The Guilt, Shame & Self-loathing Carried with Them a Certain Form of Pleasure

Thu, 10/02/2014 - 07:08
Submitted by Edgerman58

It wasn't until C and I actually took the first, and tentative, steps into cuckoldry that I grasped just how much of a voyeur I think I have always been.

Sure, I had watched my fair share of porn, but that's quite a bit different from the rush of seeing your own wife with another guy. With porn, it's two people you don't remotely know. But, with cuckoldry---it was my wife there in front of me with another guy!!!

I think that some of my motivation to go along with that was my previous self-loathing as bisexual. The fact that this contributed directly to the break up of my first marriage carried over into my current one. The more I have thought about it, the more convinced I have become that my initial attraction to the idea of being my wife's cuckold came directly out of a sense of needing "further punishment" for being a bisexual.

Along with the feeling of unfinished punishment, there was an undeniable component of erotic excitement in being punished! There has been a very definite form of masochism for me when it came to my growing realization that I was not heterosexual. This goes way, way back into not just my adult life, but back into my youth as well.

Not to lay too big of an emphasis on it, but my early conservative religious upbringing played a major role in much of this. I believe that there is a great deal of latent S&M embedded deep inside Christian orthodoxy. Just look at what Paul the Apostle wrote, and it's fairly plain to see where a lot of this twisted thinking came from in the early infancy of the faith.

For me, there was always two sides of this struggle---the first was the "shame" of knowing I wasn't straight (enough), but the other side to it was a strange sense of erotic excitement. These two aspects became so intertwined, that there was no way to ever successfully disentangle them. The guilt, the shame, the self-loathing carried with them a certain form of pleasure, and they influenced, and reinforced one another in numerous ways. This concoction was also latently toxic, and did much harm to me until....

Looking back on it now, me freely choosing to be my wife's cuckold (and the erotic thrill that accompanies it) is something that was inherently part of my mental make up for decades. Punishment. Shame. Guilt. These were the un-holy trinity of my growing up. I lived and breathed this sort of thing.

I have ceased (pretty much) seeing myself as a cuckold as a form of being "punished" for not being straight (enough), and yet, I do believe that it certainly led the way to where I now find myself. My wife always found it hard to understand my long struggle with self-loathing, but she was fortunate not to have the religious upbringing I had! Lucky her.

Of course, when she first found out that I was bisexual, it upset her. For a while, she felt uncertain what the future held for her as my wife, and our marriage might have ended had it not been for the eventual adoption of a new sort of marital/sexual lifestyle; the one we have now.

I started this post out talking about porn, but there is absolutely nothing like the thrill that comes (and I am speaking only for myself here) when one of the people fucking is my own wife! How could there be any bigger taboo to bust than that one?! It would be hard to imagine anything else that could shake things up more than that for any married couple.

The Catholic practice of Confession has always seemed to me to contain a certain masochistic element. Masochistic perhaps, but I had this incredible feeling of release as I started coming out to my wife! Once the gate was open, the rest soon flowed out. The fear was there, too, but I'll never forget that sense of release after words. It was keeping things secret where the fear, and the power of that resided the strongest. Once the secret was no longer a secret, the horizon suddenly opened up. This is very similar to the way I have approached the evolution of cuckoldry within my marriage.

My "punishment" (in the form of facing the fact that I was not straight, the emotional stress involved in telling my wife that, and the potential for divorce because of all this), was also, at the same time, strangely erotic. So, in that sense, there was, within the context of this "confession", a definite element of masochism (and with that, there was that sense of sexual thrill).

Being a cuckold has become the next step in the evolution of my marriage. Is it based on punishment? Initially, yes, I think it definitely was; but for me, the "punishment", as such, has also evolved into something "pleasurable." I think a faithful Catholic leaving the confessional booth must feel something of the same. Perhaps this is merely a different way of saying "catharsis?" There's nothing inherently magical, or efficacious, about religious confession. It's efficaciousness is derived from the honest facing of certain facts. Any one can do this. Religious, or not!

