The topic in therapy right now is sex. I don’t quite remember what happened to make this become the topic of discussion in therapy, but for whatever reason, it’s what I’m working on….not the “what it is and how to do it,” I pretty much have that concept down, but the “what sex is like for me.” And maybe we’re working on setting boundaries around sex….yes, I think that’s why this topic came up.

My friend and musician, Gary Pfaff, has a song titled Naked. Gary’s music is about as “country” as I get…and some of his newer stuff is a bit more country than I can tolerate. The lyrics in Naked go like this:

I’d rather be naked with you
Than to argue like we always do 

You can find the song here.  Seriously, listen to it. It totally describes my relationship status…and has from Day 1.

There are two types of sex in my life:

  1. The kind of sex that is deep and passionate and “movie-esque.” It’s pretty obvious that I feel everything very deeply. That includes all emotions: hate, sadness, empathy, and love. Sex is no different. Let me rephrase that: Meaningful sex is no different. The kind of sex where you are really and truly pouring your emotions into it. The kind of sex that leaves you wanting more just because you don’t know if you’ll ever feel that connected to anyone else ever again. Due to a slew of marriage problems, this type of sex doesn’t happen very often anymore.
  2. The kind of sex that lets you escape all of life’s shit. When I feel like my whole world is falling apart, and I am angry and bitter,  and  even suicidal, this is the kind of sex I crave. Now, it’s important to realize that this is only effective at helping me escape the hell that’s in my head if I’m not struggling with trauma stuff. If I’m struggling with trauma stuff,  this type of sex makes things worse. This is the kind of sex that is rough and dirty. It’s the throw me against the wall, rip off my clothes, and fuck me until I can’t walk. It’s the “go big or go home” kind of sex. Unlike #1, this kind of sex isn’t filled with meaning. For me, the purpose of this kind of sex is to escape; to focus on nothing other than pain and pleasure at the same time. This kind of sex makes me numb to everything that’s going on around me.

Since starting trauma work, I’m having a harder time with Type #2. It triggers flashbacks and I have to work harder to stay present. However, because there’s not a whole lot of Type #1 going on, I’m left with this awkward in between type of sex. I guess that’s the sex that normal people have; the sex that women fake headaches to get out of. It’s amazing how much trauma and trauma work affects your life. Trying to find balance in my physical relationship with my husband is challenging. For the majority of our 10 years, sex was rough and dirty or deep and passionate. There was no in between. Now we both have to get used to and accept that it can’t always be one of those two types. I struggle to set boundaries. I struggle to say no. I struggle to say no and follow through with no. At the same time, he struggles to respect boundaries and “no.” In all areas of life, he wants what he wants, when he wants it; and most of the time, he is going to get it with or without permission. When you’re married to someone who is like that, you eventually just stop saying no.

For example: concert tickets. My husband wanted to buy concert tickets a while back. I asked him to wait until it got a little closer to the concert. I also asked him to go with the cheaper of the two tickets, which would mean having not as good of seats. He didn’t respect either of those requests. Not only did he buy the tickets the day they went on sale, he bought the $90 tickets instead of the $40 tickets. He also bought a ticket for a friend, who didn’t pay him back until 4 months later…when it was actually time for the concert. This is just one of many examples where my husband wanted something, so he got it, regardless of what I wanted or didn’t want. This applies across the board. With everything.

I don’t know if any of my readers struggle with sex and finding balance and peace in your physical relationships. If so, how do you set and keep boundaries, with yourself and others? How does your partner(s) respond to your boundaries? How do you stay mindful and present during sex without having flashbacks?