But what I didn’t understand back then was that such numbness walled me off from healthy sexual experiences and my own spiritual growth.Then, one day at a bookstore, I discovered the diaries of Anais Nin.
WEDNESDAY p.m., classroom: Try to ignore cute grad student with whom I think about having sex. THURSDAY p.m., salon: Bikini wax in case I have sex.I projected my needs onto the characters in my head, and imagined erotic scenes for them to enact.These unshared illusions can be helpful, making sex feel safe.I remember reading these verses with absolute astonishment—after years of being taught that the Bible was anti-sex, here, at the heart of the book that had so terrified me, was the poetry of deep desire, along with the proclamation that erotic love is divine.Why was it so surprising that the Bible should bring erotic healing?If you put aside the honor killings and the domestic violence and the United Nations–condemned restriction of autonomy, arranged marriages (not forced marriages) can be kind of nice, the New York Times reports. Willoughby, an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University, told the Times, “Whether it be financial support for weddings, schooling or housing, or emotional support for either partner, parents provide valuable resources for couples as they navigate the marital transition.” An Orthodox rabbi said parents can do the matchmaking “homework” after your infatuation makes you “lose objectivity,” and the professional matchmaker to the self-described Korean Parents United for Unmarried Children noted that parents are willing to make the explicit demands that might seem unromantic (“the woman must be beautiful, have an Ivy League education, come from a good family whose members are also educated, and have professional goals similar to their son”).
Like, what’s so bad about your parents actually liking your significant other anyway? Even researchers without financial or religious motivations for preserving arranged marriages kind of agreed.
MONDAY a.m., bed: Masturbate while fantasizing about very dirty sex with dark-haired stranger in blue flannel suit. SATURDAY a.m., bed: Masturbate after my date calls to shore up plans. SUNDAY a.m., bed: Lots of cuddling, then late-morning sex. Wonder how long it will be before I have partnered sex again. to 9 p.m., bar: Friend keeps asking if I had sex with my date. 11 p.m., bed: Several glasses of wine later, fall into bed.
I haven't had sex in a couple of years, but that's no reason to miss out on a daily orgasm. This way I don't feel like I need to have sex with him. p.m., subway: Most awkward 30-minute ride home in history. 11 p.m., home: More awkwardness, tempered by a glass of wine and finally making out on the couch.
For years, whether alone or with a partner, I felt invisible during sex—and like other survivors of abuse and shame, I “left” my body in order to cope.
By cutting myself off like this to escape my painful memories, I induced a safe numbness.
Considering that most of us don’t realize healing is possible, I count myself as fortunate.