Realized this is avoidance

daisydew

Learning
I realized this week that I think sexual intimacy is a trigger for me. I feel ashamed of it because I feel like I need to be able to perform and make others happy, but I just can't do it. Every time I've had an opportunity, I've been too scared. I wish I wasn't so weird about it, but I can't imagine not feeling gross and on-edge during an intimate experience.

Does anyone (who is comfortable saying) experience something similar? I don't know how to stop being ashamed of this.
 

Friday

Moderator
This >>> Sexual Assault - Rape/exposure Therapy <<< Is something I wrote awhile back now. It’s only talking about dealing with oral triggers... but I use the same principles with all my triggers & stressors: flirt around the edges of it, to find out where the edges are, and then starting playing. 95% of it? Is totally NON-sexual in nature... just like when I was working on my crowds thing, about 90% of it didn’t actually involve my being in a crowd.

It’s one of the wicked cool things about triggers & stressors... when you start flickering around the edges of them? The edges actually mooooooove. So you can chip away at them, and the biggest hurdle? Is really the boredom. Because that’s where you spend most of your time; being bored. Because where you’re “at” nearly all of the time? Is on the “no reaction” side of the line. Then you just get close enough to cause a whisper of a reaction, and back away again. And again. And again. Tadpole style, not Rhino.

It does mean I’ll usually trigger myself on accident a couple few times... out of hundreds/thousands of time just getting a hint of a reaction... but I don’t sweat those. I’d get triggered anyway, just living, and totally out of the blue / by surprise. This way? I’m the one in control (at NEARLY all times! 😉). And the times I move too far too fast and end up triggering myself? I can use as practice for getting back in control after being triggered smoother/faster/better.
 

daisydew

Learning
This >>> Sexual Assault - Rape/exposure Therapy <<< Is something I wrote awhile back now. It’s only talking about dealing with oral triggers... but I use the same principles with all my triggers & stressors: flirt around the edges of it, to find out where the edges are, and then starting playing. 95% of it? Is totally NON-sexual in nature... just like when I was working on my crowds thing, about 90% of it didn’t actually involve my being in a crowd.

It’s one of the wicked cool things about triggers & stressors... when you start flickering around the edges of them? The edges actually mooooooove. So you can chip away at them, and the biggest hurdle? Is really the boredom. Because that’s where you spend most of your time; being bored. Because where you’re “at” nearly all of the time? Is on the “no reaction” side of the line. Then you just get close enough to cause a whisper of a reaction, and back away again. And again. And again. Tadpole style, not Rhino.

It does mean I’ll usually trigger myself on accident a couple few times... out of hundreds/thousands of time just getting a hint of a reaction... but I don’t sweat those. I’d get triggered anyway, just living, and totally out of the blue / by surprise. This way? I’m the one in control (at NEARLY all times! 😉). And the times I move too far too fast and end up triggering myself? I can use as practice for getting back in control after being triggered smoother/faster/better.
Thank you for this, I really appreciate it! I'm very tired of not being able to do things like that and honestly, thinking of exposure as "playing with the edges" seems like it could be helpful for a lot of my triggers. Obviously I'll check with a therapist first, but this gave me a bit of hope I might be able to be okay with things like this someday.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I'm triggered by sex at the moment. My trauma is from 25-30 years ago. Blocked it out. Sex was 'nothing' to me. Could never really feel that intimacy in sex: just had sex.
But now I am dealing with it all in therapy and actually allowing feelings: sex is complicated. I have moved from crying uncontrollably after sex, to freaking the f out, to crying just a bit. The intensity of it seems to be easing, many months later, and I'm hopeful will be resolved. I'm aiming for no crying and just being in the moment with my partner. It does feel achievable.
I am doing this in the context of being in a relationship, for nearly 17 years, with someone who is supportive and understanding, which I think helps.

There is nothing to be ashamed about. At all. But I totally understand the feeling.
If we put our worth in providing sexual pleasure for others and then suddenly this becomes problematic, it becomes very confusing and confronting.

