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Anxiety and Relationship Stuff

So here we go. (trigger warnings for self harm and sexual assault)

My anxiety has skyrocketed over the last couple of months. I was without a therapist for about a month while I transitioned to my new one, so that probably didn’t help. But now my new therapist is going on maternity leave soon and I think that’s increasing my anxiety a bit a long with a lot of family stuff.

In addition to that I’m dealing with some things in my relationship. I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years now. He’s getting really frustrated because we haven’t been having sex lately. (I was sexually assaulted/dealing with a really abusive friend five years ago and its something I’ve been recovering from) But it seems I’ve hit a bit of a roadblock in said recovery and I haven’t been feeling great about myself and haven’t been wanting to have sex at all. He’s kept bringing it up and bringing it up. On Sunday he started asking about if I wanted to go on the pill or think about using an IUD(We’ve ALWAYS used protection but I’m not on birth control) I told him that yeah it was something I was thinking about but even if I went on birth control I still wanted to use a condom just incase which put him off a little bit.

Everything kind of spiraled from there and he had a full on panic attack which he said was due to him trying to deal with my anxiety and then us just not having sex and him having thought about breaking up because of that or asking for an open relationship. His exact words were “You’re perfect in literally every way but there’s still this horny 13 year old in me.” (we’re both 26 by the way)

I ran downstairs to the bathroom and cried because what the actual hell. I’m going to point out now that my boyfriend is bipolar, and that there have been a lot of times where he has broken down or needed support and I have been there. But now when my own recovery process isn’t going so smoothly and its affecting things on an intimate level, its too much and he’s considering breaking up and asking for an open relationship.

He called his therapist who told him to slow down before he made any decisions and he calmed down a lot but i was still a wreck. I went home and went to bed. He wants to get dinner and move things back to normal I guess but I’m really really hurt right now. I spent a long time after the assault feeling like I was just too much (and even before that in dealing with my anxiety and self harm) and I’m feeling a lot like that again. Like I’m a burden who is too much to deal with. (Fun fact I was told that several years ago by the dean of my college who was threatening me with dismissal for said self harm)

This has brought up a lot of old feelings, and me questioning my self worth and I just feel awful. Really really awful. Every time I feel like I’m moving further towards healing from trauma something pulls me back and slows me down.

(Side note: Please do not use this as an opportunity to talk about the dangers of pre-marital sex, that’s not what I’m posting here for)

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TheJediAshCash,

Thanks for being brave enough to post here, kudos for that.

Starting out simple - does he know what you’ve been through? As a survivor, it’s tough to share that even with folks that you feel connected too but at this point it’s something that’s effecting every aspect of your relationship.

If so, is he aware of how he can support you in times like this? Do you know what you need to feel supported in times like this? So tough, this introspection business is rough.

Regarding the trauma - there will be times, terrible unfortunate ill timed, times, that it’ll pop up because of trigger or another. Having him know what your triggers might be (and thanks for your disclaimer in the beginning - super appreciate!) and supportive measures to engage in when needed are key.

Take away for me at least,

  1. Have an adequate support structure outside of your significant other.

This can be through a therapist, which you have, parents, support groups (online or otherwise). Regarding the therapist - if you haven’t already I would inquire about another therapist within the clinic or one that your current therapist knows well, and trusts, to help process your current concerns.

  1. Communicate with your significant other and let them know what your needs are and inform them about your history. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, some examination internally as to why that might be the case is in order.

  2. If you want to continue the relationship - seeing a therapist together would be great too. Sometimes delivering your story and being in a supportive environment can be helpful.

Healing from trauma is a long road and it takes something small to set us back. So, rally your supports, build your foundation on something strong (like yourself through good therapy).

Good luck on your recovery!

I’m a mental health professional and twitch streamer. Every week we pick a post or two on heart support and review it as a community. Yours was the one we picked today.

Please feel free to respond here and/or stop by the stream. We’d be happy to support/chat.

DrDyaus

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Thank you for sharing @TheJediAshCash. My heart goes to you as what you said hits home. Also thank you for the trigger warning, it’s much appreciated.

Healing from a sexual assault is obviously different for everyone, but it certainly requires a huge amount of time to process and regain some peace. Some obstacles might also appear along the road and make us feel like we can’t recover, that we’re meant to be down forever. Our partner can be supportive, patient… but I guess there are times when it’s difficult for everyone.

