Unwanted Arousal and Sexual Shame: Embracing The Shadow Side of Your Sexuality
Western society is gradually coming to think more progressively and inclusively. That said, in spite of recent evolutionary leaps, many Westerners still have a fairly static, black-and-white image of what constitutes morally acceptable sexual appetites and behaviors.
In “Sexuality and Shame,” Carolyn Shadbolt writes, “…moral edicts about what is sinful, the chastity of women, the sanctity of marriage, the moral degeneracy of homosexuality, the superiority of male heterosexuality, the deleterious effects of masturbation, gender roles, sexist imagery, biological determinism, and so forth are part of adult consciousness and life experiences that directly impact adult sexuality.” Western culture is highly opinionated. We’re constantly bombarded with propaganda of right vs. wrong. Over time, we internalize these messages – integrate them into our personal belief systems. Shabolt goes on to write, “…when the uniqueness of our sexual identity collides with the views and expectations of what is ‘normal’ and of how we should be in both our private and public selves, shame will not be far behind. In the area of sexuality, all too often shame is the result when the inner meets the outer.” This discrepancy between inner and
Thoughts I harbour when I am at my worst:
When I sleep with people, they are pretending to enjoy it. They are playing a role, and not in a sexy way, but role-playing being “normal.” They are faking intimacy.
I suspect this to be true with sexual encounters that fall under the umbrella of one-night stand and mistake, but at my worst, my most cynical, or maybe just deep down, all the way down, I believe that even the sex I have with men I date or actually like are like this.
I think sex is terrifying and absurd. In terms of unwinding and escaping from your own skin it is the worst.
The worst distraction, the worst way to lose yourself, the hardest way you can disconnect from everyone and everything. It makes no sense. You’re meant to be at your raw-est, ready to disappear, forget your name but you still have a duty to perform and someone to impress. Eye contact during sex is ridiculous. Eye contact in everyday life is a tad awkward, especially the moment you become aware of it, but during sex it loses all its naturalism and suddenly you’re aware of every single one
Never in a million years did I ever think I’d say, “Hi. My name is KJ and my partner has bipolar disorder.” And no, it’s not the bipolar partner part that surprises me- it’s that I would share this information with a bunch of strangers in a support group. How did I get here???
I struggle with what to tell, if anything, of my partner’s story because it’s not mine to tell. But her story is why I sought support, so I think it’s important to share some of it. My girlfriend told me early into our relationship that she is bipolar. She asked if we could have a cocktail before giving me all of the gory details. And they were gory. Seven years ago, she slipped way, way down in to a dark place and did the unthinkable- took a bunch of pills, slit her wrists and tried to stab herself in the heart. She got as close to death as you can get. Thankfully, she survived; the doctors patched up her severed mammary artery and reworked her med plan. She describes it as a detachment where she wasn’t herself. She wasn’t in control. That part terrifies me. I’m
5 Steps Towards Embracing Your Pre-Vow Ambivalence
By Jessica Levith, MA
Vowing to share the rest of your life with another human being is one of the biggest decisions a person can make. In the weeks, months, or sometimes even years leading up to a ceremony, a very natural excitement starts to build. Your friends and family jump into the planning pool, cross-country plane tickets are purchased, and a Venn diagram of harm-reduction seating arrangements are made. The pressure of excitement is on to make sure that you and your partner’s special day is absolutely perfect. Beneath the surface of this excitement, however, a second pressure is growing. –It’s the pressure of pre-vow ambivalence.
“Is my partner the right one for me? I mean –Of course I love him and all…”
“Am I ready for this? …Although I am getting up there. -If not now, when?”
“Ok, forever, I get it. -But now how long are we really talking about here?”
“What’s that rate of divorce again?”
This emotional pendulum of reasoning for and against marriage can be categorically overwhelming. –And, right at the time everything is expected to be perfect!
Two years ago I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the lighter end of the Autism Spectrum. I’ve been told my case is very mild, but it is very clearly there nonetheless. My friend had told me, years before, that he thought I might have this condition. He sat with me and made me take an online test, as he did with several others. I’m certain he has Asperger’s, maybe worse than I do. My results were pretty neutral because he had input that affected the honesty of my answers. Later, I took the same test by myself, and the results were far stronger.
For those who don’t know, Asperger’s is “characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.” (Wikipedia) To understand how a person with Autism views the world, there is a truly fantastic 2010 film called Temple Grandin..
I thought some of you who are fans of the British series The Office, might like this article by a mental health academic who analyzes what makes Ricky Gervais’ character tick.
As a survivor of childhood leukemia (diagnosed aged 5) and living with a diagnosis ofhepatitis C since I was 20 (I was infected via blood transfusions during my cancer treatments in early adolescence, but did not come to find out until then), I’ve lived nearly all of my life well-acquainted with both the fragility and the resilience of the human body.
For much of my adult life, however, I was unable to fully take stock of how much my traumatic health-experiences had rattled my psyche, making me vulnerable to depression, agitation and anxiety that were, in fact, not unusual responses to those unresolved experiences of powerlessness and fear. For years, though, I tried to cope on my own, in ways both healthy and unhealthy. I knew I needed some kind of help but did not know how to make sense of my story, or ask for help with feelings of brokenness.
At the age of 33, life seemed to offer me one more reminder that my life was as precious as it was fragile, but this time the lessons of its experience would insist that I never again try to face it alone.
My New Year’s Resolution
Got the holiday blues? Lot’s of people do. There have been times this season where I haven’t been into my favorite holiday – Christmas. I’ve watched all the movies, listened to the songs and drank lots of whiskey. What could possibly be the problem? So, I’ve been thinking how I can go into next year with a more positive attitude and I think I’ve figured it out. When people get depressed, those around them say, “count your blessings.” It’s good advice but blessings in a way are like bandaids. They cover up your depression for awhile but at the end of the day you have to love your life. I’m talking about life itself. Not the IDEA of life. YOUR ACTUAL LIFE and the fact that you are here on Earth.
This coming year when I get depressed and feel like listening to Croce so I can pretend I’m one of his tough luck characters and feel sorry for myself or when I don’t feel like writing or doing anything, I will think back to when I was a sperm. To be honest I have very few memories from that era. I probably tried to
I was waist deep in unrecovered memories. I couldn’t control what came in and out of my head. I was at the mercy of my mind, dependant upon its kindness – grateful that it seemed to be dolling out only what I could handle at any one time. My parents were still out to cover their own asses’; protect themselves. They could have helped- they didn’t. In retrospect, it is better that they didn’t. I wouldn’t have trusted what they said and that would have just lead to more questioning of my own sanity. I needed to omit them. Not just avoid calling them, not just to take a break – do you take a break from something that’s destroying you? No, you realize the level of destruction and protect yourself at all costs.
The memories would hit me in flashes, I could not escape. I spent day after day just trying to sort and make sense of what I could see, smell and feel in my mind’s eye. Simultaneously going numb and feeling elated by the relief that I wasn’t fucking crazy after all. Finally! It was all starting to make sense…