Last night I saw Shame. I wanted to see this movie because the main character, Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a sex addict. First off, it’s a well-acted, beautifully shot movie with a compelling script and I would have enjoyed the movie whether or not the topic of sex addiction was on my radar. Also, Michael Fassbender is hot and naked throughout much of the movie.
After seeing Shame, I thought I was going to write about how realistically the movie portrayed sex addiction and how much I could relate to the frenzied hunger that is never quite sated, and the desperate, yet fruitless desire to quell intense emotional pain with the ecstasy of an orgasm. Today, however, all I can think about is the relationship between Brandon and his sister Cissy (Carey Mulligan). Even though they have a highly dysfunctional relationship, they have each other.
I can’t help but think how much easier my life and my recovery would be if I had someone. As some as you know, I am an only child and both of my parents died before I entered high school. It’s not like I am completely alone. I have close friends who are like family, and an extended family that loves and cares for me. Still, it’s not the same thing as having a close blood relative. Extended family is okay, but sometimes because I’m not immediate family, they don’t think to include me.
This holiday season has been particularly tough, because I wasn’t invited to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with the family members I lived with after my parents died. It wasn’t like they just forgot to invite me, either. I asked if I could come and was told that there wouldn’t be enough room, even if I stayed in a hotel. While this probably sounds like a pretty shitty thing to do, I know these people well enough to know that this wasn’t done out of malice, but just out of thoughtlessness. They have each other, and especially as their families are growing, I’m not included in this. I’m not immediate family. It hurts that the family I spent a chunk of my childhood with doesn’t think of me as a member, but I’m fortunate to have plenty of other aunts, uncles and cousins whose doors are always open to me. I’ll be spending Christmas with some of them.
While I am grateful for the family I do have, it’s just not the same as having siblings or parents, or even a husband and kids of my own. It’s lonely. A loneliness that few people can truly relate too.
Much of what drove my sex and love addiction was this loneliness. I so desperately wanted to belong to someone, to have someone take care of me. I would cling like my life depended on it. At the same time, I got freaked out whenever I felt genuine closeness with someone I and would push them away. I could be very mean and abusive to the men I was dating. Disrespectful. Usually this meant I was left clinging on to someone I had no real connection to aside from sex, like HC. This was the love addiction. The pain from being alone was what drove my sex addiction. I just wanted to obliterate my feelings and lose myself in sexual ecstasy. Then as soon as it was over the pain would come back even more intensely and I would have to do it all over again.
I worry that no amount of therapy or of steps will mitigate this loneliness. Really, the only cure for not having any family is to have a family. It’s hard for me to imagine I will ever be healthy enough to accomplish this. When loneliness is both the cause and the effect of my disease, how can I ever completely heal?