Everyone Else’s Problems: Solved

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to convince a recovery friend not to see her qualifier who had called her out of the blue, for sex, after four months. I was shocked, and frankly a little pissed, that she was even contemplating seeing this asshole after all the shit he had put her though. Why couldn’t she see what a horrible, horrible idea it was to see this guy again? At the same time, though, I am so close to the edge of the cliff that is my sobriety. I want to contact my qualifier so bad right now. He’s married. He’s a sex addict. He lied to you about everything. There is no possible future with this man. I need to keep repeating those lines to myself like a mantra.

When it comes to everyone else’s shitty love life, it’s always so clear what to do. Stop sleeping with the guy who is just using you for sex. Problem solved. Stop calling the guy who keeps telling you it’s over. All better, now. Don’t get back together with the man who physically abused you. Done and done. Stop having sex with people you just met. Check. Stop lying to everyone you have sex with. Fixed. See, it’s so easy. But when it comes to my own history of terrible relationships, it’s always been impossible to see the way out. I’m so scared of what my life will be if I go back to HC or find someone else just like him. That’s what’s keeping me from calling him. I know people in program who are 10, 20, even 30 years older than me who have spent their lives going from one unavailable sex partner to another, using people and being used. I can’t take a lifetime, or even one more year of acting out. I can’t jump back into the cycle, and I can’t go through withdrawal again.

I’ve been white knuckling my sobriety lately, but neglecting many other areas of my life. Even the word “sobriety” sounds ridiculous considering the amount of wine, pot, and junk food I’ve been putting away. I could probably qualify for at least half-a-dozen other 12 Step programs. If I was someone else, I would tell myself, “Instead of coming home after work, plopping down in front of the tv with a glass of wine and some starchy food; you should go to a meeting, or the gym, or yoga.” But, since I’m me, I tell myself, “Don’t worry. You can do all that stuff tomorrow. Have another glass of wine and some more mashed potatoes.”

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Don Draper? I Think Not.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on AMC's Mad Men

I had a low-key, yet lovely Thanksgiving holiday this year.

Last year’s celebration was a bigger affair. I went out of town for an extended family get-together. Although I had a lot of fun with my relatives, the thing that stands out the most from that trip was the relentless texts I kept receiving from a man I’ll call, “Creepy Daddy,” and all the maneuvers I had to preform to keep my cell phone and these creepy texts away from my young cousins who kept wanting to play with my phone.

“Creepy Daddy” isn’t a great pseudonym, because it could apply to at least half-a-dozen other men from my past, but that’s all I can think of right now, so let’s just go with it.

I met Creepy Daddy on a BDSM site. He had a couple of tightly cropped face photos and a well-written profile. As an opening he sent an email about the show Mad Men, saying that my pictures reminded him of one of the characters from that show and how he fancied himself a modern-day Don Draper. Today if some dude told me that he sees Don Draper as a role-model, I would probably run the other direction. A year ago, though; rich, powerful, successful, good-looking, smooth and dominant Don Draper was my shallow ideal. A side note: I briefly thought about using the pseudonym “Don” for Creepy Daddy, but, as you’ll soon find out, the name doesn’t really apply.

Mad Men is one of my favorite shows and Creepy D’s email was clever and charming so I sent him my phone number.  He called me a few minutes later. He told me that he was calling me from the lobby of a movie theater, where he was watching some kid movie with his eight-year-old twin sons. I found the fact that he must have been sitting in this kids’ movie with his sons using his smartphone to email girls on a fetish site slightly disturbing, and the fact that he left his kids alone in the theater to call me even more so. Actually, I find all that disturbing now, but at the time I was thinking; Wow. He must really like me. 

The next day we talked on the phone for a looooong time. I have ADHD and long phone calls can make me pretty restless, but Creepy D was impossible to get off the phone. The conversation would wind down and I’d say I have to go, then Creepy D would start on a new topic and wind it right up again. We spent almost all day on the phone… at least that’s what it felt like.

We ended up having phone sex. Phone sex was one of my favorite past times back then, but phone sex with Creepy D consisted of lots of sexy (to him)/shuddersome (to me) baby talk. “Let Dada touch your pretty little cunny,” later followed by, “Give Daddy your cummy;” are two of the ickiest lines that I remember. Creepy D also constantly talked about his ex, whom he was obsessed with (not like I’m in any place to call someone out on his obsessions). She was 18, and he payed her college tuition and rent for her. He also fondly recalled that she would introduce him to her friends as her father. He hoped some day he could do this with me. He was only about 15 years older than me, but I look young. When I was meeting guys online, especially ones into this particular fetish, I would frequently shave about five years off of my age.

