Dissociation is the experience of disconnecting from ones body. You might be wondering; what does dissociation have to do with sex? Dissociation can happen in various ways. For some, it is intense numbing and they cannot feel pleasure. For others, their brain wanders off to think about their daily routine, making future plans, work stuff, or any other irrelevant thoughts.
Dissociating during sex is the reality of many men and women. Yet, dissociation is an issue hardly ever spoken about. For those who experience this, it's too shameful. Those who don't experience dissociation remain unaware of this experience. Dissociation is often experienced by survivors of sex abuse but can also be experienced by men and women who grew up in a sex and body-shaming environment. Regardless of the childhood experience, both these groups of children have learned that their body is ugly, unsafe, and a place they don't want to be.
There are many exercises that will help you to begin the process of reconnecting to your body. Healing Sex by Staci Haines has some excellent exercises. I will outline one of her suggested exercises. I highly suggest purchasing the book.
The Pelvic Rock - Lay flat on your back on a hard surface, with your knees bent, and a pillow under your head for support. First, begin with three deep breaths into your belly and out. Then, begin to rock your pelvic up toward your chest, and back down. Do this for some time. Many emotions might come rushing, or you might begin to dissociate. Observe your thoughts. With deep breaths bring yourself back to your body. Do this until you reach a point of discomfort. Stay with the discomfort. Focus on bringing your breath to the discomfort. After a few seconds you can release. Do a few more deep breaths. Then, stretch out your entire body like after a long sleep morning stretch. Stay in that position until you're ready to get up.
Practice the pelvic rock exercise a few times a week. With time you'll become more and more comfortable with remaining in your body.
Beginning to heal from dissociation might feel like a lifetime journey. You've been dissociating for many years, so give yourself time - don't be harsh on yourself.
Sara Schapiro-Halberstam, M.S., CASAC