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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Letting go of what I learned about sex?

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Author Topic: Letting go of what I learned about sex?
whenfinallysetfree
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I grew up in a very strict and religious household, and have always been "shown" that sex was a bad, dirty thing. My mother turns the channel when a KY commercial comes on and talks about how gross it is that, not only do they make such a product, it's shown on television for everyone to see. I was watching a movie on cable and the couple was having sex and she freaked out and asked me how I could watch it and not be "embarassed" and then told me how awful I was and left the room. Over the past year or so, I've been questioning her opinions and I guess talking back, telling her that people kissing is cute and not a dirty thing to do, or that sex isn't disgusting. She doesn't approve sex before marriage or anything, so there is no way I can tell her that my (non-Christian) boyfriend and I have been having sex for the past 7 months...

The problem is, although I've decided that this is something I like and enjoy, I still end up feeling guilty or extremely shy during anything sexual. I can't even admit to him face to face that I want to have sex with him because it DOES make me feel dirty. I literally started crying when I was with him today because I was so pissed off that even when I had my own opinions, my mother still managed to keep me from doing it because of the whole stigma that she's attatched to sex. I hate that I can't erase all of that and not feel like I'm getting shamed in my head every time I'm with my boyfriend. I love him so much and I really love having sex with him, but I have trouble not only just saying what I want, but figuring it out in my head as well. I also feel sort of sex "ignorant" because I've been so sheltered haha....like it feels like everyone else in the world is born knowing what they want and how to give amazing oral to the guy of their dreams but I am just freaked out about making a fool of myself! I mean, He's had a penis his whole life, so having everything up to me (the one with the VAGINA) is like terrifying haha. And I'm always afraid I'll hurt him in some way when I'm using my hands...i need like a freaking tutorial on this haha
Is there any way to clear my mind of all of the things I've been told? I've spent my entire life hearing how bad and awful sex is that I can't let loose and be 100% comfortable. Are there steps I can take to get to where I can do things without feeling so intimidated? I want to figure out how to tell him what I want without feeling like I'm doing something dirty or wrong

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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Hey, good to see you again, sorry it's for such a challenging reason. [Frown]

I'm done for the night, but another volunteer or user may have something to start talking about with you tonight. If not (or if so), I'll check in with you on this tomorrow, okay?

We can absolutely get you started working through some of this and are glad to help.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Heather
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Sorry you had to wait!

I undoubtedly don't have to tell you that it sounds very clearly like your mother has some serious sexual shame of her own. Probably, she was raised in exactly the same way, and just never got past it herself, or decided that shame around sex was a virtue of some kind, so didn't want to do that work. I know it's always a bit weird for many people to think about their parents sex lives, but it may also be that the sexual dynamics in your parents' relationship also enable that shame, or are of a nature where it's just not something all that empowering or prioritized. Who knows.

All the same, the first step with somethings like this is just generally recognizing that these are issues where there is difference of both opinion and probably lived experience. I think it's really sad your mother is so ashamed, as that is not likely at all beneficial to her life, but at this point, this may likely be how she'll be for the rest of that life. Hopefully not, for her sake, but it's possible.

But how she is and sees things clearly isn't how you are and see things, you're just impacted by her and your upbringing, like any of us are with ours.

The most direct route to take with working past your shame would be to seek out counseling. Sex therapists often work more with this issue than many others: I have far more than one colleague who says that sexual shame is what keeps them in business, sadly. Point is, this is such a pervasive issue, and so often THE issue that keeps people from satisfying sex lives that most sex therapists are very well-versed with it and very practiced at working with it with clients/patients.

Is therapy something you're open to?

On the other issue, you're mistaken thinking everyone besides you has magically known what they want sexually and walks into sex with partners knowing all of what to do and feels confident about it. That's just not true. Sex with a partner or oneself is a learning process for everyone, and we best learn all of this just by doing a lot of experimenting with a partner and a lot of communicating. So, for instance, with touching your partners penis, when you're doing that, ideally you should be asking what feels good as you're doing things, and he should be filling you in, and then you both do what you do based on responding to each other's communication that way. Know what I mean?

