Jillian offers us a glimpse into a story that I am intimately familiar with. It’s the story of having huge blank spots in your memory along with an aversion to sex. There’s nothing specific to grab on to so you can say, “This is what happened,” but it’s obvious that something happened.
I usually sit back and let the guests tell their story, but in this instance, Jillian is actively searching for answers and for healing. So in this episode, you’ll hear us doing a bit of exploration and coaching. I offer her a couple of exercises. If her story mirrors your own, you may want to try these exercises as well. Or send me an email and I’ll be happy to offer you some other resources.
Jillian says in this interview that she wanted to share her story so that anyone else out there going through something similar will know that they’re not alone. And I echo that. If you listen to this podcast because you have difficulty with sex and are looking for a way forward, you are not alone. You are welcome here. And I will be happy to talk with you whenever you are ready.
Jillian is a 49-year-old, cisgender female who describes herself as white, heterosexual, monogamous and married.
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT (CLICK TO OPEN)
LEAH: Hey friends. I have two big announcements before we dive into Jillian’s story today. First, I’ve started a private group at facebook.com/groups/goodgirlstalk and that link is in the Show Notes. This is a space to expand the conversations that begin in the episodes. What resonated for you? What did it help you understand about yourself or someone else? What did you not understand and want clarification on and what questions and thoughts do you have about your own sexuality that you’d like to talk about in a safe space? It is my firm belief that the way to heal our sexual shame, fear, and repression is to start sharing the things we’ve believed were taboo for so long and this is a place to do that.
Currently, I’m going live, Facebook Live video, in the group on Monday mornings at 11 AM Pacific to answer your questions and talk about the previous week’s episode. And during this time of international isolation and quarantine, I’m also going live on Thursday mornings at 11 AM Pacific. If you have specific questions or topics related to relationships and sexuality, please post them in the group or send me a private message and I’ll address those during the live videos on Facebook.
Second piece of big news, and those who have been following the Facebook Lives already know this, I’m taking the podcast weekly. I’ve been putting my ducks in a row to go weekly this summer but with so much uncertainty in the world, it felt like a good time to talk to you more frequently now. So, here’s what I’m planning. You’ll get the regular interview episodes every other week just like always. Then, starting next Thursday, you’ll get me doing solo episodes in the in-between weeks. I’ll be sharing my own story and I’ll also be answering your questions. I’ll tell you more about all of that next week so be sure to check your feed at the regular time next Thursday and every Thursday after that.
I’m really excited about this and I’m also really excited about today’s episode because we dive into some challenging territory in a way that feels really meaningful and important to me. So, let’s dive in.
LEAH: Welcome to Good Girls Talk About Sex. I’m sex educator and sexual communication 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!
LEAH: Welcome back to Good Girls Talk About Sex. This week, we’re going to talk with Jillian, a 49 year old cisgender female who describes herself as white, heterosexual, monogamous, and married. As you
know, I want to explore all different types of sexual experience and sexual expression. And in order to do that, sometimes we have to dive into hard stories. In these episodes, we’ve heard episodes of non- consensual sex, abusive relationship, physical difficulties with sex, and more.
Jillian offers us a glimpse into a different story. One that I am intimately familiar with and have lived. It’s the story of having huge blank spots in your memory along with an aversion to sex. There’s nothing specific in your memory to grab onto so you can say, “This is what happened”, but it’s obvious that something happened.
In these interviews, I usually sit back and let the guests tell their story. But in this instance, Jillian is actively searching for answers and for healing. So in this episode, you’ll hear us doing a bit of exploration and coaching. I offer her a couple of exercises. If her story mirrors your own, you may want to try some of these exercises as well or send me an email and I’d be happy to offer you some other resources.
Jillian says in this interview that she wanted to share her story so that anyone else out there going through something similar will know that they are not alone, and I echo that. If you listen to this podcast because you had difficulty with sex and are looking for a way forward, you are not alone. You are welcome here and I will be happy to talk with you when you’re ready. And so, I am so pleased to introduce Jillian!
Thank you so much for talking to me today. I’m really looking forward to hearing your stories, so thank you for being here.
JILLIAN: You’re welcome. Thank you for having me, Leah.
LEAH: Absolutely. So, the first question that I ask everyone is what is your first memory of sexual
JILLIAN: I’m actually having a hard time because I struggle, I don’t really experience, well actually, okay, sorry Leah.
LEAH: That’s fine.
JILLIAN: It’s throwing me off.
JILLIAN: My first memory is in college and it was actually having an orgasm with my boyfriend at the time who is now my current husband.
LEAH: Oh okay. So, you started that out by saying, “you don’t really”, and I think you were about to say feel pleasure, is that where you were headed with that?