After a week or two, I met Creepy D for dinner. He took me to an expensive restaurant that I had always wanted to try. I know this sounds awful, but when I saw him, I was a little embarrassed to be there with him. First of all, he had totally misrepresented himself physically. In all fairness, I am a Size 16 living in a town where the beauty ideal is a Size 2. However, when meeting guys online, I always made sure to clearly represent what I look like and to send several full-length pictures. He was not what I was expecting, and I was not attracted to him. The second reason I was embarrassed was by his outfit. He was well-dressed… if you consider getting dressed up like a dandy  going to a cotillion, to go to a restaurant where every other dude is wearing business casual, well-dressed. He told me previously that Don Draper was his style icon, but he was dressed more like Nucky Thompson (a plus-sized version) from Boardwalk Empire. If our date was taking place in prohibition era Atlantic City, he would have looked dapper; but in 2010 he looked like he was wearing a Halloween costume.

Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in HBO's Boardwalk Empire

Although he wasn’t my cup of tea, Creepy D was pleasant enough. He also ordered two very nice bottles of wine, which helped make the evening more palatable. Also, he kept doing this thing where he would offer to take me to some event and then say, “Of course, I’ll take you shopping beforehand to buy you a new outfit” or, “I don’t think your apartment is in a very safe neighborhood, we’ll have to look into getting you a place in a more secure building.” He kept talking about all the stuff he would buy for me. I have always considered myself a feminist (even when I was heavy into being a submissive) so the idea of being a kept woman didn’t sit well with me; but at the same time I’m a cheapskate who likes nice stuff I can seldom afford. With this in mind, I agreed to see him again.

Soon after that I had to go out of town for Thanksgiving, then Creepy D had to go out of town for work, then I went out of town for Christmas. He also had custody of his kids every other weekend. During this time we kept in touch with loooong phone conversations that I found almost unbearable. He kept up the gross sexual baby talk, but also talked a lot about all the stuff he was going to buy me. While I never encouraged this talk, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t what was enticing me. “Dada wants to make his sweet baby cummy,” made me want to barf, but I put up with it because he would also say, “I’m going to take you to Nordstrom on our next date. Baby deserves some new clothes.”

I guess I got a little bad about returning his phone calls, and started responding with texts. I also asked him to please tone down the baby talk. After Christmas I called him up and asked when this Nordstrom shopping spree was to take place. Though, my actual words were, “When can I see you again, Daddy?”

“I’m going to be frank with you,” he said. “I’m getting the impression that you are only interested in me for my money, that’s why my last relationship ended and I don’t want to go through that again.” What? How dare you call me out so accurately!

But instead of ‘fess up, I decided to be a bitch. I made some quip about how he was only attracted to barely-legal teens and child abuse victims, which from what he told me about all of his exes is probably accurate, but not very nice. Then I hung up on him and blocked him. I may have many talents, but blowing smoke up the asses of rich Sugar Daddies isn’t one of them.

Although I just wrote an essay making fun of Creepy D (and calling him Creepy D throughout), I think the guy is most likely a sex and love addict like myself. I’m thankful for my recovery, and I pray for the sex and love addict who still suffers.

Fantasy, Obsession, Spying… Getting Through the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I don’t think of HC, the man I was (somedays still might be) obsessed with, too much these days. I mean, I do — he pops into my head all of the time, but instead of indulging these thoughts I try to pop him right out. Sometimes the old fantasy creeps in though. All he has to do is get a divorce, and get treatment for his sex addiction and compulsive lying. That’s all. Then we can reunite and live happily ever after. There must be a reason we were so drawn to each other, and a reason why I still think of him after all this time. Thankfully, when I have these thoughts now days another voice pops into my head. Whether it’s my higher power, or my higher self; it simply says, the man you are meant to be with is so much better than HC.

The last time I spied on HC, I found him on Craigslist posting ads in the casual encounters section. He said he was single and could host in a nice house. He posted this ad several times in one weekend. Although this information didn’t bode well for his sex addiction, it got my addict somewhat excited. Maybe, it’s true then? Maybe he lives apart from his wife, just like he always used to claim. Then I googled his wife and found her on another website where she is currently planning their 10-year vow renewal ceremony, which will take place in the Bahamas in the Summer of 2013. Hmm… probably not divorced then? Looks like she had just gone away for the weekend.

