Gina grew up as a hot babe, the kind we’d all be jealous of. It took a long journey of sexual acting out and questionable marriages for her to realize that she was both groomed to be this way, and that it’s a trauma response to early assaults. Being performative, dominant, or checking out are still common ways her body responds, even though she loves her husband. She is the mother of two daughters and is committed to finding a path to sex that feels safe, and hopefully even enjoyable.

Gina is a 43-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as Latina, monogamous, straight, and married. She was brought up in a Catholic home and she now has two daughters. She describes her body as average and peri-menopausal.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)

LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I am sex and intimacy coach, Leah Carey, and this is a place to share conversations with all sorts of women about their experience of sexuality. These are unfiltered conversations between adult women talking about sex. If anything about the previous sentence offends you, turn back now! And if you’re looking for a trigger warning, you’re not going to get it from me. I believe that you are stronger than the trauma you have experienced. I have faith in your ability to deal with things that upset you. Sound good? Let’s start the show!

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Hey, friends. Thank you for your encouraging messages as I’ve taken some time to rest. Before we get started today, I want to give you an update on a couple of things that are going on. First, I’ve decided that for a little while, I need to go back to publishing shows every other week. I hope this won’t be a long-term thing, but right now I just don’t have the bandwidth to produce a show every week. I’ve polled my followers on Instagram about whether you’ve liked these longer less edited conversations we’ve had over the last six weeks and you overwhelmingly said yes.

So, in an ongoing effort to reduce my workload, I’m going to stop trying to get everything squished into 50-ish minutes and putting the overruns up at Patreon. Instead, I’m going to let the conversations play out in full on the show. I’ll still do some editing, so that these sound a little bit more coherent, but you’re going to hear conversations here in the main feed from beginning to end. My Patreon account is still open and accepting financial support at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

Okay. So, in terms of the new release schedule, after today, the next episode will come out July 8th, then there’ll be one two weeks after and then August 5th will be our 100th episode if you could believe it. For the 100th episode, I get so many amazing emails and DMs from listeners to the show about what you’ve learned and how listening has made a difference for you. I would love to feature some of your voices during that 100th episode as a celebration of all the amazing conversations we’ve had in this space.

So, if you feel moved, please call the listener line at 720-GOOD-SEX and leave a message about why this show is meaningful to you or how listening has changed your relationship to your sexuality or what conversations you’ve had with your partner or potential partners that you wouldn’t have had otherwise, anything that you’ve taken away from listening to this show. Again, call 720-GOOD-SEX and leave a voice mail. You’ll be completely anonymous, so feel free to get as honest as you’d like. If it’s easier for you, you can also record a voice memo on your phone and email it to me at leah@goodgirlstalkaboutsex.com.

And one more piece of big news before we get into the episode, I’m currently working on the second draft of the memoir of my sexual healing journey. I’ve had the first draft on my computer for about two years and felt stuck with it. But recently, I’ve had a big surge of energy and inspiration for it. And since I’ve had so many people say that they want to read it as soon as it’s available, I’ve decided to let you read the book as I’m working on it.

Every other week, I’m sending a few pages of the book out to my email list. This is the first time anyone outside my small circle gets to read about my journey from repression to healing. If you’d like to be a first reader, go to leahcarey.com/book, B-O-O-K, and enter your email address. I promise your address is safe with me. Here’s what you need to know. Only email subscribers are getting these first glimpse pages. They are not available anywhere else. Because I’m still in the process of writing and revising, previous entries are not archived online. So, this is your only opportunity to get these pages prior to publication.

And if you have a friend who you think should be reading along, please forward the emails and encourage them to sign up. The more subscribers I have, the better chance I have of being picked up by a publishing house. So, again, go to leahcarey.com/book. The first few excerpts have already gone out. So, if you sign up by Wednesday, June 30th, 2021, that’s next Wednesday, I’ll send you copies of the ones you’ve missed. After that, you’ll just have to jump into the story in the middle. Okay. I think that’s all the business. So, now, let’s get into the conversation you’re here for. 

Today’s guest is Gina. I find her story haunting perhaps because there are many ways that it mirrors my own story. She’s been seeking sexual pleasure and satisfaction her whole life in many different ways. Unfortunately, it has always been just out of reach for her. Gina is a 43-year-old cisgender female. She describes herself as Latina, monogamous, straight, and married. She was brought up in a Catholic home in the United States and she now has two daughters. She describes her body as average and perimenopausal. I am so pleased to introduce Gina!

Gina, I’m so excited to talk to you. Thank you for agreeing to do this. I know that you’re really nervous and I want to tell you that that is absolutely appropriate.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: These are not things that we talk about every day, so it’s totally okay.

GINA: Not so much, but I feel comfortable talking to you, so that’s okay.

LEAH: Thank you. I’m glad.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, I start the conversation every time with the same question which is what is your first memory of sexual pleasure?

GINA: Something I refer to now with my daughters as rubbing which is finding a corner of a chair or something with a corner and just rubbing. Apparently, I used to do that on people’s knees.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I remember getting in trouble a lot for being discovered rubbing and sometimes naked. I wasn’t sure what it was all about. I didn’t know. I just knew it felt good.

LEAH: Yeah, sure. Do you remember how you found it or was it something that developed over time?

GINA: No. Since I have two daughters, I’m watching them go through it. I think it happened so young especially with my younger daughter barely walking and she just discovered a corner. She’s like, “Hey.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I was like, “Yeah. This is pre-memory right now.” So, I imagine it was very similar.

LEAH: Yeah. Usually, I try and keep these basically chronological, but let’s skip all the way to the present for a moment.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Since you mentioned that your daughters do this, you said one of them was very young. When you saw her do it, how did you respond?

GINA: I had already experienced the older one touching her genitals and I didn’t really see her rubbing. So, I already knew that I was going to be dealing with some past memories and experiences I didn’t want to project that on to them and on to her. And so, I just was like, “Hey. This is something that we do when we’re by ourselves. This isn’t something that we do at the dining room table.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Just like, “This is normal and it’s okay” because I didn’t want to her feel ashamed. I didn’t want her to have any negativity even though I’m still dealing with my own negativity and my own shame from as a child of different experiences that I had. I really don’t want to project that. I’m trying my best not to project that on to them that this is normal and healthy and okay. So, when I saw my younger one actually I saw her rubbing and I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is so young. This is younger than I even anticipated.” And I just went over. I was like, “Hey. I know that feels great. We’re not going to do that right now. Let’s move on to something else.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: And did she stop doing out in the public areas?

GINA: For the most part. I’m sorry.

LEAH: No, it’s fine.

GINA: Yes, for the most part. Every once in a while, when they’re watching TV, the little one will pull over and I’ll see her grab the little square foot stool and I’m like, “Are you going to rub?” And she goes, “Yeah.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And I go, “That’s not what we do in the living room. If you want to do that, you can go upstairs into your room. That’s an appropriate place.” And then, she’ll go, “No.” And then, she’ll do something else.

