An Ode to My Second Favorite Gender

lossy-page1-769px-Oakland,_California._Hanging_Around._The_total_time_spent_in_actual_interviews_while_hunting_a_job_takes_only_a_small..._-_NARA_-_532235.tifI love men. Like, I fucking love them. And not in the way that I used to “love” men, either. Because, as it turns out, wanting someone is not the some as loving someone. Longing for isn’t the same as respecting, using is different from cherishing, and objectifying doesn’t equal accepting.

One of the gifts of my recovery is the relationships I have developed with the brothers in my program. For the first time in maybe ever, I am able to actually see men as fellow human beings. I honestly used to think that men didn’t have feelings, or at least they didn’t experience them nearly as deeply or as much as women did. And I was so jealous. I wanted to be an iron wall. I wanted to fuck without consequence, to go through life without pain, be able to use, walk away and never look back. This is what I perceived the male experience to be. Then I started going to meetings. I heard men (old men, young men, tall men, short men, handsome men, less conventionally attractive men, gay men, straight men) tell my story. Time and time again, I would set aside my preconceived notions and listen. What I heard shook up everything I thought I knew.

Last week some douchebag did something douchey. Go figure, right? For a moment, though, I forgot all I’ve learned about men on this journey. I thought, is this is what dudes are REALLY like? Some old prejudices temporarily stepped back into my head. Fuck those misogynistic, hateful dickbags overcompensating for their obvious shortcomings. They can all go sit and spin, I thought.

Last night I went to a fellowship party and hung out with my friends. My friends who now include both men and women. This snapped me back into reality. I had a blast. I’m so blessed to have these awesome guys (and girls) in my life. Guys who, no matter how hot they might be, I will never want to sleep with. Guys who, no matter how kind and gentle, or rich they are, I will never ask to rescue me or to take care of me. Genuine friends.

Being a male and being an asshole aren’t mutually exclusive. There are tons of assholes of both genders in the world and on the internet, that’s just life. What I’ve discovered in the past year and a half, though, is that the amount of awesome, genuine people far outweigh the amount of dickheads. I thank God that I am now able to go though life with an open mind and an open heart and that I am now able to love and see love all around me.

The Guy Who Wasn’t John Jenner

When I think of my first boyfriend, what comes to mind is my first truly love addicted entanglement, which I was involved with from my late teens to early 20s. I often forget that he was preceded by Dennis, a boy who was my boyfriend for four whole weeks when I was 15.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of high school, I was feeling pretty insecure. I’d never had a boyfriend, never been kissed, never even been on one date. If I had known then how much I was going to eventually make up for this late start, I might have relaxed a little. But at the time I felt like a freak.

One of my good friends, Louisa, had always had a boyfriend. She was one of those girls, who later became one of those women who was never single more than a day in her life. She just went from one longterm boyfriend to another. Dennis, a freshman, was totally smitten with Louisa, but since she was attached, he set his sites on one of her single girlfriends (me).

I had no interest in Dennis. He was a decent enough looking guy, but I just wasn’t into him. While girls like Louisa could trace their history from present all the way back to third grade from boyfriend to boyfriend, I could do the same but from silent, painful, all consuming crush to silent, painful, all consuming crush. When Dennis started showing interest in me, all the space in my brain reserved for liking guys was completely taken over by John Jenner, the gorgeous water polo player I had never talked to even once. In fact, I had never even made eye contact with the guy, who was in half of my classes, for fear that if he looked in my eyes he would see how much I liked him, and reject me in a public and humiliating way.

Dennis could have been the coolest guy in school (he wasn’t, though) and I would have had no interest, because he wasn’t John Jenner. Despite the fact that he wasn’t what I wanted, I agreed to be his date to the Homecoming Dance. I did this for two reasons. 1) My friends all told me I should and 2) I felt like going on a date with someone, anyone would make me less of a freak.

We went to the dance, we made out, and then he asked me to be his girlfriend. We spent the next four weeks making out in the back of movie theaters. Even though I was totally indifferent towards the guy, I liked making out with him especially in the dark.

