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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Why do I feel like this?

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Author Topic: Why do I feel like this?
PepperAnne
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Hi to everyone at Scarleteen, I've found this site very useful in the past, so I thought I'd girve this a shot to see if I could get some answers to questions I've been having. I warn you, this is probably going to be kind of a long post--I have a lot on my mind--so please just bear with me.

A couple of days ago I was hanging out watching movies in my basement with this guys that I've been seeing. After the movie was done we started fooling around. We'd done it before, and always with the same results: the problem is, I don't really seem to like very many things sexually. I don't really like kissing all that much because I feel kind of awkward, and I can sometimes get claustrophobic around my face. I still do it because it's not that bad and I know he likes it, but if given the choice I'd rather knit that make out. I also seem to have this problem where things done manually (such as touching my breasts or fingering) are uncomfortable or even hurt, but when the same things are done orally there's no stimulation at all. It makes no sense to me.

The one thing that does "turn my crank", so to speak, is when he kisses my neck. But even if he starts with that, once we move onto other things the pleasurability of it goes down. To be honest, I get a lot more satisfaction out of cuddling than I ever have out of anything more. But, I have a very small sample base as I have only been in 3 relationships, none of which have lasted longer than 5 or so months.

I guess I should mention that, because I have Type 1 Diabetes, I refuse to risk pregnancy at all and have never had intercourse. As well, I was forced to give head to a guy at a party in high school, so I don't forsee myself wanting to do that for a VERY long time, if ever. The guy I'm seeing right now mostly knows about my past and relative inexperience, and he's very considerate about how I'm feeling. But I guess he's like most guys in that he really wants to get me off.

Beyond not knowing what would accomplish that, the biggest issue is the way I feel about myself afterward. You know that new song by Maroon 5, the one with the lyric that goes: "I'll be waking up in the morning probably hating myself". Well, that's me, every time. Things will feel alright in the moment, but the next morning/day/week I'll feel confused and uncomfortable in my own skin, sometimes even embarrassed or ashamed. And I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm not ready for the relationship to move that fast, or maybe I don't feel that I like him enough to share those parts of me with. But, I've spent a lot of time thinking and analysing this and I still haven't been able to come to any conclusions. I just don't know. I don't have any religious background to make me think that sex is bad, and my parents have always been very open about it and have said that I can use them as a soundingboard for anything. Their not the most liberal people ever, but I don't think that that would be the reason for me to feel like this.

So I guess my question is, based on what I've outlined above, where do I go from here??

Posts: 11 | From: Edmonton | Registered: Aug 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
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Hi PepperAnne and welcome.

I'm glad to hear you've found our site resources to be useful. [Smile]

First of all, just in case you were thinking it at all, nothing you've said here is strange, or weird or unusual. The variety of human bodies and human experiences is tremendous, and the dominant talk on what should be pleasurable doesn't apply to everyone.

One thing I'm not clear on from what you've written is whether you're interested in the fooling around to begin with. Who initiates it? Is it something you enjoy at least to start with? Something you anticipate enjoying before it happens even if the physical reality isn't what you want or expect it to be?

It's also worth recognizing that having been forced to perform a sexual activity on someone may be impacting you now. Again, there's nothing wrong with you if this is the case. Sometimes underlying anxiety or tension can affect our physical experience of sexual activity, plus how we feel about that sexual activity afterwards.

Where should you go from here? You have a few options, and they're not mutually exclusive. [Smile]

Have you and this guy you've been seeing talked about this at all? Does he know how you feel afterwards, and that you don't feel a lot of pleasure from the majority of activities the two of you do together?

While it's definitely okay for one partner to do something because their partner likes it, even if they're not crazy about it, in general sexual and physical interaction should ideally feel pleasurable for both people. It doesn't sound, from what you've described, like that is happening right now. What do you think?

If that is the case, it sounds like taking a break from other sexual activities and focussing on the ones that feel good and enjoyable to you--that is, cuddling--might be a good move for the near future. Do you know if you feel the same level of confusion and discomfort afterwards if you just spend time cuddling with someone?


