The Talk

When I was around 12 years old, my mom gave me a sex talk. This wasn’t our first sex talk. At that point I already knew the basic mechanics, but this was her more mature talk designed for my seventh grade ears.

“When you start dating, you need to be careful. You can never trust a boy because all he is thinking about is sex,” she began. At this point I had never even kissed a boy, but my thoughts were not at all virginal. I fantasized about having sex with Giovani Georgallis, the tall, athletic, impossibly good-looking boy in my class I was too shy to even make eye contact with; Christian Slater in Pump Up The Volume, Leonardo Dicarprio in Growing Pains, Axel Rose from Guns ‘N Roses, or whomever my celebrity crush de jour was.

“But Mom, some girls like sex too.”

“Sex does feel good for women, but it’s different. For women it is more about love and emotions. For men it’s just sex. Men are obsessed with sex. It’s all they think about.” I thought about how much I fantasized about Gio, Christian, Leonardo and Axel. I wasn’t just imagining them being my boyfriends, I was imagining them on top of me. I thought about this a lot. Was I obsessed with sex too?

“Maybe that’s how it was when you were growing up, but girls are different now. Plus, not every guy is like that.”

“These things don’t change. Trust me. They will say or do anything. Lie, cheat, steal just for sex. That is ALL they think about.”

I left this conversation with two things: women shouldn’t like sex or think about it as much as men, and never trust a man. Thanks Mom!

In her defense, this sex talk was way more than a lot of my friends got, and way more than the talk my Aunt Buffy gave me a year or two later when I was living with her: “If I ever, EVER find out you are having sex you are out of this house!” (hey, it kept me a virgin until a month before I moved away to college). I doubt my mom ever even got a sex talk from her mother, my ultra conservative, super Catholic grandma.

Pretty much ever guy I’ve been involved with has lied to me, so maybe mom was right on this point. Of course, one could make the argument that since I believed all men to be untrustworthy, I only ever picked untrustworthy men.

The part of this talk that really screwed me up was the notion that women are not supposed to be into sex so much. I am and always have been obsessed with sex. Even before I knew what sex was, I was humping banisters and thinking about some boy from school (or Han Solo, my earliest crush on a fictional character). Thanks to the messages I got from the women in my family, I was always convinced that I was some kind of pervert freak.

I can waste a day watching porn online and masturbating. Even now that I’m in a program to treat sex addiction, I’ve never met another woman who has admitted to this. It’s not exactly like I’m shouting this from the rooftops either, though.

In meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. If I share about my acting out behaviors, it’s mostly about the “love” addiction — spying on my qualifier, obsessing over him, etc. When I share about my sex addiction it’s in extremely vague terms. I don’t want to offend or trigger anyone with tales of my sluttishness, but another reason is that I don’t want to admit to a room full of people that I watch porn or masturbate. “Girls don’t do that!”

I hear that statement in my Grandmother’s voice. One time when I was about 15 she walked in and I was lying on the couch watching tv. I had my hand down my pants scratching my crotch, Al Bundy style. Scratching only, I swear! But she thought I was doing something else.

“Don’t ever touch yourself there. Girls don’t do that!” I hadn’t yet figured out how to masturbate to completion so I hardly ever did it at that time. And if I did do it, it was behind a closed door and under heavy covers (God, and your dead relatives can’t see through covers). Still I was mortified that she would even think I was masturbating.

For the record, I think masturbation is totally healthy. And if you are someone who can watch porn in a moderate way, more power to you. I don’t think these behaviors are wrong. In fact neither one of them are even on my bottom-lines list (although porn might end up there on the next edit). I do think spending all day masturbating and watching porn is a problem, though.

As I was saying, in meetings I identify as a sex and love addict. A large percentage of the women there only identify as love addicts. In my judgier moments I think, why the fuck are you here then? But I know why they are there and they have just as much right to be there as I do.

My sponsor, a woman from my mother’s generation, is one of those women. She is nurturing, kind and so supportive. I am very grateful to have her. The only problem is I feel uncomfortable talking to her about the sex stuff. She just doesn’t get it and it is obvious how uncomfortable it makes her to talk about sex in even the most general of terms. I’d say she is probably a sexual anorexic, or in laymen’s terms, a prude.

