Written by a male sex addict in recovery. When I decided to start writing, to blog about my recovery, I had no idea how difficult it would be. I have struggled mainly with deciding what to share next. I am in such a different place than I was when I began this journey and so I want to share all the knowledge I now have. If I remember why I wanted to write though, I remember that I wanted to give a different perspective on what recovery from this addiction is. These first two posts focus mainly on a two week span of events. I did not plan that at first. As I wrote and rewrote them I thought about how difficult they were for me and probably for any addict starting recovery. So without it being the plan but feeling confident that the experience is beneficial to hear I stuck with those two weeks for these two posts.
Each recovering addict has a very unique experience. Sometimes we focus on the unique and forget the similarities. That is a mistake that I try to avoid; sometimes successfully and sometimes not so successfully.
If sex addiction is not a real addiction why do so many sex addicts go through withdrawal? Why have we white knuckled through our cycle of addiction? After my first appointment with Candice and signing of the 90 day sobriety contract, I felt I had no tools to stay sober other than white knuckling. I felt the withdrawal from my old way of life, the secret life that I had become addicted to. I don’t pretend to know what a substance abuser’s withdrawal is like but I can imagine I felt similar things. Not physical as in shaking, though I did feel it physically. It was more a mental withdrawal and a challenge to keep my ADHD brain focused for more than a few minutes on any task that week. I was lost in my head worse than any time I had self-imposed sobriety.
Most of the addicts I have associated with in my journey have a porn addiction mainly. The addiction to online porn is different than the porn I was exposed to as a youth. My sex addiction was well beyond porn by the time I met Candice but porn was a catalyst, my “entry” drug if you will.
In my Mormon home the word “sex” wasn’t even spoken let alone any nudity. I remember as a 6 year old getting out of the bath on a Saturday afternoon. My parents were upset about something and needed to call my brother in from the front yard. I saw a chance to help out and ran to the front door leaving the towel in the bathroom, opened the door and started screaming for my brother to come in. Before I knew it I was being yanked backwards through the air and being spanked so hard I peed. I’m laughing at the mental image now as I see the pee as I’m flying backwards into the living room. It is funny! I don’t remember anything after the flying pee. But it drove home hard the negative feeling of nudity. I share this experience to help build the basis of the confusion of seeing nude pictures for the first time. My first exposure to porn was playboy magazines that my neighbor had stolen from his grandfathers. I remember so many shocking things about that. Not just that there were nude pictures but that his GRANDFATHER had these magazines. I think we grow up believing everyone’s home experience is the same as ours. I thought all homes were as ridged as mine and that ALL family members went to church every Sunday.
In my second session with Candice the results of my Sexual Dependency Inventory (SDI) were laid bare to me. I had no basis to understand what these results were going to tell but I felt exposed and embarrassed as she pulled open her computer to go over them with me. I don’t remember all the details of what we talked about. We talked about a few specific questions and why I had answered them the way I had. What I remember most was the scoring. Anything above a 6 was considered a sex addict. Anything above a 16 and it is recommended that one gets inpatient treatment. I scored a 17. What was ringing in my ears was “inpatient”. My head was swimming with thoughts. Over my life I have learned to hide my emotions. No, that’s not even true. I have learned to not acknowledge to myself that I had emotions. So in this swimming of thoughts my body did it’s best to hide any outward expression of the inward emotions. Inpatient would mean I could not keep this secret from my family. I was in terror and determined to not show it. I know now my addict needs to feel in control and showing emotion was not control to me. Thankfully Candice was willing to try and help treat me through bi-weekly sessions and group and if that didn’t work she would recommend inpatient. This option, twice a week sessions and group, was a savior in my mind. The fear of needing inpatient treatment would end up being a huge motivator for me these first few weeks of my recovery.
An important event happened at the end of this second session. In our first session Candice had discussed the cost of the SDI and a package of sessions she offered. Knowing that regardless of anything else my court order required at least ten sessions I opted for the package deal. Addicts to everything in secret! How do I pay for a dozen sessions and the SDI exam? A credit card? No, that leaves a trail for my spouse to question plus fees I hate to pay. A personal check? No my spouse would question. My option was to withdraw cash from an account my spouse did not see and pay that way. As the session concluded Candice was asking how I wanted to pay. I pulled out my wad of cash, several 100 dollar bills to purchase a 12-session package, and handed it to her. She looked at me and laughed. I had no appreciation for how I just made her feel. Remember addicts think they feel but honestly we just stuff those feelings. If we don’t know how we feel how can we recognize those around us feel? Being totally oblivious of the person in front of me I left the session rattled with the SDI, “threat” (in my mind it felt like a threat) of inpatient treatment and STRONG recommendation to attend a group. ALL of those were physically upsetting to me.
At the start of the next session Candice explained to me how handing her a wad of cash was similar to what I used to do when I acted out at massage parlors, giving women wads of cash for pleasure. She explained that her role as my Sex Addiction Therapist was to help me learn how to value me for me, not feel I have to pay people to create a sense that I have value. Being in recovery and beginning to feel the feelings we have stuffed so long those feelings are amplified. I was mortified at what I had done. I had felt nothing but gratitude for the honest, no bull shit help Candice was already offering me. I vowed to never pay in cash again. I can look back on that experience now and chuckle. It was a great learning experience.