One of the most common questions I hear is, “Am I normal”? Whether it’s discussion around low libido, difficulty getting aroused, trouble with orgasm, painful intercourse, or general dating and relationship issues, the desire for validation and reassurance is part of the human experience.
Often behind the question of being normal lies a deeper, more vulnerable question of, “Am I all alone in this”? The fear of being alone is not only about wanting to be in the company of others or with a specific partner, it can also be a fear of being alone in your feelings and experiences. That no one can understand you or can relate to what you are going through. That you are incomprehensible, removed from the rest of the world, trudging through life with a sense of continuous isolation.
Hearing that your challenges are shared by others and those before you can have a tremendous impact on the level of frustration and loneliness. Dr. Brene Brown, a researcher who frequently talks about shame and vulnerability, notes that empathy is the antidote to shame. When you take someone going through something difficult or confusing to them and let them know that they are not alone in their struggle, that others ‘get it’ and have been down that road before, there is a sense of relief, a process of feeling reconnected to others.
Many of our patients have spent years fearing that what they were going through was beyond human comprehension, and their relationships and sex lives consequently withered or couldn’t be fully realized. If you are reading this and feeling like there is no way that anyone else has experienced what you are struggling with, I encourage you to hold onto some hope that not only can you be helped, but that odds are, your experience is shared by others.