Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Somewhere Only We Know

Somewhere Only We Know by Keane.

Many people have special places. These are places that have impacted their lives in important ways. The place you were when you found out you got your first job. Or the place where you first kissed. Places full of magic and joy.

For some reason this song caught my attention. I feel like my husband and I need to travel to that place, to somewhere untouchable, someplace only we know- in order to get ourselves back together. There's been so much stress on our lives, whether it's due to work, family issues, the sex issue, how the sex issue is sapping away all of our money that I just find myself being avoidant. I don't even want to deal with the sex issue anymore. I just want to leave it alone completely.

My husband's more persistent. He wants me to choose some method of pursuit: continuing with sex therapy, pelvic floor therapy, working with dilators- something. He wants me to be actively doing something, not just assuming everything will fix itself. It's really hard to actively do something when you're trying to just push away, deny or avoid the fact that you even have a problem in the first place.

I like to pretend that the pain will just go away on its own. Then I do a bedikah and just the insertion of the finger or the tampon hurts and I remember that the pain isn't imaginary. It's really there. And I get frustrated and angry. I've even become avoidant with bedikahs. I only do the first and seventh days; I don't like having to do the in between days. (I have no one's psak to do this- it's just something that I'm doing because I don't feel like I can deal with things otherwise.)

I just want to run away from myself and from my life. I want to go 'somewhere only we know' with my husband and live in that fantastical in-between teenage/adolescent phase where you have all the sweaty joy of kisses and making out with none of the penetrative pain I know comes after.

I know running away from my problems isn't really a solution. I know being avoidant isn't one, either. But I'm in a dichotomy where what I know in my brain isn't working with how I'm feeling. I feel like if I just avoid the issue, it will go away. Of course it won't and in the meantime my husband (even if, as those of you who are reading have suggested, I pleasure him in other ways) will be really frustrated. Regarding that whole issue of pleasuring my husband in other ways, I feel (unfairly/ wrongly maybe) used when we do that. Like my hand or my body is some sort of object that, if rubbed against, satisfies a need. It leaves me feeling dissatisfied and unclean. I know that none of that is fair and that there's no reason to think that way- and yet that's how I think. This is aside from the fact that at this point I have some sort of aversion to all things sex- the smell, the stickiness of the semen, the rubbing - everything.

Running away is often portrayed as a romantic solution. Go run away with someone you love or elope and that's supposed to be a good thing. In this case, of course, the real issue is to stand and confront the issues, not to run from them. But even though I know that, I have absolutely no desire to do it. I just want to be safely cocooned somewhere in the loving/ warm part of our marriage (the conversations, massages, kisses, touch) and away from everything else I dislike (stickiness, feeling used, pain upon penetration, my body hating me and me hating it back. Like in that Gemara/Talmud where the butcher chops off the hand that accidentally cut him- it's stupid, but it's still what you do when you're mad. You just become self destructive.)

If I had to take my husband 'somewhere only we know' to try to work this out, where would I take him? Where would we both feel safe? I feel like it would have to be someplace in nature. Maybe sitting on the top of a sand dune staring out at the beach. Or watching a sunset from the beach. Or sitting at the top of a snow-covered hill with a sled beside us. I don't know- there's something cozy in my mind about us two together there in the vastness of nowhere- just us, but so much space all around us. Of course, there's only so much that talking can do for us. There comes the point of action and doing and that's where I'm not really motivated. I'm resenting my husband for making me perform these potentially growth-oriented steps even though I know it's for our own good. I guess I'm getting a preview of how kids sometimes feel towards their parents...

Monday, January 30, 2012


Sometimes, usually deep in the night, when my feelings flow more freely, I find myself overwhelmed by my feelings for my husband.

I love my husband. Love him. He has rescued me, stood by me, been there for me, helped me through thick and thin. He is so patient and kind and his every wish is for my happiness. I feel so humbled by him and so loved. I don't feel worthy of him. He cares so much about me and I worry that I'll never be able to equal that for him. He is an honorable and respectable man and I admire him and I love him.

But when the day comes, these feelings get hidden- or evaporate- or it's like I block them off from myself. In the daytime, I can get irritated with him or act short with him or be not as kind as I want to him. But at night, that's when I feel close to him- usually while he's sleeping and I'm sitting here typing in the living room.

I want to capture these feelings and have them all the time, not just some of the time.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Banana Split

We interrupt our regularly scheduled doom-filled programming to tell you the following....

Cupcakes are DELICIOUS.

I decided I was going to do something to make myself feel a bit more upbeat. So I went to the bakery and bought a banana-split cupcake. It was amazing. I never knew a cupcake could taste like a banana split in your mouth.

I think if I liked sex half as much as I like sweets, my husband and I would be in business.

In all seriousness- are any of you guys reading this blog husbands? I feel like my husband could use some support as well. So dear men who are married or in relationships with women who have pain with sex- how do you cope? What do you do? Is it just a lot of porn and masturbation for you, or have you come upon a more sophisticated method than that? Any and all advice or responses will be appreciated.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Funny or Die

So I read The Camera My Mother Gave Me by Susanna Kaysen. On the one hand, it was a really good and refreshing read in that it's cool to see someone talk about this subject. And her descriptions were right on- describing her vagina as broken or feeling like someone had taken a cheese grater to her. I was a bit depressed by the end of the book, though, because at the end sex and a happy vagina were still not happening for her. So it was a bit of a downer, although realistic, I guess.