LEAH: So, let’s jump back into the chronology and we will come back to your daughters again later. So, you said there was a lot of shaming that happened for you when you were found doing this. Do you remember what the things were that were said to you and how that felt for you?

GINA: Gosh, I have a memory of rubbing on someone’s knee and I was very young. And no one said anything to me that that was not okay, but I remember feeling embarrassment in the room, a lot of embarrassment.

LEAH: Among the adults?

GINA: Among the adults, yeah. But no one said anything that that was not okay. They let me do it, but also there was embarrassment, so I took that in. And it was really strange. That’s one of my very first memories is there’s a knee and I’m rubbing on this knee and everybody’s embarrassed, but nobody’s stopping me. So, that’s strange.

LEAH: Do you remember how old you were?

GINA: No. I don’t. I don’t remember how old I was, but I must have been three. But I couldn’t tell you exactly how old I was.

LEAH: Sure. So, what happened after that? Did you continue doing it?

GINA: Yeah.

LEAH: Did you continue doing it out among the adults?

GINA: After a while, no. I do know that that became like, “Oh, this is an embarrassing thing. Everybody’s ashamed.” And so, I would very secretly try to hide. If I heard someone in the other room, maybe I would quickly rub on the corner of a chair underneath the table. If I heard someone, I would pretend I was finding something under the table. It was very shameful. And there were couple of times that we lived in my grandfather’s house for a while, my Mexican grandfather. And in the back room, there was this waterbed. I’d be back there and the waterbed had these very sharp wood corners with bumpers on it, so it was a little bit softer. It was the perfect firmness.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I’m still looking for it, no.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And so, I would be back there and I had a sense it felt better when I get my clothes off. And one day, he walked in there. I was watching TV and I was naked rubbing on this corner and the anger that exploded out of him. I don’t remember what he said, but it was, “Wrong, wrong, wrong. This is not okay.” And that even made me feel more ashamed more of it. And the weird thing is I feel like the more ashamed of it I was, the more I wanted to do it. For the longest time, I didn’t know that anybody else did that. I think I saw a little girl in 2nd grade rubbing on the corner of her desk and I was like, “Oh my god. Someone else does this? What?” And then I thought it was very strange, but we didn’t talk about it.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And even as an adult, I didn’t know. I was embarrassed to tell any of my partners. I was embarrassed to talk about it, but it was something that I would do in private and I think I read some interview in some random website about someone talking about that. And I was like, “Oh my god. I need to search this out. This is a normal thing?” This was a couple years ago, but still as an adult. I had no idea.

LEAH: Okay. So, you’re calling it rubbing. I would call it masturbation. Would you unaware that masturbation was something that almost everybody does?

GINA: Yes, for a long, long time.

LEAH: Wow. Yeah. Oh, Gina. I’m sorry.

GINA: Yeah. My family didn’t talk to me about sex. I didn’t hear about sex. I didn’t even hear about menstruation or anything else. I had to discover that for myself. So, it’s why it’s really important to me to really be open with my daughters and give them that foundation because I think the lack of that knowledge led me into so many precarious situations, so many dangerous situations. And also, I know I’ve talked to you before about this, there is a block that I have from when I was probably 5 or 6 years old of being molested and I don’t have access still to that. Yeah.

LEAH: Meaning that you don’t have memories of it, but you know it happened?

GINA: I have flashes, but I’ve since discovered that’s likely me protecting myself. Yeah. So, as much as I want to know and heal that, I don’t know that I want to open that door because it’s too scary.

LEAH: So, here’s the good news. There are a lot of mental health practitioners and I’m not a mental health practitioner, but I would count myself among the people who believe very strongly about this. You do not need to know what happened to you in order to heal. And this was very much part of my story as well because I have huge blank spots in my memory and I have been able to do the healing work. I know some of what happened. I just didn’t understand that it was abuse because it was just my normal childhood home. But I think there are still some things that are probably behind closed doors in my memory. I don’t need to know what they are in order to keep doing the work.

GINA: I think I’ve heard you say that before and I think I’ve heard you talk about your own blank spots and that makes me feel like this is okay. It’s okay. For a while, I pushed myself really hard to try and open the door and that almost felt disastrous. It was very scary and lots of mental breakdowns and crying. And I thought, “I don’t know if I want to do this.” And I think it was probably you that had mentioned your past and I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is okay. I don’t need to do that.”

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. So, you are going through your childhood. You’re rubbing up against various objects.

GINA: Various.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: You actually mentioned that you had an idea that if somebody else was touching you, it might feel even better. So, at what point did you start to try to engage with other people on that level?

GINA: My first actual sexual encounter was the end of my freshman year in high school. And my mom had told me that she had had sex when she was 13 and it destroyed her reputation at school. The boy turned on her. This was one of the actual things she did talk to me about. I don’t know what brought that conversation up with her because we didn’t talk about sex. It’s very strange. I can’t remember. But she told me she had had sex with a boy and that it ruined her reputation. And I’m pretty sure she was telling me that, so that I wouldn’t do that. She was trying to lead me away from that kind of behavior. Here’s the weird thing. She told me she was 13. And so, in my mind, I was like, “As long as I get past 13, I’m good.”

LEAH: Oh, wow. Yeah, yeah. Totally.

GINA: Yeah. I’m like, “Okay. As long as I make it older than 13, then I have succeeded.” And that’s a weird thing that’s stayed in my mind that I go, “Oh my goodness. What is that look like for other people?” I had this like, “As long as I’m over 13, then I’ve had succeeded, then I have passed. I’m okay.” But I’m pretty sure these aren’t conversations other people have like that.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Like, “Okay. I’m 14 now. I’m okay. I’m past 13.” I had heard of other kids in junior high talking about having sex and they were in 7th grade. I was like, “Oh, wow. Way too young, way too young. That’s way too young.” Because I already knew, it starts at 13.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: But then I had heard people not having sex until they were 16 or 17 and I thought, “Oh wow. That’s really old.”

LEAH: Right. Sure. It’s funny how our expectations get set.

GINA: And so, I’m like, “How do I navigate this with my girls? What’s an acceptable age to tell them so that they don’t fixate on 13 for god’s sake?”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I had had a couple of boyfriends and I was very nervous of kissing or anything like that. So, I avoided that. If a boyfriend got too close and he wanted to kiss me, I was like, “Nope. That’s too serious to me. I have no interest in this.” And so, I would remove myself from that relationship. And then, I had a boyfriend. We went to see the movies. I was in 9th grade. I was right around my 14th birthday.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And right around there, we went to the movies. We were watching the movie and he decides to take this moment, it still angers me, to reach over and put his hand on my breast like around the nipple, just go around it, just like he was feeling, just palms open, but the fingertips were going around in circular motion around my nipple and just feeling the fabric of my breast. And it felt like I wasn’t involved in it and that I wasn’t sure what to do, but he was enjoying himself and I felt very much an object and I didn’t like it. And so, I broke up with him.