JILLIAN: Yeah, so overall, I was thinking. I came into that question because I don’t enjoy the experience but that I did feel good. I’d never had an orgasm before. I did that day for some reason.
JILLIAN: So yeah, that did feel good. But in general, I didn’t really think I would be able to come up with an answer because I don’t enjoy the experience.
LEAH: Well, let’s go back a little further. We’ll get to your husband in college again but let’s back up to earlier years. Did you have any period of self-exploration or a lot of kids sort of explore their bodies? Did you do that as a child?
JILLIAN: No, I never did. And I remember as a little girl, at first, when you’re asking that question, I’m thinking, oh, the first sexual experience that I remember was in kindergarten, neighborhood boy, kind of feeling around that kind of thing. I didn’t experience pleasure necessarily, but I wasn’t completely fearful or anything like that at that point.
LEAH: Was that kind of like, “You show me yours. I’ll show you mine” kind of thing?
JILLIAN: Yes, yes.
LEAH: Separate from pleasure, was that fun? Did you enjoy that experience?
JILLIAN: I think there was a little something about it that was maybe exciting. I guess in my five or six- year-old brain would think that way, but yes, there was something a little bit more exciting about it.
LEAH: Okay. And then you said, “There was no fear yet” and so it sounds like there was something that instilled fear for you. Would you be willing to talk about what that was?
JILLIAN: Well, so since then, I am pretty sure, I don’t really know exactly what happened, but after years and years of therapy, something must have happened probably between that age of 5 and 8 is what we’ve narrowed it down to. And I don’t know what that is, but I developed a great fear and aversion to any sort of sexual contact or the thought of it could happen.
LEAH: Do you have blank spots in your memory? JILLIAN: Yeah, blank spots.
LEAH: Yeah, so do I.
JILLIAN: You do?
LEAH: Oh, a lot of blank spots. I remember in college because I had been sort of in and out of therapy as a teenager and at that point, I didn’t recognize them as blank spots. I just thought nobody really
remembered being young like that was just sort of the way that memory worked was that memory starts around 13 or something. And then I got to college and was sort of realizing, “Oh, my friends do have more memories than I do and also I think there’s something wrong.” I have some aftereffects of things that I shouldn’t have. And I remember reading, what is it? The Courage to Heal, do you remember that book?
JILLIAN: I have that book, yes.
LEAH: Yeah, and I think it was a workbook. It was something that went along with it and there was just this little panel that said something about, “If a burglar comes into your house and throws everything all over the floor, you don’t wait to find out who did the burglary before you start cleaning up.”
JILLIAN: So good.
LEAH: And that was like I read that and I kind of lost my mind for a couple of days. I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I was like, “Oh, I’m not alone.” Things do happen that we can’t remember. Yeah, so can you talk a little bit more about your experience of that?
JILLIAN: Well, that’s interesting that you say that because I always thought same thing that, “Oh, there’s just some people that remember their childhood and some don’t.” And I mean I have major gaps and I also sort of learned along the way that some people don’t remember everything obviously, but they don’t lose big of chunks as I have.
JILLIAN: And I think too I started going to therapy regarding this shortly after I got married because it was discovered. And I don’t know if you want to jump ahead.
LEAH: No, that’s fine.
JILLIAN: But it was, my husband realized, I just sort of discovered that I didn’t enjoy this experience because I’d been faking everything up until this point, that I had a major breakdown, just started crying and screaming, and just wanted to beat him up, everything. And he was just like, “Whoa.” And so he asked me to go to therapy and to start.
And that’s when we first got married that I started to go to therapy and I went to therapy for years and years and years and the few different therapists that I’ve went to have always said, “Oftentimes, there are things that happen and then as a protective measure, sometimes we just don’t let it out and it’ll come when it’s ready or maybe it won’t.” That sort of thing and I’m not hung up on the exact details, but I sure would love to move on either way.
LEAH: Have you had any sort of memories surface or do you have any clues of what it might have been?
JILLIAN: I went under hypnosis one time and the hypnotist suggested that I write down my dreams over the next week, and there were several dreams that happened that were I got up and write them down. There were several dreams that perhaps showed that there was child pornography involved but again, that could have been symbolic, but it was very clear. And there were things where all of my dreams, my mom was trying to hide my eyes from something like I was missing my contacts or glasses and she wouldn’t give them to and that sort of proved true also. Every time I tried to ask her questions about periods of my childhood, she would shut down.
LEAH: Oh, really? So do you think she knew something?
