Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Secret Shame -- Part 3

As with any addiction, sexual addiction and its accompanying shame is indeed as much a physical as well as mental and spiritual disease. It had its roots in my early life. That's when I learned to cope by soothing myself with sex whenever I became troubled. That's how I survived. What was my amazing discovery was that the addiction didn't have anything to do with sex per se. I simply wanted to be loved. I just didn't know how to appropriately find that love from others or from myself.

Unfortunately my sexual soothing became very dysfunctional for me when I became an adult and tried to maintain a semblance of a healthy relationship. I didn't have the tools to do that because I discovered that I truly didn't love myself. That made it impossible for me to develop an open and honest relationship in which I could give freely of myself. What's more, I didn't even really know who I was. I'd been running from myself for all of my life.

What happened instead was that I'd developed a double life. In what seemed like my normal life, I pretended to be a well-adjusted person. I'd go through the motions of life while using my double life as a sex addict as a means with which to cope with whatever feelings were uncomfortable. By uncomfortable feelings, I'm talking about feelings such as worthlessness, loneliness, anxiety, sadness, self-pity, anger, and resentfulness to name but a few. This would translate into basically any feeling that had a negative charge to it.

I would also invariably turn to my addiction whenever I felt elated. Then I would use sex as a reward. Ultimately I didn't know how to take care of myself at an emotional level. Additionally I would find myself turning to my addiction during times when I wasn't taking adequate care of my physical self; for instance, when I was hungry, tired, or feeling sick.

I couldn't remain faithful to my short-term wife or my first male partner for any substantial period of time no matter how hard I tried. On those occasions when he learned about my behaviors, I would tearfully promise that I would never cheat on them again. Unfortunately, when it comes to addictions, promises are meant to be broken. I wrongly thought that I should be able to control my behaviors. That mistaken thought only added to my shame whenever I would slip back into lifelong behaviors which only continued to cause my partners and myself more pain.

Over the years, my behaviors became even more frequent and outrageous. Consequently my life became more and more unmanageable. Following many years of devastating and often suicidal depressions, I finally reached out for help. This came on the heels of a suicide attempt, a break up in my long-term relationship, and recovery from alcoholism during which my sexual behaviors escalated. I came to realize that I was totally out of control. For me, it became a matter of life and death. I didn't think that I would be able to survive another suicidal depression

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