Need help embracing sexuality ♥

Submitted by tornfromabook on
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I'm going to try and make a very long story very short.

While Karezza has allowed my husband and I to enjoy sex without goals and expectations, and appreciate sex as something pure, honest, and loving... there is still something missing from the picture. Karezza brings you closer mentally and emotionally, and some of that is expressed through the body, but it's not the same as really OWNING your sexuality and being present in your body.

We will often practice Karezza for a length of time, and then go back to conventional sex for a bit of fun, and then return to karezza to recharge. But I have always had a problem during conventional sex- I can't let go. I can't express myself freely. I hesitate with my touch, I never initiate, I don't enjoy myself.

This comes from having a mother who taught me that sex was dangerous, men were dangerous, being sexy was shameful, dressing sexy was shameful, only stupid girls have crushes on boys and talk about boys, it's not safe to walk down the street, it's not safe to drink alcohol at parties because someone will date rape you, sex on TV and in movies is disgusting and embarrassing, people use sex to hurt each other, men only want sex from women, etc. I would be yelled at for wearing a shirt that was too low cut, I wasn't allowed to date, I wasn't allowed to wear a bikini...

You know the deal. The classic shame-game.

Having a loving husband has healed a lot of this for me. Giving birth to my son was a very empowering experience, and we had some very free, expressive conventional sex for a while after that happened a year ago, and I thought my problems were solved but they are back again. I can't let go of my anxiety and just have fun in bed. And my husband can tell, and it frustrates him because I'm not being the conquering goddess sexual free spirit that he needs me to be, and that I need me to be. I touch him timidly. I am unsure of myself. He doesn't feel caressed, or cherished, and I don't feel desire, like I don't even want to touch him.

I'm scared of seeing him be sexually pleased by me, because I've been taught that it's dirty and wrong to be sexually pleasing. I don't feel safe being sexual in my body. I don't accept my body as sexual. I don't accept my need to let go, be free, express myself sexually. I've been taught to value my intelligence and to look down on and suppress my sexual desires. But it's confusing, because we have a very active sex life, so it's not like I have become frigid or I can't orgasm or something. I feel sexual pleasure just fine, I just feel it with a lot of fear on top of it. I used to experience a great deal of pain with sex, but that is gone since having my child.

How do I change this mentality? How do I open up and be free? How do I accept that my body is beautiful, sexual, etc and that it's ok to think that, and it's ok for my husband to think that too? And how do I learn to desire sex, and want to initiate sex, and enjoy sex with fear?

-Mrs. Tornfromabook

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Change

Since you're so strongly motivated, and you have a supportive partner, you might find this resume of an approach formulated by Joseph Wolpe (he wrote a number of books, but I'm not sure which one this is from) helpful: 

"Wolpe evolved a simple but effective procedure for promoting sexual adequacy and responsiveness in those cases where anxiety partially inhibits sexual performance. A cooperative sexual partner is indispensable to the successes of the technique. The patient is instructed not to make any sexual responses that engender feelings of tension or anxiety but to proceed only to the point where pleasurable reactions predominate.  The partner is informed that she must never press him to go beyond this point, and that she must be prepared for several amorous and intimate encounters that will not culminate in coitus. The theory is that by maintaining sexual arousal in the ascendant over anxiety, the latter will decrease from one amorous session to the next. Thus, positive sexual feelings and responses will be facilitated and will, in turn, further inhibit residual anxieties. In this manner, conditioned inhibition of anxiety is presumed to increase until the anxiety reactions are completely eliminated."

Another possibility is to get hold of a more recent book called "Self therapy" by Jay Earley. I have this book but I have yet to put it 'into action', so I can't say how effective it is. I suppose much depends on how you view your 'self' in the world. This book is a primer for a mode of therapy called 'internal family systems'. Its basic thesis is that we are made up of 'parts', of which the Self remains discrete, each of which has a purpose; but that some of these 'purposes' can outlive their usefulness and become seriously unproductive. The idea is that by negotiating with the part that is carrying out a purpose that is no longer appropriate, an agreement can be reached which will yield behavioural change.

