Does the body hold memories of incest during sex? Will I ever get over what happened to me?
I am forty-six years old, but I feel like I’m just as scared as my fourteen-year-old self when it comes to sex. When I was little, my older brother sexually abused me for years, by doing things that I couldn’t really tell were wrong, they just felt bad – touching me, making me take my clothes off. The rest, I’ve blotted out.
My younger neighbor also blackmailed me and made me do sexual favors for him, and I was always so ashamed. Even when I was seventeen, one of my neighbors, who was my father’s age, tried to seduce me. I was totally grossed out.
The men on my block were just a bit too much for me. How does a young girl attract so much attention? I used to keep to myself, but I always had someone in my face. I was celibate for years as an adult, as a born-again Christian… but although I am a spiritual person, I sometimes wonder if religion just helped me to avoid sex. My marriage largely tanked because we never had a good sexual relationship.
After my divorce, I became determined to find my mojo. I saw hypnotists, therapists, did deep tissue bodywork, and counseling. Just as importantly, I found myself reading erotica, doing artwork that revolved around phone sex, and I got into burlesque dancing in a major way.
I even found a boyfriend that I totally clicked with sexually. He turned me on, and I felt the most comfortable with myself ever. But we broke up after a year.
Cue to two years later after that relationship ended: I date a new guy, whom I really get on with, and who is a lot younger than me. We live in different parts of Europe, but I see him about once every month, which keeps things fresh.
He is kind of like Clark Kent, mild mannered – but in bed, he becomes another person. It’s like he sheds his outer layer and comes alive. I feel like he bares his soul to me when we are having intercourse. But while I really crave his visits, I still feel shy around him when it comes to sex.
Does it mean that I need to move on? I didn’t feel sexually awkward with my last boyfriend.
I would much rather grow and learn to face my demons/fears with someone who loves me and is so great with my son. He is very patient with me and seems to love my body and being intimate.
My boyfriend will do his Master’s degree in the autumn, and may live with me for part of that year. Which means more frequent sex. I like that thought, and am scared all at the same time. I seem more comfortable with the distance, though I miss him.
I do not want my issues to get in the way of a potential longterm relationship. I always feel that deep down inside I was meant to be a lioness, and to take what I wanted sexually. I can’t seem to connect to that image.
Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Rae. I sense that you are a complicated woman, with a sensual self just aching to be explored and understood. You display a sophisticated dynamic, no doubt the result of your forays into burlesque and other forms of erotic art. You show an uncommon ability to plunge into the murky depths of human sexuality in order to explore your own dark regions, and I am going to encourage you to do just that. For while your tale is indeed one of pain, and fear, and the quest for sexual expression, I want you to consider that your fourteen-year-old self did not suffer in vain. In her tears and confusion lay the seeds of something sublime.
I sense in you a struggle between very powerful elements that leaves you at odds with your natural self. First, there is the control-oriented social self. She is always reminding you that in your abuse you felt ashamed – so you must never be in a position where you are not in control again. Then there is your deeper, more vulnerable self. This one yearns for release. You say that you always feel you were “meant to be a lioness,” yet you cannot connect to that image. It is the control-oriented portion of your psyche that desires to be this lioness, because a lioness is always empowered… A lioness doesn’t get raped or abused or blackmailed. But you can’t connect to being a lioness, because you aren’t one. You will never be one. Stop trying to heal what happened to you by trying to be something that you are not. I fear that somewhere very deep inside, you hate yourself for being what you are: A submissive female. You feel that it was because of your inherent submissiveness that you were seen as prey, and thus you also think that the abuse was your fault.
It wasn’t. Young girls tend to broadcast sexually submissive vibrations unconsciously. They are young, and nature is strong with them. It is for those who are older and supposedly “wiser” to exercise restraint in the knowledge that children are but children for many years beyond the onset of such things. Sadly, this is often not the case, and those who suffer another’s cruel intrusion are left to deal with the fallout for the rest of their lives when something that should give the greatest of comfort and pleasure is ruined. Emotionally impoverished, they seek pallid substitutes and places of safety. As you expressed in your own story, religion often meets that need. Spiritual submission is a common theme in many theologies, and though it is often devoid of any lusty or sensual implications, make no mistake about it, the core issue remains sexual. The drive to submit and be taken is stripped of its uncomfortable sexual aspects, but the drive remains… and is satisfied. When you immersed yourself in religion, you were actually very closely aligned with your true sexual self. And when you left that faith, it was in rebellion to submission itself. The control-oriented portion of your being was angry that you’d given up your personal power, even within the sanitized confines of a faith. The result was certainly beneficial because you did break free in order to experience a rich and beautiful excursion into the realm of the flesh and the blood. But though what you’ve done has been fantastic by way of liberation, it was all done with control in mind, so it remains a shallow thing. Your inner core has yet to be shaken. You had one boyfriend with whom you leaped into the sexual fray and loved it. It was sizzling, and for a time, the novelty made that love seem majestic in scope. In truth, it was no more than a small step in the struggle to set yourself free. This man was an opening. Nothing more.
Which brings us to your current lover. I sense that he is a dominant sexual being. This is what brought you to him in the first place. From the depths of your spirit comes the submissive seductress. The Harem Girl… The shadowy, subdued Vixen… She wants to be heard at last. She seeks a dominant lover for protection, for safety, for the healing of old wounds and the nourishing of a broken spirit. The conflict is coming, because once again the control-girl feels that there is something “wrong” with the situation. Because she should be a lioness; in control and in charge… Your lover senses this conflict within you, so he holds back too. Neither one of you is who you really are in the bedroom, and that’s sad, because the two of you are actually very well matched.
You need not give up this good man. Indeed, sex with him can be better than anything you’ve ever experienced, but it will require you to quit clinging to a facade. To let this safety net go once and for all, you’re going to have to work on you first, and let the sexual relationship find its own pace and rhythm. You will have to deal with the concept of surrender, both in the sexual context and in your spiritual life. I’m not talking about finding a religion here, but of seeking methods that will erode your need for control. Practices that teach surrender. Yin Yoga is a great example of this in its demand for stillness. Kriya Yoga meditation is another. Methods that flow gently with nature and do not push or force. I encourage you to explore BDSM concepts and erotica from the submissive point of view. It may soothe the nervous lady inside to understand that when done correctly, it is the submissive who is actually in control, even in the most outrageous bondage scenarios. Go gently. Be mindful of your history, and if you feel daunted, slow down. This is powerful stuff for the healthiest psyche and it can easily overwhelm you. You might try exploring in your imagination first. Make up stories casting yourself in the heroine’s role. Be as imaginative and daring with these fantasies as you can manage, knowing that no one else will ever see them.
Your boyfriend is a good man. He’s good with you and good with your child. You do not lack passion for one another, you’re just struggling to find each other amid all the strangeness of this evolutionary terrain. Let yourself flow with what’s natural for you and this relationship will bring the healing you need to be a truly whole being at last.