I have several bottom-lines, which are activities I abstain from in order to be considered “sober” in my recovery program. The ones I thought would be the hardest to give up — unavailable men, compulsively meeting new guys to date or hook-up with, and even contacting HC — have been not exactly easy, but relatively easy compared to giving up online spying. Online spying is so easy. I can do it alone, just me and my computer, and no one has to ever find out about it. It also gets me high. My heart races, I get a huge rush, I sometimes even get light headed. There is also a huge crash after the initial high, which feels like absolute shit.

I have managed to stay away from the spying for more than a month now, but with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day coming up; I’m feeling a huge desire to look up HC. I know his wife will be tweeting and posting on Facebook about their holiday plans, and that there will probably be pictures. I feel like if I can get through to 2012 without spying on him and his family, it will be all downhill from there.  Please keep me in your thoughts for the next month or so. I need all the help I can get.

Connections

There are two types of SLAA meetings I attend. On the weekends I go to one or two in-person meetings. During the week, the in-person meetings are harder for me to catch. They either happen while I’m at work or later in the evening while I am in yoga class (or lately, while I am home watching tv and drinking a glass of wine, too lazy to leave my apartment). So, during the week, I call in to some phone meetings.

While, ultimately, I think the in-person meetings are where I am going to find the most recovery; the phone meetings have really helped me. I’ve made a lot of connections and friendships with women all over the country. I even met my sponsor on a phone meeting.

It’s been harder for me to make connections at in-person meetings. I have made some, but not as many or as deep as the ones I’ve made on the phone. I think the difference is that on the phone meetings, I can’t see anyone and so I’m forced to actually get to know someone based on the content of their character, and not their appearance. I went to a meeting yesterday and I noticed that I am still judging people by their outsides, and not their insides.

For example, there is a man who I see at most of the meetings I go to. Honestly, we have a lot in common — similar profession, similar stories, similar acting out patterns — but I never do more than say hi to him; because, quite frankly, I’m not attracted to him. There is an older lady that says a lot of things that I can relate to and had a relationship with her qualifier that seems pretty similar to the relationship I had with mine. I never give her more than a polite smile though, because she always has lipstick on her teeth and she seems a little bit loopy. It’s not like I’m rude to these people. If they initiate conversation with me, I always reciprocate, but I’m not seeking them out after the meeting to tell them I liked their shares.

The men and women I initiate conversations with are people I find attractive or cool in someway. How fucked up is that?  I’m in this recovery program for sex and love addiction, and I’m essentially only talking to people I want to date/fuck or to people who I think could probably help me meet people I’d like to date/fuck. Obviously I’m not doing this consciously. I’m not currently looking to date/fuck anyone, and when I am ready to look, I’m not going to be looking in the SLAA rooms.

I really need to get out of this habit of judging people by anything less than the content of their character. I’m sure I am missing out on a lot of great friendships and recovery partnerships. Also, it’s not like I’m this flawless, put-together picture-of-perfection myself; far fucking from it. If everyone was as judgmental and as shallow as me, probably no one would ever talk to me.

Tonight, I am going to another meeting and I am going to talk to whoever sits down next to me, regardless of what they look like.

Jonathan and Archie

Today I really wanted to look up HC online, but that’s out of the question, so I did the next best (worst) thing. I looked up Jonathan and his stupid girlfriend, Archie. About five years ago I went to my first SLAA meeting and it was because of my obsession with Jonathan. I only went to one meeting. A few years later, after I broke up with another qualifier, I worked up to two meetings, and then a couple of years after that (present day), I finally started attending meetings regularly. I know I shouldn’t be looking up Jonathan and Archie, but checking up on them isn’t one of my bottom-lines. Plus, while it might not be the healthiest thing in the world; looking at these two’s Facebook profiles, which are both public (idiots) triggers in me  nothing but smugness.

The relationship I had with Jonathan doesn’t really get interesting until Archie comes into the picture. I met him on the classiest site on the net, Craigslist. He was 20 years older than me and he seemed like a nice guy at first (don’t they all?). He told me, numerous times, that I was the only one he was seeing. That’s really all the background info you need. I’m a bitch, so I’ll also throw in that, despite being close to 50 years old, he couldn’t last more than 45 seconds. He did give pretty good head, though.

After about 5 months I found out that Jonathan was still posting ads on craigslist, like constantly. Sometimes up to 20 ads a day. I don’t even know how he had time to do anything else. Then I did some more digging and found out about Archie. Archie was 19 and had been seeing Jonathan for a year. That’s right, he was close to fifty and started dating a girl right out of high school. I blew up at Jonathan, then found Archie’s contact info and emailed her.

