Anxiety and Sex: Expectations, Body Image and the Past
In society, sex is portrayed as a pleasurable activity. And that most things can be overcome with the help of consent, communication and honesty. Heck, even I preach those things. Sex is fun, sex should be fun and if it isn’t fun, use those three tools and you will be fine. But it isn’t that easy, really. We all have our hang-ups that we can’t just overcome. Anxiety and sex are often tightly intertwined. It can be past experiences, too high expectations or feelings that we can’t easily control. I definitely struggle with all of those things, and still, most of the time, I have pretty awesome sex.
Letting Go And Self-Awareness
I have talked about it before: I never really had consensual sex before the age of 22. But it also depends on how you define sex. I did things with other people. I just never allowed other people to see me naked, nor insert anything in me. Sex is scary. It means vulnerability, letting go and trusting another person. I couldn’t get myself to a point where I could release myself from the fears that I had. So even in my first marriage, sex was not a major part of our relationship. And I didn’t really miss it either because my libido fluctuates and I had never known good sex. So how could I miss something that I had never had? I masturbated when I needed to get off. And that was enough for me.
It was first when I let go a little and explored my kinky side, that I realized that I had missed out on a lot. I had had opportunities in the past, many of them, but I never allowed myself to take that step. And it seems almost ironic that to be able to let go and be vulnerable, I need to be in a situation where that is most required. A lot has to do with trust.
I trust my Master, I am not scared of that he has bad intentions, that he will make fun of me, or find me unattractive. Well, that is on good days. On bad days, I might feel so bad about myself, that I don’t trust that he is attracted to me and I almost obsessively look for signs of his disgust for me. I also can’t always let go all the way because I need to feel at least a little bit of control.
Self-awareness is important in all areas of life. So it needs to play a role in sex too. You need to know what your triggers are, you need to check in with yourself if you are feeling safe and if you really want this. You need to be honest with yourself about what turns you on. I have self-awareness. But as always, knowing doesn’t mean that I will be able to do anything about it most of the time. I can say: yes, that is what it is. But I don’t know what would make it better. Past experiences, my negative body image and expectations still cause quite a bit of distress in me when it comes to sex. From everything to flashbacks and unhealthy behaviour, an inability to let go and feeling like a failure in bed.
I don’t need to go into detail about my trauma, especially because most of you have been following my blog for a while and know quite a bit already. Sexual trauma during childhood can mess you up pretty badly. You don’t understand boundaries when it comes to your body, and things that other people feel are indecent, need to be explained to you. It has been a learning curve for me.
I also know that our sexual desires in adulthood are caused by a lot of things that happened during childhood. It is that way for everyone (no, and I don’t mean in a Freudian way), and if you have trauma from that time, then your desires might turn out to be anything but vanilla. That is fine though, as long as you keep it safe and consensual. I try not to think about it often, although it is all too obvious with me. It is not something that I intend to change because none of it makes me feel bad. So what if I am into BDSM and kink because my introduction to sexual experiences was a traumatic one? I can’t change the fact, but I can make it into a positive. And I think by being in a safe and consensual D/s relationship, I am doing just that.
The distressing part comes more in the form of flashbacks. I don’t have them too often during sex, fortunately. But when I do, it really messes with my mind. I don’t have a lot of recollections from my trauma, which is a pretty common thing to experience, and actually quite welcome. But sometimes there are small triggers that I am not even aware of and boom, flashbacks. I have kicked my Master off me more than once. I have hit him, I have run away from him screaming.
With time, I have figured out what I can do to avoid those kinds of situations. Any sort of slow and gentle foreplay or even too long vanilla penetration without any other physical sensations either makes me dissociate or panic.
Dissociating isn’t the worst that can happen, but I lose the connection to my body and feel nothing at all. So while it isn’t dangerous, I lose the pleasurable part of sex. I also can’t just get hurt without any forewarning. I love pain during play. But if it comes out of nowhere, especially when really hard pain (let’s say my Master pinches my nipple), I panic, hit him, run away. Another thing is when I can’t see him in the beginning. My brain doesn’t understand it is him, and I panic and fight him off. I need to know that it is safe. So sex in the dark is kind of scary because it can give me a major flashback.
