Guilt and disconnection

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Osumilite
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Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Osumilite »

So, when I was really young, specifically around 10-13, I had undergone a lot of trauma, some of it being sexual, and other just general. It was an absolutely horrible time in my life and some of it still affects me now. I was in an abusive household, was around awful people, I made a ton of really awful mistakes, I was a horrible person, etc. and I still feel REALLY bad about it.

Once I turned 14, I started identifying as transgender, and that changed a lot in my life. It really helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am a lot better of a person then I was before. Something that came with being transgender was dysphoria, so for years I felt disgusted with my genitalia and I ignored it for the most part. However, almost 4 years later, my bottom dysphoria has faded, and I have really been wanting to engage in more sexual acts now that I'm comfortable with that part of my body. But there's one issue.

I associate that part of my body with who I was in the past, and the trauma that I went through when I was young, given that at that age was when I first started exploring it, and it was involved in some of my sexual trauma. I feel very disconnected and gross about that part of my body because of this. Not only am I feeling disconnected from my genitalia, but the trauma and mistakes from my past make me hesitant to be sexual as a whole because I feel so much guilt and disgust. Is there anything I can do?
Sam W
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Osumilite,

I'm so sorry that you went through such a rough period in your lifeThere are absolutely things you can do! Struggling to connect with the parts of their bodies, especially any parts with a strong connection to the trauma, is something a lot of survivors grapple with. Would it be helpful, as a starting place, to have some resources or reading aimed at addressing that issue?

Too, have you ever received more formal support around this, from somewhere like a rape crisis center or a therapist?

I do want to say that part of starting to heal this guilt and disconnect is adjusting how you think or talk about your younger self, the one who was in the middle of all that trauma and managed to come out the other side of it. You were in an unsafe, abusive household, where it sounds like the people who should have been taking care of you weren't doing so in a way that was actually what you--or anyone--needs. And you were a kid trying to navigate and survive those circumstances. So, if you can, it might help to practice extending a little forgiveness or compassion towards that version of yourself, rather than focusing on all the ways you feel you were "horrible," you know?
Osumilite
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Osumilite »

Yes, if you have any, that would be helpful.

I've not been to a therapist because I don't have access to one. I've asked my parent with no luck as they are too busy with other things it seems, so chances are I'm going to have to wait till I'm 18 to take care of it myself. I have told my parent what's happened, and they are my only support as of now, but of course they can't offer me any professional help or anything beyond temporary relief.

I've tried to be compassionate towards my younger self but it's really difficult. I hold very strong beliefs and knowing that I broke them as a kid makes me feel horrible, even if they were a result of abuse and neglect. Reading about people who've had similar experiences to mine, I do feel compassion towards them, but for some reason I can't towards myself.

The sexual abuse I endured caused me to be hypersexual and watch a lot of immoral and abusive sexual content online, and even though I've longed stopped that and have learned from it, I'm still so disgusted. Sometimes when I get aroused or want to do sexual things, my mind flashes back to that horrible stuff I used to watch, and it disgusts me to the point it completely turns me off and I start feeling guilt and shame.
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Amanda B »

Hi Osumilite,

I'll echo Sam in saying just how sorry I am all of this happened, and how admirable it is to even seek out support. I appreciate the vulnerability you're practicing here, and am hopeful we can support you in any way you need.

Practicing compassion towards one's younger self can be incredibly healing as well as challenging to start. It may take some time, but give yourself grace in the process of continually trying. Even practicing compassion towards your inner child for a few minutes a day, you may start to see small progress over time. Be patient, and trust yourself that you are able to develop skills to work on overcoming everything that has happened to you.

It sounds like you're also interested in some resources to start, so I've found some pieces from our site that may be useful. Experiencing the Aftershocks: The Physical Effects of Sexual Trauma and Reconnecting with the Body: Managing the Physical Impact of Sexual Trauma
are part of a series exploring the physical effects of sexual trauma. If you feel comfortable, feel free to take a look at these resources and let us know if anything resonates with you. Please be gentle with yourself when perusing these resources, and again, we are here to help in any way you need.
Osumilite
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Osumilite »

I deeply appreciate you providing me with some links! I did read through them, but unfortunately they didn't really help that much, as I don't necessarily have any physical issues. Mentally, I just feel grossed out by that part of my body, while also feeling shame when participating in sexual acts because it reminds me too much of my trauma. Also, my self hatred makes me think that I shouldn't be allowed to receive any pleasure (physically or emotionally) at all.
Amanda B
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Amanda B »

Thank you for giving me some more information about how to best support you. One of my favorite things about sexuality is that it can take on so many different forms. Sex and pleasure are often thought of to mean very specific things when in reality, they can mean anything we want. It may be helpful to take a break from the sexual acts you've been trying and not enjoying, and start to reframe how you think about pleasure and enjoying your body. Does this sound helpful?

