Note: This post and all Sex and Love Addiction posts (unless otherwise noted) are written exclusively by Mr. Secure.
The most recent American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does not list sex addiction (or love addiction for that matter) as a real psychological disorder. In fact, the closest thing most therapists and doctors will call it is “impulse control.”
Well, let’s put one thing to bed (pun intended) — sex and love addiction are real regardless of the lack of diagnoses in the scientific field. Up until recently, homosexuality and bisexuality (and a slew of other sexualities) were all considered mental disorders. Times change, science does not. Our interpretation of the science, however, does change.
Without further ado, I’m writing this as an outlet to discuss my own battle with sex and love addiction, to offer resources and outlets to people who suffer from the same, and to educate those who are curious.
Before I even attempt to abbreviate my long, drawn out battle with sex and love addiction (which will be a separate post altogether), this is how I know for sure that I am one:
For 20 years, no matter how hard I tried to stop looking at pornography, womanizing, having extra-marital affairs, flirting with other women, creating hidden email accounts, reaching out to people on online, watching voyeur cameras, sending explicit photos to strangers, engaging in cybersex — I COULDN’T STOP!
I rationalized, compromised, made promises to myself and to God, white-knuckled my addiction, lied, covered up lies with lies — eventually, the addiction became me. I was, at my rock bottom, 100% my Addict. No longer did I, Mr. Secure, exist in any form of an innocent state.
I was completely powerless over it. Every moment of free time was spent reaching out to other people, looking at pornography, or living in some fantasy about acting out. Eventually, I acted out for the last time — and at that point, I no longer wanted to live.
The problem with suicide, for me, is that I can’t bring myself to do it. I was stuck in a limbo of toxic shame that ate at my sole. Every minute of my existence started to matter less and less. It is one thing to say the words, “I hate myself.” It is another thing, however, to truly mean it. I absolutely hated myself. I felt worthless, unlovable, evil, and disgusting. Nothing about me was salvageable, and I just wanted to die before I ruined anyone else’s life.
The Beginning of Recovery
After my final extra-marital affair, I kicked my Wife out of my house (never admitting to my problems). Everything, even until that point, was a lie to her. My logic was simple: If Mrs. Secure is gone, then I cannot hurt her anymore. I would be free to live in my shameful addiction without consequence.
But there was consequence. Moving her out of my life, adjusting my own existence — none of this enabled me to live peacefully with this Monster. The downward spiral of shame increased three-fold. At one point, at work, I was shaking — I was a heartbeat away from being hospitalized. There was a point shortly after kicking her out of the house that I looked in the mirror. It was during a haircut, and the person in that mirror was no longer me. I don’t mean this in some metaphysical, hyperbolic sense. I mean, in a very real way, it was like I was looking at a complete stranger — a person who was no longer me.
At the penultimate moment before reaching a nervous breakdown, I reached out to a local therapist, and she made an immediate opening for me due to my crisis state. Rebecca, a name I’ll never forget, knew within two minutes of meeting me, that I was deeply entrenched in sex and love addict. At that point, I didn’t even know what that was. She pointed me to SLAA, an organization that has, for the past three years, saved my life from this disease.
Friday that same week, I attended my first SLAA meeting. Within 15 minutes of my time there, I knew that I was part of this community. I was, and always will be, a sex and love addict.
Finding a Sponsor
Over the course of a few weeks, Mrs. Secure decided to come back home. Why she chose to do this, I have no idea. Perhaps she saw the good in me that I couldn’t see for myself. Like my back story, I’ll get into this experience on a later post. For now, I want to explain how to get started in this program.
My Wife, my therapist, and my 12-Step group all encouraged me to get a Sponsor as soon as possible. And that is exactly what I did. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you might have noticed that I’m in the Navy. I needed someone who could identify with that lifestyle — the stress, time away from home, long hours, and man-in-uniform narcissism. By the grace of God, within two weeks of being in Program, I found him. My Sponsor (who I will call John throughout this process) saw me through the roughest point of my entire life.
We met about twice a week for the first month, and once a week for the next two months. John was patient with me, he answered all my questions to the best of his knowledge, and he made absolutely sure that I was in this recovery program for me and no other person. Why is that important? Regardless of what happens in my life, I will always be a sex and love addict. This recovery is not about anybody else but me and my own sanity.
John also got me started on my first step in the program:
Step 1 — We admitted we were powerless over sex and love addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
The Resources for Step 1
It would be a fallacy to say that reading Step 1, and just agreeing with it, would mean you are ready for Step 2. Each one of the 12 Steps involves work — soul work. If you want to recover, you have to take it seriously, put in the elbow grease, go to meetings, work with your Sponsor, and do a lot of writing. For the first few months of your life, recovery work will occupy the majority of your time. Believe me when I tell you that it’s worth it. My life and my marriage are at their strongest that they’ve ever been!
As a team effort, our local group developed a Step Study program that will help people work through the 12 Steps of Sex and Love Addiction. Resources are available throughout the Internet, but I want to ensure you have something for each Step to get your moving. Action is important. If you are not working on your recovery, you are working on your relapse. Here is a shareable, open-source, Google Doc that I have posted for you to start working on Step 1.
During your work on Step 1, I highly encourage you to either purchase the hard copy or soft copy of the SLAA Big Book (basic text). It is available here via Amazon: SLAA Basic Text The cost is $9.00 US, and it is worth it. Keep in mind, this is a non-profit organization. No one in the SLAA community makes a financial gain from your purchase. All funds are used to provide resources to the Sex and Love Addict who still suffers.
If you need to get to a meeting, here are the resources for you to find one: