current_problem: I am a mother and a wife. I have been married for 4 years now, and I have a beautiful 2 year old daughter. I grew up VERY fast and had a VERY hard life. For about the last 2 or 3 years now, I just cant make love to my husband. I had a very bad experience when I was about 5 years old… I lost my virginity unwillingly. I still cant say or write down the “R” word, so bear with me. It has become increasingly difficult to let my husband touch me without having a flashback (which I have had daily since I can remember), let alone him being inside me. I have horrable flashbacks that are so real all the time (random) and I can litterally feel everything as though it’s happening right then. It’s like there is something inside me- going in and out- when there is nothing… I cant close my legs tight enough. It’s dabilitating. I am on social security disability because I cant leave my house without someone I trust. Family. I am afraid of EVERY male I see and I have an anxiety attack when I think that someone is following me or looking at me… It is a long story. Anyway- I love my husband more than anything, and he loves me. He is very supportive, but I feel so bad because we go an average of 5 months at a time without any physical contact. He says that he is okay with it and he never pushes me… I tell him that it is only temporary, but I am so afraid that it is not. I need help on how to distract myself enough to not think about my bad experience when I am with my husband. I dont know what to do. I feel like there is no hope… I have been to counciling, but nothing helps. I am always overwhelmed by this sence of horrableness and I cant help but cringe and become somewhat catatonic for a while. I hate myself for this. I love my husband so much and I remember what it was like when I enjoyed having sex with him… There was this awesome closeness together that just made me want to cry (happy tears). I miss that so much. Please help me???
-Desperate to forget the past.

Dear Desparate,
This situation must be very, very hard for both you and your husband. It’s important to hold on to the fact that there is a lot going on in your life that is positive. You have a loving and patient husband and a beautiful daughter. You and your husband did have a close and intimate sex life at one time. That means you can do so again.

Something happened 2 – 3 years ago. Until then, you were able to put the past behind you and let then be then and now be now. Then something happened that overwhelmed your ability to cope.

I’m struck by the fact that you were okay until about the time you got pregnant. A good guess would be that the hormonal shifts associated with pregnancy and childbirth made you feel much more vulnerable and fragile and that you are suffering from a post partum depression. Believe it or not, post partum depression can last 2 – 3 years after birth. Although you don’t report feeling depressed, it’s possible that the form your depression took is the complex of symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For that reason, I suggest that you first ask your OB-GYN for a referral to a psychiatrist who is experienced with post partum depression. Some medicine and a little talk therapy to help you adjust may be what you need. Only if that doesn’t work would I suggest looking for a therapist who is sophisticated in working with PTSD. I know you have already seen a therapist but sometimes this work takes several tries until you find the therapist who is the right match.
I wish you well.
Dr. Marie