Let Me Count The Ways That I Abhor You

I’ve been in a contemplative mood lately, and listening to a lot of music. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of songs that relate to the topics of my blog… sex, love, addictive and dysfunctional relationships.

When I was in college, I was a huge Ani Difranco fan. I went to see her shows whenever she was in town and I played her CDs non-stop. I was also a huge fan of my shit-head, idiot boyfriend Peter. “Fan” is not the right word, exactly. Is there a word for when you simultaneously hate someone’s guts and can’t live without him or her? Because that’s what I had with Peter. Since, I was immature… and insane, Peter and I were together on-and-off for six horrible years. Over the years, I have had a lot of truly terrible relationships. My relationship with Peter was the worst of the worst.

Peter was the first person I ever had sex with — I think that was part of the reason it was so hard for me to let go of him. I didn’t realize it at the time, because I had nothing to compare him to, but he was a terrible lover. We were having sex for a full year before I had my first orgasm, and it was from the bathtub faucet, not from him. Before I started masturbating in the bathtub, he had me convinced that something was medically wrong with me, because, “every other girl I’ve been with has been able to cum, no problem.” Yeah, he was a real gentleman.

We used to get into physical fights. At one point, he got into the hobby of knife collecting (no red flags there). After one particularly bad fight about who knows what, he stormed out of my apartment and in tears, I kept calling his cell phone non-stop. Minutes later he barged through my front door brandishing one of his knives. That taught me to stop calling him (that night, at least), but amazingly I kept seeing him for years after this incident.

One semester, I choose to do a program abroad. We agreed that we would take a break while I was gone. You’d think this would be a healthy move, but I spent every night in the computer lab talking to him on yahoo messenger. One night he told me (in graphic detail) about another girl he had sex with. Looking back, it was probably a lie and an attempt to manipulate my feelings. I hadn’t yet realized what a compulsive liar he was. I was so distraught, I drank a bottle of wine by myself and ended up purposely burning my arm with a cigarette. I still have the scars.

There are many, many more stories about this sick, sick relationship. I’m sure I’ll eventually write some more of them down for your amusement/horror. You’re probably asking, why did I stay with this asshole for so long? I guess the simple answer is that my self-esteem was nonexistent back then. He had me convinced that no one else but him would ever want me. To be fair, there were some good times too… although, I can’t remember any specifically. The sad truth is that I thought I was lucky to have him.

It’s been about 10 years since I finally put an end to the relationship. Lest you think I’m a girl who doesn’t learn my lesson, being with Peter taught me a lot. I vowed to never again get trapped in a long-term relationship with someone whom I didn’t actually want to be with, and I’ve stuck to that. He was also the last guy I was with who used physical violence in a non-consensual way.

So back to Ani Difranco and “Gravel.” While I was with Peter I used to drive around with my best friend and listen to this song over and over again. The juxtaposition of abhor and adore perfectly described my feeling for him. I still think of him every time I hear this song, and every time I think, “oh man, what were you thinking?”

What Things Were Like 90 Days Ago

Today I have 3 months of sobriety from most of my bottom lines. Some of my bottom lines I have more time from, for example I haven’t contacted my “qualifier” (HC) in almost 5 months (before I even started going to meetings), and I haven’t had sex with an unavailable man (or any man) in about 4 months. One of my bottom lines, online spying, I’ve struggled with on and off. Currently, I have one week off of that.

So what exactly do I have 90 days off of? I guess the best way to explain that is to look back on what my life was like right before I started program.

For years, I’d been hooked on online dating sites. I’ve been on various sites at various times, but right before getting into program I had a profile on Chemistry.com (I was too low-rent for eHarmony). On Chemistry I was ostensibly looking for “Mr. Right,” but all I was looking at was the pictures and the stats in the right margin about height, education, and income. I rarely read someone’s profile text. I also had profiles on CollarMe and FetLife. On these sites I was looking for some combination of a dominant/daddy/boyfriend. In addition to these sites I was also checking out craigslist ads and posting some myself. On Craigslist I was looking for sex in the casual encounters section, but I was also browsing the M4W section, looking for dominants and looking for Mr. Right. I was occasionally looking at w4w and mw4w ads too. You really can find anything you’re looking for on CL.

