Category Archives: SLAA

Many Roads, One Journey


ForkintheRoadIt’s been a while, eh? Nearly six months, to be exact. I didn’t think I’d ever come back to this blog, to be honest, and I was planning on starting a new one elsewhere. But if I do start a new blog, it would probably be something that I could use as a “writing sample” if I ever wanted to get a writing job, so it couldn’t be as self-confessional. True, I could write in a journal instead, but I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people online and getting their feedback. Writing is such a solitary activity, and it’s so nice to know that you’re writing for somebody other than yourself.

I don’t have anything much to report about my six-month absence. Nothing particularly exciting has happened. I haven’t been dating although I’ve had a few minor obsessions “from a  distance” with unsuitable men, so, yeah, my issues with men haven’t been completely resolved, that’s for sure. It’s been nearly six months since I got divorced, and I can say confidently that I’m over the divorce, and my ex-husband. I do still think of him from time to time, and feel sad that the shit hit the fan so badly, but, ultimately, I’m incredibly glad we’re no longer together. The relationship was keeping both of us stuck, and miserable. Sometimes it’s hard and lonely being in my mid-thirties and single, but now I have the opportunity to work on myself, and make changes for the better. It’s an exciting time really!

I haven’t been going to SLAA meetings for quite some time. I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of them really. There were some nice, cool people there but there were also others who were very cliquey, and stand-offish. There are a lot of good things about 12-step groups, but there are also things I don’t like – the rigidity, for one. Nobody ever came out and said directly that not doing things the SLAA way is “bad”, but I distinctly got that vibe. In fact, I had been feeling guilty for not going to meetings anymore, and was worried that “my addict side” had taken over (because that’s what 12-step groups would have you believe if you stop going). It never occurred to me that it’s okay that I don’t like SLAA that much (or perhaps, more accurately, that I don’t like the only women’s group we have here in town). I’m allowed to have an opinion, and not like things, and that doesn’t mean that I’m weak or about to give in to addiction.

Recently I’ve been reading a couple of books by Charlotte Kasl – Women, Sex and Addiction – A Search for Love and Power and Many Roads, One Journey – Moving Beyond the 12 Steps – and I’ve been completely blown away by what she has to say. I would highly recommend that every woman, whether struggling with addiction or not – reads these books. In fact, I would recommend that every man reads her work, too. Contrasted with 12 step programs, Charlotte Kasl’s 16 Steps are life-affirming and empowering. I’ve been so inspired that I’ve even been thinking of starting my own Charlotte Kasl-inspired “Discovery / Un-covery” group because it would be nice to have a support group of women, just not via SLAA.

It’s your fault, John.


tumblr_miweukc9Ck1rikbdbo1_1280I went out on a limb last night and actually bought my very first ever iBook to read on my iPad. I have always been very against the notion of e-books, and iPads and Kindles. The only reason I even have an iPad is because I got it ridiculously cheap, so it would have been stupid not to get it. But I promised myself I would never buy an e-book or cancel my daily delivery of the paper version of the New York Times to get the digital edition instead. I love real newspapers and real books. I love the smell of them, and I love the feel of them. I love walking into somebody’s house, and seeing books everywhere. I love being able to get a sense of that person’s personality and interests from the books on their shelves. An iPad makes all of the above impossible. E-books are so fucking unromantic!

Nonetheless, I think I am about to cancel my delivery of the New York Times (except for the Sunday edition – there is no way I am reading that on an iPad!) in favour of the digital edition. I am getting tired of having to clear up all the old newspapers every week. It’s an added chore that obsessive/perfectionistic me just does not need.

Speaking of perfectionism, the iBook I bought last night was “Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control” by Allen Malinger and Jeannette Dewyze. I decided that I can handle buying the e-book version of self-help books because, let’s face it, I don’t exactly need people to come into my house and see my embarrassingly extensive library of self-help books. I’m quite happy to hide those away on my iPad, thank you very much.

