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#58445 - 03/23/04 02:22 PM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Yeah this sounds pretty familiar.. my sex life with my partner hit the skids when he entered SA therapy back in September 2003. We did not have sex for months on account of his flashbacks and the rollercoaster of feelings... even today he still cant sleep in the same bed with me too often and when he does he has to be wrapped in flannel from neck to toes.

The sex life has improved somewhat recently but it is still not where I'd like it to be. What I found interesting was even after some therapy and we were starting to resume sexual activity I found that afterwards he was pretty hostile to me... definitely some unresolved issues there (MOM issues as he is discovering).

We are still working through it - he has been getting some advice on this - how to desensitize himself, how to buld trust, how to bust through the feelings that he is being used, resolving issues about being controlled by his mom, how to let me control and then take control, how to initiate and let me initiate, to share and give and take. All of the lessons for that are coming from his mens SA group therapy. He's been in a group for six months and we both think that its beginning to pay off. At least the whole issues is not so much of a heavy weight around our necks anymore.

You do have to remember as a partner that this is NOT about you although it is oh so personal. I konw how hard this is to be in - I was there in September and sometimes I still find myself there - its an odd angry, sad sort of floaty dissociated feeling that I had when I was confronted with this. And it was particularly bad because it coincided with him popping the question - man... visions of a sexless marriage were dancing in my head... and I would like to say I was the model of understanding and compassion about it but I wasnt - I picked my share of "poor me" fights about it I hate to say!!!

I guess, without being able to resolve the situation I realized I needed the following things from him:

a) reassurance that he wanted to have as normal a sex life as possible and that he was committed to getting the help he needed to work through things and have a better sex life

b) confirmation that he still found me sexy and attractive and was attracted to me and wasn't acting out as a diversion

and

c) acknowledgement that this must be hard on me - without feeling compelled to do anything about it (understanding that I was not pressuring him) (big step).

That made a big difference for me. We are slowly regaining what was lost (sex life) and it is truly in a sense of learning all about intimacy - for both him and me - rather than just "sex for sex" - I think we are beyond the part of the relationship where we just want to lay around and have sex all day anyway.. we are at a point (2.5 years together, planning a wedding in September) where our whole relationship is changing and deepening.

With work this situation WILL change and resolve itself - you do have some work cut out for you though with all the distancing that is going on. Building trust, etc. will be a challenge. Hopefully you have a trusted therapist for both you and him and even both of you who specializes in trauma/sexual abuse?

The whole "come here go away" stuff is a classic example of the aftermath of trauma - the "anxiety wobble". The key is for him to continue to work on reducing the anxiety through whatever means possible (therapy, and other means - i.e. exercise, meditation, spirituality, etc). When a trauma survivor (any kind of trauma) is triggered he or she just does not make sense.... its just the way the mind/body discharges anxiety "come here- go away'yes/no I hate you/I love you/ I need you/You are no good for me/ black/white/ red/blue/ yes/no"... When you encounter that kind of stuff its best to NOT try and have any kind of heavy discussion at that time. Wait until the survivor is not so triggered and not so anxious he is much more logical!


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#58446 - 03/24/04 01:09 AM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
***this one may trigger***


Dave,
Quote:
the sex = desertion thing is about associating sex with someone who deserts us after they've finished with us. It's hard to admit, but I bet we all got 'something' out of our abusers.
I think, for my boyfriend anyway, it is specifically about desertion and self-blame regarding his choice of "friends"... who gets that label of friend and what it means... I think that a lot of what he "got" (or told himself he got, to make it bearable for himself) out of the abuse was "friendship" with the "big boys"... and even after the abuse ended he was a very promiscuous teen, I think because he thought of sex as a measure or a proof of friendship (maybe an offering of friendship?)

Meanwhile this results in blaming himself for his choices, both the choice to be promiscuous and repeat the "desertion" and for his choice in "friends"--because they weren't really his friends, the rest of the time they were as hateful and uninterested in him as all the others, so it was a "friendship" he had to keep trying to win over and over, then as he grew older and still had to deal with some of these boys he began to see how much he didn't want to know them or be friends with them, and then he had a hard time making normal friends because he was so promiscuous--and abused--kind of an "I know more than you, I'm not living in your world" thing? mostly in his own head though...

