Aspergers

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The psychologist I am seeing thinks I have Aspergers Syndrome. There’s this book that Liane Holliday Willey has written; evidently women with Aspergers are more susceptible to sexual abuse.

After years of trying to figure out what part of my former therapists misconduct was my fault ….

I can’t really think more than this because it makes me cry too much. On a funny note, my husband has been making me laugh saying that I have ass burgers. Ass burgers! Isn’t that hilarious?

Posted in non 12-step recovery, sex addiction, therapy

Just for today

Sky

Just for today is something you hear a lot in recovery. For a person who knows that life is unmanageable while they’re drinking, drugging, gambling, acting out sexually, it’s a no-brainer to know how to make things better: just stop. Unfortunately, just stopping feels impossible when you are an addict.

“Normal” people do those things in moderation, when it’s appropriate. If they over indulge or do something they later regret (a threesome, for example) they decide not to do that again. And then they don’t do it again.

Addicts do those things when they need to, which is all about regulating the inner emotional landscape in order to cope with the stress of daily life.

To help ourselves keep from freaking out at having to live a life without our drug of choice we remember that we don’t have to live this way forever; it’s just for today. That keeps the panic level low enough that we can think rationally. Tomorrow I may make a different decision, but just for today I am a sexually sober sex addict.

That being said; I was diagnosed as a sex addict by a therapist who abused me. While I was under his care, I acted out sexually in ways that I had not ever done before, I became less and less functional in my daily life, and more and more mentally ill. I nearly killed myself. In a last ditch effort to find some way to continue living, I went to inpatient treatment for my sex addiction. I presented myself there exactly as I saw myself, as a sexual predator who had ruined a good priest’s career.

Rosenhan experiment 

And that’s how I my treatment was structured, until a national expert in the field of sex addiction sat down with my husband and I during family week and listened to the story. He was horrified at the level of abuse I had suffered, which was something my husband had been saying as well. Having a fresh set of eyes made it possible for me to be seen differently.

The good news was that I got better even though I was mis-diagnosed. It was a safe place. None of the therapists were abusing me, and all of them genuinely cared and wanted to help me get better. Parts of my therapy probably would have been gentler if I’d been treated more like a victim, but I don’t regret going there. That treatment facility and those counselors saved my life. The not so good news is the intensive outpatient program I went to after that was not as safe and not nearly as nurturing. But I had sufficient mental health by then to be able to make the decision to leave, even though they told me that I was making a mistake. To tell the truth, I’m beginning to feel more and more angry about some of the things that happened to me in that outpatient program. As I’ve been trying to work through my thoughts and feelings about some of the traumatic events that happened there, I’m struck by just how much I want to go back and tell them how they hurt me. It would be healing for me to accept an apology. But it would also be instructive for them to hear where they made mistakes.

So here I am, 7 years later having been diagnosed as a sex addict by a priest, who was a therapist, who stole money from me, and who helped me get sicker, and who abused me sexually.

I don’t think I’m a sex addict. I think I have Complex PTSD. At times I drink unhealthily. At times I act out sexually. At times I check out mentally and get lost in pornography. What in the hell do I do with this self-knowledge? What does it mean for my participation in recovery?

On the other hand – I do think I’m a sex addict.

Labels that fit can be so helpful but they’re also limiting. And when they’re wrong they can be damaging. Actually when they’re right they can be damaging as well.

It’s a conundrum.

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Posted in life in general, my journaling, residential treatment, therapy

My spiritual awakening to atheism

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Have I mentioned recently that I’m grateful to be an atheist? Life is so much more precious now, since this is the only one I’ve got; no do-overs in heaven. I don’t have to waste any of it rationalizing the unbelievable.

One of my more elaborate rationalizations was regarding the whole issue of transubstantiation (that’s the belief that the bread and wine of communion actually changes into the actual flesh and actual blood of Christ at the moment the priest blesses them) by believing that there was an atom of Jesus in every wafer and every cup that would become activated by the priest’s blessing.