Yesterday I wrote about how I want a guarantee that working the SLAA steps and meditation will “cure” me, and that I’m afraid to start doing either of those in case they don’t. I thought that sentiment was interesting in the light of the following paragraph from “Too Perfect”:

Unfortunately, obsessives, perhaps more than any other group of patients, have a need to believe that there is a specific and clear answer to every question; an ambiguous, conflict-free solution to every problem. In therapy, obsessive patients often believe at some level that I have the answers, and that if only they give me enough accurate information I’ll eventually be able to produce a sort of prescription for happiness, detailing exactly what needs to be done – something they might follow as one would a road map. Usually they are disappointed to learn the truth: that the pathway to positive change is anything but clear, especially in the beginning.

 

Wow. That describes me to a T. I’ve had countless therapists over the years, and yet I’ve never really felt that I got anything out of therapy. I think that this was probably because I was expecting each therapist to give me a detailed roadmap to that place called “Happiness”, and I was frustrated when they couldn’t. I don’t think it’s a question of laziness, of not wanting to do the work that SLAA step work and meditation require. Rather, I’m just very uncomfortable with ambiguity and stepping into the unknown. When I was taking my seven-week long Zen meditation class, I was the happiest I’ve been in a long time because I liked turning up at a set time and having a teacher teach me about Buddhism and meditation within a specific timeframe. This was nice, and neat, and tidy. And then the class was over, and, well, I was still interested in Zen and Buddhism, but now it was no longer contained in a classroom, but this was this huge, scary field that I would now have to explore all on my own. Where to start? What to read? How to get “better” at meditation?

It’s the same thing with the SLAA steps, although I must admit that I do love the fact that there are steps. How terribly organized and efficient! I know that everybody should work through the steps at their own pace, but, oh, how I wish that there was some sort of timeline, and some sort of “prize” at the end of every step e.g. You will complete Step One in one month by doing (a), (b) and (c) and, upon graduation, you will never again be attracted to unavailable douchebags.

I’ve always wondered how I could be such a successful undergraduate student (4.0 GPA) and yet have my life falls to pieces after graduation. Given what I’ve just written, it should be no surprise at all that this happened. I was a very good school girl. I was very good at being told what to do, and knowing exactly what was going to happen once I did it. Life was structured and clear. I’m not going to say that I was happy (I still struggled with procrastination and perfectionism back then) but things were far more in control because I had a lot more time, and far fewer responsibilities, so I was able to cover up my issues more easily.

I decided to go to graduate school because I desperately wanted to lead that nice, structured, schoolgirl life again, but, by that point, I was nearly twenty-seven, and I knew deep-down that wasn’t what I truly wanted, so the whole thing was a disaster. I procrastinated all the way through my Master’s, and only graduated by the skin of my teeth.

And what do I want? I want to be me. Just me. I don’t think that this rigid person, obsessed with structure and perfection, is really me. I want to be free – free to relax and enjoy life. And I want to write and sing, not because I “should” or because I want “glory” and “success” but because I enjoy these things so much, and they’re fun. Yes, “fun!”. That word that so many people in my family have absolutely no understanding of, thanks to you Mr. John Knox, you fucking cunt.

I’m crying right now but I’m also kinda happy because reading that paragraph above from “Too Perfect” was a bit of an eye-opener. It showed me once and for all that I am just going to have to deal with the ambiguity of meditation and SLAA (and, um, life in general) and just accept that there’s no ready-made, fast, “cure” for what ails me.

Thirty-Five


I’ve thought for years that 2013 would be my year – the year when everything finally worked out, and I’d be “successful” (whatever that means). I thought this because I was convinced that I would come into my own when I finally turned thirty-five. I’m not sure why I thought this, but I just did.

After the weekend I’ve just had, I would have to be fucking Pollyanna to continue to believe that this is going to be the case. For the last forty-eight hours, I’ve basically lain in bed the whole time, staring at the ceiling, and crying.  I was supposed to go to work yesterday, and today, but I called in sick. I don’t think I’m going to go tomorrow either.

I have done no housework for days, and there is barely a clean dish to make myself any food, so I don’t eat anything or, if I do, it’s cereal. Much to my eternal shame and guilt, I also didn’t feed any of the pets until long after the usual time because I couldn’t rouse myself to get out of bed to do so.

