I’m a hot mess – Coaching Jen

In this coaching episode we meet Jen, a woman who struggles with body image and emotional baggage in her relationships. She was abused beginning at age seven, and the emotional scars have faded but haven’t disappeared completely. She is self-conscious about her body, which is affecting her ability to be present for intimacy with her husband. She feels like a “hot mess” because dealing with her body insecurities and emotional baggage has been a significant challenge.

Leah works with Jen to:

  • examine the patterns established in her sexual relationship,
  • discover how pausing to breathe could make a major difference,
  • how to communicate with her husband about the changes she needs to make while she’s healing, and
  • recognize her experience not as a fault, but as a response to long-ago trauma.

Leah offers valuable insights and tools to help Jen, and all of you listening, to navigate the intricate path of healing from trauma – one breath at a time.

NOTE: In two weeks, we’ll be discussing episodes 2.6 and 2.7 of the Bravo show “Below Deck : Down Under”.

Good Girls Talk About Sex
Good Girls Talk About Sex
I'm a hot mess - Coaching Jen
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In this episode we talk about

  • Dissociation during sex
  • Breaking away from established sexual patterns
  • Communicating with your partner during times of healing and change
  • Taking small breaks during sex
  • The potential disconnect between our perception of a partner’s enjoyment vs. what’s actually happening in their head
  • How forcing yourself to engage in triggering activities is re-traumatizing the part of you that is already scared
  • The coping mechanisms that helped us as children may be hurting us as adults
  • Moments of small change come together to create big progress

Full episode text

LEAH: Hey, friends. Before we get started today, I wanted to let you know what we’ll be looking at in the next pop culture breakdown episode in two weeks. And just quickly, I’m recording this while on an unexpected trip back to the East Coast. So, I apologize for the shitty sound quality. I promise the rest of the episode sounds totally normal.

 

You may have heard recently that producers on the reality TV show Below Deck: Down Under had to intervene to prevent a sexual assault on a show that regularly highlights blackout drinking and aggressive behavior. It was the first time an intervention like this had happened. And it has prompted a lot of conversation.

 

So, in two weeks, we’re going to look at the two episodes in question. What did the producers do right? What should they have handled differently? Were there opportunities that were missed among the cast members? And we’ll even get an astonishingly clear look at a rape apologist who just happens to be a young woman herself.

 

So, if you’d like to watch before you listen, check out Below Deck: Down Under, season two, episode six, All Wrong, and season two, episode seven, The Turnover Day. And I can tell you from experience that you don’t need much background before jumping into these episodes. I had never watched the show before. And other than trying to keep straight who was who, I didn’t have any problem keeping up. In the United States, you can find these episodes streaming on Bravo, Peacock TV, NBC, and you can rent them on Amazon Prime. Now, on to today’s show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

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. Sounds good? Let’s start the show!

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Hey, friends. Today is the first in my new series of coaching conversations. So often, I hear people express confusion about what happens in a coaching session or unease with what they assume it must be like. So, I want to share some actual coaching sessions in order to dispel some of that mystery for you.

 

But before we dive into that, I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who reached out with feedback about the last episode with Kristen Meinzer, doing a deep dive into how sex and sexuality are portrayed in an episode of Netflix’s Never Have I Ever and an episode of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso.

 

One listener said that even though neither are shows that they’ve watched before, they learned a lot from our conversation, which feels like a pretty nice compliment. With your enthusiastic responses, I feel comfortable moving forward with more pop culture episodes. And I’m thrilled because it’s truly a marriage of my two favorite things, sexuality and entertainment.

 

Okay. Let’s turn our focus to today’s conversation. Here are some things you need to know before we get started. Jen volunteered to have this coaching session knowing that it would be recorded and shared. She is not a previous client. So, I don’t have any knowledge about her case beyond what you’ll hear in this conversation.

 

Jen has a history of sexual abuse, which is referenced repeatedly throughout this conversation, but we never go into any specifics about what happened. And I actually think that’s an important point. You don’t need to spill every detail of your past in order to get benefit from coaching. It’s one of the differences between coaching and therapy.

