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Need help to understand if my radar is off (sex)

beaneeboo

MyPTSD Pro
Spent the whole day with J today. I don't get to see him that often. Once/ twice a week. We ALWAYS have sex if we meet. And this causes a massive internal conflict in me. One part of me wants to have sex with him. Another part constantly mistrust his intentions and always thinks that he's using me. And rather sickly, a part of me gets aroused by this. I think because some of my earliest sexual experiences involved me being aroused during the trauma.

So I'm aware of my own history/ baggage I bring. I often ignore the voices and physical sensations telling me that he is using me... but it's hard. After 6 years they still keep coming back round. He has never forced me to do anything I don't want to do. He is warm and caring. But there are a few things which keep going round my mind...I honestly don't feel like I have a good enough internal radar to understand it or know if I'm right or wrong in my feelings...

Here's one...I don't use contraception (the pill - makes me sick, I had an awful experience on the coil)...and so we've always used condoms... for a long time I felt really uncomfortable with how long it would take him to put it on... he'd always start without one then put it on after a while...I eventually told him how much this bothered me especially bringing back fears I had as a child of becoming pregnant and that being a traumatic experience in itself.. never knowing if I was and the fear of being found out... also the fact that I absolutely cannot have a child...I would have to abort which would be traumatic for me and possibly ruin our relationship...

we've had a few convos about it all.. his take is 'I've always used the withdrawal method, I've never made anyone pregnant and the experience isn't as good for me if I have to wear one throughout, but if it makes you happy I'll put it on first thing'... which he did a few times... then this slipped to not putting it on straight away... then to soon after enteringwithout.... then to after a while and now we're back to square 1 where its not on for quite a while before it goes on....

Although I'm getting a bit better at saying he needs to put it on, it's really hard for me to find my voice during the moment...or before or after... sometimes I feel like I physically can't speak and I don't have the right to.. that his needs are greater than mine... and so on the same situation goes.... over the years, I've brought up with him how I feel upset that it's slipped back ... but sooner or later we end up back where I am now with it... square 1...

I know I need to use my voice more but I'm upset that I'm constantly put in a position where I have to... not least because I find it so hard... I know it's my responsibility to say something but this is one of the hardest things for me... and it's part of me feeling revictimised during sex again... sometimes I wonder if I'm making it all up in my head just to feel those feelings again...

I don't want to make him out to be an arsehole.... I'm interested in whether this is normal dynamics between partners and just part and parcel of navigating different opinions in sex...or whether actually his part in this is not taking enough responsibility.... and putting me in a harmful position...

Thanks for listening 🙏
 
I know I need to use my voice more but I'm upset that I'm constantly put in a position where I have to... not least because I find it so hard... I know it's my responsibility to say something but this is one of the hardest things for me... and it's part of me feeling revictimised during sex again... sometimes I wonder if I'm making it all up in my head just to feel those feelings again...
This is why I use my mouth to put condoms on. So I don’t have to talk, and it goes on when I want it on. Finis.
 
This is why I use my mouth to put condoms on. So I don’t have to talk, and it goes on when I want it on. Finis.
Genius!

In truth though I couldn't physically do that...It would set my gag reflex off and I'd likely freeze 😨

And I don't think I could initiate putting it on with my hands either. It's like I lose all sense of whether it's ok to do that ... I need to wait for him to decide even though I'm really uncomfortable with that.

I know it sounds stupid and I should just get over it and take control.

But I haven't been able to for a long time and still can't. And i guess I'm wondering whether that's playing a part in him being able to get what he wants whilst knowing its hard for me to find my voice to put a boundary down?

Or maybe I'm over complicating and it's all in my head from the trauma and I need to move on.
🤷‍♀️
 
I need to move on.
What would this look like for you?
just get over it and take control.
Has “just get over it” ever worked for PTSD symptoms? There’s work to be done to get to the point of taking control—which it sounds like you need to do to get out of the cycle of resentment and victimizing yourself.
 
What would this look like for you?
That's the problem - I don't know.

Maybe being able to say 'Hey can we not have sex today and do something else which makes us feel close?' Or, being able to say 'I'd feel safer if we put the condom on now rather than wait? But when I imagine these scenarios I know I couldn't ever say these words.
Has “just get over it” ever worked for PTSD symptoms?
Good point.
There’s work to be done to get to the point of taking control—which it sounds like you need to do to get out of the cycle of resentment and victimizing yourself.
Do you think I'm unfairly resentful? I'm having trouble seeing whether the problem here is within me and how I'm viewing everything / my lack of taking control or being able to put boundaries down. Or whether I'm actually objectively being taken advantage of in this situation - because not being able to put my boundaries down makes it easier for him to get what he wants.