So maybe for the two of us, now, the lack of desire is about him not wanting to have to "prove" anything to me--in terms of our friendship, or his wealth of sexual knowledge, or what we're "getting" from each other? Maybe he'd have an easier time telling me how he feels if we weren't such good friends? (oh gee, that is another sad one) And maybe about continuing that cycle of self-blame-- if he is so bad at choosing friends, and I want to be his friend, I can't be good for him because he doesn't have good friends? Or, I'm lying to him, because I should know that he doesn't really have friends? Or that once I know about what a deviant he really is, I'll never want to have sex with him again (thereby withdrawing my promise of friendship), or, I'll only want to have sex with him (thereby withdrawing my promise of friendship)...

Well if it wasn't weird before it is now. I think it's just moved out of even the "really crazy logic", I don't know how any of that last part makes sense. I just know that it sort of does...

SAR


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#58447 - 03/24/04 01:54 AM Re: the inevitable...
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
PAS

Does it ever stop with those so-called moms? I have noticed that he keeps his distance from me after he's spoken to or seen his mother, but I am not sure if he's being distant or hostile in a sexual way... I think that woman is just so needy and tiresome that he decompresses from their encounters by avoiding anyone who might NEED anything from him, sexually or otherwise. And I can't say I blame him.

I wish my boyfriend wanted to be in a men's group of anything. Even if he were comfortable enough around men to be in a group of them, I don't think he'd ask for--or listen to--their advice--mostly we are the ones being asked for advice :rolleyes:

and I guess some of that is earned because when we have talked about this stuff at a "logical" time, we have done pretty well giving each other both a)reassurance and b)confirmation... you're right though it is that c) that's the big one:
Quote:
acknowledgement that this must be hard on me - without feeling compelled to do anything about it (understanding that I was not pressuring him) (big step).
it seems that for my boyfriend any attempt at this ends up back in the land of self-disgust and guilt. And since I am not looking for him to feel disgusting and guilty, and I am not trying to pressure him to do anything--including admit to and apologize for things that are not his fault, which is how he would view such an acknowledgement-- I've been backing off about this, and this is where I get the poor me thing--"you don't know how I feel" or "you can't deal with how I feel"--I'm not proud of that either but it's hard for me when I DO wait until he's in a good place, and I DO think hard about what I want to say and I DO try to be patient and non-threatening... and get literally zero words back from him...

really at the end of it all, I am not so upset about his desires or lack of desires on any given day, any given week for that matter, although I'd rather not go back to months of nothing at all-- I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him. I am not as hurt about the actual "not tonight" as I am about the way in which it's said.


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#58448 - 03/24/04 07:12 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR
Quote:
"I know more than you, I'm not living in your world" thing? mostly in his own head though...
this is so similar to my internal monologue that I used when fantasizing and acting out - "I know things that you dont, I do things that you dont"
It was part of the process of putting myself down, convincing myself that I was a 'pervert' just like my abusers. I did anything that increased the guilt and shame, and it's a hard act to kick.


But kick it I have \:D and it feels bloody good.
It was hard work, and I still have my moments of putting myself down, but they're getting less and easier to fight.

Quote:
I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him. I am not as hurt about the actual "not tonight" as I am about the way in which it's said.
So if I can do the hard stuff, why cant I do this ? \:\( What's so hard about saying "Sorry love, I'm not in a good place right now. Maybe a hug will help ?" Why do I still use defensive methods to keep her away instead ?
Is it because I fear the sexual contact that might follow on from an innocent hug ? Because logically I know that any sex that follows a true supportive, emotional and loving response to my pain would very likely be wonderfully intimate and rewarding for us both.

Hell ! we're a difficult bunch to deal with. :rolleyes:

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58449 - 03/25/04 02:59 PM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
>>>Does it ever stop with those so-called moms? I have noticed that he keeps his distance from me after he's spoken to or seen his mother, but I am not sure if he's being distant or hostile in a sexual way... I think that woman is just so needy and tiresome that he decompresses from their encounters by avoiding anyone who might NEED anything from him, sexually or otherwise. And I can't say I blame him.