 

The way I describe it is that in therapy, you spend a lot of time looking back in order to clean things up with yourself. So, you can then figure out how to move forward. In coaching, we spend our time looking primarily at where you want to go and figuring out how to get there. And sometimes, we find that we have to look back in order to get the stumbling blocks out of your way.

 

They’re both valuable and both have their place. And I say that as someone who has had numerous therapists and coaches over the years. I’ll jump back in at the end of the coaching session to share a few more thoughts, along with information about how you can get a free coaching session with me.

 

Jen is a 49-year-old cisgender woman who describes herself as white, straight, monogamous, married, and curvy. She does not have children. Here’s my conversation with Jen!

Jen, welcome. Just to set the scene here. Before we started recording, you told me that you had some sexual trauma as a kid and that you also grew up in a home where it sounds like sex was a challenging subject where it was mostly, “Don’t do this.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: Yes.

 

LEAH: Yes. And then, now as an adult, you’ve been married for quite a few years. You’re wanting sex to be a little more fun than it is because you still haven’t quite figured out how to relax and let loose. And you’re also dealing with the fact that over time, your body has changed. So, is that an encapsulation of where we’re going today?

 

JEN: Yeah, that sounds accurate.

 

LEAH: Okay. So, first of all, let’s choose a direction. And we’ll probably end up talking about both these things. But do you want to focus primarily on having more fun or on learning to be okay in your body during sex?

 

JEN: Probably the latter is more what I need because I think that would help me actually have more fun if I was present.

 

LEAH: Okay. Yeah. All right. So, talk to me a little bit about what happens to you when you’re starting to get sexy with your husband? Do you have fun at first, and then the thoughts come in or do the thoughts come in right from moment one about like, “Oh, how does my body look? And what’s he going to think?”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: The body stuff comes up before because there’s the whole disrobing part. And he’s usually so much quicker. I don’t know how he does it, he’s like, ta-da, naked.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: And then, I’m like, okay, I’m going to take my clothes off and be very self-aware. And he’s like, “Don’t worry about it.” It’s not coming from him. He’s not making this uncomfortable for me. And I’m already like, ugh, about my body. And then, as we progress, then it just gets more difficult because then the trauma comes in.

So, it already starts off as, “Oh, God, I don’t have the body of the 25-year-old me.” And then, there’s the rest of it, which is all the emotional baggage of life and everything. So, I think I’m a hot mess before we even do anything. So, yeah, it’s been a challenge really.

 

LEAH: Do you remember a time when you were having sex and you felt comfortable in your body? Is that an experience you’ve ever had?

 

JEN: So, I would say briefly, more recently. There have been times. And it’s because I’ve been in a lot of counseling to really heal a lot of the trauma and honestly, to be more in my body all the time. I have a lot of anxiety. I have other things going on. And so, I have done a ton of work. And I have talked to my counselor about sex a fair amount.

 

Come on. It’s just hard to talk about. And I think part of why it’s hard to talk about is because I’m still waiting for my sex talk from my parents. It’s never going to happen. And then, the conversation was, “You just don’t do that.” And then, years later, come to find out my parents did.

 

So, it’s this whole thing around there’s all this hypocrisy and stuff that’s wrapped into it. And I’ve always assumed that nobody else goes through any of this. So it’s been an isolating feeling really. But then, you realize over time that you aren’t alone in your thoughts about this.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Not only are you not alone, it’s probably more women than not going through some version of this of, I want to love my body. I’m hearing all of these messages about how I’m supposed to be able to love my body. But I don’t love my body because I also have all these other messages. And therefore, my not being able to love my body because of all the other messages makes me even more of a failure.

 

JEN: Yeah. I have that conversation with myself a lot.

 

LEAH: It’s a vicious circle.

 

JEN: And I don’t know how to get out of it. And it feels really good to realize that other people have these same thoughts. There’s some comfort in it. And at the same time, it sucks. I wouldn’t want other people to feel this at all.

