Tag Archives: Sex and Love Addiction

Thank you, Charlotte Kasl!


When I was attending SLAA meetings, everybody would talk about “the steps”. “Are you working the steps yet?”; “The steps changed my life!”; “Everything will get better when you start working the steps”.    The steps can be found in the SLAA basic text, first published by The Augustine Fellowship in 1986. I just couldn’t see what the big fuss was about with this book. I’ve read plenty of books on sex and love addiction, and this one was pretty unmemorable, as far as I was concerned. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I found some parts of it objectionable.

My main problem with the book is that Rich, the person who started SLAA, after being in AA for many years, was a white, middle-class man, and the basic text was written, mainly, by a white, middle-class man. Where am I – a woman – in this book? If I mentioned this to my sponsor, she would just smile knowingly, and say “Oh, but, deep down, the emptiness sexually addicted men and women experience is the same”. I’m not a moron, for Chrissakes. I know that an addict is an addict is an addict, and I know that no matter what we are or who we are, we all suffer. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are all living in a patriarchal society where women’s and men’s experiences are not the same. While I don’t doubt that Rebound Guy from last year (ugh, remember him?!) is in a huge amount of pain because of his drinking and all the casual sex he has, I doubt he’s ever felt used, and cheated, and humiliated because of his addictive involvement with a woman. That’s how I felt, though, after our little fling was over. For him, I was just another notch on his bedpost, another sexual conquest he could boast about to his friends down the pub.

In the SLAA basic text, Rich writes about the addictive sexual relationship he has with Sarah although he is married to a very pregnant Kate. Sure, it’s not great he cheats on his poor wife, but, OK, I get it – he’s an addict. Lying and cheating is pretty much par for the course, so I don’t think he’s necessarily a terrible person for committing adultery. It is, however, the way he writes about his lover, Sarah, that really disturbs me. He very subtly paints her out to be an arch manipulator. Just read the break-up letter he sends her!

Sarah,

I am terminating our relationship. I have come to realize that for all the love there has been between us, and there’s been much, at least an equal part of sickness, obsession and neurosis has been present also.

My long term needs have been consistently sold out to my getting my short term feel-good buttons pressed, and you are a master button presser. My own personal center has been thrown askew through my trying to constantly service your needs, which are also excessive

My inventory has been exhaustive and has led me to the lamentable truth that you are bad news for me. Therefore, I’m getting out now.

We are all through.

If you are tempted to contact me, I ask you to re-read this letter.

Rich

He might as well just have called her Lady Macbeth instead of “master button presser”. And look at his interesting choice of verb tenses: “my long term needs have been consistently sold out to […]” and “my own personal center has been thrown askew […]”. All his verbs are passive. You would think that some external force was making him “sell out” or “throw himself askew”, but that’s not the case at all. He was the one who chose to be with Sarah, and to give in to his addiction.

And as for the “you are bad news for me” statement….? What the fuck?! Oh yeah, Rich, in contrast, was such a catch, what with his very pregnant wife, about to give birth any second. Sure, Sarah herself chose  to get involved with a married man, but did Rich ever stop to think how much he fucked up her life? He does eventually devote some of the book to talking about the pain he caused his wife, but Sarah? Nah, she’s just collateral damage.

When my concerns about the basic text were poo-poohed by other people in the program, I began to think that maybe I was just some bitter feminist harpie who was getting her knickers in a twist for no reason. But, it wasn’t like I went out of my way to do a feminist literary critique of this book. Fundamentally, it just makes me feel uncomfortable and icky.

Going back to the steps again, I also felt strange when I looked at the some of the steps to come, especially steps 4, 5 and 6:

Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6: Were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character.

The language in these steps is incredibly ponderous, moralistic and serious in tone, especially for people who probably have just found their way to a 12-step meeting because something very serious and nasty happened to them. I’ve had enough seriousness and judgement in my life. I need to lighten up and have fun! And by that I don’t mean that I want to get drunk and party, but just that I want to focus on the simpler, more beautiful parts of life. As Charlotte Kasl points out in Many Roads, One Journey : Moving Beyond the 12 Steps, “there are no steps about expressing love to people, having fun, celebrating life, and becoming powerful or healing the physical body” (160).

