20 Things I No Longer Do

1. I don’t call people repeatedly after they have asked me not to.
2. I don’t respond to texts that say, “Have you been a naughty girl? Do you need a spanking from Daddy?” If I do, it’s with a polite, “Sorry, I’m no longer available.”
3. I don’t refuse to leave someone’s place until they call the police.
4. I don’t answer craigslist personal ads just because I like the penis picture the guy has posted. In fact, I don’t answer craigslist ads at all.
5. I don’t date or sleep with married or attached men.
6. I don’t sleep with people out of a sense of obligation.
7. I don’t create fake personas (an 18-year-old high school girl, a young single mother, a bisexual black dominant, an affable male plastic surgeon… to name a few) on dating sites and email accounts in order to talk to someone under false pretenses.
8. I don’t look up sexually explicit craigslist ads at work.
9. I don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on “psychics” who promise me that they can get me back together with whomever inappropriate guy I’m currently obsessed with.
10. I don’t have sex with people on the first date.
11. I’m not looking to a man to parent, take care of, or recuse me. I’m working on parenting, taking care of, and rescuing myself.
12. When something goes slightly wrong, my first thought isn’t, “I’ll call __________. He’ll make everything better.
13. I don’t exaggerate or completely fabricate stories in order to get attention male attention.
14. I don’t look at dating as a hobby.
15. I don’t continue seeing someone after I’ve caught him in a major lie. Examples of major lies include shaving 10 years off one’s age, giving me a fake name, having a live-in girlfriend and forgetting to mention it, secretly filming me without my consent.
16. I’m no longer attracted to pervs old enough to be my father, who tell me I’m “too old” for them. In general, I’m no longer attracted to men who make me feel bad about myself.
17. I don”t harass men — sending my ex a text from my friend’s phone (a number he wouldn’t recognize) saying “my test came back positive,” for example — just because I think it’s funny. In fact, I no longer harass people for any reason.
18. I don’t have sex outside of committed relationships.
19. I don’t view people as objects, sexual or otherwise… at least I try really hard not to.
20. I no longer measure my worth based on who wants to have sex with me.

This Imperfect Journey

Today, I realized that I am 9 days away from 90 days. The first 60 days went by so slowly. I felt so many emotions and every day was different. The last three weeks have gone by pretty quickly and I haven’t felt much of anything. I know the reason is because I am partially using again — I’m reading HC’s ads on craigslist.

A program friend asked me the other day if I get upset when I find his ads looking for casual, anonymous sex with both women and men. It occurred to me that I don’t get upset when I find his ads. I only get upset when I don’t find them. When I don’t find new ads from him, I don’t get a hit.

I had a great conversation with my sponsor today. I so badly want her to tell me that I’m not sober because I’m spying on HC again and that I need to start over at the beginning. In my head, if I can’t do something perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all. I told her about a friend of mine, Jessica, who got sober in AA 8 years ago. She went to a meeting and never drank again. I want my sobriety from sex and love to be like that — black and white and perfect. My sponsor told me that that’s not how it works in SLAA.

Another woman I heard speak at a meeting last week spoke about having an imperfect program (in fact, most speakers I’ve heard stress the fact that they did not do it perfectly). She compared her love addiction to alcoholism (she’s also in AA) and said that an alcoholic can put her addiction down and never use again, but a sex/love addict needs to learn how to take small sips from the bottle everyday without going overboard. This is all well and good, but there is still a little voice inside of my head that says, “You suck. Just give up now.”

My sponsor is really great at helping me turn this negative talk around. Another thing I asked her today was, “why the hell am I not over this guy yet?” It’s not like the relationship was significant or long-term. She reminded me that It’s not really him that I need to get over. He’s just a stand-in for my unresolved shit. Duh, I learned this when I first went into therapy over my obsessive relationship with my boyfriend Peter 10 years ago. Then I learned it a few years later with Ethan, then Jonathan, then Anthony. Hopefully I will remember it this time and won’t go through this again. These men really mean/meant nothing to me, once I dug under the surface. They are drugs. I use them to avoid dealing with the real stuff — grief, trauma, abuse, abandonment, etc. from my childhood.

The real stuff is heavy and uncomfortable. My addict is trying to find all kinds of ways to distract me from doing this work. Tonight, I pray for God’s grace and protection. I pray that he will help me to stay away from spying and all other forms of acting out, one day at a time.

