Sex doesn’t kill, but sex addiction does

April 7, 2008 at 2:14 am 4 comments

For the past three days I’ve woken from really violent dreams. This morning’s was the worst. You know how dreams are (at least if you’re a human being and not a spider or a spambot, you know how dreams are): they meander. They digress. They make sense in a completely nonsensical way and even the irrelevant bits are relevant. But for you, dear reader, I will place the camera around the dream’s most intense and stays-with-me moment:

I was in a whorehouse and became separated from my companion (he had echoes of Bran about him). The Madame mistook me for a new whore, and hustled me off to a room. There was a man there, a drug lord or gang leader, dark-skinned, lean, with a scar across his left eye. He had a whole posse of folks with him: lean, scary-looking men who began to shoot up on the floor of the room where I’d been placed. The bruises of their track marks stood out against their pale skin.

I kept trying to explain to the drug lord that I didn’t belong here, that I wasn’t one of the house’s whores, but he threatened me with a silver, double-pointed device that looked like a set of brass knuckles on steroids. When I still didn’t shut up he punched me in the eye. I fell to the floor, and one of his posse climbed on top of me. This was not fucking, this was not sex, it was rape — but for some reason, the initial moments of contact seemed erotic. When he spent quickly, though, and I saw from a distance the black eye I’d been given, it was as though a bubble burst. The horror of the situation descended on me then:that I, a woman, liberated, educated, intelligent, had been mistaken for a whore who could be used and beaten.

And it got worse. Laying in the wet spot of that last man’s jism, I saw an impossibly long line of men lined up to fuck me. Not to fuck me, but to rape me. Because there was no pleasure in it for me, I wasn’t really there for them. I was just a thing to be used, like the spoon and the needle and the match they’d all shared moments ago. And no matter how much I tried to convince them otherwise, they wouldn’t ever see me as a human being. In fact, the more I spoke the better the chances that they would hurt me more, give me another black eye, perhaps kill me and fuck my corpse.

The words “beaten and gang raped by junkies” can’t really begin to capture the complete and utter horror of the situation. I was in it. I wasn’t dreaming about it or reading about it on the news or hearing a woman in Iraq describe what happened to her. I was the woman.

In spite of the visceral quality of the dream, I saw most of it from a third-person sort of camera perspective. Just before waking, the camera moved to the door of the room, and down the hallway I saw Bran, oblivious. I was trying to call for him, but he couldn’t hear me. He couldn’t save me.

When I woke, I lay there in the bed still in the horror of the dream, still processing it. Realizing that, in addition to the burden of the experience, those men would probably have given me HIV, or possibly a pregnancy. Understanding for the first time, from the inside, how someone can go right out of their own heads instead of having to experience something like that. I also had a pounding headache; I’d been grinding my teeth hard. Now, 18 hours later, my jaw still hurts.

I discussed the dream with my sponsor. He’s technically my AA sponsor, but both of us deal with issues around food and sex and spending as well. And he made a suggestion about the meaning of the dream that rang true for me. The drug lord and his posse were my addiction. And no relationship, no person, can save me from my addictions.

I’ve confronted a personification of my addiction before, but she was small and skinny and spiky and fit easily into my right buttock. This thing, this horror happening in that room, this was something completely uncontrollable, much more sinister. It wanted to use me up, deny me all my humanity, and kill me if I tried to get it to stop.

It’s a good reminder from my subconscious that no matter how many 24 hours of sobriety I string together, that disease is still there, waiting for me to slip up.

I was going to mention the fourth-step work I’ve been doing for the past nine months or so, but when I tried to find a good link that explains Step Four, I couldn’t find anything worth linking to. It’s interesting to discover some bits of information that you still can’t find on Google. Ayurvedic information, for instance, is hard to come by. And nothing I came across even begins to approximate my personal experience of the 12-step programs. I know there’s some controversy about AA and its sister fellowships. Some people say it’s a cult (although how you can have a cult without a charismatic leader I don’t know), some people say it doesn’t work (I don’t know of any other program with a better success rate for keeping addicts clean and sober).

But I didn’t start this essay to try to convince anyone that AA works. If you want convincing, try attending an open meeting. Or not. The reason I wanted to write about this dream, and on this blog in particular, is because of one of the ways in which my addiction manifests itself: in sex and love addiction.

I’m fully aware that it’s paradoxical for a woman writing a blog all about sex (and love and truth and beauty) to identify herself as a sex and love addict. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that while all addictions spring from the same root, they do require different approaches for recovery. Staying clean and sober is hard, no doubt: if you doubt that, just look at the statistics. But once you put down drugs and alcohol, that’s it and that’s all. You can’t do that with food, money, or sex, though. These addictions require moderation, not total abstinence. If you stop eating altogether, that’s called anorexia. And, as I learned during a five-year dry marriage, if you stop having sex altogether, that’s called sexual anorexia. During those five years, I attended SLAA meetings regularly, and they helped me a lot. I got to collect all the shiny little chips saying that I’d not broken my bottom line, which at the time I defined as sex outside my committed relationship. But what about all the crazy drama and the getting kicked out of her house and going back to her and trying and trying to bend myself into pretzel shapes so she’d love me just the way I wanted to be loved? Where’s my chip for that?