Are you in therapy?
All I can say, from my experience, is that things change. It won't always be like this.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I haven't been in a relationship or have been happily or productively single for about 17 years. Not happy about that and there are several reasons for it. Sex can definitely be problematic for ptsd sufferers. I hope the situation improves for you.
 

daisydew

Learning
I'm triggered by sex at the moment. My trauma is from 25-30 years ago. Blocked it out. Sex was 'nothing' to me. Could never really feel that intimacy in sex: just had sex.
But now I am dealing with it all in therapy and actually allowing feelings: sex is complicated. I have moved from crying uncontrollably after sex, to freaking the f out, to crying just a bit. The intensity of it seems to be easing, many months later, and I'm hopeful will be resolved. I'm aiming for no crying and just being in the moment with my partner. It does feel achievable.
I am doing this in the context of being in a relationship, for nearly 17 years, with someone who is supportive and understanding, which I think helps.

There is nothing to be ashamed about. At all. But I totally understand the feeling.
If we put our worth in providing sexual pleasure for others and then suddenly this becomes problematic, it becomes very confusing and confronting.

Are you in therapy?
All I can say, from my experience, is that things change. It won't always be like this.
Thanks for your reply. It's helpful to hear other people's experiences, and to know it's possible to change. I think I compare myself too much. I see other survivors who use sexual experiences as a coping mechanism or who have at least managed something, but I've never been able to push myself beyond kissing. I guess I should just give myself some time to heal and not force myself. I am in therapy, so I'm hoping to start some exposures soon.
I haven't been in a relationship or have been happily or productively single for about 17 years. Not happy about that and there are several reasons for it. Sex can definitely be problematic for ptsd sufferers. I hope the situation improves for you.
This is very relatable. Even friendships are difficult, so intimate relationships become quite hard.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks for your reply. It's helpful to hear other people's experiences, and to know it's possible to change. I think I compare myself too much. I see other survivors who use sexual experiences as a coping mechanism or who have at least managed something, but I've never been able to push myself beyond kissing. I guess I should just give myself some time to heal and not force myself. I am in therapy, so I'm hoping to start some exposures soon.
Yeah, it's so easy to compare as we want something to 'benchmark' ourselves against. But we all need to find our own path, and to be kind to ourselves.
What I read from your posts is that you are clear what you can cope with and what you can't. That shows insight?
Maybe there is some work to do with your T about what it is you want in an intimate/sexual relationship; how to build trust with that person or persons; and how to express yourself?

Exposure therapy might work for one person, at a particular point, but might not for another, at a particular point.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks for your reply. It's helpful to hear other people's experiences, and to know it's possible to change. I think I compare myself too much. I see other survivors who use sexual experiences as a coping mechanism or who have at least managed something, but I've never been able to push myself beyond kissing. I guess I should just give myself some time to heal and not force myself. I am in therapy, so I'm hoping to start some exposures soon.

This is very relatable. Even friendships are difficult, so intimate relationships become quite hard.
When I was younger I put sexual relations first and didn't really know how to make friends. Because I was unwell and stupid quite frankly. I've learnt my lesson and now value friendships more importantly.
 

daisydew

Learning
Yeah, it's so easy to compare as we want something to 'benchmark' ourselves against. But we all need to find our own path, and to be kind to ourselves.
What I read from your posts is that you are clear what you can cope with and what you can't. That shows insight?
Maybe there is some work to do with your T about what it is you want in an intimate/sexual relationship; how to build trust with that person or persons; and how to express yourself?

Exposure therapy might work for one person, at a particular point, but might not for another, at a particular point.
That makes sense. My therapist told me I need to stop comparing myself. I'm only 21 so I know I have time to heal and learn what I can and can't deal with. I guess even without trauma some people aren't ready for those experiences at my age and I know that's okay! It just doesn't feel okay for me lol.
When I was younger I put sexual relations first and didn't really know how to make friends. Because I was unwell and stupid quite frankly. I've learnt my lesson and now value friendships more importantly.
This makes sense. I tried to initiate those relationships when I was a preteen, but after middle school I became uncomfortable with sexuality and haven't been able to get rid of that discomfort.
 
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