I had so many balls in the air. There were the men I was seeing, men I had met once and  was waiting to see if I would hear from again, men I would meet just because I was bored that day and had no intention of seeing again, men I was talking to online, men I was talking to on the phone, men I was texting with, men I was planning to meet, men I was trying to meet. Going on these sites and corresponding with these people was a daily ritual. It was how I used all my free time. My guess is I probably met at least 60 guys for dinner, drinks, or coffee in the year leading up to me joining program. Most of these guys, I did not sleep with, or even go on a second date with. Most of them I forgot about as soon as I met the next guy.

I started going to meetings around the end of May or maybe beginning of June. The main reason I went was because I couldn’t get over HC, but I told myself I was going to try to stop dating for six months as an experiment. Around that time Ryan texted me. He was someone I’d gone out with a handful of times a couple of years before. He was older than me and had blown me off two years earlier with some line about how we were in two different places. I agreed to go out with him again. I knew it wouldn’t go anywhere, but I figured I’d fuck him and have one last hurrah before starting my six month experiment. He took me to a nice dinner and was very polite, then took me home and we had sex. He was rough with me and called me a whore. He made me call him Daddy. He came fairly quickly, way before I had a chance to get into it. By the way, this was a guy I met an eHarmony-type site, not a bdsm site. Ryan was probably just doing what he had remembered I’d been into the last time we were together — rough sex, humiliation, incest roleplay. This particular night, though, I hated it. All I could think about was how different he was from HC, who was a passionate, gentle, giving  and long-lasting lover. I wanted Ryan to leave as soon as he was done and then cried myself to sleep that night, missing HC. I’d thought sleeping with Ryan was going to be one last fun thing I did before giving up sex, but instead it left me feeling even more depressed than I’d felt before.

Again, I resolved to go six months without dating or sex, but the very next day this guy, let’s call him Josh (cause I can’t remember his real name to save my life), called me up. He was some stoner grad student/artist who had answered an ad I had placed on CL a couple of months earlier. When he’d sent me his picture, I’d thought, “hmm, that’s some interesting facial hair,” but hadn’t been particularly attracted to him. When he called me up he told me he was leaving for Europe in a week, where he had plans to spend the summer. He mentioned that he was going by himself, but it would be nice to have a girl to go with him. I decided that my six months could start in the Fall, after I’d returned from Europe, and agreed to meet him the next morning for brunch. It was a Sunday and we were meeting at a popular spot (popular because of the cheap price of their bottomless champagne brunches, not for the quality of the food). I had trouble finding parking and had to drive around a bit before I found a place. Before I parked I saw him standing out front and almost decided to drive away. I don’t know why I expected him to be more attractive than his not very attractive photo, but he wasn’t. In fact, he was a lot less attractive. With his abundant facial hair, and thick, long coat (it was a chilly, rainy morning), he looked a lot like a homeless man. During brunch he was a grump, complaining about everything. He claimed he had been to this restaurant several times before, but he threw a fit about his food. He sent back one thing, then got agitated that the restaurant didn’t have organic maple syrup and refused to order anything else. When the bill came he got up to go to the bathroom, and I thought, “no fucking way am I paying for this shitty experience.” I didn’t touch the bill and when he came back he was visibly annoyed, but threw down some cash anyway.

So, again, I decided to start my six-month experiment. The very next weekend, I got a call from Greg. I had met him once for a drink several months earlier. He was quite funny in an off-beat kind of way, and occasionally he would call me up and we would shoot the shit and talk about hanging out again. This particular weekend, Greg told me he was housesitting at his friend’s very expensive beach house and asked if I wanted to come over for a beer and to watch a movie. Of course, I did. Although Greg is a nice guy and funny, there is not a lot of chemistry between us. We watched a movie and drank a couple of beers without any filtration or cuddling. Then, around midnight, when I was half asleep, he finally made his move. He started kissing me, and I remember his mouth tasted awful (a combo of steak/beer breath). Then he turned me around, started spanking me (this was another guy I had met him on a “vanilla” or non-bdsm site), and eventually stripped all my clothes off. I was so tired and not at all into what he was doing, but limply went along with it. I turned my head away when he tried to kiss my mouth, but I let him kiss my body. He got out his cock and wanted me to suck it. Part of me wanted to. It almost felt natural. There was a voice in my head that said, “you’re a whore, and whores suck cock.” At the same time I knew that if I did give him head, we’d end up fucking, and I didn’t want a repeat of how I felt after I’d fucked Ryan. So I just laid on his friend’s couch like a rag doll and let him masturbate on my breasts. I almost felt bad. It can’t have been a great sexual experience for him to have a girl lying there like some passive rape victim.

