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How will I ever be able to feel normal about sex/my sexuality again? (Long, sorry, poss triggering)

(18 Posts)
Secretsquirrelname Wed 26-Feb-14 09:42:46

Background...

I'm 35. A lot has happened to me that I think has damaged my relationship with my body and my sexual nature.

1. I was sexually abused and raped as a child by a family friend
2. I was raped when I was 19 by a 'friend'
3. I was in an abusive marriage from 21-34, which contained elements of sexual abuse and I suspect has seriously damaged me emotionally
4. I had cervical cancer 2.5 years ago that was treated by surgery - necessitating a 'rebuild' if you will - and a regular, ongoing, programme of virtual strangers inspecting my chuff for returning cancer cells.

Despite all that lot, there have been brief periods of my life where I've experienced good relationships - both serious and casual - conducted with respect and fun on both sides.

Since my marriage ended I've rebuilt a lot of my life and feel pretty positive about the future except in one area. I've no idea how to feel normal about sex again. It feels like that side of me has been both betrayed and has betrayed me.

I would, at some point in the future, very much like to have a physical relationship with someone again. I don't just mean sex, although that's obviously part of it, but that physical affirmation of being alive and connected with someone else that comes from hugs and passing interactions - oh I don't know how to describe it, but sometimes I feel the absence of it strongly. However, I shy away from any kind of physical contact except with family, my DD and close friends who I have known for years.

I feel like this is something I need to fix for myself. Mostly I think it's important that I own and am comfortable with this part of myself. I also am hardly a prize in a lot of ways and I can't imagine ever being comfortable with putting all this baggage onto another human being.

Sex just feels like the thing that fucks things up for me - I'd like to fix that feeling and the flight response I feel at the thought of physical contact with another consenting adult.

But I can't see even where to start really. I imagine counselling would help, but I barely manage financially at the moment, I can't afford to pay for it. Are there books? I don't know. To be honest, I'm not in a huge rush to get this sorted out right now, but I can feel it under the surface sometimes and it makes me sad.

I'm getting older and I hate the though that those brief flashes of positive relationships that I had between 16 and 21 might be the sum total of the good intimate relationships of my life.

I guess I don't feel I ever got a chance to explore that side of my life easily and comfortably - there's always been a pall over it and as the years have gone on and things have happened it just gets darker and darker and harder and harder.

I'd like to start again and fix this, but I don't know how. This is also annoying because I know how to do most things (that's irony, ok?).

I don't really know what I'm asking you nest of vipers. Well I'm just shouting 'Help!' into the void really and hoping it doesn't just echo back.

thegreylady Wed 26-Feb-14 10:14:21

All you can do is start with friends of both sexes, people you already trust.if you subconsciously stiffen and withdraw at the idea of physical ontact you will send out 'rejection' signals. If you can accept hugs and contact from your friends then you will find it easier to be warm towards others.
You have had some horrific experiences and it is understandable that you struggle with relationships. Take it slowl, try to love yourself because you are brave, strong and beautiful. I hope you will find what you are looking for.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 26-Feb-14 10:21:18

I'm sorry you've had so many traumatic experiences. Counselling or therapies would almost certainly help. You could talk to your GP as a first stop and see what they suggest. Or there are agencies such as Rape Crisis who could point you towards people who are trained to deal specifically with that.

Physical affection is a lovely thing and it doesn't have to be sexual of course. I hope you find a way to get there.

Offred Wed 26-Feb-14 10:21:44

You can try to get treatment on the NHS I would have thought if you are in the UK?

Secretsquirrelname Wed 26-Feb-14 10:48:21

Thanks all. I worry now that I've painted a terribly sad picture of my life. It's ok really - I'm basically a happy person - but just struggle sometimes with this.

Could I really get treatment/help on the NHS? It seems such a spurious thing in some ways. I would have thought therapists were so oversubscribed that this would be something I'd have to fund privately. I'd struggle to justify taking sessions from people with more serious problems.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 26-Feb-14 10:54:20

Your problem is serious. Serious is defined as something that negatively affects your ability to live a normal and happy life and form normal happy relationships with others. You've endured a lot of trauma and there is such a thing as post-traumatic stress disorder. You don't have to have been in a war-zone to experience flashbacks and other psychological difficulties.

The NHS could potentially help although IME some GPs are utterly useless where MH issues are concerned and, if you're unlucky, you may have to sharpen your elbows to get the right treatment path. I don't think, for example, anti-depressants are appropriate for you. If you really get nowhere with the GP I would recommend talking to Rape Crisis.