I do see i need to take more responsibility to speak up. When I have done in the past it's resulted in him being upset at the thought he hurt me in any way. But then it goes back to how it was before. So I'm just confused.
 
A lot of what you wrote reasonates @beaneeboo the whole not knowing how to voice what you want, and wondering what is 'ok' and 'right' and what isn't.

I don't have any answers to that other than you are very clear that you want the condom on near the beginning.
You've expressed that before. He hears it. And does that. And then it goes back again.

So, how to stop it going back?

Can you work on being in control with it?
Sometimes words are hard to get out. But I wonder who has the condoms? Where are they kept? Who goes to get the condom? Who opens the condom?
Are any of those steps something you can initiate?
 
So I'm aware of my own history/ baggage I bring. I
How aware of that is HE? I guess different things work for different people. Myself? If I was going to be in a long term relationship, the other person would have to know something of my history and challenges and then care enough to be willing to help me work through stuff as it comes up. Honestly, his strategy with the condom sounds kind of selfish. "Selfish" isn't evil, it's pretty human, but he seems to be more concerned about his experience than yours. Yes, it would be nice if you could speak up in the moment, but having to speak up all the time would get kind of old.

One of the things I've decided about "consent" is that for it to really exist you have to REALLY be able to say "No". Thinking you can say no doesn't count. What matters is what happens after you say "no". Do you have to pay a price for it? Then what's the price? There have been times, as an experiment more or less, when I've said "No" just to see what happens. It was a worthwhile experiment. It's also good practice if you haven't had much experience of other people caring about your feelings and opinions. You learn that how you feel doesn't matter so you get good at NOT speaking up and finding ways to believe it's ok. The only way I can see to get better is practice. Along the way, you're going to learns some stuff about the person you're dealing with.
 
A lot of what you wrote reasonates @beaneeboo the whole not knowing how to voice what you want, and wondering what is 'ok' and 'right' and what isn't.
🙏 🤗

I don't have any answers to that other than you are very clear that you want the condom on near the beginning.
You've expressed that before. He hears it. And does that. And then it goes back again.
👍
So, how to stop it going back?

Can you work on being in control with it?
Sometimes words are hard to get out. But I wonder who has the condoms? Where are they kept? Who goes to get the condom? Who opens the condom?
Are any of those steps something you can initiate?
They are in the side of the bed. Technically nothing stopping me from getting one. He puts it on. I don't even touch it. I. Have. Never. Even. Considered. Doing. This myself. This......Like ever. ... never entered my head that I could.

I don't think I could initiate them 😔... I should be able to but I go into a different space. I don't know how to initiate the thought that it's ok for me to. And then the movement to do it.

Not trying to be negative. I just literally don't possess these skills in the moment. I don't know how to develop them.
 
How aware of that is HE? I guess different things work for different people. Myself? If I was going to be in a long term relationship, the other person would have to know something of my history and challenges and then care enough to be willing to help me work through stuff as it comes up. Honestly, his strategy with the condom sounds kind of selfish. "Selfish" isn't evil, it's pretty human, but he seems to be more concerned about his experience than yours. Yes, it would be nice if you could speak up in the moment, but having to speak up all the time would get kind of old.
Thanks @scout86 .... ummm he's aware enough... he doesn't have full on details but knows my fear of pregnancy .. and knows my difficulty voicing my needs in the moment... so I think he knows enough? He's good at asking how I am. I think he would stop if I asked him. So the difficulty really is in me. And my inability to say no I guess.... I do feel he is being selfish but I agree it's a normal human behaviour and he's good in so many other ways to me... but I agree... having to speak up in the moment every time is exhausting which is why I don't and which is why it's slipped back... and I guess I do feel resentment. But then I'm not taking responsibility to address it. Think I'm scared I'll find out he is using me and then the relationship will crumple. He's my emotional life line so I'm scared of that happening.
One of the things I've decided about "consent" is that for it to really exist you have to REALLY be able to say "No".
I'm struggling to understand this. Do you mean that consent is as much about saying no as it is saying yes? Knowing when you can refuse it?

