Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clearing the Swirling Fog of Confused Sexual Intimacy

This is going to be somewhat of a personal post but I'm willing to put myself out there and be honest about my struggle because I feel it's a topic that never gets talked about, but needs to be talked about.

Sex.  How, after years and years of filling my brain with soul destroying pornography, do I then expect to have a healthy, beautiful and Spirit inviting experience with my husband?

As an addict to pornography it has been very difficult for me to determine what is "good" (clean) sex and "bad" (pornographic) sex.  I had spent 25 years in consistent active addiction where sex was pounded into my brain as being dirty. Of course it was.  What I was watching and participating in was dirty; an offense to the gift of procreation and an offense to the very God who gave me that gift.

Based on the images I filled my brain with I conditioned myself to act out those very scenes with others.  I grew to believe that the single one thing men wanted from me was my ability to perform in the bedroom.  I grew to believe that that performance was what I was good for, what I was made for.  Sexual intimacy became completely carnal and there was no love or peace or tenderness associated with it.  In fact, often I would roll over into a fetal position and just cry afterward. 

Little did I know that all of what I had seen was fake.  The actors I was watching didn't actually enjoy what they were doing.  Most would use means to chemically numb themselves in order to emotionally survive.  All of them, both men and women, I know, felt worthless afterward.  There is no joy or happiness in being used for your skin.  

Prior to recovery I was plagued with objectifying people.  I objectified everyone.  My brain was so saturated with the need for insane levels of dopamine that it would find content to fulfill that need anywhere and everywhere.  I feel like even if I submerged myself in a vat of dopamine that it wouldn't have been enough.  It was never enough.  Even through my short periods of sobriety I would always struggle with my thoughts.  The images I'd seen would haunt me and call to me.  I was imprisoned by my own brain.  I felt so alone and so hopeless.  Who could I talk to?  Who could I tell?  I felt such deeply embedded levels of shame that I was barely functioning.

The struggles I had with my thoughts would of course effect my endeavors for clean intimacy with my dear husband.  I didn't know how to be intimate and feel the Spirit.  I only knew what I'd been taught.  I didn't believe there was any other way.  Of course I'd heard people talking about having beautiful Spirit filled intimacy, but I thought they were either lying or it was just completely unattainable for me.  Remember, I thought I was made to please men.  I felt that was my purpose.

When I first began recovery I was asked to give up my addiction.  I was asked to stop viewing pornography and stop masturbating.  This, I did, willingly (not necessarily easily).  But on the same token I was also asked to be intimate with my husband.  Intimacy is a part of God's plan. It's purpose is not only to create bodies for new little people but also to bring us closer as husband and wife and create unity within our marriage.  That is what healthy intimacy looks like.  That was the goal.  That goal seemed ridiculously impossible.  All intimacy I had ever experienced offended the Spirit.  So as I was trying to give up my addiction (pornography), intimacy with my husband got lumped in as well and I began to recoil from sexual relations with him.  I wanted nothing to do with sex because it was so terribly impossible to keep my mind clean while in the act.  I'd immediately go to places that I'd seen on the screen.  I'd start playing a role and perform as what I thought my husband would want me to be.  I became a robot of sorts.  My addict would kick in and I'd lose control.  Of course, this would kill the Spirit and at the end I would just feel horrible gut wrenching shame.  I would feel completely hopeless that I would ever be able to be intimate with my husband and feel the Spirit at the same time.


I avoided intimacy for a very long time.  


After a while I came across a list that really helped me.  It is called God Ordained Intimacy vs. Worldly Sex. When I first came across the list most of what I felt was on the worldly sex side.  No, I wasn't cheating on my husband, or abusing my children, or engaging in multiple partners, in fact, none of what I was doing would necessarily keep me out of the Temple. But, I was disheartened as I read through that list because my state of mind and thought processes weighed on the worldly sex side and I was left feeling very hopeless.  I felt like a failure and again kept thinking I wasn't worth anything.  But then my eyes caught one sentence on the God Ordained Intimacy side.  It said "take exquisite care to not offend the Spirit."

This simple sentence became a huge blessing in my life.  It gave me a starting point and offered me direction in how to achieve pure, Spirit inviting, intimacy. I asked myself "how do I not offend the Spirit?"  I remember that first time attempting clean intimacy after I'd read the sentence, that first time 'testing it out.'  I prayed to Heavenly Father beforehand and I asked Him "Please Heavenly Father, please tell me REALLY loud if I am doing anything to offend the Spirit, please give me the opportunity to correct my actions before the Spirit leaves.  Please let Him guide my actions and let me know what is and what isn't OK.  I want this so bad.  I want to feel this perfect love for my husband and I want to share in this beautiful moment with Him and not have it haunted and ruined by my past mistakes.  Please help me."

He answered that prayer... and every other prayer afterward.  I'm not going to lie.  It takes work.  I'm still an addict and it is very easy for me to fall into old habits.  I have to be very careful what I do and say in the heat of the moment.  Another excellent tool is having awesome communication with my husband.  We work together to make sure neither of us offend the Spirit and work to spiritually unite one with another, and in turn, with God.