Talking to him was another story. We just didn’t have anything in common. One time I showed him my recently painted nails. I had painted them black with a gold glitter topcoat. This was a few years before black nail polish became en vogue, but I still thought they looked rather cool. When I asked him what he thought, he gave me a disgusted look and said, “Why can’t you just be a normal girl?” Ouch! I should have shot back with, “Why can’t you just be John Jenner?”

Another time we were deciding how to divvy up the pictures from Homecoming and I said something like, “Well, when we break-up you probably won’t want to have all these extra pictures of me lying around.” A pretty logical point for a 15-year-old girl, right? But Dennis didn’t think so.

“What do you mean when we break-up?”

“We are going to eventually break-up. I’m 15 and you’re only 14.”

“But you are actually planning for it?”

Yeah, cry me a river Dennis. Three days later he called me up and broke up with me. On the phone.

Actually I remember the conversation going a little like this:

“Maybe we should break up.”

“Yeah, maybe we should.”

But the next day at school this Freshman had the nerve to tell everyone he broke up with me. Although we passed each other every day in the halls, we never said another word to each other.

Louisa eventually started seeing Dennis. I think she even lost her virginity to him. Then they broke up and he moved to another school. I tried to look him up on Facebook, but to no avail. I also can’t find Louisa, who I lost touch with after graduation.

I did find John Jenner, though. He is now some granola-y, hippie, organic farmer married to some chick with dreadlocks. He is also balding, and has lost his water polo physique. Seems like a cool guy, but not my type at all. He probably was never my type. I was too caught up in the fantasy of John Jenner to actually get to know John Jenner.

Earlier, I started to type that Dennis was the first guy I ever used, but then I realized I also used John Jenner, and every boy I had an obsessive crush on before him. In the past all I needed was a few details about a hot guy and I would fill in all the blanks, falling for essentially a fantasy character I created. I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to get to know people for who they authentically are.

Carson

Yesterday, I talked to Carson. In addition to all of his other problems, he’s in a bad place financially. If things don’t start working out for him soon, he’s going to be homeless. He told me that two nights earlier he got really drunk and then took a handful of sleeping pills, nearly overdosing. Yesterday morning, he woke up staring at the rafters of his celling and thought about hanging himself, so he took another sleeping pill and went back to sleep. My afternoon phone call woke him up.

My response? “That sucks and all but, can I come over and fuck you?” I didn’t use those exact words; I’m not a monster. I put it a lot more tactfully, but that’s what I meant.

Later I was thinking about what a selfish asshole I am. This whole time I’ve been thinking that Carson is bad for me, looking at him like he’s my version of a bottle of booze — a bad habit I’ve picked up but know I’ll eventually be strong enough to put down again. But he’s not a substance, he’s a person and I’m just as bad for him as he is for me. Worse, maybe. I’m not a healthy person right now, and I’m only going to drag Carson down. There isn’t much further he can go.

My typical pattern is to have sex with someone first, then maybe develop a friendship with him later. With a little recovery under my belt, I flipped this formula around with Carson. We hung out for a full two months before anything sexual happened between us. I care about Carson. I wish I could be a positive force in his life and boost him up, but I’m too fucked up to help.

This needs to stop. I need to get better before I can attempt another romantic relationship with someone, and I need to stay away from Carson. If I can’t do it for the sake of my health, I need to do it for the sake of his. I am powerless over the disease of sex and love addiction, though.  Knowing I need to stop some behavior has never before been enough to make me stop. I need to rely on God now more than ever.

Thy will, not mine, be done.

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.

Old Eggs

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I had dinner last night with a couple of old friends. One friend, Polly, was all abuzz with news of her new beau. Seems Polly and her fella are on the fast track, full steam ahead to Marriage City. He hasn’t formally proposed yet, but they are living together and already shopping for wedding venues. She told us to expect an announcement soon and to keep October open. Polly’s relationship with her guy is younger than my blog, btw. When asked why the hurry, Polly pointed to her lower abdomen and said, “because these puppies aren’t getting any younger. I need to be pregnant by this time next year.” Ohh! So that’s why… Matzel Tov?

