As an autonomous SAA fellowship, we have the freedom to post locally-written personal stories that have not received SAA conference approval. This is a precious gift. Since we are enjoying this level of freedom, it should be noted that the views expressed in these writings are those of the author, and may not reflect those of the Eugene SAA Intergroup, or SAA as a whole. We will be posting more stories as they become available. If you would like to share your personal story with us, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
How, when and why I became a sex addict were questions that were always in the forefront of my mind. Today, my focus is on what I need to do today to stay sober, just for today. Sex addiction, for me, is a cunning, baffling and powerful disease. I need to be on my guard 24 hours a day if I want to keep from slipping back into my old patterns of addictive sexual behaviors.
I was not abused or molested as a child. If anything, there was emotional neglect which I believe led me to confuse sex and sexual images with emotional love. That is only my theory – nothing concrete has been revealed, even in counseling.
The symptoms of my disease are many. The pattern of my addiction has been one of secrecy and isolation, wandering my neighborhood on a nightly basis, boldly going into people’s yards and looking in their windows starting in my early teens and continuing into my adult years. I was rarely caught; only three times in 20 + years, and I was able to talk my way out of it every time. One of my buddies in high school had a garage, converted into a clubhouse where we would sit for hours viewing pornographic magazines and talking about sex. This eventually led to sexual encounters with him and a couple of my other friends.
I include that detail to demonstrate the progressive nature of this disease. What was once sufficient, no longer stimulates this addictive mind, and new depths must be explored – until we eventually hit bottom. My bottom did not arrive until many years later.
Along the way, I added strip clubs, pornographic movies, nude beaches, adult book stores and sex with strangers to my resume. The last straw of unmanageability came with the arrival of the internet at my office. It was fast, it was free and it was easy to act out without getting caught. Before long I was engaging in cyber sex and phone sex with both men and women I would meet online. I was completely consumed, with no thought of the consequences.
I had definitely spiraled out of control. I was using the internet up to four hours of every work day, making long distance calls from my office, risking my job and my third marriage. My behaviors off the internet were getting riskier also, and I was chancing disease and jail with my actions. There were times when I wanted to stop, but my own willpower was not doing the job.
I was living a lie, and as with all lies, I was eventually caught. My wife was devastated and I was in denial about how far gone I was. After a couple of counseling sessions, I made the call to the SAA contact line, and arranged to go to a Beginner’s Meeting. It was as scary as anything I’d ever done, but I had nothing to lose at that point. To my relief, everyone at the meeting was friendly, and I could relate to their story in some way.
I continued going to meetings, though I was not working the Steps, nor did I have a sponsor. Within a year of starting the program, I suffered a significant relapse. The fear I carried after being caught again was enough to keep me abstinent until I finally got a sponsor and started working the Steps. I am still working the Steps, and this story is a work in progress, but the program has saved my life from certain ruin.
I also go to AA meetings, but I find that I can only open up completely when I share at the SAA meetings. The benefits of the program are numerous. Aside from the obvious freedom from addictive and compulsive sexual behavior, it ripples out to all aspects of my life. I have less anger, more patience and understanding, every day situations no longer frustrate me beyond explanation. Today, I can look myself in the mirror and feel good about being able to face myself.