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.

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Pity Sex

When I met Nathan, I was hungover. It was a midday hangover from cheap champagne consumed at Sunday brunch with my family. As is the case with many dysfunctional families, I find mine much more tolerable with a few (or several) drinks in me. After brunch, I fell asleep for a few hours, and woke up around 5, disgusted at myself for sleeping away the day. I went online, and found Nathan, a man I had exchanged a handful of emails with over the past week. He hadn’t made much of an impression on me, but he was semi-goodlooking and polite. When I told him about my day, he suggested we meet for beer and pizza. I didn’t have anything better to do, and beer and pizza sounded perfect, so I took a shower and met him.

Nathan had the potential to be a hot guy. He was tall, blond, kind of scruffy, with an okay body. But there was just something blah about him. He wore light-colored baggy jeans, which I found to be very uncool; and a pullover sweatshirt from the college we were both alumni of. This isn’t the look I’m into. I’m usually into hipster-ish/rock n’ roll kind of guys; or, at the other end of the spectrum guys with kind of a button-downed look. I figured this was a last minute date for pizza and beer in a very casual place, so I could forgive his outfit. I wore my standard first date look: heels, tight jeans, semi-low cut top (sexy, but not slutty).

Like his outfit, I found Nathan a little bit boring. He was three years younger than me, but I had lied and shaved four years off my age, so he actually thought he was a year older than me. I’m not sure why, but I used to do shit like that all the time. Even when a guy was 20 years older than me, I almost never told anyone my real age. When I was active in my addiction, meeting guys from online for a drink or dinner was pretty much my only social life. I’d had an okay time with Nathan was grateful that he had saved me from an otherwise dreary Sunday, so I agreed to see him again.

For our second date, Nathan picked me up and we went to an Italian restaurant that I chose. Nathan was one of those dudes who would ask you out a on a date, but then do no prep work. He’d show up and be like, “So… what do you want to do?” I’m sure I’m not alone in finding guys who can’t be bothered to actually plan a date really unattractive. Again, he wore light-colored jeans and a pullover sweatshirt from our Alma Mater. Different, but the same. Every time I saw Nathan he had on a variation of this outfit. Another irritating thing about Nathan is that he would keep his cell-phone on the table and be texting and sending emails during dinner. I remember thinking, What the fuck could this boring-ass square being texting about that is so freaking interesting? I would ask him who and what he was texting about not because I really gave a shit, but because I had nothing else to ask him. His answers were so uncompelling, that I can’t remember them now, and probably wasn’t able to remember them 5 minutes after he told me.

I kept going out with Nathan, because he kept asking me. I kept thinking maybe he would grow on me. After our third date, Nathan still hadn’t put the moves on me. He hadn’t even tried to kiss me. Well… he had given me some long hugs and looked at me like he wanted me to kiss him, but I really didn’t care enough to go take the lead. Everything about poor Nathan shouted “bottom,” and I’m not much of a top.

On our fourth date Nathan finally took some initiative and suggested we rent a movie and order a pizza. While, not the most original plan, I remember thinking, Finally! Maybe I’ll like him better once we fuck. But no fucking happened that night. He did finally kiss me, though, and he was a fairly good kisser. We spent the whole night on my couch cuddling, and kissing. Nathan didn’t get any bolder than sticking his hand up my shirt to rub my back. Again, he kept looking at me like he wanted ME to put the moves on HIM. If after buying me dinner four times, Nathan still didn’t have the balls to put his hand on my tit, I wasn’t going to help him out. At the end of this date, I decided I couldn’t take another night of Nathan looking at me longingly, like a timid high school virgin wanting her boyfriend to finger-bang her, but too afraid to ask. I was done going out with this boy.

But a few nights later, Nathan texted me with some bad news. He’d been laid off from his job, and was, understandably, quite upset. He asked if he could come over and have a few beers with me. I’d already had a few, so I let him come over. After a few more beers, I decided that I owed Nathan sex. I’d let him buy me dinner four times and hadn’t even given him as much as a hand job. Also, the poor boy had just lost his job.

I started taking off my clothes while he was kissing me and he followed suit. I remember thinking that his penis, which was on the smaller side of average, reminded me of a piece of raw chicken breast. As a nearly life-long vegetarian, this visual made me want to throw-up. I didn’t even attempt to go down on Nathan, but he went down on me and did a pretty lack-luster job of it. Let’s just get this over with, I was thinking when I handed him a condom. When he was inside of me, I couldn’t even look at him. I put my head to the side, and then eventually gave up even trying to look like I was into it, and just put my arm over my eyes. Why the fuck am I doing this! I was thinking. That and, What am I going to say to let him down easy? He kept asking me if I was okay. “Yes! Just cum already!” I wanted to shout. But instead I said, “I’m fine.” I felt bad for Nathan that I couldn’t even do a convincing job of pretending I was enjoying myself.

The next day he sent me a text to say he’d had a nice time. I told him I had as well, but I was having a hard time getting over my ex and didn’t feel like I was ready for a relationship yet. Clueless up until the end, Nathan actually asked me if I just wanted to be “friends with benefits.” I didn’t understand how anyone could possibly want a repeat of sex that was that bad. I lied and told him that I didn’t do “friends with benefits,” that I wasn’t that kind of girl.

