Sexual Healing

I haven’t been writing on here very much, lately. That’s in part because of a lack of time, a little more because of a lack of inspiration, and over the past week or so, predominantly because I’ve been finding it difficult to do anything beyond sitting numbly on the floor or having fits of great heaving sobs. I have always had bad days, here and there, but this just won’t let go, and I have no idea why. It lets up for a day, then comes back unexpectedly just before I go to bed. I sleep well, then wake up the next morning unable to go to work because I just cannot stop crying. Last night was terrible, but now I feel on an upswing, hence: writing.

Why writing here? I suppose because spilling this out anonymously online is easier for me to do than taking a friend aside and wanting to talk to them. (I worry too much that they won’t want to hear it, that they’ll be uncomfortable and focus too much on “what do you want me to do?”)

But there also is a component that does relate to this blog, and I’ll focus on that for now. Some times, I wonder if Marvin Gaye was right, and sex really is the best therapy for depression. Sure, “Sexual Healing” is totally cheesy, it’s a song that’s always treated as a joke, but some of the lyrics are actually a pretty accurate description of the kind of overwhelm I experience. For example, try to read these lines straight, without hearing the song in your head:

I got sick this morning
A sea was storming inside of me
I think I’m capsizing
The waves are rising and rising

…yes, that pretty much sums it up. We laugh at that song because he’s singing about wanting to get laid so he’ll feel better, but is that really so funny? He sings “The love you give to me will free me,” and taken without all the pop culture context that surrounds that song (and the silly lines that follow it like “I can’t wait for you to operate”), that line actually makes a lot of sense to me. It’s a song about his lady taking care of him when he’s depressed and feeling unstable.

Last night, out of the blue, I started freaking out. My skin began to feel tight and itchy, and I went to bed feeling constrained by the bedsheets. When my partner came in and joined me, I couldn’t bear to feel him close to me, especially when he moved his face close to mine. I jerked back, and it rushed over me, this feeling of anxiety and tension, my body rigid, every touch nearly unbearable. My thoughts started racing, and my words came out thick and awkward as I tried to explain what I was feeling. My head was pounding. I decided to take a shower. Hot water usually does a lot to calm me down. He sat in the bathroom with me while I bathed, and helped me back to bed. I lay naked on top of the sheets, and for the first time that night realized that I was aching with desire and arousal. I recognized this not as some sort of eroticization of what was happening to me but as a purely physical need to have an orgasm after several days of completely ignoring my sexual drive.

But of course, I couldn’t say this. I could barely speak at all. He touched my body softly, and it made me ache even more. I wanted him to gently play with me, to pinch, to attach clothespins all over my body. I wanted to lay back and just feel. I wanted to feel pain and pleasure, but not to feel enclosed, or forced, or controlled; to feel his hand pinching, but not slapping; to look in his eyes, but from a few feet away. I wanted—no, needed—to come, but I didn’t want to fuck, didn’t want to play, didn’t even want to feel his body over mine. I didn’t want to masturbate, even if he were to order me to do so, as it would feel too much like I was just getting it out of the way, trying to release the tension, and I knew from past experience that such orgasms would leave me feeling even worse than before. I felt frozen, and knew I couldn’t possibly do anything beyond just laying on my back. Not now. Maybe not at all tonight. I felt ashamed, wanting him to focus completely on me without satisfying his own desire, without me returning the attention. And so I couldn’t ask for it. I managed to ask him to pinch me. Later, I asked for his hand on my throat, which was comforting and calming, but he began to take it to mean I wanted him to dominate me, and the second he climbed on top of me I began to lose it again.

I can’t even understand how well he deals with times like these. How hard it is to see the person you love suffering, and to have everything you try to do to help her make things worse! How hard it is to be pushed away again and again, and to not be hurt and angry about it, to instead just remain calm and come back and simply be there, to keep trying, to push aside hurt feelings, to not get frustrated and upset when there seems to be nothing you can do.

So he kept trying, and eventually I was able to communicate enough that he was able to touch me and play with me in the way I wanted, and he made me feel all kinds of wonderful, and then I had a series of joyless, intense orgasms that left me feeling knotted up and half-crazed, like having an itch I was unable to scratch. (This is not an uncommon experience for me. This has actually been the norm for me for large portions of my adult life—orgasms that are little more than body spasms, that leave me feeling even more sexually frustrated than before I started.) I eventually fell asleep, after a lot of time lying awake wondering how much my neuroses are connected to my frequent inability to have satisfying orgasms, how much of my anxiety attacks is simply an expression of unacknowledged sexual desire and pent-up energy. Is it possible that at least a portion of the reason behind my anxiety and depression-ridden days is just not having enough or satisfying orgasms? Or is it the other way around—is my inability to have good orgasms the result of long-held stress and anxiety? Or do the two feed off each other in a vicious circle?

I suppose this means I should go read some Reich.

4 comments so far

  1. devastatingyet on

    Last Thursday night, I completely lost my shit. I cried harder than I’ve cried since childhood, and for a long time, and Jos had to come and hold me forever. And then I could talk a little.

    When I get like this (even when it’s not that bad), it’s usually because something is wrong between us that I haven’t yet identified. It’s an absolutely terrible feeling because I am crying, or in other ways feeling really bad, and I have no idea why. Something is wrong but I don’t know what. It frustrates Jos too, I’m sure, though he’s extremely patient about it, and just holds on to me and waits to find out what’s going on.

    So…no advice here, obviously, just sharing a (perhaps) similar experience.

  2. Meta on

    I completely know how you feel right now. I’ve been struggling with some very similar things. Hang in there. 😦

  3. violacious on

    For me, as well, it’s what you say here:

    Or is it the other way around—is my inability to have good orgasms the result of long-held stress and anxiety? Or do the two feed off each other in a vicious circle?

    and it the catch-22 of that can last for months.

    This too:

    wondering how much my anxiety attacks are simply an expression of unacknowledged sexual desire and pent-up energy.

    For me it’s cyclical,-ish, and often takes place when I’m unable to identify and communicate what I need, which is makes me even more frustrated with myself and shuts me down even more. Imagining and looking forward to something structured helps relieve me. So does specific quantities of focused attention, like what you describe with the pinching. Thank you for this post, it strikes a chord…

  4. violacious on

    (sorry about the typo)

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