Last week I wrote to you about the idea that we need pleasure to heal because when we feel pleasure, our brains and bodies make all the good chemicals and hormones that we need to feel GOOD…that we need to feel HEALTHY.
I had a woman write back to me asking how this idea that we need to receive MORE pleasure is different from an addict who becomes addicted to the dopamine high that they get from doing whatever their particular acting out behavior is.
The funny thing is that I had the thought myself as I was explaining this concept to my husband. How is this different from sex addiction? Or is it?
While I must acknowledge that we are all capable of leaning too heavily on our coping mechanisms at certain times in our lives, I do believe with my whole heart that it is different.
Can a woman who is recovering from sexual betrayal trauma become a sex addict herself? Of course. And some women who experience sexual betrayal can then become hypersexual themselves. It is their trauma response.
But for many women who are recovering from sexual betrayal trauma, the idea of any sort of sexual pleasure can become triggering for us.
Since we have a tendency to equate pleasure with sexual pleasure, the idea of pleasure itself becomes a trigger.
Do you, or have you, experienced any of the following?
1.) You stopped getting massages because he acted out there.
2.) You’ve put all things related to sex into a big bucket of shame.
3.) You’ve become totally disconnected from your body (and pleasure).
4.) You’re not sure if it’s okay for you to (insert sexual behavior here) because you don’t want to be like him.
Here’s the thing.
We need pleasure.
When we deny ourselves, a couple of things can happen. Neither of which are good.
1: We Dry Up
I mean this literally and metaphorically. Living with prolonged trauma (i.e. being in a relationship where there is chronic infidelity/betrayal) decreases our body’s ability to make hormones.
Our body spends all of its energy making adrenaline and cortisol because we are constantly in a state of fight/flight/freeze. There is nothing left over to make the estrogen and progesterone that we need to keep our beautiful female bodies supple and, well, lubricated.
Our skin dries up.
Our lady parts become a wasteland.
We literally run out of juice.
2: Our Sexuality Comes Out In Wonky Ways
We can find ourselves unconsciously trying to get our need for oxytocin and touch from relationships that are really inappropriate.
Think of your divorced aunt who gets just a little too affectionate after a couple of cocktails. Or, and this one is really hard to talk about, this woman who makes her son “the man of the house”. I’m not suggesting that there is anything incestuous going on, but there is likely some emotional/energetic enmeshment that’s unhealthy.
The point is, when we deny our needs or get cut off from them because of trauma, they don’t actually go away.
Having said this, I know that the idea of anything remotely sexual might be totally out of the realm of possibility for now.
If this is you, just remember that:
a) You are totally normal
b) This is a season and it will pass
c) You can still give yourself pleasure that’s not sexual!
Walks in nature, sunshine on your face, fuzzy slippers, hugs from a friend, snuggles from your fur baby…whatever lights you up – find a way to cultivate and create MORE of those experiences for yourself.
The key here is to find ways and practices that let you feel safe in your BODY.
And please hear this loud and clear — it is actually SAFE for you to be in your body. Our bodies are our homes in this lifetime.
So what are the ways that you can move and more fully inhabit your body? That also bring you pleasure and joy?