DoctorTwo Wed 26-Feb-14 11:28:34

You sound amazing OP, a strong and more than capable woman who's admitting to struggling in one area. I echo Cog, your problem is serious. If you find you can't get some sort of therapy on the NHS, try searching online as something like CBT might be a suitable distance treatment.

This sentence in your OP; I also am hardly a prize in a lot of ways and I can't imagine ever being comfortable with putting all this baggage onto another human being. smacks of low self regard. This can and should be worked on. Your OP shows you have empathy and a wonderful sense of humour, if a little self deprecating.

Secretsquirrelname Wed 26-Feb-14 11:56:54

Thanks all. I'll make a GP appointment soon. I do have a good one although I am in an area where health services are amazingly over stretched so I will have to try and make a good case. I haven't spoken to another person about a lot of this stuff for years so will be interesting to see if I can bring myself to utter the words. I'll confess to feeling a bit sick at the thought. Plus, you know, I'm a crier.

Thanks also for all the kind words though at risk of being too self-deprecating again I hardly deserve praise. We all play the hand we're dealt and I didn't always handle everything that has happened to me very well.

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:08:28

Hi there,

so sorry you experienced such abuse. Services are dependent on what is available in your area but I'm pleased to see you'll talk through it with your GP. I was sexually abused as a child and it is astonishing when you start to work through it with professional support how much it impacts on every aspect of your life - and how you can stop that from happening in the future.

I undergo psychotherapy (currently on hold as I am pregnant) which is all part of standard care here in the Netherlands where I live. It's very difficult but with a good psychologist totally worthwhile. I would have also had access to a psychologist in my area of London but that was a few years ago and it may have changed.

Also be prepared for it to take a LONG time. It's not CBT or something similar you need with a short 8 session fix, but deep therapy to help you heal and understand your reactions to things.

You can also contact NAPC a charity supporting people who were abused in childhood http://www.napac.org.uk/, Rape Crisis and Women's Aid. All of which will provide you with help, advice and support. If there are no statutory services in your area I'd really recommend going private and seeing someone. But any of the above organisations can advise you on what to do.

You won't regret doing it. Be prepared for how tough it is. When you have appointments make sure you aren't doing anything much for the rest of the day. But you'll come out of it so much better and able to deal with life and people in a positive way. And enjoy a relationship again smile

thanks

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:09:12

oops sorry

www.napac.org.uk/

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:11:57

And, just the fact that you want to address all of it at last is a HUGE step forward. You might struggle to talk about it now but with good therapy it will get better. Just allow yourself lots of time to deal with what happened and don't put any pressure on yourself.

I cry through most of my appointments. It's healing and therapeutic and very very normal smile

kentishgirl Wed 26-Feb-14 12:13:54

Victim support can also help. It doesn't matter when the crimes happened, or whether you reported them or not.

https://www.victimsupport.org.uk/help-victims/ive-been-affected/rape-or-sexual-assault-info-women

Secretsquirrelname Wed 26-Feb-14 12:49:50

I'll have a look at the links. Thanks. It took me over a week to get up the courage to post anonymously on an Internet forum about this, I think this maybe a slow process!

badbaldingballerina123 Wed 26-Feb-14 12:55:11

Secrets something similar happened to me . I never thought I'd have sex again , the medical treatments you describe felt like further assaults on me . I tried counselling which wasn't very helpful , then had something called e m d r therapy . You don't have to talk about the issue at all.

You can Google the mental health services in your area and self refer .

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:56:10

It is slow but there is nothing wrong with that smile you've got years of abuse to get help with and it doesn't happen quickly. You're at a point in your life where you feel you can address what happened.

It's a very brave thing to do what you are doing. Be very nice to yourself. Each step is another positive move forward smile

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:59:49

Ah sorry missed the bit about your financial situation. Good luck with the gp.

Emdc could also work. Just a point - different therapies work for different people which sounds kind of obvious but easy to forget. Psychotherapy worked for me but not Emdc whereas the pp had it work for her. Don't feel like you've failed if something doesn't give you the result. It's just you may need to explore something different.

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 12:59:49

Ah sorry missed the bit about your financial situation. Good luck with the gp.

Emdc could also work. Just a point - different therapies work for different people which sounds kind of obvious but easy to forget. Psychotherapy worked for me but not Emdc whereas the pp had it work for her. Don't feel like you've failed if something doesn't give you the result. It's just you may need to explore something different.

livingzuid Wed 26-Feb-14 13:00:48

Gaaa phone sorry for double post.

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