When I left her, I went on a spree. There’s no other word for it. It was a fucking spree. Literally: a fucking spree. Thank the gods for Craigslist, because Craigslist gave me my freedom: a succession of short-term lovers, a new apartment, and a CD rack. I’m telling you, that CD rack saved my life.

In the past–the summer I came to realize I liked girls, actually–I had a similar succession of lovers and ended up feeling used and disgusted with myself. But when I left Angie, I didn’t feel like that. I felt free! I felt alive again, like a tulip bulb that had been slumbering for five years and finally burst forth into bloom.

There have been times since then that I’ve tried to use sex to make myself feel better, or to avoid feeling anything except orgasm. And when I do that, I usually end up feeling the same way as when I use chocolate cake to make myself feel better. Well, similarly. Sex doesn’t usually give me fuzzy teeth.

So I’ve had to set myself a different sort of bottom line:

1. I treat myself and my partners with dignity and respect
2. I’m honest

This might sound a little bit more abstract than “no sex except with so-and-so” or “no masturbation.” But, rather like the Wiccan Rede, it’s actually quite comprehensive. It means I can’t cheat on my partners or allow other people to cheat on their partners with me. It means I can’t treat another human being like a dopamine fix or a pacifier. It means I can’t put myself in dangerous situations just so I can get laid.

It’s a hard set of principles to follow, and I do it imperfectly.

But it’s still a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

Entry filed under: Bran, recovery, sex addiction, sex positive, spirituality. Tags: , , , , , .

First orgy, worst orgy It’s so hard to get good houseboys these days

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dummidumbwit  |  April 7, 2008 at 5:55 am

    I’ve been thru almost 2 decades of clean living, I think the dreams are from past relationships with men, I had a relationship with a Bisexual girl, and in someways it was the most “profound” of all my relationships. I think she was in the process of becoming less Bi and more Gay (No think about it really, she was) and she tried too hard and developed a growing bipolar disorder (on top of us both being Addict/Alcoholics and me having depression and the drama of living with me and her girlfreind) like you’d look into her eyes and she was “angry”, and being normal I pushed as hard as I could for as much as I could. She loved me and tried to the best of her ability, but I think she incurred psychic cost, of which she was only dimly aware.It may have felt like rape (at times maybe for reasons she didn’t understand, she was just trying to act “Right” as her logic told her, but it wasn’t always right) because she was trying so hard, were not talking me being very aggresive, just Goo Goo eyes and snuggling, she did not like aggresive men. But every once in a while, her eyes or her behavior wasn’t right. Don’t work against your “Chemistry”, more than that would be Therapy, and I’m not a therapist. I miss her, but it was not meant to be.Anyway, thats what I think from reading your post. I either want something or I don’t, there is no maybe? I sleep fine and dream of strange places and things but it’s fun (almost always, I like dreams) I was depressed before her and still off and on, and I’ve been sober 19 years. I don’t know where she’s at, I think of her often. The dreams are a consequence of your trying to fit into something you may not be meant for? But I need a shrink, I’m not one.

  • 2. omnivoresdilemma  |  April 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks for sharing your own personal experiences, dummidumbwit. I don’t really need any further interpretation of the dream or suggestions on how to deal with my emotions or my addictions. I’ve got plenty of support in that realm. Hopefully this post will provide worthwhile to someone who’s going through something similar.

    In the 12-step programs they talk about sharing experience, strength, and hope and keeping the focus on oneself. There’s also a strong tradition of not cross-talking, which is defined as offering people advice or telling them what to do. I find that this approach to listening and witnessing someone else’s experience has been very powerful in all areas of my life.

    I’ve heard it said that personal storytelling is one of the most compelling things about AA and the sister fellowships. Our stories all start out the same, but instead of ending in jails, institutions, and death, they end up with happier results. We walk side by side and we help each other, but the perhaps-not-so-mysterious thing is that we never really tell each other what to do. Learning to have and keep boundaries has also been a very important part of my recovery.

    I wish you luck in finding a more functional relationship.

  • 3. dummidumbwit  |  April 11, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    I’m sorry, I used to “Journal” but stopped. It was healthy but private, in my blog, I’m looking to be challenged and debated. I think I misunderstood what you were doing, on my blog I’m actually looking for for a fight (on ideas)? Once again sorry and thanks for your best wishes. But I think you can trace my blog back and determine I’m not fibbing.

    Oops! Peace & Love

  • […] sexual orientation. I’ve certainly been capable of monogamy for long stretches of time. Hell, I’ve been capable of not cheating on a partner who refused to have sex with me. I have my reasons for wanting a gate in my little picket fence, though. I’ll tell you all […]

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