Very soon after that I met my sponsor. I told her I had resolved to go six months without dating or sex. She thought it was a great idea. The next day I reactivated a profile on one dating site, and started talking to a slew of men. A few days later I met a guy named Adam for a drink. Adam was four or five years younger than me. He worked as a professional writer. He had just moved into a new place walking distance from the bar we met at and wanted to show me his place. He seemed harmless enough so I agreed. I assumed that we were walking to an apartment, but he had actually just moved into a huge two story house, in a very nice part of town. “Are you renting this place or did you buy it?” I asked in disbelief. He owned it. I instantly became more attracted to him. Honestly, I think it was more about jealously than being a gold-digging whore. Here was this guy, five fucking years younger than me (!), who could afford to buy a giant house, and had a very successful career as a freelance writer. This was my pie-in-the-sky fantasy for myself. While I have published a few articles, I never got paid very much. Besides, it’s hard to have a career you have to do much more than just show up for when all you can think about is when and where your next fix is coming from. I wanted Adam’s life for myself, but didn’t have the energy to put any effort into achieving it. Right then and there I imagined moving in with him, imagined he would show me the ropes and teach me the discipline to be like him. Then I imagined bringing HC over when Adam was out of town, and how much nicer it would be to have sex with HC in this huge house than in my shitty apartment.

Adam was shy and it took him awhile to make his move. Finally he kissed me. He was a surprisingly good kisser. We didn’t do much more than kiss that night, and when I finally left (close to 3 in the morning) he begged me to stay and hang out some more. The next day I texted him and told him I had a nice time, he wrote back that he had had a nice time as well. I told my sponsor about him and told her I needed to see how things played out before I started my six months. I kept going to meetings. After about two weeks, he hadn’t contacted me.  I realized it was unlikely I was going to hear from him. I deleted his number, his texts, and the numbers and texts of most of the other men in my phone. I deleted all of my dating site profiles, and wrote my bottom lines.

That was three months ago today, and I haven’t been on a date, or a dating site since then. I have finished steps 1 and 2 and will soon be done with step 3. This is the half-way point in my six-month experiment. Although I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, overall I feel like the last three months have been amazing. I’m finally getting to know who I really am.

Joe Turner, Asshole*

I met Joe in April 2010. He wasn’t my type (my type=tall, dark hair, musician/artist), but he managed to seduce me (a pretty easy task, if truth be told) almost right away.

Joe fancied himself a dominant, take charge kind of guy . He was also very possessive. The second time we hung out he told me that I wasn’t “allowed” to see anyone else. A normal person would have probably told him to get lost, but I, a non-normal person, thought, “hmm… let’s see where this goes.” I pretended to agree, but kept seeing other people.

One Friday in June he failed to show up for a date. At first I was worried about him, but after calling and texting him for a week, I realized that if something had happened to him, someone else would have probably have gotten back to me. Or if he was lying undiscovered in a ditch, his phone would be dead and going straight to voice mail, which would be full. But his phone was still ringing and I was still able to leave him voice mail messages.

I was pissed. Of all the spineless ways of breaking up with someone, standing them up and never calling again was the worst (maybe second to a sudden stop in communication followed by facebook friend removal — yes, this has happened to me before… twice). Keep in mind I had been seeing him for two months at this point, it wasn’t like it was our first or second date.

One night I sent him a drunken text that said something like, “since you don’t seem to have enough balls to actually break up with me, I guess you don’t mind that next weekend I have dates with two other men.” The actual text probably had a bit more swearing, name calling, and drunken spelling errors. Also, I think I described the physical attributes of these (imaginary) men.

