Sometimes I feel disconnected in my own body – alien, alone, a bit numb. As much as I long to feel pleasure, it’s elusive. My mind spirals around with worry and I can’t calm down. If I do get in a situation where I might orgasm, it takes longer to get my brain aligned with my body. I feel like a failure. I’m sure that my partner is frustrated with my slow responses. Even if I am self-aware enough to know that my anxieties are running away with me, I still (on some level) wish that my partner would just make it better.
Anxiety has been taking a turn running my life. It happens every so often, for reasons that are not clear to me. I am not anxious about anything in particular. In fact, I feel fine except that I am paralyzed by non-specific fear and worry. It’s just one of the many annoying aspects of PTSD. My relationships are harder to maintain. Some days I need to take Valium just to make love, something I want and look forward to. Actually, in the past week I’ve needed Valium just to talk with friends.
Being anxious is odd. It’s in my body, not my emotions. This isn’t the kind of stuff that that wakes me at night, unable to sleep because I’m worried about the kids’ education or paying the bills. This is fight or flight level primal reactions to stimulus that is no longer present. When I am standing in the shower with my heart pounding in my throat, my vision blurred, my breathing fast, my chest tight, rocked by dizziness, and my thoughts slowed – then I must remind myself that these were logical reactions years ago, but not now. It doesn’t help much.
What years of therapy has helped with is my ability to retain a logical adult part of myself to help deal with the here and now. I like to think that most people I interact with have no idea how hard these patches can be for me, but I can’t fool the people I am closest to. It is pretty much impossible to get intimate if your body thinks you are under attack. So, medications can help. Just working through the panic attack until I feel back in control can work. And recently, Harold decided to join me, startling me right out of that space.
The most effective technique for me to be able to still have sex, even through anxiety, involves a mixture of things. If I feel something coming up when I want to be intimate with someone, I let my adult voice step in and let the scared child part know that they are seen and heard, but that this is adult time. I agree to look at the anxiety after I’m done. I take something like Valium if it seems necessary, but mostly I don’t like to take drugs. Most importantly, I establish a connection with my partner. Not only am I not alone with my anxiety, I am loved and cherished. I deserve to feel good and to be happy. This is mine and it can’t be taken away.
Some of you will not understand what a victory this is, but sadly, many of you will.
I love sex, it’s a blessing, but I work hard to keep clear the pathways to intimacy and bliss. Pleasure is everyone’s birthright. Everyone has an innate right to feel pleasure in their bodies. It can’t be stolen. I’ve spent a very long time feeling tainted and broken somewhere underneath, but I’m done. Anxiety? You’re on notice. It’s over.