My fiance's situation is kind of the opposite.. but generally results in the same behaviour towards me. His mother just talks and talks and doesnt give him a chance to get a word in edgewise.. she just orders him around, ignores him, and tells him all kinds of stories about Mabel this and Mrs. whomever this who fell down and broke her hip at the nursing home.. its so alienating for him. He doesnt even have a clue who these people are. She *does* manage to take time out from her incessant broadcasts though to a) give him guilt trips about not calling home often enough and b) spending too much money on our new home (the real estate market in our town is insane.. we got a GREAT deal on a house.. she just can't comprehend that a good basic bungalow is over $250k here)

Also visiting his parents is also a royal treat - not .. his parents have a really shabby, cluttered house to which I am allergic (dust and mold), she rarely has food in the house when we come to visit, the bed he sleeps on when there is affectionately called the "chain link fence".. but of course they wont go out of their way to make the house any more comfortable, instead it is US being ungrateful..... (of course not being married we MUST sleep on different floors of the house.. we are complete utter disrespectful sinners if we even THINK of being in the same room or heaven forbid the same bed.. I mean who do we think we're kidding we're only 35 years old, just bought a house together and have a wedding date set for September.. what sinners we are!! (ok sorry about the sarcastic rant)

>>>>I wish my boyfriend wanted to be in a men's group of anything. Even if he were comfortable enough around men to be in a group of them, I don't think he'd ask for--or listen to--their advice--mostly we are the ones being asked for advice

Yeah thats one of the thigns that they do talk about in his group - there's an unrealistic expectation on the part of many survivors for their partners to a) be perfect b) listen and accept unconditiojnally and c) fix all their emotional problems

My fiance didnt initially want to go to this group either.. he was about as comfy in a mens group as in a room full of hungry polar bears...

The reason he went was because he was very much interested in us going to a couples therapist a few years ago (I bet he thougth this guy would "straighten me out"!!) because we were having real problems and he just didnt want to break up.. and it was a real suprise to him when after about 8 sessions the therapist said I dont want to see you both here anymore, I am just wasting your time and money because I think you both need to go to work on your issues independently - I was referred to someone who specialized in anxiety disorders and he was referred to this mens group and STRONGLY urged to go and attend the anger management and healing groups.

>>>it seems that for my boyfriend any attempt at this ends up back in the land of self-disgust and guilt. And since I am not looking for him to feel disgusting and guilty, and I am not trying to pressure him to do anything--including admit to and apologize for things that are not his fault, which is how he would view such an acknowledgement-- I've been backing off about this, and this is where I get the poor me thing--

Yeah this one is tough. I am REALLY hard assed when he gets like this - I say "I am stating my point, I am stating my needs which I have every right to do... and I will NOT allow you to turn this on me and make me into some kind of ogre that I'm not".. we had this damn argument last night in fact.

I HATE HATE HATE being given such emotional power over someone.. its just horrendous. its really HIS business how he chooses to feel and I just HATE when people feel crappy because they just think of them selves as a POOR POOR victim (this happens all the time to me at work and also with my parents) shee -it these people are ALL adults and should damn well stop blaming me for their problems. If I had a dollar for every time someone blamed me for their problems... I digress... sorry for the rant again.

>>>"you don't know how I feel" or "you can't deal with how I feel"--

When I get that shit from him I go "Oh really??? I have had just about as much shit and abuse in my life as you.. maybe more..... I sometimes flip back "you dont know how it feels to rescue your semi-comatose father from the police station after getting arrested for DUI", and "you dont know waht its like to rescue your half dead father from drug and alcohol overdose and commit him to a mental institution and almost lose him due to his own stupidity, on more than one occasion".. and "you dont know what its like to have dated a guy who liked to smash his elbow in your temple in the middle of the night and claim "sleepwalking"... and "you dont know what its like to have your father come home from work (when he still had a job that is) and smash household objects in front of you while screaming profanities and calling you a self centred arrogant bitch"..

I have my WICKED WICKED abuse "battle scars" too but I REFUSE to let them get me down and refuse to consider myself a victim any more, and refuse to let those experiences as an excuse to a) wallow in self pity, b) cop out of life using drugs or alcohol and c) not make something of myself. For some reason I take it on as a personal challenge.. I"m a very competitive person and its like "oh yeah I'll fuckin show YOU!!!" and for some bizarre reason people think I've got it "all together" and many people try to latch on.. if they only knew I was a hair away from cracking up most days......

>>>I'm not proud of that either but it's hard for me when I DO wait until he's in a good place, and I DO think hard about what I want to say and I DO try to be patient and non-threatening... and get literally zero words back from him...