Archie got back to me right away. To put it charitably, the girl wasn’t extremely bright. After our initial conversation, she said she was really confused and wanted me to talk to her best friend on IM so her best friend could tell her what to do. I had done my due diligence. I should have just said “thanks, but no thanks,” and walked away, but since I like to (used to like, at least) make bad decisions; I agreed to talk to her best friend. Since Archie was a 19-year-old girl, I kind of figured her best friend would be too. I figured wrong. Her best friend was a 35-year-old man who she had met online playing World of Warcraft. And the conversation I had with him, where he was supposed to be gathering information to help Archie make a decision on whether or not to leave Jonathan? It was basically him just asking me to send him photos and hitting on me.

The next time I talked to Archie she told me that she had ended things with Jonathan. Aside from the same bad taste in men, Archie and I had nothing in common. At one point, she had asked to see my pictures. Then she told me, “you look reeeeeeeeally good for your age.” I was 27. Yeah. I didn’t see any point in keeping in touch with her, but she continued to IM me whenever I would come online. After about a two weeks, she sent me an IM telling me that Jonathan and her had decided to work it out. They were now in couple’s therapy. Say Wha? Couple’s therapy? Did I mention that she was 19 and he was 47?

I know I shouldn’t snark on Archie. It’s not her fault I managed to fall for the same asshole she had already fallen for. The poor girl really is as dumb as rocks, though. I once spent 20 minutes trying to explain to her that an ad posted 12:01am, Saturday wasn’t actually posted Saturday night, but rather early Saturday morning. She couldn’t understand how Jonathan was posting ads Saturday at 12:01am when she had spent Saturday night with him. I recently spent some time trying to explain the same concept to a group of 3rd graders. The idea that the date changes at midnight, and not when they wake up in the morning, was a confusing notion to them too… but they’re 8. The 3rd graders eventually got it. Archie’s probably still a little puzzled on this one, though.

The real issue wasn’t Archie’s inability to grasp time and date, it was the fact that I spent so much time trying to convince this special needs case that Jonathan was still posting ads on craigslist. When she told me that she was trying to work things out with him, I became obsessed with trying to convince her otherwise. I would create fake email addresses and email the ads that Jonathan was posting on Craigslist. I would correspond with Jonathan under these fake personas, make plans to meet, then forward these emails to Archie. I spent months doing this. Archie may have been dumb, but I was fucking nuts. This consumed me. It was not pretty at all.

My therapist suggested I check out SLAA. I also got an Rx for Lexapro. At the time, I wasn’t quite ready for SLAA. I only went to one meeting. Back then, I had a tried and true cure for getting over someone — getting under someone else. Eventually that worked, and I managed to ween myself off of my Jonathan obsession.

I still check in on this couple once in awhile. She is now 24, and he’s 52. They live together. He’s still posting ads on Craigslist, though. I know this because back when I was still spying on HC and trying to find his ads on Craigslist, I would accidentally come across Jonathan’s ads. The two men actually have a lot in common. Even search terms.

The way I feel now about HC and his wife is the way I felt back then about Jonathan and Archie. The only difference is now I don’t act on my feelings.I don’t spend my time searching for his Craigslist ads. I’m not making myself crazy contacting her and trying to convince her that she is married to a cheater. I would never contact her. Does she deserve to know what her husband is doing? Absolutely. Is it my job to be the bearer of bad news? Absolutely not. All I can do is pray for these people — Archie and HC’s wife, and even Jonathan and HC. I can’t control anyone’s life but my own. Nor should I.

I Used to Think…

I’ve really got a lot going for me… compared to the other women with profiles on collarme. I’m really attractive… compared to the other women posting for casual sex on craigslist. Whether it was true or not, I’m not sure. I do know that on the fetish sites and casual sex sites, I got a lot of attention and dated a lot of “quality” (by superficial standards) men. I was involved with doctors, lawyers, high-powered executives, professionals in the entertainment industry, and men that were way better-looking than me. When I would post profiles on “vanilla” sites or sites that didn’t have a fetish focus, I got much less attention. The same went for meeting men in the real world; without the help of an internet profile.

I wonder what it will be like dating again, as an average looking (or maybe even below-average looking, depending on who is doing the looking) woman, when I only have my own (not so impressive) merits to stand on? Just the fact that I am contemplating this question tells me that I am no where near ready to start dating again.

