Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Me and my shadow

I've been pondering, since receiving Hyde's comments yesterday, a particular pattern that I have. You see, I was somewhat stunned by the idea that Hyde had gotten that I was feeling worse about my body since I'd started to see S. This did not fit my experience, nor did I think that that's how I'd been conveying things on this blog.

HippyChick will attest to the fact that I've struggled with body image issues for as long as she's known me. But, of course, they go back so much farther than that, as the previous posting I linked to shows. So why, I wondered, was that only seeming to come across now, when I am having a much better relationship with my body and my internalized image of it?

I then realized that this is what I do. Things that feel really painful to me, and which might open me up to vulnerability, I don't share with others. HC and I had a discussion about this after I talked about my drinking on this blog. I don't know why it is so hard, but it is. It's actually a conundrum in my therapy because there I sit being asked to share painful secrets with a stranger. I feel like shit afterwards, most often. S was suprised to hear that I, a therapist, don't enjoy my own therapy.

This blog has allowed me to practice opening up, but even so has had its painful moments, as well. That post on my history with my body took me at least two hours to write, and the process of posting it felt terrifying.

I'm going to modify what I said above...I do know why it is so hard. I grew up in a household where, unless they were good or happy, one did not express many feelings. If you expressed anger or sadness and it had anything to do with my father, he would devolve into a self-castigating martyr, leaving you with the pain that you were expressing plus a whole gooey pile of guilt. Beyond that, I actually remember times when my feelings of sadness or empathy for the pain of others was ridiculed or told was wrong to have. Not conducive to creating openness of expression. This is why I told Hammer that intimacy is always going to be an issue for me.

S recently asked me how I experienced intimacy between us during sex. I was stumped by the question. And I think I now know why: I often don't realize that I'm experiencing intimacy unless it is accompanied by fear - but there is never fear when I have sex with S. It feels so safe with him (even from our first time) and has come so easily that I don't know to express this as a profound happening. (AHA! moment alert)

I've wandered a bit away from my point, which is this: my sense of why I've been talking more about my body and my self-esteem and what are normally viewed as painful issues is because they no longer feel painful for me. Yes, there are things that make me mad with regard to my size, but it feels like a good anger and it is not self-directed. This would also explain why I feel more comfortable right now with pursuing issues of single women as a practice focus, but when I wasn't in a relationship with someone the idea was so yucky.

Ah, the joys of living my experience!


hammer said...

Thanks for your sharing and openness. Something just struck me when you were describing how you "were just stumped by the question" when S asked you about your physical intimacy. Do you think that all of human experience is actually describable? Sometimes "talking-cure" therapy seems so overly-rational and verbal to me. I'm in the process of trying to write something "true" about "human experience" in my dissertation, and it's really hard. The moment I realize something, the next moment it's questioned again. Perhaps that's what Sartre was getting at when he regarded 'a human being': "who is what he is not and is not what he is." Experience is the most impossible thing to capture, and yet pages and volumes have been written in attempting to capture it. How can we understand ourselves, even for a split-second, knowing that we are going to change again and again? Alas! the frustrations of being confined to academe...

spinsterwitch said...

I think that this is very true and then gets complicated by thoughts or by emotional states. I think that this is one of the reasons why different types of therapies are being, movement, drama, music...even massage as a therapeutic modality can be really powerful (just a disclaimer...I do not use massage in my therapy, but I will make referrals to massage therapists).

Wasn't it Heraclitus who said that a man can never step into the same river twice? That means that not only are we always changing, but so is everything. Quite a feat to keep up with it all.

Hyde said...

Spins, your response makes a lot of sense. I do the same thing-- I stay far away from ever discussing certain things that are way too painful. So, I'm glad that the pain has been sufficiently diffused from the body image stuff that you are free to explore it now.

Also, I found your response fascinating in terms of what you said about not "losing yourself" in a relationship that is D/s. You have more inertia when you are alone and S keeps you active and exploring. I tend to be the opposite. When I'm alone I sing, paint, go to lectures, see my friends, etc. When I'm with Narc (and he dominates) we watch tv and have sex and that's about it. I find myself giving up most of myself to meet his "demands." So, perhaps it's not the D/s dynamic that is flawed, it's just the fact that I've allowed myself to be so compromised. I'm glad that you haven't.

And Hammer-- in response to your comment above- that's why all academe is theory. You and I live in theory and that's all. :/


sfbette said...

wow...this is awesome...i have to thank you, as it really got me thinking about my own experience/lack of experience with intimacy. even though i have been in a pretty good relationship for 4 years, sex is something we do together, like eating dinner (which i know can be intimate), or buying comic books. it is not something i ever really thought about...but he and i have quite possibly never been truly intimate with each other. it crossed my mind today in the shower that after 4 years, i'm not even sure i really know him. i don't know what he's afraid of, what his greatest wish is, what inspires him most of all.

and knowing someone on that level is what i, personally, consider intimacy.


Aravis said...

That was really insightful, spins. Thanks for your honesty and willingness to share some of your vulnerability with us. It's not an easy thing to do, but I learn from you all the time.