Looking back on my experience with Nathan, I’m disgusted by what I did. I chose to tell this story with Nathan, but I could have told the same one with three or four different guys. Other times where I just laid back like a limp doll, staring at the celling letting some man I had zero feelings for, attraction to, or chemistry with fuck me because I felt an obligation to give him sex. One of “The Twelve Signs of Recovery in SLAA” is, “We learn to value sex as a by-product of sharing, commitment, trust and cooperation in a partnership.” Going forward, and with the help of my Higher Power, I will never again have sex with someone I feel so dispassionately towards. I will never have  it out of a sense of pity or obligation.

Leigh and The Fun House

A few years back, I had just ended a relationship, of sorts, with Anthony. I was still obsessively hung up on him and hoping we would reconcile so I wasn’t ready to start dating again. I was, however, quite ready to start having sex again. I turned to my old friend/foe craigslist.

At the time, I was very into the dominant daddy/submissive little girl roleplay dynamic so I searched for “daddy” under m4w in casual encounters. I had plenty of choices. I don’t remember what the text of Leigh’s ad said, but I do remember he posted a charming picture of his penis.

I met Leigh the next day for coffee. He was a few years younger than me and a recent college grad from a fancy private school. Leigh was very good looking and seemed normal enough. He told me where he lived and I knew the apartment building. It was a nice place. He also brought his adorable puppy with him, a black lab. All of this made me feel safe.

Since there were no red flags (and since he was hot) I agreed to meet Leigh at his place the following evening. His place was nice, and he also had a cat. I usually have pretty good instincts that tell me when I’m in danger, but the fact that Leigh was an animal lover with two pets (he also claimed to be a vegetarian) perhaps gave me a false sense of security. Wrong or not, when I picture a serial killer, I don’t see a vegetarian with pets.

We had a couple of glasses of wine and then started making out on his couch. He took off my clothes, put a blindfold on me and then led me to his bedroom, where we proceeded to have sex. At some point he also tied my hands behind my back. I met him knowing we were going to engage in D/s play, so the blindfold and the restraints, while maybe not a good idea, were inline with what we had discussed before hooking up.

The sex was good. Maybe a little too good. I asked if he was wearing a condom. He assured me he was. It didn’t feel like it, though. I began to get a little paranoid that this guy who I’d just met was fucking me without a condom. I asked him again and he got mad at me, said I wasn’t being a good sub.

Eventually he untied my hands and flipped me on my back. Bad sub that I was, I took the opportunity to remove the blindfold. Surprise, surprise. Not only was this stranger who I had just met on craigslist inside of me without a condom, he was also holding a video camera.

My immediate impulse was to knock the camera out of his hands, which I did. Then I demanded that he erase what he had filmed. This asshole had the nerve to get pissed at me, claiming I had broken his camera (I hadn’t). He then attempted some smoke and mirrors bullshit while he fiddled around with the camera, claiming to delete the video, which I still don’t think he actually did. He also was pissed that I had “ruined” his film. He apparently was planning the big reveal for a more dramatic moment. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time I’d had a throw down with a sex partner over a camera. You can read about the first time here.

At this point, I was in a situation that any sexually adventurous young woman could have gotten into. I had met Leigh in public, felt safe with him, and agreed to go to his apartment the next day. I had even let a friend know where I was and texted the address to her before I went. I’d been responsible enough and there were no warning signs that this guy was a creep. Here’s what separates a “normal” sexually adventurous young woman from me, a sex and love addict with unhealthy boundaries: I didn’t get the hell out of there. I stayed and continued fucking him (but made him put on a condom).

He was pretty rough, which I was into, but he was also into slapping me in the face, which I wasn’t into. He slapped me so hard that the next day little purple spots, broken blood vessels, decorated my eyelids.

When the sex was over, things started to get really weird. I was in his bathroom, sitting on the toilet, peeing, when all of the sudden he bursts in and just stands there, like an idiot. “Um, do you mind? I’m trying to pee.” He continued to stand there with a huge grin on his face. “What the fuck are you doing? Get out!” I screamed. No reaction. “Please leave!” I told him. Leigh leaned over and kissed me full, on the lips, then finally left. What a weirdo.

When I got out of the bathroom, I found Leigh standing over my purse, with my cell phone is his hands. He was going through my text messages. “Wow, you really have a lot of Daddies, you little slut!”

“What the fuck is wrong with you? Give me my phone back!”

Leigh went into grade school mode, holding the phone above my head, just out of my reach, laughing hysterically as he continued going through my texts. This was a grown man, a college graduate with his own apartment.

I was not in the mood for this childish bullshit. I went to find my shoes, so I could leave. But I couldn’t find them. This motherfucker had hidden my shoes. I used to do this same brilliant move to extend playtime with my cousins when I was five and it was time for them to go home. “Where did you put my shoes?” I asked, exhausted.

“Why would I put your shoes anywhere?” Um, because you’re a psycho, I thought.

We got into an argument with me searching his place, demanding that he give my shoes back, and him insisting that he hadn’t hidden them. The conclusion of this was him reaching under one of his couch cushions, and thrusting my shoes at me with a, “Here! They’re just where you left them!… under the couch cushion.”

At last, it was time to leave Leigh’s fun house. He walked me to my car and kissed me good night. He told me he’d had a nice time and wanted to see me again, acting like we’d just gone to dinner and a movie. I would have been sick enough to see him again, if he had ever called me. But he never did.

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.