We are governed by the psychology conditions we have. If we are to understand our actions and take control of them, then we must first examine our past and confront the hurt we shoulder.
WARNING: This article contains graphic sexual material including rape and abuse.
Allow me to cover my sexual past with you for psychological reasons.
I was raped out of anger (my own anger) the first time I had sex. I was 15. Less than 8 hours later, I was raped again. It was one of the most painful things I ever felt in my life.
That rape began the three year “relationship” that would end in me chained to a bed where the “boyfriend” bit me and drank my blood. He would ice my body and vagina then bite me just to hear me scream. It aroused him.
I “consented” because it was the only sliver of “love” I ever had.
Three days after I dumped his ass, I met a pedophile online who raped me. The rapes were not your traditional violent rapes you see in movies. It was psychological.
First, the rapist removes your voice. They make you mute so any protests you make are discredited, and turned against you. Then the cruelty begins. They teach you that the only “love” you could ever gain was through sex and it inevitable always left me “alone.”
After sex, every time, I was thrown away, rejected, and always…always left alone to cry. For eight years…from 1995 to 2001 (15 to 21) this is how I had sex…every time. From 21 to the present, I had a whole lot of PTSD that I faced and simply reinforced what I had learned. It worsened my condition and never questioned it. Not. Once. I thought I was normal.
Let’s fast forward this to the present.
This is where the real Hell begins for me. I now have a very loving and caring husband.
I hurt him to prove what I was taught. That I’m not worth it. He loves me and I can’t understand why. I’m selfish and am better off dead. These are the lessons I was carefully taught as a child.
To this day, I cry every time I orgasm. I consent to sex, then allow my mind to wander. I think about laundry, work, writing…anything I can to avoid facing the fact that I was having sex. The sound of a male groaning mid-orgasm triggers me. Reverse cowgirl triggers me. Doggy position triggers me. Bracelets and watches trigger me (they remind me of the handcuffs, the ice, and the blood). Pain during sex, triggers me. And sex always hurts me.
I shut down, enter my imaginary worlds, then return to the real world and cry.
6 August 2015…A visit with my therapist re-enacted.
“I hate sex. If I had my way, I would never have it.”
“Why do you hate sex?”
“It’s work. It’s exhausting.”
“Of course it’s work. You put all of your mental energy into dissociation and pretending you’re not there. Do you look at your husband when you have sex?”
“No. I close my mind and wish it to be over.”
“Why do you have sex at all then?”
“Because I can’t say no.”
“What happens if you say no?”
“Then…he won’t love me.”
“You know what this is.”
“Yes. It’s the misguided thinking.”
“Why don’t you say no.”
“Oh, I can’t do that. My husband will hate me.”
I ponder this. I know this is illogical, but my heart urges me to say, ‘yes.’
“I hate what he asks me when it’s over.”
“Every time we finish, he asks me if I enjoyed it. I know this is what normal couples ask afterward and…” I dig my fist into my eyes then punch my leg. “I’m not normal! I’m not even a little bit normal! Where does he get off thinking any part of me is normal!?”
“What should he say?”
“I don’t know.”
I think for a moment and scoff with a grin.
“The first thing that came to mind is ‘How much do I owe you?'”
She looks at me. “Do you think yourself a prostitute?”
“Of course I do. I always have.”
“Try this. Next time you’re with your husband, tell him no. See what happens.”
The idea horrified me.
I slid into the car and reiterated the conversation to my husband.
“Well. Let’s do it then.”
I laughed amid my tears. “I won’t consent.”
“Why?” he asked.
“Because I won’t risk the rejection. I won’t say no.”
“Alright. A safe word then.”
“We can do a safe word.”
He smiled. “Good.”
“But I won’t use it.”
My husband frowned. I knew he was thinking again. He is determined to do all he can to help me.
“What if I set a timer and I stop every few minutes?” he asked.
I thought about that for a moment and agreed. “We can can try a timer.”
We never used the timer. Next time, I narrated my feelings to him. I told him exactly when the anxiety hit. He stopped and hugged me instead.
* * *
Things I have recently learned:
Sex isn’t work.
Sex can be relaxing.
Sex reduces stress.
Sex isn’t exhausting.
Whatever it was my rapists did to me, wasn’t sex. I must redefine whatever that was.
13 August 2015 – Back with my therapist…
“We had sex. I took your advice.”
“And? How did you do it?”
“I convinced myself that what we were doing wasn’t sex.”
“It wasn’t? What did you call it?”
“We were just making out.”
“And you never did that before?”
“I’ve never made out. Never had foreplay. It was just always sex.”
A week later we try again.
I want to snuggle. The urge is there to be closer. I can feel it, but I must train myself to learn what I never learned, what others learn from their parents as infants: that physical contact is good.
