I like this already.
My new therapist practices bioenergetic analysis, “a holistic form of psychotherapy that works with the physical, emotional, and mental patterns of the bodymind, to reduce emotional stress and help with the problems of living.” From what I understand, it’s the Western version of chakra alignment, focusing on three major points: pelvis, heart, head, as connected by the spine. The whole thing is based on the premise – and I’m quoting the consent form here, as above – “that there is no fundamental separation between the mind and the body; that psychological states reflect and create what is happening physically; and physical/somatic events both reflect and create mental and emotional states.” So it seems like a really good tactic for me, in my quest to get to the point where I can want and enjoy sex again.
Today, though, we just talked. She heard basically the same story that I’ve written here, but stopped me every once in a while to ask about something she had noticed in my body, or to ask me to pause and check in with my body and let her know what I was feeling, physically.
“Nothing?” was my genius response at one point.
She told me that I stiffened up when I told her that Doug’s mother, upon hearing of my miscarriage, had responded with, “Oh, well, that’s good, since you weren’t getting married anyway.” She asked what the tear was for when I explained that my sense of wanting to do everything “right” (perfectionism since childhood) comes from wanting to make my unconditionally supportive parents proud of me, because I like how it feels to have their approval. She told me she could feel waves of sadness emanating from me and washing over her when I told her that I deny Doug (and myself) sex because it feels like a pantomime; “Because, what’s the point?” I’d said.*
We concluded that my physical reactions to pregnant women and my physical reactions to Doug coming onto me are generally the same: a momentary panic attack, wherein everything stops and contracts (and in the case of the latter, physically blocks the advance), before I can reassess and deal with the situation. So she told me to try to widen my awareness, recognize how my body feels just before and just after that panic, and report back to her about it next week. She also told me that when I tighten up following one of Doug’s advances, to take a deep breath and see if that will reset my panic button, which might allow me to consider the advance and all its consequences/rewards before I’ve shut him down completely.
“That’s your homework,” she said. I do like having homework. It makes me feel so much more in control than “We’ll talk about it next week” did.
I want to state, for the record, that there was actually no tear in my eye when I told her about my parents and my perfectionism. There must have been some reaction, but my eyes remained dry for nearly the whole hour, except during the two subjects that came up at the very end.
The first of these was when I was telling her about my relationship with Doug – how we used to be so happy, and how in love we are still, the exceptions being that we argue about money (doesn’t every couple?) and that we no longer have sex more than once a week.
“I apologize to him all the time,” I confessed. “I tell him I’m a bad girlfriend, and I check in to make sure he still wants to be with me, even though this girl who never puts out is so not what he signed up for three years ago.” A tear came to my eye then, but I kept on talking over it before she could see. It’s always this fear of being a failure at something that gets me. “And I check in to make sure I still want to be with him, since in my last relationship, no sex meant it was over, and then I have to reassure myself that I don’t want to have sex with anyone else either; it’s not the relationship, it’s just me.”
“You say you feel like you need to apologize to him,” my therapist said gently, “but what you’re describing was a loss for you, too. Since you said that before everything happened, you were enjoying sex as much as he was, and now you don’t.”
The other thing that almost made me cry, she also pointedly acknowledged as another loss for me (along with baby, sex, and hopes/dreams). Because right at the end of the hour, I brought up the subject of Monica.
*I am well aware, logically, that there are several good reasons to have sex other than the conception of children: pleasure, intimacy, connection, etc. However, there are a lot of things that my rational mind knows that my heart chooses to ignore.