silverhopes, I've been wanting to reply for days but I have just not had the time to sit and think and write out my reply. For that I apologize.
Does anyone else struggle with a lasting sense of shame around sex?
Shame? No. A really large-sized thought of "what the hell is the point of having relationships at all"? Yes.
I realize that a lot of that is me being all gloom-and-doom. There are a lot of good people out there. My picker hasn't served me too well in the past, and I don't quite think that I want to rely on it again.
Like that feeling like you're not supposed to enjoy it, like you haven't earned enjoying it? I've been struggling with this off and on for years, and I know it ties into my overall sense of not feeling like I'm good enough. Just period.
You _are_ supposed to enjoy it. Earning enjoying sex is simply not a thing that anyone has to do. That would be like earning the right to enjoy breathing, or earning the right to think that water tastes good, or that food tastes good.
I think that, like you mentioned, this all ties in to the abuses that you've suffered over the years. A lot of this sort of thing is the abuse sufferer (instead of victim or survivor) trying to convince themselves that they are to blame for the abuse. Or, believing the abuser that the sufferer is to blame for the abuse. Both happen, taking blame or accepting it, and neither are good.
There's been other stuff happening too, and I was feeling angry and embarrassed with myself for still "holding onto it". Not wanting to "play the victim card", as my father accused me of doing a couple of months ago. Yet the agony won't stop, so I guess that means I better talk about it, right? Or is there really a point where we're supposed to heal silently? :( I'm sorry if I'm not making much sense right now.
I'm going to guess that the "you are holding on to this" feelings are coming from someone else. This is a really complex question with nuances. So, yes, people _can_ end up holding on to abuse. I do not believe that you are doing this because you are seeking to find help from your counselor and you are asking questions about finding other counselors. These are not the acts of someone who is holding on. These are the acts of someone who is trying to find help with dealing with it all.
Yes, you should talk about it. No, this isn't the time that you should heal silently. If you've read hopefulkate's posts about her H, he has shut his family out for a couple of years because they are not getting healthier. My personal opinion is that this is a source of conflict for him. I think that it would be for me if my folks weren't dead.
I'm sorry if this is a bad post or it's the wrong place to write this.
Don't be sorry. This is the perfect place for these questions.
I've tried to talk about it in therapy, but it seems like my counselor isn't comfortable with the subject. Or at least, I get the sense we're being moved along so as not to dwell on it. It tends to take a backseat to my OCD diagnosis and symptoms in discussions.
This says to me that you might not have a great therapist for CSA.
I say that because "ticks", like OCD, are sometimes _responses_ to CSA, ways of dealing with it, and not their own, separate thing. OCD, like the "rocking" that some Special Needs people do, can be immensely comforting -or- they can be a sort of "hypervigilance" thing. Making sure of something, over and over (like some OCD symptoms), has repetitive motions and thoughts sometimes. The act of making sure that everything is okay can be comforting in and of itself. It can also be acting out the "making sure that everything is safe" response to growing up or living in unsafe situations.
So what I'm trying to get across is that what appears to be OCD, and other behaviors, are _responses_ to CSA. They might not be separate things that respond well to treatments for OCD _because_ the root-cause, CSA, isn't being dealt with.
I hope that hopefulkate chimes in here in response to what I just wrote. She's got some perspectives about this very subject, I think.
Did you ever fear you were losing control? I feel like I am losing it on my sanity and clarity of perception. Namely, I'm terrified of becoming like my abusers. So I feel this compulsion to check and double check that I haven't abused or hurt anyone (whether or not this is part of my OCD is unclear). I don't feel like the abuse was my fault - I feel totally disgusted by my abusers and what they did and their utter refusal to listen to my boundaries. Some days I feel this dark anger at them and at everyone who victim-blamed me afterwards. But then, I feel like I am disgusting now. They made me disgusting.
Losing control in the sense of doubting myself and that things are going much too fast for me to keep up, yes.
There wasn't nearly as much literature about CSA when I was young. The popular thought then was that many abused grew up to be abusers (or I interpreted it that way). I didn't want to be an abuser -but- since abused grew up to perpetuate the cycle I had a lot of, um, mental disharmony? there. Being a typical male I didn't do the babysitting thing growing up. I was an only child. My earliest memories are sexual in nature and since CSA folks tend to trigger when _their_ kids are the age that they were at the time the abuse started I had a lot going on in my early adult years. Add in the fact that I still wasn't finished in self-directed healing, well, I was a mess.
I am very familiar with the feeling of being disgusting. Silverhopes, you are not. I am not. Nobody here deserves that level of "victim blaming". People often blame themselves and put themselves in the "disgusting" role as a form of control. "If," they say, "I can choose to not be disgusting then I control the abuse." Yes, the logic is faulty but it is a _safe_ logic because if we can control the abuse then we can stop it that way. There is also the fact that some abusers _try_ to make the abused feel disgusting because the abuser has no way to process their own self-loathing other than to pass it on. Finally, some abusers are just mentally damaged and get a thrill from abusing and from tearing down others.
I asked this next question recently of someone else on this thread, and I'll ask you, now:
A young woman, or girl, comes to you and tells you about how she is being repeatedly sexually abused.
Would you respond by thinking that she is disgusting?
Whenever I feel sexual, I feel as if I am as disgusting as my abusers. Thoughts of them often invade my head during those times too.
Yeah, I'm familiar with this, too. For me this was simply a sign that I wasn't done, yet. Look, people make associations between things. For a lot of CSA folks the events of being abused and the events of adult sexual interaction get all jumbled up -because- of the way that we learned about sex.
I can tell you that you are not disgusting. You are not disgusting for feeling sexual. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an adult and desiring sexual intimacy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having those invasive thoughts, either, though they are something that you will work past as you heal from CSA.
I think I might have been getting a faulty perception about how sex is supposed to be for women. Most of the partners I've had in life have made me feel like sex was supposed to be for them, and when I asked for what I liked, some of them openly laughed at me, including Mr. Silver. I'm frustrated because intellectually I know that's not reality, these unhealthy fears and faulty ideas I have, but emotionally I just can't seem to get it.
All that I can say is that it is not unhealthy for a woman to ask for what she wants. Hell, I encourage it in my partners. And I respond with what they want -and- I try to throw in a few variations, as well.
I do want to say, though, about your "made me feel like sex was supposed to be for them" statement that they cannot _make_ you think a certain way, they can only _try_ to make you feel a certain way. You have to buy into it as well. And when the person being convinced has a lot of self-doubt resulting from prior abuse, well, it is usually pretty easy for the convincer to do the convincing.