And then, when I eventually did get together with my next boyfriend, it took us a little while. We would make out and it felt okay and it felt like we were both mutually discovering each other’s bodies and that felt more natural than having been groped and having been an object. I didn’t feel that way with him. I actually eventually married him and then divorced. We were way too young.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: We married at 18 years old. There were a lot of other things that were going on there. His family would openly talk about dildos and it was very strange.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I was like, “What? What?”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, you’re making out with this boyfriend. Were you still masturbating at home when you were by yourself?

GINA: Yes, yes.

LEAH: And did you have any of that similar kind of pleasure with him before the two of you started having genital contact? Did you experience pleasure from playing with him?

GINA: Yes. He was the first person, oh my god, no he wasn’t. I forgot there was an incident that I was fingered and it was by someone that I didn’t really want to finger me who someone I had considered a family member. but wasn’t by blood.

LEAH: That doesn’t make it okay.

GINA: I know. It doesn’t at all. But I guess in his eyes I wasn’t related because we weren’t by blood, so I was there for the picking. But for me, I felt absolutely violated because I thought we were family members and you don’t do that with that kind of thing with your family.

LEAH: Yeah. How did this even arise?

GINA: Yeah. I was at staying at my aunt’s house and it was her stepson. We were there visiting the family. And so, I was there with my best friend. We stayed there for the weekend just to visit my aunt and there was a boy that was a friend of theirs that I was like, “Oh, he was cute.” And so, we flirted all day long. I think I was 13. We flirted and flirted and flirted and I was like, “Oh my gosh.” And he talked to my other cousin about maybe getting together with me. So, there was these sex conversations going on with them and the back-and-forth note passing. It was all very middle school feeling and the flirtations out by the pool in the backyard and we’d walk to the park and we’d flirt. There was a little bit of kissing going on, but not much was happening.

And then, I guess his brother, my cousin’s brother, my other cousin, I don’t know what happened, but he snuck into the room that I was in. My best friend was sleeping next to me in the bed. He snuck in and just started touching me and I was paralyzed. So, here’s what I have discovered since. That trauma when I was a very little girl that I have no access to, I have just enough access to know that it puts me in this place that I freeze and I remove myself from my body and that was exactly what happened that night. I just watched it happening, but I tried to remove myself from any of the feeling or sensation of it. And then I felt disgusting the next day and he very much paraded around like he had this conquest and I felt disgusting and I wanted to leave, but we were there for two more days. And I felt I couldn’t tell anybody and I felt ashamed and somehow that was my fault, very strange. And of course, I look back now and I’m like, that’s because what I pulled from that first experience of being molested as a little girl, it’s all those feelings of shame.

LEAH: So, I just want to go back and re-language one thing which is when you started this story by saying I was penetrated, I think you said, or somebody inserted his fingers. I don’t remember exactly what you said, but it was like, “I was penetrated.” No, you were assaulted. That is assault. That is molestation.

GINA: Yes. It was. It was for sure. It was for sure.

LEAH: I think we just need to be clear about those words.

GINA: No, you’re right. And I don’t even assign those words to that particular incident for some reason, but it totally was. It was unwanted. I didn’t want it. And I think because I have memory of it and at some point, it felt good. This is the weirdest thing and I’m sure you’ve heard it over and over because at some point, it felt good and I relaxed into enjoying the feeling of it, it feels like it was then allowed.

LEAH: Right. So, you are correct. This is a thing that happens. It still does not mean it was consensual. So, I studied for a couple of years with Iyanla Vanzant. I consider her my spiritual teacher and she was molested as a very young child and she would talk about how confusing that was because as a young child, she experienced pleasure. And so, does that mean that I somehow asked for it that I was saying yes to it because I wasn’t saying no? And what she would always say and I just love this turn of phrase, she would say, “A warm tongue on a wet pussy feels good. Period.” That does not mean that you consented. First of all, you were 13, which we already know was below the age of consent for your family.

GINA: It was below. Below.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: But just because something can still be assault and have a moment of pleasure because your body responds. We have nerve endings there and that’s part of what makes it so confusing. You did not consent.

GINA: No. No, I did not. So, with this boyfriend that I did consent, I welcomed that, of course. And that went on for a couple months and we talked about having sex. I never felt pressured or pushed into it. It was my decision and I felt good about that that I was in charge of that. And also, I knew sex could lead to pregnancy.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: So, I decided to bring it to my mom. I said, “Mom, I think I need to go on birth control. And she said, “Oh.” She was very, very upset about it, “Why?” I said, “Because I’m getting to an age that I haven’t had sex yet. I just want to tell you that. I haven’t had any sex. But it’s something that might happen and I don’t want to be unprepared.” And so, she said, “Oh, okay. I guess that’s good.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Very, very uncomfortable talking about it. “That’s good that you are being prepared” and took me and I got the prescription.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Are you aching to explore new vistas of your sexuality, but you’re not quite sure how to proceed? Are you wondering if your desires are normal? Are you afraid you’ll have to blow up your existing relationship to have the kind of sex you want? Or maybe you’re hearing these conversations every week and thinking, “I understand what she’s talking about. I just don’t know how to do it in my life.”

Well, that’s where personalized sex and intimacy coaching comes in. When you work with me, I promise to help you feel safe exploring your sexuality. I promise that your sexuality is not shameful and together we’ll help you see yourself, your needs, and your desires without judgment. Now, I’m not going to tell you what you should do or feed you answers. That’s not what coaching is about. Instead, I’m going to walk with you in the process of discovering what’s right for you in a way that respects your emotional needs, your boundaries, and the pace that’s right for your nervous system because going too fast can send you into shutdown while going too slow can be infuriating and exhausting. The goal is to find the right pace for you.

I work with clients who are motivated to explore many different areas of sexuality including things like learning how to talk about your sexual desires with current or future partners, learning to date after a long time out of the dating pool, questioning if you might be queer, challenging body image insecurity and sexual relationships, dipping your toes into BDSM or consensual non-monogamy, exploring sexuality for later in life virgins, recovering from infidelity and so much more.

I believe this work is deeply important and should be available to every woman regardless of your financial situation. That is why I know offer variable pricing whether you’re experiencing financial challenges, are financially stable or have some extra to pay it forward, there’s an option for you. And I give the same level of care and support to you regardless of the pricing level you choose. For more information and to schedule a discovery call, visit www.leahcarey.com/coaching. That’s leahcarey.com/coaching. Now, let’s get back to the conversation.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: So, when you finally did have consensual penetration, did you enjoy it?

