The Talk

When I was around 12 years old, my mom gave me a sex talk. This wasn’t our first sex talk. At that point I already knew the basic mechanics, but this was her more mature talk designed for my seventh grade ears.

“When you start dating, you need to be careful. You can never trust a boy because all he is thinking about is sex,” she began. At this point I had never even kissed a boy, but my thoughts were not at all virginal. I fantasized about having sex with Giovani Georgallis, the tall, athletic, impossibly good-looking boy in my class I was too shy to even make eye contact with; Christian Slater in Pump Up The Volume, Leonardo Dicarprio in Growing Pains, Axel Rose from Guns ‘N Roses, or whomever my celebrity crush de jour was.

“But Mom, some girls like sex too.”

“Sex does feel good for women, but it’s different. For women it is more about love and emotions. For men it’s just sex. Men are obsessed with sex. It’s all they think about.” I thought about how much I fantasized about Gio, Christian, Leonardo and Axel. I wasn’t just imagining them being my boyfriends, I was imagining them on top of me. I thought about this a lot. Was I obsessed with sex too?

“Maybe that’s how it was when you were growing up, but girls are different now. Plus, not every guy is like that.”

“These things don’t change. Trust me. They will say or do anything. Lie, cheat, steal just for sex. That is ALL they think about.”

I left this conversation with two things: women shouldn’t like sex or think about it as much as men, and never trust a man. Thanks Mom!

In her defense, this sex talk was way more than a lot of my friends got, and way more than the talk my Aunt Buffy gave me a year or two later when I was living with her: “If I ever, EVER find out you are having sex you are out of this house!” (hey, it kept me a virgin until a month before I moved away to college). I doubt my mom ever even got a sex talk from her mother, my ultra conservative, super Catholic grandma.

Pretty much ever guy I’ve been involved with has lied to me, so maybe mom was right on this point. Of course, one could make the argument that since I believed all men to be untrustworthy, I only ever picked untrustworthy men.

The part of this talk that really screwed me up was the notion that women are not supposed to be into sex so much. I am and always have been obsessed with sex. Even before I knew what sex was, I was humping banisters and thinking about some boy from school (or Han Solo, my earliest crush on a fictional character). Thanks to the messages I got from the women in my family, I was always convinced that I was some kind of pervert freak.

I can waste a day watching porn online and masturbating. Even now that I’m in a program to treat sex addiction, I’ve never met another woman who has admitted to this. It’s not exactly like I’m shouting this from the rooftops either, though.

In meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. If I share about my acting out behaviors, it’s mostly about the “love” addiction — spying on my qualifier, obsessing over him, etc. When I share about my sex addiction it’s in extremely vague terms. I don’t want to offend or trigger anyone with tales of my sluttishness, but another reason is that I don’t want to admit to a room full of people that I watch porn or masturbate. “Girls don’t do that!”

I hear that statement in my Grandmother’s voice. One time when I was about 15 she walked in and I was lying on the couch watching tv. I had my hand down my pants scratching my crotch, Al Bundy style. Scratching only, I swear! But she thought I was doing something else.

“Don’t ever touch yourself there. Girls don’t do that!” I hadn’t yet figured out how to masturbate to completion so I hardly ever did it at that time. And if I did do it, it was behind a closed door and under heavy covers (God, and your dead relatives can’t see through covers). Still I was mortified that she would even think I was masturbating.

For the record, I think masturbation is totally healthy. And if you are someone who can watch porn in a moderate way, more power to you. I don’t think these behaviors are wrong. In fact neither one of them are even on my bottom-lines list (although porn might end up there on the next edit). I do think spending all day masturbating and watching porn is a problem, though.

As I was saying, in meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. A large percentage of the women there only identify as love addicts. In my judgier moments I think, why the fuck are you here then? But I know why they are there and they have just as much right to be there as I do.

My sponsor, a woman from my mother’s generation, is one of those women. She is nurturing, kind and so supportive. I am very grateful to have her. The only problem is I feel uncomfortable talking to her about the sex stuff. She just doesn’t get it and it is obvious how uncomfortable it makes her to talk about sex in even the most general of terms. I’d say she is probably a sexual anorexic, or in laymen’s terms, a prude.