I have no clean clothes, and, in fact, I’ve slept in the ones I’m currently wearing two nights in a row. It goes without saying that I haven’t brushed my teeth or washed my face, and my hair looks like I stuck my finger in an electric socket.

I also haven’t cleaned the litter boxes in days, which is a big, big problem when you have so many cats. What with the terrible stench in the house and my dishevelled, dirty appearance, I am a classic crazy cat lady.

I feel very hopeless, isolated and lonely. I know that I need to get back to meditating, and start working the SLAA steps, but both of these tasks seem so daunting, and time-consuming. I want a quick fix! I know that’s lazy, but I do. Or I want a guarantee that meditating and doing the steps will revolutionize my life. I want the promise of results, goddammit!

I think that part of the reason I’ve stopped meditating and haven’t started working the steps yet is because I am scared to death that they won’t help me. This makes no logical sense whatsoever, but, in some way, it’s comforting not to do anything, as that way I can hold on to the hope that there is something out there that could help me. If I start meditating/working the steps, and they don’t help, then I’ll have nothing. All hope will be gone.

It’s the same way with writing. How much easier it is to sit on the sidelines, bitching about other people I consider less talented than myself who are successful writers than actually getting around to doing any writing myself. It’s comforting to think of myself as a talented writer who “just cannot get started” rather than a “writer manqué” who just doesn’t have it in her to be successful.

I don’t have faith in anything at the moment – not myself and certainly not a Higher Power.

 

Not Dead


I don’t go to bars much these days. It’s not that I don’t like them; I just don’t have the time. And, also, I don’t like the way I am when I’m drunk, or the hangovers that ruin the next day.

But I felt like going to my local bar after work today to have a nice cold Hefeweizen. I just wanted to see people. Relax for once. I never relax. I don’t know how.

This is the bar where I met Rebound Guy last year and where the debacle of my addiction to him reached its grisly finale. I’ve been back to that bar since we stopped seeing each other, but he wasn’t there, and since he was an alcoholic who practically lived there, I assumed this meant he was (a) dead (b) in rehab or (c) he had moved back to the state he’s from.

But, of course, no such luck! He was there today, and he came up to say hi. I wish he hadn’t. He’s looking much better, and says he only drinks “occasionally” now. Who knows whether that’s true. Like I said, he does look a lot better.

Just to find something to say, I made the mistake of asking him if he still sold weed. He said, yes, and that he now also grows mushrooms. I’ve only taken mushrooms a few times in my life, and I love them. They’re the only drug I’d be interested in taking again. I then made the second mistake of asking him for his number so I could buy mushrooms. He was, like, “um, I’ve got a girl”.

I can’t believe I put myself in a situation where the dude would think that I actually still want to fuck him! God, I am so dumb. Apparently his “girl” knows all about me because she was the one whom he picked up from the airport the morning after we spent all night fucking.

I don’t want Rebound Guy. In fact, I wish I had the presence of mind to tell him that the only reason I ever fucked him was because I was in pain, and needed the drug of sex to numb me.

But I can’t help but feel sad. I *am*, for some crazy reason, really attracted to him, and it was disturbing to be reminded what sexual desire feels like. Not the desire for him….just desire in general. I just remembered that I like sex, and miss sex….but, more than that, I miss feeling connected to another human being. I don’t like being forced to see how lonely I am.

It’s a beautiful day. Sunny, and not too hot yet. It’s the kind of day where it would be bliss to have someone to love…somebody to come home to and cuddle.

But instead (and this is almost hilarious because I am such a cliché!), I will be spending this evening trapping feral cats so I can take them to get spayed and neutered. :-/

You’re So Vain (Part 2)


It’s one of those days, folks – a day when I haven’t got a single intelligent thing to say. But I’ve promised myself I’ll write every day in this blog even if this means that I just write crap. This was a personal goal of mine, but, hell, even Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits says it’s a good idea. I’m sitting at the airport now, waiting for my flight back home, and I really didn’t feel like writing anything but then “You’re So Vain” started playing, and that seemed like too much of a coincidence to ignore.

