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Your Experience is Valid

This interview is from the Like Mind, Like Body podcast. You can listen to the full interview below, on iTunes or Google Podcasts.


Taking care of yourself is a resilient act, one that requires vulnerability, rest, and compassion.” That’s the advice that Kamil Lewis, AMFT, gives to her clients who are struggling with chronic pain. In this episode, Kamil offers validation and guidance on navigating experiences that contribute to chronic pain, like oppression, marginalization, and burnout. Join us to learn tips on building community, validating your experience, and reigniting your sex life in the face of chronic symptoms.

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Navigating the challenges of a sex life when you are experiencing chronic pain. This is something that comes up really often in the Curable Facebook community because it's a real struggle and people have nowhere to share and talk about it or get advice. I think it can feel lonely and isolating. But it's a fact of the chronic pain experience. And like you said, the desire to be touched or intimate with your partner goes away and doesn't return for quite some time. So what advice do you have for folks who are dealing with that situation right now?

Well, I think that a big thing to talk about is that there is so much shame around talking about sex in general, so making the space to talk about it is a great first step. Then acknowledging if you're in pain, that part of your experience kind of eclipses everything else, so if you've had neck pain for ten years, or back pain for five years, or pelvic floor pain for twenty years, then that becomes the predominant experience of your body. So you're experiencing your body as a source of pain and not a source of pleasure.

Inviting in moments of pleasure are really powerful in showing your brain and your body that what else is here. I'm not just like this being of pain. I'm capable of pleasure and excitement, joy, and arousal. So I think it's first giving yourself permission to acknowledge that feeling pleasure in your body is a really great way to attend to the healing process of chronic pain.

Because it's at opposition with pain, or sometimes walks that fine line. So being intimate is not something to fear. It actually can be something that is really supportive of your healing process. So allowing maybe soft gentle touches if that feels more accessible inviting that in and inviting that in with your partner and saying like I know maybe we used to have sex this way but now I think we need to have it this way. Maybe we need a new position, a new toy. Maybe we need to have some massage oils, and can we be creative with how we were being erotic with one another. And it actually can be really fun, especially for long term relationships with chronic pain. There might be some kind of routine you get into around sex. So switching it up and figuring out different parts of your body that can feel aroused and stimulated is a really exciting journey to partake in with her partner or partners

[this is an excerpt only - for the full episode, listen to the podcast above]

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Kamil Lewis, AMFT
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