Husband and I were beginning to make love one night last week, and I was wrestling with being trapped in my head.
Earlier in the evening as I was washing dishes somehow my mind went to thinking about how husband could have been spending his time with prostitutes while I was going about my daily life doing mundane things like washing dishes and not realizing what unimaginable physical intimacies he was sharing with other women. After that, all evening long my thoughts strayed down this path of invasive pictures forming in head.
I was going back and forth about whether or not to say anything to Husband, but I decided that this was my opportunity to get practice at getting myself back to the present while I was on a downward spiral. So I continued wrestling while trying to engage in making love with Husband at the same time.
The struggle in my head intensified as I was giving Husband a massage, because this was how the whole prostitution thing took off (massage parlors) and was a part of most of his sessions with prostitutes. Things were getting worse and worse, with every touch leading down some dark path of images. My heart was racing, and I realized that I was feeling a lot of anxiety and fear. As we continued kissing and caressing part of me was thinking very hard about what it was that I was afraid of.
I reached down and found that he'd lost his erection. He's middle aged, so that's not completely unusual, although I always have that little voice in the back of my mind that makes me consider the possibility that he is bored with me. Suddenly, he pulled away.
"I'm sorry. I don't know why, but I'm really in my head right now," he said.
A rush of relief flowed through me as I laughed and told him all about how I was so in my head, too. I confessed that I'd been struggling with a PTSD spiral of invasive images all evening, and that I'd been trying to figure out how to pull myself into the present without bringing him into it. We talked about it, and he said, "When in doubt, it's probably always best to talk about things. You're not responsible for my feelings or my reaction."
He has grown tremendously, so much that he's really able to support me when I'm feeling vulnerable and anxious. It was an amazing experience to be "seen" by him when I thought I was doing such a great job of concealing my struggle to get fully into the moment.
So I took all this to therapy last weekend (I would have forgotten, but Husband firmly encouraged me to write it down, so I wrote "Fear of - I don't know what. Fear of things that have happened in the past. Not afraid that it will happen again. But just have fear.")
Well...SURPRISE (to me, at least)! I thought I was trying to do the evolved thing and get myself back into the present. But what I didn't see was that I was using my old ways of handling things myself, trying to control Husband's experience (I didn't want him to feel bad about things that seem like they should be resolved for me by now,) and withholding myself to avoid being out of control (talking about what's going on while not knowing how Husband might respond.) In hindsight I could see that I was already feeling so out of control and in the grips of fear and anxiety in my spiral of thoughts and images, that the way I was trying to regain some sense of stability was to clamp down and get back "in control" by taking care of my feelings all by myself.
So I've told Husband that I'm going to try to talk about my feelings, and face my fear of things being messy and out of my control. I want intimacy, not a secret island of safety where I know I won't be hurt because I'm completely in control and alone.
I don't exactly know how to do this, because "handling it myself" is like water to a fish for me. It's really hard for me to distinguish when I'm doing this because it's deeply integrated into who I am in the world. But I know that the other side of discomfort and pain can be freedom if I stay with those things long enough to get present to the fact that all things change, and to my willingness to have faith that I have everything I need, and that my higher power answers before I ask.
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