 

LEAH: And you have already made the first most important step of this process, which is being willing to acknowledge that this was going on for you and that it’s something that you’re not comfortable with and would like to shift. That acknowledgement is huge because so many of us, and I will count myself in this up to a few years ago, spend our lives thinking, I’m wrong. I’m broken. And this is just the way it’s always going to be. There’s no way for it to change.

 

JEN: Yeah. I do know that it can change because through all of my work on other areas of my life, I’ve seen significant change and progress. So, I believe that it can get better. I just hate that some of the trauma and other things come into this thing that could be really beautiful.

 

LEAH: Yeah. I hate that for you. I think you told me that you were about 7 when the trauma began. What does that little 7-year-old need to hear right now?

 

JEN: For me, as an adult, I want to acknowledge what happened and comfort her. And at the same time, say, “It’s okay because that’s not what’s happening now.”

 

LEAH: So, let’s think about a 7-year-old. She’s fairly innocent. She doesn’t know much about the world. Before this happened, she likely knew little to nothing about sex. And at 7, we do not have a great grasp on logic yet. So, when you try to say to this little girl, “I see you. I feel you. I know how hard that was. And that’s not happening right now,” she does not know what that means. Because to her, it is still happening in this moment, in every moment. Do you remember a time before the trauma happened? Do you remember how you felt in your body or what life was like before that?

 

JEN: Not much. I have looked at pictures. And you can see that before, after. And I was like, ugh, yeah, I wish I could remember more.

 

LEAH: Yeah. If you imagine one of those pictures, if you feel safe, you can close your eyes. Imagine one of those pictures from the before time. What do you see in her eyes? What do you see in her body?

 

JEN: Comfort, light, joy.

 

LEAH: How does she feel in her body? How does she use her body?

 

JEN: It’s just effortless.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Does she go swing on the jungle gym? What’s her thing?

 

JEN: Swimming and all of it. Yeah.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Imagine that freedom of swimming. Let yourself just sink into that feeling for a minute or two. Yup, it’s okay. Keep breathing.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. Breathing is always the hard part. So, she’s swimming and there are no restrictions on her body. How does that feel in your body?

 

JEN: Amazing and foreign.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. I’m so glad that you went there because the tendency would be to say, “It feels amazing.” But what I saw on your face was, “This feels really fucking uncomfortable.” Yeah?

 

JEN: It’s both. It’s like, amazing, yes, and no.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. So, as soon as you, as adult Jen, get into a moment where you start to feel that freedom and that expansiveness and that ability to move, then your brain immediately comes in and is like, “I don’t know how to do this. I’m not going to do this. Fuck that. Let’s shut this shit down.” Yeah?

 

JEN: That’s right. Yeah.

 

LEAH: Yeah. And there’s a really good reason because your brain is still trying to protect that 7-year-old. She went through a massive before and after moment at a point when she was far too young to have any understanding of what that meant or what that would do to her. And she is still kicking and screaming. Yeah? Or maybe I shouldn’t say that. Is she a kicker and a screamer or is she curled up in a little ball and disappears?

 

JEN: Curled up in a little ball.

 

LEAH: Yeah. So, she’s probably still curled up in that little ball.

 

JEN: I still do that as an adult or I Chandler Bing you to death.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Oh my God. I love a good Friends reference.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: That’s the whole deflect and be funny. And that’s what I do. It’s the way I hide now.

 

LEAH: What happens inside your body when you don’t do that, when you let yourself just sit in the discomfort?

 

JEN: I don’t like it. I don’t do it very often because it feels icky. But I’m getting to where I know I have to do it. So, I give it a shot here and there, yeah.

 

LEAH: Good. That’s amazing.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Again, you’re at that point of acknowledgment of what I’m doing is not working for me. And so, even though this feels really awful and uncomfortable, I’m willing to at least entertain the possibility of something different, even if it’s only for one second at a time. Because those little one-second things over time come together into minutes. And over time, those minutes come together into hours.

