This is why you can’t fo­cus at work. Plus My life in sex

The Guardian - Weekend - - Front Contents -

My abuser was an­other child, a male fam­ily mem­ber three years older, who tar­geted me be­tween the ages of seven and 15. This early sex­u­al­i­sa­tion made me con­fused about what was ap­pro­pri­ate, and in my teens I was ag­gres­sive to­wards any girl who showed in­ter­est. I never phys­i­cally harmed any­one but def­i­nitely made a few women un­com­fort­able. Th­ese failed en­coun­ters fed into my over­whelm­ing sense of shame. It all be­came too much, and I be­gan to self-harm, abus­ing drugs and al­co­hol any time I had sex­ual urges.

I adopted a hy­per-mas­cu­line per­sona, to­tally out of sync with my ac­tual sex­ual iden­tity, and at­tracted the wrong part­ners. A cou­ple of my early girl­friends were emo­tion­ally ma­nip­u­la­tive and emas­cu­lated me when I con­fided in them about the abuse. Mean­while, I loathed other men – real men who could have sex and knew what women wanted. I was some­thing else – a shame­ful thing, too piti­ful to have sex or know how to ask for the phys­i­cal in­ti­macy I craved.

Even­tu­ally, tired of lone­li­ness, I agreed to an open mar­riage, be­liev­ing that if my new wife were able to meet her sex­ual needs else­where then it w would all work it­self out. She thought t the sex­ual free­dom would al­low me t to ex­plore and heal my wounds. U Un­for­tu­nately, none of this h hap­pened and we di­vorced.

Since then, I’ve strug­gled with the a ab­sence of phys­i­cal con­tact. Ther­apy h helped me deal with my shame, and em­pathise with both my younger self and my abuser, who I’ve come to recog­nise was likely a vic­tim of sex­ual abuse him­self. I’m still lonely, but I haven’t given up.

E Each week, a reader tells us about t their sex life. Want to share yours? E Email sex@the­guardian.com

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