GINA: Yes, yes. But I have this sigh that comes to me because I don’t know exactly where this came from but I already had this idea that I had to be performative. I know it’s performative now, but I didn’t know it was performative then. I had to show him that I enjoyed sex. I had to make the noises and contort my body in a certain way and I had to be very aware of all the ways I was doing these things to show him that I was enjoying what he was doing to me. And that if I just laid there, that wasn’t good enough. I don’t know what else to say about that, I had that from the very beginning.

And I want to just bring up this story it’s related to me. My father for some reason had this idea that me being attractive somehow it made him, what’s the word I’m looking for here? It added value to him by having an attractive daughter. And so, he fully supported me wearing skin tight very sexually revealing clothes at a very young age. Yeah.

LEAH: Was that a cultural thing? Did you see other fathers doing that with their daughters?

GINA: No. When I was a very little girl, this is always strange and it makes me feel very uncomfortable to think about, but we were watching TV. He’d go, “Okay, Gina. Pretend we’re on a date. Pretend you’re a teenage girl and we’re on a date and I’m being your boyfriend and I have my arm around you. What do you do?” And I was like, “I don’t know.” That was very strange to me and I don’t know what that’s about. He would tell these weird inappropriate jokes and think that they’re really funny.

One thing that he said when he was in high school. Are you kidding me? He went on this date with this girl and they went to the drive-in movies and he took her bra off and her boobs dropped six inches and he found that disgusting. And so, he quickly scooped them back up and tried to put her bra back and on and take her home. And that always struck me as like, what a weird thing to say to your daughter. What a weird thing not to me, but in front of me. What a weird story to share. What?

But here’s what it did to me. From the moment I got breasts, I was terrified of them hanging in any way. I was terrified of that. I would wear a bra to sleep from the moment I got breasts. I would constantly keep them contained and it makes me angry to think about that. How weird? And this whole idea of I remember I went to this wedding. I was again probably 14 years old, something like that. We went to this wedding and he took me shopping for clothes to wear and he was totally cool with me wearing this stretchy velvet. off the shoulder, something you’d see Kelly from Married with Children wearing.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: That was totally okay. But also, I bring that up because you asked me, did I see other fathers doing that to their daughters? The only father that I saw doing that to their daughter not that Al Bundy did it to his daughter, but he was a father of a very sexually forward provocative looking daughter.

LEAH: Yeah. How did your mother respond to that?

GINA: She always looked mortified, but she never said anything.

LEAH: Can I ask you a really sensitive question that you’re welcome to not answer?

GINA: Yeah.

LEAH: Do you think it was your father who molested you?

GINA: No. No, I know who it was.

LEAH: Oh, you do. Okay.

GINA: I just don’t have access. I remember walking in the room. I have flashes of things that happened. But for the longest time, I thought that things were happening and I got out. This is also an interesting thing. It became a game almost for me that I was unaware I was playing for the longest time was can I get myself into a very dangerous sexual situation and get out safely? And often I could. And then, I was like, “Oh, good. I did it. I got out. I was in charge. I was in control. I was able to get out of that situation.” And sometimes I didn’t. And then, I would just mentally remove myself from the situation of what was happening to my body.

LEAH: This was when you were a teenager and older?

GINA: Yeah.

LEAH: This was a game you played. That makes a ton of sense to me, trying to go back and reclaim that situation or that experience. Yeah.

GINA: Yeah. And I know now that’s what I was doing. As a young 20 something I had no idea that’s what I was doing, but I think the first time that I did that I was 18 and I didn’t get out. And I was like, “Oh, shoot. I didn’t make it out.” But I didn’t know what I was doing. I was being promiscuous. And then, I would search out those situations to be promiscuous and then flirtatious and then performative and then try and get out of the situation. And sometimes, I was successful and sometimes I wasn’t. But I would search out dangerous situations.

LEAH: Do you feel like in those times when you didn’t get out, do you categorize that as times that you were assaulted or do you take that on yourself as, “I put myself there?”

GINA: Only a couple could I maybe in my mind feel okay saying I was assaulted even though I recognize that probably most of those times, I was assaulted. But historically, I have only counted two of those times.

LEAH: And what’s the difference for those two versus all the rest?

GINA: The times I was successful, let’s say, that I consider myself I was successful getting out of the situation, “Oh, I was successful,” we would be kissing, touching, maybe even clothes were coming off and then I would go, “And I’m out.” And I was able to and the person didn’t pull me down. It was just like, “Oh. Okay.” Surprised, but they didn’t try to coerce. They didn’t try to use any force. So, I got out of those safely. But the times that I didn’t, I would try and get out, but I’d be held down like, “No. You brought me here.”

LEAH: So, that’s sexual assault?

GINA: Yeah. “No, you brought me here and we’re going to finish this” kind of thing.

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. You mentioned that you married the guy from high school. But then it sounds like this was also happening at 18, so what’s the timeline going on there? Were those happening concurrently or separately?

GINA: That did happen concurrently. He was in the military. I was a year behind him in high school. He left for the military. And I felt very lost because I had made him my whole life and I didn’t know. I separated myself from any of my friends. It was an abusive relationship. I just have to drop that there. It was emotionally and mentally abusive. And he came from alcoholics and lots of trauma. I don’t even want to scratch the surface on his trauma because it was, oh my god, so much. He was gone. He came back, proposed to me, I said “Yes.” I was 18. Once again, my mother and father got married at 18. 18 was the acceptable age. But I was in the middle of high school at 18.

And so, I got married in the middle of high school. And he went back to the other side of the country and I was in high school now married. And at that point, I was an honors, AP, all these things and college bound, but now I had become married and I decided that that was my thing. So, I withdrew from all of my classes and just took the easiest route because I was getting married and I was leaving. I’d had enough credits to graduate midterm, so I did.

And then, I moved across the country and moved in with him. But I had panic attacks and anxiety attacks every night so much so that the ring that he gave me that I got married with turned my finger green and it wasn’t anything wrong with the metal. It was my stress and my chemistry was screaming. And I would scream every night. And one of my parents would have to come in the room and tell me I was okay. I couldn’t breathe. I was being suffocated and choked in my dreams. I was so scared.

And then. I was invited to this party and there was a boy there who I had a little bit of a crush on. And that was my first time getting myself in one of those situations that I thought maybe I could get out of and then I didn’t. And then I held onto that. I didn’t say anything because I had essentially cheated on my husband. I was 18 years old. I had cheated on my husband. I had never had sex with anyone else and I was having anxiety attacks. And I moved across country and we did not have a good relationship.

We brought people into our relationship. We had three ways and very weird things. He got into some serious financial debt. I ended up becoming a stripper to try and pay off the debt and it was all weird. And throughout all of that, I made myself a double life. So, I was afraid of my relationship with him. I was afraid of him killing me. It’s so much. I don’t know if I want to go into it or if you want me to, but it’s too much. So, I had this double life that I would have boyfriends, then come back to this marriage that I was terrified of. It was weird. But yeah, I finally got out of that.

LEAH: Was he aware that you were stripping?

GINA: Yes.