 

Anytime I do a workshop with people and they come up to me at the end of it and they’re like, “Oh my God, this was life-changing. I’m never going to forget this feeling. I’m going to live like this forever.” And I’m like, “Love the energy, and it’s never going to happen.”

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And sometime in the next 24 hours, somebody’s going to flip you off in traffic and you’re going to be just as pissed off as you would have been two days ago. This is just how it works. What we’re doing is building a muscle. And you don’t go from zero muscle to completely jacked in one session. You do lots of small sessions to build that muscle over time. And so, these moments where you let yourself sit in the discomfort are the training of building that muscle. How does that sit with you?

 

JEN: It sucks. And it’s also the process in a lot of ways that I’ve been going through to manage my own life outside of the scope of this conversation, because I find that I have to do that with a lot of things, that somebody with anxiety and depression and all kinds of things I have to be, I have to maintain things. And it’s been really hard with COVID and everything. It’s so much easier to just numb out. And lately, I’ve been trying really hard to just come back, come back. It’s not easy.

 

LEAH: So, what do you do in order to bring yourself back?

 

JEN: So, over the last few months, what I’ve been doing is meditating. So, I can be mindful in the breath. Because when I’m actually focused on the breath, I know that I’m there. I can’t just go. And then, I become more aware when I’ve gone because then, I’m like, wait, no, nope, nope. We can’t be thinking about all that. We have to be right here.

 

And then, I also do other things that I’ve figured out over time is to just remind myself that, here, everything’s okay. Nothing bad is happening in this moment. All of that kind of thing is what keeps me going. But it’s really weird. There’s this bright line then where it’s like when it comes to sex, those skills just don’t seem to leap the fence to come over with me. It’s really strange.

 

LEAH: Yes. And it makes complete sense because sex is very vulnerable just on its face. And then, add in your background, it’s a recipe for a mess. And I’m glad that you made that connection because this was actually going to be my next question for you, which is how much do you breathe during sex?

 

JEN: Very little.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Thank you very much.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: And I’m going to suggest that you don’t stop breathing at the moment that intercourse begins. You stop breathing at the moment that your clothes start coming off.

 

JEN: That’s probably true and the tense starts, too.

 

LEAH: Yeah. It’s the same nervous system response that all your guards go up. You stop breathing. And it’s like you’re totally ready for a fight. Yeah?

 

JEN: Yeah.

 

LEAH: So, this is the exciting/fucking terrifying piece, which is learning how to breathe as you’re taking your clothes off.

 

JEN: Okay.

 

LEAH: That was a very strong okay.

 

[LAUGHER]

 

LEAH: And, yeah, I can see on your face, it’s terrifying because what this requires is being in your body at the scariest moment for that 7-year-old.

 

JEN: Yeah, because you can’t hide. There’s nowhere to hide.

 

LEAH: Literally.

 

JEN: And you can’t run.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Who usually initiates intimacy, your husband or you?

 

JEN: More often than not, it’s him. But I have been trying to do that myself.

 

LEAH: That’s great. Regardless of who initiates, how does your intimate sexy time begin? Do you immediately go to clothes off or is there touching and cuddling before you get to that?

 

JEN: Sometimes, there’s some cuddling. But most of the time, it’s straight to clothes off.

 

LEAH: Okay. And is that comfortable for you?

 

JEN: I don’t know. It just is.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Right. Okay. So, very often, we get into patterns with sex of, this is just how it is. And we stop thinking about whether this is actually what I want it to be. We just go along with the script. And you’ve been married a long time. You’ve seen this movie 1,000 times. You know how this script goes. And so, trying to hijack the script and do it a little bit differently like you initiate it, takes a lot of energy and a lot of courage.

 

So, you’re already demonstrating that. The next thing that I’m going to encourage you to do is that as soon as you start to feel your body go into that space, to say to your husband and warn him before, I highly recommend you sitting down and having a conversation with him sometime in the next couple of days while this is still fresh for you and say, “I just had this conversation where I realized ‘m playing out this movie. And I’m not even sure how much of it is my current character anymore. And so, I need to learn how to pause and breathe and really get present. And this is going to be something I have to practice.”

