Recently I have been reading a great book called The Sexual Healing Journey by Wendy Maltz. Recently, and also in the past, I have gotten these waves of people reaching out to me with the desire to clear and cleanse alot of sexual abuse or inability to really enjoy themselves sexually. I am not a trained therapist but I do have a BA in psychology so I do have a bit of background in traditional therapy. But her book is really rocking my world. As I am continuing to understand the depth of how sexual abuse can affect a person’s life I am simply humbled. How often this kinds of abuse gets pushed under the rug or rarely if ever talked about. They say 1 in 3 women will experience some sort of sexual abuse in their lifetime. And 1 in 6 men!
What I keep reading over and over is how the memory of past abuse gets triggered and the different ways it can manifest in life. From an addictiveness to sex to simply avoiding it all together. To understand how the body/mind holds trauma and tends to replay it until the trauma is released is revealing such a deeper appreciation for how our psyche and our physical systems help us heal.
The most important part of the healing journey begins with learning to be present with whatever comes up for you around being sexual. A big part of each stage of healing requires an ability to slow down, get present and acknowledge whatever behaviors or feelings you find yourself in. This ability to get present sounds very simple, almost too easy, but the truth is, getting present in the midst of our patterns of relating to ourselves and others requires practice. It also requires the understanding about how powerful it is to GET present. In presence we take a step back and are able to witness our inner feelings and outside behaviors. It allows us to have the space to see where a choice is possible to make a change and begin to give ourselves what we really need to heal. I have found that getting present and taking a BREATH can be some of the most powerful and life changing work I have ever done to heal. It sounds so simple and it is. And it is the foundation for all the rest of the healing practices we can do.
Sometimes we may not be aware that we have been the victims of sexual abuse or perhaps it is a buried memory. Some behaviors that Wendy Maltz notes that can result from sexual abuse are:
“-Avoiding or withdrawing from sex.
-Faking sexual interest
-Allowing sex to be forced.
-Combining sex and emotional or physical abuse.
-Habitually using pornography.
-Engaging in medically risky sex.
-Having anonymous sex.
-Engaging in secretive sex which generates feeings of shame.
-Have sex with near strangers.
-Engaging in prostitution.
-Making sexually degrading jokes.
-Having abusive sexual fantasies.
-Have sex in relationships that lack intimacy.
-Having sex under dishonest circumstances.
-Visiting topless bars, strip shows, and or adult book stores.
And these are only but a few she mentions….and certainly you can engage in these behaviors and NOT have been abused.
She writes: ” If you find your present behaviors described in this checklist, you may be unconsciously replaying or mirroring sexual abuse. Sometimes referred to as a repetition compulsion, this instant replay can be a survivor’s unconcsious way of tyring to understand what happened and to resolve inner emotional stress by acting out the abuse again and again. Staging replays may be a way of desentisizing ourselves to the shame, disgust, or pain we felt in the abuse. Replays may also be an effort to gain some mastery and control over even our worst experiences.”-Wendy Maltz
I think its important to really learn to take that step back and get present without judgement, on any of our sexual behaviors and be extremely honest with ourselves with what behaviors really serve us in the long run and what we truly want to experience in our sexual lives. Most people, I do think, want to experience a loving, erotic and connected experience with a committed partner. And by committed I do mean a committment that works for you both, not necessarily monogamy or marriage.
Things to think about….I will discuss more from this book as I am finding the content so rich….
All blessings on your path to greater sexual wholeness and healing….