LEAH: And how did that affect the relationship? Because there are some stripper dancers who have monogamous relationships and their partner is completely supportive. And there are others where the partner is really, really threatened.

GINA: I think he was threatened, but also it was an ego boost to have a wife that was as hot as that. “My wife’s so hot to be a stripper,” which also brings me back to I’m not so surprised my father thought it was an ego boost to have a hot daughter. Are you kidding me? Yeah.

LEAH: How did you feel when you were up on the pole?

GINA: Powerful.

LEAH: So, was that a good experience for you?

GINA: For a little while, it was. I was in charge of myself and they couldn’t touch me. Here’s the thing. They couldn’t touch me. I could do whatever. I could do all these things and I had their gaze and I had their eye and they would give me money and they couldn’t touch me. And even when we’re doing lap dances, their hands were in these loops. They couldn’t touch me. And it felt to me like the ultimate power. I was in control. I said when it stopped. There was a camera watching. They couldn’t hurt me and I don’t know that worked for me.

Until after a while, I had always been attracted to women in a way, but never in a way that I wanted to have a relationship and be girlfriends. But I always found women’s bodies beautiful and I had sexual relations with women a couple times. And at some point in my stripping career of a year and a half, men started to disgust me, just really, really to disgust me. I would see men out there and all I could see was just I was an object. They could care less what naked body was in front of them, just as long as it was a naked body. It wasn’t me. It had nothing to do with me. They didn’t see a person. They didn’t see a personality.

Sometimes, I felt like I was doing charity. There would be these old men coming in or these men who just clearly had no self-confidence who weren’t very traditionally societally attractive. But they had a chance to be with a beautiful woman that they wouldn’t have a chance. And so, sometimes, that made me feel gracious. I’m proving these men with an opportunity to be with a beautiful woman and they’ll never have this opportunity. How wonderful. I get to do that. And I learned that looking at someone in the eyes was the intimate place. That was intimacy. I could lock eyes with someone and get that intimacy. It didn’t matter what anybody looked like. There was that intimate moment and I was in control. I controlled their gaze. But I would see that it really didn’t matter. And after a while, I was like, “This is disgusting.” And so, all I would do is I would go to work and you don’t get paid hourly as a stripper.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: So, there’s no hourly wage. You just have a shift.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Sometimes, you can make $1,000 more, whatever. But it really depended on how much you hustled in that time that four-hour, six-hour shift, whatever it was. And there became a time that I would dance on the stage, get a couple dollars, but I actually didn’t even want to go near the men to get the dollars. I was just like, “You can throw it on the stage. I’m not going to come near you. You disgust me. This is gross.” And they’d ask for lap dances and I was like, “No.”

And at one point, the lowest point, I came home with $13 for a five-hour shift or something like that. I don’t remember how long the shift was, $13. And I was like, “This Isn’t worth my time. I don’t want to do this anymore.” And so, I stopped. The entire time though I kept a job working at a coffee shop, so I had a paper trail. So, at least I had that sense that I wanted to make sure I had work history because this one wasn’t real work history. Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I was like, “This isn’t worth my time anymore and men are disgusting.”

LEAH: How did men are disgusting translate over to your husband?

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Yeah. Not so great. We divorced.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Yeah. It was hard. But I was also having relationships outside of the marriage and I just had this sense. I was like, “This is not who I want to be. I don’t want to be this person. Who this person is, is so far from the Gina I could have been or should be. And I don’t want to do this anymore.” So, it took everything I had to finally get out of that relationship, but I was so afraid that if I told him I wanted to leave him that he would kill me. I was afraid that he would kill me or hurt me so badly or something.

And I finally hit this point where I was like, “You know what? I don’t even care if he kills me. I just don’t even care. Do it. I’m out. I won’t be here for one more minute whether it’s me leaving or it’s you killing me, but I’m not going to be here anymore.” And it was an empowering decision that I was just like, “I’m in control of this. I don’t need to stay here. I don’t need to pretend. I don’t need to have relationships outside to make myself feel fulfilled being in this relationship that I feel so drained and nothing.” And I told him and he was shocked and he didn’t kill me thankfully.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And I moved out.

LEAH: So, I know that you’re married now and have kids. Is there a lot of story between when you left your husband and then you married the next husband?

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Yes. Right when I left my husband, I started dating this other guy. I was like, “I think I’m going to rewrite the story. I’m going to rewrite it and I’m going to be monogamous and I’m going to be truthful and I’m going to try this again.” And he was in the military too. It was a very short lived, very, very fiery, burned the candles at both end of the stick, but I married him the day that I divorced my husband. At the courthouse, we walked over and got our marriage certificate that day. I’m not going to give this day to him. It’s mine. I’m claiming it.

LEAH: Your sound went weird for a minute, but now it’s back, so it’s okay.

GINA: Okay, sorry.

LEAH: Yeah. That’s fine.

GINA: Yeah. But I didn’t marry him even though I was in love with him and we had a relationship and all that kind of stuff. I didn’t marry him because I wanted to be his wife. I married him for the military benefits. Yeah. And we both were very clear that’s why we wore bell bottoms and t-shirts and used candy rings.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: It was meant to not be a real marriage. And then, a month later I moved back home to the West coast and he stayed there and we didn’t get divorced for a couple of years until he called me. He’s like, “Hey. My girlfriend’s pregnant. We should probably get divorced.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Like, “Oh yeah, yeah. We should probably do that. Sure.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: So, even though I was on paper I was married again, it doesn’t really count to me as a marriage. But after that, I was trying to figure out, “Who am I? How do I grow myself up a little bit?” And I had strings and strings and strings of sexual encounters. A friend of mine at one point was just like, “How much sex do you have, Gina?” I got this nickname, Gina, Gina Sex Machina, which was ridiculous, yeah. Because I had sex with everyone and anybody all the time. If it was a week and I hadn’t had sex in a week, I was like, “Come on.”

LEAH: And what were your safety protocols when you were having sex with people who were not regular partners?

GINA: Condoms.

LEAH: Were you getting checked for STIs periodically?

GINA: Occasionally, yeah.

LEAH: Were you having conversations with them about their STI status?

GINA: Not as much as I should have. It was very dangerous. It was very dangerous. And when I finished with that period of my life, I went, “Oh my God. I’m so thankful. That could have gone so wrong.”

LEAH: Yeah. I don’t in any way want to suggest that there’s anything shameful about having that kind of sexual period. Also, if there are people who are listening who are in the middle of that sexual type of moment of your life, please take some precautions.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Yes. I wish I had taken more precautions. Yeah, but I realized looking back that a lot of that was just me trying to escape. A lot of it was. It was me finding myself in those situations, putting myself in those situations, seeing if I could escape. And it was me trying to have control, but I still didn’t know it was all tied back to that first encounter as a little girl. It’s amazing how that stuff stays with you.

LEAH: It really does.

