My daughter’s father was verbally abusive. I became depressed and left. Two months later he got another woman pregnant. I moved on emotionally but keep coming back for sex. During intimacy, we always say, “I love you.” Then we argue, he says F-off and I cry. Some days I don’t want anything to do with anyone, including my baby. Am I a bad mother? My ex took my virginity (I’m 22) and taught me about sex. I’m afraid no one else can please me sexually. Advice please!
Let’s time travel. I’ll stay in 2018, while you lean forward into the year 2040 and watch this story unfold: Your daughter has a child by a man with whom she shares a volatile relationship. She says sex is spectacular but cries often, admitting great sex is all they’ve got. She withdraws into depression. You wish her life choices flowed from how talented, smart and capable she is, rather than from behaving as if she’s the victim of her biology. You wish you could turn back time to show her a living example of how to love and be loved.
Oh snap! You can.
If you don’t want to change in order to inspire your daughter, do it for yourself. Start here: You and your ex-boyfriend are sexually compatible, but not relationally compatible. Hot sex stimulates the body’s bonding hormones. The more often you have sex with your ex, the more difficult it is to leave him. Exchanging “I love yous” heightens orgasm for some people (even strangers occasionally blurt ILY during sex). But when a partner fails to treat you as a soul mate, best friend, life partner, mother of his child, or human being—his words are meaningless. Hanging on to empty promises is self-harming behavior. You may have a natural inclination toward depression (medication and exercise can help) but you’re also training yourself to tolerate situations that nourish it.
Depression may be why you crave hookups. Hot sex lifts you out of your pain, temporarily. Depression may also be why you return to your ex. His verbal abuse mimics self-critical thoughts in your mind. Healing demands that you value yourself. Start small. Acknowledge sweet things about yourself daily. Without self-worth, it’s difficult to accept that you deserve better. To mature, free yourself from the victim mindset: Did your boyfriend “take” your virginity? That implies he raped you. Religious and social codes about sex can undermine a person’s ownership of her or his body, sensuality and sexual experiences. Though these rules may be well intentioned, the result can be a fear of admitting sexual consent. Ponder the truth of your first sexual experience and learn to talk to yourself honestly. If you were raped, take legal action. Wouldn’t you want your daughter to do so?
A final thought: Redirect your mind’s obsession with loss. Schedule time alone each week so you don’t need to abruptly withdraw from your daughter. Trust that you’ll find great sex with a good man, instead of living in fear of missing out. Stop giving your ex-boyfriend power over your moods and sexual pleasure. Empower yourself to create a joyful life without him.