The title is sarcastic in cast that isn’t obvious. I guess I should say that this doesn’t speak for all survivors all of the time – or even how I always feel or have felt.
But, it was how I lived for years to decades when sex was almost never joy.
Since I hate trigger warnings I won’t do one. They are suspect to me since they are used most on writing about sexual assault and child abuse and not on say terrorism, murder, theft or other crimes and violence. Does that protect survivors of trauma or just make people reading skip stories with trigger warnings? Why are only some topics trigger warning worthy? Why aren’t these stories just considered essay, life, news or blog?
I can’t trigger proof life. News doesn’t trigger but a color or smell or time of day might. I can’t trigger proof life and I think survivors can decide if and what they want to read and when based on title and the first few lines.
But, since we are all different and some survivors respect and appreciate trigger warnings let me say that if I did trigger warnings – one would go here (hint, hint).
I’m breaking my no preamble rule. This is honest, raw and vulnerable. On purpose. It’s from a time when I honestly believed healthy sex was out of my reach in this life. Like an Olympic gold for figure skating or being a math genius.
I was wrong but that’s another story.
It was awful to feel forever broken when it came to sexuality and libido and pleasure. And the woman I was for years and years and years – her experiences – my experiences – well they matter as much as the me who finally enjoys sex now.
So in case you KNOW and are convinced you can never again feel safe, during sex, I want you to know someone else has felt the same way.
I don’t believe people pushing hope if I feel like they don’t get where I’m coming from. I can listen, love them and respect them even but I don’t necessarily believe them if I can’t relate.
Part of the reason I’m a writer and an advocate and don’t have a “brand” I’m selling or pushing or promoting is because if I did, I’d probably be too chicken to write stuff like this. But writing the truth is important and healing for me and others. This I know. Honest writing is social change.
Just freakin’ tell the truth, at least to and about myself, I remind myself of this over and over again when I get afraid. It’s the writing that helps me most so it’s the writing I want to create.
I can start with me.
The Joy of Sex with a Survivor
Don’t approach me from behind.
Don’t surprise me.
Don’t come at me when I’m asleep.
Or half asleep.
Or trying to fall asleep –
or just waking up.
But a little tipsy is good, a one or two beer buzz is perfect.
Don’t pant too much when you’re in the middle of making love.
Or close your eyes too long –
or open them too much.
Don’t groan in an angry tone
or play too rough.
But don’t be passive aggressive either or it feels like I’m being molested.
No poke poke approach, please.
If you want to have sex – own it and be clear.
Adult to adult sex.
Say you desire me.
so I believe I’m me
and you’re you
and we are here and now together.
Be verbal so I don’t have a flashback.
So I can hear your voice.
Stay present even though I can’t promise to do the same.
Don’t masturbate on me without my consent.
Or near me.
That’s a recipe for flashbacks fast.
Don’t stop if I cry.
But you better notice and care.
Except too much which will ruin the mood – don’t make it all about my crying, o.k.?
I cry all of the time. And might for a long time.
There’s no such thing as too much foreplay.
I might like foreplay more than sex.
I might like the idea of sex with you more than actually being with you.
Or flirting and talk sexy without following up.
If I don’t orgasm it’s not your technique.
Or if it is, I won’t know
so we can both blame me.
Whatever it is – it’s probably me – that’s my default belief.
If it seems like I hate you a little even as we’re still in the sheets, it might be true.
If it seems like I had an orgasm but you aren’t quite sure, don’t ask.
You don’t want to know the answer or I don’t want you to know the answer.
I’m not into quickies. They can feel violent. Not intimate enough.
Though sometimes your intimacy smothers me like a plastic bag over the head and I can’t breathe.
Sometimes I just want to romp and roll in the hay and fuck –
but you can’t approach me like that.
I’ll let you know when – and only then.
Don’t even fantasize about my face and anal sex at the same time.
I don’t love your dick as much as you do
because sometimes it reminds me of others
who have been less kind with theirs.
I’m sorry about that.
That doesn’t mean I don’t love you.
But sex can remind me of another time or someone else.
I know how bad that sometimes makes you feel.
It’s not your fault, or mine,
and I feel bad about that too.
It sucks to be you-with-me sometimes
even though we both wish it weren’t true.
I’m trying to try on love in bed,
to feel myself in the skin and open to you
at the same time…
The joy of sex with a survivor can be challenging,
hard in the ways no one wants it to be.
The worst can come at first, later, occasionally or forever.
Makes it hard to be
spontaneous, romantic and connected
Sometimes the kindest thing I can do is to say,
“I’m not in the mood.”
To keep you from coming to bed with a bomb,
ticking in my skin and psyche
even though it detonated long ago
it still threatens.
Trauma is the thief of happiness,
the perp got off
with our happiness, left us
to lie in naked skin with the remnants of violence.
This bed we have to sleep in wasn’t made by us.
This pain, I don’t want you near or in.
And yet there’s an itchy blanket between us
that I’m using to try to cover myself with.
Rage and grief rising up in me,
which aren’t yours to deal with
and yet must I share those too if I am to reveal
myself to you? Opening up seems like hurting
you and yet –
can we be close unless opening all of the way
Have fun. Feel free to initiate though.
The joy of sex with a survivor is not
easy, simple, fun or natural.
How can I honestly tell you to “Relax,”
“Have fun,” and “Feel free to initiate”
knowing who I am?
You Matter Mantras
- Trauma sucks. You don't.
- Write to express not to impress.
- It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
- Breathing isn't optional.