I’m depressed to be heading back. It seems like nothing in my life is going well. Professionally, personally, emotionally and spiritually I feel adrift. I work up feeling depressed, and then felt better later, but the depression hit me again later as I was having lunch with my friend in a café. I’m not sure if the Prozac is working, but, well, I’ve only been on it for a week, so I guess I should give it more of a chance.

I bought a pair of expensive jeans today, and I was depressed looking at myself in the mirror in the store. Yeah, I know, first world problems, right? But, well, I never claimed that I wasn’t superficial with a head filled only with vapid thoughts. I’m attractive, but I think I could be a lot more toned. I seem to have put on weight over the last few weeks. Then again, it’s really hard for me to know whether I look good or not, as I probably have Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Any time I think I look good, people say I look unhealthily thin. After seeing myself in the mirror, I decided that I would start training for another marathon again to get more toned, but I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I’m so fucking busy – I’ll be starting work on the SLAA steps next week, and meeting with my sponsor weekly; attending the Zen center at least once a week; going to at least one SLAA meeting once a week; meditating daily; looking after my ten pets; singing in my band; blogging daily and, oh yeah, working forty hours per week. Do I really have time to train for a marathon as well?

I can’t believe I’m about to quote a Radiohead lyric from 1992 (clearly, I never outgrew my emo phase), but “I want a perfect body; I want a perfect soul”. Marathon running and honing my body probably shouldn’t be a priority in my life right now. I should probably be focusing on my recovery. But I just can’t stand the idea of growing older, and not being attractive anymore.

I want to be a Buddha, but, well, a really fucking hot Buddha.

 

You’re So Vain


Most of the bewilderment over what happened with the client has gone now, thank God. I had a really nice day yesterday with my friend and a friend of hers (wine-tasting!) so that helped boost my morale. If anything, perhaps it’s a good thing that I met a manipulative sociopath. It serves as a reminder that I’m really vulnerable, and need to be more serious about SLAA.

It’s great to be on vacation, but I’m looking forward to being home, and starting to meditate again, and attending the zen center. The seven weeks when I took the zen meditation class were perhaps the calmest weeks I’ve known in a long time. They gave me hope that things could get better.

Zen/meditation teaches me not to give myself a hard time and compare myself to others, and that’s something I’m really struggling with while hanging out with my friend. She’s so accomplished (just about to finish her PhD at a really prestigious university) and apparently has an infinite amount of energy to take on a million other tasks as well, and do everything brilliantly. She admits herself that her ability to multi-task and over-achieving personality allow her to avoid thinking about unpleasant things (e.g. she’s now forty-one but has never been able to trust a man again after breaking up with her fiancé about a decade ago), but, hell, I’d rather be her than me. I also don’t trust men, but, unlike her, I get fucking nothing done in life.

It also doesn’t help that my friend just doesn’t understand why I’m the way I am. I’m a talented singer, and writer, but I’m somehow never able to do anything with these talents. There’s just so much fear associated with creativity for me, but my friend doesn’t see that. She just sees that I’m not a “go-getter” like her, and I thinks she considers it to be a personal weakness. It makes me feel so bad that she sees me this way.

Being around her is making me panic about my future, which I wasn’t doing so much when I was meditating regularly. I was more readily able to accept the place I’m at in life right now, and not beat myself up about it. I’m not blaming my friend for any of this, by the way. Being around talented, accomplished people shouldn’t fill me with anxiety and self-loathing.

My friend is also amusingly blunt. I needed to talk about what had happened with the married sociopath, and she was very wiling to listen, and not judge (although she can’t relate at all). I’m very aware that I need to talk about my personal problems a lot with friends. I’m in so much mental anguish that it’s literally torture to keep them all bottled up inside. There comes a point, though, when I recognize that my “need to talk” has passed into the realms of obsession and total self-asborption. I asked my frlend if I was self-absorbed (um, I think having to ask that question in the first place means yes), and she said “Oh, yes, you’re the most self-absorbed person I’m friends with”. She did qualify that by saying that there were other more self-absorbed people out there but that she just would’t be friends with them. Ha!

