About me

When I started this blog I was angry that there weren’t any current blogs written by sex addicts. It seemed like people blogged for awhile and then just quit. What the heck? Did they get better? Were they cured? Or did they stop going to meetings and die?

At that time, I was scared to death that I wasn’t going to do something right and that I’d just fall off the edge of the world. Now, I’m not so afraid. I’m also not so sure I’m an actual sex addict. I had this discussion with my therapist and he had (as usual) an interesting take: that I had problematic sexual behaviors that I no longer have because I’m mentally healthier and I deal with my internal upsets with more awareness and more sophistication. I’m less self abusive. When life knocks me sideways, rather than compulsively surfing porn or masturbating, I’m more likely to make fancy tea, do my nails, or buy something for the garden. Basically I’m trying to self soothe in ways that don’t lead to shame. It’s not easy – I bet I spent more on nail stuff this week than a normal, healthy woman would have. But here’s the thing, I’m not a normal, healthy woman. I’m damaged. And while we all become damaged to some extent as we go through life, childhood sexual abuse is a special kind of damage. 

On Facebook today, I saw a thing about child porn being found in Michael Jackson’s house. It astonishes me the number of people who refuse to believe he was a child molestor because he was also a talented entertainer. What? My grandfather was a respected judge. He was also a child molester. That stupid world view makes it harder for us to protect children.

On the local news today, two women have brought suit against the Catholic Church for their childhood molestation and the subsequent cover up – the priest was working at one of our local parishes that has an elementary school. 

Two triggers before breakfast on a day when I’m not feeling well physically. This does not bode well for my recovery … except that I’m aware. And these days I’m MUCH more gentle with myself. I used to view this as a sort of weakness – not holding myself accountable or something. But that’s not it. Self abuse feels right because that’s the way human beings work. Breaking those betrayal bonds is DIFFICULT. In my case, it feels comfortable to berate myself for spending money on something stupid like nail stuff but I’m trying to stay grounded in reality: I can afford this. It’s okay to splurge on stupid nail stuff. My therapist would be PROUD of me for recognizing that I’m vulnerable AND for taking steps to care for myself. He would laugh with joy that I was doing my nails!

Posted in sex addiction

Ten Years


Ten years ago, I was a mess. My recent conversion to Catholicism had not gone well because all these weird problems with masturbation had come up (it’s a sin for Catholics to masturbate – and I was trying hard not to sin). My marriage was on the rocks because my husband thought I might be better off without him dragging me down. A dear friend’s daughter had finally succumbed to brain cancer at the age of 14, which was unbearably sad. And I had been getting worse in therapy, not better. The monk I was seeing (a licensed psychotherapist) had diagnosed me as a sex addict and told me that I’d never get better unless I attended 12 step meetings. He was a real swell guy. He shared how he’d been abused by an uncle, which was the root of his leather fetish. He shared how his alcoholism fueled his sexual acting out. He shared his stupid clove cigarettes. He shared his fantasies of steamy sex on leather sheets with marijuana incense and the god Baphomet looking on as we fucked. And eventually, he shared that he didn’t consider phone sex “real sex.”

I swear, this was my life, not the terrible script of some drug-induced B movie.

Children who are sexually abused often grow up to feel as though they are bad or evil people. The things that you do as a teen that you don’t understand – being sexual at a young age, being confused about your sexual identity, feeling suicidal, feeling dirty, taking drugs, drinking, engaging in self-destructive, risky behaviors – all that stuff is bad enough because it generally runs counter to your personal values. But just as bad is the sense of isolation. As a teenager and young adult you think you’re the only one who is like this, which fuels that vicious shame cycle that we know so well.

The truth is that acting out in these ways is NORMAL when you’ve been sexually abused. I had the added advantage/disadvantage of having Asperger’s Syndrome. So I was less able to interpret who is trustworthy and much more susceptible to gas lighting than I might otherwise be. Still, I was lucky to have found a wonderful friend, partner, husband and we had four beautiful children. 

When my breasts developed, they were one of things my grandfather focused on when he molested me. Breastfeeding my children was a way for me to reclaim my body. My children loved me unconditionally, which was a balm. They gave me a purpose for being on this planet: I am a mother. I am here to love, nurture, and protect these children. This was a mission I could do even though I was a bad person, deep down inside. 

Unfortunately, I continued to try and fill that existential “hole” that childhood sexual abuse inflicts with little success until I decided to try and let God fill it. Let me tell you; when you already feel like a bad person, like a blight or toxin that has to be careful not to contaminate those she loves, meeting a sociopathic priest can derail your life in ways that are unrecoverable.

