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Sober Mommies I Can't Have Sex with my Husband

I Can’t Have Sex with my Husband

There’s one consequence of my drinking that still haunts me: the trauma of my rapes is with me every single day.

***Trigger warning: sexual violence, sexual assault, rape.***

The consequences of my active addiction have long since disappeared. My debts are paid off, my health problems have vanished, and my relationships are stable. The people in my life trust me, I have references if I decide to apply for a job, and the fallout from my many lies is not tumbling down around me. I’ve been sober long enough now that my life is simple, quiet, and predictable, and I very much like it that way. But there’s one consequence of my drinking that still haunts me. I have no idea if it will ever go away.

The trauma of my rapes is with me every single day, and nothing I do seems to make it better.

I’ve been raped three times and sexually assaulted more times than I can count. In a culture where victims are so often blamed for their assaults, I defiantly declared that I was not at fault for what happened to me. Whether or not I actually believed that is another story altogether.

When I got sober and began 12-step work, I got to the part in the process where I had to look at how I was to blame for resentments I carried. I became angry, telling my sponsor that I refused to admit I was in any way responsible for resenting the men who had raped me. But as I began to write, a couple of things became clear. The first was that while I was not responsible for someone else’s decision to violate me, I was responsible for the way I used that pain to manipulate people—to get people to feel sorry for me—and to give me an excuse to drink.

The other thing that became clear was that, while I was not assaulted every time I drank, every time I was assaulted I had been drinking. While that in no way gave anyone the right to harm me, I also had to recognize I was in those situations because drugs and alcohol brought me there. Those were two of the hardest truths I ever had to admit to myself. And for a while, I was okay.

I used sex as self-harm for so long that I’m not sure I ever knew what it was like to have sex for pleasure.

I had sex because I wanted to feel wanted. I had sex because I wanted people to like me. I had sex because I didn’t want my partner to be angry with me anymore. I had sex because I wanted drugs. I can’t remember a time that I ever had sex because I wanted to have sex. At the time, I sometimes thought I wanted to, but looking back it’s clear that I didn’t know what it meant to want it. And the more sexual trauma I suffered, the more I drank. And the more I drank, the more sexual trauma I suffered. It was a vicious cycle that was impossible to remove myself from.

When I was around one year sober, my trauma resurfaced in the form of dissociation. Every time my partner tried to touch me, I disconnected. I checked out. I was not present. And in the two years since, nothing I do has fixed that. I’ve tried step work, I’ve tried therapy, we’ve tried various different “take it slow” methods. When I took a 7th step, I said I was willing to give up any part of me that I had to in order to be well. Maybe the sexual part of me is something that I have to lose in order to find peace, but I’m not sure I believe that. And it’s definitely not fair to my partner.

I am three years sober, and it has been over a year since I last had sex with my partner. I’m no longer angry at the men who hurt me. I forgave them long ago. But I find that it’s harder to forgive myself for the harm I allowed to happen to me, while drunk, under the guise and lie of consensual sex. I wonder if I’ll ever know what it means to have sex for no reason other than because I want it. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to have my partner touch me while I stay fully and completely present for it.

I wonder if I’ll ever know what it feels like to believe that my body is really and truly mine.

What I know for sure is that the harm done to me by other people when I was drinking, is nothing compared to the harm I did to myself. Maybe one day this will all be behind me, but today is not that day.

This post was submitted anonymously.

header photo credit: Vega of the Seven Seas via photopin cc

This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies in December, 2014.

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  1. I can relate to this on so many levels. While I dont have a partner, I am afraid to let anyone get close enough to be a partner.

  2. The lovely 12steps do not help people. You are proof, correct? You went through the steps and you are worse off than when you started. Everyone got off Scott free except for YOU. Just the way Bill Wilson wants it. Look up orange papers. Read, read, read. Sent with love.

    1. Actually, the 12 steps are the only reason I’m sober today. I’m not sure where in this post I say that the steps don’t work. The steps saved my life and I am eternally grateful for them.

    2. Dear Anonymous,

      I’m not sure where you read the author say that the steps don’t work and the rest of the stuff you just spouted off, but I think you might be projecting your own feelings onto the piece.

      The 12 steps don’t work for everyone, but they DO work for many people. They are NOT a cure all for everything. Trauma is tricky, and many need outside therapies to deal with the aftermath.

  3. I am really grateful for this post. I can relate to it in so many ways and on so many levels. I am in extensive therapy right now dealing with my history of abuse and rape trauma going back from my childhood years to more recently. Although not all of my abuse or rapes are tied in with substance abuse, they most certainly all affected me and how I drank and how my disease manifested in me through alcohol, self harm, and eating disorders. There is a lot to deal with and to come to peace with. And I agree that forgiving ourselves is sometimes those most difficult thing to do. I so often say “if I hadn’t done this or said that or been there then……A, B, C, and D wouldn’t have happened” I know that my patterns need to change and that while some of that may be true it does not take away their responsibility in the crimes perpetrated against me. I believe that forgiveness is freedom. Not for them, but for me. For when I forgive a person, I take away the power that they have over me. Sometimes it is easier said than done and sometimes I forgive and then something happens and I rescind that forgiveness and have to re-forgive. It is a process. I am a work in progress and you know what they say right? Progress not perfection. I so empathize with your inability to be intimate. I often am very grateful that I am not in a relationship so I don’t have to worry about that part of things. Right now, I just need to focus on me and on healing and on getting stronger each and every day. And I need to remember that if I take 3 steps forward and then 2 back, that’s okay. In the end, it is still forward progress. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, it was very brave of you and I so relate to it all. I pray with time and healing it gets easier for you.

  4. You have tremendous courage to share your story. To express in the written form is a part of the process, to then share that with complete strangers is a very significant second step. Thank you

  5. Wow. I’m blown away by your honest and compelling story. You are so brave. I hope that opening up to the world has brought you more peace. Thank you for sharing.

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