Cuckoldry as a form of "penance?" I suppose so. In a way. But it isn't as cut and dried, or black and white as that. But, cuckoldry-as-penance does come close to defining how I generally tend to feel about where my life now stands. If feeling strangely happy in my wife's greatly expanded sexual freedom (while mine remains more strictly bounded) is a "punishment", then I'll hold on to that. Besides, this sort of "punishment" has been fantastic for my relationship with my wife---as counter intuitive as that might seem to some.

The connection of confession with pleasure may be due to the relief that comes from having faced something previously dreaded; and once you have, your free.

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Self-acceptance, not punishment

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 00:47

Sometimes, shame and self-hate become so familiar that we can find it difficult to remember, or even imagine, what life was life before them. We may not know that we were born self-respecting, and if we don't seem to be self-respecting as adults, it's because of the ways in which we've been conditioned to distrust ourselves and our own basic goodness and decency.

Unfortunately, some religious traditions make punishment, shame, and guilt their main teachings. They may talk about love, but there's precious little love in the ways in which they threaten even children with eternal torture.

I can understand the process of feeling that one's secret inner life is shameful and 'needs punishing'. There could be an endless cycle of 'yielding to temptation', inner punishment, self-loathing with promises never to be so 'bad' again, and going after that forbidden fruit once more. Misery, humiliation, and sexual pleasure could be very closely associated in one's mind; indeed, I think that's often the case in the more punitive, anti-sexual religious traditions.

I would just note that we can go beyond the old patterns of linking pleasure with self-mortification. The concept of 'cuckoldry' is strongly associated with humiliation and personal failure, and I'd argue that there are healthier ways to live. There is a crucial difference between wanting one's spouse to have other partners because we believe it will make her happy, and wanting it because we see the whole process primarily as a form of self-punishment. Putting aside our relationship with our spouse, what is our relationship with ourselves like? 'Coming out' may be a temporary relief, but it's of limited value if we're still shaming ourselves and feeding ourselves toxins about who we are. It's very difficult, but we need to learn to drop those old stories about how 'bad' we are, and come to a place of genuine self-compassion. A place where self-acceptance and self-respect allow us to give up 'punishment' and be happy just as we are.

Wonderfully Complex

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 08:08

What an interesting post, covering so many different ideas! It's often said that men find it difficult to "share" their female partners with another man, yet Edgerman seeks to analyse a strange voyeuristic pleasure he enjoys when his wife takes a lover. The comparison with viewing erotica is convincing and the personalisation of that erotica with ones own partner seems to heighten rather than diminish his pleasure.

This could only work from a position of strength, of total trust in ones partner and confidence in the on-going commitment of both people to the relationship. It wouldn't work for me. I lack both the energy to organise this lifestyle, and the self-confidence to carry it off. For me any sexual payback would not be worth the emotional stress.

The idea that this started out as a form of self-punishment is fascinating.

As a member of a high-anglican (episcopalian) church, confession is available to me though not part of my personal religious tradition. It has always struck me as very similar to modern therapy, where people are invited to share their problems, to work through the issues troubling them rather than a punitive process. I can see how "coming out" to his wife might fulfill that process and how liberating that must have felt.

Obviously outside views aren't really relevant here because this is all about Edgerman's personal emotional journey but I'm not entirely convinced by the idea of cuckoldry as penance or punishment.

Guilt over bisexuality makes little rational sense, emotions are trickier. Having a partner who is bisexual shouldn't be any different to having a partner who is heterosexual, providing they are faithful. And faithful can be defined in any number of ways by different relationships, but primarily emotional and (for me) practically physical. Penance and punishment are about accepted sin and I would hope that Edgerman has now moved beyond viewing his sexuality as sinful to a place of acceptance ie. this is how he was made and just part of who he is.

Clearly sharing his wife no longer feeds a need for self-punishment so what function does it now fulfill?