Yes, I had problem sexual behaviors: compulsive masturbation and Internet porn. I had a pervading sense of self-worthlessness. I That’s it. I was never the horrible person I thought I was. Instead I was a good mom, a productive member of my community, and a good wife. I was unlucky to have been abused as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. I’m lucky to have survived. 

Recently I had a series of difficult family events that really threw me for a loop. I got scared, and all those old tapes started playing loudly. They’ve quieted down a bit and I can feel myself backing away from the ledge again. This time, I had a wonderful therapist helping me to remember that this is NORMAL and that I can be PROUD of myself for living.

I hope anyone reading this who has been hurt as a child will take a breath and treat themselves with as much love and compassion as they would a dear friend who’d been through similar circumstances. 

Posted in sex addiction

Don’t have sex with clients

Dandeloion 

After so many years of having this blog, the number one search term is still a variation on how to have sex with my therapist.

 

For heaven’s sake. It is  NEVER healthy to have sex with your therapist. NEVER. It will always damage you, always have an icky taint of incest, and always be a mistake. 

 

Don’t have sex with your clients. Don’t have sex with your therapists. Period. Even if [fill in whatever excuse you want]. Don’t do it. 

 

I cannot tell you have angry I feel that this is STILL the number one way people find my blog. So let me be really, really blunt: if you are sexually intimate with your therapist you’re going to wreck your hope of becoming a normal functioning adult. Because this is a REPEAT of childhood trauma. 

 

The truth is that your therapist is off limits.  

And if you’re a therapist, your client is off limits. Seriously, off limits. 

This is not rocket science, people. 

 

 

Posted in sex addiction

Crying and sobriety

I had been sober from 7/6/06, the day I entered treatment until 1/17/11. That’s 4 years, 6 months, and 12 days. Sobriety for me then was no contact (including googling him) with my former therapist, a priest who was also a psychoanalyst. Also no masturbation, no Internet porn, no sex outside my marriage, including phone sex, cyber sex and anonymous sexual encounters of any kind. No adult bookstores. Like most sex addicts, some of these behaviors weren’t all that difficult for me to abstain from, masturbation and Internet porn; not so much.

Like most people, I had days when my sobriety was rock solid and other times when I felt like I was barely hanging on. Mostly though, recovery worked and life was good.

My husband and I have four children and in 2011 we were overjoyed to have our oldest son home from Iraq for the holidays. When his leave time was over, he slept as I drove the 2 hours to the airport. He grabbed his bag out of the back, fussed at me for getting out of the car to give him a hug and kiss. He turned and left without looking back. I had a little lump in my throat as I pulled away but … no biggie. I remember thinking how well adjusted I was that I could drop my son off to return to war and not cry. In fact, I wasn’t upset at all. 

The days came and went and everything was just fine. Normal. And then all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, I acted out and had to reset my sobriety date to 1/17/11. I was devastated, I hadn’t realized how much of my self respect was wrapped up in that sobriety date. Worse, I couldn’t stop. It didn’t make sense and it freaked me out – this was just like before, the thing that ended up with me in therapy with the priest (he was a trained psychoanalyst) and as the shame and confusion grew, so did my acting out. I called the CSAT who helped me right after treatment, and he pointed out that dropping off my son might have been triggering. I thought he was full of baloney because frankly, I wasn’t upset at all about him being back in Iraq. 

Fast forward to this holiday season, 2015. Our children have taken turns giving us grey hairs and panic attacks but this was unusually stressful. My husband’s partner is going through an ugly divorce and was staying with us. My 19 year old and her boyfriend (who spent last year in jail for aggravated assault) got pregnant. Our other son was working for us and on the verge of being fired because he couldn’t show up to work on time. Our oldest daughter was doing well, for which we were grateful but her stupid dog keeps peeing on the heating vent in the living room. Shit happens. 

And then … our oldest son had a bilateral pulmonary embolism. He was lucky. We were lucky. Very lucky. He passed out because both his pulmonary arteries were occluded by a saddle clot which detached and separated. But (here’s the lucky part) instead of dying on his front doorstep, he regained consciousness and called me … to say he’d passed out, hadn’t been drinking, and didn’t need me to come over because he was fine. Just fine. I am so, so glad I ignored him and went over. We got him to the hospital and the medication he was given worked and he lived. As all parents know, you have to keep it together when your children are hurt, and that’s true even when they’re 27 year-old grown men. So I kept it together for two days and nights in the ICU. I kept it together for the the other kids, for my husband (who knew exactly how close to death he was that night) and for my son.

