This might seem weird but I didn’t know that I was an addict until very recently and I’ve probably been an addict for over 20 years. Sure I smoked in the past but I’d never considered myself a smoker. I drank too, pretty heavily on occasions and for periods I would drink frequently, but I watch the news. I speak to colleagues, friends and family. I know how much and how often other people drink. I’m no different to them and they don’t have a problem. Do they?
I also spent long periods of time obsessing over the female form. This would often manifest itself into regular viewing of pornographic images and videos on the internet. This in itself would then lead to me acting out through compulsive masturbation, objectification and wilful entertainment of fantasy. I’m a healthy young man, I used to think, and appreciating the subtleties of the female body and all the pleasures it has to offer is normal, isn’t it? James Bond seems to do alright? Oh yeah, note to self… he’s a fictional character.
It was only when I started to think about all the life choices I had made and the motivations behind them that I started to realise that my preoccupation with sexual thoughts and fantasies had warped the perspective of my entire adult life. Even once I had this realisation I still enter periods of denial and convinced myself that I didn’t have a problem. I’m not an addict.
By working it through with my therapist and by attending Sex Addicts Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous and listening to the stories and experiences of others, I have slowly come to understand the scale of my addiction and the damage it has caused me.
I would say that my addictions have been quite tame. I’ve only ever looked at pornography. I haven’t paid for sex in any form, I haven’t gone to strip clubs. I’ve been monogamous in my relationships and I’ve always enjoyed good clean filth, that being with consenting adults and never with children or animals or any form deviant sexual activity such as BDSM. In fact I just had to Google BDSM to actually find out what it means.
The only person I really ever hurt is myself and by hurt I mean emotionally crippled myself. Sex addiction is very isolating because in the process of becoming obsessed with sex and in my case, sex with women, you begin to stop seeing women as people and more as just objects to satisfy a desire. There is no love and there is no emotion involved. This has obviously over time affected my relationships because I wasn’t involved with my partners at an intellectual level and I certainly wasn’t connected to them in any kind of spiritual way. They were there to service a need that I couldn’t properly fulfil on my own. They had things that I wanted and that meant using manipulation, if required, to get what I needed.
Of course at the time I knew I was unhappy but I didn’t know why I was unhappy. I thought it was because I wasn’t looking at enough beautiful, naked women online or having enough sex with my partner. It never really dawned on me that I was addicted to sex and sexual fantasy and as a result I wasn’t connected to the people I was supposed to be connected to, including myself.
I would fantasise about meeting women and having anonymous sex in exciting places but it never happened. Because I was always in a relationship and had, what I thought to be, relatively high moral standards, I couldn’t bring myself to cheat on them, but it was all going on, all the time, in my head.
When I was single I would only meet up with male friends in an attempt to find a new female partner, so I wasn’t having real and connected relationships with any male friends either.
Over time the disease isolated me from people more and more and I became more and more lonely. To deal with this overwhelming loneliness I would act out more and more, which in turn would just create more guilt and shame and so I started to use alcohol to hide my emotions in an attempt to deny and suppress how I was really feeling. Drinking would just lower my moral standards and in a vicious circle of sex addiction and alcohol, one would fuel the other in an endless loop of pain, suffering, shame and denial. Repeat this process for long enough and you will eventually end up in a bad place.
That’s what happened to me. I had created this alternate persona or alter-ego to cope with who I had become and as soon as that started to crumble and I became aware that I actually had no idea who I was, BANG… it was like being hit by a tone of bricks right in the chest. I was overcome by the most excruciating feeling of dread and was thrown into an unmanageable state of serve depression. It just happened one morning. I remember it vividly. I was unknowingly suffering from depression for many years before that event, but it had been sneaking up on me gradually. This was sudden and I lost all idea of self identity. I had no idea what to do and no idea who to turn to because I had pushed everyone and everything away from me.
It’s been a big, dark hole that I’ve had to climb out of and I’m slowly putting my life back together, one day at a time.
More to follow…