I am currently recovering from/still going through a slip. I’m working on renewing my sobriety and recommitting to my bottom-lines. Today I was talking to my sponsor and going through my consequences inventory. I told her I had had phone sex. I didn’t want to tell her. I knew she’d be uncomfortable, but how can I go through this process without being honest about my behaviors?

I could hear that I’d made her ill at ease and instantly started minimizing. I’ve only done it once or twice (a lie), I’ve only done it with one guy (another lie). I also didn’t clarify that “phone sex” also meant “skype sex.” I told her that I think phone sex should be added to my bottom-lines list. She, of course, agreed. But she also asked me a question that was a little odd. She asked if I would want my daughter to be doing that. I said no, because I knew that’s what she was looking for. She said if I didn’t want my daughter doing it, then I shouldn’t be doing it myself.

The thing is though, if my 15-year-old daughter were having phone sex with a man, I would have a big problem with it. But I’m not 15, I’m 30. If my 30 year-old-daughter were having phone sex with someone, I wouldn’t care. It would be none of my business.

Asking me what I would want for my daughter made me think about my mom, my grandma, and my Aunt Buffy. They wouldn’t want me to have phone sex, but it’s because believe it to be morally wrong, not because it was making me feel bad.

I wouldn’t want my theoretical daughter, at any age, to be engaging in an activity that made her feel like shit, but I do want her to grow up with positive attitudes toward sex.

Since I’ve been identifying as a sex addict I’ve come across many people who get up in arms and want to argue that sex addiction isn’t a real thing. Most of these arguments seem to be rooted in semantics. To these people I say, who cares? If people are getting help for what they see to be a problem then why are you arguing about terminology? But a lot of people also think that “sex addicts” are just horny prudes that have been brainwashed by religious fanatics and anti-porn crusaders to think that healthy sexual expression is evil.

Sometimes I wonder if they are right. Maybe if I didn’t grow up with unhealthy messages about sex, I’d be a totally normal, well-adjusted adult.

Then I remember that those “girls don’t like sex” talks were the least of my childhood traumas. If that was all that ever happened in my childhood, I’d probably just be a horny girl with a guilt complex (aka a kinkster). My acting out went so much deeper than just being horny or just being kinky, though.

Even though I’m a sex addict in recovery I still consider myself sex positive. If I ever have a daughter, I don’t know what I’ll say in my talk, but I know it will be a lot better than the ones I got.

11 comments on “The Talk

  1. Gillian Colbert says:

    As a preface, I am neither a sex addict nor a love addict, nor any kind of addict other than junk food. I grew up with a drug and alcohol addict, however, and I wonder at the benefit to you of a sponsor who you are not comfortable being 100% honest with and who can’t identify with the totality of your addiction. If you feel you need to lie to your sponsor, your route to sobriety is undermined by default. Just a thought … all the best to you.

    • Imperfect says:

      Thanks for reading and for your input. You have a good point. When I started with my sponsor, she agreed to be my temporary sponsor until I could find someone else. There really are very few available female sponsors in my program, though. And she’s helped me out so much, especially in the beginning. I’m grateful to have her. At some point, I might end up having two sponsors — one for the love addiction, and one for the sex addiction.

  2. sortenegle says:

    I feel you so much.. I just never could talk about my “love addiction” (if i have one), I never addmit to having feelings for a guy. I always tell my friends -it’s just sex. And it has gotten to that point that I actually don’t know if it is just sex or not. I have a hard time seeing the truth for myself. Well anyways. I had A LOT of talks with my mother, christian and anatomical but se never told me about love.. I think because she didn’t know egnough herself. And her sisters are the same. Whenever they ask me if I am seeing anybody and I answer -just sex, they praise me.. I’m lost, should I not be loved by somebody, do I not deserve that, is it that hard to be in love that the praise me for staying away from it -saying i have lots of time for that.. Whatever.
    I wanted to ask you about the phone sex. I sex text a lot. Do you feel bad about it, or does it make you feel better when you do it, and why is it on the list? And how long does your high keep?
    Hugs

    • Imperfect says:

      The reason I’m adding phone sex to my bottomlines list is because it’s a slippery slope. I’m having phone sex with an ex, and a guy I met a few weeks ago. I have no interest in being in a relationship with either of these men. But if I am masturbating on the phone with them today, tomorrow I could be doing the real thing, then the next day I could be doing the real thing with someone else, then I’m right back where I started. It’s also a huge time suck. I spent more than 3 hours skyping with an ex the other day. I have more important things to be doing, but when I start acting out all of that falls by the wayside. That’s just me, though. I’m sure plenty of people can do these things in moderation.