Two days later, my son had been moved from the ICU to a regular medical bed and we finally went home. My husband and one of his business partners and I were all sitting in the living room and talking about how crazy the last few days had been – they’re both physicians so they got a bit into the medical technicalities of what had happened, the shape of the clots, etc. And all at once, completely unexpectedly, I wasn’t keeping it together any more. I haven’t cried that hard since I was in treatment and the stupid psychiatrist’s intake interview. It was pretty hostile.

It scared our friend, but my husband was great. He said I’d be okay and the two of them kept talking quietly until I finally calmed down. It took a long time. For the next few days, when ever anyone asked how my son was doing, I’d cry. I’d think about how lucky we were and I’d cry. I had nightmares and would wake up crying. It’s like my heart was leaking.

It’s been almost two months since all this happened and I haven’t needed to act out. I think that it’s because I felt my feelings this time. Before, when I felt that bone-deep fear it was automatically sublimated into feeling sexual. I never even knew I was afraid. This time was different.

Unfortunately, I can’t really take credit for this dramatic change in how I dealt with fear. Maybe I’m mentally healthier now than I was then. Probably the fact that I was alone in the car years ago, but not alone this time. And I’m sure the immediacy and rawness of a real fear as opposed to an anticipated fear is pertinent. The truth is that if I’d been able to cry after dropping him off at the airport, I would have. I think that I feel as much as I’m able to feel at any given time. That inner addict that tried to protect me as a child won’t allow me to feel more than she believes I’m able to handle.

I wish I knew how exactly I was able to do now what I couldn’t do before so that I could share it with all of you. What I do know is that feeling safe and actually being safe is a key part of being able to feel your feelings. I feel safe in my home, I feel safe and protected with my husband, and

So the moral of the story is that when I couldn’t cry – I had to act out and when I couldn’t not cry – I didn’t need to act out. And for this I’m grateful. Because there’s still a baby coming, a boyfriend to integrate into the family, laundry, bills, and the damn dog still hits that heating vent every other visit. 

Posted in sex addiction

That (other) time I cried really hard

  1. 091.jpg*I was writing a about crying really hard when my son was ill and veered off on a tangent about the other time I’d cried that hard, which was supposed to be a line or two, but the words wouldn’t stop coming so I posted that separately and came back to my original topic today, and, of course, promptly veered off on another tangent.

Side note: I believe now that that psychiatrist [the one who did my intake interview at the treatment facility I went to in 2006] was mean, borderline abusive to me. He was a southern man and I think the idea of a female sex addicted mother was repulsive to him. I was suicidal but didn’t look or act like people do when they’re suicidal. I tried to explain something that happened when I was 9 or 10 with my father and the doctor said that it sounded like I was trying to avoid responsibility for my actions. 

Here’s the first tangent I took while I was trying to explain, which I posted earlier. 

But back at the treatment center, I hadn’t spoken to my dad about that phone call ever. So I only had my memories to go on and the doctor believed that my telling of the story was an example of an addict refusing to take responsibility for her actions. He thought I was trying to blame my mother for my bad behavior. When I reiterated that I was only 8 years old, he was nonplussed. Then he segued into questions about my family now. Did I have children. Had they ever seen me or my husband naked, did we sleep together or bathe together, which he said would show evidence, according to the psychiatrist, that my husband and I had covertly abused our children because when they were little they would come into the bathroom when we were undressed. 

First of all, that’s bullshit. For covert abuse to occur, there must be an undercurrent of sexual energy that just didn’t exist in our home. I tried to explain that, but the psychiatrist would have none of it. He wrapped up the interview and I was given permission to leave the room. I walked with tears streaming down my face to the dining area and got a glass of water, but it wasn’t lunch time yet. The woman there was SO kind to me – she said that I would get better and that God loved me. She looked at me like I was a worthwhile human being, not a living breathing piece of garbage, which was how I felt the psychiatrist looked at me. She gave me Kleenex.

I sat down at a picnic table in the courtyard and just sat while my eyes ran. No sobs, just tears. It was weird. Then this guy comes rushing up, angry because I’m alone and I’m not supposed to be alone. That broke me. I looked at this man and said, “I had permission. I wasn’t sure where to go but I thought that sitting in the pavilion wouldn’t be a bad place to sit. I wasn’t hiding, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I had permission. I broke down then. It seemed to click for the therapist who’d been chastising me and he sat next to me while I cried. I tried to stop but couldn’t. I kept apologizing but he said that it was okay, he was just going to sit with me.

