Self Care

Sometimes I think I must just be a complete sissy when it comes to dealing with stress because honestly, life is good. My family is healthy, we have enough money, and the dog has stopped peeing in the house. We’ve been in a nice stretch with the children too. The older ones are either employed or in school and behaving responsibly (of course, to a certain extent, ignorance is bliss when it comes to adult children), and the younger ones are in a phase where they’re pleasant to be around.

But we have a car that needs replacing and we’re probably going to get zilch on the trade-in. There’s been some major stress with my husband’s job which translates to some financial worries, but even in the worst case scenario, we’re going to be okay financially.

You’d think someone in my situation would be skipping down the road of happy destiny.

Unfortunately, I’m not someone, I’m me.

And me has been getting aggravated that I can’t … omg, this sounds so stupid when I type it out … I’m aggravated that I can’t masturbate.

There. I said it. Typed it. Whatever.

It sounded a whole lot stupider a few nights ago when I told my husband.

[SIDE NOTE: When you can tell your spouse that you’re frustrated that you can’t masturbate when you really, really want to and that spouse understands your frustration, that’s true intimacy. Because in at least in my marriage, that understanding is profound. Not only does he understand my compulsion, he understands the shame of having the desire, the fear of losing my sobriety, the mixed feelings I have about the necessity of abstaining from masturbation and porn. At the same time, I understand how scary this is for him to hear; how difficult it is for him to remain separate (as opposed to enmeshed). We have faith in each other that we will individually take responsibility for our own stuff – I’m not avoiding sharing to keep him from being scared and he’s not taking care of me so I won’t have to act out.

As you can imagine, I was a knot of nervous energy after dropping this bomb on his head, but here’s the funny thing – it wasn’t a bomb at all. I laid this big booger out there and he was like, “Hmmm. Well, duh. Of course you want to masturbate. It’s been a stressful week and this is how you react to stress.”

Right. It’s not exactly rocket science.

And as my husband pointed out, “There are other kinds of self care besides masturbation, you know.”

Which is true. Which I did not want to hear, but it was so funny I just had to laugh! And laughing helps break the addictive cycle. And in that little break, I had a nice cup of tea, and decided to take a day off. I read a non-sexual novel, got some extra sleep, and now I’m blogging.

And that desire to masturbate? Pretty much gone. Not totally and completely; before I started typing this post, I was thinking about downloading some audio erotica, wondering offhandedly whether that would count as a break in sobriety.

That last sentence, which sounded lucid an hour ago, now sounds completely insane. And that, my friend is what is meant by working the steps: taking the actions that enable you to see crazy thoughts as crazy, not lucid.



  1. Wow! You blew me away. The intimacy that you described with the understanding you have with your husband is just where my husband and I trying to get to.

    I have been in the mall with husband and watch him struggle with his sobriety and been so proud of him asking us to leave. This deep connected understanding is something so real and profound. You give me great hope that open and honest communication can only lead to good.

    From the other side of the addiction – I can say that hearing the honesty hurts – because I hate to see the agony my husband must live with daily and be helpless to do anything about it. It is his struggle alone and all I can do is love him where he is. I am sure your husband must feel the same.

    Good for you for being so vulnerable and letting him in.


    PS. I love your writing style.

  2. Such a great reflection of healthy recovery in process. And I am grateful that your thoughts (“I’m not avoiding sharing to keep him from being scared and he’s not taking care of me so I won’t have to act out”) make sense to me because it’s an indication that I’ve made progress too. I also appreciate the opportunity to read this inner monologue and see the impact of recovery work in action. Now I can better imagine Husband doing the same, and feel less fearful of the imperfection that we’re all subject to. Thanks for the post.

  3. Hey. I just found this blog, and the post you wrote today was really encouraging. Of course there are other ways to take care of myself! I’m really struggling with the loneliness over having lost others in the depth of my addiction, but I have to learn to take care of myself. Congrats on your continued sobriety. I’m working it. Not very well, but just for today, I’m good. I hope one day to have that level of honesty and connectedness about what I want and am feeling and so forth. Thanks for the inspiration. Best of luck in the future.

  4. thank you for this post. I have been struggling with this problem for some time. The problem mainly is that with masturbation sooner or later the fantasies come. I may start by thinking about my husband but pretty soon my mind is playing with scenes from porn,followed eventually by memories of other things… And this is definitely not good for the sobriety. Some women in recovery tell me they dont find it a problem to masturbate and this is not their bottom line. It actually prevents them from acting out. Good for them. Unfortunately this is not the case with me and i believe there is no safe masturbation for me.

    Good luck with your struggle and it is nice that you have such an understanding husband.

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