GINA: And what it causes in your life. It’s amazing. When I met this current husband, current husband, that’s an awful thing to say. Oh my god.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: When I met my husband, I entered this relationship just with really not that much respect for marriage honestly. I thought I was going to be a good experience for him. I didn’t know I was going to really marry him. He was inexperienced. I was very experienced and I thought I could teach him some stuff. He was a nice guy and he probably learned a lot of stuff from me. I’d be a good mentor. That’s what I thought.

LEAH: So, did you like him? Were you looking at him as a relationship even if it wasn’t a long-term relationship?

GINA: Not really. No, not really.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I knew I was in a period in my life that I need to take a break from having all this sex and redevelop me. And so, I stopped wearing all revealing clothes. I stopped wearing makeup. I stopped really doing anything except putting my hair in a ponytail at least that’s what my thought was. If you asked my friends, I still looked put together, I guess. But as far as I was concerned, I was like, “Nope. I’m wearing beanies and cargo pants.” Nothing wrong with any of these clothing options, by the way, just it was very much departure from what I had worn before which was all skin tight revealing everything.

LEAH: And you were energetically taking yourself off the market?

GINA: Yes. I was like, “I am off the market.” Even though if I look back and I go, “Actually I had that little boyfriend. I had that little encounter.”

[LAUGHTER]

GI NA: But it was not like it was before. It was still more than some of my other friends who were being people. But for me it was this huge break and I had told myself. I started going, “Who do I want to be? Who do I want to grow myself into? Where are my people? Where’s Gina? What’s the picture of Gina that you want to be? Where does she hang out? Where are her friends? They’re intellectual people. They hang out at coffee shops and libraries and bookstores.” And these are the people I want to be around because the people I surround myself with is the person I’m going to then become more of. It’s show me your friends. I’ll tell you who you are, that kind of thing. I only want to surround myself with people who are going to be intellectually growing me into a better person. Even though I may not be that person right now, I have the idea that I want to be that person. And I don’t want to show off sexually. I don’t want to be that person at all. If someone knows me, I want them to see me as like, “Wow.” I have no idea that I could ever been that other person. I want to be the farthest thing away.

So, I meet this guy. He was nice and we just hung out. And I didn’t really think I was attracted to him at all. He was just this guy to go have tacos and hang out with. And then one day, he’s like, “It’s you and me.” And I was like, “What do you mean, you and me? Nothing’s happened. Obviously, there’s no you and me because we haven’t even held hands. There’s nothing here.” And the more I thought about it, I was like, “I do like being with him. Maybe this would be good for me to experience.” But it was more so like this will be good experience for me on my path to becoming who else I was going to be. This would be a good opportunity to find out what this is like. And it would be a good opportunity for him too because he’s very inexperienced sexually and I’m very experienced. It would be a mutually good experience.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: Not what I imagined, I would be like, “Oh, wow. I just really like him and I hope to be one day married, whatever.” It’s such a different extreme.

LEAH: When you did start becoming physical with each other, were you having pleasure?

GINA: When we did become physical, it was not too long after he said that thing. I was like, “Oh.” And then, something switched. As soon as I decided that he was a viable sexual partner, I became performative. I tried to dance sexy for him because it was the only thing that I knew and it was very confusing to him because I wasn’t who he thought I was being and that confusion was so clear on his face that it shocked me. This is such a pivotal thing in our relationship that it knocked me out of my performance. And then, Leah, I had no idea how to be. I had no idea how to be. I didn’t know what to do and it was such a source of pain and confusion for me and it still is in our relationship. It still is and we’ve been together for, oh my god, 18 years and I still don’t know what is real. Does that make any kind of sense?

LEAH: Yeah. It makes all the sense in the world.

GINA: It’s so strange and we have such a strange sexual relationship. And then, just a couple years ago, when all this stuff started really coming to the front, my realization that happened to me when I was a little girl, it came out of nowhere. I don’t know what brought it up. But it came out of nowhere and I tried to shove it back. And it was like a freight train like, “Nope. It’s coming. It’s coming.” And then at that point, I started realizing and putting the pieces together of my whole life. And then, I was terrified of sex.

He couldn’t touch me. And I still have a hard time because I either go into panic and stiff and allow it to happen and then cry because I don’t want that experience or I go into performative and that’s the only time that I can actually feel. There’s very few times that I can actually enjoy sex now. And I don’t know how to make that recipe. I don’t know, Leah. I wish I knew. I don’t know what to do to create that experience that I can enjoy and be fully present during sex. It’s happened a couple of times and it always shocks me. I’m like, “Oh, wow. How do I make that happen again?” Because I don’t know what happened because every other time, it’s either I go stiff and I allow it to happen and I feel disconnected and betrayed or I become dominant and I’m in control of it and I say how it is and I do this and you don’t do this until I say it, but I don’t feel good doing that either. It doesn’t feel nature. It doesn’t feel good.

So, it’s dominant, performative, bored, stiff, scared and I don’t like any of those experiences. So, generally, I try and avoid sex all together because it brings up so many awful experiences for me and I don’t know how to get to the one that I really want. It’s gotten to the point that my husband doesn’t even try to touch me because he’s going to be rejected or he’s gotten angry. And he says, “Can we at least schedule sex once a week? Can we just have sex?” And I’m like, “No. That feels so gross to me. I don’t want to schedule sex.” What if I’m not in the mood that day? What if I’m feeling weird? I start to feel boxed in and scared of it. It’s so weird.

And then, I think just maybe all that stuff happened after I had children. Just having children, I breastfed them each for two years and don’t even try and touch my breasts. Don’t. My breasts are touched out for the lifetime. That’s how I feel. Don’t come near my breasts. And they always needed me and they still need me and there’s still physical closeness. They constantly need me. I’m like, “I want to not be needed. I want to not be touched. I’m touched out.” It’s weird.

LEAH: It doesn’t sound weird to me. It sounds like as you lay out each step of it, it sounds like, “Oh, yeah. That makes sense.” Then the next, “Yeah. That step makes sense too.” And then the next, “That makes sense.”

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Friends, let’s talk about Patreon. It has been quite an evolution over the last two and a half years. For a long time, I took cuts from the episodes and put them on Patreon for people who financially supported the show. But by mid-2020, that no longer felt right because I was hearing from listeners who said they wanted to hear the Patreon extras because the show was making such a difference in their lives, but they couldn’t afford to donate. It really doesn’t feel appropriate to withhold this material in exchange for monetary support. That’s just not what I’m about.

So, from July 2020 through April 2021, I made all audio extras at Patreon free for everyone and that has worked well. I’ve been pleased to see that my Patreon support didn’t drop when you were supporting the show because you appreciate it rather than paying to get something in exchange. And now, I’m evolving again. Instead of pulling clips out of the show for Patreon and keeping the main episode as close to 50 minutes as possible, I am letting the conversations play out in full in the main episode.