      As for the high I get, it’s usually over as soon as the call (and the attention I’m getting) is over.

      Good luck to you!

  3. Did you ever wonder about the coins AA passes out. I wonder what the longest time frame is for one. Hi my name is Joe I’ve been sober for 30 years. Sounds great right. 30 years nothing to sneeze at. And it is a great accomplishment so don’t take what I am about to say wrong.

    Even though Joe has been sober he has never been free. When you have to work everyday to stay sober its not a cure. Don’t judge me to harshly I have been addicted several times. In the early eightys I drank to excess every night paycheck to paycheck every cent . For the last 20 years I have been stuggling with Sex addiction.
    I understand what you mean when you say “once the call is over the high is over”.
    I have never been personally involved in a support group. I’ve been to a few though seen the coins passed out. I have friends who have beat addiction by this method, I have others who go to meetings religiously and offend constantly.

    There is not one solution for everyone and not everyone needs to been cured. I still drink, seldom to excess but frequently to capacity. I still have a large porn collection, but I don’t watch daily right now its been a few weeks. But I will watch again with one purpose in mind.
    What I find now is I don’t have guilt about drinking and the letdown from the high of orgasm doesn’t seem as abrupt. I am still working on my issues but my guide understands me, he has my best interest at heart. I am my own confessor.

    I haven’t tried to suppress my urges. I try to understand them. See them for what they are. Baseless and without substance constructs of my mind. Sounds tpo easy, will it requires some work. But the great part is it works for everything and helps me in all aspects of my life. I choose what I will give up and to what degree. I answer to no one. But myself and don’t suffer anyone one elses brand of guilt. I know what I have done there is no hiding, no lies to others. If I lie to myself I know it.

    I know when I drink what will happen I also know what won’t happen.
    When I feel the draw of desire I know what the outcome will be should I choose to act. My emotions no longer rule me. They are after all just emotions and mine to follow or ignore.

    There is more than one answer to a question, more than one solution to a problem. Would you take a medication that didn’t work. If you have doubts about a path take another direction.

    Life is a gift, living a journey. If the path you are on isn’t going where you want change buses. Open your mind to other possiblities.

    Good luck. Cruel.

  4. Isn’t it strange, that duality of sex addiction vs love addition? Sometimes they feel like the same thing, and then sometimes you can feel the boundary between them.

    Hey, what are your top lines? I was just curious what activities you think are the most healthy and rewarding for you.

    • Imperfect says:

      My top lines are yoga, cardiovascular exercise, writing, going to meetings or making outreach calls, getting out of my apartment, listening to music, eating healthy, cleaning, having body work done, and looking for a better job. I’ve been really good about my top lines lately. What are yours?

  5. What ever your path I hope you find success.
    Sex and love can both have satisfying results. Its all the expectations and negativity that we place upon them and allow others to do the same that cause all the problems.

    Cruel

  6. I know I’m late to comment but this is a great post. My Mom never had “the talk” with me. It wasn’t until after I had sex that we ever discussed anything.

    Even though I don’t attend meetings anymore, I guess I would have been one of those you said “what the fuck are you doing here?” about. I’m not a sex addict, never have been but I am totally a love addict through and through. I did eventually realize that I didn’t think the meetings were helping me and I stopped attending. Do you have SAA meetings where you are? Maybe that’s something to consider.

    • Imperfect says:

      From what I understand about the SAA meetings in my area, they are almost exclusively attended by men. Also, there are several men that are there by court order due to getting busted with child pornography, or something similar. No judgements for those that go to SAA, but I don’t think it’s the place for me. I identify as both a sex and love addict, not just a sex addict.

      I have met many amazing recovery partners and friends in SLAA, including you :). I have pretty much stopped going to the phone meetings too, but love the inperson meetings. Sorry you don’t have the same recovery resources in your area.

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