My Fight to Reclaim Sexual Intimacy from Porn

Last week I prayed for God to take my hope away. I was walking down the street, chatting with Him when it happened. It wasn’t one of those times when my eyes were blinded by tears and I was in danger of walking into parked cars or falling into a ditch. When the words silently appeared on my tongue, I wasn’t expecting them. It wasn’t a total surprise as I had been struggling to hold onto hope for awhile. And yet I wasn’t in a place of desperation or undue distress. Mostly my heart was weary of waiting.

I tasted the words for a few moments. Unsure of whether to allow them to remain or to quickly retract them. I felt a twinge of guilt, and perhaps hypocrisy, at the realization that I love to offer hope, encouragement and support to others, particularly women healing from the devastation of sexual betrayal trauma and abuse. And yet I was ready to give up.

I allowed my prayer to linger on hold a bit longer. And then I decided it could stay. Which interrupted my conversation with God as my spirit tried to make sense of what to do or say next. I felt sadness, but also relief. In my mind, if hope was removed from my heart, it was possible that the disappointment, discouragement and anxiety woven through it would also leave. I imagined that once hope was eliminated that would also take care of the longing in my heart for more.  The possibility of contentment and fulfillment was within my reach if I could just lower my expectations, be grateful for what I currently had, and just let whatever would be, be.

And by “whatever” I mean sexual intimacy. There I said it. It is hard for me to say. It is still challenging for me to admit that it matters so much to me. That my soul aches for a physical, emotional and spiritual connection with my husband. That my sexual desires and needs continue to hurt me and bring me shame. That my broken sexuality may never be satisfactorily healed. That I may never know what is supposedly so amazing about sex.

I’ve heard and read that sex is fabulous, blissful, rapturous, fun and even sacred. But I’ve never experienced that. Or maybe I have, and I just don’t know it. I wonder about that sometimes. If sexual ecstasy and fulfillment is just a product being expertly sold and I am expecting an outcome beyond its capability. Consequently, when I open the packaging, my unrealistic expectations inevitably lead to disappointment and frustration. Just like the marvellous kitchen gadgets on The Shopping Channel. Too good to be true. So you put it back in the box and place it in the corner of the basement with the shadows and spiders.

The only problem with that scenario is that I can’t reasonably return my sexuality to the stifling darkness it emerged from three years ago when I began healing and recovering from the soul crushing effects of my husband’s porn addiction and intimacy anorexia. There are times that I want to return to the safety of our previously sexless marriage. Where there is comfort in the anguish I know and not have to learn and adapt to a new pain. But with the recovery both my husband and I have made, and the incredible healing in other areas of our marriage, suppressing the fact that I was created and designed by God to be a sexual being just isn’t possible.

And really, I don’t want to. Most of the time I deeply desire the emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy of sex with the man I love and married. I yearn for a one flesh union with our bodies and our hearts. And because of that, there is a battle in my mind and a conflict in my soul between the longing for something I so desperately want, and the despair of believing it is unattainable.

Sexual intimacy is a gift uniquely designed by God for marriage with the intention of bonding a husband and wife to each other. And like any gift, neither I, or anyone else, is entitled to it. Our sexuality and intimacy has been reclaimed from the clutches of pornography and infidelity. But that is not the same as restoring it. It is somehow caught in the land of in between. No longer there, but not quite here. Just like resignedly biding time in an airport terminal. It makes no difference what city you are in, or even if you are coming or going. The journey started, and although you have a destination, you aren’t on the plane.

A few days ago, I prayed again. But not for hope. Rather for a vision and clarity of what is, could be, and never will be.  An acceptance, I suppose, of the amount of time and effort to put into nurturing and building a sexual relationship that perhaps has a limited distance. If my destination is further abroad, I want to enthusiastically run for the boarding gate tightly gripping my husband’s hand. But if my ticket is for right here, I need to find joy and contentment in the place I am, where we are together, and not resentfully and enviously look out the window at where the other couples are landing.

My husband is my gift from God. Freedom from his addiction an abundant blessing to both of us. My healing an unimaginable testament to God’s grace and power. The love, laughter, and joy of our rebuilt marriage a miracle.

My heart rejoices in God’s glory. Again and again throughout this journey to wholeness. I don’t want to lose sight of my numerous miracles because of the one that hasn’t happened. Yet.

Maybe I do want my hope back after all.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

17 thoughts on “My Fight to Reclaim Sexual Intimacy from Porn

  1. 😢 Oh Cynthia, my heart breaks for you as you so eloquently voice the struggles and joys, the stops and starts, the twists and turns, the departures and arrivals, in this wearying journey to wholeness you’re on. All I can say is, don’t give up hope, don’t stop believing for the abundant life God offers. Keep believing God wants the best for you. Whatever that final destination looks like, it will be God’s best for you, so long as you keep walking with Him. Keep telling yourself the same things you would tell the women you mentor.
    Keep your roots deep in him and have your lives built on him. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always be thankful.
    Colossians 2:7 NCV
    I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.
    Philippians 4:13 NCV
    With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.
    Ephesians 3:20 NCV
    {{{Hugs}}} and love to you my friend ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such tender openness Cynthia.

    Yes, keep hope alive! I do believe, in my heart, that God will not only restore the sexual intimacy within your marriage…it will surpass your envisionment.