I know. Right. Stop laughing! Seriously! I can hear you!

Okay. It is pretty funny that creating a rationalization I could believe in for communion was my biggest impediment to becoming Catholic before I converted.

Oddly enough, masturbation didn’t worry me at all. Of course, why would it? i had no idea that this was a significant coping or self-soothing mechanism for me. I knew I’d have to stop, but I honestly didn’t think it’d be a big deal at all. Masturbation’s a mortal sin in Catholicism, which worked really well for me because I usually felt like shit after I masturbated. Separate yourself from God, feel lonely and ashamed. Made sense to me. You have to confess mortal sins before you can take communion. Again, makes sense. It’s the Church’s way of helping you reconnect with God. Besides, I had nothing to worry about since my sex life was going along just fine.

I did a thorough and fearless moral inventory in preparation for my first confession. Guess what I forgot! Yepper, I completely forgot porn and masturbation. Now that was embarrassing, because I had to schedule a second confession. See, I wanted to be sure I’d done my part right so the magic would work.

After I converted I was shocked to (re)discover that I couldn’t stop masturbating. In fact, I couldn’t stop thinking about sex. And orgasms became completely unattainable. It was confusing and embarrassing. Obviously this was all in my head, so I asked my parish priest for help and he referred me to a “really great” therapist. Why didn’t I go to the person who helped me 10 years earlier? Because I didn’t want to be cured of my Catholicism.

That’s how I ended up seeing a monk for psychotherapy. After a year and a half of the talking cure with him, I’d attempted suicide once and had plans to do a better job the next time. I wasn’t sleeping, smoked 2 packs a day (I wasn’t a cigarette a year smoker before). And my sexual acting out had jumped into behaviors that I hid from my husband, things that I consider adultery.

I see now that I felt like … like I was evil. This has been a theme for me. Somehow I had been contaminated and I desperately wanted to be saved, to be made whole, to become pure and good. It’s not uncommon for people who were sexually abused as children to feel as if they have been tainted. You can wash and wash but you’re never really clean. That foul core is always there. I wanted to be clean. Saved. I wanted God to magically wash me clean and make me whole.

Alas, there is no magic. But change is possible. new mental pathways can be forged. “Training scars” can be recognized and dealt with. I am trying to change myself so my feelings and my reality are congruent. I want to feel clean and good, which is what I hope I really am. But its hard to make the heart accept what the mind knows (or hopes). With this new therapist, all I can focus on is making sure I tell him exactly how bad a person I am. When he doesn’t judge me as bad, I feel I’m not being honest.

It’s sad. I don’t want to be seen as a bad person but I can’t accept being seen as good one. I hate that I can’t just accept myself as good enough. When that happens, sobriety is a happy byproduct.

So while it is funny, it’s also sad that a person could waste so much time and energy just trying to find a way to justify his or her own existence.

GP

Posted in atheism, my journaling, sex addiction, therapy

Hello World

no group here

 

I’ve been seeing a new therapist closer to where I live. It’s nice not having to block out a half day to go to therapy. I can get to his office in about 10 minutes, which is really convenient.

I have mixed feelings though about being back in therapy. Yes, it’s true that therapy is often a step in the right direction along the gentle path toward self-actualization. But the road is anything but easy. Yesterday was a tough session. And today I’ve been this weepy, sad person that I don’t want to be.

Part of what I want from therapy is verification that I am NOT a seductive, career-ruining, predator. I want to move past an academic acceptance. I want to be free of the guilt and shame that I have about having a sexual relationship with my former therapist. His rationalization that we hadn’t really had a sexual relationship because “it was only phone sex” is something I’ve NEVER believed. I saw that as the rationalization when he said it to me, and I still believe with all my heart that although we did not actually have intercourse or actually touch each others bodies, we did have a sexual relationship. I know it. And that sexual relationship was . . . dare I say . . . NOT therapeutic.

