Carson

Yesterday, I talked to Carson. In addition to all of his other problems, he’s in a bad place financially. If things don’t start working out for him soon, he’s going to be homeless. He told me that two nights earlier he got really drunk and then took a handful of sleeping pills, nearly overdosing. Yesterday morning, he woke up staring at the rafters of his celling and thought about hanging himself, so he took another sleeping pill and went back to sleep. My afternoon phone call woke him up.

My response? “That sucks and all but, can I come over and fuck you?” I didn’t use those exact words; I’m not a monster. I put it a lot more tactfully, but that’s what I meant.

Later I was thinking about what a selfish asshole I am. This whole time I’ve been thinking that Carson is bad for me, looking at him like he’s my version of a bottle of booze — a bad habit I’ve picked up but know I’ll eventually be strong enough to put down again. But he’s not a substance, he’s a person and I’m just as bad for him as he is for me. Worse, maybe. I’m not a healthy person right now, and I’m only going to drag Carson down. There isn’t much further he can go.

My typical pattern is to have sex with someone first, then maybe develop a friendship with him later. With a little recovery under my belt, I flipped this formula around with Carson. We hung out for a full two months before anything sexual happened between us. I care about Carson. I wish I could be a positive force in his life and boost him up, but I’m too fucked up to help.

This needs to stop. I need to get better before I can attempt another romantic relationship with someone, and I need to stay away from Carson. If I can’t do it for the sake of my health, I need to do it for the sake of his. I am powerless over the disease of sex and love addiction, though.  Knowing I need to stop some behavior has never before been enough to make me stop. I need to rely on God now more than ever.

Thy will, not mine, be done.

Acceptance is the Answer

From page 417 of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life —unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.

One Day at a Time

Yesterday, after work, I went over to Carson’s place. I acted out with him. It was physically, and somewhat emotionally fulfilling. He is a good lover. About ten minutes later, while we are lying in bed naked, he got a phone call and went into the other room. Moments later he came back handing me my purse and my sweater, “Sorry sweetie, you have to go, my friend is here.”

Thirty seconds later, I’m semi-dressed (tights and panties stuffed into my purse, carrying my sweater) and being ushered out the back door, while some other girl is waiting for Carson at the front door. I was thinking, Am I really still doing this shit!?!?

I could care less about the nature of Carson’s friendship with this other chick. He says that they are just friends, but she likes him. He, probably rightly, thinks it would be awkward if we met. He could be lying or he could be telling the truth. Carson isn’t my boyfriend and so it really isn’t any of my business. What’s at issue here is the indignity of having to sneak out the back door carrying the undergarments I didn’t have time to put back on, because one of his more respectable friends dropped by unannounced. This isn’t the way I’m meant to be living my life.

Driving home I decided that this thing with Carson had ran it’s course. I had my fun and was ready to get back on track.

This morning, though, I found myself wondering about Carson’s plans for tonight. Thinking about how much he would like the green dress I was planing on wearing for St. Patrick’s Day. Ugh! I hate this disease so fucking much.

I am taking good care of myself. So far, I have had a healthy Saturday. I went to yoga in the morning and then went to a meeting. Today is day five in my 30-in-30 (one meeting a day, for 30 days). Later today, I’m going to a mediation workshop. I know that I won’t be able to see Carson tonight, even though I want to. He has a friend in town and I’m sure he will be hanging out with him. So I know that for today, I won’t act out. Tomorrow I will worry about tomorrow.

Relapse

A few weeks ago I broke the one bottom-line that I’d kept for nearly eight months — no sexual activity outside of a committed relationship. I did this with my friend Carson. Carson is a good man, but so lost in his own untreated addictions that he’s not a suitable partner.

I’m not sure how to even write about this. Maybe I shouldn’t even be writing about it at all, yet. I want to write, “I am recovering from a relapse,” but a more accurate statement would probably be, “I am attempting to recover from a relapse.”

