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.

Set Aside Prayer

Today I find myself plagued with some self doubt and negative thinking. The Set Aside Prayer helps to keep me present and to remind me that I’m a new person. There are different versions of The Set Aside Prayer. I like this one.

God,
Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease,
These steps, and especially You;
For an open mind
And a new experience
With myself, my disease,
These steps and especially You.
Please help me see the truth.
Amen

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.

Sex, Love… and Work

The last couple of weeks I’ve been dealing with an extremely shitty challenging work assignment. While I don’t want to bore you all to tears with my litany of job related complaints (I gave serious consideration [not really] to titling this post OMG My Job F-ing SUXX!!! before I remembered that whiners are assholes), but I do want to point out some parallels I’ve notice between myself as an employee and myself as a sex/love addict. I…

1. Am completely at a loss when it comes to setting appropriate boundaries.

2. Always settle for crumbs.

3. Am never “right sized.” I’m either too good or not good enough for a man and/or a job.

4. Go after shit I don’t want (loser guys, jobs I’m over qualified for), because I know I’ll get it.

5. Rarely go after what my heart truly desires (a good man, a job that fulfills me) either out of fear of rejection, or belief that I’m not deserving.

6. See rejection and judgement when none actually exists.

7. Push and poke just to see how far I can get.

8. Neglect self care and always put the “other” in front of my own needs.

9. Can be a fucking bitch.

Thankfully I’ve made a lot of headway in these areas when it comes to sex and love, but am still struggling with these character defects in other aspects of my life. I’m confident, though, that as I continue on this path the transformation will happen in throughout my life.

Also, because I believe in practicing gratitude, I need to put it out there that although my current job isn’t my dream job, it certainly doesn’t suck (or even SUKK). Most days, it’s a pretty decent gig. But even in the tough times, I’m still so grateful for this job and for all that it affords me.

Happy Blogiversary!

A year ago today (actually a year and two days ago, but who’s counting?) I decided to start documenting my journey of recovery from sex and love addiction.

When I was a kid I always used to say that when I grew up I would be a writer. As I got older I would say things like, “some day I am going to write a memoir,” or “some day I want to write a novel.” Of course I was too busy in my addiction to ever do much writing. I used to think that once I met the perfect guy, then I would be able to focus on my writing, but until then I had to put all my time and energy into finding that soulmate. Deep down I still considered myself a writer. The thing is, though, writers write. Before I started this blog, I’d hardly written a thing in 6 or 7 years.

I have been writing here on a semi-regular basis for over a year. Not to toot my own horn, but I am so proud of myself! To some this might be a small accomplishment, but I would have never been able to stick to a writing project for a whole year when I was acting out. I wouldn’t have been able to stick to any kind of project that didn’t involve sex or dating.

I might not have hundreds of followers, or get overwhelmed with page hits on a daily basis, but I can now say that I AM a writer.

Thank you so much to everyone who has read, followed and commented on my blog this past year. Your support and words of encouragement have helped me so much in my recovery. I am truly grateful for all of you!

White Knight Fantasy

Some days anxiety descends on me, like heavy mud burying me in a pit I have no idea how to even start digging myself out of.

What do I do first?

The bulk of my week is spent at a job that I’m overqualified and underpaid for. It’s also a job that takes a lot of preparation and energy. At the end of the day I’m tired. I know that I should be applying for other jobs, that that should be my first priority. But applying in itself takes a lot of time and effort, and I’m short on both at the end of the day. My job has no paid time off, and I barely make ends meet as it is, so taking a day off isn’t a possibility.

I know there is more to it than just being exhausted. Psychologically there is some kind of block that’s preventing me from applying for the kind of jobs I’m certified for. Part of it is probably fear of rejection. I usually apply to jobs that I’m overqualified for because I know I’ll get them. When I put a lot of effort into applying for a good job and don’t even get called for an interview, I’m crushed. I usually end up talking myself out of applying before I even start.

Another issue is that I’m not really sure I even want to be in the field I’m in. The real reason I went back to school to get certified in this field was because I thought it would just be something to do until I met the guy. You know, the guy that would make life bearable and give it meaning. That was my real career, finding him. My job was just a way to make money until my “real” life started.

I also have a lot of shame and embarrassment over the state of my career. I’m at an age now, where most of the people I went to high school and college with have actual grown-up jobs with 401Ks. Fuck, most of them are married. A lot of them even have kids and own their own houses. I mean if I’m going to compare myself to other people, I might as well throw all of it into the pity pot.

And it’s not just the job and relationship stuff that is stressing me out, I also get majorly overwhelmed by everyday things like washing dishes and folding my laundry. I moved into this apartment more than six months ago, and still have some boxes I haven’t unpacked. I don’t even have a couch yet.

Even if my life were just coming home everyday from work and cleaning my apartment, I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up. Luckily, though, my life isn’t that simple. There are self-care things I do to keep sane–going to yoga and meditation, going to meetings, going to the gym, doing step work, writing, praying and checking in with my higher power, having a social life with friends and family.

I’m grateful that I have all of these topline behaviors in my life, but I’d also like to not be embarrassed by my apartment and lack of career. I look around and it seems like the world is full of women who manage to have kick-ass jobs, amazing husbands, and fabulous homes that are clean and tidy all while raising kids, staying fit, and leading full social lives. I’m not even doing 20 percent of that and I manage to be overwhelmed to the point of paralyzation.

I know it’s not productive to compare myself to other people, and I have no idea of knowing what someone’s life is really like from the outside. But it’s so freaking tempting when I’m in this kind of mood and looking for ammo to abuse myself with.

Today is day 8 of no contact with men. I know that’s contributing to my foul mood. I’m in withdrawal. I want to use another person to sooth myself. I want to call up Mr. FCFW, Anthony, Carson, or some other guy and cry on his shoulder. I want him to magically make everything better. Realistically, though, I know that would be a pointless exercise. Mr. FCFW has his own wife and kids to deal with and doesn’t need a 33-year-old adopted daughter to drain him further. Carson is even worse off than me. And Anthony has his own troubles to deal with, ditto for all of my other male friends.

The only “guy” I should be calling up right now and asking for help is my Higher Power. I know that’s really all I can do–ask God for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, for the courage to change the things I can, and for the wisdom to know the difference.

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.