So, in your situation, perhaps you have a part that is doing its utmost to ensure you don't find being overtly sexual easy, or pleasurable, or even possible, because that was once what your Self wanted, perhaps to please your mother, or to satisfy your understanding of what a properly lived life required. Nowadays, although you realise it is no longer useful to feel this way, the 'part' of you that controls this behaviour pattern hasn't been told. It is still running on an outdated set of rules. However, 'parts' are apparently very adaptable, and also very eager to please, as their primary purpose is to assist the Self.

You may not find this approach helpful, if you don't like the idea of being made up of disparate 'parts'. Here's some more about the theory:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Family_Systems_Model

Gosh

Youve given this quite a bit of thought and my hat goes off to you for wanting to get to the bottom of it for you and your hubbys sake. I dont want to even begin to advise you, we are all different.

I too was subject to a sex negative upbringing. Starting with an inept birthing, and weaning, then being smacked for touching myself as a toddler. Later as a pre teen, silence was the weapon of choice. Sex doesn't exist because no one will acknowledge it. By the time i got to be a teen i had effectively denied that i even had a sexuality. It was extremely effective.

Good luck mrs torn. Id say that if you can articulate the problem as well as you have, that's about 90% of the path to solving it.

90%

Things have gotten a lot better, just from saying it out loud! Facing my shame and guilt has been enormously helpful in defeating it. We talk about it after every time we have sex... what we felt, what we think, what we want/need in the future. Which is what we do all the time anyways, only now I am accepting that I have a specific issue that needs to be addressed, rather than pretending nothing was fundamentally wrong.

How wonderful and miraculous

How wonderful and miraculous that since childbirth, you no longer experience pain with intercourse!

And how wonderful that you are addressing the feelings that inhibit your sexuality. This conflict is an easy problem to avoid and is common for both men and women. It comes up again and again on this site.

Google "fear" and "shame" in the reuniting search box. Here's one thread that might be useful: http://www.reuniting.info/node/5284

A wonderful book with an exceptionally effective method of transformation is Tim Stokes' What Freud Didn't Know. Read the reviews on Amazon. His method might help, too.

Let us know what you try and whether or not it works. it will be helpful.

Release the Shame

I was moved by your struggle to open more. Then discussed it with my wife and asked her what she thought about your situation. She reminded me of her problem with opening to her own sexual expression several months ago. At a certain point in her life, she decided she was willing to break free and explore her own pleasure. But first, it required confronting her pain-body program. This was, an accumulation of all the patterns of shame, inadequacy and resentment from years of neglect and emotional pain. I asked her, "How did you do this?"

"By staring at it - sitting with it, listening to it's words, feeling the feelings." She said that it felt like trapped energy. and by looking at it, with a watchful eye, focused with the light of presence, the energy of the "thoughts/feelings" eventually released and returned to her. But it took steadfast determination to grab hold of it and not identify with them as her.

I went through a painful, emotional issue a while back, concerning a relationship with one of my children, and I had to do the same thing for three days. After sitting with it, determined to let it eat me alive, the whole pattern just dissolved.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is what ancient psychologists knew and taught through cosmo-therapeutic practices. It could be that the notion of trapped energy, pain-body dynamics, has many faces, many symptoms, but the resolution is all the same - absolute awareness of the energy in our body, in the present moment. Just like in karezza lovemaking, humans have the opportunity to experience that profound state with another person. Perhaps, this is how male and female energies balance and restore us to wholeness.

Peace be with you,

Denial is definitely an issue

For years, hearing my mom scoff at girls on TV who spoke about boys, and hearing her constant prying questions making sure my friends didn't have boyfriends and weren't kissing boys, etc.... I definitely became proud of the fact that I was shut down, sexually. I thought it showed my intelligence, to be able to "know better" than to like boys.