Recently I had the opportunity to revisit the God Ordained Intimacy vs. Worldly Sex list as I pulled it out to post it on my blog.  I hadn't read it in over a year.  I was truly surprised to see that I no longer weighed on the side of worldly sex.  But through relying on my Savior to heal my addiction He has also healed my perception of sex.  I could see, written in black and white, that I could have a beautiful; and joyous intimate relationship with my husband and feel good afterward, feel happy and feel closer to him and to God.

I no longer feel a separation from spiritually blessed intimacy.   God knew my fears.  He knew my struggles.  He also knew that my Savior could heal me.  He simply asked me to trust, and to 'be still' and allow Him to do so.

18 comments:

  1. I HIGHLY recommend a book my therapist recommended to me "And They Were Not Ashamed" by Laura Brotherson. It is very well written. My therapist had me work on the sensate focus exercises, which help rebuild love and trust between husbands and wives. This book has changed my relationship with my husband, (who is a recoverying porn addict.) Thank you Sidreis for your courage. Love you.

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    1. Thank you! I'll take a look at it!:-) Love you too.

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  2. wow! You're so brave. Thanks for being an example of courage to me. :)

    I also believed that my purpose was sex. It's a dark way to live. So glad I now know my worth is FAR more than that of a plaything.

    This post is so sensitively written. Thank you.

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    1. I'm glad you said that! I was concerned about being honest but not crossing any lines at the same time. I had my husband read it twice and make suggestions haha!

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  3. Thank you, Sid. I worry about this too. I appreciate your post and your honesty.

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  4. This is amazing!! Haven't read the God ordained Intimacy vs. World sex list in a while. Glad to know that I am not alone with my thoughts. Thank you for posting it. And Anonymous at the top, yes!! "And They Were Not Ashamed" by Laura Brotherson is A M A Z I N G! So glad I read it! Highly recommend!

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    1. Thanks Rachel! Glad you thumbs up the book too, I'll check it out.

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  5. This was so interesting to read. I just felt so much sadness and empathy for what you have gone through. It's sad the way that Satan is distorting everything.

    It was also interesting to read because, even though I have never been addicted to sex or pornography, I see myself in some of your experiences. My husband is the only man I have ever had sex with and his addiction has tainted sex for him, but I never realized how much it has affected sex for me as well. That seems like a no brainer, but I just never realized it before!

    Thank you for the list and for giving hope to others who are struggling!

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    1. Ya it's amazing how easy we can follow into roles instead of following the Spirit. I'm glad it helped!:-)

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  6. I know this is an older post but this is why I was led to your blog by my sponser, smart woman she is. I am currently about 7 weeks into recovery and really struggling with this. Like you I believed that my purpose in sex was to please the man...in fact I took it one step further being prided in that, doing things others wouldn't etc. How wrong that view was and how I hope to regain that appropriate loving intmacy with my husband, who thankfully has stood by my side every step of the way.

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    1. You definitely aren't a lone in this. Not by a long shot. One word of caution. You said "doing things others wouldn't"... this is an assumption; a lie told to you by Satan to make you think you are the only one who has done "those" things. I'm sure he has whispered how horrible you are and how no LDS woman would ever do that. I'm here to tell you it's all a lie. I've done "those things" and so have many others. You are not alone in the darkness. There are others there with you, and there are those of us who have found the path out that are willing to help you find your path out. Just don't give up. There will be a time when you want to.... just don't.

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  7. Thanks so much for this - I'm so glad I found this blog! I had no idea blogs like this existed. I'm not sure how to term myself. I'm recovered? Maybe. I never went through the ARP and I wish I had! I've been sober for a while, not even sure how long. But this is such a great resource in addition to the ARP. Thank you for doing what you are doing.I think one of Satan's greatest lies is that we are alone. That no one else does what we do and therefore we aren't worthy of the Lord's love or Atonement. He wants to isolate us so he can continue to beat us down with temptations and with our weaknesses. He knows the power of unity and in numbers. We need the strength that comes from relying on one another (as well as the Lord, of course). So thanks for bringing us together.

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    1. Thanks Sarah! Good to hear you are doing well:-) I appreciate your thoughts! You are truly right about Satan wanting us to isolate. Shame thrives in secrecy and isolation. Good insights!

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  8. Whoa.

    I think I found my answer.

    I'm surprised at all the posts of yours I still haven't read.

    I feel like I am currently untangling thoughts & feelings around this very topic right now. My actually demanded a month of sexual anorexia, because of the curling up and crying I kept ending up with, like you describe. But, things seem to be straightening out, oh but so much more work to do, indeed.

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    1. Hah - it's like a continuous Christmas for you! lol I'm glad it helped:-)

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  9. Thank you, Sidreis, for having the courage to talk about this, and for putting it so well.

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Thank you for sharing a moment with me:-)

Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"