Thinking you can say no doesn't count.
I don't even think I can say no. I'm wondering why the f*ck i can't. I'm opinionated in other ways. But this flaws me. I don't think I've said no more than once in 6 years 🙄
What matters is what happens after you say "no". Do you have to pay a price for it? Then what's the price? There have been times, as an experiment more or less, when I've said "No" just to see what happens. It was a worthwhile experiment. It's also good practice if you haven't had much experience of other people caring about your feelings and opinions. You learn that how you feel doesn't matter so you get good at NOT speaking up and finding ways to believe it's ok. The only way I can see to get better is practice. Along the way, you're going to learns some stuff about the person you're dealing with.
I love this suggestion. It makes sense. Little bit scary. I can see how if you do it once maybe it's easier to do it again as long as there's no fall out.

🙏
 
They are in the side of the bed. Technically nothing stopping me from getting one. He puts it on. I don't even touch it. I. Have. Never. Even. Considered. Doing. This myself. This......Like ever. ... never entered my head that I could.
So an interim step would be handing him the packet?

Also, perhaps, buying a pregnancy test and keeping it right next to the condoms as a visual reminder? Most blokes are alarmingly visual in nature, whereas most women are more wordy (listening or reading).

So buying a pregnancy test to keep on the side of the bed would serve 2 purposes; giving you more courage to reach for a foil square, as well as reminding him why they’re important to you.
 
🙏 🤗


👍

They are in the side of the bed. Technically nothing stopping me from getting one. He puts it on. I don't even touch it. I. Have. Never. Even. Considered. Doing. This myself. This......Like ever. ... never entered my head that I could.

I don't think I could initiate them 😔... I should be able to but I go into a different space. I don't know how to initiate the thought that it's ok for me to. And then the movement to do it.

Not trying to be negative. I just literally don't possess these skills in the moment. I don't know how to develop them.
I understand. It feels overwhelming and far too different, and impossible and scary?

But......

It's not the past. It's now. With someone who cares about you and someone you care about.
Are there counter messages you can tell yourself?
That movement is not going ng to cause trauma. That initiating is not going to cause trauma. Practice telling yourself that.
Sometimes we got to do something different for things to be different. And I wonder what is a 'small'* step you can do to take control here, do something different, to get your needs met?
As scary and as horrible as it is.
Because what if you do something different and you get your needs met as a result? That would be amazing and would stop all this worry and fear.
I totally get how this hasn't entered your head and you feel you don't have the skills to do this. I feel the same with certain things. And my T gets me to practice saying things like "I will do XYZ" and that I do have the skills, and I could do this in another situation etc. She tries to get me to see I have power and control.

*I say small but whatever you decide to do differently will be massive because it will be overcoming the fear of a terrible outcome.

Have you spoken to your T about this?
 
Do you mean that consent is as much about saying no as it is saying yes?
Exactly. "Yes" doesn't really count unless "No" is a real option. Part of the challenge is getting to where you really feel that as a true thing.

Which brings me back to the question of whether or not he really gets your situation. I'd just about bet he doesn't. It took me a long time to really appreciate this as a fact. People really do tend to assume that everyone experiences the universe just like they do. (And a lot of the time this isn't accurate.) My T once told me that this is one of the most difficult parts of training new therapists. It's hard to really appreciate the results of trauma unless you've been big T traumatized. I'd just about bet that J THINKS he understands what you're dealing with but he really underestimates it. And that's partly because you've minimized it, as one does....
it's easier to do it again as long as there's no fall out.
That's true. Here's another thing to consider. If there IS fallout maybe the relationship isn't such a good idea.
Think I'm scared I'll find out he is using me and then the relationship will crumple. He's my emotional life line so I'm scared of that happening.
This seems like it a part of what makes the situation difficult too. If you "can't get along without" someone, it's hard to cross them in anyway, isn't it? And speaking up seems like a big risk. I wonder how accurately you're assessing this situation? (Might be a good topic for a few therapy sessions.) There's a couple things that make a situation like you're talking about a problem. 1) You're effectively trapped in the situation be it good, bad, or otherwise, as long as you feel like you can't live without him. 2) Having someone depend on you that much is an exhausting responsibility for a lot of people.

Just speaking for myself, I came out of childhood with some pretty messed up ideas about my place in the world and what I was "supposed" to do to stay safe or have any value. It sounds like you did too. All of that relates to how you relate to others, for sure. It's kind of a big topic and it's probably a topic you'll work on for a long time and in a lot of ways. (But I'm totally sure you can do it!)
 
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