Last night I had a dream that I will never forget: the sort of dream that I have once every few years which might actually mean something. In the dream I was sitting alone on a bench in what looked like my old school gymnasium, arms and legs crossed, feeling quite bored and dejected, while around me people were dancing gaily to loud, happy music. After a few minutes or hours, strangely enough one of my male colleagues from work approached me for a dance. In reality I’ve never had a crush on this person, but in the dream he seemed lovely, with a smile on his face that said: ‘Come on! Just for me,’ a smile I couldn’t resist. I got up, allowed him to take me in his arms and we danced a sweet waltz. And that was all that we did, and it was beautiful. “You soppy, old, romantic fool,” I woke up thinking, because all my life – well, for at least the last eight years or so – I have fought against this inner need to be asked to dance. In an effort to try and be like other men, to abandon my feelings and enjoy the realities of sex and dating, I have come very close at times to forgetting entirely that all I want, deep down, is to be taken in someone’s arms and danced with. I’m using the word ‘dance’ in a metaphorical sense, of course, because that’s how dreams work. In metaphors. Until last night I was lost in a thick fog of misunderstanding about my real problems, and now suddenly it all makes sense to me. My unconscious mind, or my higher power, or something, has finally shown me what I want – essentially who I am.
Knowing the truth, or seeming to know the truth after all this time made today not get off to a great start. Much like yesterday I was snappy and tired for most of the day at work, over-sensitive to every petty little look and comment coming from colleagues who probably weren’t thinking about me. By late afternoon I felt worn out, emotionally drained and willing to crawl under the desk and hide. When 6 o’clock came I rushed straight to a local Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting without stopping to eat, knowing that I had to be around other people in a similar situation. When I got to the room I was in a foul mood, having worked myself up into such a state with the idea that I’ll never be asked to dance by a man who simply likes me for me. I spent at least ten minutes on the way to the meeting thinking about all my previous disastrous relationships, about how hardly any of them were anything more than merely sexual, and about how I’ve repeatedly reduced myself to my genitalia when all I really wanted was to be held, and nothing more.
In the meeting I heard an awful lot about the problem, and some stuff about the solution too, which was good. There wasn’t one thing in particular that stood out for me, but I think just being in a room full of fellow sex addicts had a positive effect on me, because when I emerged an hour and a half later I didn’t feel nearly as bad as I had done all day. A million and one things were going through my mind: so many new ideas about my situation, my recovery, my life. I’ve lived half my life wrapped around the notion of abandonment; for the last eight years or so I’ve sought escape from it in alcohol, then subsequently in sex, sugar and spending addiction. I can try and make myself look better, wear nicer clothes, take nicer photos of myself to put on my gay dating profile, teach myself new ways of enjoying sex, but in the end it all comes down to the fact that I won’t be happy in any relationship unless there is something more than sex involved. About eighteen months ago I developed a rather unhealthy addiction to internet pornography, and I’ve had such a hard time getting off of that because any attempt to remove myself from such acting out always presents me with the incontrovertible truth that I’m missing intimacy in my life.
Of course I have had a few intimate relationships in my life – perhaps it would be partly true to say that I pushed them away because they scared me so much. I don’t think it’s entirely true any more, though. I think maybe those few genuine experiences of intimacy ended because they weren’t meant to be. And just like all the other encounters I’ve ever had they all began with sex, rather than developing from friendship or whatever it is that normal relationships start with. I always did these things the wrong way round. I can’t be blamed for that, I was only human.
I’ve been sober from pornography and masturbation now for eight days, so it can’t be a coincidence that all of this is occurring to me now. The depression that I have experienced in the past couple of days can only be a result of withdrawal, and the insights that I’m getting can only be a direct result of having a sober, clear head. On the subject of depression and withdrawal, I get the feeling that these things happen to me because they are part of who I am. Sobriety shows me that I am, at my core, prone to depression. I am many other things as well – in recent months and years I’ve discovered that I can be camp, I love drawing, reading books, listening to classical music, going to the theatre, walking, cooking proper food – all things I didn’t have a clue about before sobriety. Depression is another part of what I am, and although the past year’s experiences have cleared a lot of it out of my system, it’s still there. This week I’ve given up porn, and in doing so I’ve lifted the lid on more ultimate truths about myself. It’s truly terrifying to discover new, important things about oneself when you thought that you always knew yourself so well.
I’m in the position once again where I’m heading down a path into darkness. I don’t know what’s ahead of me in this journey, I don’t know where I’m going or really why I’m going there. I know that pornography and fantasy serve no purpose in my life any more, but I don’t know if banning myself from them completely is going to bring about the ‘love’ I’ve always dreamed of, especially since everything else I’ve ever tried hasn’t worked. The only thing keeping me going, minute by minute, is the knowledge that I didn’t have much faith when I stopped drinking either, yet look what happened.