JILLIAN: Yes, I think she did because it was like one time she walked out of the restaurant with me and she said, “You just need to put that behind you” and walked out of a restaurant. I’m crying. I’m like, “I can’t have sex with my husband. I’m a newly married woman. I can’t have sex with my husband without wanting to punch him in the face and feeling like my skin is crawling and I would throw up.” And you would think that my mom would, and we were pretty close. We were close so you would think that she would have a loving response to that or care about it, but her hands started shaking and she stood up and just said to put that behind me and walked out.
LEAH: I am so sorry. It’s like the people you need most in life to see you and to hold you, when they can’t do that, it’s really devastating.
JILLIAN: Yes, and I felt like she was a key to unlock, just so that I could move on in a powerful way, so I was also upset with her that. When I sort of went through different therapy, “Your mom may have known something. She might have put you in a situation that was not right for a little girl or whatever happened.” But the fact that she was so shame-filled, and I’m kind of making stuff up, but this is also deduced on different things. But it really upset me because I felt like she potentially had a key to unlock to help me heal and I, even at one point, told her, “Even if something bad really happened and you know about it, I will forgive you. It’s okay.” I could not get it out of her.
LEAH: Yeah. So is she now passed away? JILLIAN: Yes.
LEAH: So that information is gone. JILLIAN: Yes.
LEAH: Oh, I’m so sorry. [MUSIC]
LEAH: Hi friends. I’m popping in here quickly to tell you that Jillian and I had an extended conversation about her first boyfriend, the pressures she felt to keep him happy, the sex she had even though she didn’t want it, and the abortion she had when his choice to use the pull out method was “shockingly”
not effectively. Because I decided to focus this episode on Jillian’s current sex life, I’ve included that full conversation over at Patreon. You can find it plus the extended Q and A at patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex. That link is available in the episode description on the device you’re listening to now. For as little as 1 dollar a month, you can help make this podcast a vital place to tell stories and shed shame long into the future.
LEAH: How did dating your now husband begin?
JILLIAN: So it began with, very attracted to him, drawn to him, his personality, and he was cute and everything, but I still had that fear of “I don’t want to be alone with him because then it could move right into this sexual thing.”
And so I had that fear from the beginning and the weird thing too is, I wonder if it’s the same with you, so we started dating, really liked him a lot, but because I still had that fear and so, I pushed sex too fast. He would even say, “You moved way too fast.” And later when he found out I had fears and aversion he’s like, “I wasn’t trying to have sex that day. You moved too fast.” And he wasn’t blaming me, he was just like chill, and I’m like, “I know.”
Because I think I just thought, “Okay, I’m just going to take some control. We know that this is going to happen anyway.” Sort of, in a way, I forced myself on him and he says, “That day, I would have been good to go for another few months dating you and not having sex.” And I just had to make it happen quickly and it was, I was just rushing it like, “Let’s just get this over with. This is going to happen anyway.” I did not enjoy it, still liked him a lot, but I just guess I felt like, “This is just something I have to do.”
LEAH: That actually doesn’t surprise me at all. There’s something about those of us who were sexualized far too young that really sort of skews our relationship with sexuality and where it fits appropriately within the context of a relationship. That many of us really no longer have a grasp on when we’re ready and why we want it, and so we either do it right away just to get it over with or we wait a really long time because we’re afraid of it like there’s all sorts of mind games we can play with ourselves because we got sexualized. And we don’t know what your experience was, but it feels pretty safe to say that there was something not kosher that probably you didn’t want. And so, trying to reset your system can be really challenging and when you don’t really know what you’re resetting from, all of that. None of that surprises me at all.
LEAH: So you said that you first time you had sex, you didn’t enjoy it. What was that experience like for
you? Did he seem to enjoy it?
JILLIAN: The first time with my husband?
LEAH: Yes, sorry, with your husband.
JILLIAN: Yes and he did, but I’m not super present during sex, so I think I do remember he ejaculated and seemed to enjoy it. But I just know that I’m just trying to get through it. You’re trying to play the, “Oh, I want him to think I’m enjoying this”, and so it’s just I’m not really paying a whole attention, so I don’t really remember whole lot about it.
I mean I remember I can see the scene. It was actually this really pretty location where we spent some time and it could have been lovely, but it wasn’t so great. And then even afterwards, I have to tell you that over the time before we got married and even after before I had that big eruption where he then found out like, “You need to get some help here.” It takes a lot of energy to not only fake through it, especially when it’s emotionally. I think there’s people who fake it who probably did enjoy sex but they’re just like, “Oh man, I have laundry to do”, and they kind of just want to hurry along.
But when you’re emotionally just trying to get through it and afterwards, to kind of hold up the game because instead, feeling potentially like you might want to cry or whatever might happen, or you feel dirty. I just want to get up and clean myself, whatever. That takes a lot of emotional energy also and so it was tiring. It was very tiring.
