Low level anxiety has lessened, my mood has calmed and therefore the past couple of days have been OK. The immediate effects of withdrawal from citalopram which caused me to feel physically ill earlier in the week are now less noticeable, as my body has apparently got used to the drop in serotonin. Maybe – and this is a big maybe – my life is so much better now compared to this time last year that I don’t need artificially high serotonin levels any more. I would have expected the withdrawal to last longer, though I don’t want to tempt fate by saying that it’s gone completely. I may still be in for a bumpy ride. Everything may be going really well now but you can’t know what’s in the future. Well, I can’t afford to worry about that right now.

At the end of the horrific day that was Tuesday I went on a late night porn binge, consuming pure unadulterated fantasy until about 3 in the morning. I found myself looking at some really old pictures of men I’ve objectified over the years on the hard drive, and once I had started looking I couldn’t stop. On Wednesday when I was beginning to feel a bit more clear headed I knew I had to start to get rid of those pictures, because, to be frank, they are dangerous for me. That is where the addiction takes me, into dirty late night fantasy with the likenesses of men who will never know I am using them in such a way. All these men are straight, masculine, hard and very unobtainable. In the past I’ve spent so long gathering pictures of men like that from magazines and newspaper cuttings that I freed up about half a gigabyte on my hard drive after deleting them the other day. Next I have to go to the back of my cupboard and destroy the paper copies of those pictures that I printed out for extra mileage. More time consuming, but it shouldn’t be difficult. The final stage of the cleansing process will involve blocking porn websites on my computer. I don’t know how to do it yet – there are no programs I can find which will let me block certain websites without the ability to unblock very easily. I’m sure if I look really hard I’ll find a way of doing it – I just need to find the motivation.

The main problem with the way I have always achieved physical gratification is that it has got me nowhere. Sure, there’s pleasure for a few minutes, but then there’s the regret and the emptiness and the longing for something more. Always something more. I hurt myself by diving into the fantasy, but I keep doing it again and again, because it’s easy and convenient and a lot less risky than going out and actually meeting people.

Having known for a good few months that I have to start meeting real, available men if I am to achieve any self worth, I decided to go out on Wednesday night and meet an astonishingly attractive man called Johan down the road in Barbican. We’d found each other online – it’s the only way I know how to ‘find’ anyone, really – and seemed to hit it off via a short exchange of messages. When I got to his extremely swanky studio flat he didn’t waste time in ripping my clothes off. I was equally thrilled and appalled with my chosen sexual partner on Wednesday evening: the most striking thing about him was how much he looked like Gareth. As the night went on the resemblance seemed to grow in strength. It wasn’t just the looks, it was the demeanour, the voice, the aftershave, the way he put his arms around me. I hadn’t intended to find a replacement for Gareth, but it seemed I was getting one. The night was mostly good. I had more fun than I had had in bed for a long time. Johan was truly the man in the bedroom, taking control of everything. All I had to do was lay there and enjoy it.

It used to be just like that with Gareth. Part of me loves being controlled by a man; strangely enough part of me hates it too. As time goes on, and undoubtedly as recovery progresses, I keep getting the sense that I need to find someone who won’t try and control me. A younger man, perhaps. As soon as I contemplate looking for someone who is actually around my age I hit a brick wall in my head, thanks to the remaining core belief that I am not attractive to my peers. In the shallow world of gay sex I am a perfect fit for older masculine men: I’m slim, young, shy, unashamedly effeminate in some respects. Years of experience on the gay scene has wired it into my head that only certain types of guys, i.e. older ones with a lot of hair and body fat, will want me. When it comes to the other type of guy, the type I’ve never tried my luck with before, i.e. my true peers, I can’t bring myself to believe that I’d have any luck. Yet something is telling me that I’d stand a better chance of happiness with someone who is similar to me in age and stature. All of my adult life I’ve settled for the older guy – some of them I have fetishized and some of them I have idolized – none of those relationships have ever worked out for me. Why could that be? Because somewhere along the line it always comes out that I can’t give them something that they want. With Johan it turned out that the old chestnut, anal intercourse, would come between us.

He didn’t say much about it on Wednesday night but I could tell that he wanted to go the whole way. The sick part of me wanted to go the whole way as well, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it in the end. Cuddling and kissing all night would have been enough for me, but as always the idea of proper penetrative sex put up a barrier between myself and the man in question. After getting home I decided to send him a text message, suggesting a dinner date some time, more as an experiment to see what would happen than anything. Tragically I have not received a reply, not even an ‘it’s me, not you’.

Yet another lover bites the dust. Well, if recovery has taught me one thing this year it’s that you need to move on, keep going. I’ve identified sex as one of those things I need in my life rather than one of the things I just want, so I guess I’m going to have to go back on the hunt for the time being. Out of none of these encounters am I expecting ‘love’, it’s about exploring my body and my tastes, and it’s about not denying myself one of life’s most natural pleasures any more. The journey to this point may have been a rocky one so far. I may have made countless mistakes along the way and I may still be massively confused. But at least I am out there, trying and experiencing things. As I probably said before, at least when I’m with a real person I’m not on my own in front of the computer screen until 3 in the morning. Until the last couple of weeks I struggled to allow myself any fun when it came to sex. I thought I had to be as celibate as possible, to be alone completely until I’d learnt to like myself better. I don’t know, maybe I still struggle with those things, but at this stage in my recovery I’m strongly aware of the need to keep exploring all that life has to offer, including gorgeous men who want to sleep with me before they know my surname. I’m beginning to go out there and do my own thing; I’m not obsessed with doing the program perfectly any more. It can’t be done perfectly, it just can’t.

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