So, while everyone else on GT was discussing how much this country sucks (ughhh it just makes me so sad I feel paralyzed) and some more awesome things (skimmed your article on video games, Ubertrout, going back to read it later), I’ve been dealing with some strange personal problems. Well, first off, everyone in my department was gone Thursday, Friday and yesterday except for me, so I had my regular job plus answering all the support calls, which I’ve never done before. So that was insane. But the real thing I’ve been dealing with is this strange set of emotional problems that have left me feeling like I don't really want to talk to anyone.

Simply put, I have some weird hang-ups surrounding sex. I’m not sure how to describe the cause. I’ve never been raped, exactly, but the person I lost my virginity to as well as the next guy I dated, the fabled Abusive Asshole, both kind of fucked me up. And I guess I also had this idea, probably from both my mom and my childhood community, that I was supposed to do whatever my partner wanted, without regard to what I wanted. I mean obviously I was taught that was true only in the context of marriage, but I guess I internalized it to mean as a woman I’m never supposed to focus on my own sexual needs.

I wasn’t attracted to the guy I lost my virginity to, but I wasn’t really able to verbalize that at the time. He told me it was just my Christian background and I continued to try to have sex with him for about 5 months before I realized that it just made me nauseated every time we’d have sex. Abusive Asshole used sex to control me, effectively. He would be extremely mean to me, call me names or ignore me for days or point out all my physical flaws and tell me how unattractive I was, and then, without apologizing, while I was still crying, he’d want to have sex. Usually with no foreplay. It never really occurred to me to reject his advances, though. I just wanted him to be happy so badly and he was so often upset and it was usually my fault but I didn’t even know what I’d done half the time. So if there was something I could give him that I knew he wanted, I would do it without hesitation. But whenever I tried to initiate sex, he would ignore me. It was obvious throughout that relationship that our sex life was 100% about him. Now, when I think back on our relationship, there were even a few incidents that kind of cross the line into rape.

About two months ago I confronted the fact that, in order to get off, I had to imagine myself getting raped. Before that, I never really thought about that being abnormal – that’s just what I had done my entire adult life. It was normal to me. Then I read a book about how pornography and BDSM sex are all about circumscribing women and taking away their power. While I don’t agree with that argument across the board, it rang true for me personally in a lot of ways, and I realized that for me, my entire adult life, sex has been about being powerless. When I told my boyfriend, he was horrified and sad.

Well, that realization effectively killed my sex drive. And so for the last two months I’ve been struggling with missing sex, my boyfriend being really sad that we have sex so much less often than we used to, and then feeling guilty because he’s sad, and then being angry that I feel guilty. He’s tried to be supportive, but weird things make me upset or angry now. When he compliments me on my body, I feel creeped out and angry, and it’s almost like I see him as a different person. His face looks different to me, unfamiliar and shadowy, and I distrust him.

So it’s pretty much sucked.

This weekend I think I sort of made a breakthrough in all of this when I started to write down everything that had ever happened to me sexually and all the beliefs I had about sex as a kid, and I finally gave myself full permission to say no any time I want. That’s helped. But it’s been hard, too. I keep having weird nightmares.

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If anyone has advice or just wants to share their own stories about sexual hang-ups, please do. Sorry for how much I’ve rambled in this post.