Sex and My Body as ‘The Enemy’
I was 26 before I had my first orgasm. I spent years feeling frustrated with my body. I blamed it. There was something wrong with me. I felt self–punishing. I wondered why the wild sexual abandon and fulfilment portrayed in the movies felt like a land to which I had no visa, no passport, I was forever barred and it was my fault.
When I finally decided to have an orgasm it was no easy task. I did it alone in my bedroom and for years, although I managed, I struggled to climax with or without a partner.
It wasn’t until I met AJ that he reminded me that my body was not the problem. He told me that my emotions control everything. I didn’t have a design fault in my body. It was just my stored, unfelt emotions shutting down my body’s natural responses.
I wasn’t very open to this idea. My body has never really felt like my friend. I realised I was far more comfortable blaming it than realising that it may not look, feel or respond the way I would like it to, not because I was just made that way but because of something I could do something about, the experience of my emotions!
Gradually I came to feel and realise that that I had spent my life out of touch with many of my body’s physical responses. I had always prided myself on my high pain threshold until I considered, perhaps that is because I’m not really feeling much of what is happening to my body. I had struggled with fluctuating weight in my teens and twenties, no diet, however strict, seemed to work. Could this be because I was constantly trying to numb the emotions that my body held by filling up with food? And of course there was the issue of orgasm and sexual pleasure.
I began to explore what my real relationship to sex was. How did I really feel about it? What was my behaviour like around it?
I found that:
- In day to day life I would distract myself from my sexual desires. I would make tea, do the washing, call a friend, stay up late, get up early – all to avoid connecting sexually with my partner.
- When I did have sex with a partner I would avoid it lasting a long time. I would ‘run away’ literally and emotionally after the act.
- Sex really felt like a ‘requirement’ in a relationship, not a joy or pleasure. It was a sacrifice I had to make in order to have a close friend, security or to feel loved.
- And finally, on the occasions I did actually ENJOY sex, I found myself running away even more, my body cramping in uncomfortable places, I felt ASHAMED.
When I looked more closely at what I was actually doing and feeling around sex I realised that this picture did not match what I had always thought in my head sex should be about. I always believed that sex in a loving, monogamous relationship should be pleasurable and desired by both parties. So why wasn’t it like this for me? If I loved my partner why did sex give me a tight knot in my stomach? And what was that knot really about?
I had a number of intellectual realisations. I began to see my parent’s judgements of a woman who is sexually expressive. I began to connect with some big, scary first century memories about sexual shame and torture. I began to see that the ‘morals’ I thought I held didn’t match with my sexual conduct in this life. But I could also see that I was afraid to feel the feelings associated with these realisations. Slowly the reality that my suppressed shame and fear may be affecting my body began to hit home.
Owning My Pain
Sometime after this AJ and I were lying in bed one morning and began to make love.
After a few minutes, AJ abruptly stopped and said; ‘Babe, I just feel like you are so angry, I can feel all of this anger coming from you, especially when I touch your vagina’.
‘Angry?’ I said ‘I don’t feel angry’ (and I began to feel angry that he would even imply that I was angry).
Sensing my growing rebellion at this discussion, I checked myself. I realised I had a choice. I thought about it rationally. AJ loves me, he wants to have sex, and given that, he would only be saying this if he really felt something was going on. I lay there for a few moments and tuned in to my body. Oh, OK, actually, I could feel anger. I didn’t want to be touched, I felt like men only wanted me for this one thing, to take from me sexually and leave me. Suddenly I was seething.
I turned to AJ and confessed; ‘You’re right, I feel really angry.’
‘Just go let it out babe’ he said ‘Its OK.’
I got out of the bed and went to the spare room. I found a cushion and something to bash it with. I sat and looked at the cushion.
I started shaking.
Although I could feel the anger inside I was terrified to let it out. It felt big and bad and I didn’t understand really why it was there and where it was coming from. I was also mortified that AJ would feel I was angry with him as he has only ever treated me with gentleness, respect and love.