 

And so, what that’s going to look like and so this is the information you’re giving him so that he can be in this with you rather than you surprising him in the moment. So, tell him, “What this is going to look like is I’m going to put my hand on your skin or I’m going to connect with you in some way. And I’m going to say I need a minute. This is not me rejecting you. This is me trying to get back into my body. I just need a minute to breathe.”

 

JEN: Okay. Now, that makes a lot of sense.

 

LEAH: The first few times you do this, it is going to feel fucking ridiculous and you want to fall through the floor. Probably. Yeah? You can just expect that the very act of doing this is going to send you into some altered state. And that’s okay.

 

LEAH: The first few times, the entire assignment is about just saying the thing. When you get a little bit more used to being able to say, “I need a minute to breathe,” then you may actually be able to get into your body and breathe. When you feel like, okay, I’m present again. I can re-engage with you. And you may be able to re-engage for three minutes or 10 minutes or 10 seconds before you have to stop and breathe again. I know it sounds scary and overwhelming. But how does it feel to you in terms of is it doable?

 

JEN: I feel a lot calmer, just by hearing that that’s a possibility. So, I appreciate that for sure. I am sure that he would be fine with that. Yeah, I think that would be good.

 

LEAH: There’s something else going on on your face. What else is going on in your brain?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: There’s just a time where he’s on top of me where I really can’t breathe at that point. And it’s not physically. Does that make sense?

 

LEAH: Totally.

 

JEN: It’s emotionally. It happens. And we can be in the middle. I can be grooving on it and thinking, okay, this is all right. This is all right. And then, all of a sudden, it’s like a very claustrophobic feeling. And I hate that.

 

LEAH: What do you do when that switch flips? How do you respond in the moment?

 

JEN: Unfortunately, I just want it to be over as quickly as possible. And it’s at a time when I think that he’s enjoying it. So, he wants things to go on longer. And I’m like, nope, let’s just get this done now. I feel like it’s at that place where it could be super awesome. And then, something happens. And physically, brain, everything just says, no way. Yeah. But it’s always the same position. And that’s what’s so weird about it.

 

Just this way that he’s on top of me or whatever. Because it can be other stuff and it’s like, no problem. And he would actually prefer if I was on top, but because of my body image stuff, I feel super weirded out about that. Because then it’s like, oh, hey, you can totally see me now.

 

LEAH: Yeah. So, the position where he’s on top and you can be really into it. And then, all of a sudden, the switch flips. Does that in any way mirror the position you were in as a child?

 

JEN: I think so. Yeah.

 

LEAH: Yeah. Okay. So, we don’t need to pull that apart. It’s not rocket surgery. We understand that the brain is making that connection. Does that feel fair?

 

JEN: Right. That feels fair. Yeah, for sure.

 

LEAH: Okay. So, what happens when you’re in that moment and you’re having the pleasure, and then the little girl is like, “This is not safe. We’re going to shut this down,” but then you power through anyway, is that you are reinforcing that trauma for the little girl.

 

JEN: That sounds right.

 

LEAH: Let me say you’re not doing anything wrong. You, as adult Jen, have been doing the best you’ve known how. You have not been doing anything wrong. Now, you’re going to have a little more information so that you can handle this differently. Okay? So, when you push through, when you force your body to do something that your brain is no longer feeling safe with, you’re repeating that trauma over and over.

 

JEN: Yeah. And I leave. I’m not even there anymore.

 

LEAH: Exactly, because that’s the coping mechanism is, yeah, this is not safe. Bye bye.

 

JEN: Yeah. I think the first time I disassociated was during that trauma. So, it’s pretty easy.

 

LEAH: Yeah. And so, what I heard you say a few minutes ago is we get to that moment and I think that my husband would be disappointed if we stopped. This is where it’s getting really good for him. And so, I assume he just wants to keep going. And so, I push through. What if he recognizes that you’re gone, to realize I am doing this thing that I want my wife to have pleasure in and she’s not here, so I don’t get to share it with her?