I was sexually assaulted and raped about 10 years ago, yet still processing, still having intense heartbeats when I write this, still learning how to share about it and trying to heal. It happened before I met my husband. When him and I were living together we had to face the kind of situation you just described. He knew about the assault, but not any detail of it. I basically summarized it as “I was assaulted before and I’m still suffering because of it”, as I wasn’t really able to talk about it. To be honest, if sexuality wasn’t part of loving relationships, I would certainly haven’t told him so quickly. I have almost never felt the need to have sex and it wasn’t about him. Just needed to take my time as my first experiences on this matter were traumatic ones. We have been in a kind of weird situation where we talked regularly about how to create our own intimacy. And for most of the time we spent together it really worked. He was very respectful and always worried to behave correctly.

But there was also this kind of circle repeating itself when he came to the point of being a bit pushy. Not explicitely, not like he would put some pressure on me. Several times, I came to the point of telling him that it would be okay to go somewhere else and I wouldn’t blame it for that. My heart broke when I said that, and I was absolutely not okay with this, but I felt helpless and sometimes he reminded me of this. I really don’t think his intentions were wrong nor that he was aware of the impact it has on me.

By being unsure of what to do or even feel regarding the impact the assault was having on me, by being afraid to lose my partner and feeling guilty about this situation, and as sometimes I didn’t have the energy to explain the same thing over and over, it happened that I accepted to have sex while I wasn’t willing to. Which is absolutely not the thing to do and it just makes you feel worse. I couldn’t insist enough on that. I know you already know that, but I guess I want to say it because when you deal with a trauma you are already vulnerable: you are not here to please your partner, never, and your entire relationship isn’t resumed by your sexuality. Your boyfriend also need to work on his own issues, to learn to be patient. You’re absolutely not a burden because of what you’ve been through.You didn’t ask for any of this. It wasn’t your fault and it’s still not your fault.

I agree wholeheartedly with the advices of @DrDyaus. It takes into account every aspect of the situation. The importance of communication, of having a structure outside of your boyfriend but also involving a third party like a therapist for both of you.

Regarding communication, I realised only recently that as I wasn’t able to share with my partner the exact thing I’ve been through then he wasn’t fully aware of the impact it could have on me. I don’t know if your boyfriend knows a lot about what you’ve been through, and I’m not saying it’s your fault if it’s not the case - taking your time is 100% okay. But I think it’s really part of what help our partners to be aware of the amount of time and patience we may need from them, and how much it affects us. It’s part of the keys that make a situation understandable and allow others to help us the way we need.

You are strong. And I really hope that this situation between you two will get better progressively, that you’ll both find a balance that will be suitable both of you. You only deserve to be loved and cared for.

Sending hugs to you. :heart:

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Oh man. That’s so hard. I can understand from both sides. Yours and his. I can understand the hardships of going without intimacy and I can also understand the struggle to be intimate because I too was sexually assaulted. More than once and was sexually abused by a family member most of my growing up.

Both of your guys feelings are completely valid. However, there are ways to go about expressing yourself. Being told you’re going to get left or asked to have an open relationship is really hard. I wouldn’t take that well either.

In my previous marriage, I was in your shoes. I stopped being intimate. It was hard on me for many reasons. Some in regards to the assaults, some due to the sexual abuse in my family and some for reasons im not going to share here. It was really hard on me. A lot of the time I couldn’t be intimate without being triggered and it just ended up being this thing where I resented intimacy all together.

Therapy at that point is the best thing which sounds like you’re doing. Maternity leave is hard. I know it means that you’ll have to see someone else but I encourage you to keep going if you can. Even if you have to request a different temporary counselor if the new one doesn’t work out because it sounds like you and your partner could really use it.

While I think his feelings are valid, I don’t think he should make you feel like your disposable or not worth staying loyal and patient with. Just remember if things get too difficult and the pressure is too hard, don’t be afraid to step back, take a break and ask for space. Nobody should I ever force you into those things if you’re not ready.

I’m not going to tell you not to get into relationships while working through this because, even I still struggle and I’m in a relationship but I have someone who is understanding and makes me feel safe. But I can tell you this, being someone you can trust and feel safe with makes intimacy a lot easier. Someone who is compassionate and understanding. I am not saying leave your relationship, but I would reflect on How you both can be aware of each other’s needs and how to work through and communicate through them. Is there an willingness to do that? Communication is so important in a relationship. And relationships are supposed to be supportive through the good and the bad. Not making you feel guilty and pressured. So maybe you guys can sit down and really talk about each of your needs, how you can work through that, how you feel and see if you can find a way to get on the same page. :heart: Someone who truly loves you will be patient and willing.

I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of this friend. I know the hardships of it all. I also know we all handle these things differently. I hope and pray that you guys are able to find a resolve and healing process that works for you.

Much love sweetheart

  • Kitty
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