I’m still committed to SLAA, the program of recovery I’ve been a member of for the past nine months. I’m still going to meetings, going to fellowship, talking with my sponsor, working the steps, and still doing top-line behaviors every day. According to this program, “The only requirement for SLAA membership is a desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction.” I still have this desire, now more than ever, yet the words attributed to St. Augustine keep coming to mind, “Dear God, grant me chastity and continence… but not yet.”

I know how pointless it is to look for solace and salvation in the arms of a lover, particularly this lover. I know, but I still want.

Pity Sex

When I met Nathan, I was hungover. It was a midday hangover from cheap champagne consumed at Sunday brunch with my family. As is the case with many dysfunctional families, I find mine much more tolerable with a few (or several) drinks in me. After brunch, I fell asleep for a few hours, and woke up around 5, disgusted at myself for sleeping away the day. I went online, and found Nathan, a man I had exchanged a handful of emails with over the past week. He hadn’t made much of an impression on me, but he was semi-goodlooking and polite. When I told him about my day, he suggested we meet for beer and pizza. I didn’t have anything better to do, and beer and pizza sounded perfect, so I took a shower and met him.

Nathan had the potential to be a hot guy. He was tall, blond, kind of scruffy, with an okay body. But there was just something blah about him. He wore light-colored baggy jeans, which I found to be very uncool; and a pullover sweatshirt from the college we were both alumni of. This isn’t the look I’m into. I’m usually into hipster-ish/rock n’ roll kind of guys; or, at the other end of the spectrum guys with kind of a button-downed look. I figured this was a last minute date for pizza and beer in a very casual place, so I could forgive his outfit. I wore my standard first date look: heels, tight jeans, semi-low cut top (sexy, but not slutty).

Like his outfit, I found Nathan a little bit boring. He was three years younger than me, but I had lied and shaved four years off my age, so he actually thought he was a year older than me. I’m not sure why, but I used to do shit like that all the time. Even when a guy was 20 years older than me, I almost never told anyone my real age. When I was active in my addiction, meeting guys from online for a drink or dinner was pretty much my only social life. I’d had an okay time with Nathan was grateful that he had saved me from an otherwise dreary Sunday, so I agreed to see him again.

For our second date, Nathan picked me up and we went to an Italian restaurant that I chose. Nathan was one of those dudes who would ask you out a on a date, but then do no prep work. He’d show up and be like, “So… what do you want to do?” I’m sure I’m not alone in finding guys who can’t be bothered to actually plan a date really unattractive. Again, he wore light-colored jeans and a pullover sweatshirt from our Alma Mater. Different, but the same. Every time I saw Nathan he had on a variation of this outfit. Another irritating thing about Nathan is that he would keep his cell-phone on the table and be texting and sending emails during dinner. I remember thinking, What the fuck could this boring-ass square being texting about that is so freaking interesting? I would ask him who and what he was texting about not because I really gave a shit, but because I had nothing else to ask him. His answers were so uncompelling, that I can’t remember them now, and probably wasn’t able to remember them 5 minutes after he told me.

I kept going out with Nathan, because he kept asking me. I kept thinking maybe he would grow on me. After our third date, Nathan still hadn’t put the moves on me. He hadn’t even tried to kiss me. Well… he had given me some long hugs and looked at me like he wanted me to kiss him, but I really didn’t care enough to go take the lead. Everything about poor Nathan shouted “bottom,” and I’m not much of a top.

On our fourth date Nathan finally took some initiative and suggested we rent a movie and order a pizza. While, not the most original plan, I remember thinking, Finally! Maybe I’ll like him better once we fuck. But no fucking happened that night. He did finally kiss me, though, and he was a fairly good kisser. We spent the whole night on my couch cuddling, and kissing. Nathan didn’t get any bolder than sticking his hand up my shirt to rub my back. Again, he kept looking at me like he wanted ME to put the moves on HIM. If after buying me dinner four times, Nathan still didn’t have the balls to put his hand on my tit, I wasn’t going to help him out. At the end of this date, I decided I couldn’t take another night of Nathan looking at me longingly, like a timid high school virgin wanting her boyfriend to finger-bang her, but too afraid to ask. I was done going out with this boy.

