Letters From An Angry Addict

iStock_000003237600SmallAs a child, I never learned how to properly deal with emotions. Rather than express fear, sadness, angry, anxiety, etc. I learned how to use things to dull them and stuff them down. Now that I’m no longer using, I am left with all of these emotions and have no idea how to appropriately express them. For example, I know it’s not cool to yell at someone who frustrates me at work. Before I would have maybe sent a sext to a guy and used the attention to feel better. I can’t do that now. I have to experience each uncomfortable emotion and then sooth myself in a healthy way.

The other day I told my therapist that I have no idea how to sooth anger other than verbally attack the object of my anger. She suggested that I write letters that I never send. Here’s a couple that I wrote today. Note: I know these are pretty mean, but that’s kind of the point since none of the addressees will ever read these (maybe with the exception of  the comment lady, but I seriously doubt she’s coming back again). I would never actually send any of these.

*****

Dear Egomanic I Once Dated,
Guess what? I only dated you because you looked kinda like another guy I wasn’t over yet. Not sound logic, I know, but that’s not the point. The point is that the whole time I dated you I was still hung up on that other dude who, btw, was way more fun than you. I don’t know why I put up with your cloying, condescending, and presumptive “concern” that I was getting too close and that you didn’t want to hurt me. Bitch, I never even came close to falling for you. I also don’t know why I didn’t just punch you in the balls the first time I said, “I missed you,” and you replied, “thank you.”

I told you that I was in recovery for sex and love addiction because I still considered you a friend and wanted to let you know why I wasn’t around, not because I was trying to get back together with you. Since you are you, though, you assumed the later. Not sure why I didn’t see that coming. Part of me wishes that I had told you about this blog so I could sit back and enjoy all the extra page hits as you combed through each and every entry trying to find out how many times I had written about you. Spoiler alert: zero.

xoxo,
Imperfect

*****

Dear Bitch Who Commented on This Post,
I don’t like your tone so I’m not going to accept your comment. Since reading comprehension (along with spelling, punctation and grammar) obviously isn’t your forte, let me break it down for you. Number one, I haven’t been on a dating site in a year and a half as it is one of the behaviors I abstain from in sobriety. Please “read” (in quotes because I know you just skimmed) more than one post before you decide to give me a lecture in the comments section of my blog. Number two, I did meet him in public for our first date. Thanks for victim blaming and implying the whole thing was my fault, though.

Oh, and number three… Fuck You!

Take Care,
Imperfect

*****

Dear Mindy,
Your husband (you know, that dude you’re married too who used to be hot but now has a face only meth could love) cheats on you all every chance he gets. He invites strangers over to your house when you are out of town on work trips. He does drugs and has sex with them while your children are asleep upstairs. He cheats on you constantly, even when you are in town. Don’t you wonder where he goes all the time at night?

I know I shouldn’t be angry at you, and that your marriage is none of my business, but I am. Your husband lied to me repeatedly, swearing that he was divorced from you. He hurt me a great deal. I honestly don’t understand how you could not know what he’s up to. I feel a lot more compassion toward you than I feel anger, but I do feel anger. It doesn’t seem fair that he gets to  be such a creep and still be married to someone who is as beautiful and successful as you seem to be. Please do me yourself a favor and leave him.

Thanks,
Your husband’s former fuck buddy

*****

Dear Asshats Who Park on My Street and Take up Two Parking Spots,
Hey idiot, take a look around the neighborhood. Notice how every other car is parked just a few inches from the bumper in front of it? That’s cause there is limited street parking in this area (not sure how that escaped your notice) and everyone else who parked his or her car was considerate of that fact. Nothing breaks my heart more than coming home late at night and seeing your piece of shit car parked directly in front of my apartment building with half car space between both the car in front of you and the car behind you, forcing me to spend half an hour scouring the neighborhood for a space. Go suck a bag of dicks you fucking moron!

Cheers,
Your Friendly Neighbor

*****

Thanks for indulging me this writing exercise. Hope I didn’t offend any of you with my anger.

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.

A Subtle Addiction

Not so subtle

My sex and love addiction can be bold and blatant, like a belligerent drunk getting kicked out of a bar. More often than not, though, it’s subtle, like a functioning alcoholic who drinks all night and still manages to show up every morning for work and do his job.

It sneaks in.

“You went more than three years without talking to Anthony, you can be friends with him now,” it says. Then, “It’s okay to talk to him every single day. You’re JUST friends.” “Phone sex isn’t real sex. It’s fine,” it whispers in my ear.

So now I have this thing going on with someone I thought I had completely exorcised from my system a few years back. We’re not fucking, and that’s how I justify staying in contact with the guy. But it’s just as bad, if not worse. I talk to him every day, and sometimes for hours on end.

I sometimes think that if Anthony were 15 years younger and just a little bit less… weird, he would be my soulmate. We would probably be married by now and have three kids. I told this to a friend in program recently and she said, “So if he were a COMPLETELY different person he would be your soulmate?”

Um, well, when you put it that way…

The thing is, I don’t even believe in soulmates. But my addiction does. It tells me that it doesn’t matter that insert name here is married, or that he is a sociopathic liar, or that he is 21 freaking years older than me and he’s a swinger. He (whomever “he” happens to be at the moment) is the ONE!

This is bullshit.