I am currently recovering from/still going through a slip. I’m working on renewing my sobriety and recommitting to my bottom-lines. Today I was talking to my sponsor and going through my consequences inventory. I told her I had had phone sex. I didn’t want to tell her. I knew she’d be uncomfortable, but how can I go through this process without being honest about my behaviors?

I could hear that I’d made her ill at ease and instantly started minimizing. I’ve only done it once or twice (a lie), I’ve only done it with one guy (another lie). I also didn’t clarify that “phone sex” also meant “skype sex.” I told her that I think phone sex should be added to my bottom-lines list. She, of course, agreed. But she also asked me a question that was a little odd. She asked if I would want my daughter to be doing that. I said no, because I knew that’s what she was looking for. She said if I didn’t want my daughter doing it, then I shouldn’t be doing it myself.

The thing is though, if my 15-year-old daughter were having phone sex with a man, I would have a big problem with it. But I’m not 15, I’m 30. If my 30 year-old-daughter were having phone sex with someone, I wouldn’t care. It would be none of my business.

Asking me what I would want for my daughter made me think about my mom, my grandma, and my Aunt Buffy. They wouldn’t want me to have phone sex, but it’s because believe it to be morally wrong, not because it was making me feel bad.

I wouldn’t want my theoretical daughter, at any age, to be engaging in an activity that made her feel like shit, but I do want her to grow up with positive attitudes toward sex.

Since I’ve been identifying as a sex addict I’ve come across many people who get up in arms and want to argue that sex addiction isn’t a real thing. Most of these arguments seem to be rooted in semantics. To these people I say, who cares? If people are getting help for what they see to be a problem then why are you arguing about terminology? But a lot of people also think that “sex addicts” are just horny prudes that have been brainwashed by religious fanatics and anti-porn crusaders to think that healthy sexual expression is evil.

Sometimes I wonder if they are right. Maybe if I didn’t grow up with unhealthy messages about sex, I’d be a totally normal, well-adjusted adult.

Then I remember that those “girls don’t like sex” talks were the least of my childhood traumas. If that was all that ever happened in my childhood, I’d probably just be a horny girl with a guilt complex (aka a kinkster). My acting out went so much deeper than just being horny or just being kinky, though.

Even though I’m a sex addict in recovery I still consider myself sex positive. If I ever have a daughter, I don’t know what I’ll say in my talk, but I know it will be a lot better than the ones I got.

EthanNassour*IsALyingCheater.com

While I had many acting out patterns, the main reason I joined SLAA was because of my obsession over one guy (HC).  I would call the events that precipitated my recovery a “high bottom.” By this, I mean that if you found HC and asked him about me, he probably wouldn’t have anything bad to say. Our break-up was pretty low key. I didn’t lose it and call him a bunch of times. He didn’t have to threaten me with a restraining order. As far as he knows, I was able to keep my dignity in tact. This story is about a time when I was not able to do that.

Ethan was the first person I met on a BDSM site. Ironically enough, I actually checked out the site because my therapist at the time recommended I do so. Ethan was tall, blonde and muscular. He was really into working out. He had some kind of boring office job and lived in the suburbs. Ethan wasn’t really my type, but after a few phone conversations, I decided to meet him anyway. He told me he was 34. At the time, I was in my mid-twenties and he was the oldest guy I had ever considered dating.

Ethan lived kind of far away so we met for a drink at a place that was half way between us. Although we didn’t have much in common, and I hated his choice of outfit, there was something about him. When he suggested… no, told me that we were going to go for a ride, I said “Ok,” even though this went against all the safety protools I knew for meeting a stranger off the internet. We drove to a dark, empty parking lot and made out in the backseat of his car. This was my first experience with a “Dom” and I was putty in his hands. I don’t know if it was his suggestion that I call him “Daddy” or if I just started doing it on my own. It was the first time I’d ever called a man that before (aside from my actual Dad). I don’t really understand why, but it felt right.

We did everything but intercourse that first night in the back of his car. He wanted to have sex, and it was soooo hard to say no to him, but this was back before I turned into a total slut. Back then I had rules about things like not having sex too soon. In one conversation after this first meeting I even told him that I didn’t want wan’t to have sex with someone who wasn’t my boyfriend and he said something like, “ok, I’m your boyfriend now.” Haha, right? But my naive ass thought, “Problem solved!”

