This is the eighth in a series of posts about my experiences with a sexual pain disorder, and my journey toward a cure.*
This week a friend asked me, "But what's good?" and I was forced to think about my disorder in a slightly different way. That happens a lot, actually. As new minds look at it from new angles, I need to turn it over and over, adjusting my point of view and reassessing my emotions. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a Rubik's cube.
She asked me this question from a purely pleasure-related stand-point: Despite my problems with intercourse, what still feels good? That question is easy enough to answer. I get pleasure from anything focused on my clitoris, which is just a normal, healthy clitoris, thank the stars. Some women aren't so lucky. I get all the same pleasure anyone else would when any other part of my body is touched in the right way. I even get some pleasure from intercourse, depending on factors like my mood, the tightness of my muscles, the position, everything else on my mind, how much water I've drunk that day, et cetera and onward. It's not something I do a lot, and there have been spaces when I've chosen not to have sex at all, but there have also been times when I've had a lot of sex--by my standards, at least. And sometimes it's better, sometimes it's worse. My standards are low, perhaps, but I know pleasure when I feel it.
When she asked me that question, I took it more profoundly than it was given. My immediate response was, "I know a man's not with me just for the sex."
I see that as a distinct advantage. I'm not modest, I'm a good-looking woman. Besides that, I'm open, fun, and easy to talk to. There are many men in my past who want to have sex with me. At least, they think they do. But if a man actually ends up with me, if he sticks with me, I know that I've got him for real. There are so many people who get trapped in bad relationships because the sex is amazing, or they get taken advantage of because of sex, and that will just never happen to me. Turning the situation around, I'll never date someone just because I'm feeling physically lonely. I'll never have sex because it makes me feel beautiful or desirable or whatever.
For me, sex is an act of pure love.
The men who have sex with me (or, rather, the one man who used to and the one who currently does) know that. They understand that I'm sharing something with them that is sacrifice as much as it is desire. And, since my pain makes sex difficult on them too, my boyfriend shares it with me with the same solemnity that I have towards it--hurting me is his sacrifice to me, as much as my pain is a sacrifice to him. The pleasure he gets out of sex is diminished when I hurt. It gives him more to concentrate on, it makes him even more careful and considerate than he would otherwise be. It means that every time we have sex, it's an occasion, and it's one we take great care with. I wish it weren't; I wish I could have spontaneous, carefree sex, but I can't. So for me, it's ritual.
Since we were friends long before we were lovers, he chose this path. He says he did it because he figured I was worth it. I know that he's telling the truth, because anyone who sticks around for so long with such limited physical gratification, and such grim prospects, must be in it for something other than the sex.
Likewise, in my wild college days or whatever you want to call them, any one-night-stand who was fine with my proclamation of sexlessness was someone who respected me and saw me as a full and complete person. These people were always the ones I was friends with outside my bedroom. The ones who pushed were the ones who had just recently noticed me, and for whom I was nothing but a piece of ass. The correlations were precise. Telling a man you can't (not won't, but can't) have sex with him brings out some of his character, and displays truth about his feelings for you.
For some men, the no-sex thing is an enormous challenge. There are horror stories about long-term boyfriends becoming hostile, or even violent. But I'm laying in bed next to my boyfriend, who's sleeping, and has no idea I'm telling the Internet about him, and he's just beautiful. He seems totally calm, and though I've said his body fits him perfectly, and his eyes are truly windows to his soul, those facts seem even more important now. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this man cares about me at the expense of instinct. He lies in bed with me night after night and never asks a thing. He lets me come to him. Though I'd love to give him everything he doesn't ask for, and some day I will, he will wait till I'm ready.
Having this disorder has taught me more about sex than I think most of my peers know. I've had the opportunity to think about it on multiple levels, with various degrees of involvement, and I have insight that most people are blessed enough not to. I understand sex as sacred. I know it is meant to be enjoyed, reveled in, celebrated, and deeply appreciated. For me, it's something I do when I can, and no social code informs my decisions. But I do it with great care, and with reverence.
My religion informs my philosophies as well. I'm Wiccan
, and as such, I believe that sex is a reenactment of creation: The gods loved each other, and worlds were born. According to one tradition, the entire world is the result of the Goddess's self-love. That's powerful stuff. That's sex. That's why I have sex.
That's what's good.
*If you have chronic pain during intercourse and you know you have no history of sexual violence, you may have a pain disorder, and you should see a doctor. Get opinions from several different kinds of doctors, especially non-conventional if possible.
To read the whole story, take a look at the whole "Thoughts from Anna Rose" series:Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7