    I know you husband may not want to talk to me but know that I am here for him if he ever does. He can email me anytime at stubaby777@gmail.com.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wouldn’t take much to surpass my envisionment. I barely dare to dream anymore. I really just need to appreciate that we have any sexual intimacy at all now. We are exponentially beyond where we were three years ago. It’s just that all other areas of our marriage are beyond my wildest expectations. So, if this struggle could just vanish, one way or the other, I could focus on greater things. It is such a thief of my joy.

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  3. “if hope was removed from my heart, it was possible that the disappointment, discouragement and anxiety woven through it would also leave.” So many of us do this one time or another, on so many different areas. I remember feeling this way as a child. Don’t hope, don’t get hurt. I completely related to what you’ve wrote today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I think this part is an universal response to the hurts of life. Lower or remove our expectations from a person, event, outcome, whatever and it lowers the possibility of being hurt. And then if something even semi good occurs because we were expecting nothing, we think we can be happy. It just causes pain and damage in a different way though.

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  4. Your post made me tear up Cynthia😢 While I do know the feeling of emotional anorexia, and the sexual betrayal, and even the feeling as prayer of wanting to let go of hope, I can’t relate to lack of physical interactions like you. I know it takes great courage to be so real and open that sometimes you just want to give up on hope. That’s where people need to understand the consequences of things such as porn addiction and sexual betrayal. It comes at a great cost to so many. (((Hugs)))

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Michelle for offering me your words of understanding and comfort. It is a relief and great support to have someone to share our tears with who understands this crazy healing journey. Hugs are always welcome and appreciated. Love and blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “I’ve heard and read that sex is fabulous, blissful, rapturous, fun and even sacred.”

    Yep. I’ve also read and heard from other moms that their infants sleep through the night from the moment they arrive home from the hospital. 🙂 What a crock, and all it does is make other moms feel bad. The same is true, I think, of sex.

    Society, media, and our peers, well-intentioned or otherwise, have created a complete myth about what sex between loving and consenting adults is actually like. (And yes, porn plays a role here too because it bleeds into mainstream media.) They would have us believe that there is a Big O (or several) involved in every encounter and that there is something wrong with you if that doesn’t happen. You haven’t tried intercourse on wooden stairs or being held in the air by your spouse like an acrobat? Gee, you aren’t adventurous enough. You haven’t waxed, plucked, or shaved every ounce of hair off your body in an effort to restore it to its prepubescent appearance to please your partner? You aren’t trying hard enough and/ or you don’t care enough about your partner. You don’t scream in ecstasy mid coitus? You must be doing it wrong. It’s all absurd.

    Maybe ask very simply: is my husband trying earnestly to please me (as opposed to self-gratification) and are you taking pleasure in trying to please him? Those queries are less outcome based (forget about the Big O) and more about the experience itself. Revel in those accomplishments and really consider how much progress you have made and continue to make.

    Your feelings are completely valid, but I don’t think you have to lower your expectations. If your answer to both of those questions is “yes” and if it stays “yes” over time, then the intimacy of your shared experience will continue to improve as well. Don’t look at “where other couples are landing” and use that as your yard stick. Our perceptions are often inaccurate. Plus, people lie. Just like most babies don’t sleep through the night from birth, most couples aren’t having mind-blowing sex each and every day. (If they are, kudos, but most of us aren’t.) You are “doing you” beautifully, so stay on your path and have faith and hope that this too will continue to improve as your bond with your husband grows ever deeper.
    xo

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your response has made me laugh, and brought tears to my eyes. In a good way. Thank you for breaking things down so simply, clearly and bluntly for me. I am well aware that I have had a lot of distorted thinking about sex and sexuality that continues to need unravelling. I have much of the head knowledge but it doesn’t always make it to my heart. The shame involved with 20+ years of sexual rejection from my husband combined with society’s misguided message towards sex just leaves me confused and weary. It is absurd the lies I choose to believe.

      I definitely need to worry less about the outcome. Not only for my own Big O, but also his. Which my husband tells me all the time. I put a lot of pressure on both of us instead of appreciating our progress which does not make it a safe place to grow. I don’t trust my body, and I don’t fully trust his desire for me and my ability to please him. But yes, there is progress. Just slower than I had hoped. It’s about the journey, not the destination, right?!

      I truly appreciate you and your support ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is absolutely about the journey! And your journey with your husband is a beautiful thing. I -and I’m sure many of our betrayed spouse friends- struggle mightily with the same body image, desirability and sexual ability issues. I’ve found that I have to will myself to buy in to my husband assuring me that I’m not just adequate but more than enough in those areas. It’s hard, for sure, but when I manage to believe with my heart (instead of obsessing in my head) it’s lovely for both of us.

        I’m sending you bunches of (((hugs))) and support!
        ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Your words are so beautiful and raw and haunting….and oh so familiar. I’m behind on reading, but I needed this post TODAY.
    I just told my husband I am tired of holding on to hope and instead just want to focus on doing work and being pleasantly surprised when something good or fulfilling happens. Instead of hoping for it and being let down when it doesnt.
    It is so hard to reclaim that after a porn addiction. Nothing makes you feel LESS sexy than your spouse looking at others (usually younger and more toned to top it off). I’m obly at the start of my journey but I know that’s my biggest hurdle.
    You give me hope though, even when i’m trying to avoid it.

    Like

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