We got a new psychiatrist a few days later as the result of a routine job change and the female psychiatrist took better care of me while I was there.

Later, after I was home and discussing this with my CSAT, he pointed out that I’d been traumatized by this interview, and that I’d done really, really well because I continued to live, especially considering that my former therapist, the priest (he is a psychoanalyst) had been abusing me for years right up to the week I entered treatment. You see there were train tracks very near this treatment facility, and the trains went through on a regular schedule. My back up plan was to just hop the fence and sit on the tracks a few minutes before one of the trains was due.

Looking back, I think almost all of the problems I had during that interview and at other times in treatment was because I had undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. I really wish I could go back and explain this to everyone who treated me so they could apologize for causing me unnecessary pain, but I doubt they’d remember me. I feel sad about that because I am grateful for their help, despite their mistakes. But treatment isn’t set up scientifically. There’s no mechanism in place to objectively check and see how graduates do down the road. 

I was a mess when I got to treatment and they gave me a relatively safe place to heal. None of the counselors deliberately abused me – even the psychiatrist. Nobody used me sexually. And I believe that even when therapists make mistakes, as long as they’re honest mistakes, it’s not the end of the world. My former psychoanalyst, the priest, used me for lots of different things, for money, for titillation, for power, and for sex. He made me much, much sicker. My combination of Asperger’s Syndrome and a history of childhood sexual abuse left me unusually vulnerable to his grooming and seduction. 

Most of my adult life, I’ve felt like there’s something intrinsically wrong with me. I have too much of The Creep in me. I felt that I’d lost my mother’s respect because I was willing to bad mouth my dad behind his back but not tell him to his face that I hated him. I believed that I was not a person of integrity. But none of that is true. I have integrity. I am a decent person. I have been a good wife and a good mother. Not every minute of every day, but overall, when I am not in an abusive relationship, I thrive.

Posted in sex addiction

Side Note

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*I was writing a post about crying really hard when my son was ill and veered off on a tangent about another time I’d cried that hard, which was supposed to be a line or two, but the words wouldn’t stop coming. So I decided to make the side note it’s own post.

Side note: I believe now that that psychiatrist – the one who did my intake interview at the treatment facility I went to in 2006 – was way off base. He was a southern man and I think the idea of a female sex addicted mother was repulsive to him. I was suicidal but didn’t look or act like people do when they’re suicidal. I tried to explain something that happened when I was 9 or 10 with my father and the doctor said that it sounded like I was trying to avoid responsibility for my actions.

Here’s what I was trying to explain. My parents were divorced when I was 8 and it was an ugly divorce. We lived with my mother and visited my father after he got out of the “loony bin” (my mother’s words). My mom said that my sister and I came back different after we spent the weekend with our dad. We were bad, spoiled, rude, basically he turned us into brats. I tried so hard to be good when we got back home, but it never worked, I always did something wrong. At my house, my dad was called “The Creep,” as in “If The Creep really loved you, he’d pay his part of the dentist’s bill.” Whenever I was bad, and I can tell you that I really did try to be a good girl, my mom would say that I had too much of The Creep in me. I heard that a lot and like children do, I internalized the shit out of it. For most of my life, I was convinced that one day I’d go crazy because I had too much of The Creep in me. But back then, there was a day when my mother was ranting and raving about The Creep and my sister and I chimed in that we hated him too. We hated him too. It makes my stomach queasy to write this now, but back then I felt powerful and validated and (probably) loved by my mom.

So when she said that I was a hypocrite for saying this behind my dad’s back, that if I really felt that way I’d tell him to his face, I agreed with her. I remember my mom standing in the living room, smoking a cigarette, wearing cut off denim shorts and a t-shirt being really angry at how two-faced I was. Eventually my mom said that if I really felt that way, I should tell him so. She dialed the phone, told my dad that “The girls have something to say to you,” and handed the phone to me. I couldn’t say a word. My sister, who was 6 took the phone and said loud and clear that she hated my dad and never wanted to see him again. She handed the phone back to me and walked over to mom, who was very proud.

When I put the phone to my ear, my dad was crying. I still couldn’t talk. My mother turned away in disgust when the tears started down my face and my sister went with her. I remember my dad asking if I felt the same way my sister felt, and through my tears I said, Yes.”

My dad remembers it differently. He said that my sister went first and that although it took me awhile I said I hated him and never wanted to see him again too.

But back at the treatment center, I hadn’t spoken to my dad about that phone call ever. So I only had my memories to go on and the doctor believed that my telling of the story was an example of an addict refusing to take responsibility for her actions. He thought I was trying to blame my mother. When I reiterated that I was only 8 years old, he was nonplussed. Then he segued into questions about my family now. Did I have children. Had they ever seen me or my husband naked, did we sleep together or bathe together.

