The Downward Spiral

There is no easy way to say it. I’ve been fucking up left and right. The holidays were extremely hard on me and my recovery. While I haven’t quite had a full on relapse, I am headed there. Here’s a list of my bottom lines (the behaviors I am supposed to be abstaining from to be considered sober) and how I’ve been acting out on them.

1. No sex, dating, or romantic involvement with married/attached or otherwise unavailable men
     Last week I was in contact with Paolo, a former lover. He now has a girlfriend. I saw him online and we had an extremely sexually charged conversation. I told him that I was currently in a relationship. This is a lie that usually helps get me out of trouble, but it seemed to only encourage him. “It’s not cheating if I break in and rape you,” he said. This actually isn’t as fucked up as it sounds, because while we were seeing each other we had talked about rape fantasy. In my head, I tried to justify this. If I just happened to give him my new address, and then just happened to leave my door unlocked at a specified date and time, and he just happened to show up and force himself on me, this wouldn’t be acting out, right? Luckily, my window of opportunity has passed on this one, because he is out of the country for the next month, and when he gets back he’ll be living with his girlfriend.
     There is also SN. I haven’t gone on a date with him yet, but I’ve been in heavy contact with this guy, a dominant, who is in an open relationship with his submissive. We have been speaking daily and have had phone sex. I’ve also watched him masturbate on cam. We have tentative plans to meet tonight, but I will probably cancel. The flirtation with these two guys isn’t new. Looking back on past blog entries, I wrote about both of them  back in August. Making plans to meet them is new, though.

2. No sex outside of a committed relationship
     This is the one bottom line I haven’t broken. It’s a big one. Breaking this one would constitute a full relapse.

3. No reading, answering or posting ads on craigslist personals
     Two days ago I answered a casual encounter ad. I’ve been talking to the guy quite a bit since then. He actually seems like a decent guy and we have a lot of non-sexual things in common. I’m thinking of telling him about SLAA and how I can’t have sex outside of a committed relationship and see if he still wants to meet me. My sponsor gave me the go ahead that I could start dating again in January. I am most certain she didn’t have CL casual encounters in mind as a venue for meeting appropriate people, though.

4. No contact with my qualifier (HC)
     Yep, I blew this one too. I emailed him a few days before Christmas and we have been in contact ever since. I hadn’t contacted him in more than seven months. I have no plans to see him or have sex with him ever again. Our emails are friendly and completely non-sexual. I know where things will lead if I keep in contact with him, and I sure as hell don’t want that again.

5. No spying (online or otherwise) on qualifier or anyone associated with him
    I suck. I do this every day now.

I also have four middle lines, which are behaviors I am only supposed to be engaging in with extreme caution. They are: contact with anyone I have had sexual or romantic involvement with in the past; phone conversations with men that last more than 20 minutes; masturbation; and using pornography. I am doing all of these things daily, and with not a lot of caution.

I feel so lost. I have no idea how to find my way back on track. Things aren’t as bad as they could be, I know this, but they are headed there fast. Because I need a reminder myself, here is a link to the blog I wrote three months ago today, reminiscing on what things were like just before I started my recovery. Today, I would have 6 months of sobriety. Some people would argue that I am still sober, because I am sticking to one of my bottom lines. I don’t feel sober, though. I feel like I am spiraling out of control.

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.

For Today

Yesterday wasn’t a great recovery day. I acted out as much as possible without actually crossing any bottom lines (the specific things I told myself I would no longer do or won’t do until I am healthier).

I fantasized over Paolo, someone I had a very brief fling with in February. I looked him up online to see if he is working on anything new (he is), to see if there are any recent pictures of him (there are), and to see if he is still with his girlfriend (inconclusive). In my fantasy, I run into Paolo several months from now (once I am “cured” from my sex and love addiction), he is single and we reunite, living happily ever after. The most ridiculous part of this fantasy is that I know very little about what Paolo’s character is like. We got sexual almost right away and the sex was pretty amazing. In my diseased brain, amazing sex=amazing person, so it makes sense that part of me still believes Paolo is my Soul Mate, based on two (yes, two) encounters. Right?

I sat at my computer with Yahoo Messenger open (already a bad idea) looking at Paolo’s name and willing him to IM me. He didn’t and I wasn’t going to initiate contact with him, so instead I sent a message to Ari, someone I haven’t talked to in probably a year. I had a weird kind of something — for simplicity’s sake, I guess I can call it a “relationship” – with Ari maybe 6 years ago.  He was an unusual guy into unusual things. He refers to himself as a “submissive” and likes to think I was his dominant, although, at the time, he was definitely the one running the show and acting in the “dominant” role to him was probably one of the most submissive things I have ever done.

Ari ended up moving to another city to go grad school a few months into our “relationship.” Although this odd little thing I had with Ari never consummated in sexual intercourse, I was still in agony when Ari left and obsessed over him for months. Now he is married and he still contacts me from time to time. I usually ignore him, because I know he wants to have an inappropriate conversation, and even when I was more active in my addiction, I just wasn’t interested. But yesterday, I was interested in any attention I could get, so I contacted him and we had a borderline inappropriate conversation over ichat.

The conversation I had with Ari still wasn’t enough attention (there never is enough), so while I was talking to him I was also messaging SN, a man I have never met in person. I am interested in SN for the stupidest of stupid reasons – I think he has a cool name. I also like the pictures he sends me of what is supposedly his naked body, although having never seen his face and his body together, and due to the unusual size of a certain part of his body, I highly suspect SN is full of shit. I know I will/should never meet SN, and if I did, he definitely falls under the “He’ll Do For Now” category. But yesterday I was craving any male attention I could get, and SN was there and willing to give it. I know some day I won’t need this kind of attention, or at least will be satisfied with attention for my accomplishments rather than for my sexuality.

Yesterday I was stuck in fantasy land. My head was in the past and in the future, I know that I will probably have days like that again, but for today, I pray to stay firmly in the present.