Our society has placed a lot of importance on sex — sex as special, romantic, important. Sex is always lauded as this perfect or this taboo thing, when really, it’s just a thing.
The problem for when survivors try to get into relationships with someone who still has this view is that what we need is not for sex to retain importance in our lives. Sex has already been important enough, but in a terrible way, a hurtful way. It’s been all around us even when we don’t want it, and having someone’s expectations of “perfect beautiful sex” as the pinnacle of love dropped onto us is the fast track for more pain and panic. We’re already trying to cope with sex being a normal, okay, thing, much less a great and wonderful thing.
The fact is, sex is not important. I’m telling you now, the real truth, sex is not important. Despite what society or friends or your significant other may be telling you, it is not the ultimate expression of love. It is not this big ideal that everyone seems to be striving for. It is not the ultimate way to express intimacy. It is not.
It’s not so special that you need to beat yourself up for not feeling that it is. You don’t need to feel that way. Sex can be a way to express love for someone, but it is not the way.
Phew. Doesn’t that feel a lot better? I know it does for me.
In the past several months where I haven’t updated again, I’ve been passively concentrating on this. It’s something I touched on in Entry 64, though in its early stages and worded a bit differently, so I wanted to make another entry expressing how important it has been for me in my healing and how I feel it can help many others as well.
I was not long ago in a relationship where someone had this idealistic view of sex, and I know firsthand that it tore me to shreds until I got away. I didn’t realize that was the problem at the time, and it took a lot of time (these past eight months or so) to understand it completely. Now that I know what the problem was, and that I can change my views and understanding of it, I feel like my recovery is going more smoothly than it ever has.
I’m learning to talk and think about sex without reactive consequences. I still don’t “smother” myself in it, but I do things like blog about it occasionally on a separate blog, for instance. It’s giving me the freedom to accept my own normal feelings about it while treating it more casually and not having to worry about the expectations that so many want to lay on it, to see it as the “thing” that it is and not a demon or an angel that’s been following me through life for so long.
Nobody has the right to pressure you to see sex the way they do. So to myself I say, shed the pressure.
In the time from my last entry, I tried being in a relationship again. This relationship came with a group of new friends, really great friends, who I enjoy spending time with.
Unfortunately, over time, I began to realize the problem in spending time with them as my worries were only exacerbated while around them. Feelings of inadequacy that kept resurfacing, how I wish I knew more than I do about life. I’m still growing up, oblivious to so much of the world around me, and I feel so far behind them. It makes me nervous in their company. Around my girlfriend, I thought about the ways in which I wished I was better for her. It was taxing, and I was too unsure of myself and being with her. I split up with her several weeks ago.
I’m trying to use this time to gather myself, to get my life on a better track, before I attempt a relationship again. Whether it will be with her or someone else, I don’t know. I just know that there are things I need to take care of with myself first. I need to be happier with me, so that I can be happy with someone else. Not just as far as a romantic relationship goes, but my friendships in general.
I’m not worried about who I’ll be with. I don’t need to be with anyone, I still feel, and I’m grateful for that. It’s enough to learn what strong friendships are, holding on to the people in my life when so many times I’ve let them slip away. Maybe one day I’ll be okay enough to try again, without all the fear and the worry. Without the possibility of hurting them so deeply for the unhealthy ways I cope.
I’m trying to be positive. More importantly, I’m trying to hold on, to believe in myself enough just to make it through.
As it is for many survivors, romantic love is a problem for me. However, after a good deal of time being single, I’ve taken the time to let my feelings run their course, and it’s brought an important problem to my attention.
I have an issue with the ages old belief that sex and love are, or always should be, interconnected.
That belief has caused me years of frustration and misery because, while sex has been many things for me, it has not ever given me the true impression of love. Sex and love have never been fully connected in my mind, and many times because I couldn’t connect the two, I wanted to destroy the sexual urges in my life. I felt that if they couldn’t behave in the way that I idealized, I didn’t want them to exist at all.
Trying to force love and sex to combine when with a partner has caused me immeasurable stress and pain, and time after time I failed to realize that the problem was not in my inability to merge the two, but rather with my inability to let go of the idea that they must be merged.
Sex and love are disconnected for many survivors, and as long as the belief that the two need to be the same exists, it will continue to be another source of confusion and shame for those struggling to make them meet. The truth is, sex is not the be all and end all of love. It is not the ultimate in expressing your affection for another person, nor is it necessary to do so. It is perfectly fine to have romantic feelings for someone without wanting to have sex, or sexual feelings for someone without romantic connections.
I have learned that what I need in my life right now is not to try to find someone I am simultaneously sexually and romantically attracted to, because as my feelings change, one of them is pushed further into the background. Attempting to force sex into the relationship with someone I love when I don’t feel comfortable with it will be damaging to both of us. I’m not ready to connect emotions to sex, and currently, I’m happy to keep what sex is part of my life in a fictionalized realm. The feelings that I have are normal, and while they may not exist in the same way as everyone else’s, I am allowing them to exist in a healthy way by accepting them for what they are. I am happy to have romantic feelings, and I am happy to have sexual attraction, and I am happy to keep them separated for as long as I need to.