The sad thing is that I sometimes can use the knowledge that I have of these things to self-harm or hurt myself. I know that is very unhealthy, but it is a need I can’t always stop. Honestly, who wants to get a flashback or feel distressed on purpose? I sometimes do, however odd that might sound. It is not pleasurable, it is more like a punishment, to make myself feel bad. That is really something I need to work on.
Negative Body Image
All my life I have had a really hard time with my body image. It has been worse lately and it has impacted my sexlife quite negatively. I know where it comes from, but I just can’t stop the negative thoughts. And I don’t want to be the person who needs constant reassurance of her attractiveness. I have been bullied a lot and those words spoken became truths in my mind a long time ago. There are certain parts of my body that I can ignore during the best of times, and that make me gag (literally, not in a good way) when I catch a glimpse of them during the worst of times.
I am not very confident, but when my Master and I are together, it doesn’t play much of a role. What matters is what he thinks, not what I think. But when I really struggle with my body image, then I am absolutely unable to let go. I don’t want to take my clothes off, I don’t want to be exposed, I don’t want him to see my most “disgusting” body parts. That is especially true for my breasts and my belly. I can accept both of them on pictures, from particular angles. But in real life and during play, I can’t control angles, I can’t edit.
I start to panic when I am naked. I don’t want to be ridiculed, I don’t want to be vulnerable. And it doesn’t matter how much the past has shown that my Master is attracted to me. When I really hate my body, my whole being believes that I am utterly disgusting, fat, that my breasts need to be cut off because of how disturbingly terrible they look.
I have been going into that sort of panic mode quite a lot lately. My Master is understanding and respectful. He tries to be reassuring, and he tries to help me to question the thoughts that drive me into that sort of panic. And sometimes I just can’t or don’t want to take my shirt off, and that is okay. Fortunately, most times he is able to simultaneously push and reassure me so that I can let go and enjoy our naughty time together.
We all have misconceptions when it comes to sex, and I think one of the most common ones is that when your partner doesn’t have an orgasm, they didn’t enjoy themselves. I know it isn’t true. Sex doesn’t have to end in an orgasm, and the best play sessions I have ever experienced had absolutely nothing to do with if I got off or not. But I still feel anxious and like a failure when my partner doesn’t have an orgasm. It is some sort of societal expectation that is so deeply rooted in my mind, that I have a hard time always questioning it.
So when we had sex and my Master didn’t have orgasm or even goes flaccid after a while, I feel like it is my fault. And I suddenly feel this overwhelming anxiety. I am not attractive enough. And I am not submissive enough. And I must have done something wrong. I don’t satisfy him anymore. All those thoughts lead to fears of him leaving me for someone who can actually meet his needs and give him orgasms.
This problem can be solved by communication but in the moment, I am so stuck in my thoughts and feelings, that I don’t really talk about it. Lately, our sexlife has been a bit different because I have been struggling and my libido changed. He doesn’t like when I act, pretend or just am willing, He wants me to be horny, aroused, needy. At least that is what I thought. So I was desperately trying to find a solution. I was so scared that I wasn’t what he wanted anymore and that he’d soon look elsewhere and abandon me.
And behold, communication helped. We had a talk about it and both expressed that we don’t need to get off to enjoy sex and physical intimacy with each other. The most important thing is the play and the closeness, the wanting to have fun together. Orgasms and overwhelming arousal are never a goal. They are a bonus, sure, but they are not a must. I think for me it is important to remember that our D/s and our emotional intimacy are not linked to orgasms. They are linked to a want and a need to be together. And enjoying the time together.
I don’t know if talking about it will have a huge impact on how I will feel in the future when we are not in a place of overwhelming horniness. For now, the communication has definitely improved the way we approach playtime and sex. It has sort of opened up for more relaxed interactions, instead of a focus on orgasmic pleasure. I like it that way, because the pressure is gone. But I really can’t say if I won’t panic about my Master’s orgasms in the future again.
I write about sex. I love sex. But that doesn’t exclude me from sometimes feeling really distressed about it. My hang-ups are not the same as other people’s hang-ups. My past, my dislike for my own body and the expectations that I have set for myself, often put a dent into something that I generally really enjoy. And as I said before: self-awareness and communication are the main tools to overcome these issues. I sometimes succeed with that, I sometimes fail. Nevertheless, I continue to be a sensual and sexual being.