A Subtle Addiction

Not so subtle

My sex and love addiction can be bold and blatant, like a belligerent drunk getting kicked out of a bar. More often than not, though, it’s subtle, like a functioning alcoholic who drinks all night and still manages to show up every morning for work and do his job.

It sneaks in.

“You went more than three years without talking to Anthony, you can be friends with him now,” it says. Then, “It’s okay to talk to him every single day. You’re JUST friends.” “Phone sex isn’t real sex. It’s fine,” it whispers in my ear.

So now I have this thing going on with someone I thought I had completely exorcised from my system a few years back. We’re not fucking, and that’s how I justify staying in contact with the guy. But it’s just as bad, if not worse. I talk to him every day, and sometimes for hours on end.

I sometimes think that if Anthony were 15 years younger and just a little bit less… weird, he would be my soulmate. We would probably be married by now and have three kids. I told this to a friend in program recently and she said, “So if he were a COMPLETELY different person he would be your soulmate?”

Um, well, when you put it that way…

The thing is, I don’t even believe in soulmates. But my addiction does. It tells me that it doesn’t matter that insert name here is married, or that he is a sociopathic liar, or that he is 21 freaking years older than me and he’s a swinger. He (whomever “he” happens to be at the moment) is the ONE!

This is bullshit.

I care about Anthony probably more than I have ever cared about any man I have been romantically linked to. That’s why it’s so fucked up that I am using him for a high. The last time we talked Anthony (who knows I’m in a program for sex/love addiction) said something like, “I guess I’m flattered by all the attention you give me and how fixated you can get.”

“Don’t be, because it’s bullshit,” I replied. “You could be anyone. I have given this level of attention to men that I hated. Obsession is nothing to be flattered by. It’s all about me and has nothing to do with you.

“Once I stop contacting you, then you should be flattered. Because that will mean that I authentically care about you enough to stop using you.”

But it’s not that easy. I do authentically care enough about Anthony to stop using him. I genuinely care about him so much. But true affection isn’t enough to override addiction, obsession, and compulsion. No matter how much I care about anyone, I am still powerless over all this shit. I can’t stop on will power alone.

It’s now been just over 24 hours since I last had contact with Anthony. And to anyone who thinks love addiction isn’t a real thing, well fuck you, because I’m currently going through a physical withdrawal. I’m shaky, I have a headache, and I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Maybe some day in the very distant future I will be healthy enough to have an appropriate friendship with Anthony. I hope so, but I can’t think about that right now. I need to concentrate on filling the space in my life he took up with my higher power, and getting through one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Author: Landii

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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.

Twenty-one Days

I had a therapist tell me once, years ago, that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. For some reason, this statement popped up in my brain the other day. Breaking bad habits and forming new ones is a big part of my recovery, so I decided to look into it.

I googled this factoid and found a myriad of self-help type websites that said “experts agree” or “research has shown” that it takes 21 days to make/break/change a habit without citing the actual experts or research. I even found an iphone app. It’s $0.99 though, so eff that (yes, I really am that cheap).

With a little more digging, I found that the 21 Day Habit Theory was first introduced by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He was a plastic surgeon who worked with amputees and found that it takes an average of 21 days for the phantom sensation of the lost limb to cease. Later, he applied this finding to work with his plastic surgery patients. He found that many of them maintained their negative self-image even after surgery had given them the results they sought. He found that before surgery, he could use this same 21 day period to help patients improve their self-esteem, through visualization, to the point where they no longer wanted surgery. It doesn’t seem like this discovery would be in his best interest, except he published a bestselling self-help book in 1960. His theory was that it takes the human mind about 21 days to adjust to a major life change.

In the five plus months of my sobriety I’ve broken many bad habits. Here’s a list of a few of them. I’ve replaced them with some good habits, writing this blog, for example. But I’ve also replaced them with some bad habits. Sure, I don’t come home from work and waste the rest of my evening online on dating and sex sites, but I do come home and waste the rest of the evening in bed watching tv. I’m not going on dates with three or four men a weekend, but I’m also hardly leaving my house on the weekends.

I know a lot of it has to do with the season. It was easy for me to work out and take yoga classes during the summer, but now it’s cold, dark when I wake up, and dark by the time I’m home from work. I don’t want to do shit but turn on the heat, eat fancy cheeses and chocolate, drink wine and curl up in bed. But this isn’t taking care of myself. So I’m going to apply this 21 day habit theory and do some form of physical exercise for 21 days. Hopefully, after 21 days, it will become a habit that I automatically do without having to force myself or work up special motivation. Not only will regular exercise benefit me physically and mentally, it will also get me out of the house. I’ll let you know the results of this experiment in about three weeks.

Are there any habits any of you want to change? Have you ever successfully used the 21 day model to change a habit?