Ever not remember having sex?

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
This has been happening more frequently in my relationship with my significant other. We’ve been together for 6 years and the only change is that I’ve been working thru past sex related events that were violent. I avoid sex by default but have been working diligently on that and have made progress. My SO has a very high sex drive so I do push my boundaries to meet a much lower demand than would be desired by SO.

In the past I could robot thru sex and be unphased. Recently, the memories are regularly in my mind and doing a good job of reinforcing the avoidance loop. Several times over the last 6 months I haven’t remembered we had sex until I was told the next day. I have dissociated during sex plenty, but still have a sense of knowing sex was happening.

This other thing, is like I’m not even there.

After making progress I don’t understand why this is happening now. Just curious if others have had similar experiences and if so....how did you change it or did it remain?
 

grief

Sponsor
so often. and like you i don't remember that i don't remember. so i can't pretend like i remember. 🙄 wish i had some better answers for you. not too sure what involves completely blotting that out or just certain parts of it. but it sounds like you are going through some fairly intensive things in (therapy? by yourself?) that is affecting your ability to perform ordinary tasks, ordinarily. i suspect that it is a normal part of the process. the more these things come into sharper focus the harder it is to continue to hold up the dividing line in your mind.
 
My wife had flashbacks for about a 5 year period and would consistently dissociate during and also have amnesia. It's different for everyone based on relationship history and trauma experience's, but as her spouse I did start seeing the patterns during intimacy. It took some practice but I started to see her suddenly triggered in the middle of it and once I had that awareness I would naturally back off and stop. Ironically she felt it was her problem and didn't want me to suffer or go with out. Once my awareness set in I really didn't want to continue, because I didn't want to feel like I'm traumatizing her. It got better the more she practiced feeling in control. She also started to reframe and after se really bad flashbacks, she would sometimes want intimacy. A way of grounding in the present and in a safe environment. Actually it seemed to really help her. But I had to completely let go of initiating and stopping if it felt off. That is a hard situation and once I understood she was getting triggered I also saw that she loved me and on some part knew it was the past creeping up and really wanted to feel normal. She internalized or equated a typical construct of being a willing spouse and then feeling like a bad spouse for not being able to actually handle it. I didn't think she was a bad spouse and once I knew what was happening I didn't want to continue. It did get better, but we agreed on several occasions to take breaks. Eventually relations got better, and she felt more in control. It was rough, for about 3 years, but as I see it there's nothing wrong with hitting the pause button to regroup or figure out what you need to feel safer or less triggered during. I hope that helps a little and I know everyone's situation is a little different, it's what worked for us.
 

Warrior Chicken

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks for sharing your own experiences here, and yes, what you wrote is quite helpful since what you describe regarding your spouse has similar traits to my situation. It's something incredibly comforting to read about how you started to take notice when she was triggered and would back off and stop. That must have been difficult for sure, but would absolutely demonstrate your love and support to your spouse - building that safe environment.

Did your spouse have difficulty with guilt or shame when you would stop? If so, how did you work thru that together?

@grief I'm sorry you experience the blank spots too. It can be very unsettling when the person you love says to you "I had fun last night" or "we should do that again" and you have no clue what you did, even though you'd like to replicate that for them. Usually, all I can muster is "yeah, it sure was"......cuz I can't imagine trying to explain that I have no recollection of it. That would cause great concern from them and then likely an ensuing conversation about how I need to see a doctor as there must be something wrong. Yeah.....I'm the thing that's wrong (I'm trying to teach myself not to think that way but it's been difficult to make it stick).

I need to be honest here and say that I am also typically self-medicating before the possibility of a sexual encounter, but never to the point of black-out....just to numb things, reduce inhibitions, 'take the edge off' so to speak. At some point I would like to not feel the need to do that, and like what @Between the Bars said happened in their relationship is that sex became grounding in the present and in a safe environment. That just seems like going out to find a unicorn to me at this point. Ugh.
 
That's a really good question and I'm not sure it's straightforward. I think at first I just decided it wasn't worth the guilt she was feeling compared to how triggered she would become and my guilt in feeling like I caused this. Talking, saying it's okay and just staying with her was helpful. Not always though. And since you mentioned it, I remembered quite a few occasions, especially later on, having to weigh almost a cost analysis and sometimes it was better for her, you know, without getting too graphic, simply finishing as soon as possible so she could feel better without dragging things out. Kind of felt like allowing her to maintain dignity without prolonging agony. I found it incredibly difficult, but I had to trust her and the process. Of course this was about 3 years into our awareness and having these conversations during calm periods really help make a difference. Trial and error. We established some rules about comfort levels and I would ask her and offer to stop when I noticed I was losing her. Changing or decorating the bedroom, spending time connecting before. It was different every time. But by two or threes years it was happening once or twice a month more or less. Depending on how she felt I would often just stop and allow her to lay on my chest, because she liked to be held and found that very soothing. Sometimes we would watch a show. Sometimes she'd hide under the blankets and dissociate. That was the hardest but also became less and normal. Some rules for her that helped were having lights on, letting her take breaks and something about smelling my neck during a break, as she found all these process to keep her grounded and present. Honestly as a spouse who's to say how much she hid it or fought it during normal times. I suspect alot more than I could visibly perceive. But experimenting with things that make you feel safe really seemed to help her. When she had flashbacks not during intimacy I always had essential oils like lavender and Vicks lemon rub and icewater to give her because they were helpful to ground her. Eventually she got to the point where I could tell her she's having a flashback and part of her would hear me and quickly break out of it. Then we'd talk and my job was to listen without interuption. Also the last couple years we would often sit on our porch and listen to music and she'd have a little alcohol. It did help but can come with other problems. She was never a drinker but half a glass of wine really helped her relax and enjoy it. Although often I would have a beer with her and on the rare occasion that would suddenly trigger her. Not often but it did happen. I think it's the smells and to way to similar to the past.
 

grief

Sponsor
"I had fun last night" or "we should do that again" and you have no clue what you did, even though you'd like to replicate that for them
we are only just beginning to realize that this is a pervasive concern for me. over the years my husband has generally figured out what will immediately cause that reaction. and we have had some talks about it. but that has taken many years. and for the most part i am very good at putting on things even if i do not feel it. in fact it is becoming clear that may be my default state.

even though for me it does not necessarily feel that way. that i am faking it. but when even a little breakdown occurs or the possibility is to become closer instead of "getting to the point." then the breakdown begins. it is difficult to hide that when i suddenly vanish. i wish that i knew how to make it better. to help him not to feel helpless or upset. or take it personally.
 
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