But when I really sat down and looked at it, and observed myself feeling those feelings... it was shame, guilt, and fear underneath the guise of ego, self-righteousness, and pretension. It's the same feeling I have when I get angry over political issues. I feel the energy blockage in my third chakra area, and I always have felt it there. Practicing mindfulness and meditation taught me to become more self-aware in this way. It's just easy to slip into old habits when you're tired all the time!

Love not Sex

As has been said before, everyone has different experiences and viewpoints - so mine might not pertain, but maybe there's something worth looking at.

My mother was always open about sexuality with me but I still managed to learn that it was supposed to be dirty and that (as a woman) I wasn't supposed to really like it. I got over it. Sort of. And here's where it might get a little confusing. I don't know that I really got over what I thought sex was supposed to be - I just accepted it. What I accepted was that I was supposed to excite a man and make him want me and then I was supposed to be f-ed. I accepted sex when there was no love because sex was all there was. So I learned to enjoy myself with a poor substitute for what I really wanted and needed. But I know now that that way of sex is not healthy, natural, or fulfilling in the long haul. It's not really sexuality at all - it's a perversion of our natural desire to make love and be loved.

The things you mentioned above that your mother taught you were not so much about actual loving sex but the ways that sex/making love has been distorted. And she was right that those things can be dangerous - to our minds, bodies, and souls. Your mother was trying to protect you from lack of love (whether she knew it as such or not). It may also help to see that your mother was hoping to give you better than she had because I imagine she wouldn't have made the effort so strongly if she hadn't experienced the lack of love in her own sex life. This could be a helpful, compassionate way to look at it that might help you understand her better.

Now that you have love - that you are loved by your husband and he is present with you in the act of making love (whether it's a hot quickie or cool like karezza style) it's all love. And it doesn't have anything to do with the distorted (albeit far too common) notion of sex that your mother was attempting to save you from. Your not being used, objectified, degraded into doing things you don't want to do. Right? So there is no reason to feel like you can't enjoy it and really express yourself because you are not participating in sex acts void of love. You are making love now and not accepting the substitute.

All the best to you and much happy loving!

Yes, yes!

That's they key- and my husband is always reminding me of it. Everything is ok, because it is us. We would never hurt each other, and we have sex together because we love each other. "It's all good."

"The things you mentioned above that your mother taught you were not so much about actual loving sex but the ways that sex/making love has been distorted."

That's true- the warnings are fair in that case, but she didn't specify! Actually, now that I am older, I'm beginning to think that my mother, like so many other people, has never known loving sex. Otherwise, why would she and everyone else be so ashamed to talk about it? I never heard a single mention of sex being fun, feeling good, being a way to be close, being a way to express yourself, etc. It was always about hurt, secrecy, wariness...

I feel 100% open and ready to talk about my sex life with anyone... because it's not "dirty"! But no one else wants to. Or if they do, it's just complaining about how they and their partner are out of sync in some way. Sigh.

So True!

People definitely need to have more healthy dialogue about sex. Most of the time we just make bawdy jokes or complain about it - like you said. LOL. It would be lovely if adults could have mature and meaningful conversations about sex without being ashamed. Perhaps people would be much better educated on loving sex in general if this was the case.

Releasing trapped energy

My wife and I are in the middle of long healing process around issues of sex and intimacy. Sometimes I despair that it is taking sooooooo long but then I think back to how we were two years, or one year ago or even one month ago, and I see such tremendous progress.

Good luck. Let us know how you are progressing.

One More Thought...

You said you have a problem during conventional sex? But not Karezza style sex? I'm not sure what conventional sex looks like for you and your husband but this may be another key to why you're having trouble letting go. There can be loving conventional sex and then there is conventional sex that makes us feel disconnected from our partner because one or both parties is lost in the excitement (the hot and horny stuff) and not being present. So when you say conventional do you mean sex with orgasm or sex that is driven solely by orgasm as a means to an explosive end?

Good point, I should clarify that...

Ever since the first time we tried Karezza, we have never gone back to sex driven soley by orgasm. It just feels so yucky!