Before I met Ethan, I had never really liked sex. I had had maybe three or four sexual partners before him, and they were all ok. I kind of thought maybe I was missing something. Society as a whole was/is so sex-obsessed and every time I was with a guy I would think, “hmm, this is just ok.” I should probably go back and modify that first sentence. It wasn’t that I didn’t like sex, it was that I didn’t like sex with other people, because I loved, loved, loved to masturbate. In my early 20s, I would spend hours masturbating almost every day. I thought I was just some freak who loved masturbation so much that it paled in comparison to actual sex. After I had sex with Ethan on our second “date,” (is it really called a date when the guy comes over, fucks you right away, then falls asleep for an hour and fucks you one more time before leaving?) I realized that I actually loved sex, I just didn’t love boring vanilla sex with an early twenty-something guy who has no idea what he was doing.

There are lots of sexy, kinky stories I could go into right now about the fun times I had with Ethan, but this isn’t really that kind of blog. I’ll just say the sex was amazing and I was hooked right off the bat. Things deteriorated fairly quickly though. Even though he called me his girlfriend (haha), we never actually went out on a date. There were other things too. We could only talk on the phone during the day, because he claimed he didn’t have cell phone reception or a landline at his house. Even though he lived an hour away, he only came over to my place. He never spent the night. He could only make last minute plans.

I grew suspicious. He had told me his name was Ethan Peterson. When I googled Ethan Peterson, about 6 million entries would come up. Of course, I didn’t look at all of them, but I did look at a lot. I googled the name with the city he claimed to live in, the job he claimed to have, etc. I found nothing that seemed to be him. So I paid a few dollars and did a reverse number search on his cell phone. The results? His real name wasn’t Ethan Peterson, it was Ethan Nassour.* When I googled “Ethan Nassour” I found a lot. First, Ethan Nassour was 44, 10 years (!) older than the 34 that Ethan Peterson had claimed to be. I also found out that he had a completely different job and lived in a completely different city.

When I confronted Ethan about lying about his name, his age (10 fucking years!), his job, and his city; his response was comical. He said, “You need to get your anger problem under control!” Moi? An anger problem? Yes, that must be it. I got mad at him for lying about everything because I have an anger problem, not because he lied about everything.

Amazingly, I kept seeing Ethan, because I was that hooked on him. I kept digging, though. One thing that my research hadn’t turned up was his marital status. To lie about everything he had to be married, right? I eventually found out that he had a live-in girlfriend, Brianna. One time I even tried to email her on myspace to tell him about him and me. I got a response back from him. Apparently he was monitoring her myspace account. Eventually he made her close it down.

Why did I stick around digging for shit instead of just leaving this lying liar as soon as I found out he was lying? I don’t really understand the answer to that question myself. I guess it was because he was my drug and I was addicted.

I went a long-stretch of time without seeing him. During this time I learned (via my online spying tactics) that Brianna had moved to another city for work. He confirmed this, and made it sound like they had broken up, although I doubted they had. We started seeing each other again. One time I showed up at his house unannounced (I’d found his address online). He was pissed, but let me in and we had sex. From that time on, he always made me drive to him. His place was an hour away from mine, and he never let me spend the night. In fact, he would never even let me into the bedroom. I was only allowed in the main room and the bathroom. It was a pain driving all the way to his place late at night, and then an even bigger pain driving all the way back home even later at night, but I kept doing it. Sometimes I would get to his place and he wouldn’t even be there. He’d tell me that he’d be there soon and I would have to wait outside his house for sometimes up to two hours. How pathetic was I? Later I learned that he had more than one residence (and more than one live-in girlfriend) and this was why it would take him so long to show up.

One night, I was at his house and he took some very degrading pictures of me while we were having sex. He told me he would delete them when we were done. Why I trusted this guy after all the lies he told me, I have no clue. Afterwards, I asked him to delete the pictures like he had promised. He said, “No, I’m going to save them for insurance purposes.” I refused to leave until he deleted them. He said if I didn’t leave he would call the cops. I again refused to leave until the pictures were deleted.  So he called the police.

The police dispatcher wanted to talk to me. I explained the situation to her. She asked if the sex was consensual and if he had hit me. I said that it was and that he hadn’t. She then asked if he had pushed me, and I said that he had pushed me away a few times when I tried to grab the camera. I tried to explain to her that it wasn’t a big deal and that he hadn’t hurt me, but the situation had turned around on Ethan. It turns out that the crying girl who wanted her naked pictures deleted was a lot more sympathetic than the angry man, twenty years her senior, who refused to delete her pictures. The dispatcher wanted to stay on the phone with me until the officers got there.

