Do you have questions about creating intimacy or developing mindful relationships? Confusing questions? Awkward ones? Deep, dark scary ones? I want them. Email your questions to: [email protected].
All relephant questions will be answered with loving kindness. (Yes. Every one.) Authors remain anonymous.
No judgments, just soulful answers.
Q. As a using addict for most of my life, I‘ve experienced sexual trauma and have been very detached during sex while in relationships.
I finally got clean a year ago. Along my journey over the last year I was in one relationship—that didn’t last long—but I put a lot of effort into being present, including during sex.
What’s really hard for me is that I’ve ingrained in myself that being desirable to men is of utmost importance. I know now that’s not true and am working through it but I’ve gained weight since I stopped using. It’s so difficult for me to not feel uncomfortable in my body even when the person I’m with tells me that they love my body. Maybe I’m so used to being as detached as possible during sex, so now it’s uncomfortable at times. Then there’s also the sexual trauma of being used for sex. How can I love myself?
A. Whether we have been sexually abused, engaged in addictive behavior, or simply felt uncomfortable in our skin, many women deal with the challenge of being fully present during sex.
In order to confront that challenge—drop everything. Unplug, shut down, and reboot with this:
Be gentle with yourself.
You are in recovery and the more tenderness you give yourself now, the stronger you will be when you are ready to rejoin the world of relationships. When we suffer from emotional pain—and even more so when we exert the strength to pull ourselves out of that pain as you did by getting clean—it’s very much like convalescing from a physical trauma. In fact, the two are often related.
Our minds and bodies are inextricably linked. It makes perfect sense that your mind has not yet caught up with the physical healing that your body has done since you stopped using.
Take your time.
Give yourself time. Go sweetly and gently toward wellness. I mean that quite seriously: baby yourself. You deserve some extra tenderness after having gone through the pain you did. Do what your heart wants you to do, and release the rest for now. Take long walks, hot baths, nourish your body with good (organic!) food. Develop a solitude practice. At least once a day, do something that gives you joy. Build your self up to be ready to return to the world of others.
Don’t “should” on yourself.
This is a fantastic saying that one of my shamanic teachers loves to share. What does it mean, exactly? Let go of where you think you “should” be, what you think you “should” be doing. Of course you are not ready to engage fully in communicative sexuality with a partner. Your relationship with your self needs to be nurtured first. Let go of the “shoulds” and take on only that which you are ready to.
Relearn your body.
The first step in relearning your body is to understand to whom she belongs: You. Only you. It is not your responsibility to use that holy vessel for the Great Mystery as a tool to pleasure men or anyone else except yourself. (Self-love is a thank-you to the universe.)
Okay, so you gained some weight. Since you didn’t give specifics, I’m grasping in the dark, here; I hope one of these questions will hit home: Are you healthier now than when you were using? Or did you gain more weight than is healthy for your age and height? Regardless, can you find a way to love your body—not as seen by others, but by you? If you feel you are at an unhealthy weight, can you lovingly create a healthy body that you can comfortably claim as your own? Often this involves merely changing one’s diet to non-processed, organic foods and eating mindfully.
Your weight aside, can you find a form of physical exercise that awakens your soul even a little? (Depression runs in my family. I battle it on a regular basis. Many years ago, I found that taking long, brisk walks around my neighborhood with my favorite music playing in my headphones was my anti-depressant of choice.)
Remember your body is a VIP.
It’s time to reclaim the physical form of your spirit. You were abused when you were “used for sex,” and it likely felt as though that physical body was taken from you. Perhaps this even contributed to your addiction. But you’re healing now. More so every day. Now is the moment to step up and hold your body as your own.
Relearn it. Reclaim it. Renovate it. Once you’ve been gentle with your body, once you’ve realigned it wth your spirit, you will be ready to enter into sacred sexuality. That means the opposite of being detached. It means melding with the universe through sex. But do it alone first. Here’s how.
After you have reconnected the self to Spirit, you are ready for a partner. But be discerning. Your body is your exclusive sacred space. Be your own bouncer. No one enters without your say-so.
Remember how powerful you are. Remember how far you’ve come to get well. Keep listening to the voice inside that tells you deserve better. It’s telling you the absolute truth.
Author: Rachel Astarte
Editor: Travis May