Because I answered yes to his questions this was evidence, according to the psychiatrist, that my husband and I had covertly abused our children because when they were little they would come into the bathroom when we were undressed. That was just not true. For covert abuse to occur, there must be an undercurrent of sexual energy that just didn’t exist in our home. I tried to explain that, but the psychiatrist would have none of it. He wrapped up the interview and I was given permission to leave the room. I walked with tears streaming down my face to the dining area and got a glass of water, but it wasn’t lunch time yet. The woman there was SO kind to me – she said that I would get better and that God loved me. She looked at me like I was a worthwhile human being, not a living breathing piece of garbage, which was how I felt the psychiatrist looked at me. She gave me Kleenex.

I sat down at a picnic table in the courtyard and just sat while my eyes ran. No sobs, just tears. It was weird. Then this guy comes rushing up, angry because I’m alone and I’m not supposed to be alone. That broke me. I looked at this man and said, “I had permission. I wasn’t sure where to go but I thought that sitting in the pavilion wouldn’t be a bad place to sit. I wasn’t hiding, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I had permission. I broke down then. It seemed to click for the therapist who’d been chastising me and he sat next to me while I cried. I tried to stop but couldn’t. I kept apologizing but he said that it was okay, he was just going to sit with me.

We got a new psychiatrist a few days later. The other one had moved to another job or something. Nobody thought there was anything wrong with my interview.

Later, after I was home and discussing this with my CSAT, he pointed out that I’d been traumatized by this interview, and that I’d done really, really well because I continued to live. You see there were train tracks very near this treatment facility, and my back up plan was to just hop the fence and sit on the tracks a few minutes before the train was due.

Looking back, I think almost all of the problems I had during that interview and at other times in treatment was because I had undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome. I really wish I could go back and explain this to everyone who treated me so they could apologize for causing me unnecessary pain, but I doubt they’d remember me. I doubt they’d want to hear from me.

I feel sad about that because I am grateful for their help, despite their mistakes. And I wish that there was more checking in with clients after graduation. Therapists often don’t seem to want to know if their therapy was effective, or if there were things they could have done better or differently. I was a mess when I got to treatment and they gave me a safe place to heal away from the therapist who’d been abusing me. But they agreed with my self diagnosis, which I now know was completely wrong. At that time, I presented myself as a sex addict who had ruined a good man’s career because she had lured him into a sexual relationship. In fact, it wasn’t until my husband came to family week and pointed out that had he done what this priest did, he’d lose his medical license and go to jail. After my husband painted a more accurate picture, in fact that I was abused by my therapist, that my therapy went much better. It so happened that the head of the program was there at that time, and his reaction was that of COURSE my therapist abused me. The staff all looked at me differently after that, or at least it seemed that way to me.

All that aside, I did get better there. None of the counselors deliberately abused me – even the psychiatrist. Nobody used me sexually. My former psychoanalyst, the priest, used me for lots of different things, for money, for titillation, for power, and for sex. He made me much, much sicker. My combination of Asperger’s Syndrome and a history of childhood sexual abuse left me unusually vulnerable to his grooming and seduction.

Most of my adult life, I’ve felt like there’s something intrinsically wrong with me and that eventually I’d go crazy. I have too much of The Creep in me. I felt that I’d lost my mother’s respect because I was willing to bad mouth my dad behind his back but not tell him to his face that I hated him. I believed that I was not a person of integrity. But none of that is true. I have integrity. I am a decent person. I have been a good wife and a good mother. Not every minute of every day, but overall, when I am not in an abusive relationship, I thrive.

 

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Posted in residential treatment, therapy

It’s been awhile

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One of the reasons I started this blog is that I couldn’t find any other blogs written by sex addicts that didn’t just stop after awhile. I’d find someone I felt I could really connect with or learn from and then I’d notice their last post was months or even years old. I hated that. Did they relapse? Did they stop working the program? Why would anyone do that? Did they die? And what, if anything, did that say about me and my chances for recovery?

I want to let anyone who reads this blog that I’m still here. Lots of things have happened but I’m still a happily married, functionally sober adult woman in her 50s. I weigh more and am developing that chin waddle my grandmother had when she was my age. My hair is a lot grader, or would be if I didn’t dye it. I have the occasional alcoholic beverage, usually a dark beer. I don’t smoke.

My life is good. I hope yours is good too.

 

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Posted in gratitude, long term sobriety

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