Fantasy, Obsession, Spying… Getting Through the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I don’t think of HC, the man I was (somedays still might be) obsessed with, too much these days. I mean, I do — he pops into my head all of the time, but instead of indulging these thoughts I try to pop him right out. Sometimes the old fantasy creeps in though. All he has to do is get a divorce, and get treatment for his sex addiction and compulsive lying. That’s all. Then we can reunite and live happily ever after. There must be a reason we were so drawn to each other, and a reason why I still think of him after all this time. Thankfully, when I have these thoughts now days another voice pops into my head. Whether it’s my higher power, or my higher self; it simply says, the man you are meant to be with is so much better than HC.

The last time I spied on HC, I found him on Craigslist posting ads in the casual encounters section. He said he was single and could host in a nice house. He posted this ad several times in one weekend. Although this information didn’t bode well for his sex addiction, it got my addict somewhat excited. Maybe, it’s true then? Maybe he lives apart from his wife, just like he always used to claim. Then I googled his wife and found her on another website where she is currently planning their 10-year vow renewal ceremony, which will take place in the Bahamas in the Summer of 2013. Hmm… probably not divorced then? Looks like she had just gone away for the weekend.

I have several bottom-lines, which are activities I abstain from in order to be considered “sober” in my recovery program. The ones I thought would be the hardest to give up — unavailable men, compulsively meeting new guys to date or hook-up with, and even contacting HC — have been not exactly easy, but relatively easy compared to giving up online spying. Online spying is so easy. I can do it alone, just me and my computer, and no one has to ever find out about it. It also gets me high. My heart races, I get a huge rush, I sometimes even get light headed. There is also a huge crash after the initial high, which feels like absolute shit.

I have managed to stay away from the spying for more than a month now, but with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day coming up; I’m feeling a huge desire to look up HC. I know his wife will be tweeting and posting on Facebook about their holiday plans, and that there will probably be pictures. I feel like if I can get through to 2012 without spying on him and his family, it will be all downhill from there.  Please keep me in your thoughts for the next month or so. I need all the help I can get.

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This Imperfect Journey

Today, I realized that I am 9 days away from 90 days. The first 60 days went by so slowly. I felt so many emotions and every day was different. The last three weeks have gone by pretty quickly and I haven’t felt much of anything. I know the reason is because I am partially using again — I’m reading HC’s ads on craigslist.

A program friend asked me the other day if I get upset when I find his ads looking for casual, anonymous sex with both women and men. It occurred to me that I don’t get upset when I find his ads. I only get upset when I don’t find them. When I don’t find new ads from him, I don’t get a hit.

I had a great conversation with my sponsor today. I so badly want her to tell me that I’m not sober because I’m spying on HC again and that I need to start over at the beginning. In my head, if I can’t do something perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all. I told her about a friend of mine, Jessica, who got sober in AA 8 years ago. She went to a meeting and never drank again. I want my sobriety from sex and love to be like that — black and white and perfect. My sponsor told me that that’s not how it works in SLAA.

Another woman I heard speak at a meeting last week spoke about having an imperfect program (in fact, most speakers I’ve heard stress the fact that they did not do it perfectly). She compared her love addiction to alcoholism (she’s also in AA) and said that an alcoholic can put her addiction down and never use again, but a sex/love addict needs to learn how to take small sips from the bottle everyday without going overboard. This is all well and good, but there is still a little voice inside of my head that says, “You suck. Just give up now.”

My sponsor is really great at helping me turn this negative talk around. Another thing I asked her today was, “why the hell am I not over this guy yet?” It’s not like the relationship was significant or long-term. She reminded me that It’s not really him that I need to get over. He’s just a stand-in for my unresolved shit. Duh, I learned this when I first went into therapy over my obsessive relationship with my boyfriend Peter 10 years ago. Then I learned it a few years later with Ethan, then Jonathan, then Anthony. Hopefully I will remember it this time and won’t go through this again. These men really mean/meant nothing to me, once I dug under the surface. They are drugs. I use them to avoid dealing with the real stuff — grief, trauma, abuse, abandonment, etc. from my childhood.

The real stuff is heavy and uncomfortable. My addict is trying to find all kinds of ways to distract me from doing this work. Tonight, I pray for God’s grace and protection. I pray that he will help me to stay away from spying and all other forms of acting out, one day at a time.