Have you seen this article? I think it might be a good read for you, regarding the different physical sensations that you find pleasurable, or not:
With Pleasure: A View of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body

There's a lot here, and probably more to say about it, but let's start there. [Smile]

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PepperAnne
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Hi Robin,

Thanks so much for getting back to me so quickly! I've taken some time to think about the questions you've posed and to read the article you listed. I think I have come up with some answers, as well as some more questions.

In response to your first question, usually he's the one who initiates, but I have also been known to ocassionally initiate in the past. I do less initiating now because I have a general sense that what I want to happen (in terms of my body's response) just isn't going to happen. I'm trying to remember if I've ever been thoroughly excited by the idea of fooling around; lately the anticipation has been tempered with a fair level of anxiety/nervousness. That anxiety seems to get worse afterwards.

I've actually been afflicted with high levels of anxiety regarding this aspect of my life for a while. Even before the incident in high school, but especially following. I think what you pointed out may be true, whereby that experience is clouding my ability to fully enjoy the present.

We have sort of talked about it, but not in a conversation away from the moment, and I haven't been able to figure out a good way to bring up the feelings that I have afterward. I absolutely agree that sexual experiences between two people should be equally enjoyable and that that's not happening for me right now. But, I haven't been able to come up with a way to bring it up and discuss it without hurting his feelings. Do you have any suggestions on things I could say?

Reading back over what I just wrote, I agree with you that taking a break to focus on things like cuddling might be a really good idea. I don't normally feel the same level of confusion and discomfort aftwards--in fact, I often feel quite satisfied and content. So, that might be the place to start.

The thing that continues to frustrate me is why I feel so out of sorts afterwards. I mean, beyond not really getting a lot out of it, I usually feel okay during the moment. Not super-duper, but not bad. I've been to bad and that's not it. Maybe awkward that nothing seems to work for me, but not bad. And then the next day I want to crawl out of my own skin. It certainly doesn't seem healthy, but it doesn't make sense to me either. Any thoughts??

Thanks so much for the help! [Smile]

Posts: 11 | From: Edmonton | Registered: Aug 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robin Lee
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HI PepperAnne,


If the anxiety and discomfort is increasing, it sounds like it's definitely time to make some changes.

When talking with your partner, you'll be talking about what you experience and what works for you. One of the things that can help keep it about you, help it keep from sounding like accusations or complaints is to use lots of "I" statements "I don't feel a lot when we kiss.", etc, etc. You can explain to him how you feel, that you like him, but you also don't like how you feel, and that you know what would make things better, at least for now.

You can't necessarily control whether his feelings are hurt, except to make sure that you communicate clearly that this is about what you need to feel comfortable, pleasured, and connected with him. You certainly can explain that you would like to stop feeling the way you've been feeling. YOu can show your respect for him by of course giving him a chance to respond to you and share his feelings and thoughts. How he responds is going to be up to him and isn't something you can wholly control.

One thing that will help both of you is to have this conversation away from any sexual experience, either during or after. Emotions can run really high after engaging in any sort of sexual activity. So, for example, if you were to get together to watch a movie, before you start the movie you might tell him that you have been thinking about something and would like to discuss it with him. How does this all sound?
There's a lot more detail in this article which might give you some other ideas for how to approach having the conversation:
Be a Blabbermouth! The Whats, Whys and Hows of Talking About Sex With a Partner

It's hard to say why you continue to feel that wanting-to-crawl-out-of-your-skin sensation afterwards. How long does it last? How do you get through it? You mentioned in your first post that you haven't had a lot of exposure to negative messages about sexuality and your body. Would you say you also have a pretty strong/positive body image?

Sexual assault (having someone force you into oral sex is sexual assault) can certainly promote anxiety, and sometimes, for some people, a feeling of disconnection from their bodies.

Have you ever spoken with a counsellor about what you experienced, or about the anxiety in general?

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PepperAnne
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Hi Robin,

That makes sense, and I think that it would definitely be in the best interest of me and my partner for us to talk about this, so I'm going to give it my best shot. I like the idea of using "I" statements to keep it more about me and how I'm feeling instead of unintentionally putting any blame on him. Going forward, I am definitely going to try and be more verbal about the anxiety that I have and see if talking about it helps to diminish it.