Hopefully it is as simple as enjoying his partner's pleasure. The role of voyeur can be quite passive-aggressive if the voyeur enjoys controlling the situation too much. Control being established firstly by giving "permission" by choosing who, how, where and when, and then possibly by critiquing. This would be the real worry for me in this type of relationship choice - too much or too little control.

Relationships are so wonderfully complex, the same behaviours can be both positive and negative experiences, all depending on the individuals. Thank you for sharing.

The health of a marriage

Sun, 10/05/2014 - 15:38

Women in a committed monogamous relationship would probably have at least as much difficulty in 'sharing' their partners as any man would. Few would want to witness their partner's sexual activity as Edgerman does. I think what concerns me the most is the healthiness of a multiple-partner arrangement, especially if it began as a kind of self-humiliation or punishment. And I wonder how open his wife would be to watching Edgerman having sex with his partners, who would seemingly be mostly men but could also potentially include women. His wife is apparently having satisfying sex with other people on a regular basis, yet Edgerman describes his own sex life as 'more strictly bounded'. Why? How would it change the dynamics of his marriage if he became as sexually active and satisfied as his wife now is?

I am not sure about 'Confession' in anything other than the Catholic tradition, but the form of it I was raised with was quite the opposite of a warm, supportive therapeutic relationship. It was essentially a formalized dressing-down for having offended God (hence the need for a punishment at the end). It was a given in Catholicism that we were born sinful, and we were supposed to obsessively 'examine our consciences' every single day to search out even the tiniest bad 'thought, word, or deed'. At any moment, we could be shut off forever from God's goodness through committing a 'mortal sin', which was not hard to do since 'deadly sins' included such offenses as having a sexual fantasy or masturbating (or playing with a Ouija board, or joining any Christian church that wasn't Roman Catholic).

So when I was 11 and learnt that the Church considered me to be in the same category as the most evil people who had ever lived, I was devastated beyond expressing. How could I possibly tell one of those supremely holy men, a priest, about the terrible thing I had done to God---discovering my sexual feelings? I had no conception of God as loving; there is nothing loving about a parent who would torture his children when they misbehave. Whether the Anglican form of Confession is different, I don't know. I suspect it might be; the late Robin Williams described the Episcopalian Church as 'Catholic lite---same rituals, half the guilt'.

Our sexual identity is a very large part of who we are, so I hope that Edgerman is gradually leaving behind the idea that there is something wrong with his sexuality and that he needs to suffer because of it. If his wife's sexual enjoyment is something to be celebrated, then so is his own. Hopefully his wife has now become as accepting of his sexuality as he is of hers, and as willing to witness him enjoying sex with the partners of his choice. Even better, perhaps, would be to re-discover the mutual attraction that drew them together in the first place.

Religion

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 04:24

Patrick, 
I am continually shocked and amazed by how barbaric people's treatment can be at the hands of a supposedly loving church.

I'm also shocked by how very religious America seems to be for a country which supposedly segregates State and religion. It seems incredible how the religion of our youth dominates life experiences, especially the sexual ones. There is something powerful and seemingly unavoidable in the way people co-opt the language and rituals of faith in negotiating their relationships as adults.

I wonder whether part of the problem is the struggle to come to terms with the spiritual aspects of our lives without organised religion per se. It seems to me that there is more to life than the mundane and we need to give space in our lives to explore our souls as well as our sexuality. 

It is important to know that there are alternative churches or entirely alternative religions out there that can provide the support and the community that some would find relevant.

I live in arguably the most secular country in the world and whilst there is definitely a huge upside in terms of individual freedom within communities there is also a downside.

The church in secular London is growing but not the liberal part. The type of church that grows most easily here is the type that provides certainty, the evangelical "hell and damnation" type of religion, the type of church that spends a lot of it's time telling people they're damned unless they do what they're told. It seems your stories of a brutal church are coming closer to home in London.

Yes this shocks me too. the

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:36
anonirama (not verified)

Yes this shocks me too. the best and the worst seems to come out of America, how much repression in the land of freedom!!!

I guess that is why it is such and interesting place.

What do you do with freedom once you have it?
fear of the unknown makes us act in the most unusual ways.