So exactly how old are these old friend’s old eggs? Less than six months older than my old eggs, as a mater of fact. Thanks for reminding me, P! I try not to think about this ticking clock stuff, but maybe she’s got a point. My eggs and I better get a move-on. Haste makes waste! I should be on Match.com right now looking for the first half-way suitable sperm donor I can find, marry him, push out 2.5 kids, then worry about all that other silly compatibility stuff later. Right?

Wait. I would like to be happily married some day with a kid or two, I really would. What are the chances, though, if I went Polly’s route that I would have the happily part? I think about what my Aunt Liz said, that there is no worse loneliness than the loneliness inside of a bad relationship. For the record, I haven’t met Polly’s boyfriend/unofficial fiancé yet. He could be Polly’s perfect life partner, for all I know. When she was talking about him, though, all I heard was, “red flag, red flag, red flag.” I learned a long time ago that having an opinion, particularly when it comes to someone else’s boyfriend/girlfriend, doesn’t mean I need to voice it; so I kept my mouth shut. How often is, “I HATE your new boyfriend!” or “Make sure you get a pre-nup!” ever well received, anyway?

What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t think it’s wise (for me, at least) to force an artificial timeline. I surrender to my higher power. He’s in control of this matter, not me. Someday he’ll probably see fit to lead me toward a healthy partner. Maybe he’ll do this while I’m still young enough to conceive naturally. Maybe not, though. Maybe his plan is for me to adopt, or something else entirely. All I need to worry about right now is getting healthy. The rest will come when it’s time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Connections

There are two types of SLAA meetings I attend. On the weekends I go to one or two in-person meetings. During the week, the in-person meetings are harder for me to catch. They either happen while I’m at work or later in the evening while I am in yoga class (or lately, while I am home watching tv and drinking a glass of wine, too lazy to leave my apartment). So, during the week, I call in to some phone meetings.

While, ultimately, I think the in-person meetings are where I am going to find the most recovery; the phone meetings have really helped me. I’ve made a lot of connections and friendships with women all over the country. I even met my sponsor on a phone meeting.

It’s been harder for me to make connections at in-person meetings. I have made some, but not as many or as deep as the ones I’ve made on the phone. I think the difference is that on the phone meetings, I can’t see anyone and so I’m forced to actually get to know someone based on the content of their character, and not their appearance. I went to a meeting yesterday and I noticed that I am still judging people by their outsides, and not their insides.

For example, there is a man who I see at most of the meetings I go to. Honestly, we have a lot in common — similar profession, similar stories, similar acting out patterns — but I never do more than say hi to him; because, quite frankly, I’m not attracted to him. There is an older lady that says a lot of things that I can relate to and had a relationship with her qualifier that seems pretty similar to the relationship I had with mine. I never give her more than a polite smile though, because she always has lipstick on her teeth and she seems a little bit loopy. It’s not like I’m rude to these people. If they initiate conversation with me, I always reciprocate, but I’m not seeking them out after the meeting to tell them I liked their shares.

The men and women I initiate conversations with are people I find attractive or cool in someway. How fucked up is that?  I’m in this recovery program for sex and love addiction, and I’m essentially only talking to people I want to date/fuck or to people who I think could probably help me meet people I’d like to date/fuck. Obviously I’m not doing this consciously. I’m not currently looking to date/fuck anyone, and when I am ready to look, I’m not going to be looking in the SLAA rooms.

I really need to get out of this habit of judging people by anything less than the content of their character. I’m sure I am missing out on a lot of great friendships and recovery partnerships. Also, it’s not like I’m this flawless, put-together picture-of-perfection myself; far fucking from it. If everyone was as judgmental and as shallow as me, probably no one would ever talk to me.

Tonight, I am going to another meeting and I am going to talk to whoever sits down next to me, regardless of what they look like.