The sex issue (part two)

I wish I could say it’s been a good week so far – technically it has been, but I don’t feel it right now. Since I stopped taking my anti-depressants last week the low level of anxiety that I’d experienced all year has turned into more of a moderate level. For the past two days I’ve felt as if I got out of the wrong side of the bed. Somewhere in my gut a switch has been pressed and all my thoughts and feelings are now negative by default. I’ve had positive experiences but the feelings are coming from a negative place. For the first time since I started taking medication last year I am experiencing life raw again. Welcome back feelings, it’s nice to have you round again! The good thing in all this is that the physical side-effects of anti-depressant medication are gone, and I don’t want to drink, which is always important.

 Monday night was perhaps the best bit of the week. After a local step meeting I went for a long walk with one of my dearest friends in the program. The air was hot and balmy and neither of us felt like going home. We walked along the Regents Canal to Shoreditch, where we unexpectedly bumped into two other friends from the program who were going out dancing. We visited a couple of gay bars in Hackney that I had not been to before, where the music was good and the men were, as always, nice to look at. It was a good night out, mostly thanks to the company. I was with genuine friends, with no pressure to be anyone except myself. Alcohol was all around us but I felt no inclination to drink any of it. I left the second bar to return home at midnight on a natural high. By now it was raining heavily and I prayed that I would not have to wait long for a bus. When I got to the bus stop there was a bus waiting there for me, convincing me that God was indeed on my side.

Yesterday was when things started to get somewhat worse. I definitely woke on the wrong side of the bed and felt markedly flat all day. I was supposed to be seeing my sponsee in the morning, something I was not looking forward to. Luckily when I got there he was in a typically effervescent mood, and I didn’t have to do much talking. Unfortunately he is not really practising much of the program at the moment: he says he hasn’t been to a meeting for over two weeks because of work and social commitments. I probably ought to be stricter with him about meetings than I have been. I told him that he is the only person who can know how many meetings are good for him, though later on I started to think that maybe he doesn’t know.

He’s doing what a lot of newcomers do: he’s putting work and social life first, desperate to cling onto the notion that the old life doesn’t have to end just because the drinking has. Yes, AA is a bridge to normal living, but that doesn’t mean that things don’t have to change. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk him into joining me at a meeting next week. Otherwise I will undoubtedly begin to feel like more of a friend than a sponsor, and that’s not what either of us needs.

After seeing him I came home to spend the next few hours searching for things to do with myself. Eventually I decided to go online to try and find a hot sex date. I hadn’t had sex in weeks and since I stopped taking citalopram, my sex drive has increased wildly. It didn’t take long to find someone who was willing to come over and give me a good seeing to. Unfortunately just as I was about to type my address out and hit ‘send’, a voice in my head said: ‘what are you doing?’ and I couldn’t go through with it. All the dangers of casual sex hit me like a slap in the face, and I promptly logged off without explanation to my potential date.

I’ve brought guys home before, but yesterday for some reason it would have felt completely wrong to do so. I thought again about how nice it would be to meet someone on a friendship basis before moving onto romance; I realised that I was once again giving into the urge to find the quick fix. While there’s nothing wrong with casual sex in itself, I just can’t persuade myself that it is the right thing for me to do.

Seven years ago I knew it was wrong for me, yet I still went ahead and slept with well over a hundred different men in the space of the next few years. It was so much easier when I was drinking; I could just fall into bed with anyone and convince myself that I’d fallen in love each time. Today I can’t kid myself into thinking it’s OK any more. I’ve never even tried sex in a serious, long term relationship. A few months ago I guess I came to the conclusion that long term relationships are not for me either because I can get so obsessed with the fantasy of being in one. I can’t afford to define my love life by ‘long term relationships’, not only because it’s such a narrow category but because I’ve found time and again that relationships never work when I go looking for them. Now it looks as if I can’t afford to define my love life by casual, meaningless encounters either.

I really thought it would be healthy to open myself up to all possibilities and assess every encounter on face value. Perhaps my problem is that I am simply assessing things too much. But how the hell do I not assess experiences like yesterday? I want to learn from these things, I really do. It just seems like every time this happens I am missing something really important and obvious.

It’s clear that I need to make some sort of decision about where to go from here. Casual internet sex is too forced and unnatural, and at best it does nothing for me, so it looks like ruling it out completely would be a good way forward. Unfortunately as soon as I think about ruling anything out of my life I want it all the more. Yesterday evening I could not stop thinking about sex. The craving and the obssession was worse than it had ever been – worse than the obsession with alcohol. Drinking was far from my mind yesterday. If only I could apply step one as easily to my sex addiction as I did to booze. Abstinence from sex is, as we all know, a far more tricky and complex business than abstinence from alcohol. If you want to abstain from alcoholic drinking all you have to do is not drink. Abstaining from unhealthy sex isn’t just about abstaining from sex altogether. I’d go back to complete celibacy if I could, but I’ve known for too long that that doesn’t work for me either. So what do I do?

Admitting I am a true sex and love addict might help but even that is something I’m finding hard today. I know I have an unhealthy relationship with sex and love, but it’s not unhealthy all the time. At least my head doesn’t want to believe that it is. Casual sex can be quite fun sometimes, just like getting drunk could be from time to time. I found it so easy to start calling myself an alcoholic two years ago. Why is it so unbelievably difficult with sex?

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3 thoughts on “The sex issue (part two)

  1. SLAA is not about abstinence from sex, it is about creating bottom lines for yourself and sticking to them – most importantly it is not doing behaviours that YOU consider bad for you. Maybe you should get the SLAA big book and give it a read – its completely different that the AA book

  2. I know it’s not about celibacy, the problem is that I don’t know what boundaries to set and what would be healthy for me, and so far in the SLAA meetings I’ve been to I haven’t really heard about what actually IS healthy behaviour.

  3. Thats the thing with SLAA you have to decide what is healthy behaviour for you. Everyone is going to have different bottom lines that they are trying to stick to. One of my bottom lines is that I dont go to saunas for sex, when the urge is so bad I have members that I reach out to and talk about it. Try to think of the stuff you do that fills you with feelings of guilt and shame – start by staying away from them. In SLAA its called going into withdrawal. Serious get the SLAA big book and give it a read, you will pick up some tips.
    But this stuff is really difficult and goes really deep – fair play to you for starting to look at it!

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