No one can dictate what feels best for you or what is right for you. Giving your feelings the chance to breathe and walking the path to understanding them is the best thing you can do for yourself.
So to myself I say, accept yourself for feeling the way you do.
Standing alone is one of the most frightening things in the world, but one of the most important lessons we can ever learn. Standing alone allows us to make our own decisions and live life the way we want to, to develop healthy relationships with others, but learning to develop that level of trust in ourselves is not an easy thing to do. You’re constantly thinking, “what if I screw up? What if I make the wrong decision?”
But being alone is nothing to be afraid of. The world will not end if you have to rely on yourself sometimes. Someone else’s judgment is not superior to yours simply because they’re someone else. When you’re so afraid to believe in anything you think and act on it, you start to rely on others to make those decisions for you, and it’s draining to support someone else’s life for them.
But standing on your own sometimes will do you good. People may be there to support you when you need it, but they can’t offer you all the answers. When it comes down to it, you’re the one with the solutions. You can come to someone to check and see if you’re doing something “right” or not, but the thing is, they can’t tell you anyway. It’s your life to lead, and regardless of what they think or tell you, it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do, or what you’re not going to do. What they think may not be best for you. They may try to steer you in the direction that they think will help you, but in the end, you are the one that has to live with your decisions, not them.
And you know what? It doesn’t matter if you end up screwing up. It doesn’t matter if things screw up a lot, even. Life is bound to lead us into screw-ups no matter what we do. Life hurts. But when something good comes around, we should celebrate it, not hold ourselves back just because we’re afraid of more pain. Pain will come anyway, but good times are special. Do what you think is right, and when things start screwing up, trust yourself and do what you think is right then, too.
There is no clear-cut right or wrong path to take. But there is your path, and the decisions you make pave it. No matter what happens, you’ll have something to take from it, so don’t be afraid of taking steps forward. Nobody can tell you what’s right or wrong for you, because nobody knows. Nobody but you.
Deep down, even if you’re afraid of the answers, you know what you should do. You’re just afraid to take those steps forward and cause a change, because you feel as if things will only go downhill from here. You feel as if you will never have the same level of happiness if you let go of what you have at this moment. But the thing is, you never WILL know how happy you can be unless you start moving. And, sure, you may be less happy than what you are right now. But you know what comes after that? Something that will be better, because nothing stays the same forever. Happiness happens, and sadness happens, and that’s just how the ride goes.
Don’t be afraid to let go of a shred of happiness for fear of pain. You’re going to hurt no matter what happens. You have to learn to let go, so you can start living.
Sometimes there are just no easy resolutions.
There are points when I have trouble accepting that — my last journal entry marks one of those points, but this one marks something different.
Sometimes there are just simple facts. One of those is that life goes on.
Many times in my life, I’ve wanted life to stop instead. I wanted a moment to breathe, to move. But sometimes the moments where we cannot stop speak more for how strong we are once we reach the other side and do have a moment to sit and look back.
In recovery, just as it is in life, each hurdle seems a mountain to climb, but once overcome, it’s another challenge won and another reason to push forward. No one ever reached the other side by jumping over it — mountains are things that must be conquered with courageous steps, one foot in front of the other.
And sometimes, inevitably, there are avalanches. But that’s okay. When you’re climbing a mountain covered in so much snow, there are moments when it’s hard not to be overwhelmed. It’s not a reason to give up and make camp at the bottom. Just remember that when the snow clears, there’s still something waiting for you on the other side, and you can still reach it.
I want to be able to smile — not just for my friends, but for myself. I want to be able to say I reached the other side of that mountain and wear a smile on my face, because even if no one else can see it, I achieved something. Even if the only applause I receive is the silence of a single day of peace, I will have risen as the victor.
I will be able to say, just for a while, that I truly love myself for who I am and what I’ve done. Because when I look at it, really look, I wouldn’t want to lose what I think and what I believe for anything. I wouldn’t want to lose me — and I am more than the happy face I put on because I have to. I am the struggles that have brought me to where I am, I am the sorrow that has led me to understand them, and I am the courage that allows me to rise above them.
I really wish that I could stop crying.
It’s been a while since I’ve cried, I know, but I still dislike it. I hate feeling the need to reach out to someone and then realizing there’s no one I feel comfortable reaching to. I’m not doing myself any favors by avoiding talking to people about this, but there’s no point. It’s all just a web of insecurities, and then the pain of realizing I still feel like no one will catch me.
It’s why I end up here, time and time again.
Some days I feel so confident, but even the slightest thing can shred it. I’m so afraid of losing the only semblance of constancy that I have. I lost my safety net. I lost the person I trust completely. I lost her, and it was all my fault.
Now I feel like life’s just teaching me to remember what’s really important… that having a person who loves and accepts you, someone who you can talk to without feeling like an idiot or wrong, is not something you should ever let go of.
