Trouble With Mirrors

“A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror.” — Ken Keyes

Kitten and partial reflection in mirror

While this specific quote is new to me, I have heard this notion before. When one finds a quality she admires in another person, she is really seeing that quality in herself. The same goes for when she finds something she doesn’t like in another person. Every single person we meet is a mirror — an opportunity to learn about ourselves and to grow.

When I first got into recovery, I would hear all these people talk about “intrigue,” and I would think, Jesus, what the fuck kind of made-up bullshit problems are these crazy people going on about? I have REAL problems, thankyouverymuch.

Namely, my problems were that I was obsessed with my married lover, who had a host of other issues. I was also going from short-term relationship to short-term relationship, often juggling several at a time. Almost all of these relationships were with unavailable men.

Now that I have cleaned up all of those “real problems,” (and also turned down the volume on that ego, thankyouverymuch) I find that I too have a problem with romantic intrigue. While I am not physically using anyone right now, I have been in contact with some exes and former lovers, and am definitely using them for validation and emotional support. Worse still, in the very back of my mind I’m using them to set up contingency plans if this whole recovery thing doesn’t work out.

With all of that in mind, I decided it was time to take a 30 day break from all social contact with men. Today is day four and it’s been difficult, but it’s also been nice to gain a little bit more space in my life and in my head.

In this moment, though, I’m frustrated and resentful, pissed off at two other people, but really pissed off at myself.

I made sure to let the two friends I was talking to on an almost daily basis know that I wouldn’t be in contact with them for at least a month. I explained what I was doing and they both acted supportive.

Cut to two days later and one of them (I might as well just tell you, it’s Anthony — don’t judge) starts sending me text messages. “Did you like that link I sent you?” he texts, knowing full well he didn’t send me any link. I know this trick. I have used this many times before. It’s right up there with pretending to respond to the wrong text message, sending the person who is ignoring you something like, “ok, see you Tuesday,” or some such nonsense. The goal is to get the other person to respond with something like, “Huh? What are you talking about?” When that didn’t work Anthony tried another look-at-me!-look-at-me! strategy, that I also ignored. The other dude waited a bit longer, but sent me a text (really a sext) today.

I practically wrote the book on these manipulative, attention-seeking tactics, and this is why it’s pissing me off so much. I’m angry because this is all me. These two men are simply reflecting my character defects back at me. I’m usually the one that doesn’t respect boundaries and I’m the one who uses manipulative and attention-seeking tactics to control other people.

Six months ago I would have probably been flattered by this attention, but now I see it for what it is — a reflection of my own flaws; flaws that I am working so hard on removing.

An Animal Attempting to Become a Spiritual Being

Today, I wanted hump pretty much every man who crossed my path. There was my new landlord who answered the door shirtless (not even a pretty sight) when I went to drop off some stuff at my new place; the tall, thuggish looking dude at Rite Aid who I swear grabbed his crotch when he looked at me; the tall meathead guy who pulled up next to me at the grocery store in a freaking Trans Am (do they even still make those?) and got out wearing way too short shorts; the swarthy parking lot attendant, who actually was pretty hot… for a parking lot attendant. I mean, seriously? What the hell is wrong with me? I don’t actually want to fuck any of these highly inappropriate people. Is this what happens when I go nearly 5 months without sex?

I know this has to do with stress. I’m juggling several high-pressure situations right now. And this is how I deal. I’m an animal. All I can think about is indulging my basest instincts and losing myself in the release of sexual oblivion.

My sponsor finally cleared me to move on to Step 4, but have to keep reminding myself to follow Step 3, which is made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of my higher power. I wish I could just make this decision once and be done with it, but I have to keep making it several times a day, or at least reminding myself that I already made it.

I want to be a spiritual being. I want to be lead by a power greater than myself, but apparently it doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to constantly remind myself who is in charge. It’s not me, not my cunt, not my animal instincts, not the bottomless pit of neediness I’ve had inside since childhood. It’s God. My life and my will are now in the care of God. And thank God for that.

Rain Checks?

Since I’ve been sexually “sober,” I’ve been mentally creating a list in my head of guys that I might want to “revisit” or check out on December 29th. On December 29, it will be six months since I have been working a program of recovery from sex and love addiction, and when I will allow myself to begin dating again, this time “soberly.” Dating soberly is basically just dating while sticking to my bottom lines – chiefly “no sexual involvement outside of a committed relationship,” also no sexual or romatic involvement with married, attached, or otherwise unavailable men (funny how this wasn’t already common sense to me before). So this list isn’t exactly a “to do” list.

Having a mental list like this, isn’t a good thing (in program speak, this is called making “rain checks”) but some days when I’m in intense withdrawal, I have to kinda play mind games with myself to keep from acting out. So far on the list I have Paolo, if he has broken up with his girlfriend by then; Miles, a musician I went out with once in March, who told me he just wanted something casual; SN someone I haven’t met in person yet  but I like him because his name is remarkably similar to mine, and, in pictures, he has an amazing body (face not so much); and a few other guys that have been popping up here and there. I’m not really in contact with any of these men. That wouldn’t be healthy behavior for me. But from time to time I will get a random text from some guy I went out once or twice, months back, or someone I had talked about going out with. I either ignore the text or I write back a polite message saying I am currently unavailable.

Yesterday, I went on to Yahoo messenger, and there was a message from SN, but it was written by someone claiming to be his wife. I told her I would not be communicating with him again, and removed him from my contact list.

This incident made me realize, how fucked up my “picker” still is. Even though, I now have some recovery, I am still attracted to people based on superficial things like appearance, status, and sexual prowess. When I fantasize about what my first sober relationship will look like in recovery, I cast one of these guys from my list the role of “perfect boyfriend,” knowing, nothing about who they really are. Also, every guy on this list has some kind of caveat next to his name – “if he has broken up with his girlfriend by then,” “only if he is now interested in a serious relationship,” “if he has gotten help for his addictions,” etc. Even with, SN, part of me is still hoping he is going to send me a message telling me the wife thing was just a joke.

It’s clear that I don’t have the tools yet needed to find a healthy mate and sustain a functional partnership. At first, going six months without men seemed like an eternity. Now, it’s four and a half months and that doesn’t seem like such a long time. It’s one thing to be initially attracted to someone based on looks, status, and sexual chemistry, but what if I’m never able to move beyond that? On their website, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous lists twelve characteristics of sex and love addiction. Eleven out of the twelve apply to me, but particularly number one, “Having few healthy boundaries, we become sexually involved with and/or emotionally attached to people without knowing them.” and number twelve, “We assign magical qualities to others. We idealize and pursue them, then blame them for not fulfilling our fantasies and expectations.”

Is four and a half months going to be long enough to stop doing what I’ve been doing my entire life? Will a year be long enough? What if I can never get over this?