LEAH: Yeah. It sounds like you were doing a lot of performing pleasure and then caring for him when really what you needed to do was to be held for your own’s sake.
JILLIAN: Right. But he didn’t know that I needed to be held in that way.
LEAH: But he didn’t know, yeah. Yeah, it’s like nobody in this situation is in the wrong. You are doing what you know how to do to survive and he is reading the signals that you’re giving to him so you’re both doing that, the thing you feel needs to be done, just neither of you has all of the information.
JILLIAN: Right, and well, also he would after not too long, he would ask me. He said, “Are you sure that you’re okay?” Like afterwards and stuff and maybe even during and I would say, “Yes, of course.” I mean such a great actress.
JILLIAN: But really there were times where he was like, “Are you sure? There’s just something that doesn’t feel right.” He goes, “Are you positive?” And I obviously, he’s a real intuitive, sensitive guy and so I realized and then when he found out, in some ways he was relieved but he also felt awful.
Because he told me, he goes, “In a way, I feel like I was raping you every time now.” Like looking back because he said, “You didn’t want it” once it came it out in therapy. And I’m just like, “No, no, no. You should never feel that way”, but he did. He said, “Well, I should have known better. I should have stopped and made you tell me”, but he couldn’t. You know how that is. If we’re not going to be honest with someone, we’re not going to be honest when we’re not ready to.
LEAH: It sounds if he had pushed you, you might not even have been capable of saying the words at that point because you were in self-protective, survival mode.
LEAH: Yeah. So I understand why he would feel that way like he had done something wrong because he didn’t know. But in a lot of ways he was doing the best he could with the knowledge that he had, the information that he had.
JILLIAN: Absolutely. Yes.
LEAH: Yeah. So where do you go during sex? What goes on in your brain during sex?
JILLIAN: Usually, there are a few different things. Sometimes, I’ve been able to fantasize like come up with a fantasy and it’s usually not the nicest fantasy. Like I’m not being treated well in the fantasy, which I’ve always thought was very weird, but have since been told by a therapist that it is normal. That is okay. That is very shameful like, “Why would I have these weird fantasies?”
That could help potentially from time to time to have an orgasm. And then other times, I could not wait until it was over, just I think the voice inside my head too would just be like, “Ugh, just disgusted, sick.” I can’t even think of the exact words right now but kind of just, “Hurry up”, but yet I’m thinking, “Just make sure that you’re pleasing him at least because he deserves it.” And I’m better now, but I’ve always felt like I messed up. I am messed up because of this. I am like damaged goods, so I’ve got to be the one to at least salvage enough to help this guy have a good experience, because I can’t fix my own problems, so I kind of try to do that for him.
LEAH: I recognize that thinking so clearly. [LAUGHTER]
JILLIAN: Isn’t it lovely?
LEAH: Oh, it’s charming
LEAH: I want to just go back for a second to what you said about fantasies, about not being treated well. That is incredibly common and for some people, I don’t in any way want to pathologize BDSM because there are a lot of people who participate in it simply because they enjoy it.
There is also a certain segment of people who play in that realm who are doing it as a therapeutic endeavor, who really are able to work out a lot of their issues. Because in BDSM play, if we’re playing the Sub, the person who is being acted upon, we are the one who is in control. It’s completely counter intuitive. The Sub is the one who is in control because they always have the power to say, “Stop.” There’s always the safe word. If you are working with a good Dom. There are some shitty Doms out there and dear God, please stay away from them.
LEAH: But in this kind of play, you can act out some of the scenes that might have happened to you in the past from a place where you have a power to say no. You have the power to say, “Stop” and you actually are kind of in the driver’s seat of having the experience and knowing that at any moment, you can call a stop to it.
JILLIAN: That makes sense, wow.
LEAH: Yeah, and so I think this is really important for people to hear who have been through trauma and now have these fantasies of whether it’s ravishment play, which is sort of the new term, it used to be called rape play but that’s ugh, that’s squicky for a lot of us.
LEAH: So ravishment fantasies or any kind of BDSM fantasies, anything where we are giving over control to another person. It could even be fantasies where you’re being degraded, called names, even being slapped around. All of that stuff is completely normal.
JILLIAN: Wow, I’ve heard that. So why is it normal?
LEAH: I think that it has to do with our brain wanting to sort of re-enact something in a way where we can retell the story, where this thing happened to me, and I had no control. I had no ability to advocate for myself and now, I’m going to redo in a situation where I can negotiate it in advance. I can set the rules. I can choose what’s going to happen to me and I can call a stop to it at any moment.
And if you’re talking about if it never happens in real life, if it’s just in your brain, you can completely control the scenario because there’s not another person involved. It’s just characters that you’re moving around in your personal movie screen.