I want to feel that sure about whether I did something wrong during our sessions. How do I do that? How do I convince myself that I did not behave inappropriately? What I’ve been doing is telling this new therapist about how I acted in sessions and asking his opinion. So far I’ve asked two therapists if bringing coffee to a therapist is flirtatious, seductive, or bad. So far, the consensus is that it’s probably not a bad thing. Probably. That’s where I get stuck, but the truth is that it doesn’t matter how many times I ask, I never REALLY believe I was blameless. How does that get fixed? It’s like a kind of psychic phantom limb pain.

***************

I’ve been trying to start a 12-step group in my town with very little success. I have a box of stuff, I have a meeting place, but no people. Periodically men will contact the hotline, but they don’t want to talk to a female. That’s understandable, but I’m tired of trying to get a group going.

***************

I’m just sad. I feel like someone dear to me has died. I feel sorry for this little girl who was me, for this woman who was me. I wonder if this is healthy – poor me, poor me, pour me, and all that jazz.

But the scary thing for me is that I’m beginning to feel a bit angry. Resentful. That’s a scary vortex to look into. Recovery slogans aside, I believe I need to walk through these feelings. And I’m going to try hard to do it soberly because otherwise, I don’t think it’ll work.

The new therapist said that it would set me free. I don’t know if I buy that. I’m not feeling so free right now. I’m feeling sad, vulnerable, and wounded.

GP

 

Posted in i had sex with my therapist, life in general, my journaling, sexual addiction, therapy

Sleepless

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Something must have clicked somewhere in my brain because I couldn’t sleep most of the night yet I haven’t been acting out. Weird.

Here’s something interesting from http://simonsobo.com/the-strengths-and-weaknesses-of-dsm-iv

Mr. K., a lawyer for a large corporation, was overwhelmingly depressed at home and work. The apparent cause was a difficult supervisor at his job. Almost daily his supervisor would criticize some aspect of his work and Mr. K. would be immobilized for the rest of the day. Sometimes he would stare at the wall in a daze… “my father always called me a complainer…you don’t have to love your job; you just have to get it done… I’m a loser … all those years in law school and for nothing…” Placed on Prozac Mr. K. was quickly fixed. His supervisor would enter his office, make his usual derogatory remarks and nothing would happen. Mr. K. could again get his work done in fine form. There were other benefits. His overweight wife lost 35 pounds. For the first time in years, Mr. K. put down the TV remote control. They began having good conversations, the kind of talks they used to have when their relationship was fresh and engaging. Everything became new. Mr. K. realized that for years he had been going out on Sundays because he was irritated by the tumult of his children at home. On Prozac, he found himself playing with his children and having a great time. After ten months on the medication we decided to see how he would do without it. Within a few weeks we were back to square one. His supervisor’s remarks were again devastating him and he was a grouch at home. He made a quick recovery once he was placed back on the medication. After 16 months on Prozac Mr. K. found a new job. He loved it. He came off the Prozac. He did just fine.

There were only a few peculiarities that he commented on when he got off the medication. Although overall he had worked far more effectively on Prozac, for the first time in his life he found himself ignoring deadlines. Once or twice, that had caused difficulties. He bought a Mercedes on the medication. He had always wanted a Mercedes, but off of the medication he considered it a budget buster and foolish.

This case is noteworthy not only because his judgment was altered by the meds, but because, at ten months, when we first tried stopping the meds, he would have seemingly illustrated the statistics often replicated in studies, of patients who have a recurrence without their meds, thus providing one more piece of evidence, seeming to confirm the biological basis of his illness. But, at 16 months, with the apparent cause of his depression eliminated (his critical supervisor), he did just fine without an SSRI. This doesn’t diminish the almost miraculous effectiveness of his original meds, or even that Prozac may very well have helped him gain the initiative to find a new job. However, it does highlight the kind of questions that clinicians should ask themselves about the particulars involved in a specific patient’s illness, as opposed to exclusively focusing on the operative factors in a specific diagnosed illness. This perspective is in contrast to the clinical practice guideline issues by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which flatly states that where there has been a prior episode(s) of major depression “maintenance of antidepressant medication treatment should be for at least one year” 32 Statistically this assertion may have a basis but surely there are circumstances when this “rule” should not guide us.