Driving and Crying

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of break downs (of the crying variety) while driving. I don’t know why I feel so comfortable letting lose in my car, in traffic, in broad daylight, in view of tons of people. I mean I would never just start crying on the street. Wait. I take that back. I would and I have. In those cases though, I at least had the decency to try to be discreet about it. In my car it’s like I momentarily forget I’m not invisible. I know people can see me. When I’m stuck in traffic (and not crying) I frequently look at other motorists. I see people singing, picking their noses, putting on make-up, talking on their phones, but I don’t ever recall seeing someone bawling like a baby (except, of course, actual babies). And, by the way, I am not one of those girls who look delicate and vulnerable when crying. My face gets red and contorts, snot runs out of my nose. I look like a wild animal and it’s not a pretty sight.

Side note: I did a google image search for “ugly cry” and the above picture of Paris Hilton came up first. I choose to put it at the top of this post, just cause she was in a car. If that qualifies as an ugly cry face, I really am in trouble. My ugly cry looks more like this picture of Sookie from True Blood, but way, way uglier:

Anyway, on to the reason why I was crying today. I was driving home from looking at a couple of apartments and the “OMG you’re are such a pathetic loser” mantra was going through my head. The apartments I looked at today, were just like the ones I’ve been looking at everyday. One unit was a dump — dirty, not well-maintained, depressing; and the other was was ok (at my price range, ok is the best I can hope to find). I’d say the ratio of dumps to ok places I’ve been looking at is about 2:1. So, of course, I am interested in the ok apartment, but so are a lot of other people. I’m told that three other people have already submitted applications (on an apartment that was listed on craigslist only hours prior), but if for some reason all of their applications fall through because of bad credit, I’m next on the list. And all I can think is that if the three people ahead of me are rejected for bad credit, I’m sure I will be as well.

I couldn’t help but think if I had put nearly as much energy as I put into my obsession and addiction into finding a decent job, I would have an amazing career right now and I wouldn’t have to be competing for shitty apartments with college students. Instead, I am over-educated, under employed and earn an hourly wage, without benefits and can’t pay my bills. If I had put nearly as much energy into anything healthy I would probably own property, be married and have three kids. I mean, if I am going to beat up on myself for past mistakes, I might as well just pile everything on there.

The good news is that I am in recovery now. I don’t own a time machine, so I can’t go back ten years and do everything differently, but I can do things differently starting now. Every day, I can make better choices. Instead of spending all my free time looking for new guys that might be “the one,” looking for guys to fuck, obsessing over the guy of the month, dating, fucking, preparing for a date or a fuck, etc; I can spend my time finding a better job, or making my life better in some way.

Conversations in My Head

HC: I really miss you.
Me: Then why did you wait four months to contact me?
HC: I’ve been really busy with work.
Me: You mean you’ve been really busy with work, your wife, your four other girlfriends, and your daily craigslist casual encounters postings?
HC: I’m not married! I don’t have any other girlfriends and I hardly ever post on CL anymore.
Me: Then why is your wife all over the internet talking about how amazing her husband is?
HC: This was a bad idea. I shouldn’t have contacted you.
Me: Why can’t you just answer the question?
HC: I’m hanging up now. Don’t call me back.

HC: I really miss you.
Me: I miss you too, but I can’t see you again.
HC: Why not?
Me: Because when I was seeing you, I was really fucked up. I was acting out these self-destructive patterns and you were a big part of that.
HC: Oh.
Me: Since I stopped seeing you, I realized I was a sex and love addict. I was really obsessed with you, and spent all my free time thinking about you and looking you up online. I was also seeing other guys but you were the only one that really mattered.
HC: Wait. You were looking me up online? And you spent all your free time doing this?
Me: Yes, which is why I know that you are posting ads almost daily on craigslist. You clearly have an addiction too. Do you want me to tell you about the meetings I go to?
HC: Umm, maybe later. Right now I kinda have to go.
Me: Wait, here’s a list of meetings. These are the ones I go to. I think it would be kind of awkward if we went to the same meetings, so you can go to these other ones.
HC: I’m not really sure I’m into the whole meeting thing. I’m glad it’s helping you, though. At least I hope it is. We can talk about it later though, I have to go.
Me: But I haven’t told you the best part yet.
HC: Jesus, there’s more?
Me: Yes. Not right away, but maybe in six months or a year, once we have both been sticking to our bottom lines, we can start dating again, but this time in a healthy way.
HC: I’m not sure contacting you was such a good idea. I don’t want to go to meetings.
Me: Do you still miss me?
HC: I have to go.