JILLIAN: Right. It makes sense with the control because I’ve had an issue even once I had a child, I think I was trying to control things a little too much. And my mom was an alcoholic, so my whole life as a kid too, I was the adult. I was trying to keep her together, taking care of her a lot of the time as a very young child until she died. But often I think because I had a very unstable childhood in that way, that as an adult or even as a teenager and stuff, I would try to control things in a way that just seemed a little bit weird for a teenager to control or organize things and keep things in my safe little zone. And so yeah, it does make sense with the control.
LEAH: Periodically, I hear from men who listen to this show. They tell me that they’re learning more about their female partners through these conversations than they had ever imagined possible. And that makes me so happy! Here’s a review left by a male listener recently.
Photoman401 said, “Men, we could learn from listening to this podcast. I’ve been listening for a while now. I stumbled on it by accident looking for another podcast. Quite frankly, I’ve only had one woman that talked about sex as openly as these women talk to Leah. One thing this podcast has taught me is that women over the course of time have been raised with different expectation than we men have. They have desires and needs, just like we do. Listen to these women, perhaps you will find what your significant other is wanting or needing. Your relationships will be better for it.”
Photoman401, I thank you from the bottom of my heart and to all of the men who are listening, I salute you. I would be grateful if you would leave a 5-star rating and review of this podcast. You can do that at ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls. That link is available in the episode description on the device you’re listening on now. It’s ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls and it will work regardless of your device.
LEAH: When you had your child, how did that affect your relationship with your body and with your sexuality?
JILLIAN: Well, it was interesting because when I was pregnant, and as I got closer, I knew that I wanted to try to breastfeed and I was very scared. If I breastfed, I thought that I would want to smack, like just I would be disgusted and not be able to even experience that. And then I thought, “This is weird because it’s not a sexual thing, you’re feeding your child.” And I was so pleasantly surprised there was none of that and I was able to breastfeed just fine for however long I wanted to. And so that was not an issue at all so that’s a good experience. Yeah, so I don’t think having a child, anything to do with my body, I just think it was a lovely miracle and I had a great pregnancy, so I was lucky there.
LEAH: Good. So, what is your sexual relationship like with your husband today?
JILLIAN: It is very limited. I think that he thinks I’m further along than I am as far as in my healing. And I
have gotten better over I would say the last maybe 5 years. I stopped going to therapy.
Now I’m a Christian, my faith tradition is Christianity now, and I just talk to God about it all the time and I prayed about it and that is what has seemed to help me the most over all the years of 25 years of therapy, off and on. And so, it’s gotten a little bit better but still not great and I could go the rest of my life and never have sex again and that would be great.
LEAH: Do you have a sense of turn-ons sometimes or a sense of I want to be touched?
JILLIAN: Maybe if like I see a scene in a movie or read something in a book. That way, I can feel excited like that.
LEAH: So it has to be removed from you?
LEAH: It’s like you’re seeing someone else playing out a scene?
JILLIAN: Yes. And so, and then the frequency, it could be once a month at the most probably. And in general, it will be me thinking, “Okay, I would do this. Come on now. It’s been a while.” And try to just come at it with a good attitude and it’s not the revulsion. It’s not like what it used to be. It was so bad for so many years like that. Somehow, that’s gotten a little bit better, but in general there’s no pleasure.
LEAH: And how does your husband respond to that? Because surely, he must know that it’s still not pleasurable for you.
JILLIAN: I think that I hate to say this, but I think I’m just a little bit better. One, my body is not responding like it used to. I mean I bet before I was probably as stick as a board, but I remember like he could physically tell and I think I would flinch a lot like scared. And so, I go into it and I talk to myself beforehand, “You can do this. You got this. This is good. This is going to maybe help you get a little bit better.” I try to have a really positive attitude about it.
So he may know but I still fake, because I don’t want him to continue to feel, I don’t know, I guess I want him to have this sense of hope also. And he’s got to know, you’re right. But we don’t talk about it and I don’t really want to and I don’t want to bring it up because then it just brings up this spotlight that’s already been a spotlight on this for so long that I’m tired of the spotlight being on it.
LEAH: Yeah. What is your ideal situation? Would your ideal situation be “We just have a great marriage and we just don’t have any sex” or would your ideal situation be “I am able to do some kind of miraculous healing and we have a great sex life”?
JILLIAN: Yes, I would love to have a great sex life. LEAH: You would?
JILLIAN: I would love to have fun with it and not be embarrassed about anything. I don’t know if I’d want to get too creative, but I’m just saying like I would love to have a fun, sexy relationship with him.
LEAH: Do the two of you have intimate touch that isn’t sexual? Do you cuddle, that kind of thing? JILLIAN: Yes, I definitely love to cuddle.