I am an idiot, though, and I’m still not even sure how to resolve it.
I’ve come to an amazing realization in the past week, because I’ve learned something that I couldn’t learn in the past, despite trying to grip it. I don’t know why it is making more sense now than it did before, but it simply is.
I learned what it means to be loyal.
It’s a concept I’ve been dwelling on for a long time, trying to make sense of. Out of many things, it’s one thing that escaped me. I have not been a loyal person for a long time. The last time I was loyal, it brought me six years of misery. Now the concept of loyalty has pain attached to it for me, and I find myself running from people more often than standing by their sides.
It’s a terrible trait, and one I’ve hated myself for, but I know why it exists.
I also know why I need to rid myself of it.
Being loyal isn’t just about not betraying your friends. It means putting up with people even when they hurt or anger you. It means trying to help them better themselves despite all this, so that you can become better people together. So you can grow together. It means wishing them well and reaching out to them when they need it. And trust is reaching out to them when you need it, too.
I realized, most importantly, that loyalty isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s a choice you make, and I haven’t made the choice for a long time. I didn’t want to work hard only to experience more pain. But the past isn’t the present, nor is it the future. I have no way of knowing whether my effort will turn out badly or wonderfully.
And does it matter either way? I will gain something experience out of pain, and experience out of joy. I can make it through as I’ve always made it through — by moving forward.
I’m so glad I met the girl that taught loyalty and persistence to me, although by accident, and I wonder if she knows how wonderful she is. I wonder if she knows how grateful I am.
It seems like she’s doing worse off than I am.
I think she’s angry with me because she has felt so much loyalty to me, but I won’t be with her. So she feels obligated to wait for me by her own morals, but logically it seems futile. So she’s angry for feeling pressed by her own self to stay. But since it’s me, she directs that anger toward me.
Maybe she’s even angrier because of the journal I made about erasing the past year… which wasn’t about erasing her at all. The only thing I was talking about was having to erase all the close things we had had between us that I thought she wouldn’t want to give anymore because she had been ignoring me.
Which was irrational at the time and I know that, but I was upset, and I needed to vent.
I understand why she would be upset, but I wish she hadn’t just erased me off of everything. I guess that was her way of getting back at me for saying that.
But she didn’t even give me time to explain what it meant.
I’m not gonna say she was wrong… She was upset, and probably more hurt than I am.
I just wish she hadn’t is all.
I’m okay now.
I’m not as weak as she thinks I am…
She has said to me before that I’m simultaneously the weakest and strongest person she’s ever known.
I feel like that’s some weird sort of compliment.
I don’t want to forget all the things she’s said to me that made me feel good about myself. She made me feel like I am really worth something.
It hurt to think that she doesn’t think that way anymore, but I probably deserve it for having hurt her.
That’s just how it goes.
I know she has reasons behind what she’s doing. She’s hurt and she deserves to be able to feel angry and upset and try to find happiness elsewhere if that’s what she needs.
I left her in many ways, and now she decided she needs to leave me.
I won’t bother being angry at her for that. I’m just going to understand that it’s what’s best.
And hope that she turns out happy no matter what.
Do you know that feeling where something goes completely wrong in your life and you have to change everything? Where everything you were once fond of you have to erase because you realize you have no way to be fond of it anymore?
I’ve done it so many times, I don’t know why it keeps happening, but nothing is going quite as planned.
I’m afraid to get too close to my friends, because the potential to lose them lurks everywhere. When I get close to people, something goes wrong. And that something is probably just my own fears.
I try to get them away from me, but when they’re gone, I feel even more alone. Why am I so self-sabotaging? Why can’t I figure out what the best choice is?
I don’t know who I should cling to anymore. I just don’t want this to happen every time I’m happy.
I just know I’m not worth as much time for anyone as I am to myself, and I need to learn to be alone.
A key word in a survivor’s life is something we can all relate to on such a deep level it’s practically painful: confusion.
Our lives center around confusion. We fumble in the dark trying to make sense of our own shattered lives so we can piece it all together again, but we’re constantly pulled in every direction. We keep trying to base ourselves on everyone else’s examples, but find we can’t fit into their shoes. We come apart. What are we, if not like everyone else? Are we unnatural? Abominations? The doubt is agonizing, and the guilt and shame suffocating. Why should we be monsters when we did nothing wrong? The hatred blossoms outward, and we doubt and fear the rest of the world outside the tiny safety we find within our own minds — the one thing that, it seems, understands us.
But the thing that we have trouble understanding amidst the confusion is that sex did not do this to us. Sex did not hurt us.
Rape is not sex. Abuse and molestation are not sex.
There is nothing wrong with sex, or our desire of it — only peoples’ actions that have hurt us.
As muddled as life can get, remember that sex is up to you and you alone, and you are the one that makes it. Sex is mutual and it is about comfort and fun between two people. It’s an action, and it can be anything you want it to be.
It shouldn’t have to be scary.