Conversations in My Head

HC: I really miss you.
Me: Then why did you wait four months to contact me?
HC: I’ve been really busy with work.
Me: You mean you’ve been really busy with work, your wife, your four other girlfriends, and your daily craigslist casual encounters postings?
HC: I’m not married! I don’t have any other girlfriends and I hardly ever post on CL anymore.
Me: Then why is your wife all over the internet talking about how amazing her husband is?
HC: This was a bad idea. I shouldn’t have contacted you.
Me: Why can’t you just answer the question?
HC: I’m hanging up now. Don’t call me back.

HC: I really miss you.
Me: I miss you too, but I can’t see you again.
HC: Why not?
Me: Because when I was seeing you, I was really fucked up. I was acting out these self-destructive patterns and you were a big part of that.
HC: Oh.
Me: Since I stopped seeing you, I realized I was a sex and love addict. I was really obsessed with you, and spent all my free time thinking about you and looking you up online. I was also seeing other guys but you were the only one that really mattered.
HC: Wait. You were looking me up online? And you spent all your free time doing this?
Me: Yes, which is why I know that you are posting ads almost daily on craigslist. You clearly have an addiction too. Do you want me to tell you about the meetings I go to?
HC: Umm, maybe later. Right now I kinda have to go.
Me: Wait, here’s a list of meetings. These are the ones I go to. I think it would be kind of awkward if we went to the same meetings, so you can go to these other ones.
HC: I’m not really sure I’m into the whole meeting thing. I’m glad it’s helping you, though. At least I hope it is. We can talk about it later though, I have to go.
Me: But I haven’t told you the best part yet.
HC: Jesus, there’s more?
Me: Yes. Not right away, but maybe in six months or a year, once we have both been sticking to our bottom lines, we can start dating again, but this time in a healthy way.
HC: I’m not sure contacting you was such a good idea. I don’t want to go to meetings.
Me: Do you still miss me?
HC: I have to go.

HC: I really miss you.
Me: I miss you too, but I think we’re really looking for different things.
HC: What do you mean?
Me: I’m looking for something monogamous, committed and longterm.
HC: That’s what I want now too.
Me: Really? You’re not just saying that because you want to sleep with me again?
HC: Not at all. I miss you. Let’s go out to diner tomorrow and talk?
Me: Ok, that actually sounds nice. Can I pick you up at your place? I just need to see for sure that you aren’t still living with your wife.
HC:  Of course. Come over at 7.
Next day, 1pm
HC: Hi. A pipe burst at my place. There is a plumber here now, but my house is a mess. Do you mind if I come to your place instead.
Me: Sure. See you at 7 still?
HC: Can’t wait.
7pm
HC: I’m so sorry, but I’m still dealing with this pipe situation. It’s going to be at least an hour or two before I can leave. You should probably eat without me. I’ll see you at 9 or 10.

The above is just a sampling of what has been going through my head the last couple of weeks. Since HC contacted me more than two weeks ago, I’ve been completely plauged with self-doubt. Maybe I am wrong? Maybe he’s changed. Maybe the reason I’m still so obsessed with this guy is because we are meant to be together. Maybe I should have been honest with him, instead of telling him I was unavailable.

The difference is that the conversations in my head never got as far. I needed to write them down and play them out to see that there is no way it could work between me and him. Even in my fantasies, I can’t turn what we had into something real.

Technically, I guess I am still “sober,” but I have not been doing well. I’m deep in the obsession. It needs to end, because spending hours a day thinking of him and spying on him online, can’t be what my life in recovery looks like. I haven’t been doing nearly as many as my top line behaviors, because this obsession has stymied my progress.

And the sad thing is that I am choosing to do this. I know that if I take a break from combing through craigslist to find his posts, and  instead, go to yoga, or write, or pray; afterwards I won’t feel like obsessing, at least for awhile. In that moment, though, I am choosing to obsess. Finding his casual sex ads on craigslist scratches my masochistic itch and the agony of it feels fantastic. So right now, for tonight I am making a different choice.

Powerless

Late last night I had a slip. I was looking up a friend’s page on facebook. Her name starts with the same letters of HC’s name. While I was typing her name into the search bar, his name and new picture came up. Before I knew what I was doing, I had clicked on his name, and was on his profile. We aren’t friends and his profile is private, so there isn’t much info I can squeeze out of his page except that he has changed his picture. Seeing his picture was all it took, I was off.

I looked at his wife’s page, his mother’s, his brother’s, his wife’s twitter, his wife’s blog. I did a google search for his name, her name, their names together. I went on craigslist and searched for the terms I know he used in his casual encounters ads — he is still posting ads almost daily. I did this for about an hour. I don’t know what I was looking for, but I didn’t find it. Nothing I looked at told me he was divorced/getting a divorce or that he gotten his sexual addiction under control. However, everything I looked at told me, “yep… you’re still crazy.

