Several months back, I wrote about my friend Ben. Only I didn’t call him Ben at the time, I gave him the highly inappropriate nickname of Mr. FCFW. For those of you who don’t feel like clicking the link, here is the quick backstory: Ben is a seemingly confident, well-off, older, charming man I had a brief fling with, despite knowing he was married. After the fling we developed a friendship.
When I wrote that post back in November, I was still pretty new in my recovery. Ben was someone I talked to a lot, even though I realized it was inappropriate. I now know that I was doing with him was called “intrigue,” which basically means I was trying to keep him interested, just in case. After I wrote about him, I ended up talking to him less and less. I never consciously decided to pull away from him, but as I got healthier and healthier the schism naturally occurred.
I hadn’t talked to him in months, so it was odd to see a text message from him last week when I was getting ready for work. Odder still, was the content of the message, “I need help.” The first thing I thought was that someone had stolen his cell phone, and was texting everyone in his address book in some attempt to scam money. That far-fetched scenario sounded more probable to me, than confident, self-assured, has-everything-going-for-him Ben actually needing my help with anything.
“What’s going on?” I texted back.
“My wife found out everything. I’m out of control. I need help. What do I do?”
Let me pause this story in order to briefly tell another one.
When I first started in recovery I fantasized about this very thing happening for months. Only I wasn’t fantasizing about Ben, I was fantasizing about HC, another married man who I was completely, devastatingly, irrationally fixated on. HC is the reason I started coming to 12-step meetings. He was pretty much all I talked about in meetings for the first few months, and almost all I wrote about when I first started this blog. I was OBSESSED.
The fantasy was that HC’s wife would find out he had been cheating on her throughout the entire course of their marriage. He’d realize he had a problem with sex addiction. He’d contact me for help. I’d tell him about the program I’m in. We’d started going to meetings together, and then when we were both fully recovered, he’d realize he was in love with me and we’d live happily ever after. Totally healthy little fantasy. Also, totally probable, right?
I feel awful for this, but when Ben sent me that text, my thoughts weren’t, “I feel so terrible for Ben and his family,” they were “ohmygodohmygod it’s finally happening!!!” The addict in me didn’t even care that it was happening to the wrong person, I was just so excited it was happening. I hate admitting this, but I got a major buzz off of the drama. Ben’s life was falling apart, and I was getting a contact high.
My addict wanted to jump in, and save the day. Fix all of Ben’s problems for him. Make his drama my drama. But I took a step back and realized that this reaction I was having was nothing but addiction. Is there such thing as a drama addict?
Yes, and you’re reading one’s blog.
Once I had gotten ahold of myself we talked on the phone. My addict wanted to tell him to start coming to SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) meetings with me; wanted to tell him that I would take him to a meeting, but instead I told him to look up another S-program, Sex Addicts Anonymous. There is some crossover in my area between these two programs, and I’ve heard that SAA is almost 100 percent men, and many of them are married and trying to save their marriage. The program I attend is both men and women, most of whom are single. I also told him to call a marriage counselor. My addict wanted to look up the meeting schedule and send it to him, as well as look up a list of therapy referrals. But my authentic self stepped in and said, “Come on Imperfect, he can google just as well as you can. Back off!”
So I pointed Ben in the right direction, but kept my distance. My addict wanted to call him later that day to see how he was doing, but my authentic self told her to chill. Ben called me the next day to tell me he attended his first meeting and we talked about it. He sent me a text yesterday and told me he was in therapy and had started reading Patrick Carnes’ book on sexual addiction, Out of the Shadows. His life is in a lot of turmoil, but I trust that if he continues on this path, he’ll be okay. I don’t need to rescue Ben, just like I don’t need anyone to rescue me. That’s the beauty of surrendering to a Higher Power. I know it will all be okay.