LEAH: Yeah. So you enjoy touch, it’s just the sexual aspect of it you don’t like.
JILLIAN: Yes. A good head rub, yes. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: I wonder if you could maybe switch like adjust your thinking a little bit to that is your sex life and to really, fully embrace and dive into that touch is your connection point, and that is your sex life. And maybe for a little while, take the pressure off the actual penis in vagina penetration.
JILLIAN: So just like mindset. Is it how someone people would say just write down “I have a healthy happy sexual relationship” as if it’s already there? Would you recommend that? I’m willing to try anything.
LEAH: So I am not a huge fan of the sort of affirmations that take you so far out of what feels real that you’re like, “I’m never going to get there. This is a failure. I am automatically a failure. Yes.”
JILLIAN: Yeah and I want to stop that, yeah. LEAH: Yeah, I’m not a fan of that.
LEAH: Okay, so I’m thinking more on terms of really investing in the kind of touch that is pleasurable for you and taking the pressure off the touch that is really difficult. Okay, so here’s maybe one way that it could play out. Are you okay with the sight of your husband’s penis?
JILLIAN: It used to be worse to look at or see because it was so scary, but I think I’m okay with it. It’s not like I’m drawn to it.
LEAH: Yeah, sure, okay. What I’m thinking, and this would have to be a conversation with him so that this would take some real bravery, but to say to him, “I want to try something. I want to for a couple of months just really focus on our intimate connection, our cuddling, touching each other as we’re walking around the house, the head rub, the foot rub, maybe even taking a bath together.”
That kind of stuff that allows you to intimately connect skin to skin. But I want to take genitals, and in your case, it sounds like you have breast issues, take breasts and genitals off the table. “But I still want you to get what you need. I don’t want to leave you high and dry during this time, so whenever you feel like you need sexual connection, how about we lay together? I will lay in your arms and you can masturbate? You can take care of yourself.” So he still has that intimate touch and he’s getting the release but it’s not on you to give it to him.
LEAH: Does that sound doable?
JILLIAN: Yeah, and we’ve had to do that for some therapy, some of the sexual therapists. I’ve done that in the past. Now, I’m at a different place today though, just years have passed. I remember always just feeling guilty or like, “Okay, I’m just not going to do this anymore. We’re just going to hurry and have sex.”
So I was always just feeling bad for him and I think I’m just the caretaker and the gift in me. And now at this point now, I almost feel scared to bring it up that I want to try to work on something because here I’ve been trying to kind of act like it’s so much better now.
LEAH: Yeah, but you’re so busy taking care of him that you’re kind of abandoning the little girl inside of you who is still crying out to be held.
JILLIAN: Yes, so with that being said, I feel like I could do it. I mean I can do this. I just don’t want to set him back or for him to feel like, “Okay, you’ve been lying to me all this time again.”
LEAH: Well, I think you can potentially forestall that by saying upfront, “I’ve been doing the best that I can. I’m still having a hard time and so I want you to know I haven’t been lying to you but I’ve also not been completely honest with myself about what I need and so can we try something a little bit different?”
JILLIAN: Yeah. I will definitely think about this. I want to do something to move forward because it’s not working the way it would with what I’m doing currently. And so, I’m also in the process of just trying to explore my own body for first time because I’ve never been one who is comfortable with that.
JILLIAN: I’m trying just recently do that because I’m thinking, “Oh, okay. You can have some pleasure.” And then try to figure out how I’m going to introduce that to him potentially. So, I don’t know which step to do first.
LEAH: That was actually going to be one of your questions is if you masturbate?
JILLIAN: Yeah, but only with, I don’t even know if you call it a vibrator, but like I guess it’s a vibrator. It doesn’t go inside the body.
LEAH: Sure. An external vibrator.
JILLIAN: Yeah. So I’m not really familiar with all the things. It’s actually a friend was like, “I’m going to give you one of these”, because we have similar backgrounds and stuff and she’s like, “You’ve got to try this.” And I’m like, “I don’t think it’ll work.” So, it is very nice.
LEAH: So are you able to have an orgasm with it?
LEAH: Awesome. And is it a pleasurable orgasm or does it leave you feeling guilty? JILLIAN: No. It doesn’t leave me feeling guilty.
LEAH: Awesome. I love that.
JILLIAN: Is that good news?
LEAH: That’s great news!
JILLIAN: Good. That’s one hill I don’t have to climb.
LEAH: Yeah. And so when I work with people, specifically with women, there are various ways of going at this. One of them is to very much focus on yourself and to still engage with your husband as much as you need to in order to feel like you’re not falling down in that, because that just brings up more guilt. But to really focus on yourself and your experience because then maybe you can begin to discover the things that do work for you and over time, introduce those to him.
