But if I'm attracted to them, and I'm around them, even I am surprised that I will have irritable bowel attacks later.
Around the age of nineteen, I developed a "mysterious" bowel problem. It turned out to be lactose intolerance, but in the process I found out that my sister and father both had irritable bowel syndrome.
A few decades later, I now recognize the connection you have made. Sexual situations can be "irritating" in ways that surprise me too. For a long time I must have denied it.
Now I found myself not only paying attention to my own feelings (and how they connect to my stomach), but those of others as well (and how they connect to their stomach).
For instance, in the past year, my kid's mom was dating another guy. This was stressful, but I hung in there for the sake of the kids (and because I still love her). At one point, she was in a vulnerable situation where he was trying to take her away for a weekend in the middle of the aftermath of one of those storms that made the news. I put my foot down and said no.
The most interesting part of what happened was not how she looked when I said it, but how her stomach gurgled loudly in the midst of my showing my strength. I still smile thinking about it.
It's that bad. I also for the most part avoid eye contact and all flirtatious encounters with a FEMALE.
For years, I thought of myself as pretty good with women--charming and very social. I was taking after my Dad, a playboy in his own right.
These days, I find myself going through long encounters with little eye contact. Flirting is rare.
Although it feels like two different people, when I look at pictures of my earlier self, it just doesn't seem like the real me sometimes. I was trying to live up to a version of myself that I wanted to be, instead of who I was and what I was really experiencing.
One thing I have learned from my children is that true connection can be spoken through the eyes. It's something that has no words at first. The language for what's happening may not be there and may require a little courage to begin to speak. But when it is spoken, it is memorable because it is valuable.
Writing this to you, I am now recalling all of the eye contact I made with them as infants and how it has enabled us to trust each other. While this was happening, I was probably also painfully recalling what got lost in my own family of origin. What you describe is a subtle process that can take patience to recover.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I admire you for your own courage, fortitude and willingness to take some risk on this road with uneasy detours.