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How Can I Talk About My Greatest Fear?

Question:

I’ve been seeing a psychotherapist for over a year. I trust her and know that she wants to help me. She’s been very gentle in not forcing me to discuss the issue that concerns me the most (my fear and dislike of sex), focusing instead, on childhood trauma of abuse. She’s now being more direct, asking me to describe intimate details of my sex life with my husband. This part of my life is what brought me to her in the first place. However, now that she’s pushing me to talk about it, I can’t. I can’t use the words to explain what we do in bed, ways I react, things my husband does or doesn’t do during sex. I just cannot talk about this. If I can’t talk about my biggest fear, how can I resolve it? Please help!

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Answer:

You are asking an important question and one that is asked by many people who have been sexual, physical and emotional abuse during childhood and adolesence. The reason for the question is that the very act of having been so severely traumatized causes deep distrust and fear of other people. I understand that you trust your therapist. However, at the very same time, you continue to harbor feelings of distrust and that is very understandable.

In my experience working with people who have suffered sexual and physical abuse and trauma is that the reasons for the fear about discussing what happened first.

In your case, it is now important to discuss with your therapist the reasons why you fear discussing the nuts and bolts of your sexual experiences. Once those fears are fully explored, you may feel better able to discuss the questions being asked by your therapist.

Even people who have not suffered abuse find it difficult to discuss sexual intimacy. In your case it is particularly important because disliking sex. My educated hunch is that your fears of discussing sex are the same as your fears preventing you from enjoying sex with your husband.

The common denominator for both fears is that, as a person who personal boundaries were violated by abuse, you fear a similar violation both in discussing sex and in having sex.

It is also important to understand that you probably harbor deep feelings of guilt about the things that were done to you. This is common. What it means in the present is that you fear what your therapist will think of you in discussing sex and you fear what your husband will think of you if you enjoy sex. It may not make logical sense but there are lots of things that we feel that are not logical.

So, I recommend that you discuss your fears with your therapist. Tell him or her why you find it so very hard to talk about these details. Get deeply into the “why” of it and that may help you feel freer.

A note of caution: If you believe your therapist is being “too pushy” about this, tell him to “back off.” If your therapist cannot or will not back off, you may need to find another therapist. However, based on what you have said of your first year of therapy I doubt it will be necessary for you to leave because this seems to be a sensitive person with your best interests in mind: I believe or am guessing.

Best of Luck

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