 

JEN: I’m sure that doesn’t feel good for him.

 

LEAH: So, again, I want to be really clear. You’re not doing anything wrong. You have not been creating any bad juju with him. And let’s look at it the opposite way, which is how much more wonderful would it be for him if his partner were able to stay present and connected throughout the entire act? And so, what that means.

 

JEN: It means I have to be honest and stop, so I can breathe.

 

LEAH: Yeah. It’s going to be a little awkward for a while.

 

JEN: Or I just fucking flip him over.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Fuck, yeah.

 

JEN: I’ve thought about that, too. You know what? I’ve thought about that. And I think he would be like, “What the hell?” But I think he would go with it.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Yeah. And if that is something that you think could flip the script for you, absolutely do that. What I also heard you say, though, is that being on top puts other issues at the forefront. So, if you’re trading one freeze for another, that’s maybe not the trade-off you want to go with.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: You’re the sex coach. What’s the sideways in-between position?

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: I honestly don’t think this is about position.

 

JEN: It doesn’t exist? Okay.

 

LEAH: No, there are lots of positions that exist.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: But I don’t think that that’s the issue.

 

JEN: No, it’s not.

 

LEAH: The issue is that you’re leaving. This is your brain protecting you. You are not doing anything wrong. It’s so important that you hear that. Your brain is protecting you. And now, it’s time to say, thank you, brain. I appreciate how you have been protecting me. That was brilliant when I was 7 years old.

 

Now, at 49 years old, I want to see if we can do something a little different. I’m in that place. I need a minute. And if that means that the two of you disconnect, literally stop having intercourse, and just lay together and cuddle, that’s okay. You’re not depriving him of anything. What you’re doing is building yourself toward being fully present. Does that make sense?

 

JEN: It does. That totally makes sense. I appreciate that. And I can picture it in my mind as being something very tender and precious. It’s a good feeling. And, like I said, he loves me.

 

LEAH: He has loved you through a lot of stuff already, it sounds like.

 

JEN: Oh, hells, yeah.

 

LEAH: Yeah. He’s not going to be scared away by this.

 

JEN: I don’t think so either.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: I don’t know what your relationship with blow jobs and hand jobs and toys and all of that stuff is, but if it sometimes means that you need to finish him another way so that you don’t feel like you’ve deprived him, that’s okay.

 

JEN: Okay. And I’ve totally done that.

 

LEAH: Good. Whatever it takes to help you calm your brain. Because if your brain is thinking, I’m leaving him high and dry, it’s not going to be able to integrate the, wow, I just did a good thing. So, let yourself stop. Calm down. Let your nervous system calm down some. Breathe. And then, if and when your brain starts going, hello, we’re doing a terrible thing by depriving him, then you can take care of that. Okay.

 

JEN: And to be fair, he’s comfortable saying, “I have some needs over here.”

 

LEAH: Cool. Great. Okay. Good.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

JEN: So, there’s that, too. He’ll let me know. But, yeah, we’ve covered a lot of ground here.

 

LEAH: Yeah, we’ve just been through a lot. And so, first, I want to check in with where you are right now in this moment.

 

JEN: Surprisingly good.

 

LEAH: Yeah, this was incredibly brave.

 

JEN: I’m very appreciative. I don’t know if it makes for a good podcast.

 

LEAH: It does. But also, that’s not your concern. That’s mine.

 

[LAUGHTER]

 

LEAH: Always taking care of other people. And you’re probably familiar with this from therapy, but I want to say it anyway. We’ve opened some doors that you don’t necessarily stand around opening a lot of the time. So, if over the next 24, 48 hours, you have some spikes of emotion, it’s okay.

 

You haven’t broken anything. You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s just the stuff that we’ve just opened up flooding through your system. It will pass. And if you need some extra support, let me know and we’ll process through it. Okay?

 

JEN: Okay. Thank you.

 

LEAH: Yeah, absolutely.