You also can educate yourself some more by reading good information on his anatomy and yours, on sex and sexuality as a whole, etc. I can by all means get you started with some links here if you like, and also would be glad to suggest some books to start with, including my own.

In terms of learning to tell him what you want without feeling "dirty or wrong," what's most likely going to be the deal is that you just step outside your comfort zone and start doing that. Maybe the first few times you will feel that way, and you both can work together through that, leaving you a lot of emotional latitude. But the more you do so, chances are that the less and less you're going to feel that way as you develop a comfort with it.

You also can get creative: for instance, in doing workships with people and sex, it's common for us to have participants do written exercises like making a list of all the things they want for sex, or keeping a journal where they write about their desires. Either or both of those may be very helpful for you, and then you can share as much or as little as you want with your partner based on how much you feel ready to share and want to share (after all, your own sexuality still is yours and about you, not just your relationship, so you don't need to share everything).

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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Yes, bring on the links! haha
I have a normal therapist that I just started seeing, (I'm going today) so I'm going to try and talk to her about it. I automatically assume that she's going to look down on me or something though because I'm having sex...I don't know how many people feel the same way about sex as my mother, you know?
I just wish it was something I could tell my mom about, just so I wouldn't have to keep secrets. I think the fact that it's secret is only helping to make me feel more guilty, as when you're hiding something--even when you feel it's right--it gets in your head that you're doing something "bad".
I'm mostly worried that the fact that I'm coming out of my shell SO slowly is going to just be annoying to my boyfriend, as he has to sort of coax me along and reassure me to help get over these things. I don't want to be the Debbie-Downer in the relationship who cries over silly things and takes the fun out of sex. Hah I almost feel like every morning I need to wake up and scream "I LIKE SEX AND THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH IT--OR ME! AND IT'S NOT DIRTY OR SHAMEFUL, IT'S BEAUTIFUL AND I AM EXCITED TO EXPLORE WHAT I LIKE WITH THE PERSON THAT I LOVE!!!" haha...only my mother wouldn't take too well to that haha

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Heather
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General therapists can absolutely also address this, you're just likely to get a much more nuanced approach with a sex therapist. But I certainly think, at the very least, you can probably get a good start with your general therapist. Go for it, says I. [Smile]

I think the time will come when you can tell your Mom, and it might even benefit her. But I think that you're not there yet, and need more time and processing to feel more confident about this first. hearing more judgments from her isn't going to help you right now. You might also remember that she MAY change over time. My own mother's attitudes around all of this have changed markedly during my 40 years of life, for instance, some because of me, some because of her own work, some because of changes in her life that brought her to do her own work and evaluate her own ideas. Your Mom-of-now won't necessarily be your Mom 5, 10, or 20 years from now.

Your boyfriend knows your background, yes? Knowing that, did he understand this might be a long process for you? If he did, then you have to give him faith and credit that he has chosen to handle this and let him own that choice. If this is hard for him, I can only assume he's chosen to be with you through this because he wants to.

At the same time, you also need to be sure you're ready for all of this now, and that you're not trying to be sexual when it's too soon for you, you know?

So, links. [Smile]

I'm going to toss you just a few to start, but we can keep building a DIY curricula for you as we go, if you like:
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/whats_sex
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/with_pleasure_a_view_of_whole_sexual_anatomy_for_every_body
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/body/how_do_you_masturbate
http://www.scarleteen.com/article/sexuality/be_a_blabbermouth_the_whys_whats_and_hows_of_talking_about_sex_with_a_partner

