haven’t forgotten the scene. The story was set in some fantasy world which resembled viking times. A woman is walking down the street when three soldiers pull her into an alley and start to rape her. They hold her down and cut off her clothes. One of the soldiers rubs the knife along the insides of her thighs and then gets ready to rape her. The hero walks by interrupts the rape, beats off three soldiers, and rescues the girl. It takes the rest of the book before she finally admits she loves him and gives himself to her. The culmination of their love in a consensual and mutually satisfying scene wasn’t nearly as exciting to me as the aborted rape scene.
I told M today that if I couldn’t even tell him the easy story about my first boyfriend and what happened when we made out I didn’t think I’d ever be able to talk about what sex is like for me today. I can’t tell him about the first man I had sex with and the games we played or my entertaining the idea of acting out a fantasy now. I think what I’m most ashamed of is my sexual desire. I am so ashamed of my sexuality I can’t talk about it. I can’t reason with myself that all humans are sexual because what if the intensity of my desire is out of proportion or out of control. I could if I had describe what happened without describing the emotions or at least I did earlier in therapy when I first discussed the abuse. It is my emotions that seem so wrong or to but it another way I am ashamed of my sexual desire.