JILLIAN: Well, I think that’s what I want to do because I would not have been able to before that was introduced. And I’m to the point, Leah, where I’m like, “Do people just bring that thing into bed with them?”
JILLIAN: Like I don’t know how that stuff works, I’m so naïve and unaware of all that kind of stuff and I just don’t want to be surfing the Internet, so I didn’t really know what to do or how to introduce. But I figured, at least you can rack up some things that you could say, “Oh, this feels good.” Before I couldn’t have told you, I’d be like, “That thing feels good down there.”
LEAH: Yeah, so does he even know that you’re doing this?
LEAH: Okay. So he doesn’t know you’re masturbating. He doesn’t know you have a toy. None of it? JILLIAN: No.
LEAH: Okay. So here’s a process that I think can be a good one when you’re ready to let him into this and I would say do not put an ounce of pressure on yourself to be ready to bring him into this. Take as long as you need for this, just be you and your vibrator and having some fun.
LEAH: Because you have been sorely lacking on the fun front. JILLIAN: Yes.
LEAH: So just let yourself sink into that for as long as you need. At whatever point, you might think, “I want to being to engage with him on this front”, here’s a process that I’ve used with a couple of people that has been successful for them.
You take it in stages. You say to him, “I’m doing this thing and I want to bring you into it but I’m not ready to completely share it with you yet. So I want to go through these steps.” The first is you do this while he’s in the house but he’s in a different part of the house, so he knows that you’re masturbating but he’s not hearing you, he’s not seeing you, he’s not any part of it. He just knows that it’s going on and you do that for as long as it takes you to get comfortable with the idea that he even knows.
LEAH: Then the next step is you let him come close enough so that he can hear you but he’s still outside the closed door. So he cannot see anything, but he can hear you and you do that for as long as it takes you to get comfortable with the idea that he can hear you. Then, the next step is that you open the door.
LEAH: And maybe you still make him stay outside. Maybe he’s still outside the open door but at least now you are aware that he is sort of in the same space.
JILLIAN: So in this process to help me with the comfort levels. It’s nothing about him, right?
LEAH: Not at all.
JILLIAN: Because to me, that is very embarrassing for me to think of those steps. I’d almost rather if it didn’t shock him too much, I’d almost rather just say, “I’m doing this thing. I’m a little bit embarrassed about it but I think it would be great for us” and just introduce it. Is that too fast?
LEAH: It’s entirely up to you and your system because your system experienced a trauma where you were sexualized too young and whatever those things were that we don’t know were forced upon you, there can be a tendency for you to just be like, “Let’s go break the wall down”, because that’s the only thing your system knows.
LEAH: Things are going to happen too fast so I might as well just say, “Okay, they’re going to happen too
fast and get on with it.” JILLIAN: Right.
LEAH: So that can be the value of having a step by step very small step process. However, if you really think that that sort of like, “Let’s go over the embarrassing hard part and just jump in”, if that feels really, really true to your system and like it’s not going to kick you into dissociating, then fine. If that’s what works for you, I’m all for it.
JILLIAN: I think the embarrassment would be too much for me.
JILLIAN: And I know that sounds weird, but I just feel like it will be embarrassing enough but at least I can get the embarrassment over and jump to the pleasure that could happen.
LEAH: Okay. So in that case I would still have you not the first couple times you do it, have him not touching you so that you’re still getting to be inside your body and inside your own experience, getting used to the fact that he’s in the room. And then, maybe he can hold you while you do it.
LEAH: I would work up to actually handing the toy to him or having him be involved in any way. JILLIAN: Okay. I think I’ve got some marching orders.
JILLIAN: It feels good just talking to you, Leah, because you’re so good at number one, just about making me not feel ashamed or embarrassed about this and just too all the years I’ve gotten better at it and I’m so desperate to want something good to happen that it’s like you just can’t not talk about this anymore. You’ve got to move on and do something. And I really appreciate though how kind you are about it and I do feel very comfortable talking to you, and that you gave me an assignment that feels very doable, very embarrassing but very doable.
JILLIAN: You got to pull the band aid off. But I like too the way that you say, “Just go slow and to releasing the control of the thing or whatever.”
LEAH: Really, really check in with your body. Check in with your however you call it, your spirit or however you think about that, really check in with yourself to make sure that you’re not pushing yourself too fast because that will activate the trauma and cause you to dissociate and just put you back into the same pattern you’ve been in.
LEAH: I really believe that this process for you, no matter what steps you take, no matter how fast you go, is about learning to listen internally and figure out what it is that I want so that I’m not performing for somebody else, so I’m not doing for somebody else and totally ignoring what I need.
LEAH: Because that is what is done to you.
