There is sex after sexual abuse

As a survivor of sexual abuse, I wasn’t sure that I would ever be able to fully enjoy a sexual experience as an adult.  For a long time, I didn’t know what to enjoy it even meant.  The side effects were shame, guilt, panic, and suicidal thoughts.

The first time I had sex, I was drunk.  That set the theme for me from that point on, I couldn’t participate in any type of sexual activity unless I was drunk or on some type of mind altering drug.  Even then, the “ick” came through at the end of the experience and sometimes lasted for days.

Then, I got sober and EVERYTHING became harder to carry out.  I was used to functioning high during the day and drunk at night.  I was in a relationship at the beginning of my sobriety and it wasn’t going so well at the time.  Within the year, we would have broken up for the last time after many attempts over a five year period.

Between that time and me being five or six years sober, sex usually meant I would have some type of panic attack.  Before, after, during.  A lot of times during and I would cry.  I tried to warn my partners that sometimes I get a little weird and cry.  Most of them seemed to understand and were compassionate.  (I now know that this is a common experience for most women and even some men.)

Around three years sober, I found myself wanting to die more than I wanted to live and I went to get some help.  For the next three years, I saw this therapist and she guided me through the Courage to Heal Workbook.  I hated almost every hour of it, and would frequently cancel appointments with her.  We did some major work in that whole area and I thought it was going to kill me.

In one of the early sessions I asked her if she thought I would ever be able to move beyond the problem, she told me I would if I did the work.

I believed her.

She said it would always be a part of me, but if I did the work I could rearrange the reactions and find coping skills for the parts it left behind.

No one had ever said that to me before.

During that three year period with her, I was single and celibate.  It didn’t help that I gained a bunch of weight and basically didn’t care much for my outside appearance.  This is a typical side effect when you are working through major stuff like that.  It won’t last forever.

It was a really, really fucked up time for me and I knew I was transforming myself for the good, but afraid of what I would end up with.  It would prove to be one of the most important things I could’ve ever done for myself, and beyond my wildest dreams.

I would’ve liked to just fast forwarded to the good part (being able to enjoy sexual relations) but there wouldn’t have been a good part if I hadn’t trudged through the bad part.

Oddly enough as I got better towards the end of the three year work, I started losing weight without even trying.  I started cleaning my apartment, getting rid of things I didn’t need and my life seemed to almost get itself in order.

This would prove to be a benefit for doing the actual work in therapy, one I hadn’t anticipated.

As for my sexual situation, that got better too.  MUCH BETTER.  I tried things I’d never tried, I was fully present, and I finally got what people were talking about, and I wanted to make up for lost time.

I’ve wanted to write something like this for a long time, I want people to know that we can recover in a way that allows us to enjoy certain aspects of life.  By no means am I “cured” and I’ve had flashbacks here and there (depending on what is going on in my life at the time) but it doesn’t paralyze me anymore and I can talk myself through most situations.

It does not paralyze me any more.

We all deserve a healthy sex life, and I’m certain that all of us on some level, whether you were abused or not have struggled with sexual issues.  I blame religion for a lot of it.

It’s a taboo subject (much like mental illness), and the only way I have found to heal is by discussing it with a trusted source that helped me to find my way back to the present in order to enjoy so many things we never dreamed of actually enjoying.

Sex is CAN be good and it CAN be your friend.

Posted by moonflower on June 3rd, 2010
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