This man has not been in my life for more than three months now, what business of mine is it what he is doing? I have no right to secretly pry into his life. My sponsor says that whenever I find myself in my addiction, instead of berating myself for being such a creepy stalker, a slut, or whatever; I need to go back to Step 1. What I did last night is evidence that I am indeed powerless over this addiction.

Last night was a slip, but it doesn’t have to be more than that. Today is a new day. I am powerless over my addiction, but God is not.  Everyday I need to remember that I can not do this without God. When I give my will and my life over to the care of God, I will be taken care of.

How This All Started

In May, HC, who I had been seeing since December, broke up with me.

HC was a tall artist and musician with dark hair and soulful green eyes. I’m not sure exactly what it was – he was by no means the hottest, funniest, or most charming man I’d ever met – but as soon as I met him, I knew I was in trouble. I was hooked. We had sex on our first date, which was less than two hours after we had first set eyes on each other. Sex with him was probably the best sex I had ever had. Logically, I understood that I barely knew him (with the exception of our first date, we would never go out), but when we were together sexually, it felt like love.

He said that he’d been divorced for about a year and was just starting to date, but a month later, I found his supposed ex-wife’s twitter. According to what she had been writing, they were still happily married. I confronted him about it, and even though the evidence was pretty damming, he denied he was still married. He made up a half-assed story that didn’t make sense, but I was so into him that he could have told me up was down and down was up and I would have believed it.

I kept seeing him after I found the twitter, but I didn’t trust him. I became obsessed with spying on him and his wife online – desperately looking for evidence that he was actually divorced. Although I found a few things that looked promising – she had stopped mentioning him in her twitter, for example – I found an equal number of things that made it clear he was still married. Additionally, I also found out there were four or five other girls he was seeing regularly and that he was posting ads on craigslist for anonymous gay sex. Sadly, I was so addicted to him and so sick, that when I found out about all the other people he was seeing, I actually felt a little bit of relief. How could he be spending so much time with me, seeing several other people, and still be married?

HC had two small children. He frequently used emergencies that came up with his kids to come over hours after we had originally planned or to cancel altogether. How could I get mad at him for flaking on me when his son was sick or his ex was late picking them up? One time HC told me that he had his kids for the weekend. He was texting me telling me what a great time they were having at a local amusement park. A few days later, I looked on craigslist and found that the same time he was texting me he was with his kids, he was also posting ads for anonymous gay encounters. Had he been lying to me about having his kids or was he posting this stuff while he was with his kids? Was he meeting these strangers for hookups while his children were in his care?

Every new thing I found made me sick, but still I kept seeing him. I wanted to believe that he was the amazing person I had mad him out to be in my head. I could not let go of this fantasy HC I had created.

I knew I was ill. This wasn’t the first time I had gotten myself obsessed with an unavailable man and had been unable to let go. It had happened three years earlier with Anthony, two years before that with Jonathan, and probably at least a half a dozen other times. Still, I could not stop seeing him.

I kept spying on him and his wife online. Although her facebook page was private, one day she changed her profile picture to their wedding picture. This is not something a divorced woman does. I sent him a text confronting him. He wrote back that he was tired of explaining himself to me and this wasn’t working anymore. I was devastated, but I backed off. My plan was to lay low for a couple of weeks, and then contact him once he’d cooled off.

How fucking sick was I? I knew he was married, I knew he was seeing several other women, I knew that he was meeting strangers for anonymous sex, and I wasn’t even the one to end this mess. He had to break up with me.

Unfortunately, this still is not the end of the HC story. Although I wasn’t contacting him, I was only bidding my time until I would go back to him. Meanwhile, I was scouring the internet looking for anything I could find on him. Even though I wasn’t communicating with him directly, I needed the high of spying on him. I even set up some fake email addresses and answered some of his m4m craigslist ads. One night I stayed up all night doing this and made myself physically ill. I had to call in sick to work the next day. This was my bottom.

I realized that I could never go back to him and I could not keep spying on him online. I needed help so I started going to meetings in early June. It took me a few weeks to do more than just show up, but I kept showing up. Finally I got a sponsor, set some bottom lines and became “sober.”

I count June 29th as my sobriety date, although I have had some minor slips since then. I haven’t contacted him, but I have checked facebook, twitter, and craigslist a couple of times, although not in a few weeks.

Not contacting or spying on HC is just one of my bottom lines. There were many other ways I acted out as a sex and love addict, and many behaviors I now abstain from. Almost every day is a struggle for me, but with the help of God, my sponsor, and my recovery partners, I am getting through this.