2. Look at your labels, and create new ones if necessary.
When our first experiences with sex involve such negative feelings, we often grow to view sex as “bad,” “dirty,” “nasty,” etc. And if we experience any natural desire for sex, we consider ourselves “bad,” “dirty,” or “nasty.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Consensual sex between two adults who love each other and are committed to one another’s well-being is one of the most beautiful and fulfilling experiences imaginable. And when you experience sexual desire, you’re nothing short of completely healthy and fully human, since we’re all sexual beings by design.
3. Understand who you really are, apart from any abuse.
The word abuse can best be understood by breaking it down into syllables: ab-use or ab-(normal)-use. In other words, to abuse something means to use it for a reason other than its intended purpose. When you were abused, you were used for something other than for what you were intended. You, as a healthy female, were intended to someday experience and enjoy a healthy sense of sexuality. Don’t let someone else’s gross error become your own. Don’t continually look at yourself through the lens that your abuser once looked at you through. Remember who you are, and know that someone else’s misusing you to satisfy their own selfishness doesn’t negate or change who you really are as a valuable human being who is worthy of love and deserving of sexual pleasure.
4. Be honest with your husband about your experiences and feelings.
For a long time, I never told my husband about my uncles’ inappropriate conduct or my compliance, fearing he’d view me as “damaged goods” and not want me anymore. However, he knew for years that something had to be holding me back, and he was actually relieved to learn that my hesitations were caused more by past memories than by current issues in our marriage. He was very kind and compassionate, and paid for months of counseling to help me process what had happened in my childhood and how it had affected me. In fact, as I described my disgust with Uncle Sonny’s mustache and smoky breath, my husband asked, “Is that why you get so angry when someone around you is smoking? And is that why you haven’t kissed me nearly as much since I grew a mustache?” I’d never put two and two together, but now that he was doing that math, I couldn’t deny the logic. Early the next morning, he had shaved his mustache completely and we caught up on months of missed kisses. Although our husbands may not have the professional skills to counsel us through the healing process (leave that to the professionals), they can be very supportive if given the opportunity.
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