I got to thinking today about how important my inner mental landscape is to my outer sobriety. I think it’s what makes sex addiction so difficult to recover from and for the record, I think it’s totally unfair. I can induce the production of every chemical that courses through the body and brain just by thinking about sex. So can you. Those of you who are sex addicts probably don’t need proof of this, but just for fun, let’s do a little experiment.
Sit back, relax and imagine a lemon. They have such a nice clean smell even before you cut them! You’re going to roll it around on the counter, pressing down with your palm. Then slice it in half from end to end. Slice it again and imagine taking a nice big bite out of the wedge.
Is your mouth watering? I’m sure you get the point.
To be sober in body, I have to be sober in mind.
I’m not a huge fan of romance novels; the older I get the less patience I have with poorly written books, but there are some authors I really like. Nora Roberts, for example. Besides the fact that I greatly admire the effect she’s had on the entire genre, the sex scenes are just not . . . conducive to solid recovery from sex addiction. I like her mystery series, the ones she writes under J.D. Robb. I (usually) skip the sex scenes. How strange that I don’t find them toxic but I have to completely abstain from everything Anne Rice has written. Obviously the books she’s written under her pen name are off absolutely limits, but vampire stories should be okay. Except they’re not. I have less trouble with the blatantly sexual scenes in an R-rated movie than I do with the strange intertwinement of sex and death that goes with the vampire genre. To a much lesser extent it’s why I don’t really like the Twilight series. La petit mort aside, I need to be on the side of the force where sex goes with life, not death. Beyond that, I’ve got to agree with Stephen King on the quality of writing. But most importantly, that whole theme of bad boys being saved by love makes me want to hurl. Girls, if a boy tells you he’s dangerous, he’s telling the truth. Leave.
Interestingly, I don’t notice many random sexual thoughts when I’m doing well. I don’t go around with my mouth watering constantly the way I used to. It’s when I’m not doing well that I seem to be plagued by the desire to fantasize. I don’t walk around with my mouth watering the way I used to, thank goodness. It only happens when I’m trying to stuff some emotion or I haven’t been taking care of the basics (eating, sleeping, exercising).
But even when I’m doing everything right, I’m vulnerable to moments of no defense. Like it says on pg. 43 of the 4th edition of the AA Big Book: “The [sexaholic] at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink [of lust] . . . his defense must come from a Higher Power.”
Being an atheist, naming that higher power God doesn’t work for me. Instead, I think of it as aligning myself with Reality. Think of it like this — healing isn’t your job. Staying as healthy as possible is. But even then, you’re not going to avoid every wound. When you are wounded, if you care for yourself properly, you’re going to make it easier for your body to heal itself. It doesn’t really matter what you call the healing power. Whether you believe it’s God or the immune system, as long as you clean the wound and bandage it properly, it’ll work.