Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All Quiet on the Sexual Front

Late August tends to be a slow time for everything, doesn’t it? Little or no business, no playdates for my child, no playmates for me. All my potential partners are away or laying low for some reason. I continue to woo M. in hopes of another meeting.... D. has finally worn me out with her continual requests for money, money, money.... none of the men hold any interest for me.... I am only two weeks into the month I am required to wait before recontacting P., the woman who rejected me once, then told me to check back later.... and no new prospects are appearing through my usual roster of websites.... Thankfully my libido seems to be somewhat subdued at the moment, a very unusual development for me, but one that makes the paucity of opportunities a good bit more acceptable. I have no illusions whatsoever about any of this being a permanent state of affairs. Even the slightest encouragement from any number of directions is likely to boost my semi-dormant libido into its much more characteristic overdrive.

Perhaps this is a good time to respond to a particularly astute reader, who sent me this comment on my last post: “I’ve never been very interested in any D/s play, but your post has really piqued my interest. I'm consistently impressed with your willingness to go to whatever lengths necessary to up the ante, even though I have to imagine that it simply can't be any better for you than an addiction to something like drugs or alcohol.”

I’ve actually thought a great deal about this comparison of sexual addiction to alcoholism or drug addiction. For a time I attended a 12-step program devoted to sex addiction, which proved to be an extremely interesting and educational experience even if it failed to stop my many sexual excesses. An astounding number of the participants were former alcoholics and drug addicts. And many of them described the effort to free themselves of their addiction to sex as much, much more difficult than their struggles with booze, cocaine, and even heroin. Many of them also had come to see the sexual addiction as to some extent the most fundamental of their addictions and the one that over the course of their lives had come to feed all the others. Needless to say, this puts the lie to the notion that sex addicts are just weak-willed self-centered hedonists who adopt the label of “addict” as an easy excuse for their behavior. A great many of the people I met in “the rooms” were miserably unhappy and desperately trying to find a way to prevent their “acting out” from destroying their lives any further than it already had. I admired their honesty and their bravery—and I still do.

The difference between an addiction to sex and an addiction to any external substance, of course, is that the sexual drive is an integral part of the human personality, something that simply cannot be denied for any length of time without doing other sorts of violence to the psyche. Hence my difficulty with the approach calling for total abstinence—even from masturbation—taken by many in the 12-step sex addiction community. Somehow I have found a way to make the addiction and the behaviors associated with it manageable. How is it that I’ve been able to accomplish that while so many others have become caught in an inescapable downward spiral into self-destruction? I won’t even attempt an answer to that except to suggest that I believe, contrary to much of the rhetoric in the 12-step recovery community, that addicts are *not* all alike, that addicts emerge from dramatically different contexts, that addicts come to their variety of compulsive behaviors from a wide variety of circumstances, and that addicts cope with their ailment in a wide variety of ways. The classic opening 12-step statement—"Hi, my name is Charlie, and I’m a sex addict”— and the inevitable response from the group—“Hi, Charlie!”—are meant to imply a solidarity among group members and to reinforce the commonality of experience all addicts are supposed to share. But is it really true? Listening to the stories, I could always identify with the feelings—frustration, pain, guilt, helplessness—but the experiences and the individual’s modes of behavior always seemed very, very individual, at least to me.

More on the 12-step programs later......

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1 comment:

  1. I attend a 12 step at the moment. I find that most of the time other people's words mean very little to me. Every so often someone will describe exactly what Im feeling..or something I hadnt realised was on my mind. But, no, in general I'm often sat at my computer wishing I'd spent my internet usage on more pleasurable things.

    I think all addictions are based on the self-destruct. I dont want to stop taking a certain amount of risk or 'acting out' - what i really want to stop is doing the things that I dont want to.

    I guess over the last few days I came to this realisation. I have been trying to work out what is my sexuality and what is my addiction. A fact that is ignored for the first half..if not more..of the 12-step.

    Also having that end-of august feeling..rol on christmas..a definate high :)


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