Thats called stonewwalling and its a pretty ineffective approach to managing anger. Its frustrating. When my fiance does it I am pretty hard assed with him too.

>>>really at the end of it all, I am not so upset about his desires or lack of desires on any given day, any given week for that matter, although I'd rather not go back to months of nothing at all-- I am more concerned about him finding a less hostile and more mutual, rational, friendly way to let me know what's going on with him.

YOU SOUND LIKE ME!! It took me YEARS to convince him that its OK to be where is and not to want sex or to have to be alone or whatever, but its NOT ok to try and badger me into a fight, its NOT OK to stonewall me, its NOT OK to keep me at a distance and its NOT OK to be rude, insensitive, cold, calloused, abusive or disrespectful in delivering such messages.

I only did this through a) walking away when he was acting REALLY off the wall and b) repeating until I was nauseated that its ok for him to feel waht he feels and want what he wants but it is NOT ok to treat me with disrespect. And if he continues to treat you with disrespect you have every right to walk away.

As Dr. Phil says "you teach people how to treat you" and with my fiance I had to teach him what was OK and what was not. I have found the tough love approach has worked.. it has been frightfully scary as there has been a lot of escalation of threats when I tried this.. but we got to a major, serious LOW a month or so ago when I just said, after the most vicious diatribe of filth out of his mouth (after a wild dangerous car ride in which he showed blatant disregard for my safety) I was just so calm and matter of fact and said "we already discussed this and I have no choice but to leave you.. what kind of a message am I sending you if I dont leave you now. You have put me in the most difficult position and I a SO ANGRY at you for doing that.. but I dont have any choice" and I left him alone with his thoughts for a few hours. Man that really shook him up.

You HAVE HAVE HAVE HAVE to be strong with this otherwise this behaviour may not change. You do have to have the guts to stand up for yourself and take a risk otherwise it may be very difficult to enact such a sea change in the dynamics of the relationship. It scared me shitless but to be honest I got to the point where I was so sick and tired of his shit and his abuse that I didnt care anymore. And i figured what would be the loss - yes I would miss him but I could do without his abuse and hostility.

Blah.. this is just my story though.. hopefully things wont get to that point with you but if they do, I'm here to help you through.. its tough but for me it seems to be working.

P


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#58450 - 03/25/04 10:00 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
PAS
He's a lucky guy.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58451 - 03/26/04 08:14 AM Re: the inevitable...
Leosha Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/18/03
Posts: 3614
Loc: Right here
SAR

I am so sorry about all this. I really don't know I have any advice to offer, as my girlfriend and I do not yet have a sexual relationship. I know that I do the 'push away' thing rather often, but I do not think I am hostile about it. I just rather withdraw from everyone, and stay rather quiet and uninterested.

I am not sure what to tell you, as for what he is wanting or what you are wanting, or how to say what you want and need. I am not sure why, with someone understanding as you as girlfriend, he can not just say, 'not tonight', and not have to be angry or upset with it. Although I do understand that sometime it is hard to feel that we deserve the respect we get from you. So maybe that self doubt creates the hostility? I am not sure.

I wish you good luck, and wish you well always.

leosha

_________________________
Avatar photo in memory of my younger brother Makar.

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted."~~~Martin Luther King Jr., 1963

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#58452 - 03/26/04 10:15 AM Re: the inevitable...
PAS Offline
Member

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 577
Loc: Canada
Blah we had yet another argument this mornign about this whole issue too... not the sex part but the "pushing away"... he's so stressed about the upcoming wedding and the house purchase that he's choosing to diffuse that stress by doing things that DONT remind him of the house/wedding (i.e. spending a lot of time with his friends and NOT spending time with me).. I'm starting to feel like his mom.. dispensing an allowance, allowing him to borrow the car, feeding him dinner, and sending him on his way to see "the guys".

Anyone else see the obvious bizarre logic here???? (relationship leads to house purchase and wedding, house purchase and wedding leads to stress, stress leads to avoidance of partner and erosion of the relationship that justifies the house and wedding.....)

And in the discussion he started trying to analyze my feelings, trying to logic his way out of it.. somehow insinuating that I need to go see a shrink to work on my "feelings of loneliness" rather than just acknowledging the fact that we barely see each other these days... I got SO MAD!!!