HC: I really miss you.
Me: I miss you too, but I think we’re really looking for different things.
HC: What do you mean?
Me: I’m looking for something monogamous, committed and longterm.
HC: That’s what I want now too.
Me: Really? You’re not just saying that because you want to sleep with me again?
HC: Not at all. I miss you. Let’s go out to diner tomorrow and talk?
Me: Ok, that actually sounds nice. Can I pick you up at your place? I just need to see for sure that you aren’t still living with your wife.
HC:  Of course. Come over at 7.
Next day, 1pm
HC: Hi. A pipe burst at my place. There is a plumber here now, but my house is a mess. Do you mind if I come to your place instead.
Me: Sure. See you at 7 still?
HC: Can’t wait.
7pm
HC: I’m so sorry, but I’m still dealing with this pipe situation. It’s going to be at least an hour or two before I can leave. You should probably eat without me. I’ll see you at 9 or 10.

The above is just a sampling of what has been going through my head the last couple of weeks. Since HC contacted me more than two weeks ago, I’ve been completely plauged with self-doubt. Maybe I am wrong? Maybe he’s changed. Maybe the reason I’m still so obsessed with this guy is because we are meant to be together. Maybe I should have been honest with him, instead of telling him I was unavailable.

The difference is that the conversations in my head never got as far. I needed to write them down and play them out to see that there is no way it could work between me and him. Even in my fantasies, I can’t turn what we had into something real.

Technically, I guess I am still “sober,” but I have not been doing well. I’m deep in the obsession. It needs to end, because spending hours a day thinking of him and spying on him online, can’t be what my life in recovery looks like. I haven’t been doing nearly as many as my top line behaviors, because this obsession has stymied my progress.

And the sad thing is that I am choosing to do this. I know that if I take a break from combing through craigslist to find his posts, and  instead, go to yoga, or write, or pray; afterwards I won’t feel like obsessing, at least for awhile. In that moment, though, I am choosing to obsess. Finding his casual sex ads on craigslist scratches my masochistic itch and the agony of it feels fantastic. So right now, for tonight I am making a different choice.

Sobriety

Today, I have been sober (sexually, that is) for two months. Of course, I realized this while I was thinking about how much time I have left in my six month trial period, so I can start acting out again. Progress, not perfection, right?

Sorry I haven’t written much lately. I’ve been out of town, and I am doing well. I will try to write a longer entry soon.

I’m Cured!

Just kidding, I’m not even close. I did, however, have a very proud recovery moment tonight. HC contacted me after nearly four months. He said he missed me and that I had been on his mind a lot. If he had sent the same text two months ago, I would have wrote back, “I miss you too. I think about you all the time.” Instead, I thanked him, but told him I was no longer available.

While I’d like to think this means I am “cured” from my sex and love addiction, the fact that this happened a few hours ago and I am still shaking, tells me otherwise.

My sponsor says that even though I wasn’t looking for it, I took a big “hit” off my drug tonight, and I should expect some major withdrawals.

I don’t talk about the God stuff too much on here, because before I got into recovery it used to weird me out a little to hear people going on about God (probably an issue for another post). I’m still a little uncomfortable talking about my relationship with my Higher Power. But I need to mention him in this entry, because tonight he did for me what I could not do for myself.

 

Snapped Back In

In my last entry, I wrote about how I’ve been struggling the last week or so to stay present and how I had to keep forcing myself to take contrary action. I’d been kind of taking a mental vacation, but today I received some stressful news and I was forced to snap out of it.

If I don’t find a less expensive apartment and cut down my costs as soon as possible, I won’t be able to pay my rent in a few months, and I won’t have any savings left. Since I am a sex a love addict, I “sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy” and I “use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing care, and support.” My first reaction was to find some man to take care or me, fuck the stress away, and make it all better. As appealing as that strategy sounds, I know from past experiences it does not really work out so well in the long run. So I’ve been facing the stress head-on — looking at apartments (I actually forgot craigslist could be used for something other than finding dates/sex partners), contacting consignment stores to sell some furniture I have in storage, and dealing with other money dramas.

I even placed an ad on craigslist (no, not that kind of ad) for housing wanted. I know it’s a long shot, but my sponsor always says to put things out to the Universe. My hope is some kindly mansion-dweller will be charmed by my ad and rent out a room to me. You never know, right?

Since I can’t deal with the stress I’m feeling now with sex, I used yoga, my sex alternative. I took a class today, and it was really hard for me to let go of my stress. My teacher had to keep reminding me to breath. We did a lot of hip openers in this class. I have always heard that hip openers can make people really emotional because feelings like guilt and stress that go unresolved are usually stored in the hips. I never really bought this because I am full of un-dealt-with emotions and my hips are so open I can do the splits. But the hip openers we were doing today were different poses from the ones I usually do, and stretched a different area than I am used to. I actually started crying in class! Luckily, I was able to quickly get myself together, and I don’t think anyone noticed.

Even though today has been stressful, I am grateful that I am able to be present, and that I am dealing with my affairs like an adult.