 

JEN: Thank you for everything. This has been amazing. I didn’t know what to expect, honestly.

 

LEAH: I’m glad. Jen, I have a final question for you before we close up for the day. What would you like to be appreciated for right now?

 

JEN: Being brave.

 

LEAH: Yes. Jen, I really want to appreciate you for being brave. This took a lot of courage.

 

JEN: Thanks.

 

[MUSIC]

 

LEAH: Here are three takeaways from my conversation with Jen. A kind and decent partner should want you to be having a wonderful pleasurable experience. Part of the fun of sex is seeing and hearing your partner have pleasure. So, if we’re pushing through sex that our brain has detached from just so that we don’t interrupt our partner’s pleasure, our partner can usually tell. While Jen powers through her trauma response so she doesn’t interrupt her husband’s good time, there’s a really good chance he’s not having as good a time as she thinks he is.

 

Number two, when you force your body to continue doing things that your brain no longer wants, you are re-traumatizing the part of you that disconnected in the first place. The trauma response that Jen has during sex is her inner 7-year-old telling her that she doesn’t feel safe. The claustrophobic and panicky feeling Jen describes is the only language that 7-year-old has available to communicate with adult Jen. When Jen powers through her trauma response, she’s telling the 7-year-old that it still isn’t safe. And it probably won’t ever be safe to engage in vulnerable, connected sex.

 

And number three, continuing to push that 7-year-old and expecting her to suddenly come around at some point will never work. Think of a real-life 7-year-old that you know. When they have a meltdown, telling them to stop crying and be quiet is never going to work. It’s only going to make them cry harder. Unless they’re the child who’s so scared that they go into a silent freeze state, but that’s a conversation for another day. What actually helps is to stop what you’re doing, sit down with them, and hold them while they breathe and calm down.

 

This is exactly the process I’ve encouraged Jen to go through when she has a mid-sex meltdown. In this case, she’s not able to physically take the 7-year-old in a bear hug. But she can prove to that little girl inside her that there’s a new big person in charge now. And adult Jen is no longer going to allow her to be hurt the way she once was. It’s not an overnight process. But the more intentional and consistent Jen is about it, the more progress she’ll see.

 

Now, if you’d like to do a free 30-minute coaching session with me for the podcast, go to www.goodgirlstalk.com/podcastcoaching. That link is in the app you’re listening on now. A 30-minute session like this is great for getting some concrete tools that you can take home and start using right away.

 

What it doesn’t provide is ongoing support as you implement those tools. The process of growing and healing is never a straight line. It is always a twisty path that offers a shortcut through the woods, then doubles back on itself in unexpected places. If you’d like a companion as you walk this twisty path, I currently have spots open in my coaching schedule.

 

All of the information is at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. And while you’re there, you can set up a free no pressure, no obligation phone call to see if we’re a good fit for each other. That’s at www.leahcarey.com/coaching. And that link is in the app you’re listening on now. I would be honored to guide you in embracing the sexuality that is innately yours, no matter what it looks like.

 

If you have comments or questions about anything you’ve heard on today’s show, call and leave a message at 720-GOOD-SEX. Full show notes and transcripts for this episode are at www.goodgirlstalk.com And you can follow me @goodgirlstalk on the socials for more sex positive content. If you’re enjoying the show, please take a moment to leave a 5-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Or if you’re using another podcast app, go to www.ratethispodcast.com/goodgirls.

 

While listening to the show is free, producing it is not. If my work is meaningful to you and you have a few dollars to support it each month, I will gratefully accept your support at Patreon. And word of mouth advertising is the best kind. So, if you want to support the show in non-monetary ways, please tell your friends. Find out more and become a community member at www.patreon.com/goodgirlstalkaboutsex.

 

Good Girls Talk About Sex is produced and edited by me, Leah Carey. And transcripts are produced by Jan Acielo.

 

Until next time, here’s to your better sex life!

 

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Host / Producer / Editor – Leah Carey (email)
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Music
 – Nazar Rybak

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