SA or no SA there's still a giant gap between "guy think" and "girl think".. I dont think its necessary to analyze why I feel bad, or why I am feeling lonely, or why I am happy... when I feel something I feel it and dont feel any reason to justify, explain, analyze, etc. I just feel what I feel, and go with it, while he spends hours and days and weeks mulling feelings over, trying to figure out what to do.......

The gap between the sexes is so wide sometimes... which makes this whole issue of SA and how best to deal with it, how it affects relationships, etc. so hard. I think even at the best of times its hard for a female and male to see eye to eye, let alone when you throw a giant stressor that has serious repercussions on intimacy in there!!

On an up note, at least he listened to what I have to say... we are finding the Dr. Phil book "relationship rescue" very useful. My fiance responds pretty well to it because its pretty direct and it really does address the guy point of view.

P


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#58453 - 03/26/04 07:26 PM Re: the inevitable...
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
SAR

Quote:
"guy think" and "girl think"..
Now we're in dangerous territory ! :rolleyes:

NOBODY - least of all us - is ever going to give us the definitive thinking on this.

And you're latest fight is just a case in point. Guy's ( as a rule ) don't "do this stuff" - and you're probably better off sending him off with his mates to watch the ball game at a bar.

Why women keep asking us "do these shoes look allright with this dress ?" is one of life's eternal mysteries. Hey, we choose shoes because they FIT !

But it doesn't mean we don't care, we ARE different, that's the attraction and the reason you're not all lesbians and we're not all gay men !
( No offence to anyone ! )
We can still 'feel' what's going on inside our heads emotionally. The problem is we can't always articulate it, and it's the same with shoes. When you choose something hideous, we'll tell you, if it's ok and you seem to like it, then that's just fine by us.

We just seem to take longer before before we finally say something.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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#58454 - 03/27/04 09:14 PM Re: the inevitable...
wrangler Offline
Member

Registered: 09/06/03
Posts: 84
Loc: Northern Virginia
SAR,

I am jumping in to this discussion a little late I guess, but then I just now saw it. So far I have only read your original post, so forgive me in advance if I am repeating someone else. (Sometimes it is helpful for me to reply before I read the replies because I get confused about what I was originally thinking.)

Quote:
He does this hostile thing and then wants to be just held and kept close--and I'm not a saint, I get sort of annoyed at being kept at a distance, with no explanation whatsoever, and then expected to act sweet and loving--on entirely his terms--with no time to adjust in between.
I used to drive my wife crazy with this sort of thing and, believe it or not, it was as frustrating for me as it was for her. First things first: I ALWAYS wanted to want to have sex. AND I was reasonable sure that I had to have sex at some point to keep a marraige. BUT it was so infrequent that I did really want to have sex and then when I did the mood was so fragile it usually ended in a fight anyway.

The pressure of sex being required in a marraige was a very negative infulence for me. And I am reasonable sure that my next partner is going to need some pretty open views about sex. The problem is that sex is a *very* hostile thing for me. With it I was wounded, violated, shamed, isolated... and now love is not equal to sex. But it was to my wife. So I always felt like not having sex was like me saying I do not love you.

All this gave rise to the sort of push-pull evening you described... I did not want to have sex, but because of that I needed to be affectionate to compensate, but that aggeravated the fear of sex and the fear of sex aggravated a fear of abandonment based on knowing my wife was unsatisfied, which meant I needed to be reassured, but that reassurance might lead to sex, which i do want to want, but right now am afriad of... I hope you can get a sense of the inner turmoil.

I am certainly not justifying the behavior or the expectations it places on you. But for me that situation was very confusing and upsetting and it was quite difficult to even develop some understanding of what was happening. For me that understanding is:

1. Sex is hard to share with someone I love; this causes some internal upset for me.
2. I assume the person I love will leave me if I dont have sex with them (often enough).
3. Fear of abandonment causes me to temporarily disregard my own emotional state.
4. The love/fear/disregard combination give rise to a lot of emotional upset that expresses itself in unpredictable ways.


A lot of the stuff in that list is not defined very well... how often is often enough? But such is the nature of the things that bother me the most. The list doesn't have to be well defined if it is operating outside of my conscious thought and just making me a grumpaluffagus.

George

_________________________
"Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself." -Mary Schmich

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