Loveblog - Dating after sexual trauma q&a
Thank you to everyone that came and shared space with @Issyliving and I during her instagram live. We will certainly do more in the future. Here are some of your questions. This isn’t exactly what was said during our discussion. Here is also Issy Living’s website to learn more about her and what she does to help heal others. http://issyliving.co/
Q. How to embrace sexuality post purity culture? This person was a virgin until 30 years of age. And they want to experience love and sex. Shame lingers for them.
Addressing shame; shame occurs when we believe something is wrong with us or that we are not worthy.
The way to heal shame is with the light. Talk about what you're feeling shame around. Write about it.
Ask yourself why you're feeling that there is something wrong with wanting love and sex. Ask yourself why you believe you're not worthy. Ask yourself why you're feeling shameful. Dig in as deep as you can. Allow the shadow part to come to the surface so that you may heal it.
Another way to bring shame to the light is to tell your story. Connect with others. The more we talk, the less shame has a hold on us.
Embracing sexuality after purity culture? I suggest getting to know your body. And getting to know who you are. Being 100% honest with what you believe, what you love and what you value. You may find that there are old beliefs that you no longer feel connected to, let them go. They are only slowing the healing process and holding you back from what you want. This may mean that those close to you may be uncomfortable or not accept who you are now. Still do it. I have found, those that truly are meant to be in our lives stay or they do eventually come back.
You'll be stronger and happier living life on your terms and what feels good for you and your heart.
In terms of getting to know your body, this is the first step to feeling confident with pleasing yourself and your sexuality. I have found with clients, that if a client doesn't know how to please themselves, sex with someone else usually isn't as enjoyable or comfortable for them. I always suggest getting to know your body and what you like.
Purity cluture had its place in your life. There's also religionous texts and spiritually that speaks to holy sex and that sex connects us to God. You can be connected to God with just you and your body. You don't need a partner. When you're ready for a partner make sure they too are seeking a spiritual sexual partner.
If you find a spiritual partner is not what you are seeking, embrace whatever sexuality and sexual expression feels good for you. Explore this. Know that sex and love isn't something to be shameful of. There's nothing wrong with you and you're worthy of a great sex and love life.
Q. How do you know when it's time to start dating again?
If you love and appreciate who you are and trust your intuiton plus your intuiton says you're ready, then you're ready. If you don't love and appreciate who you are and you don't trust yourself, then you're not ready.
Q. What would you tell your younger self about dating?
1st. Really dig into your healing and Know yourself before you start dating. Therapy, group therapy, different alternative medicine, meditation, yoga are all things that can help with healing.
2nd. Be honest with yourself and with others even if it means people won't like you. Have tact. You can be honest without being mean.
3rd. There's no rush. Don't have a timeline for healing, for dating or for Falling in love. Enjoy the process at each step of the way and honor yourself every moment. Don't settle but also don't become so serious about what the future may look like. Focus on the present and enjoy it. I've certainly dated guys that were for the moment and I knew they were not my future but I got to know them, learn from from and enjoy their company.
Q. I have triggers during sex, what do I do?
I used to have a lot of triggers during sex. It was scary for me. It was scary for my partner. Here is what has worked for me. Recognize you're having a trigger. Take some time to notice if there was something that triggered your reaction. Write it down. Journal about it.
For me, it could be anything but usually something similar that occured during my rape. For example; having my hair pulled used to be a trigger for me.
I let my partner know triggers. As we get to know each other, trust and understand each other perhaps we are able to encourporate that. But it depends.
Also, breath work. Taking a pause and realizing you're triggered and breathing. Letting your partner know you need a moment.
I find communication, trusting my partner fully (I didn't always and when I didn't trust a sexual partner fully I was more likely to trigger) trusting myself. Honor needs, desires and boundaries.
I actually learned the breathing and communication through one of my gynecologist years ago.
I walked in for my appointment and was honest with her what was happening in my life. She suggested I go on a small dose of that antidepressants. I told her I was doing a lot of work about my past sexual traumas. She thanked me for telling her. Then each step along the exam asked for my permission. Asked if I was ready. Told me to breathly deeply and slowly.
Almost all of my doctor's didn't do this. They were trying to do their job and get it done. I used to trigger during doctors appointments. Now I know to inform the doctor and communicate what I need from them.
This is the same with your sexual partner or partners, let them know your background and communicate. Breath deeply and slowly. I have found yoga and meditation to help me greatly. If you know something is a trigger, don't do it. Not until you feel ready. Now I don't have triggers before, during or after sex. This is amazing for me because my flashbacks were intense and scary.
Q. What should you do if you feel yourself being triggered?
Pause. Honor the trigger. Remove yourself from where you are if you feel you need or want to. If you're ready and able to, reflect on what happened. Was there something you noticed that triggered you? Keep a running journal of what triggers you. You'll begin to see patterns or certain things you know will trigger you. Rape scenes in movies used to always trigger me while I was deep in my healing process. I stopped watching dramtic films for awhile because of this.
As you heal you may find triggers go away and something else pops up or triggers go away entirely.
I haven't had a trigger in seven years because I have really dug into my healing; therapy, meditation, yoga, journaling and chakra work.
Q. How can I tell if it's still affecting me?
I have learned that trauma can happen in waves just like grief. You may go long periods without being affected and then one day something pops up for you. The key is the thriving cycle. The thriving cycle you’ll be in a place of appreciation for everything and everyone. It’s also the cycle where you’ll Always be working on yourself and value self growth. Focus on the present and not what could be or what was. Just the now. Honor yourself now. What does affect you now. Have a plan for when challenges do pop up.
For me I ask, what can I learn from this?
Also, I embrace all opportunities to heal. I only saw my offender once after the rape. But I saw his friend almost everyday I went outside and I still see his friend. That used to be very challenging for me. You know what helped me heal? His friend married a wonderful woman. She doesn’t know what happened. She has been a great light in my life by just her presence. Because of her I no longer have triggers around seeing my offender’s friend. I could have ignored her or been angry but I choose to allow the space to have an open mind and heart. It worked.
Q. Do you have to tell your partner about past trauma?
Absolutely not! I will say, partnerships and romance deepens when we are honest and allow our partner to see in to our souls. So if you're not ready for your partner to see in to your soul and know you for all your faults and strengths, then perhaps you're not ready for a partner or for a fully committed relationship. Honor that. Don’t have a timeline for dating or your healing. If you don’t enjoy dating, don’t do it. Dating can be a really fun process and enjoyable with the right mindset.
Q. When's the right time to tell a potential partner?
The right time is when you feel ready. From my experience for myself and as a love Coach is in the beginning. Not on the first date And if you can hold off for the first few dates. For sure before you both become inimate. My best sexual experiences and relationships were with men I was honest with and told them my story. I didn’t have to tell them my full story in the beginning. I let them know if they want to hear, I will share more. The awesome guys always said, “When you feel ready”.
Dating is a weeding out process. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s a good thing. We only want to be with those that love and appreciate us.
I've had men that didn't want to date me because I was raped. And I have had men that were proud to be with me because of what I went through and how I changed my life. We want to be with someone that isn’t focused on The past but They care who you are today and who you are becoming.
Thank you again for sharing space.
If you or someone you love is currently in the victim or survivor’s cycle but wants to be in the thriving cycle, enroll in Healing After Sexual Trauma course here. We heal shame, guilt, anger, learn to trust, forgive and love. http://www.dorothydstover.com/lifeaftersexualtrauma