The crawling-out-of-my-skin feeling can last anywhere from a couple hours to a week, sometimes longer depending on what else is going on in my life. I usually get through it by channelling the anxiety/confusion/discomfort into something else (such as writing, dancing, running, etc.) I don't really know how to deal with the emotions directly, and it gets exhausting just thinking about them all the time, so I have gotten into the habit of distracting myself with other things until the feelings lessen to a manageable point (or go away entirely).

As for my body image, it kind of fluctuates on a day-to-day basis. On most days I would say I have a fairly decent perception of myself, and I'm happy with myself. There are some things that I might change if I could, but overall I think my self-esteem is alright. There is certainly room for improvement, but I don't think that's unusual.

That last question kind of got me. I haven't ever spoken with a counsellor about the incident, nor about the general anxiety that I have. Only a close friend of mine is fully aware of the details of what happened that night, and I haven't ever had the opportunity to talk to a professional about it. I kept putting it off (exams, getting into uni, etc.) until I convinced myself that I had "gotten over it" and I didn't need to tell anyone. Maybe that isn't the case. Do you have any suggestions of who might be a good person to talk to (e.g. a counsellor vs. a psychologist)?

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Robin Lee
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Hey Pepper Anne,

It sounds like you have a good handle on managing the anxiety and discomfort, actually. Distracting yourself is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you can do it successfully. Sounds like the creative pursuits are especially helpful with this.

One thing that we know about sexual assault is that, for most people, the silence around it can be harmful. It's something people tend to carry in their bodies, as well as their brains, for a long time. Breaking that silence and getting solid support with it can make a significant difference.

Are you still in university? If so, your university likely has a free or low-cost counselling service. Any type of mental health professional should be fine for you to start with. If the professional you saw thought you needed a certain type of help that they couldn't provide, they'd refer you. [Smile]

Would you like to talk more about how to talk to your partner/what to say?

--------------------
Robin

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PepperAnne
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Hi Robin,

Wow, I guess I didn't think that I was handling it all that well given that it keeps coming back. But I have found creative pursuits to be the most helpful outlet and it's nice to know that I'm doing something right for my mental health in that aspect.

I hadn't ever considered that keeping silent might be making things worse for myself. I'm starting back at university in a week and I do have access to counselling services so I will definitely look into talking with someone there. The more that I'm thinking about it now, the more it seems like a good idea. It might be nice to actually have someone to talk to who is can be objective and who I know will listen to me.

I do have some more questions regarding talking with my partner. To start with, do you think that saying I want to crawl out of my skin is an appropriate way to describe my feelings, or do you think there might be a better way to phrase it? I want to make sure I'm as clear as possible but sometimes I have trouble articulating how I'm feeling in ways that other people understand!

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Robin Lee
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HI PepperAnne,

Yes, often talking to an objective person (about anything, not just negative sexual experiences) can really be helpful.

Well, I don't know if your boyfriend will understand what you mean, since we can't really know how anyone is going to interpret anything, but hearing you say that you want to crawl out of your skin is pretty clear to me. I can imagine that sensation, plus get a bvery vivid picture in my head. For the record, based on what you've shared here I think you're very articulate.

I know it's tough, but it's really okay if you just share your feelings and experiences. You can invite him to ask questions, and do your best to answer them, but you don't have to worry too much about whether something is going to make sense to him from the outset. *gentle smile*

--------------------
Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PepperAnne
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Hi Robin,

You know, just talking to you and having to think about how I want to word the thoughts in my head has been a really encouraging and carthartic. I am hopeful that when I talk to my partner about all of this I will be able to express myself in the same way.

Since yesterday, I re-read the second article you linked to and I've read a bunch of the other articles on the site, and they've all been very helpful in reaffirming and expanding upon what you've said. I wonder why no one ever talks about these kinds of things in high school sex ed? It probably would've save a whole lot of headaches and anxiety on my part.

It's certainly becoming clear to me that I would really benefit from talking with someone about what's going on inside my head (and that I probably ought to have done so sooner). I am super grateful that I've been able to discuss all of this with you because you've really helped me make some sense out of what had previously seemed like an impossible situation. Anyways, I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank you for being so awesome and understanding.

Posts: 11 | From: Edmonton | Registered: Aug 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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