Oh the relief of Friday! I felt like I'd just finished school for the summer holidays, even though it's just two days off work and then I have to go back and do it all over again. I'm not thinking about how much I should be worrying about work at the moment. I'm not managing my time well and am getting behind on a few things and I feel like it's only a matter of time before someone notices and pulls me up on it. Sometimes I feel like I manage my job well and know what I'm doing, but then there are days where I feel completely incompetent and wonder how it's gone unnoticed for this long! Anyway, I will continue not to think about it as that seems to be my main method of coping with everything in life.
So this week's therapy session was on Monday and I don't believe I have told you what we talked about yet. It feels already like it was a year ago so I will do my best to remember what happened... well, let's see (later edit: I wrote this before I picked the title. BTW in case you haven't picked up on it, this post is going to talk about sex in some detail so be warned that it may be triggering or offensive to some). T had gotten my letter, which she thanked me for and told me she thought was very helpful. She asked me if I wanted to talk about it and I said I did, so then she asked what I wanted to say. I was kinda feeling a bit lost for reflections seeing as I had said everything I had to say in the letter. I couldn't really think what I should have to say about it. Maybe I should have told her I'd worried she'd be annoyed or something but I just mumbled some words about how I don't know how I come across etc. so thought it would be helpful to write it to her.
T was a bit slow getting started into the session, I wondered if she was nervous or something. She seemed to want me to do all of the talking which was unusual. She asked me how I was feeling and I said I was feeling very nervous (so anxious I thought I might explode and leave splattered Candy everywhere actually, but I didn't say that). T asked if I would like to do some relaxation exercises which I agreed to and so she put the lights off and got me to close my eyes and focus on the sounds in the room. I found this helped me to feel a bit more relaxed in itself. She asked me to visualise a colour that represents peace and imagine the colour starting at my head and going through my body. She talked through each part of my body from my head down to my feet, which unfortunately made me feel very self conscious and uncomfortable. But I just tried to ignore this and focus on the colour and remind myself it was OK that she was talking about my body parts because she is good and not bad and won't do bad things to my body parts. I did feel more calm by the end of it and the nausea I had been feeling had settled too. I just don't know how good it is for me to do relaxation exercises that talk about my body. It seems too personal to me. It obviously helped though so I should just try to ignore that part of it.
Eventually T piped up that she wanted to talk about the problems I have during sex, in that I tend to switch to one of the other parts and it becomes painful and awful and horrible. T asked me some more questions about sex and in what circumstances it happens (in hindsight, I think her reluctance at the start of the session might have been because she was trying to assess what kind of form I was in to see if she could safely broach the subject or not: last time we talked about it a few weeks ago, I dissociated and had some unpleasant body sensations in the session and lost a good deal of time, which only became apparent to me when I came back to myself and realised I had been there for and hour and a half).
She wanted to know if it is the act of penetration that causes a switch; I explained that it doesn't normally happen at that point (although it can happen at any point) but at some point further on during sex. Basically, I can enjoy sex but often I seem to switch just before I get to the point of orgasm and then it becomes more like torture. We talked about how it also happens during oral sex and that I sense Ebony there often during sex and always afterwards. We talked about how I didn't have the same problem before I was married. Adam and I never had sex before we got married because of our religious beliefs, although we were much more intimate than we are now; we just didn't actually have penetrative sex. I also explained that I am never able to enjoy sex (more often than not I couldn't physically have sex) if Adam initiates it. It always has to be me who makes the first move.
I didn't tell T this next part but the reason I can only have sex if I initiate it is because I have usually gone through a long process of getting my head in the right frame of mind and also getting my body relaxed enough that I would be able to tolerate being touched. I usually masturbate on my own beforehand otherwise I just wouldn't be able to do it. I see this in itself as progress, even though I feel a bit guilty about it (like it's cheating, because I can't be turned on enough by Adam alone). It's only been in the last year that I have been able to masturbate full stop. Before that thoughts of sex of any kind were the last thing in the world I was interested in having. Masturbation was unheard of in my world and sex was extremely rare and usually painful. In order to have sex, I also usually have to pretend I am someone else, so I come up with fantasies in my mind or watch soft porn and then think about it during sex. I don't think this is a good thing, in the sense that most people would say having fantasies is healthy (I know most wouldn't say porn is healthy). I think it's just that it's easier for me if I pretend it's not me having sex.
My sex drive as a teenager and even in my early twenties was probably much higher than average and Adam and I were very passionate together (we started dating at 18). We would have spent hours kissing and touching each other and talked so often about how we couldn't wait to be married so we could have proper sex. I meant it too when I said it, but I remember a few years before we did get married telling Adam that I was worried that once we were, I would have a lot of problems with having sex. He seemed surprised and asked me why I thought that and I honestly couldn't give him a reason, except that I somehow just had a feeling that things were going to get very difficult.
I was right. My sex drive started to disappear from about the time we got engaged and a year later we got married and on our wedding night I felt a tiredness and exhaustion unlike any I had never experienced before in my life (a result of an exhausting day in a tight dress with my permanently broken rib being crushed or a kind of dissociation?), but you can't not have sex on your wedding night can you? I wished to God I could curl up in bed and go to sleep but that wasn't about to happen. Adam had waited six years for this night and wasn't going to wait a day longer! It happened, we had sex. I was scared but when I felt Adam's penis enter me, I was surprised. It felt good. It felt good for a while and then it changed and that was the first of many long moments of excruciating pain and suppressed cries... and Ebony... and looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a woman who looked familiar, but different.
Anyway, back to the session: it was kind of weird talking to T about sex. I felt like I should be embarrassed and I kind of was, but at the same time it's OK. It's just odd because I'm not in the habit of talking to people about the ins and outs (if you'll excuse the pun) of my sex life and I wonder what she thinks of me when I tell her things. It was interesting talking about it though because she helped to highlight to me that the problem is actually with penetration. T pointed out that I didn't have these problems before marriage even though we were doing intimate sexual things together, because I always knew that it wasn't going to result in penetrative sex, whereas now, the expectation is there that intimacy will lead to that. Sigh. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is probably a problem caused by something bad from the past does it?
As a result of this conversation, T made a suggestion about some work she would like to do to help, which I will tell you about next time, as this post is long enough! Any thoughts would be welcome though. I would like to know if my experiences are common to other people and any reflections on what others have felt about sex and how they deal with it now.
Bye for now!