LEAH: Whatever that might have been. Do you have any other questions that you want to ask before we close up?
JILLIAN: I don’t. I think I just this was kind of a fun conversation, although there’s some awkward stuff or some semi-painful stuff to think about, the beauty of it is I feel like I’m moving on. I’m making some sort of forward progress and I feel like just talking to you today has helped me with this next step that I’m going to attempt, so this is a big deal. Thank you.
LEAH: Yay! I think it’s really important to know that small steps are important. You don’t have to go from zero to sixty. Going from zero to one is a really big deal and also, I know that when you got on, you said you were really nervous about having this conversation, and I just want you to know, you were marvelous.
JILLIAN: Thank you.
LEAH: You did such a good job. How did it feel to you to have this conversation?
JILLIAN: It feels good especially since I’m thinking if someone out there that would listen and feel like, “Oh my Gosh, I feel that. Oh, me too. I felt that same way.” And not feel so alone. That was my main goal of even wanting to be on the podcast with you is that if it could help someone else. Of course, you are a great resource but if it can help someone else, make someone else not feel ashamed themselves to try to masturbation. I am in my late 40s.
JILLIAN: And I am just now in the last 6 months, and so I think I sort of had resigned I would say even a year ago, I’m just never going to enjoy it, it’s just the way it is. At some point before, if I want someone, if I was embarrassed, whatever, ask a friend for you whatever you have to do, because you just never know. I thought for sure I would never find pleasure with that and getting to know your body especially if you’ve had traumatic experiences feels good like “Yes, my body was created to have pleasure, so this feels right.”
LEAH: Right. Awesome. I am so pleased for you.
JILLIAN: Thank you.
LEAH: Yeah. Jillian this has been just marvelous. Thank you so much. JILLIAN: Thank you, Leah.
LEAH: Thanks for joining me today on Good Girls Talk About Sex. If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube at GoodGirlsTalk.
I was only able to step outside my good girl box when someone I respected told me it was possible to do it. If you’d like to step outside a box that’s no longer working for you, I’m here to tell you it’s possible and I’d love to work with you. Join my mailing list to receive tools that help you name your desires and communicate them effectively to your partner or potential partners. Sign up at leahcarey.com.
I’m Leah Carey and I look forward to talking with you again next time. Here’s to your better sex life! [MUSIC]
Here are some of the notable moments she shared with us:
- 6:25 – Jillian is unable to remember her first experience of sexual pleasure and still doesn’t feel pleasure.
- 7:50 – When a boy in kindergarten touched her
- 9:10 – Jillian has memory gaps, though she has narrowed it down to ages 5-8 where “something” happened that caused her fear of and aversion to sexual touch
- 11:20 – She starts therapy at the request of her husband after an intense outburst of seemingly displaced trauma response.
- 12:20 – She tries hypnosis to access memory. She also asks her mother for information about her childhood and is shut down.
- 16:45 – She meets her future husband to whom she is attracted and despite/because of fear/aversion moves very quickly into sex.
- 17:40 – Leah talks about impact of being sexualized at a young age, affecting one’s ability to determine readiness and how it should fit into a relationship.
- 20:00 – She talks about the emotional energy it takes to not only fake enjoying sex, but to fake feeling happy or content.
- 21:20 – Her husband intuits she’s acting like everything is ok when it’s not.
- 22:40 – Where her mind goes during sex—fantasy, and sometimes about not being treated well. Or just being anxious to get the sex act over with while thinking she owes him pleasure, doing it for his sake. (**Follow up of how BDSM and ravishment play can be therapeutic.)
- 30:12 – Pregnancy and childbirth bring up new fears and aversions, particularly around breastfeeding.
- 31:45 – She finds faith and prayer to be a better and more effective tack at present than therapy for resolving trauma and pain.
- 33:15 – She still does not enjoy sex but can participate without revulsion about once a month.
- 36:40 – Leah leads a conversation/coaching about how to focus on intimate touch that is enjoyable but without genital touch and penetration.
- 40:10 – She’s just now trying masturbation and self-exploration to see if she can experience pleasure, using an external vibrator.
- 42:25 – Leah coaches how to bring the vibrator into the partnered sexual experience.
- My favorite internal/external vibrator – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MRYF9TD/
- Slim/beginner vibrator (please note – I have not used this particular vibrator, so this is not a recommendation, but rather an example) – https://www.amazon.com/SlimCharger-Rechargeable-Slender-Moving-Bullet
- My favorite lube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_Ok69EI-ks
The Patreon extras for this episode are:
- At the $5/month level, Jillian’s abortion and subsequent breakup with her first boyfriend
- At the $7/month level, that conversation plus the extended Q&A
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Audio Editor – Gretchen Kilby
Music – Nazar Rybak