When I was around 8 or 9 I found my father’s stash of porn magazines in the garage. They were mostly Playboys, but there were also some hardcore ones. At the time I remember feeling a lot of shame that my father had these magazines. But looking at them, I also felt titillated and exhilarated. I enjoyed looking at them, which made me feel extremely guilty. I looked at them every opportunity I got, and every time I felt like the biggest creep in the world.
I don’t even really understand where the feelings of guilt and shame came from. I mean, I was 8, it’s not like I knew much about sex and it’s not like anyone in my family or community was directly telling a second or third grader that sex was this bad thing. Also my parents weren’t “fire and brimstone” religious types. My mom was somewhat religious, but fairly progressive, and my dad was an atheist. Somehow, though, without even knowing what it was, I picked up that sex was “wrong” and “dirty.”
Is shame over sexuality just innate? Was it innate for me? Maybe my parents didn’t need to shame me, maybe it was just in my blood — Irish and German Catholic immigrants on one side, and WASPy descendants of Puritans on the other. Maybe some kind of shame gene was passed down.
Now that I’m an adult, I realize that finding Dad’s porn is a fairly common experience. At the time though, I felt like the sickest, dirtiest, most deviant person on the face of the earth. Even now, while I intellectually understand that it’s human nature to be titillated by pornography and sex, even at a young age, there is a voice in the back of my head that says, “No, there was something wrong with you. And there still is something wrong with you. You are a sick fuck. You should be locked up.”
So much of my sexual acting out was based on the same combination of emotions I felt looking at my Dad’s porn — shame, guilt, and exhilaration. For many years I was drawn to BDSM, for this reason (and many others). I needed to be told I was “bad,” to be humiliated, to be punished. It felt right. When I masturbate I usually need to think of being abused, used or humiliated in order to get off.
And while I’m on the topic of BDSM, let me clarity my feelings on it. I don’t think that practicing D/s, power exchange, role-play, bondage, or kink in general is in itself a symptom of sex addiction. I know many non-sexaddicted, healthy people who are a part of the lifestyle. Being a submissive was a big part of my sexuality for many years, and it might still be, once I get back into the world of relationships. As I progress in my sobriety, though, D/s does seem to be losing some of it’s appeal. Right now the idea of eventually having a healthy partnership with an equal is more attractive than the idea of having a Dom.