The truth about addiction

I will apologise in advance, if today’s entry seems a bit down on life. I’m not feeling at my spiritual best right now. I suppose for the past few months I’ve been on a spiritual high, with things going so well at work. Inevitably after every high there is a low, as I increasingly find with this life business. I’m feeling particularly low today, not helped by the fact that I have decided to go cold turkey with my sex addiction. For eleven days I have deprived myself of all form of fantasy, staying away from pornographic websites and attempting not to stare at men on the tube like I do most days. For eleven days I have been essentially ‘clean’ of this part of my addiction. And it is an addiction as serious as alcoholism, I know now because it was progressing scarily quickly and I can’t deny that to myself any more. The fantasies were becoming darker, the images on the computer screen more abusive, the act more and more shameful. I’m tired of sitting alone in my room scouring the internet for fantasy fodder every night. It’s not good for my sobriety and my self esteem. After eighteen months of reluctantly attending SAA meetings, I have been forced to come to the conclusion that as well as alcoholic and sugar addict, I am a true sex addict, and I need help.

It’s hard to say that the ‘high’ I was on for most of the summer was real now, because I was using porn almost daily through most of that time. I was using porn in the same way as I used alcohol. Now it’s been eleven days and I’m feeling like a newcomer again, with all the raw emotions exposed because I have nothing to drown them with. I haven’t been this depressed in months. It’s that hole in the soul, the God-shaped cavity that they talk about in meetings which I am sensing more acutely than ever today. The pain is intense, I feel like howling, it’s pulling me down and down I can hardly breathe. The addiction wants me to use anything – alcohol, sex, porn, sugar, shopping – anything will do.

I am doing something radical: I’m sitting with the feelings and not running away from them. My heart is pounding, my throat is tight and my head is spinning, but I refuse to give in tonight. I may pour out a lot of anger and pain here in my journal, I may play some loud music later and disturb my flatmates, but I’m not doing anything else. I am fed up of being captive to my addictions. For the last eighteen months I have been prisoner to my genitalia, swayed emotionally by every gorgeous man that I see in the street, compelled every day to go home and use porn just to get it out of my system. There is no doubt that this is singularly the most drastic thing I’ve done since I gave up alcohol. With pornography I was filling up some of the gap left by alcohol. To some extent it worked, but you can’t go long in recovery without coming face to face with truth eventually. Eleven days ago my behaviour was as compulsive as it has ever been. Yet again I was alone in my room, using the image of some guy in the street to make myself feel temporarily better, turning that person into a piece of meat and removing myself even further from reality. I knew it was compulsive and yet I still did it, because of those voices saying things like: ‘it’s all right, what harm can it do?’ ‘You’re not killing anyone,’ ‘It’s not like drinking!’

It may not kill me physically, but it will kill me spiritually, and anyone who thinks that sex addiction is not as serious as alcohol or drug addiction needs to take a long hard look at what they’re doing. When I came into recovery three and a half years ago I discovered that the spirit needs just as much care and attention as the body. It’s annoying because taking care of the spirit isn’t always easy or simple. It means letting go of many behaviours that are generally thought of as acceptable and normal in the world. Most men don’t have a problem with masturbation, in fact it’s probably the one thing that every single man in the world has in common. For me, at the moment it is a dangerous behaviour because it’s temptation. It takes me back to fantasy, back to the dark place where I’m not myself, where I want to pretend that I’m a young child being abused by much older men. I need a break from that; a break may be all that I can ask for at the moment.

I’m feeling lower than I have done in months and it has to be a symptom of withdrawal. Surely that, if nothing else, is a sign that I have a problem. I’m getting clean, starting on a new path towards something that I can’t see yet. I don’t have a clue where this new journey in my recovery is going to take me, and it scares the hell out of me. I don’t believe that I will ever be capable of having a healthy, loving relationship with another human being, so I’m not expecting anything like that from this journey. I just don’t want to live in addiction any more. I don’t want to sit alone in my bedroom, watching abuse porn ever again. I don’t ever want to stare at a man on the tube so hard that it gets me into trouble again.

The God-shaped hole affects so many areas in my life. It is the same gaping black hole that led me to two suicide attempts when I was sixteen. It makes me incapable of reaching out, because I’m so angry and upset that I can’t trust myself to speak clearly to anyone interested in listening. It exhausts me, so that I just want to curl up in bed and sleep. It makes me hate the world, so that anyone remotely normal or happy looking falls victim to my inner bitch. Coming home earlier from a meeting at which I couldn’t make myself share honestly, I heard myself yet again criticizing every person that I passed. Not in a funny way, in a really nasty, degrading way. If I’d actually said any of those things to the people in question I probably wouldn’t be alive right now.

I don’t know what to do now except pray, meditate and write. There are some chocolate biscuits which I might stuff my face with later, if it gets really bad. I don’t feel like picking up the phone. I certainly don’t feel like speaking to either of my flatmates. I’ve officially decided this week that I hate them, and I want to move out as soon as possible. It’s not their fault, they just happen to be there, easy targets.

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