Musings Of The Past

My Body’s Betrayal

When Pain is a Source of Arousal

When my father abducted me right after my 9th birthday, he had already been grooming me for at least 2 years. He left me with a group of 3 men and 2 women that I think of and refer to as THEY. They were true sadists. I do not use that word loosely. Anything that hurt me brought them pleasure. This was especially true of all things sexual.

One of Their first indignities was forcing me to lie beneath the tub faucet, my legs up in the air, while hot water dripped slowly on my nether regions. I hated it so much. It made me feel like I had to pee. I didn’t know that was called arousal. All I knew was the feeling made me sick.

Later, abuse became far more severe. Ultimately, They raped me. At that point, I became more than just a passive vessel. I considered myself complacent. I started sexual things. Both to moderate their passions and to hurt myself.

Sex, in my mind and body, became fused with physical and emotional pain.

Most of my life, outside of my marriage, found me stuck in that aroused mode. It was one of the few things that really made me angry. Eventually, a doctor diagnosed it as chronic, unwanted sexual arousal.

When I was a teenager, I used to dig my fingernails into my offending tissue. Eventually, the pain would usually calm it down. It felt confusing. Especially when I had the feelings after seeing my male, gay best friend (a totally enmeshed and confusing relationship) who I emphatically wanted nothing sexual from.

 I can hardly stand to remember how many nights those feelings cost me my sleep.

My marriage was so filled with sex that it wasn’t an issue for those 12 years. Once I was on my own, it crept back in.

Unlike when I was a teen, I now knew how to masturbate. Unfortunately, it didn’t always help. Often, almost immediately afterwards, the feeling would creep back in. It left me angry, confused, and feeling helpless.

Once I really dealt with the memories and feelings that caused such shame, that urgent, unrelenting arousal dimmed. Although it took over a decade, gaining some control over my sexuality was one of the more profound improvements that came out of 14.5 years of intensive therapy.

I don’t really know where my sexuality stands these days. It’s been 20 years since my divorce. I have tried online dating several times. Only once did it lead to meeting a man face to face.

I really should have known far earlier that it could not work out. He was a needy mess, reminding me of myself a decade before. He spent too much time talking about young girls that were interested in him.

For a while, I thought I could help him get past that. There was something so appealing, or, at least, familiar, about his neediness. I gave it a good go. We met half a dozen times. Shared a few hugs.
But, I learned, I was simply too whole to engage. I let him drift away.

To be clear, it was not/is not sexual situations that cause this unwanted arousal. It is all the old remnants from the past. Pain, and not pleasure, were my trigger points. Some physical pain. But primarily the emotional kind.

Shame is the biggest one.

I know that makes sense. After all, shame led me to almost destroy myself. That They used my body’s responses against me just makes sense. I used their behavior against them, creating their arousal. It made me feel safer, and their behavior was less extreme. My cooperation also expressed anger and rage—but largely against me. So often, I fancied my body a puppet that I controlled. It wasn’t really me.

It is hard to remember how deep that rage went. Hard because, some days, it is still there. My body still turns against me. Thankfully, not very often anymore.

I am still not aroused by anything you would call normal. It all lies deeply within me. It is maddening. I get the physical signals. Only now, it is more of a flashback sort of feeling.

If I choose to ignore it, the arousal grows until I can’t think of anything else.

I am learning to take the time to turn inward and question, where are you, what are you? Getting better can take so much work.

I sit here today, still inside my healing (and really, aren’t we all?) to tell you, all the work, all the attention I must pay to my emotions and thoughts, is worth it.

I am grateful beyond measure to have had chances so many people don’t. The chance to work with the same therapist for 14.5 years. The chance to be part of a wonderful support group for almost 3 years. The chance to make wonderful friends.

When I was a nine-year-old fighting to survive in the world of sadists and sexual exploitation, I never could see much beyond the today. I stayed that nine-year-old for several decades. Most of that time, I was suicidal.

I could never imagine getting older. I was always sure I would not survive.

So here I am world, about to turn 55. I may not be impressive to some. To me, each day is a miracle. I get to feel whole and happy. Plus, I am blessed to help others.

Happy almost birthday to me!

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