I crave it. I can feel myself needing it. But the wall of fear separates my husband and I. Holding my breath, I take the plunge. I touch him and draw closer. He knows to take the cues from me. He knows not to move unless I move. We snuggle. We caress. A certain movement and I freeze up.
“I’m anxious,” I say and he backs off. He holds me instead and I fall apart in his hands. I cry and shake and he holds me.
“You’re safe,” he says. And I tremble.
This is what remains of a rape victim. This is the recovery you don’t see. I calm down and only with his patience, do I regain security and the need to snuggle returns.
This isn’t sex. I think while we proceed. I mus repeat this new mantra over and over. This isn’t about orgasm. This is something more. Something larger than orgasm. Orgasm just isn’t the point. Not anymore.
I relax and I dare to enjoy it. It’s okay to orgasm, to finish because he won’t reject me, because orgasm isn’t the point. Snuggling is. Bonding.
My guard drops. I orgasm. And I suddenly see it. I understand me. And I know.
I gasp and I scream, “I understand!”
Anger overwhelms me. I know what they did to me. I understand it all now. I punch the bed and I scream. Relief and anger flood me. I relax, but punch the bed.
“I understand! I know why I cry.” My husband listens as I explain.
“My greatest fear is rejection. My greatest desire is acceptance. My greatest flaw is selfishness. I relive my greatest fear all over again every time I orgasm. I don’t cry because I’m hurt. I cry because I am afraid you’ll reject me. I associate orgasm with my greatest fear. I associate orgasm with rejection.”
This is what they did to me. This is what they taught me. They conditioned me to associate orgasm with rejection.
But, I crave acceptance. I need it and the only way I can have it is through sex. To get the acceptance, even for a moment, I must agree to have “sex,” which invariably will end with rejection every time. And I can not say “no” as that is selfish. Therefore, I MUST agree to have sex…or I am deemed selfish. I crave the acceptance, and I MUST finish. If I don’t finish them, I am selfish. But I know when it is over, I will be rejected. In order to have a taste of approval, I must endure the rejection that follows. To be accepted I must face rejection…every time.
My husband is looking at me with sheer horror. This is what they have done to me. And I hate them.
“Do you know what this means?” I asked.
“You can heal?”
“This is the beginning of me no longer crying after sex.”
I have been sexually active since I was 15 years old. And every time, I cried after. I am now thirty five years old. And the end is finally in sight.
I’m sitting in the bath smiling while taking in the scent of lavender and heather. I can not stop replaying the events. I watch my husband clean himself and a warm feeling envelopes me. It’s new and is something I’ve never felt before.
He turns and looks at me.
“I think…” I can’t speak. The warmth is growing. I can feel it. I could fall into his arms and, for the first time in my life I knew…somehow, he would catch me.
“I think…I am feeling…trust?”
“But it’s only security,” I said. He nodded.
“Yes,” he said. “Security requires trust.”
“No,” I said. “This is the same. I think…I think this is trust. Security and trust are the same thing.”
And then a new idea comes to me. I look at him.
“Is this how you and everyone else experiences relationships?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
A tear falls. “I see.” And for the first time, I truly understand. This. Now this…I can see why people would want this. I get it now.
“What are you thinking?” my husband asked.
“I must redefine everything,” I said. “Relationships, sex, dating, romance, trust, security, family…Until now, I’ve had misplaced premises. I can not conclude without proper premise. And now…it’s all wrong.” I look at my husband. “You are what a good husband is…aren’t you?”
“I try to be,” he said and smiled at me.
“I must assume I know nothing. I must assume all of what I knew up to now is wrong.”
“You’re talking about a massive overhaul,” my husband said.
I shake my head.
“It’s not a big deal. I’ve done this before (I know my therapist would be upset about me saying this). I did this with god when I studied Existentialism. I had a mental breakdown, redefined my center, and started over.”
He was watching me…waiting. We could feel the air between us lift.
“But I need parents,” I said. “I need a family if I’m to build a relationship…I can use my father. He’s a good father. And his wife. She can become the new mother.”
“She’s actually a very good mother.”
“A good mother,” I said. “And my brothers, my sister. They are all good siblings. I can start there.”
Silence. We were both pondering so much. Our minds were racing.
“If I’m to do this,” I said. “Then I must wipe away everything I know. The sex wasn’t sex. It was rape. The “romance” wasn’t romance. The “love”…”boyfriends”…”husband”…Those weren’t relationships. I don’t know what any of that was. But I must now throw it all in the garbage. For now, I’ll call it Sadism.”
I remember Socrates. “I must accept that I know nothing. Only then can I begin to learn.”
A clean the slate. Start over. Wash it clean. Redefine everything.
So dear reader…This is where my therapy currently is. This is how I will begin Unbreaking Me.