But by this time I had come far enough to know that my suppressed emotions were ruling my life, and limiting my ability to love and grow. I summoned up all of my courage and started hitting that pillow. I gave voice to the painful feelings that were bubbling up inside of me.
‘Men own my cunt.’ ‘I don’t want to give to a man’ ‘Men are just going to hurt me. They only want me for one thing.’
I really owned the feelings as my own and let them come flowing out.
I committed to the process of understanding and feeling what was stored up inside of me.
At this point I have to say that I am so grateful to have such an amazing, caring and loving partner in AJ. He completely trusted my ability to heal this part of myself and that by owning my anger I would get through to the other side.
For the next week morning and night we would start to make love and I would have to stop, and head to the spare room. I raged and bashed that cushion. I yelled and very often dissolved into sobs.
I discovered a deep, deep pain. The belief that my vagina is just an instrument that can be used to violate me, degrade me, for men to overpower and shame me. I hated it.
I have to admit I began to worry that I would never get through these feelings. I stayed committed to owning my anger whenever it arose during our attempts at intimacy but by the end of 6 days of my processing I began to feel dismayed.
I took myself off the spare bedroom in the middle of the afternoon and had a serious chat with God. ‘I’m worried I’m never going to be able to have sex again. I feel so angry. I feel so dirty and I feel like I’m never going to get through it all’ I prayed to God. I had a cry and wrote in my journal some.
I began to feel all of the rage rising up again. I sat at the cushion with my tube of rubber hose and began again to verbalise and express.
I found myself yelling:
‘God, I don’t want my vagina! I hate it!
God take it back! I don’t want to be a woman!
Why did you even give me a vagina? It doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to men and it doesn’t bring me any pleasure, only pain?’
I was full of rage and rejection of this part of my anatomy. I couldn’t understand why God would have created me with it. My vagina was just a way for me to be violated, to be overpowered. Men could harm me. I wanted God to take it back!
I was overcome with grief. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed for a long time.
Afterwards, sitting on the floor, I crawled back to my journal and began to write.
There came a sudden, quiet dawning; God, who infinitely loves and has a purpose for all things, made my vagina. God loves my vagina. God made my vagina as a part of me.
God doesn’t have a problem – I do!
In a quiet tear filled moment I made a decision – to start to love my vagina.
I knew it was going to be difficult because I was really unhappy with everything that had been done to me by others, everything that I had done to me, and how afraid and ashamed I felt of my vagina and of me. But I decided to trust that God wouldn’t have created me not to love every part of me, including my vagina.
I also knew God’s Truth about sexuality and relationships. That God has designed me to experience sexual pleasure as a part of my soulmate relationship. That God did not want me to barter sex for security or for affection, as I had done in the past. However, She did design me to enjoy the sexual side of me while it was in harmony with love.
Letting My Body Share Its Secrets
Now I’m still dealing with issues of fear and shame, and I still don’t LOVE all of my body all of the time. But I do now feel that God created my sexuality as an integral part of me. I no longer hate my vagina and feel it as an alien, yuk part of me. I don’t try to distance myself from the feelings down there.
I’m tuning into my body more and more and allowing it to share its ‘secrets’, allowing the expression of these stored emotions to free me.
I’m still processing issues of shame that I used to avoid through anger and avoidance of sex. I’m still stretching myself to really tune into my own sexual desire that is real and present inside of me. I’m still connecting to my terror, and letting myself shake and cry and release feelings of being raped and abused. But it’s getting easier and easier.
As I own my pain more, I connect to my desire and my pleasure more. And do you know the best part? Not only is orgasm easy now, it often happens more than once! And I also experience more connection, closeness, love and trust with AJ – which is almost better than anything else.
It’s New Years and I’m laughing because I’ve just written publically and in detail about two things that I once would have thought impossible to even mention – GOD & MY VAGINA!!!
May the New Year bring you the courage to talk about the difficult things, to explore the darker recesses of your heart, so that you may heal your shame and step towards acceptance and love of every part of you! I’m telling you – IT’S WORTH IT!