To my surprise, the next day I got a phone call from Joe. Joe had one of the best excuses (ever!) for standing a girl up and not returning her phone calls for two weeks. You see, the Friday that Joe and I were supposed to have that date he failed to show up for he had been in a car accident. He was riding in his friend’s (of course) car and another car had crashed into his friend’s car. Although Joe didn’t break any bones or get any cuts or bruises, his phone was destroyed. Also… Joe had sustained a head injury and had been in a coma (a fucking coma!) for the past two weeks. So that’s why Joe had stood me up and hadn’t been return my phone calls. That’s why.

The point of this story isn’t to flame this idiot, but rather to show what kind of nonsense and drama used to pass for a “relationship” in my head; to show how desperate I was for any crumbs of attention and affection I could get. The sick part is, even though I knew Joe was telling me the biggest whopper I had ever heard, I still was willing to give him another chance. As luck would have it, we never ended up seeing each other again, but it wasn’t due to lack of tying on my part.

I know if I don’t work on myself and fix all this crazy shit inside of me, I will spend the rest of my life bouncing from one Joe Turner to the next.

*While the asshole part is true, the name is made-up.

Sex Free Summer

When I realized in June that I was going to have to give up dating and sexing for at least six months, I was pretty bummed, to put it mildly. It wasn’t just that I was going to have to abstain from men, it was that I was going to have to do this during the summer. In the summer I work less than I do during the rest of the year, and as a result I have a lot of time on my hands, but not a lot of cash. I foresaw a miserable sexless, fun-less summer ahead.

The previous summer, I had used men as “free” entertainment. From June to August I was involved with several men:

Joe — Very dominate and possessive. We got sexual almost right away. This guy was so nuts, I’ll have to write an entry about him later.

Fergus — Tall, Scottish, insane. He had bright orange hair and would say things like, “I’m a recovering alcoholic,” without any hint of irony, while guzzling large quantities of liquor. We made-out once or twice, but never had sex.

Jason — Much older than me, but still extremely handsome. I met him over a year before. We had dated twice previously, and he had blown me off both times. At one point we were actually “dating,” meaning he would come to my place, pick me up, and take me to dinner before we had sex; but then he started skipping the taking me to dinner part. Never a quick learner, I was surprised and hurt when he stopped returning my phone calls a third time. He never did “break up” with me, but I eventually got the hint when he removed me from his facebook friends.

Tim — A very nice older man. He took me on wonderfully romantic dates, but I felt no chemistry. When I was somewhere with him I was usually thinking, “this would be an amazing date… if I were here with Jason.” He was so nice, I wish I had been more attracted to him. We never did more than kiss.

Dustin — A total tool. He was more than 20 years older than me, but always acted like he was doing me a favor when he came over. I actively disliked this guy, but that didn’t stop me from sleeping with him for several months.

David — I met him in mid-August and thought I had found the perfect boyfriend. He was handsome, well-educated and successful. We waited until our fifth date to have sex (his decision; I was usually willing to give it up on the first or second date). I think he was initially attracted to me, because on the surface it looked like I had my act together (I can put on a good show for at least a month). He quickly realized what a mess I was. By October, we were over.

What a difference a year makes. It is now halfway through August, and I have not been on one date or had a single sexual encounter all summer. I thought this summer was going to suck, but quite the opposite is true. I may not have a lot of cash, but have discovered that I don’t need to rely on a guy to foot the bill and take me out. My summer has been spent reconnecting with friends and doing plenty of fun, free/low-cost activities — going to free concerts, hanging out at my friend’s pool, doing lots of yoga, making meals for friends instead of going to restaurants all the time. Even going to meetings has been kind of fun, in a way. While they aren’t always a barrel of laughs, and can at times be emotionally draining; it gets me out of the house and is a social activity. Spending the evening at a meeting, listening to other addicts’ experience, strength and hope, is better than sitting at home, depressed waiting for some guy to call me.

I don’t want to make it sound like everything has been rainbows and lollipops. The pain of withdrawal is intense. But instead of avoiding withdrawal and moving from one guy to the next, I have chosen to experience the emotional and sometimes even physical pain. I can’t stuff down the pain with men anymore, but I can take the edge off by doing fun, healthy, enriching activities that are changing my life for the better.