But a few nights later, Nathan texted me with some bad news. He’d been laid off from his job, and was, understandably, quite upset. He asked if he could come over and have a few beers with me. I’d already had a few, so I let him come over. After a few more beers, I decided that I owed Nathan sex. I’d let him buy me dinner four times and hadn’t even given him as much as a hand job. Also, the poor boy had just lost his job.

I started taking off my clothes while he was kissing me and he followed suit. I remember thinking that his penis, which was on the smaller side of average, reminded me of a piece of raw chicken breast. As a nearly life-long vegetarian, this visual made me want to throw-up. I didn’t even attempt to go down on Nathan, but he went down on me and did a pretty lack-luster job of it. Let’s just get this over with, I was thinking when I handed him a condom. When he was inside of me, I couldn’t even look at him. I put my head to the side, and then eventually gave up even trying to look like I was into it, and just put my arm over my eyes. Why the fuck am I doing this! I was thinking. That and, What am I going to say to let him down easy? He kept asking me if I was okay. “Yes! Just cum already!” I wanted to shout. But instead I said, “I’m fine.” I felt bad for Nathan that I couldn’t even do a convincing job of pretending I was enjoying myself.

The next day he sent me a text to say he’d had a nice time. I told him I had as well, but I was having a hard time getting over my ex and didn’t feel like I was ready for a relationship yet. Clueless up until the end, Nathan actually asked me if I just wanted to be “friends with benefits.” I didn’t understand how anyone could possibly want a repeat of sex that was that bad. I lied and told him that I didn’t do “friends with benefits,” that I wasn’t that kind of girl.

Looking back on my experience with Nathan, I’m disgusted by what I did. I chose to tell this story with Nathan, but I could have told the same one with three or four different guys. Other times where I just laid back like a limp doll, staring at the celling letting some man I had zero feelings for, attraction to, or chemistry with fuck me because I felt an obligation to give him sex. One of “The Twelve Signs of Recovery in SLAA” is, “We learn to value sex as a by-product of sharing, commitment, trust and cooperation in a partnership.” Going forward, and with the help of my Higher Power, I will never again have sex with someone I feel so dispassionately towards. I will never have  it out of a sense of pity or obligation.

The Psychic

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know all about the obsession I had with HC. This fixation was the catalyst that drove me to join SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous), but it was by no means the first time I’d became hung-up on a lover. Also, my obsession with HC was kind of obsession-lite, compared to the ones that had come before it.

A few years prior, I’d been involved in a Dom/sub relationship with Anthony, a man 21 years my senior. Although, we were never monogamous (at the time Anthony described himself as “poly”), it was a fairly significant relationship… for me, at least. We dated for about six-months, and it was more than just a sex. Anthony was there when I needed a friend, something I wasn’t used to from the men I usually slept with. After I got in a car accident on the freeway and totaled my car, he showed up on the scene to make sure I was ok. He told me later that he’d been on a date when I texted him and left early. Anthony helped me when I needed help, and got involved in all areas of my life — even meeting some of my friends. Maybe he did all of this because he was really into me, maybe it was because he liked the drama, or maybe it was a combination of both.

Anthony also had a high tolerance for crazy. I brought the crazy harder than I had ever brought it before, or since. I set up fake accounts on the dating site we were on and pretended to be other people in order to extract information from him. Then I would confront him with the information I’d found. I would insult the other women he was dating. I would throw tantrums. Now, I realize what I was doing — testing how much I could get away with, how much he really cared; and at the same time subconsciously pushing him away, acting out the pattern that started with my father leaving me (through his death) in my childhood. For whatever reason, Anthony was willing to put up with a lot so my craziness progressed to full-on bat-shit insanity. Eventually he reached his limit and suggested we take a break.

