Sex addiction and personal history

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I am a new member to this site. It really is an excellent site. Sex addiction is a serious thing.

I will share my story and experiences with this site. I am in recovery, but if you are attempting recovery too then you know how wild and unpredictable it can get. I hope that my share can provide you with understanding of your own journey. I would identify myself as a sex addict mostly, but it seems like I could and have been addicted to just about anything. But it is sex that is ultimately bringing me down to my knees.

Raised by a single mother. Alcohol use in the extended family. Shame and denial very common, especially concerning sex, even though we were not explicitly religious, there was an overall baptist tone from my mom. My dad would keep porno mags in the bathroom and I would occasionally peak. Though my mom seemed to not like any of this. I would do seemingly innocent 5 year old things and she would call me a "pervert" and seem very unhappy with me. Anything related to sex was a weird thing. When I was a teenager I discovered the treasure of masturbation with late night skinamax. I would spend hours "cruising" the late night stations waiting for the perfect image or scenario. I would stay up late and do this as well as play video games. My working mother let me have free reign because she was concerned with work and ridiculous men. I developed little self-discipline and pretty much did what I wanted. My masturbation later progressed to finding images around the house in lingerie magazines, bikinis, etc. After a year or so, when I was about 15, I found access to local pornography magazines advertising prostitutes. They had enticing softcore images that were way more interesting than the catalogs. About a year later, I fully had access to porno mags and movies and was the normal teenage boy with a stash. I didnt think much of it because everything seemed normal.

I soon discovered drugs and alcohol. Pornography was kind of secondary at this time as I was discovering new ways of thinking. I got way into marijuana. Smoked it every day and drank alcohol for fun. I was soon experimenting with psychedelics and wasnt much a sexual creature at the time, but I was still using the porn on the down time from drugs. This went on until I experienced a situation while high that made me question everything about what I had been doing. It was a kind of religious epiphany with christian tones. Afterwards, I felt very much against drugs and sin and started with an obsession with "purity". The difference now was that I would feel guilty every time I smoked pot or masturbated or drank. But it seemed like I was more or less addicted to these things. I did not stop partying or masturbating, I just felt guilty about it. At this time, I felt a lot of religious type of thoughts. Some kind of crazy, but they seemed very real. I was evangelicalizing my friends, reading religious scriptures, going to spiritual services, everything. I was kind of hooked on metaphysical subjects. I was 18 when I met my first girlfriend. During this time I had my first sexual experience. We were close and the sex satisfied me enough to where I did not need any drugs. Quitting was easy with sex and romance i guess. After about 8 months, I was not satisfied with her and wanted a different partner. We had a messy break up and I was then free to meet another partner. I started partying again and was meeting all kinds of partners and having sexual experiences, but still had this very guilty and unresolved conscious. I hit another bottom and started feeling the religious thing again. I joined a Hare Krishna temple and started following the religion. It was a nice experience, but I started wanting to do my own thing, so I quickly left. I did not stop partying. I was addicted to pot and would masturbate at least twice a day. I was feeling very daring and spiritual and probably high, so I gave up all of my material belongings and set out on an adventure. I bought a van and travelled around the country. I had a "wandering bug" where I could not settle down. I travelled, then worked, then travelled, worked. It was fun, but I ended up noticing things like social phobia, hypochondria, paranoia. I stopped using drugs completely, but i became obsessed again with purity. I thought that I had cancer several times, lupus (because my dad died of this), AIDS, or that the world was going to end.

I stayed free from all drugs for a long time and just worked and kept reading books on religion. I still thought that I had cancer for some reason though. I then got the urge to travel again, this time soberly, so I travelled again and stayed at temples and worked and enjoyed myself and life. During this time, I refrained from masturbation and it seemed very nice, easy, and natural. I was very satisfied at this time. I did this for about a year and moved back to the city and worked and lived a somewhat normal life without drugs. I was masturbating again and wasnt much focused on religious things. Then I became bored and left everything behind again and joined the Krishnas again. More traveling and celibacy for about 7 months. I again felt the need to settle down and I did for the longest time in my life. I was then about 24 and I moved back to where I lived originally during my party days, but I was not partying. I got a job and met my second girlfriend and we lived together. Although we had sex all the time, I was still checking out porn. I became started becoming dissatisfied with her in a way similar to my first girlfriend and I broke up with her. As soon as I did this, I met my next lover and we started a relationship immediately. I was starting school, working, and trying to get my life together. I became increasingly dissatisfied with this lover too, even though she was beautiful and everything I had desired about a partner. I focused on school and did not pay much attention to these thoughts except the one: when you get a chance..RUN! I decided not to live with her because deep down inside I knew I would leave her again. I would spend time at her house, but would come home and need my space. I filled this space with internet porn. It was interfering with our relationship because I was not available, she became needy and depressed and blamed it on her insufficiencies.