I care about Anthony probably more than I have ever cared about any man I have been romantically linked to. That’s why it’s so fucked up that I am using him for a high. The last time we talked Anthony (who knows I’m in a program for sex/love addiction) said something like, “I guess I’m flattered by all the attention you give me and how fixated you can get.”

“Don’t be, because it’s bullshit,” I replied. “You could be anyone. I have given this level of attention to men that I hated. Obsession is nothing to be flattered by. It’s all about me and has nothing to do with you.

“Once I stop contacting you, then you should be flattered. Because that will mean that I authentically care about you enough to stop using you.”

But it’s not that easy. I do authentically care enough about Anthony to stop using him. I genuinely care about him so much. But true affection isn’t enough to override addiction, obsession, and compulsion. No matter how much I care about anyone, I am still powerless over all this shit. I can’t stop on will power alone.

It’s now been just over 24 hours since I last had contact with Anthony. And to anyone who thinks love addiction isn’t a real thing, well fuck you, because I’m currently going through a physical withdrawal. I’m shaky, I have a headache, and I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Maybe some day in the very distant future I will be healthy enough to have an appropriate friendship with Anthony. I hope so, but I can’t think about that right now. I need to concentrate on filling the space in my life he took up with my higher power, and getting through one minute, one hour, one day at a time.

Image via Wikimedia Commons, Author: Landii

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.

I Want to Act Out

Don’t worry, I probably won’t, but I want to.

Craving sexual oblivion or some way to check out from my thoughts, my feelings… my self. I want to see HC or at least spy on him online.

How long do I have to go without this guy before my obsession ebbs? It’s been three months already. I know he isn’t sitting around thinking about me. This is pathetic. If I wasn’t in this program, I would have found some new guy to make these feelings go away, or at least to stuff them down for a bit. Which, I know isn’t a solution, but at least I wouldn’t be feeling so pathetic.

I just did a phone meeting and I wasn’t into it at all. There is a yoga class starting in about an hour that I usually go to, but I don’t want to. There is also an in-person meeting starting in about an hour. It’s one I haven’t been to before. Maybe I should go to that? I kinda just want to buy a bottle of wine, a wedge of brie, and turn off my brain in front of the tv.

Praying for the strength to take contrary action.

 

Update for my many three readers: I skipped the yoga class and the meeting, for the brie and the wine; but instead of checking out with tv, I made a series of outreach calls, and talked to three other women in my program. I did not act out. I guess this would be an example of “progress, not perfection.”

 

Sex Free Summer

When I realized in June that I was going to have to give up dating and sexing for at least six months, I was pretty bummed, to put it mildly. It wasn’t just that I was going to have to abstain from men, it was that I was going to have to do this during the summer. In the summer I work less than I do during the rest of the year, and as a result I have a lot of time on my hands, but not a lot of cash. I foresaw a miserable sexless, fun-less summer ahead.

The previous summer, I had used men as “free” entertainment. From June to August I was involved with several men:

Joe — Very dominate and possessive. We got sexual almost right away. This guy was so nuts, I’ll have to write an entry about him later.

Fergus — Tall, Scottish, insane. He had bright orange hair and would say things like, “I’m a recovering alcoholic,” without any hint of irony, while guzzling large quantities of liquor. We made-out once or twice, but never had sex.

Jason — Much older than me, but still extremely handsome. I met him over a year before. We had dated twice previously, and he had blown me off both times. At one point we were actually “dating,” meaning he would come to my place, pick me up, and take me to dinner before we had sex; but then he started skipping the taking me to dinner part. Never a quick learner, I was surprised and hurt when he stopped returning my phone calls a third time. He never did “break up” with me, but I eventually got the hint when he removed me from his facebook friends.

Tim — A very nice older man. He took me on wonderfully romantic dates, but I felt no chemistry. When I was somewhere with him I was usually thinking, “this would be an amazing date… if I were here with Jason.” He was so nice, I wish I had been more attracted to him. We never did more than kiss.

Dustin — A total tool. He was more than 20 years older than me, but always acted like he was doing me a favor when he came over. I actively disliked this guy, but that didn’t stop me from sleeping with him for several months.

David — I met him in mid-August and thought I had found the perfect boyfriend. He was handsome, well-educated and successful. We waited until our fifth date to have sex (his decision; I was usually willing to give it up on the first or second date). I think he was initially attracted to me, because on the surface it looked like I had my act together (I can put on a good show for at least a month). He quickly realized what a mess I was. By October, we were over.

What a difference a year makes. It is now halfway through August, and I have not been on one date or had a single sexual encounter all summer. I thought this summer was going to suck, but quite the opposite is true. I may not have a lot of cash, but have discovered that I don’t need to rely on a guy to foot the bill and take me out. My summer has been spent reconnecting with friends and doing plenty of fun, free/low-cost activities — going to free concerts, hanging out at my friend’s pool, doing lots of yoga, making meals for friends instead of going to restaurants all the time. Even going to meetings has been kind of fun, in a way. While they aren’t always a barrel of laughs, and can at times be emotionally draining; it gets me out of the house and is a social activity. Spending the evening at a meeting, listening to other addicts’ experience, strength and hope, is better than sitting at home, depressed waiting for some guy to call me.

I don’t want to make it sound like everything has been rainbows and lollipops. The pain of withdrawal is intense. But instead of avoiding withdrawal and moving from one guy to the next, I have chosen to experience the emotional and sometimes even physical pain. I can’t stuff down the pain with men anymore, but I can take the edge off by doing fun, healthy, enriching activities that are changing my life for the better.