Around this time I’d gotten it into my head that I wanted to visit a psychic. I was feeling kind of lost. I didn’t have a full time job and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was even debating going back to grad school. I wanted someone to guide me and tell me what I was supposed to be doing with my life. What I really needed was to turn the reigns over to my Higher Power and let him guide me, but I hadn’t realized that yet.

I wanted to go to a legit psychic, someone who had a real gift and would give me the answers I needed. I went online and tried to find reviews of psychics in my area.  I found a lot of information on a psychic named Lillian. She had positive reviews on City Search, and yellowpages.com (this was before Yelp was big). She also had a website rife with grammar and spelling errors (everything on her website is “copy write of Lillian the Psychic,” for example). But, I figured, I was going to her  for psychic guidance, not editing services so it didn’t matter. She also had a lot of bullshit on there like “Voted #1 Psychic in the State” and “Licensed, bonded, and certified,” without saying whom it was voting, licensing, bonding and certifying her. By the way, did I ever tell you that I was voted “Number #1 Blogger on WordPress”? It’s true.* This stuff should have given me pause, but Lillian had a coupon on her site. I’m a sucker for a bargain so I dragged my friend Marie over and we each got a reading.

My reading didn’t exactly blow me away, at first. She said a lot of vague things that she could probably tell just by talking with me for a few minutes — that I’m creative, intuitive, good with people, etc. She said a few other things I’ve forgotten. The only specific thing she told me was that I would die at 86, and it’s not like that one can be proven anytime soon.  Then she said I had just ended a relationship, but would eventually get back together with that person, because that person was my “one, true soulmate”. Now, that caught my attention. Almost as an aside, she mentioned that she could help me speed things along, if I wanted.

Marie went next and I remember her reading being more specific than mine.  Lillian said that Marie would have a fatty tumor removed in a year and a half. Marie was about to start a new job, and Lillian told her that her soulmate would be someone she would meet not at this new job, but at the job she would get after this one. Marie, who is a healthy skeptic wasn’t impressed by her reading. She had mainly gone along to keep me company. I, on the other hand, was totally buzzed by the thought that I would soon be getting back with Anthony.

A few days later, I took my friend Allison to see Lillian. Allison and I had a lot in common when it came to sex and love issues. At the time Allison was obsessing over some dude and whether or not she should move for school, which would put her closer to this guy. I don’t remember exactly what Lillian told Allison, but she was convinced Lillian was legit.

That  one vote of confidence was all I needed. So I told Lillian I wanted to “speed things along” with Anthony. The way it worked is that she would get this special candle, imprint Anthony’s and my names and our dates of birth on it, and meditate every night on it until we were together. Then she gave me a candle and anointed it with special oil. She said that I was to light the candle every night, meditate, and visualize Anthony and I being together. Then at the end of each visualization session, I should leave a message on her voice mail to let her know I’d done it. Lillian said she would do all of this for free, because she believed in true love, but she needed money to buy this special candle, which cost $200. She said that Anthony and I would be back together in a few weeks.

Of course, I gave her the money. I mean, $200 for “happily ever after” is nothing.  To start, I went back to her office the next day, where she turned off the lights, lit some candles and incense, had me lay back and close my eyes, and anointed my forehead with oil. She stood over me and prayed, or something… maybe went through my purse, who knows. Right when I closed my eyes I had a moment of What the fuck are you doing, girl? You need to get out of here fast! (bitch was right about me being intuitive), but I dismissed this warning voice, and let this woman do her thing.

I should probably mention that Lillian’s office was decorated with a lot of Catholic imagery — statues of the Virgin Mary, saint candles, crucifixes, etc. She sprinkled her psychic bullshit with a lot of religious talk. She spoke about her church and acted the part of the pious Catholic. While I am not a pious Catholic, I do come from a Catholic background. Believing Lillian to be a devoted follower of the church I had grown up in, I trusted her.