I’m a wholesome (seemingly, at least), educated girl that comes from a nice family. This was the first and only time I had any dealings with the police, except for small things like my car getting broken into. I was so freaked out. I have a career that requires a spotless record and was so worried I was going to lose every thing over this shit. I was a crying mess. The police officers were so kind and reassuring, though. Apparently, like the dispatcher, they thought I was the more sympathetic party. While I didn’t want to get in trouble, I didn’t want to get Ethan in trouble either. They wanted to know if I wanted to press charges or if I wanted to file a restraining order. All I wanted was for him to delete the pictures. They said that unfortunately, they couldn’t make him do that, but they would talk to him and strongly suggest that he delete them. I still don’t know if he deleted them or not, because this was the last time I ever saw Ethan.

Looking back, this was the lowest experience of my life — having the police called on me, then having to sobbingly tell the police what I had been stupid enough to let this man do to me, having to listen to all the shit Ethan had to say about me, worrying that my career and good reputation would be over because of my addiction to this horrible man. This should have been my bottom. Unfortunately, it wasn’t, and I went on to act out for many more years before I got help for my addictions.

I have a lot of shame about this story and I’m revisiting this feeling as I write and edit this entry. How could I have been so stupid as to let things get to that point with Ethan? Why would I let someone so vile and untrustworthy capture me in such a vulnerable state? Why couldn’t I have been strong enough to end it without police involvement? I’ve only told one or two people this story before and I have some anxiety about sharing it on here. I do believe in the saying, “We’re only as sick as our secrets,” so that’s why I’m sharing it now.

It turns out this story does have a tiny bit of a happy ending. Well, maybe not a happy ending, but a validating ending. One day, a year after I had stopped seeing Ethan, I googled his name and found a website called http://www.EthanNassourIsALyingCheater.com. A woman had started this site to warn other women about Ethan. I swear I didn’t create the site, but based on what was posted there I could have. Aside from the police involvement, it was my story. It turns out I wasn’t the only person he had shaved 10 years off his age, and used the alias “Ethan Peterson,” with. It also turns out that while I was seeing Ethan he had not one, but two live-in girlfriends, in two different houses. One girl knew, but the other one did not. In addition to this website creator’s story, there were comments from about twenty other woman with similar stories about him! It always amazes me how these guys have the time to juggle so many different people. Interspersed with these stories were comments from the man himself threatening to sue everyone that had a hand in creating or commenting on the site. I’m not proud of it, but I got such sick, vindictive glee out of this website’s existence. Sadly, the site was eventually taken down and scrubbed from the internet.

I’m so grateful for my recovery and grateful that I will never get involved with a man like Ethan ever again.

*Ethan Nassour is a made-up name to protect the guilty from suing me. If your name is really Ethan Nassour and you found this site by googling yourself, my apologies. I’m sure you are a really nice person and not a lying cheater at all.

Progress?

I haven’t spied on HC in three days. Yay, me! I have, however, been stuffing my face like a pig, drinking like a fish, and masturbating like… well, like some kind of masturbation fiend. I’m sure the comparison has been made before, but my addictive behavior is like a whack-a-mole game. Once I whack down one, another couple pop up. Although, to be fair, I usually eat, drink, and masturbate too much. Also, I have a habit of spending too much, although I’ve kept that one in check for a bit now. So maybe it is possible to whack all those moles down one by one. It’s hard for me to imagine a life where I eat, drink, spend, masturbate, and obsess moderately (is it even possible to obsess moderately?), but anything is possible.

On the topic of masturbation (the most fun topic on the list), I’ve played with the idea of adding it to my bottom-lines. I once heard a woman in a meeting refer to masturbation as “making love to myself,” which made me secretly haha to myself. For me  Christine O’Donnell’s (crazy Tea Partier, “I’m not a witch” lady) euphemism, “self abuse,” is more apt, especially considering the things I have to think of to get myself off. Somehow, nothing has ever turned me on as much as shame and guilt.

For now, though, instead of focusing on everything I’m doing wrong, I think I’ll focus on the things I’m doing right (not spying on HC, for instance), and practicing my top-ine behaviors.