Is your life solved if you have no/less economic problems? poverty can be of the soul too
the developed country label seems to be contradictory.

I have no direct religious background and still influenced by the surroundings.
Looking for your own spiritual path is a life long endeavour and one that may only have you as a member. It is hard specially when the line between right and wrong is so thin sometimes. I guess finding what is right for you, that doesn't harm others intentionally and of course that like everything in life will evolve and change with time and may include things like eating habits, sex, art, cooking, looking at sunsets...and all that is creation.

''Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.''
Mahatma Gandhi

This fear of change which will inevitably lead to death makes us hold on to beliefs, religious or other that may be detrimental to ourselves or life it self. So our extreme methods of trying to avoid death or the inevitable may be doing just the opposite. We have encountered horrible things In the name of spirituality. Is it too in the eyes of the beholder?

For me spirituality isn't after death it isn't an out of body experience, the body is the key and humans hold it.
It is impossible to detach one from the other. Maybe this is the problem we have had, this separation between body-sex and soul-spiritual.
This fusion will set us free to be in that place of peace that only means to know our lights and shadows and be able to exist, to be, in the midsts of all of it.

Certainty versus love in religion

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 15:04

NLH,

The USA has never quite got rid of the kind of Christianity that puts punishment above love---the kind of totalitarian religion that flourished in Europe when various Christian sects were massacring one another. In America, most of the founders were deists, of Christian origin but much closer to Unitarians than to today's evangelicals. But there was always a very conservative strain of Christianity here too, a hellfire, threatening strain.

Evangelicals are organized and vehement, and so they have an influence here out of all proportion to their numbers. Other, more liberal people are far more numerous but much less focused as a group. Fundamentalists put together organized campaigns to stealthily infiltrate school boards so that they can try to control what goes into textbooks, for example. This very situation is happening in, I believe, Colorado, where recently elected conservative school board members are trying to remove all references to the civil disobedience that gave momentum to the civil rights movement, and replace them with 'respect for authority' and American-style capitalism. It's really appalling, and the rest of us have got to wake up and fight back. To their credit, both teachers and students are staging massive 'sick-ins' and refusing to report to school while this attempted conservative take-over is going on.

Most of us get our religious indoctrination when we're very young and easily influenced. So graphic threats and shaming can profoundly affect both our world-view and our view of ourselves. Have you ever read James Joyce's 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'? He gives an account of a Catholic sermon that is the most hideously sadistic thing I think I've ever read---designed to reduce those hearing it to absolute, quivering terror and lifelong fear of Hell. The only way to escape is, of course, to do exactly what the Catholic Church demands. I experienced much the same in my youth, and it's why I loathe moral bullying to this day.

There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in our world, and---in a way---I can understand how fear could drive someone to take refuge in the 'certainty' of some fundamentalist set of beliefs. Do this, and you will be saved. The question is, saved from what? From eternal torture? Why would we think well of a God who allows torture, if we think a human being who tortures is a monster? It's really a good question why fundamentalism of all strains is so often happy to inflict psychological and even physical violence. I imagine that those who have made themselves miserable with denial and self-hate are filled with unconscious rage, and they can't bear to see other people who are going through life unafflicted with the same misery.

I agree with you that most of us have spiritual longings and needs, but no clear place to go with them. Some kinds of Protestantism are so watered-down that Jesus is seen not as an embodiment of God, but as a respected, wise, but very human moral teacher no more divine than our favorite uncle. So where to turn? As you say, there are spiritual options out there but so few of us go looking for them. Most of us stick with what we were handed when we were little. But if our spiritual path is as important as we were always told, then we really ought to explore our spiritual options. Attend different houses of worship. Read about different spiritual traditions. Then, see where we really feel comfortable and fulfilled. For me, I've been most drawn to Buddhism, Unitarianism, and Reform Judaism, all of which teach love, compassion, wisdom, and tolerance. And none of which threaten anyone with torture. If we're seeking a life of love and compassion, we have to live those values every day in how we treat not only others, but ourselves as well. 

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