*Post publishing note: I wrote and published this post on the 18th of September, 2020, though didn’t share it on socials. Even so, I ought to have stayed with it A LOT longer. First, the title had a typo, my apologies for that. Even so, it’s since changed. Secondly, I needed to go do another round of unpacking for this to be a complete piece. A LOT of things have shifted, but the theme remains. The last edit was done on the 28th of September, 2020
Now I state, this here, is for women like me. It’s perfectly fine if you can’t relate.
*I am not a medical or mental health practitioner and thus my thoughts or experience should not be used for diagnostic purposes.
The therapy session
*long anecdote alert! You can skip to the next title if you wish to.
And then there was COVID-19. After it became official how screwed we were, and still are, I nearly celebrated at the idea of constantly being indoors. Being an introvert and depressed is an interesting mix. I had gone to the CBD at most 5 times between December 2019 and March 2020. I had my last therapy session in December. I felt I had a lot under control.
* insert procrastination, misappropriation of my few funds, rebounds, spiraling, anxiety attacks, unexplained anger, and moods, putting your foot in your mouth and having an out-of-body experience while doing it, drunkenness….*
Since April, I have had frequent anxiety attacks. Only three instances turned into full-blown panic attacks. You know, clutching my chest, breathing hard, trying not to sink to the floor because, as I was telling myself, this is not a movie type of thing. Laying on the bed or couch was enough. A week ago, after the anxiety was beginning to look like a new normal where insomnia, heavy breathing, gloom, and doom were the following in tow, I realized it was time to book a session.
Yes, I did have an anxiety attack during the session, and because I am smart and didn’t want to be in my house alone, I headed to my folks’, where I proceeded to have another attack in front of my younger brother. In short, I realized that while I had dealt with a lot in the past few years, A LOT of underlying issues remained.
This blog is unpacking one of them.
CPTSD- Ati what?
Complex Post Traumatic Disorder. I am not sure where I saw it first, it might be here in this video from The School of Life. What surprised me was learning the term first appeared in 1994. As I was watching the video, I ticked more than eight of the twelve signs of CPTSD, and that got me thinking that, you, sweetheart, have a lot of trauma in your body.
In short, based on the Healthline definition, “CPTSD results from repeated trauma over months or years, rather than a single event.” The symptoms are many, you can check them out on the links provided and perhaps venture to depress yourself before you start your healing journey. Just a few examples is lack of emotional regulation, negative self-perception, losing meaning of the world and religion, and difficulty in relationships.
Here’s why it matters. To quote Healthline, it leaves a lasting effect on the “amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. These areas play a big role in both our memory function and how we respond to stressful situations”
HOWEVER! For the basis of this blog, I’ll focus on the symptom of ongoing childhood neglect. In my understanding, not having conversations about sex et al with girls and addressing their emotions around it is a form of emotional neglect.
*Emotional neglect is when a parent, guardian, or caregiver refuses or fails to see, know, or understand who their child is. Instead, they project the idea they have in their mind of who the child is onto them. In some cases, there will be a lack of care, attention, structure, boundaries, or even rules.
By the way: I am not here to bash my parents. We are in a good place and we have unpacked a lot of these things. They too have trauma of their own, so this is not an ode to their parenting failure. We millennials do that so well…
So how does that tie into the female sexuality?
Here’s the direction we’re taking: The prevailing picture is that bringing up girls in an inconvenience, and their sexuality reduced to a single line of thought; keep your legs closed, wait till marriage, and give it to your husband when he asks for. As though that’s all there is to female sexuality. That’s not seeing girls for who they are, that is projecting a distorted image of what it means to be born female onto them.
That itself, raises women who 1) don’t know much about their body or understand their sexuality and preference 2) are emotionally charged when it comes to what’s between their legs because it feels like it’s under constant scrutiny or threat and 3) carry a ton of painful emotions about all this from the moment, as children, they understood they were female.
That’s, I feel is CPTSD. But don’t quote me.
Class is not in session
I won’t get into the stats or the percentage of women who’ve been sexual abused on this planet. If you’re unsure, hit up nine women in your contact list and ask them if they’ve experienced abuse, or almost, or if they know someone close to them who’s a survivor, or who would otherwise have been.
