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.

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Everyone Else’s Problems: Solved

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to convince a recovery friend not to see her qualifier who had called her out of the blue, for sex, after four months. I was shocked, and frankly a little pissed, that she was even contemplating seeing this asshole after all the shit he had put her though. Why couldn’t she see what a horrible, horrible idea it was to see this guy again? At the same time, though, I am so close to the edge of the cliff that is my sobriety. I want to contact my qualifier so bad right now. He’s married. He’s a sex addict. He lied to you about everything. There is no possible future with this man. I need to keep repeating those lines to myself like a mantra.

When it comes to everyone else’s shitty love life, it’s always so clear what to do. Stop sleeping with the guy who is just using you for sex. Problem solved. Stop calling the guy who keeps telling you it’s over. All better, now. Don’t get back together with the man who physically abused you. Done and done. Stop having sex with people you just met. Check. Stop lying to everyone you have sex with. Fixed. See, it’s so easy. But when it comes to my own history of terrible relationships, it’s always been impossible to see the way out. I’m so scared of what my life will be if I go back to HC or find someone else just like him. That’s what’s keeping me from calling him. I know people in program who are 10, 20, even 30 years older than me who have spent their lives going from one unavailable sex partner to another, using people and being used. I can’t take a lifetime, or even one more year of acting out. I can’t jump back into the cycle, and I can’t go through withdrawal again.

I’ve been white knuckling my sobriety lately, but neglecting many other areas of my life. Even the word “sobriety” sounds ridiculous considering the amount of wine, pot, and junk food I’ve been putting away. I could probably qualify for at least half-a-dozen other 12 Step programs. If I was someone else, I would tell myself, “Instead of coming home after work, plopping down in front of the tv with a glass of wine and some starchy food; you should go to a meeting, or the gym, or yoga.” But, since I’m me, I tell myself, “Don’t worry. You can do all that stuff tomorrow. Have another glass of wine and some more mashed potatoes.”

Babies

Today I went to a meeting. The speaker’s share made me think about a fantasy I used to have. In my past, when I was in a relationship with someone I was addicted to and felt them pulling away, the thought that I should “accidentally” get pregnant would occur to me. The fantasy was that if I got pregnant with the man’s child, he would stay with me. At first, out of obligation, but then out of love. Of course, logic would win out in the end and I never ended up trying to get knocked up. Thank God.

A few days ago I started a longer blog on the saying, “Rejection is God’s protection,” revisiting some old relationships and exploring if my life was better off now than it would have been if I had stayed with each person in question. The resounding answer in all of these cases yes. Of course, it’s not possible to actually know for sure. But it’s very unlikely I would be anything more than miserable with any of the guys I was obsessed with in the past.

I doubt I am going to finish the blog, which at first I intended to be funny, because it was just too painful thinking about these toxic relationships, especially the ones I had in my 20s. The idea of having a chid with any of these men is nightmarish. I think that’s why this man’s share was so upsetting to me. How much worse would my life be now if I was currently pregnant with HC’s baby? The idea makes me sick.

I really do want to have a child someday, but only under the right circumstances. The possibility gets less and less with every birthday that goes by, but I trust if it’s in God’s plan for me, it will happen. One thing that’s for sure, I’m glad it hasn’t happened yet. Right now I am struggling to take care of myself. I can’t imagine if I was responsible for another life.

64,999 Calls Too Many

I know this story out of the Netherlands has been out a few days, but I just heard about it last night. If you haven’t heard, a Dutch woman was arrested for stalking after she called her ex-boyfriend 65,000 times in one year. When you do the math, 65,000 calls in one year equals one call every 8 minutes.

My first reaction when I read this story was, “One call every 8 minutes? Pshaw, that’s not so bad.” I’ve certainly gone crazy once or twice (probably more like 10 times) before and called someone too many times when they did not want to hear from me. One ex told me later that he got almost 60 missed calls from me in one weekend. This was after a huge fight we had over him seeing another girl, at the end of which he told me he wanted to take a break. I did not want to take a break. He did not want to discuss it. So 60 calls in one weekend — totally justified, right?

Whenever I hear stories about stalker ladies — I’m also thinking of Lisa Nowak (I couldn’t remember her name so I googled “crazy astronaut lady” and her wikipedia page was the first to come up) and Dr. Jacquelyn Kotarac, who suffocated to death after trying to sneak into her ex-boyfriend’s house through the chimney — I’m terrified. I know that if I don’t get my shit together, someday I could become one of these poor women. Can you imagine if your death became the butt of a late night comedian’s jokes? Or if your entire amazing life and career is eclipsed by the fact that you couldn’t let go of your ex?

There are many people out there that don’t think sex/love addiction is a real thing. It saddens me, because I know that most men and women who suffer from this obsession/addiction/disease/whatever you want to call it, won’t get the help they would get if their addiction was alcohol, for example. I know there is humor in these stories, but for me there is also a lot of sadness.

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.

 

 

 

Rain Checks?

Since I’ve been sexually “sober,” I’ve been mentally creating a list in my head of guys that I might want to “revisit” or check out on December 29th. On December 29, it will be six months since I have been working a program of recovery from sex and love addiction, and when I will allow myself to begin dating again, this time “soberly.” Dating soberly is basically just dating while sticking to my bottom lines – chiefly “no sexual involvement outside of a committed relationship,” also no sexual or romatic involvement with married, attached, or otherwise unavailable men (funny how this wasn’t already common sense to me before). So this list isn’t exactly a “to do” list.

Having a mental list like this, isn’t a good thing (in program speak, this is called making “rain checks”) but some days when I’m in intense withdrawal, I have to kinda play mind games with myself to keep from acting out. So far on the list I have Paolo, if he has broken up with his girlfriend by then; Miles, a musician I went out with once in March, who told me he just wanted something casual; SN someone I haven’t met in person yet  but I like him because his name is remarkably similar to mine, and, in pictures, he has an amazing body (face not so much); and a few other guys that have been popping up here and there. I’m not really in contact with any of these men. That wouldn’t be healthy behavior for me. But from time to time I will get a random text from some guy I went out once or twice, months back, or someone I had talked about going out with. I either ignore the text or I write back a polite message saying I am currently unavailable.

Yesterday, I went on to Yahoo messenger, and there was a message from SN, but it was written by someone claiming to be his wife. I told her I would not be communicating with him again, and removed him from my contact list.

This incident made me realize, how fucked up my “picker” still is. Even though, I now have some recovery, I am still attracted to people based on superficial things like appearance, status, and sexual prowess. When I fantasize about what my first sober relationship will look like in recovery, I cast one of these guys from my list the role of “perfect boyfriend,” knowing, nothing about who they really are. Also, every guy on this list has some kind of caveat next to his name – “if he has broken up with his girlfriend by then,” “only if he is now interested in a serious relationship,” “if he has gotten help for his addictions,” etc. Even with, SN, part of me is still hoping he is going to send me a message telling me the wife thing was just a joke.

It’s clear that I don’t have the tools yet needed to find a healthy mate and sustain a functional partnership. At first, going six months without men seemed like an eternity. Now, it’s four and a half months and that doesn’t seem like such a long time. It’s one thing to be initially attracted to someone based on looks, status, and sexual chemistry, but what if I’m never able to move beyond that? On their website, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous lists twelve characteristics of sex and love addiction. Eleven out of the twelve apply to me, but particularly number one, “Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.” and number twelve, “We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.”

Is four and a half months going to be long enough to stop doing what I’ve been doing my entire life? Will a year be long enough? What if I can never get over this?