When I contemplated working step 5, it felt like it would be such a chore. Again, I felt guilty, and imagined that I didn’t want to do that step or the steps immediately after it perhaps because I was trying to avoid taking responsibility for my actions. But Charlotte Kasl to the rescue again:

The term defects of character might be apt for perpetrators, narcissists, and other exploitive people, but it doesn’t fit for shame-based or guilt-ridden people who all too easily focus on their failings and weaknesses. “Defects of character” is a culture-bound, Christian concept stemming from the idea that we are all born sinners and must redeem ourselves through a life of confession and atonement” (317).

Thank you, Charlotte! Now I understand why I had such a negative reaction to step 5. Why would I, somebody who has beaten myself up forever, want to focus on my “defects of character”. Of course I need to take responsibility for the bad things I’ve done, and the people I’ve hurt, but I’ve already done that! I can’t spend one single second more obsessing over how I’ve fucked up. I desperately need to realize what’s good about me for a change!

Coming Tomorrow: A list of all my good qualities!

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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. :-/

Craving


Centre_of_wheel_of_lifeI’ve been back home from my trip for six days now, and it was hard at first to get settled back into my life here. I don’t live in the worst place in the world (far from it actually) but I do wish that this place was more cosmopolitan, and “worldly”. There’s nothing wrong with Americans (well, nothing much wrong, heh) but it gets tiresome when you hardly ever meet anybody else from a foreign country. I also miss having decent conversations with people about real, meaningful things. I have found that Americans (well, at least the ones here in this state) prefer to keep things on a nice and civil superficial level all the time. Perhaps the fault is mine (am I just too intense?) but why do people never talk about their thoughts and feelings? Why is it so hard to get to know an American? Sometimes I wonder if there is even anything to get to know. I am aware, by the way, that this is a huge generalization, so there’s no need to berate me in the comments section. Yes, I know there are cool Americans out there! But I do think that my general impression is correct.

But, whatever, I digress. The main point I wanted to make in this post is that my trip out of town led to one of my all-too-familiar bouts of feeling dissatisfied with my life and myself. Ever since I arrived in this city in 2004, I’ve been plotting my escape. I’ve always wanted to move to New York City, but, well, for various reasons (some grounded in reality, some fear-based), I never did. But instead of throwing myself heart-and-soul into life in this city, I’ve sort of stayed on the sidelines, thinking to myself “This place is not for me”. You know what? I’m right, it’s not. I will never feel at home here; I can spend nine days in NYC and feel more connected and at home there than I ever have to this place in the nine years I’ve spent here. I should leave this city, no doubt about it. But, nonetheless, I could have definitely enjoyed my time here more than I did. It has always felt like a limbo, somewhere I just happened to be until something better came along.

I feel that this could be a metaphor for my life. I have an complete inability to live in the moment. Even when I’m doing something enjoyable (like this – blogging), I’m worrying about what I need to get done afterwards. Happiness is, for me, something that will only happen in the future when circumstances have aligned so that everything in my life is perfect: perfect creativity; perfect spirituality; perfect relationship; perfect body; perfect house; perfect city…and on..and on. This craving for perfection is ruining my life.

I haven’t meditated since before going on my trip, but I plan to meditate for thirty minutes right after this blog post. I’m kinda hoping that meditation/buddhism will help me learn how to enjoy the moment. But  having this thought just leads to a whole different kind of worry. You’re not supposed to get into meditation/Buddhism with the idea that you’ll get something out of it, are you?! (Lazy Buddhist, thoughts?) Isn’t this just a form of Spiritual Materialism?! According to the Wikipedia entry on Spiritual Materialism, it is:

Spiritual materialism is the belief that a certain temporary state of mind is a refuge from suffering. An example would be using meditation practices to create a peaceful state of mind, or using drugs or alcohol to remain in a numbed out or a blissful state. According to Trungpa, these states are temporary and merely heighten the suffering when they cease. So attempting to maintain a particular emotional state of mind as a refuge from suffering, or constantly pursuing particular emotional states of mind like being in love, will actually lead to more long term suffering.

Now, as a Sex and Love Addict, I totally agree that craving the high of being in love just leads to more suffering, but is it really so bad for me to come to meditation/Buddhism with the  desire that I will eventually manage to calm down my crazy thoughts? True, this desire is egotistical in that I want to make my life better, but I would also like to be a better person so that everybody around me benefits, too. I fail to see how anybody could end up following a Buddhist path without having had some desire to change themselves for the better. Maybe I’m wrong-headed but why would I plonk myself down on my arse for thirty-minutes to an hour each day for no fucking reason? Hell yeah I want to get something out of it!

Sheesh. Apparently I have a craving to stop the craving. :-/

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?!