***

After I wrote the paragraphs above, I went to a meeting and the speaker talked about his identity. It was a compelling and powerful share. He talked about how hard it was for him to discover his own identity apart from his addictions and the labels that he and society has put on himself. It made me think about what I had just written and about how I look at myself and other people. When I strip away everything I labeled myself with in the past, who am I if I’m not a submissive, a kinkster, a slut, a good girl? I’m a sex and love addict, I’m a woman, I’m a writer, I’m my profession. But who am I, really? If I strip away the addictions, the obsessions, the past mistakes, the tragic childhood, my career, my looks; what’s left? Who is Imperfect at the core?

My first year in college, I lived in the dorms. The first night when everyone moved in, we had a floor meeting. We did this icebreaker exercise where you have to introduce yourself by sharing one thing about yourself that people couldn’t tell by looking at you. I hate shit like this. My mind was blank. All I could think to say was, “I’m Imperfect, and I have a boyfriend.” LAME! How was it that I couldn’t think of one fucking thing to share about myself other than “I have a boyfriend?” I had no way of identifying myself in the past without the guy I was with, the guy I wanted to be with, or my sexual proclivities.

For the speaker at my meeting today, he realized that the only way he could honestly identify himself was with his higher power. At his core, he is a child of God. I know I’m a child of God too, and that we all are. But my spiritual practice isn’t there, yet. Knowing it and feeling it are two different things. The spiritual aspect of this twelve-step program is something I’ve struggled with. I believe in God, but I’ve never quite truly felt connected to God. Right now, in my recovery, I think this is where my focus needs to be.

A Fat Cock and a Fat Wallet

While I was active in my addiction, I met most of the men I “dated” on a BDSM personals site. For years, I had a sweet, innocent, good-little-submissive-girl profile. I don’t remember what it said exactly. “Looking for daddy, blah, blah, don’t have much experience, something, something, educated, professional, good girl, blah, blah, lady on the streets freak in the sheets, yada, yada, loving, caring daddy dom, etc. etc.” This profile underwent many changes over the years, but the gist of it was always that I was a sweet girl who didn’t have much experience in the lifestyle (lies!), that I was looking for something monogamous and wouldn’t date anyone who was attached to someone else (more lies), and I wanted to find a good, normal guy (unintentional lies) that just happened to be a kinkster.

In the year leading up to my recovery, my interest the kink lifestyle began to wane. Wane, but not disappear. I still occasionally met people off of the BDSM site. Though, most of the time I was now spending on the site was looking for ridicule-worthy profiles to laugh at and email my sub friends. One day I decided to to create a second profile that reflected what I was really looking for. The text of this profile was as follows: “Not going to lie, I’m on here looking for a dude with a fat cock and a fat wallet. Please do not email me unless you have both.” Of course, I got tons of well-deserved hate mail; but to my crazy brain, it was all highly entertaining.

Looking back, I realize how delusional I was at the time. I had nothing going on in my life but pursuing and obsessing over unavailable men, yet I would haughtily laugh at other people’s emails and profiles. Like I was such a prize? Sure, no one wants a socially inept, unemployed “dom” who lives in his mommy’s basement; but no one wants some smart-ass, underemployed, clingy, obsessive “sub” with major abandonment issues, either. And if they do, it’s for a good time, not for a long time.

Even though my inappropriate second profile didn’t deserve anything other than derision and hate mail, I actually met someone not awful from it. Mr. FCFW was everything his name implied. He was also married. Unlike HC, he never lied about it (not to me, at least; I’m sure there was plenty of lying to his wife). We slept together a few times, and then became platonic friends. He was supposed to be my “sugar daddy,” but I’ve never gotten more than a few beers out of him.

I still talk to Mr. FCFW frequently. In fact, he’s really the only heterosexual male I interact with on a one-on-one basis. I have some mixed feelings about this friendship. Sometimes our conversations get a little flirty (almost always initiated by me). Sometimes I even slip into calling him “Daddy.” And then there is the fact that he has a wife and a family that know nothing about me. That being said, he is a good man. He never has anything but glowing things to say about his wife and his kids. He is very supportive of my recovery from sex/love addiction. I know that he respects me enough to never do anything sexual with me again.

I don’t know if this friendship will stand the test of time. At some point in the future of my recovery I (or my sponsor) might decide that it’s too inappropriate. He might get tired of my neediness (we may just be friends, but I am a neeeedy friend), or we might just outgrow each other. For today, though, I’m glad that Mr. FCFW is one of my friends.