Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Grief, What is it Good For? Coping With Loss, That's What

Here are a few verses from one of my favorite passages in the Bible. If you've had your prostate removed, there will be many unpleasant changes you'll face with regard to your sexuality.

Eccl 3:1-6-6

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.......
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up; 
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance; 
A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing; 
A time to gain,
And a time to lose;

These verses are a reminder there is a season where we must grieve our losses before we can embrace the changes. What has prostate surgery taken away from your sexuality? I''ll give you a list of what surgery took away from me:

1. All my sexual triggers-Everything that once excited me and brought me to an erection, sights, sounds, smells, visual  imagery, words, all gone. I remain limp and unexcited by everything that once excited me and gave me an erection.

2. Erections were a signal that I was excited, once I lost those signals it felt as though my entire sexual history was wiped out. I was living in an unfamiliar body.I had no idea how to gauge whether or not I was aroused. After all a flaccid penis is not associated with arousal.

3. The intensity of my orgasms were so diminished I wasn't even sure when or if I had one.

4. I missed the excitement of ejaculation. Dry orgasms were disappointing to me.

5. I lost my confidence in the bedroom. Sometimes I'd respond to injections or Ed medication. The majority of the time I  remained flaccid. I never knew whether or not I'd be hard enough for penetration. This created performance anxiety which served to increase my failure rate.

6. I leaked urine when I had an orgasm. This added two new unpleasant feelings to my sex life-shame and disgust.

For a period of time I isolated myself from my wife. I not only gave up on sex, I also gave up on all forms of physical affection. Kissing, holding hands, touching one another, these previously pleasant acts of affection became bitter reminders of what I'd lost.

I don't know whether it was the shame, disgust or embarrassment or all three, but I couldn't discuss these issues with anyone, including my wife. Isolated and alone I had no idea how to cope with these losses.

I had no idea that I needed to grieve these losses in order to move on and embrace a new post surgery sexuality. The odds are you'll need to grieve your losses as well. It's not a easy or short term process.

Here are some links to read about this topic:

Coping With Loss & Grief
Good Grief
Healing From Grief
Grief & Emotional Health

There's a cliché about grief that;s often said, but it's totally untrue. "Time heals all wounds." Time does not heal ANY wounds. It's the transformation in your thinking over the course of time that heals wounds. If you have not begun the grief process I encourage you to take three important steps:
1. Make a list of everything you've lost since you were diagnosed with cancer.
2. Add to the list your thoughts and feelings and conclusions you've made about life and living in the face of each loss
3. Share this with someone you trust.

If someone told you that "time heals all wounds" DON'T BELIEVE THEM! You can remain stuck with unresolved grief and depression for decades. In order to heal from grief, it takes a change in your thinking over the course of time in order to heal from grief and loss. It took me almost two years before I was ready to embrace my post-surgery sexuality. Since no two people are alike, the time it will take you is unknown, but it's a necessary journey to reclaim your sex life after prostate surgery.

Rick Redner and his wife Brenda are the authors of an awarding winning book written to help men and couples cope with life without a prostate. I Left My Prostate in San Francisco-Where’s Yours? 
Coping With The Emotional, Relational, Spiritual & Sexual Aspects of Prostate Cancer can  be previewed and purchased at 

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