how to overcome barriers to sex and intimacy(within the context of trauma and anxiety)

"I have completely lost the sex drive"

"I am too tired to have sex. I just want to be left alone"

"I have all these muscle tensions in my body, I haven't got the mood for it"

Most of us experience low sex drive and hindrance to feeling intimate at some point in our life. Busy lives, child birth, falling ill could be some of those reasons. However, if you experience barriers to intimacy and sex over a period of time, it's time to check in with yourself and ask yourself what could be happening within you?

Our brain is responsible for four main functions. Fight, flight, food and fornication. These four functions are essentials for survival. However, sex and intimacy are becoming a much more complicated areas to comprehend. I intend to look at sex and intimacy within the context of trauma and anxiety.

Trauma and Anxiety:

According to Gabor Mate, trauma is not what happens to people, It's what happens within us as a result of trauma. In other words, it is the beliefs that people create about themselves ultimately cause the traumatic experience to cause long-term damage. This alters functions in the brain, it alters chemical reactions and causes long-term physical as well as mental illnesses. For example, when once faces a traumatic experience and if it's not resolves, the person who was subject to trauma lives in 'fight', 'flight' or 'freeze' response causing permanent changes physically and psychologically.

Traumatic experiences alter our social coherence and our behaviours. Unresolved trauma breeds low self-esteem, trust issues, anger, avoidance of physical contact, having troubles to commit, inability to feel physical sensations or feelings and last but not least inability to share feelings or express emotions. Copings mechanisms could vary from alcohol or porn addiction to withdrawal, destructive relationships, binge eating etc.

Sex and Intimacy:

Sex or erotic sexual experience and intimacy are two different things. We can experience one without the other and I have no intention to put any judgement on any of the choices or circumstance. What's important to remember is that pleasure is our birth right. When we have experienced or witnessed trauma either big or small, our bodies get disconnected from the feelings that we are capable of experiencing. If your body is not able to process whatever trauma you have experienced, it will get stuck and crate a neuromuscular pattern of bodily contraction. This pattern will have all the information of the event, plus your fear of defence response, and any body sensation. A similar event or emotional or bodily sensation can trigger the pattern and reawaken the trauma response. These sensations are usually so strong that the body shuts off.

For any sexual experience to be an enjoyable and a pleasurable one, our body needs to be open to sensation, pleasurable stimulation and orgasm. When we experience anxiety, blood flows away from our extremities and genitals to protect our vital organs. We need that blood flow for sex. As you can see, not resolving trauma in the past, not only we create great barriers for one of the most natural ways of being; sex and intimacy we deny ourselves of great pleasure and physical and emotional benefits that come with it.

Often in media and amongst many people, the belief and the message is to spice up the bedroom by getting toys, dolling up, dressing etc. As much as those aspects contribute to creating an exciting sexual life, without the essential work to let go of trauma and begin to feel in the way that our human bodies are biologically designed to feel, the efforts are going to fall flat on the face. No amount of lingerie can make up for the fact that your body's unwilling to feel and connect. No amount of burning candles will help you being mindful unless what's in your mind is clear and clam.

Explaining all these theories giving value to their depths is no something I can do in one blog. This blog's only aim is to point out that there's a connection between our lack of ability to connect intimately and enjoy pleasure that leaves us throbbing to our trauma. It is an open invitation for you to ask questions like what was your perception of your own sexuality, what was your experiences like growing up, how have adults shaped you and your beliefs regarding sex and intimacy when you were growing up, how are you perceiving yourself in these contexts etc. Last but not least, I would love to leave you with one note here. What's happened to you may have shaped you as a person however, it doesn't have to be the way you continue to live. It all starts with a decision you make for yourself.

If you would like to get involved in this discussion, please share, leave a comment or join my private Facebook group.

"Feeling is our birth right. It is innate wisdom, and through reconnecting with it, we can re-wild ourselves back to our original nature: the place we started from, before layers of doing pushing, and obligation clouded over who we are."- Michaela Boehm.

Sending you lots of love

Nisanka x

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