Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Pain of Sexuality

I am keenly reminded of the pain many people experience in the realm of sexuality. This pain is from a variety of sources including the typical sources of abuse, shame, and guilt. But, the sources of pain can include social, familial, cultural or religious messages. A major concern is when the external messages become internalized and the individual replicates and reinforces the painful messages in a tighter and tighter circle within him or her self. Once this pattern begins, the pain takes on a life of its own, leading to feelings of hopelessness, desperation and profound isolation. For me, this is perhaps the saddest part of the pain.

The process of healing this pain is beyond the scope of a simple blog entry. The short summary is the process requires much work, and support. My clinical work, and blog writing is about helping people in the healing process. To highlight three starting points, I would encourage you to:

1) Give yourself permission to be a sexual being. Sexuality is a normal, vital, and positive aspect of your life. Having an experience of sexual health is remarkably liberating and affirming.

2) Reach out for support. Using your support network best facilitates the process. The network can include friends, family or professionals such as your therapist, spiritual guide, or other providers.

3) Feel the pain. You cannot avoid the pain; this only intensifies the pain. Paradoxically, the only way to resolve the pain is to go through the pain. A recent encounter involved working with someone in the healing process. At one point, the release of the pain resulted in surprisingly intense sobbing session. The level of wailing can best be described by imagining a 4-year-old toddler who wails after his/her finger has been accidentally slammed in a car door. Witnessing this from a normally stoic grown adult highlights the profound pain.

There is a saying in the workout/gym/weightlifting community: No pain, no gain. Not so surprisingly, this platitude applies to healing the pain of sexuality. When this process is complete, you can experience peace and acceptance. And, you have the potential for great love.

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