How do I hate myself less for only being able to feel intimacy with sex workers, due to a history of having been abused?
In ancient times, if a culture was going to survive and thrive, it was vital that its people “be fruitful and multiply”. Social pressures evolved to encourage people to marry and have children, and laws were designed to encourage this as well, and over the millennia we managed to trick ourselves into a mass delusion that lifelong exclusive monogamy is “natural”, despite the fact that it barely even exists at all (and then largely due to the existence of my profession). So even though we are no longer in danger of civilization collapsing if women aren’t popping out babies as fast as they can, a lot of people still act as though that were the case: older parents gripe if their adult children aren’t giving them grandchildren; the entire GLBT rights movement got sidetracked into a quest for official government fucking licenses; and expressing aloud a lack of interest in coupling will generally elicit either a stare of the sort otherwise employed when meeting someone with two heads, or else a smug reassurance that one simply “hasn’t met the right one yet”. Even many people who recognize the inherent instability of monogamy go instead for polyamory, an attempt to fix the problems inherent in ongoing committed relationships by multiplying them.
All snark aside, committed relationships work for many people, and emotionally-monogamous but sexually non-monogamous ones work for many others; hell, even actual monogamy (or a reasonable approximation of it) works for roughly a third of the population. But there are also a lot of people who are unable or unwilling to maintain romantic partnerships for one reason or another. Some may suffer from mental health issues; others like their sexual freedom too much to commit to a partner; still others simply feel it’s not practical; and many would love to have a partner, but are too shy or unpleasant or socially-awkward to attract and keep one. And some, like you, have suffered too much at the hands of people who professed to love you to ever give that level of trust again (not for the foreseeable future, anyway). And how does society respond to the (voluntarily or involuntarily) unpartnered? By telling them that there’s something wrong with them, or at least with their situation, and that the condition is one to be cured, shunned or even mocked. And sexual prudes and control freaks of every flavor want to add still another level of torment by declaring that sex is only for the coupled, so that those without the comfort of a partner should also be denied the simple, natural joy of feeling their skin against another’s.
Given those pressures and messages from both the well-meaning and the authoritarian, it’s no wonder you have succumbed to self-loathing, but I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to feel that way. To Hell with those people who are telling you, directly and indirectly, that there’s something wrong with you for preferring your sexual intimacy unspoiled by the fear of getting hurt again. Those who judge you don’t understand what you’ve been through, and they don’t want to understand because having to admit that a large fraction of so-called romantic relationships are abusive to one degree or another, some severely so, would upset their pretty little happily-ever-after weltanshauung. You still need sexual intimacy, so you get it from people with whom you have no personal connection, and can therefore trust not to hurt you; I think that’s a brilliant solution, and anyone who encourages you to hate yourself for it is an asshole who deserves only scorn. Fuck them and their fucking rules about what you “should” do with your body, money and time. Perhaps one day you’ll decide to trust a romantic partner again, and perhaps you won’t; either one is perfectly OK if it’s what you decide is right for you. But one way or another, sex workers will always be there to provide sexual intimacy without judgment, entanglement or the danger of falling into another abusive situation.