A starting point could be doing an activity, not necessarily sexual, that you've always enjoyed. This can be super simple, like a walk, dancing, using your hands in some way; anything that feels accessible and enjoyable. Notice what feels good in your body, and what doesn't. Practice mindfulness by taking note of your thoughts, without judging them. As you said, your thoughts may slip into some self-hatred for feeling enjoyment. This exercise may not be perfect at the beginning, but simply noticing your thoughts and feelings, while trying to practice non-judgement, may be a great place to start.

How does this exercise sound? Do you have any questions about what I'm recommending? Does this sound like an achievable first step?
Osumilite
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Osumilite »

I can try to do that, but I'm not exactly sure how or what you mean.

As for the exercise, I'll definitely try that, thank you for the idea :)

Also, I seem to only connect my genitalia to my past trauma, since that's the only time I really explored or touched it. All my experiences with it come from that time in my life, so that's why it makes me uncomfortable. Is there any way I could cut that connection?
OrionRay
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by OrionRay »

Hey Osumilite,

I know it's been said numerous times but I'll echo it again; I'm sorry you experienced the things you experienced. You talked briefly about specifically feeling guilt about the things you used to watch and engage with, and I wanted to say that none of those things define who you are now, or even who you were then. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you're talking about violent, sexual, or a combination of the two sorts of content (correct me if I'm wrong) and that really just is not your fault. 14 year olds have little impulse control, much less traumatized 14 year olds (given how trauma totally reworks the brain.) Content like that is designed to abuse the pleasure centers of your brain, centers that you had very little control over back then. At the time, your prefrontal cortex was still rudimentary at best, which is the part of the brain responsible for making decisions. An underdeveloped prefrontal cortex combined with the stress of the trauma you were experiencing; woof. All of that to say, the poor decisions you may have made then can be largely accredited to your brain not knowing how to handle what it was being faced with. While that may not make it okay, it certainly makes it forgivable.

Guilt and shame are some of the most complex feelings people can have. Undoing shame, especially shame related to sex, can be incredibly difficult. That said, here are a couple of articles we have that may help you in your journey. https://www.scarleteen.com/article/poli ... xual_shame
https://www.scarleteen.com/article/abus ... rom_sexual



More to the specifics of the question; how to cut that connection. There's unfortunately no one way to do something like that, but I have some suggestions that you may find helpful!
- Shadow work. Shadow work is the practice of engaging with the repressed parts of yourself in an intentional way, and using that to try and heal in a deeper way. It's especially effective in healing sexual trauma, so it may be something worth giving a try. Here's an article on it by the Cleveland clinic, if you're interested. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/shadow-work/amp/
Another good option may be cognitive restructuring. Cognitive restructuring is a practice that involves intentionally engaging with things that make you uncomfortable in a safe way, and changing the way you think of the situations. For example, let's say I was afraid of cats. I may go to a shelter and stare at them through the glass. I'd think to myself something fear driven like "They're going to drown me in fluff and feast on my remains". Using cognitive restructuring, I would intentionally take notice of this thought, and change it to a more neutral one like "even if some of these cats aren't friendly, some of them might be." This would slowly but surely help my brain see that cats aren't something to be feared, and even if I still don't like them, they won't be a source of anxiety anymore. You could use this technique with sexual topics. You may not ever feel totally comfortable with sex, and that's okay. The goal is for it to not be a source of anxiety and turmoil anymore, and for you to be able to have a healthy relationship with your sexuality; whatever that may look like for you. Here's an article on cognitive restructuring, if you'd like; https://www.healthline.com/health/cogni ... tructuring .

You mentioned not being able to access therapy until you get older, and it's totally valid if you'd prefer not to, but if you'd like to talk to a professional there are avenues for you to do so without money or transportation. Here's one possible resource, but there are many others I can connect you with if you wish. https://www.onlinetherapy.com/free/#CIM ... Depression

I really do wish you all the best in your healing. Please know that we at Scarleteen will do our very best to help you as we are able.
Osumilite
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by Osumilite »

Thank you soooo much for all your help and advice! The links you sent me were very helpful and i’ll put those techniques to use. I also appreciate you giving me a link to an online therapist :)

I have found that when I’m looking at or touching my genitalia, I don’t feel any discomfort, which I thought was interesting. My anxiety and negative thoughts only seem to appear when i’m not interacting with it and just thinking about it. Having an orgasm though is a different story since last time I did it, I got a severe wave of depression and it *did* remind me of my trauma.
OrionRay
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Re: Guilt and disconnection

Unread post by OrionRay »

Hi Osumilite,

That's reasonable and common among trauma survivors! It doesn't mean that what you're doing is wrong or bad. Masturbating is a normal part of life, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. To that end, though, if it's something that makes you feel bad it's okay if you just decide not to engage in it at all. Choosing to be celibate for a time while you try and work through your trauma could be beneficial if masturbating is causing unpleasant feelings!
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