Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chronic Pain + PTSD = Sexual Dysfunction Squared

So.  In the interest of using this space to process my feelings honestly, it's time I got embarrassingly honest.  These are things that need to be said out loud, things that have gone unsaid in my life for too long.  To the point that the silence has become deafening here in this howling vortex where my relationship should be.

In cissexist medical terms there is no category for what kind of "Transsexual" I am.   I haven't been pre-op for nearly 15 years now..  However due to complications during surgery, my SRS was never completed.  It was in fact halted at a fairly early stage of the operation.    I am not pre-op and not quite post-op.  I could call myself an "Op" transsexual or more accurately a "chOPped transsexual" but that would be cissexist and I am determined to stop categorizing myself according to that paradigm.

The resulting complications of surgery over time have resulted in massive internal and external scarring,  intermittent incontinence and frequent urinary tract infections.  And oh yes, terrible, chronic pain as a result of the scarring.  Some days I can barely stand to be in pants or underwear for longer than a couple of hours.  Standing and walking for long periods hurts.  So does sitting for long periods.  Sexual contact is extremely painful, particularly direct physical contact to my genital area.  Any direct contact to my genital area actually is VERY uncomfortable, at best physically and psychologically. 

Over the last 5 years or so the pain has gotten steadily worse.  I've developed various coping strategies and patterns of behavior to limit the pain impact, but the only permanent solution to all of the above is another surgery.  Being that i spent everything I had on surgery the first time around and have lived pretty much right on or below the poverty line ever since, this has  been but a distant dream.  As for the pain itself, doctors have been unwilling to prescribe me painkillers for fear of my developing an addiction.  I imagine if I had a "socially acceptable" reason for my chronic pain, like a nerve disease or something, they would be more willing to work with me.  But the subtle impression I've gotten from docs over the years has been "well, you got yourself into this by undergoung an ill advised cosmetic surgery with an inexperienced surgeon to begin with, so pain is just the price you have to pay."   

Again, the only longterm solution for my problem is another surgery.   I've never had health insurance for the entirety of my adult life and have barely been able to support myself with the basics. Simply put, I'm S.O.L.  until I find away to scrape together another 15 to 20K.  Which I mos def will, TRUST . One of these days not too long from now. I'm on the right track again.. FINALLY after so many years of financial abjection.  But that's still some years away.

I've long since come to accept that this is the hand I've been dealt.. but the dealing with the reality of chronic pain has been a different story.   I suppose due to internalized ableism, I've always been reluctant to see myself as disabled.  To me, being disabled meant being in a wheelchair or having some sort of physical problem that requires you to walk around with a MedicAlert bracelet.  Anything else was just a "problem."  I may be unable to do a few things other people take for granted, like wear tight pants, or thongs, or run a marathon, or orgasm, or enjoy sex whatsoever, or sit with my legs crossed for an extended period.. but hey I'm not DISABLED.  So I kept telling myself.

So let's talk about sex.  I've had lots of it.  In spite of the pain in spite of my physical limitations and the emotional cost, I've always been able to "please" a man sexually.  I did this by focusing entirely on his pleasure, faking my own, and in general completely removing my real feelings and real sexuality far away from the sex act itself.   This strategy made me a phenomenal escort, not to mention frequently sought after bootycall material for however many dozens of men I've , ermm.. "entertained" over the years.   No matter my pain, no matter how little I actually enjoyed the act itself, I was always able to make sure my partner was pleased... even if i had to LIE.

Enter Mr. Laplain,  true love, and the first ever man to actually give a damn about me and my pleasure.  Suddenly the game is changed and I am exposed for what I really am.  A sexually crippled, disfigured fraud who wouldn't know what really pleased her in bed if her l.ife depended on it. 

I am unable to perform sexually with Mr. Laplain because I am UNABLE TO LIE to him.  His pleasure, his interest in me sexually is dependent upon making sure I am at least as satisfied as he is, if not moreso.   But I honestly do not know how to associate the act of performing sexually with feeling sexually stimulated myself.  In truth I think of the two things as mutually exclusive.   I HAVE NO CLUE what feels good to me.  Because as far as I'm concerned NOTHING actually feels good (physically), everything is painful, everything is a chore.. and while I could always fake pleasure/lack of pain for my partners before, I owe Mr Laplain so much more than that and I refuse to treat him like a John.

Our sex life is a disaster, if you haven't guessed already.  And it is entirely my fault. I don't know what to do about it.  In reality  all I have to offer is "Yes baby, that is so much less painful when you do that.  Oh yes lover touch me over here so that I don't wet the bed or start bleeding!"

While at first the passion between us was born of newness and the charge of emotion that comes with having a brand new relationship... my ability to endure the pain and respond only to the pleasure he gives me has greatly diminished over time.  Whereas before I could get off on the fact that this guy really is into me and lose myself in the novelty of that... now I can only think god please don't get me started up because as soon as the blood starts flowing to my crotch the pain comes even harder and lasts for hours  after we're done.

You can imagine how this would take a toll on a man's self esteem and/or interest in a relationship,  to have his girlfriend constantly shrinking away from even the most vaguely intimate physical contact.  To have your own girlfriend refusing to share a bed with you at night for fear of getting turned on by you or turning you on and starting something that she won't be able to finish. 

And then there is the tiny matter of the pain in my crotch serving as a constant reminder of all the years of giving my body to men who could give a damn about me to begin with...  some of whom took my body by force because that's how little they thought of  me as a human being.

There is no immediately solution to any of this  as far as I can see except to call a moratorium on all sexual contact until my physical problems areresolved. Which is a ridiculous thing to ask of anyone in a relationship.  It's not like surgery is around the corner.  How is it fair to ask someone to give up his sex life just because you want to give up yours?  If I could be the kind of girl who was secure enough to let her man have a little on the side, I would totally do that.  But I don't think I am.. and I don't think Mr. Laplain would go for that anyway.  He is one of those rare(?)  men who needs to have some kind of emotional connection with the person he's sleeping with.. so any other person he slept with would a priori be someone who constituted a threat to our relationship.

I am completely utterly and hopelesssly lost here.  And if I don't figure something out soon, I'm going to lose alot more than my "focus." 

But what?


  1. {{{Internet-hugs}}}

    Dunno if that's creepy coming from a stranger, but I do wish you luck and hope things turn out well.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that your voice is being heard. The bravery of these posts is stunning. I have no advice, just encouragement; many couples seek ways to express passion, sensuality, and physical connection in non-sexual ways due to injury, illness, or emotional/psychological trauma... either at some point in their relationship or long-term as a solution to the impossibility of sexual contact. Keep talking.