I was amused by my friend’s honesty, but also horrified because who wants to be self-absorbed?! I can’t  stand self-absorbed people. This is partly why I don’t always enjoy going to SLAA meetings because addicts are notoriously self-absorbed. Imagine having to sit in a room filled with many other self-absorbed people!

I’ve been obsessing about being self-absorbed ever since my friend made that comment, and trying to find things about myself that are kind, compassionate and “other people focused”. This of course is highly ironic because only a self-absorbed person would spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about being self-asborbed, and trying to find proof that they’re not.

And only a really self-absorbed person would then write a blog post about the whole thing!

God, is there no end to this?! Will there ever be a time when I don’t obsess about myself and how unhappy I am?

Fellow addicts in recovery: is self-absorption just a personal character flaw in myself, or is it something common to all addicts? If so, does it ever go away?!

This Time I Know It’s For Real


Today I have gone to a very dark place. Yesterday I was so tired from only getting a few hours sleep before my flight that I didn’t really have the ability to process what had happened.

I’m trying not to get caught in an infinite loop of self-destructive and self-hating thoughts, but it’s really hard. You would think that, as a sex worker, I would have some understanding and actually expect my clients to lie to me, wouldn’t you? I am, after all, selling a fantasy, not the truth. I must be the world’s most fucking gullible sex worker. I broke Rule Number One in the sex worker handbook:

Don’t Get Romantically Involved With A Client

And even though I knew it was fucked-up from the get-go to be interested in this guy because he’s a fucking client and because it was so unhealthily intense, I told myself that this time it would be different. This time it would be for real. This was it. This guy would love and understand me. We’d walk off into the sunset together. Even though I knew some things didn’t add up, even though I even found myself wondering “Is he just telling me what I want to hear?”, I refused to listen.

In a way, I feel violated, and exposed. I opened up to this guy because he read me so well, and told me exactly what I needed to hear to open up. I told him far too much about myself. He knew I was really vulnerable, and exploited that. I don’t know why it should still surprise me that there are people out there like this, but it does. I can’t imagine actively exploiting somebody’s else’s obvious weaknesses for my own selfish gain. This is just completely unbelievable, unimaginable behaviour.

I’ve been trying to make myself feel better by telling myself that he is, at the end of the day, the real loser in this situation. He’s a sociopath, and sociopaths have no conscience, and no ability to empathize with anybody. What an impoverished existence he must lead. How must it be to never be able to truly connect with people, or love? But thinking this doesn’t really help me because he can’t miss what he has never known, or never will know. I want him to suffer for what he did to me, and what he’s no doubt done to countless other women.

I hate myself for being so stupid, and it’s this gullibility which has left me feeling the most desperate today. I fucking know I’m a sex and love addict, and that I have horrible boundaries, but I still make the same mistakes over and over again. What good is it to attend Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meetings, and the local zen centre, if I fall at the first hurdle? I feel that I will never get better because I can’t trust myself to fucking remember (just fucking remember!) that I have a serious problem, and that I need help.

I am so alone, and I can’t stand being this way anymore. How can I stop myself from feeling this gut-wrenching void and emptiness inside? I’m scared I’ll never be able to.

This episode has also shown me that I need to get the hell out of the sex industry. The friend I’m visiting is scared for my physical safety, but, honestly, it’s my emotional safety that’s more in danger. Most of the men who use my services are broken in some way, and I just don’t want to be around that. I don’t want to be anywhere near their sickness. I want to meet happy, healthy people or at least people who are working on themselves so they can be that way.

I have painted myself into a corner, though. With so many pets, it would be impossible for me to find a cheaper place to stay, so most of my money goes on rent. My landlady is also cool with my having so many pets, and I would never find somebody like that again. I literally have to do erotic massage to survive and to find a way to save money so I have a little more financial stability. The only solution here would be to get rid of some of my pets, but I can’t do that. They’re like family. But I can’t keep on living the way I’m doing.

I took a train today for the first time in ages since there is not really a rail service where I live currently. I had the passing thought that I could throw myself on the tracks when the train arrived Anna Karenina-style. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want to live like this this either.