If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your patronage at Patreon. If you have more than a few dollars, consider donating extra in honor of women who need this material, but aren’t in a position to contribute. And I donate 10% of all Patreon contributions to ARC-Southeast, an organization that supports women in the Southeast United States to access reproductive services that are currently being legislated out of existence.

I appreciate every one of you whether you’re a client, a contributor, a social media follower or a silent listener. I trust you to know what’s right for you. Thank you for being here. You can find out more and become a community member at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. And if your finances are tight, but you still want to support the show, I would love it if you would take a screenshot of this episode on your phone and post it on Instagram. Tag me in your post and I’ll send you a personal thank you. Or send your favorite episode to a friend and invite them to chat about it with you. Use this show as a jumping off point to deepen your own conversations around intimacy and sex. Now let’s get back to the conversation.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: Do you and your husband ever spend intimate time that is not sexual time?

GINA: No. I’ve had the sense for years that that’s what needs to happen. Years and years ago, I’ve said, “I think we need to rebuild our sexual connection and I think we need non-sexual touch. I think we need much more of that.” He’s never been a PDA guy. He’s never been into that. He’s never been into really holding hands or touching, no caresses, no touch of affection, no affectionate touch except for a kiss on the way out the door like, “See you later. Love you.” Love you is not even really a part of it so much, but just the kiss on the way out the door. And I’m like, “It’s either a kiss on the way out the door or it’s full-on sex. There’s nothing in between and I really need the in-between especially being very mental.”

I know that thinking about a sexual situation, all the foreplay that’s not touch is really important and he doesn’t do that. And he’s willing to get involved in foreplay and stuff, but it’s leading to sex. This is a straight path. And whenever we do, he always goes straight for the genitals, the breasts, the typical erroneous zones. And I’m like, “Actually, the top of my trapezoid shoulder up to my neck is one of my favorite places. If you could spend an hour there, that would be great. I would be so ready if you just dedicate that hour to just barely touching with your lips.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And the times that we’ve been successful recently are times that I’m like, “Okay. I just need you to know we’re not going to have sex.” He’s like, “Okay.” We’re not. And there’s a couple times that I go, “I’m not going in farther. This is it.” And then, he’ll go, “Okay.” And he’ll back off. And that act right there makes me feel relaxed like, “Okay, okay. He said it’s okay. He’s not going to push me. I’m safe.” And when I’ve told him, “I don’t feel safe.” He internalizes it like, “I’d never hurt you. I would never hit you. I would never hurt you. What do you mean you don’t feel safe?” I’m like, “It’s not that kind of hurt. Please understand this is a problem I have and I just need you to just know. And I know you wouldn’t hit him, but I’m unsafe in sex in a mental, physical, emotional, sexual space. I need you to just hold this space for me please.”

LEAH: Because it’s not 43-year-old Gina who is unsafe, it’s 5-year-old Gina who is unsafe.

GINA: Yes.

LEAH: 5-year-old Gina doesn’t know shit all about your husband. She just knows that he’s a man.

GINA: Right.

LEAH: A grown man.

GINA: Right.

LEAH: When you said a couple minutes ago, you’re talking about your kids, breastfeeding, and you’re touched out and you said, “I just want to not be needed for a while.” And this is something I hear so commonly from moms of toddlers like, “I just need for somebody to touch me and give to me and not need me.” And then what you’re saying of like, “Could you just touch me for a little bit?” That’s exactly it. You need your cup to be filled because for you right now sex is about pouring your cup out to give it to somebody else. It may not always be that way, but for you right now, that’s what it is. And so, you need somebody to fill your cup before you have something to pour out and share with them.

GINA: Yeah. Ugh, it’s heavy.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: I’m sorry this has been so hard for you. I want more for you. I want joy for you.

GINA: I do. I do too. Oh my god, ugh.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: So, have the two of you ever thought about going to a sex therapist as a couple?

GINA: The idea’s come up a couple of times. We went to a marriage counselor about seven years ago and I had an extramarital experience. I had sex with someone and I thought our relationship was over about 10 years ago or something like that, 11 years ago. I was like, “Our relationship is over.” And I used it as a way of like, “This is over. I might as well go all in because it’s over, so it doesn’t matter.”

And then when I came back and he was trying to be close to me, I had been gone for a week. He was trying to get close to me and I was like, “Hey. I need to tell you this happened. I can’t not come out forward with you and just tell you what happened.” And he was mortified, of course, but then he was like, “I want to work through that.” And just the fact that he wanted to work through it shook me. It shook me to my core.

It’s weird. I think about it now and I go it was because for some reason I just didn’t feel worthy and the fact that he’d accepted that I had done this thing. And that he was like, “We can work through this” made me go, “Oh, there’s something here that I didn’t realize was here. This is worth exploring.” And so, a couple of years later, that problem still has caused a rift between us and we go to counselling and the marriage counselor in one of my solo session said, “I think you should leave him.” And I went, “What? I’m here to not do that.”

LEAH: That’s not appropriate.

GINA: No, it wasn’t.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And we had gone through so many sessions. I thought, “I’m here to not do that. I’m here for you to help me bridge this not to tell me that I need to leave.” And that was a weird dissonance and I told him. And I think it tainted us on counselling as much as we want to fix it, yeah. I know that there’s better counselors out there.

LEAH: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: That’s really horrifying. But I also wonder if you would be well-served rather than seeing a marriage counselor to see specifically a sexual coach, a sex therapist because the vast majority of therapists are not trained to deal with any sexual issues. And so, if you go to them and you say, “I’m having these issues in the bedroom. I can’t seem to stay present.” they’re going to go therapize you about everything else in your life which, yeah, there’s probably something out there to be therapized. I’m not saying there isn’t.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: But they’re not ever going to get to the point of being like, “Okay. So, what is it about sex that’s making you dissociate or whatever?” Whereas a sex therapist can bring it all together for the two of you. It can help you and your husband. They can give you the exercises and the tools, so that you can learn how to interact with each other sexually which it sounds like would be for the first time.

GINA: I know. It’s surprising to me that I’m like, “Wow. We’ve been together for so long. We have two children. We had a much more frequent sex life before children and after children, it was very, very little, few and far between.” But even when we first started having sex, that very first interaction, I go back to that so often of I was like, “Oh, we’re going to become sexual partners, so that means I turn into sexy Gina,” which he didn’t know who that was. He had no idea who sexy Gina was. He was like, “Gina’s the girl that hangs out with a fleece pullover, a beanie, and cargos and we eat tacos and play pool. We’re buds.”

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And all of a sudden, she’s wearing thigh highs and these stripper shoes like, “Where did all this stuff come from?” Like, “Oh, I got it in my bag. This is sexy Gina material.”

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: You said this a few minutes ago, you’ve never really had the opportunity to know who Gina is separate from sexy Gina, separate from abused Gina, separate from all that. You’ve never had a sexual experience that you could just relax into.