My doctor tells me that I’ll probably be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. That kind of sucks, but it also kind of doesn’t because I like having a brain that works. I wish I’d gotten them years ago.

It’s time to get up and start the day. Man, do I hate not sleeping. I feel fine now, but later I’m going to be cranky.

Posted in life in general

I’m ready for spring to be here

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I spent a few hours today thinking about redoing my inner circle. But here’s the thing. I don’t really have good sobriety on all the behaviors in my inner circle right now and I know that addicts who redefine their inner circles by themselves, when they aren’t sober, are making a big mistake. I probably wrote a long winded but erudite blog post about that very thing. Ha.

I’m not doing anything that I need to disclose to my husband. He knows (most) of what I’ve been doing (mostly).

I know. That sounds like bullshit to me too.

I wish it was spring because I like how the air smells more alive and I can feel the warmth of the sun. I hate being cold. When you’re sweating, you know you’re alive, which is one positive thing about being peri menopausal: hot flashes can be taken as a sign of aliveness.

I know. That sounds like bullshit to me to. But it did make me smile a little bit. :)

Posted in 12-step recovery, life in general, relapse

Returning to Therapy

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s been strange, returning to therapy. I thought I was done with all the navel gazing and unpacking, and re-framing. None of that shit is much fun, plus I’m taking a chance that I could be hurt again.

My new therapist isn’t a CSAT (Certified Sex Addiction Therapist) but he is licensed (I checked). He hasn’t been reported for professional misconduct (I checked). My husband thinks he’s good (I wouldn’t see him otherwise). He is a published author (that’s kind of neat). He’s smart.

So I was telling him about some of the difficult (i.e. bad) things that happened to me when I was in treatment. These are things that I did not think were all that big a deal, minor hurts. I told them so my new therapist would have a picture of how sick I was at that time.

He listened and when I stopped, he reflected back to me that it sounded like the doctor that did my intake interview might have had some issues himself. (I agree.) He said it must have hurt to be treated that way. (It did.) It must have been devastating to have my behavior toward my children questioned.

And at that point, my eyes filled up with tears and I had to disassociate to keep from breaking down completely. That was pretty near the end of the session so we stopped there. I got myself together enough that he wasn’t worried about me leaving and I made it down his crummy stairs without breaking my neck. I got to my car without attracting undue attention and cried the whole way home. Hard.

I hate crying. Somehow or another I got the idea that crying was manipulative and I do not ever want to be manipulative. I don’t want to trick people into caring for me. So I cried in the car, then at home; after dinner and in the shower. And the next day . . . wait for it . . . I had no desire or urge to act out sexually in any way. None. This after weeks of having every cell in my body screaming for sex.

It was a day of sobriety – a really good day.

This was a week or so ago and I’ve acted out since then. In fact, I had an embarrassing moment this morning when my husband noticed some of the more tangible signs of my acting out.

What I’m wondering is if I’m going to have to cry more in therapy to regain the solid sobriety I used to have. Sobriety and recovery require such deep and intensive exposure – and I haven’t even begun to deal with the issues that are fueling my addiction. I absolutely dread going forward with this. I do not think I will be able to really let go and cry at these sessions like I probably need to. I was only able to do that with my last therapist because I was so sick I didn’t have a choice. I had no reserves.

I’m better now and I have plenty of reserves. Will I be able to let go? Will this therapist be able to help me pry my fingers up and just let go? Will he be able to see me through the fall?

Well at the very least, the melodrama of the last few sentences has made me smile. I hope it has made you smile as well.

GP

Posted in my journaling, relapse, sex addiction, sexual addiction
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