How This All Started

In May, HC, who I had been seeing since December, broke up with me.

HC was a tall artist and musician with dark hair and soulful green eyes. I’m not sure exactly what it was – he was by no means the hottest, funniest, or most charming man I’d ever met – but as soon as I met him, I knew I was in trouble. I was hooked. We had sex on our first date, which was less than two hours after we had first set eyes on each other. Sex with him was probably the best sex I had ever had. Logically, I understood that I barely knew him (with the exception of our first date, we would never go out), but when we were together sexually, it felt like love.

He said that he’d been divorced for about a year and was just starting to date, but a month later, I found his supposed ex-wife’s twitter. According to what she had been writing, they were still happily married. I confronted him about it, and even though the evidence was pretty damming, he denied he was still married. He made up a half-assed story that didn’t make sense, but I was so into him that he could have told me up was down and down was up and I would have believed it.

I kept seeing him after I found the twitter, but I didn’t trust him. I became obsessed with spying on him and his wife online – desperately looking for evidence that he was actually divorced. Although I found a few things that looked promising – she had stopped mentioning him in her twitter, for example – I found an equal number of things that made it clear he was still married. Additionally, I also found out there were four or five other girls he was seeing regularly and that he was posting ads on craigslist for anonymous gay sex. Sadly, I was so addicted to him and so sick, that when I found out about all the other people he was seeing, I actually felt a little bit of relief. How could he be spending so much time with me, seeing several other people, and still be married?

HC had two small children. He frequently used emergencies that came up with his kids to come over hours after we had originally planned or to cancel altogether. How could I get mad at him for flaking on me when his son was sick or his ex was late picking them up? One time HC told me that he had his kids for the weekend. He was texting me telling me what a great time they were having at a local amusement park. A few days later, I looked on craigslist and found that the same time he was texting me he was with his kids, he was also posting ads for anonymous gay encounters. Had he been lying to me about having his kids or was he posting this stuff while he was with his kids? Was he meeting these strangers for hookups while his children were in his care?

Every new thing I found made me sick, but still I kept seeing him. I wanted to believe that he was the amazing person I had mad him out to be in my head. I could not let go of this fantasy HC I had created.

I knew I was ill. This wasn’t the first time I had gotten myself obsessed with an unavailable man and had been unable to let go. It had happened three years earlier with Anthony, two years before that with Jonathan, and probably at least a half a dozen other times. Still, I could not stop seeing him.

I kept spying on him and his wife online. Although her facebook page was private, one day she changed her profile picture to their wedding picture. This is not something a divorced woman does. I sent him a text confronting him. He wrote back that he was tired of explaining himself to me and this wasn’t working anymore. I was devastated, but I backed off. My plan was to lay low for a couple of weeks, and then contact him once he’d cooled off.

How fucking sick was I? I knew he was married, I knew he was seeing several other women, I knew that he was meeting strangers for anonymous sex, and I wasn’t even the one to end this mess. He had to break up with me.

Unfortunately, this still is not the end of the HC story. Although I wasn’t contacting him, I was only bidding my time until I would go back to him. Meanwhile, I was scouring the internet looking for anything I could find on him. Even though I wasn’t communicating with him directly, I needed the high of spying on him. I even set up some fake email addresses and answered some of his m4m craigslist ads. One night I stayed up all night doing this and made myself physically ill. I had to call in sick to work the next day. This was my bottom.

I realized that I could never go back to him and I could not keep spying on him online. I needed help so I started going to meetings in early June. It took me a few weeks to do more than just show up, but I kept showing up. Finally I got a sponsor, set some bottom lines and became “sober.”

I count June 29th as my sobriety date, although I have had some minor slips since then. I haven’t contacted him, but I have checked facebook, twitter, and craigslist a couple of times, although not in a few weeks.

Not contacting or spying on HC is just one of my bottom lines. There were many other ways I acted out as a sex and love addict, and many behaviors I now abstain from. Almost every day is a struggle for me, but with the help of God, my sponsor, and my recovery partners, I am getting through this.