This campaign for the boy-child exhausts me when we see headlines along the lines of “X number of primary and secondary going girls pregnant in Y county”. Here’s why this thing just does a number on me. There’s a girl who learned she was six months pregnant from a test after being forced to go to the hospital. This was despite having unprotected sex and her belly protruding.
And that is the problem. Who was there to teach her? Who taught/teaches us?
While there are a TON of people in this here planet dealing with emotional neglect (educate yourself here), there is still the fact that sex is so taboo for women that we’re not even sure what is going on. Our thoughts and emotions around it have been silenced. You can talk about it, but in hushed tones. And make sure you’re putting a lot of that energy finding ways to keep your vagina husband-ready.
I won’t even get into the biblical and social context. If you’d wish to, there’s one SUPER informative person I know that can at least help you with relationships and also sex. Pastor Michael Todd is all about Relation Ship Goals Reloaded in this series, but you can focus on the ones where he talks about sex for a better biblical picture.
But yo, I had to learn a lot about sex and Christianity, and what it does to your soul, spirit, mind, body, finances, all that and more, from YOUTUBE?
Sexual misinformation- why is the emotional truth hidden?
If you’re a woman reading this, pause and think about what your first introduction to sex was. To physical intimacy or awareness of it. Did your mum teach you? Your aunt? A close female member in your life? When is too soon to tell your daughter? Was your sexuality even ever acknowledged? Did you feel you had a welcoming and safe space to ask all the questions you could about your body and sex? What about your feelings? And you were abused, were you accorded the space to talk about it?
There was a thread on twitter, I can’t remember the hashtag, but it was asking women when they first realized they were sexualized. The average age was between 9 years and 11 years. CAN WE PAUSE AND MARINADED IN HOW MESSED UP THAT IS?
Let’s focus on how, an innocent or naive girl or woman, gets to experience a full range of confusing emotions after sex, consensual or otherwise. For a lot of women, I feel, disappointment and disgust are the prevailing emotions after having sex for the first time.
Now think back to the aspect of childhood neglect, and emotional neglect. If you knew what you know now (assuming you’ve evolved), would you have done it differently? (But also let’s be real here, some of us are just hard-headed). But for the most part, what we have is a distorted image of who we are as women, and our sexuality. And with all that, since childhood, our emotions around this topic was not allowed or acknowledged.
No, for real, why is class not in session?
In a nutshell, we are thrown into society and religion and asked to wait until marriage and not to be a whore. That’s while 1 in 3 women on this planet has been sexually abused or assaulted. But please, let’s not address those difficult emotions for too long. #MeToo should still be in the public consciousness until this nonsense gets solved
We also haven’t talked about unfortunate experiences with fuckbois and other men, and even women, who exploited us. AH YES! And sweet, sweet Hollywood. Ati your first night will be one filled with love, candles, and passionate sex. When it doesn’t go that way, it shatters this distorted image we had about sex as kids, and just leaves you messed up as a woman.
As mothers, daughters, aunts, and the like, we need to make this more of a conversation than we are willing to. We need to stop and see how childhood emotional neglect in matters of sexuality, is affecting us and generations to come. And here’s my point, we need to have a fuller conversation about sex because as women, talking about sex and leaving out emotion and how to deal with them leaves trauma in our bodies. And given how long it goes for, that’s where, for me, complex post traumatic stress disorder comes in.
How do I deal with CPTSD from sexual experiences
Trauma takes many forms, and for a lot of women, it is the realization that the look in a lot of men’s eyes, from a young age, harbors no security. It tells them that they are no more than an item of sexual desire. There is also the constant vigilance of trying to go around life and not getting sexually abused, whether or not one succeeds. Going through that, constantly and continually for many years, is CPTSD.
So, how do you heal from that?
I don’t know. Ask a licensed therapist. 🙂
Here’s where’s what my advice is. As a woman, stop and acknowledge that you hold trauma in your body, and psyche too.
This is hard, but hold space for yourself to unpack, mourn, and heal. You’d be surprised how much of yourself is stuck because of this.
So heal, my sister.