Share your struggles (part 1)

Something I have learned through my journey with painful sex is how important it is to share your struggles. Hiding your troubles or trying to handle them all on your own creates a burden that you are not able to carry. I know from personal experience because this is what I did throughout most of my journey. Even my closest friends and family didn’t realize the extent of my pelvic pain, the difficulties of my search for a diagnosis and healing, or how broken my marriage was.

share your struggles - when sex hurts there is hope

I think a lot of why I didn’t share was rooted in pride, at least when it came to my marriage issues. I have always taken pride in my sound decision-making. I typically put a lot of thought into things and never make rash decisions. This prudence is a part of my identity—as is my independence and ability to handle things on my own. So admitting that my marriage was struggling so much was like admitting that I hadn’t made a good decision and I couldn’t handle it myself. This extended beyond what others would think or view of me and was more focused on my own thinking. Somehow sharing with others about my struggles was admitting the issue to myself. I could minimize and downplay it if I kept it hidden, but sharing made it more real.

I also didn’t share because it was difficult to discuss and open up personally about such an intimate subject. It wasn’t easy for me to talk about sex in such detail, especially about my dysfunction.* I felt defective and embarrassed about how difficult and painful sex was for me. I think I carried an idealistic view of sex, which was largely from media (I’ve never seen a movie make any reference to the realities of pelvic pain in a relationship) and supported by friendly conversation. If friends talked about sex, their issues typically varied from not enough romance to their partners wanting it too often. For me to mention that I dreaded sex—or that the pain ranged from burning and sandpaper to feeling like my insides were being stabbed—felt taboo and was beyond what I thought I could share.

Whatever the reason may be that is stopping you from sharing your struggles (and this goes for any type of struggle, not just painful sex), I encourage you to overcome it. I carried such a burden during the early years of my journey with sexual pain. I felt so alone and helpless. From the outside, people didn’t know I was struggling; I appeared to have my life under control. But keeping everything to myself created a barrier. I didn’t connect with others on a deeper level, because I was never completely honest with them. I can look back now and see the effect that burden had on me, even though during the time I didn’t realize it as much. I guess I had simply accepted that it was easier not to share, but now I know better. I encourage you to learn from my mistake and not wait to share your struggles.

*I have a much easier time sharing about my pelvic pain and sex issues now than I did at the beginning.  The years of having to talk to doctors about it, learning more about my body and disorder, and sharing more with others has helped a lot.  I feel like every time I tell a new person about my pain issue it gets a little easier.

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