GINA: Not really, no. And I think that’s the scariest thing for me at this point in my life. My husband wants to have a sexual relationship with me and I don’t know who I am in that and it’s scary.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: And again, because it always leads to sexual penetration and it goes back to the same old things, what I have all of my vast experience of sex turns into I either perform, I take control or I lay there stiff and wait until it’s over.

LEAH: So, that laying there stiff, that is a trauma response. That is a freeze response. In the fight, flight, freeze dynamic, that is a freeze response. That’s not just you not being sure how to do sex. That is a trauma response.

GINA: Yeah. I identify that because there are times that I feel like I’m screaming in my head or I’m separate from my body. I’m way up here in the safest place.

LEAH: So, I wonder if you could give yourself the grace of recognizing that all three of us are trauma responses. The freeze is a trauma response. The climbing up and taking control is also the result of not feeling safe and it’s a trauma response. And the performance is the result of all of these experiences you’ve had which add up to a trauma response. Your brain is doing the very best it can to support you to keep you safe. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re not failing at sex. Your brain is trying to keep you safe. And the work now if you decide you want to do it and there’s no requirement that you have to, but if you decide you want to do it, the work is to help your brain to understand that you are safe now that the danger has passed.

GINA: I do. I so badly do for myself because I feel like who knows how many lives you get?

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: How far am I into mine? 43 years of how many? I have no idea.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: I’d like to have sex be a normal and happy and comforting and nurturing part of my life. I would like my husband to experience that as well because some part of me feels that he’s being held captive in his life as well because his sex life has been damaged because of who I am and who I’ve been. And then. that’s two. I have two beautiful daughters. Oh my god. I want them to know sex is healthy. How do you do that? How do you teach your daughters that sex is healthy when it’s never been healthy for you? That’s the worst.

And I know it’s a trauma response. All of my other experiences. I know it’s a trauma response to say, “Oh, I could handle it.” Even if I never get control of sex, I have other areas of my life that I’m fulfilled and I’m good and I’m whole. It’s one area. I don’t want that, but that’s a story that I tell myself sometimes to cope. But I have two daughters. I have to heal myself to help them is my thought. How can I teach them?

There’s so much that goes unspoken. There’s so much learning that happens from watching. There’s so much that you absorb as a child in your experience and just by watching and being present. What am I non-verbally sending that I am unaware of that I don’t want them to have? And then, the issue comes too I don’t really know where to go, who to see. Every time I do look up therapists and counsellors and psychologists, I don’t know who to go to and it’s so many people to choose from. Who is the right person? And then, it becomes overwhelming and scary and then I back down.

LEAH: Oh, I get that. Can I ask you one more question and then we’ll be done?

GINA: Yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: If you could look 10 years into the future, what would you want your sex life to look like?

GINA: Oh my god. I’ve thought about this so many times. Relaxed and friendly and playful and nurturing and comforting, safe.

LEAH: Monogamous with your current husband?

GINA: Yeah.

LEAH: Yeah. I want that for you too. Oh, Gina.

[LAUGHTER]

GINA: It feels like so much. It’s so much. And it’s so weird that we can have all of this stuff just there and function every day as a business owner and a mother and a friend and all these things yet there’s this whole thing that’s just there.

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.

[LAUGHTER]

LEAH: Thank you for being willing and for being so brave to share all of this.

GINA: You are welcome. Thank you for giving me the opportunity. I had a sense it would be cathartic and I want so badly to move past all of this that I feel like having an opportunity to talk and just release it is probably part of the healing.

[MUSIC]

LEAH: That’s it for today. Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced by me, Leah Carey, and edited by Gretchen Kilby. I have additional administrative support from Lara O’Connor and Maria Franco. Transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.

 And I’m incredibly grateful for the financial support from Good Girls Talk About Sex community members at Patreon. If you’d like to support me in telling these stories and answering your questions, head over to www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. You can find Show Notes and Show Transcripts at www.goodgirlstalk.com. To ask a question about your sex life, your desires or anything to do with female sexuality, call and leave a message to at 720-GOOD-SEX.

And before we go, I want to remind you that the things you’ve probably heard about your sexuality are not true. You are worthy. You are desirable. You are not broken. I work with women just like you to reflect their true sexual nature back to them without the judgment, shame or fear that can get in the way of us seeing it for ourselves. As a coach and PJ party hostess, I will guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours no matter what it looks like. I’m here to help you sink so deeply into your true sexuality that the version of yourself that was scared to speak up for her own needs feels like a mirage from another lifetime. Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

[MUSIC]

BOOKMARK MOMENTS:
  • 7:10 – Gina shares her first memory of sexual pleasure, rubbing herself on the corner of a piece of furniture as a child—something she now sees her own young daughters doing. She only learned as an adult that people masturbate and this is common.
  • 14:25 – Gina has a repressed memory of being molested. Leah shares that you do not need to know what happened in order to heal.
  • 19:00 – Gina has her first boyfriend, and first unpleasant groping. It brings up a memory of a previous unwanted, confusing fingering by a non-blood-related family member.
  • 25:02 – They discuss autonomic pleasure during assault, and how deeply confusing that can be.
  • 30:49 – Gina remembers feeling pleasure when she finally has consensual sex, but she knew even then to be performative. She links this to growing up, when her father encouraged her to look sexy as though that reflected positively on him and would speak inappropriately in front of her.
  • 35:26 – She starts playing a dangerous game with getting herself in and out of sexual situations to reclaim control. In the middle of this she gets married at 18, he is in the military, and she has intense anxiety attacks. A double life ensues.
  • 43:17 – Gina opens up about having a sexual attraction to women which coincided with an increasing disgust with the men for whom she stripped.
  • 47:55-  She gets out of the bad marriage and rewrites her story with an unusual new marriage the same day of her divorce. She has loads of sexual encounters, enough to earn her a nickname; they divorce when his girlfriend gets pregnant.
  • 51:45 – She meets her current husband; at the time she sees him as fresh meat to teach. She enters a period of discovering herself *without* sex and deliberately envisions who she wants to be—someone who is truthful and has intellectual coffee shop friends.
  • 55:26 – Childhood trauma resurfaces as she faces a new conflict: how to enjoy sex without performing her enjoyment. 18 years into a happy marriage, she still struggles between detachment and control. Motherhood, especially touch out from breastfeeding, complicates things.
  • 1:02:40 – Gina recognizes a need for non-sexual touch and intimacy, actual foreplay, creating safety, clear communication, and understanding her trauma responses. She shares their journey through marital therapy to recover from a rough patch and her brief infidelity. Sex-specific therapy is discussed.
  • 1:12:00 – Trauma responses are discussed.

Don’t forget – ALL audio extras are FREE at Patreon!

PATREON:

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EPISODE CREDITS:

Host / Producer – Leah Carey (email)
Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Administrative Support – Lara O’Connor, Maria Franco
Music – Nazar Rybak