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.

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I Love You

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I love you.

Regardless of what the number says on the scale, I love you.

If you gain fifty pounds, I will still love you.

If you lose fifty pounds, I will love you then, too.

I will love you if you spend two hours everyday at the gym, and I will love you if you never go to the gym again.

Your body might not be perfect, but to me it is.

I love every pale, veiny, dimpled inch.

I love you when your jeans fit, and I love you when they don’t.

I love you when your hair is shiny, bouncing and glossy, and I love you when it is tangled, unwashed and frizzy.

If you spend all your money and go broke, I will still love you.

If you make a lot of money and invest it wisely, I will love you then too.

I will love you regardless of your credit score.

No matter how big or small your home is, I will love you.

I will love you when you keep it spotless, and I will love you when you don’t clean for weeks.

When every dish you own is dirty and in the sink, I love you.

When they are clean and stacked neatly in the cupboard, I love you then, too.

I will love you if he calls, and I will love you if he doesn’t.

If you get married and have four kids, I will love you.

And I will love you if you never marry and live with twenty cats.

For I will always love you.

A New Year In Recovery

I remember this time two years ago, January 2011. A guy I met, who I would later end up sleeping with asked if I had any new year’s resolutions. I jokingly told him, “I want to make sure I can actually keep my resolutions this year, so I’m resolving to drink more and to have more casual sex.” Pathetically, I thought this line was so cute and clever, that I used it a few other times that month on other men.

Ironically, I ended up breaking that resolution less than six months later, in June 2011, when I went into recovery for sex and love addiction.

Before that time I had such resistance to 12-step programs. I had even looked up statistics about their failure rates, and would cite then whenever 12-step groups came up in conversation. “Those people are just trading one addiction for another. They might no longer be addicted to drugs or alcohol, but they are addicted to meetings.” Years and years before I had spent a few months in OA (Overeaters Anonymous). At the time, I didn’t feel like I belonged there. Although I was (and still am) overweight, I couldn’t relate to the obsession with food and the extreme body hatred. In fact, being in those meetings triggered more issues with food and body image than I came in with.

Soon after my OA stint I went to my first meeting of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. At the beginning of the meeting, someone read The Characteristics of Sex and Love Addiction. I had all twelve. Every share at that meeting, I could relate to. There was no way getting around it, I belonged at that meeting. So I went to a few more, but then I used my best worst thinking and determined that finding someone else to obsess over was a much easier way to get over whomever he was.

A couple of years later, after I had dropped close to 3 grand on a psychic that promised to reunite me with my “one true soulmate,” I was at a bottom and dragged myself to a couple more meetings. Again, I knew I was where I was supposed to be, but didn’t want to believe it. Instead of sticking around and waiting for the miracle, I chose my tried and true method for getting over an ex — getting under someone else. After that I put my heart in soul into acting out. I thought I was “cured” from love addiction because I went a few years without getting obsessed with any of the guys I was seeing. And as for the sex addiction? I was just a young, adventurous, open-minded woman, with an active social life, not a sex addict.

Then I met HC. I knew minutes after meeting him that I was fucked. Something in him triggered a chemical reaction in me that was like I had just shot myself up with heroin. Being with him was absolute ecstasy and I was instantly addicted. When I finally decided to get clean from HC, I knew I could not do it alone. I was desperate and fully recognized how absolutely powerless I was over my addiction to him.

Six months. Six months. Six months! That was the mantra that was going through my head all of the summer of 2011. I promised myself this time I would stick it out and go to meetings for six months, that I wouldn’t contact HC for six months, and that I wouldn’t date anyone for six months. I had many fantasies about what would happen at the end of those six months. Most of them involved HC realizing he missed me and couldn’t live without me. The rest imagined me meeting my future husband six months and one day later. All of them involved me being 100 percent better and living a life that was entirely problem free.

A year and a half later, and my life is far from perfect. It is nothing like I imagined it would be, but it is amazing. My life is filled with joy, love, and acceptance. I’m so grateful and so happy to be celebrating a new year in recovery.

Nobody Loves You

“Nobody loves you,” “No one wants you,” “You are worthless,” “You don’t matter to anyone,” “You don’t deserve love, protection, happiness, success or anything else that’s good,” “You are shit!” This is what my addiction says to me. This voice formed long ago, probably before my conscious memory. It could have been formed by something as uneventful as belong left to cry a little too long as an infant. Who knows how it originally formed.

In my later childhood this voice was fortified by abandonment, death, and abuse. It lodged deep in my subconscious, then grew with each subsequent trauma. Every unfortunate event in my life gave it more fuel. I deserved it when my boyfriend hit me. Had it coming when I was raped. I believed this voice so much that I sought out further evidence to prove it right. Choose men that would beat me. Asked them for it. Choose men who were unavailable and would therefore eventually abandon me. Became addicted to those men.

This voice is somewhat quelled by the sexual act. In those short moments I know that I am intensely wanted, desired, valued, maybe even loved. I am validated by the focus and the attention. Then it’s over, and all I want is to feel that validation again, and again, and again.

Nowadays I know that this voice is a liar. I am loved, valued, and worthy of all good things. My friends love me, my family members love me, my sponsor and my fellows love me, and most importantly, I am loved by myself and my Higher Power.

That voice is quieter now, but it’s still there. And sometimes it kicks up a fuss that is difficult to ignore.

Love

I came home from work yesterday to find a Christmas care package from my Aunt Nadine and Uncle Ned, who live on the other side of the country. It contained homemade banana bread, cookies, a Christmas stocking full of goodies and two wrapped presents. It’s hard to put into words how moved I was by this unexpected package.

Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to keep getting reminders that I am loved. Big things like this care package, but also small things like a neighbor kid drawing a picture for me, or a text from a high school friend telling me that she misses me are enough to move me to tears. Surely, these kinds of non-romatic displays of affection always existed in my life, but I always took them for granted. If it wasn’t Prince Charming with a dozen roses, I barely even noticed. I was too busy lamenting all that I didn’t have — a boyfriend, a husband, a dom — to realize all the blessings that I did have.

Deep down, I didn’t believe I was even lovable. Sure, a guy might stick around for awhile if I was doing everything I could to please him sexually and be a good sub, but if sex was out of the equation that same guy would have zero interest in me. And the other people in my life — family, friends, coworkers, neighbors — they were just there because they got stuck with me, not out of a genuine tenderness for me.

Occasionally I still tend to oh, woe is me thinking (see previous entry, for example), but most of the time I am so appreciative for all that I do have. And I feel so lucky that these special people stuck around and still care about me despite the fact that most of my life I’ve moped around like a surly teenager and haven’t been able to return their affections.

Today, I can say that I am grateful for all the love in my life and I’m grateful that I’m able to accept and give love. Most importantly, I now see that I am a lovable person and I love myself.