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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Good links =)
haha and it's SO helpful to have friends that are also sexually active because we can talk about all sorts of our weird little issues haha... It's nice when I see that a friend had an awkward or unpleasant experience with a guy and is still perfectly fine (as in, it's actually NOT the end of the world, so why worry so much?)
also, it's nice to just be able to be able to say "So, I'm having this issue with being scared to try new things with my bf, how do you deal with that?" It's almost a relief =)

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Heather
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Would you like some more?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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Yes haha =)

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Heather
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Sure thing: what are you feeling like you're needing?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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I'm not quite sure, so I'm sort of grabbing information from everywhere haha...
I'm still weirdly self-conscious--I ALWAYS have been, and I can't seem to get over it. When I'm with my boyfriend I feel better than when I'm with anyone else, but I still basically never feel pretty. I have a hard time with the fact that he likes me being naked or that he thinks I'm attractive because it feels like such a huge lie. I used to have an eating disorder so my breasts aren't very big and are sort of uneven from losing weight and gaining it back, and I've had issues with cutting, so I've got these horrible scars all over the place and I keep thinking "What am I DOING?! It has to be a JOKE that he finds me attractive!" I mean, even without those things, I'd only be so-so in the looks department. It feels like he sunk down a few levels from the type of girl he could date and ended up with me...It's hard to explain...I've been in and out of therapy for years and I just want to feel like a normal person and be able to feel pretty and wear short sleeves and not feel like people are looking at me like I'm crazy. I know this seems like a silly question, but do you think anyone would actually marry someone like me? With all of THIS?

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Jill2000Plus
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I'm sure he really does find you attractive, because when we care deeply for someone we love their insides and that makes us love their outsides, and everyone is beautiful, and that includes you. I feel the same way you do sometimes, like my boyfriend must not love me because I have a big belly and love handles and chubby arms, and then I think "would I think that about someone else, that they were ugly and therefore unloveable? No. So why think that about myself?" I've finally recognized, recently, that I am beautiful at the weight I am or any other weight, in some ways my weight is due to emotional pain when I was younger that lead me to comfort eat, some of it is simply because I like food, particularly food full of fat and sugar, but regardless it's my body and I accept it as is and so does my boyfriend. If your boyfriend loves you, he's not going to reject you because you've had pain and sadness in your life and bear physical reminders of it.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Heather
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I'm so not the person to ask about who would marry whom, but a whole lot of people get married, and I think it's safe to say that more times than not, whether or not someone has scars or breasts that look this way or that is not a major deciding factor. I think the more pertinent question might be: if you want to make such a major and legally binding commitment, would you want to do it with someone from whom that WAS a major criteria?

Per the issues with your body image, what kind of work for yourself have you done around that, either with therapists or otherwise?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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whenfinallysetfree
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I've been in and out of therapy for a while for all sorts of things...i'm like a sample platter of all sorts of crazy haha
It seems like all the talking in the world hasn't helped though...In a weird way, the thing that has helped the most is dating my boyfriend because he tells me I'm beautiful and when I'm with him, I can almost believe it. Are there other ways to change the way I think or specifically more helpful ways of therapy that could do that? The therapist I just got is supposed to be really good, so hopefully I'll start thinking like a normal person haha

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"Feel the pain teaching us how much more we can take,reminding us how far we've come...Let the pain burn away from our hearts...We have time to start all over again..." --Copeland, "When Finally Set Free"

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Heather
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Well, one thing you might try to do is not make light of things that are really hard for you. I get humor and hahas as a protective device, but it does help to take ourselves seriously when something is serious, too.

In your therapy, are you talking deeply about your body image issues? What has your therapist suggested you try to work on them?

Depending on your boyfriend for this isn't sound, and also isn't likely to be that effective (I mean, obviously, it really isn't). That's both because that's external, but also because again, how our bodies LOOK is not really what's core to positive body image, so people saying we're beautiful doesn't get most people there. It may be supportive, but we just don't get to positive body image by having external beauty validated: if we did, there wouldn't be people who meet popular beauty standards so well, and hear that everywhere, yet still have poor body image.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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