The thing that I noticed is that what enables her to write the book is her gutsy, humorous attitude towards everything. She just confronts everything head-on and she makes her misery really funny. While I think that is a great attitude for those who can do it, I think there are also those of us (like me) who don't really have the ability to use humor as a weapon. She still felt like a woman even though a part of her was not working, while I am having issues figuring out my womanhood, sexuality and so on.

So I feel like I'm more of a dispirited voice (at least in this area) than she is. Less ballsy, less funny-or-die. But I think it's good in that different people cope in different ways. I cope by thinking out loud on this blog. She copes through making the horrible laughable. I've been trying to take some pointers from her and incorporate a bit more humor into my life. It helps a little.

Anyway, when it comes to sex therapy- my insurance doesn't cover it because it's a not-in-network provider. But the bigger issue is figuring out a time when my schedule and my husband's schedule overlap so we could actually go see the person. This is turning into a challenge.

Personally, I've gotten to a point where I feel like I feel like I'm okay with a platonic or celibate marriage (celibate as in non-penetrative, not non-making out). But I know my husband's not. So I guess we have to figure out where to go from here. My issue is that I've decided I dislike everything about sex- the penetration, the pain, the stickiness of the semen, touch that tickles me- everything. Happily, sex is off the table anyway right now because my husband and I are supposed to be reestablishing intimacy (and not sex). I think this is helpful so far. I guess we'll see where we go from here.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sex Therapy

So my husband and I had our first meeting with our sex therapist. It was in a really lovely little room with swiveling swirly armchairs like you would get in nice coffee shops. We sat next to each other in the swiveling chairs and the therapist sat across from us and we told our long story. It seems like there are a lot of factors (at least in my case) that make it likely that my sexual dysfunction has a psychological component. These are:

-Family issues: Members of my family were not so thrilled that I was marrying my husband. Possibly even though I went through with the marriage, I had a lot of difficulty taking that final step of consummating it or having an enjoyable sex life because of the weight of their disapproval.

-Power issues: Sex in my mind is synonymous with power. Women seduce and ensnare men or men seduce or use women. Because sex in my mind is tied up with power, I am not interested in being powerless and 'submitting' to it as it were. 

-Virginity issues: I was brought up with virginity being really important and anything that could spoil your hymen (tampons, fingers, gynecological exams) was bad. So basically I was told all my life to keep my vagina closed and now I have to switch over to it being open and I'm having difficulty processing that. 

-Emotional issues: I have trust issues in general because people have disappointed me. Maybe these carry over to my man as well and emotionally I can't achieve the intimacy for the sex to work well.

-Anxiety: I was really anxious about my knowledge or lack thereof of sex before my wedding and of what the hymen was and how to do stuff and I now have a body memory of that fear/ pain.

Best of all (I say this sarcastically), there's the possibility (which I don't consider a possibility) that I was abused when I was younger and I just forgot it. I find this very hard to believe because my family was hypervigilant about that sort of thing but my husband pointed out there's always babysitters. I don't think babysitters would do that and I think it's extremely unlikely, but whatever, it's a possibility. 

Anyway, our homework from the sex therapist is to find two hours a week to have a physically romantic and intimate date/ spending of time together with actual intercourse totally off the table. I guess this is probably to take the anxiety out of this experience and for me to develop trust with my husband. 

Comic Relief

I did a bit of research and discovered there are other blogs out there like mine. This is exciting because I think that maybe I can create a sexual pain support group online (even if I can't seem to find one offline). Here are three that seem promising:

-Living with Vaginismus
-"Down There"
-Buaslbutterfly's blog

The things that I really enjoy about skimming through blogs like these are the comical ways people are talking about their experiences. (If you don't life, you cry, right?) Stuff like "My vajayjay is broken" or "Living with Vaginismus: When a Vagina Rebels" or mantras like "Defeat Sexual Pain!" just make me smile. I kind of have the idea of creating a Livestrong bracelet that says something ridiculous like "FSD (that stands for Female Sexual Dysfunction) FTW (for the win)!" Something to remind me to stay strong and that other people are out there dealing with this and that we can make it funny.

I was thinking how jewlry is so expressive. We have jewlry to say all kinds of things- I love you, I support the fight against Breast Cancer, Live Strong etc- why don't we have jewelry about this? There should be jewelry about sexual pain, supporting those with sexual pain and defeating sexual pain.

It occurs to me maybe I should explain why a support group for people dealing with sexual pain would be useful. Well, partially because then we could all help support each other (the comic relief idea where people make it funny) and also because when the only people who know about this are you and your spouse, it's just really hard. And it's easier to relate to someone else having a hard time alongside you rather than your (amazing) spouse who doesn't actually know what the pain feels like.

I also discovered that there's a memoir someone wrote about living with her (seemingly super severe and much worse than mine) sexual pain. It's called The Camera my Mother Gave Me. I'm planning to read it; we'll see if it's any good.