Hey, Readers, remember this post? Yeeeeeaaaaaaah.
Ok, so, I mentioned in that post that there was a possibility I would take a lover. And I did! And he is great! Also, he reads here, so: hey, dude. THANKS. Because he is a stellar partner; really, I could not ask for better. Yet somehow, after having sex, I haven't magically gotten over all my issues like I supposed I might! The past didn't just fall away and everything was smooth sailing from getting laid on out! Surprise!
Seriously, I don't know what I was thinking. It worries me that I am the primary decision maker in my life, given that I am so clearly full of shit.
Sex is great; but holy shit, it's hard. I have weird anxiety and panic attacks if I think about having sex. I get upset contemplating the sex I will have, or the sex I did have. Usually at some point after I have sex, I have to take a couple deep breaths and calm myself down, because some weird fear will grip me in the belly and I have to ease myself out of its hold. I am more easily triggered of late, and reading about abuse or rape has been harder.
And, you know, this is ok. I am working through it, I keep breathing, and I talk myself through declenching after I have seized up with panic. I wasn't really prepared for how hard this would be; I went right back to sex after I was raped, after all. But of course then, I had already begun forgetting the incident, and the boy who had caused it; every memory I ever had of him or us together was already being erased from my brain. I put that night into a nice, neat box and shoved it into the back of my head, hoping it would remain there forever. Now that that box has been burst open, well, sex is a lot more difficult to negotiate.
So, you know, there have been panic attacks. There have been nightmares. There have been flashbacks. These will undoubtedly get better. And I may not feel this, but I know this, because if there is one thing people do, it is heal.
There are ways that I am mitigating all of this, though, and that's through exerting as much control over sex and the place it has in my life as I can. So, when I plan a night with my lover, it is far in advance. I pick the time. It's in my house, my space. I dictate the agenda. I keep it in this little cordoned off area in my life, and I can deal with that. It has boundaries and walls, and as long as sex feels contained, I can deal. It is safe in that little walled-off place in my life. And I didn't realize how necessary this was, this need for me to control sex in order to feel safe, until two things happened.
The first is, I got a text from my lover on a random day, sexual in nature, and I freaked. I was all WHAT I CANNOT DEAL WHAT IS THIS HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME. And it was not even explicit, this text - it merely REMINDED me that we were going to have sex at some future date. But I couldn't handle it. I couldn't deal with a reminder that I have sex and I was going to get fucked, because it felt like sex was INVADING MY LIFE. Sex had showed up outside of its little walled off space and this felt like a betrayal, a surprise attack. Sex needs to behave; it needs to sit and STAY for me to continue having it right now. It must remain in it's little roped off corner for now and show me it will not hurt me before I let it out to play in another room. If sex is really good, I might give it reign of the whole house. Eventually. But right now: back behind the baby gate for sex.
The second thing that happened involved the opposite reaction. Someone with whom I have never had sex and have no future plans to have sex said something sexual to me. We were talking about politics, or some such, and then all of a sudden, he made a sexual comment. It wasn't rude, or obnoxious, or any of these things; it was a joke, and I recognized from an objective standpoint that were I not suffering from the rapebrain, I would have laughed and gone right along with it. It would have been fun and flirty. But the way this comment went down, the person might have said something in Pashtun. I responded, with, "Uhhhh, what?" Like, I couldn't get it. Because the person had brought up sex outside of the little area in which I have decided sex can play in my life, I couldn't understand what was being said to me. I couldn't switch gears. There is either sex, or not-sex in my life. There is no in between. These are not fluid categories right now.
The thing is, I can talk about sex. As an academic exercise. And also as an exercise on autopilot; I mean, jesus, I taught middle school for six years, I can talk about sex in any number of ways in my fucking sleep. But I don't understand it as applying to me in any real way in the rest of my life, nor can I handle any real encounters with sex outside of the controlled place I have allowed sex to inhabit.
It's weird, the way I am experiencing and managing sex, but I understand why this control is necessary right now. I understand why I am so protective of myself, and I think slowly, I will eventually be able to take down the walls, remove the gates, let sex start taking more forays out. Pretty soon, sex will be all over the house, and I will not be able to stop it from climbing the stairs or getting into all the closets, but that will be ok. And then maybe, when I don't feel the need to watch sex every minute to make sure it's not breaking something, maybe I can address the newest infant that's been banished to its playpen: INTIMACY.
But that's for another post.