In this episode of our marriage podcast Something Like Marriage, I describe living a secret life of shame and sexual anorexia. I had experienced sexuality that was unwanted and confusing when I was young. I had feelings of arousal, fear, and shame like Jon described on I Feel Uncomfortable Talking About Sex that I dealt with through repression. It was a way I could bury my thoughts and desires in a place where it would remain unconscious.
As I walked through life, it seemed that there was something wrong with me, something broken in me because I kept getting into situations with men that were unloving. I felt like I was marked. And with each experience, I would lock it away in my Secret Room which added more motivation to my sexual anorexia.
Sexual anorexia refers to the compulsive avoidance of sexual nourishment and intimacy. A refusal of emotional and sensual input in order to keep the unexplored trauma hidden along with chaotic feelings and anxiety. I would deny myself intimacy, and only understood my way of coping after I went to therapy to save my marriage.
Healing has found a way in as I opened the door to learn more about who I am and to look at those wounds of the past. There have been people to hear me and to love me along the way. I have found that unlocking the secret of my sexual anorexia has been profoundly freeing in my life. I have been able to share the journey with my husband and I have been able to have conversations about sexuality with my children.
(Theme music: Ethan Anderson, Photo credit: Maria Maliy)
Stream “Living a Secret Life of Shame and Sexual Anorexia”
Relationship Podcast Gems:
- Sexual anorectics starve themselves by “acting in,” denying themselves intimacy in relationships, receiving loving touch, and genuine connection with others.
- Sexual anorexia is encouraged by rigidity, judgment, and shame.
- Sex and feelings of sexuality equated to pain for me.
- Sexual abuse is a spectrum and can not be tolerated as something that just happens because you are a woman.
- Abuse, in general, isn’t so much about what happened, but how it affected the unique person.
- It is unhelpful to compare the pain we experience in life. As unique people, experiences affect us differently.
- When your marriage isn’t working, it’s important to find out why and more about yourself even if that relationship ends.
- Jon dealt with my resistance and picking a fight to cope by changing it to mean I was into him and loved him.
- If you are ready to heal, it can simply start by saying, “I’m ready.” Loving people and opportunities begin to appear.
The Devastating Pain of Sexual Anorexics – a short article discussing sexual anorexia.
Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self-Hatred – a book to help understand the journey of sexual anorexia.
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