**Trigger warning. This post contains content regarding sexual abuse.**
Today was a gentle, wandering session (in pace if not in topic). We’d go down one road and then another, and it didn’t matter where we ended up. The end would be where it was meant to be, where we naturally stopped to rest until next time.
We spoke about my body, and particularly my sex, and how to navigate the pain I feel during intercourse. Growing up I was forced to engage in sexual acts with an older sibling, and I still experience colossal fear during certain kinds of intimacy. I’ve had to make do with creative solutions that allow me some pleasure without experiencing nausea, flashbacks, or spasms.
As so many of you know, this is slow, excruciating work, and progress is sometimes so minimal that it can feel hopeless. Some sexual triggers are still so powerful that I almost immediately have thoughts about suicide after. Shame washes over me, and the only way to fight it is to stop fighting and wait for the passage of time. (A beautiful thing, I have learned. Simply waiting.)
Still, I have so many good days and yoga, especially, allows me to pay close attention to my body in a way that isn’t overwhelming or all-consuming; I am so thankful for this gift, and for the gift of mindfulness in general. It is one of the few tools I have that actually works consistently when I need to walk myself back from some ledge.
And then there was more about my mother. We talked about her absence during those first years of my life, not to mention thereafter, and I said that I thought non-sexual, warm touch from him might soothe my fears around intimacy. That being vulnerable with him, whether touching hands, or embracing, might make it easier to let go with my romantic partner. I’m not so sure about this theory; I’m open to the fact that I might be very wrong.
(I read a study once that said that therapists who had been sexually abused themselves were much more likely to use non-sexual touch with their patients as a means of healing.)
Where else did we go? Hmm…
Oh, yes. His eyes. We talked about his eyes. I told him I’d noticed the pain in them the first time we met, and that I felt some sorrow in the fact that I knew him so deeply, but also not at all.
“Look at me then,” he said. “Do I have pain eyes now?”
Since I often don’t look at him during our sessions, I mustered the courage by closing my own eyes and rubbing my eyebrows to soothe. Then I looked.
“Yes,” I said.
His blue eyes were rimmed in gold, and he looked as though he was deep in some constant loss. Then he told me how babies have a spike in heart rate when they look at their mothers. That in order to soothe and regulate, they look away.
We ended with more talk about Winnicott, and I told him I’d like to go deeper but that time was up.
I left easily without any regrets.