"Conventional" sex for us is sex that involves a lot of movement, a "level 6" of excitement, and probably an orgasm. We prefer conventional sex to last as long as possible, and we don't like the feeling of having to hold back the whole time, so we stay in the middle area. Actually, now that I think about it, that's a pretty incredible accomplishment for a couple in their 20's! Ha!

Karezza for us is no movement, more breathing than moaning, and no orgasm (unless it just happens on its own, accidentally).

So the big difference to me is the "performance" factor of conventional sex, not of my genitals or orgasm-achieving ability, but of my own physical expression (how I move, how I make noise, how I touch him). Hubby says I act like I'd rather be somewhere else... but it's because I'm so hesitant to do things that I want to do, because they're "sexy" and exciting and I associate that with shame. It used to make me sick to my stomach every time he touched my body and told me I was beautiful! I got past that, but that's where I'm coming from...

We did have some really nice conventional sex a couple nights ago. I had a beer or two and it made me relax enough that I didn't feel self-conscious. But I don't want to become an alcoholic to fix my problem! Haha...

I understand

When I was married I thought sex was beneath me (as you said)~~I was too intelligent for such primal behavior. I would get a bit nauseous at the thought of being touched. I was basically "asexual" for a couple of decades. I didn't think about sex and felt I had no need for it.

But I was very unconcious (and you probably know this, but alcohol can make you go *below* consciousness, so you are really not able to experience the present moment as it is)~~my thoughts controlled my life.

Being aware and present and in charge of my body (I touch my breasts during sex *all* the time because they are *my* breasts and it makes me feel good!!) as well as learning the *why* behind sex and how important it is to us as far as balancing yin and yang (and understanding why men so desire it from us) has gotten me past the ugly feelings I used to have. My body awareness has changed completely. Dwelling in your body instead of your mind changes you so much. If you are thinking about a movement you should or shouldn't do during sex it means your mind is involved and not your body. It's easier said than done, but being able to lose yourself in the moment will make everything seem natural...not forced...

You are right~~there is really no one I know personally who wants to talk about this. I think it's because they know it would open a door they are not ready to go through yet~~

Yup.

"If you are thinking about a movement you should or shouldn't do during sex it means your mind is involved and not your body."

This has been my whole problem with post partum depression and anxiety. As I find my way into the present moment, and stop dwelling on the past and dreading the future... I think I can apply those skills to sex as well.

I can't even dance. It just turns into awkward jerking motions. Dancing is stressful. Maybe I should take a class or something... learn to get inside my body. I have always dreamed of that... being able to dance.

Getting inside your body

I don't know that you need a class for this~~close your eyes, breathe up from your vagina and out your breasts, make sure you have *no thoughts* in your head, just feel your breathing.

Try to go five minutes without letting a thought come in (you don't have to be meditating~~try it while doing the dishes, etc.~~just concentrate fully on the task at hand and really appreciate all the senses involved with doing that task). Do it all throughout your day (it's hard!). When you drink something, really look at the glass and taste the liquid. Same thing with food.

All of this will help you when it comes to letting go~~whether during sex or dancing. You connect with the source of life when you drop your thoughts and just feel yourself as a being. It's better than alcohol!! Smile

I've Been There

And I think the reason I would feel that disconnect in sex was because I felt like it was my job to excite a man. I was supposed to perform, act like a porn star, moan a lot, etc. I don't think that's the point of loving sex. It shouldn't be a woman's "job" to titillate or excite with her body. She should be being loved for her soul and not objectified for her parts.

One of my favorite songs is Jane Says by Jane's Addiction. The best line in the whole thing is "Jane says I've never been in love. I don't know what it is. I only know when someone wants me." I've been Jane and I think deep down we all want to be loved not wanted. Even though our men love us, we still feel there's something missing when they get lost in the wanting and expect us to follow them down that path. Most of the time, none of us know there is another way and I think it takes a long time to learn something new when it comes to love and sex.