Every night I would light my candle, and sit and meditate, visualizing Anthony and me together. I honestly think if it wasn’t for this nightly exercise, I probably would have been okay. I would have been obsessed with Anthony for a month or so, then I would have met some other dude and gotten over it. Wash, rinse, repeat. Not saying that would have been right, but it would have been okay. Telling a love addict to participate in a nightly ritual visualizing her and her ex back together is a recipe for some bad, bad shit.

After a couple of weeks of this practice, Lillian told me she wanted to hold another session with me. It would be free, of course (bitch knew how to work the long con). Again, when I closed my eyes, that warning voice came back. Get out of here, right now! Again, I dismissed it as paranoia. After this “prayer session” Lillian told me that things were going well. In fact, Anthony had had a dream about me the other night. Her meditations were working, and I was on his mind. There was a problem, though. For whatever reason, there was some dark energy that was blocking us. At this time, it had been more than a month since I had last seen Anthony. I’d heard that Anthony was now seeing one woman exclusively. I was sick with jealousy and desperate to remove this block Lillian spoke of. She said in order to do it, she need to purchase these two specially charged crystals that cost $1,500 each, for a grand total of $3,000. I told her there was no way I could afford $3,000. She said that it was the only way we could ever be together and she would try to work something out.

A few days later, Lillian called me and said that she had gotten the price down from her supplier. The price was still more than I could afford. Then she said that she believed in this relationship so much, that she would dip into her own money to help me buy the crystals. I’m ashamed to say that I wrote Lillian a check for $1,500 to buy the two crystals. This was more than my rent money.

We went through the whole process again — the nightly meditations, checking in with her, one-on-one sessions, etc. for maybe another week or two. Can you guess what happened next? Lillian said that the block was stronger than she had initially thought, and she needed another outrageous sum of money to buy some more shit to remove the block. I was so sick with my addiction to Anthony that I briefly considered trying to raise the funds, but I also started looking into her claims. I went to a Wiccan shop and talked to the woman that worked there. The woman told me that I had been the victim of a common scam. According to her, the city was full of these fake psychics shops. Many of these “psychics” would come to her shop, she claimed, to get their auras cleansed after conning people out of thousands of dollars. I also did some research online. If you’re interested, google “psychic gypsy scams.” I found account, after account that told my story with Lillian, almost verbatim.

Lillian is still in business. Her shop is on a main street, and I have to drive by it often. Every time I do, I fantasize about throwing a brick through her big picture window, something I would never actually do. I googled Lillian’s real name — I give everyone I mention on this blog pseudonyms — which I’m sure is a fake name (wrap your head around that one), and the name of her business. She now has a Facebook page and tons of positive reviews on google, yahoo, and other sites. On Yelp, she has 1 star and all bad reviews, but when you google her, six other links come up before her Yelp listing. I really wish that I could give out Lillian’s real info on here to warn people about her, but that’s not the way this blog works. If you do want to visit a psychic, the best advice I can give you is to stay away from shops and small houses you drive advertising psychic, palm, or tarot readings — businesses that only do readings. A safer bet is to visit a new age or metaphysical bookshop. Most of those places will have a few readers on staff. I guess they could be scam artists too, but from what I’ve heard the storefront psychics are almost exclusively fraudsters.

I debated about telling this story for awhile. I consider myself a shrewd, logical person. The fact that I was conned out of a huge (to me, at least) sum of money due to my love addiction is something I’m extremely ashamed of. But telling these stories is healing for me, and I know there are a lot of other women and men out there who can relate. I still stumble in my recovery, but now I have a relationship with my Higher Power. I used to spend my time obsessing over and trying to change things that were beyond my control. Now I accept the things I cannot change, pray for the courage to change the things I can, and know that God will take care of the rest.

* Voted by members of the Imperfect household: Imperfect and Charlie the Cat.**

**Charlie abstained.

Image via Flickr, by user “Gunshots”