As soon as I got accepted to a university, I broke up with her. I was focused on my studying and did not want a relationship. I was also extremely attracted to all the new prospects at my school. I did not return her calls and immersed myself in my studying and was satisfied with porn. After finals I kind of felt bad and missed her. She had moved on with another guy in the time. I ended up taking it very bad. I became very depressed. It was kind of a nervous breakdown. I felt totally betrayed and rejected. I was depressed. My world had fallen apart and the floodgates seemed to open at this point. I was trying to call her. Text her, email. None of it was working. She was moving in with her new boyfriend and I was confused. I went through this for a while. Received some counseling, but refused medication. School was very difficult at this time. I kept up for a while, but as my depression got better, I seemed to slack of a little more with some apathy. I was also using quite a bit of internet porn too at the time.

I would get a call from my ex every once in a while when things werent working out for them, often at 2 in the morning. She even came by to spend the night one night. This happened for a while. I desperately wanted her back in my life. She would give me a little hope, then I would not here back from her again for a long time. I would send her a letter, but I would only here from her when she was upset over her current lover. I wanted desperately to get over her because it had been about a year and I was thinking about her every day. I had gone on a few dates with girls I met on campus or online, but unless the girl the had a ton of problems like me, she didnt want to have much to do with me. I was a sad man and I reeked of it. I was using women I met online because they were needy and desperate and so was I. I felt a lot of guilt over it. So I decided that I wanted to have sex with no consequences and expectations or heartbreak. As I was exploring porn like I always was, I decided that I wanted something more. Porn wasnt enough, so I used a popular classifieds site to find a prostitute. It was the first time I had experienced unattached meaningless sex. I felt very weird afterwards and was convinced that I had HIV, even though I used a condom. I was checked out in a few weeks and I was fine. I was using porn regularly and often bingeing. It was not long before i felt that I needed to experience a prostitute again, so I did. I did this several times and then became obsessed with the ritual of finding and pursuing it until it happened. My school work went downhill and I spent most of my time trying to recover from each experience and obsess with my HIV status. I had taken out a lot of money in student loans and I was shopping and paying for prostitutes all while trying to finish my degree. I found it out of control, and I hit a bottom. I was depressed, confused, isolated, worried, and a little suicidal. I found SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous) online and started going to meeting regularly. I was still acting out and seeing prostitutes very regularly. I got a sponsor and kept in touch with other sex and love (romance) addicts who had a similar history. I was going out late at night and I was struggling intensely. All I could really do is keep going to the meetings and hope that they would work eventually. I felt like I had no free will, I was totally consumed when the urge to act out hit. I was very scared at this time. despite all of this, with the help of supportive members of the group, I was able to space the frequency of my acting out further apart and finish my degree. I had stopped completely seeing these women of the night, but my addiction went back again to real women and romance coupled with frequent porn use. I met several women that were all sick and into drugs and alcohol. My sex addict was way into this because they were as sexual as they were unstable. I have been in about 4 of these little flings since I have stopped seeing prostitutes. i still get checked out after each for HIV.

Recently i met an unstable girl whom I connected with immediately. We had a lot of unprotected sex and then I did not hear from her. I became a little upset and felt rejected. My hypochondria is kicking in and telling me that I have HIV because she was particularly promiscuous. I have not looked at porn or masturbated in 4 days.

I feel sick, worried, rejected, (the whole low dopamine checklist).
My withdrawal symptoms-
- Lack of energy
- Small cold (or flu, or whatever else my mind can conjure up), sore throat
- weird sexual dreams of ex's.
- headache
- lack of motivation (I have an assignment due and i cant stop obsessing over this stuff)
- I have texted my ex's even after a long time
- lack of appetite

I feel like a mess.

Welcome to the site

Sounds like it's hard to stop the momentum, huh? Maybe if you set a goal of increased inner balance, you could work toward it better. Instant "purity" as a goal can really set you up for disappointment. Wink

I know it sounds weird, but the part of the brain that finds sex rewarding is also set up to find friendly interactions with other (both with lovers and buddies) rewarding. This is why 12-step groups can be so helpful. However, other social support can be, too. In other words, when you joined the krishnas, you wisely seeking companionship with others.

Are there any activities you can think of that wouldn't conflict with your studies, which would connect you with others? Singing, meditation, hiking...whatever? It might be good to find new ways to focus your attention. If you stay in the same rut, it's harder to break addictive patterns.

Let us know how you get on.

*big hug*

Thank you

That is sound advice. I feel I have benefitted a lot from just the companionship of the members of the SLAA group. Ive met very understanding and genuine friends there. Addiction really is a disease of isolation. It pushes people away except for those that are a part of its disease. I am going to start getting involved in group activities very soon. I feel very paralyzed, sick, and antisocial with the hypochondria and withdrawals (and Im physically sick with a cold), so I havent left the house much this weekend. But if there's one thing addicts can do for themselves, its reconnecting with people. I think you emphasized that in another thread too.
Ill keep you guys updated on my withdrawals and recovery.

Thanks again for the site and support. It really is first class.

Welcome!

Well, it sounds like you're really been through everything, huh? I think success in recovery depends a lot of how many ways you can find support. This site is just one; there's also recovery groups of course, therapists, other friendly activities like Marnia mentioned, books you can read, etc. Religious groups can also help, but for best results you want to find one where the members are well-balanced people with no extremist or cultish leanings, who are tolerant of different beliefs. Maybe there's a meditation group on your campus.

I wonder if the hypochondriac thing might actually be part of your addiction. We had a member here for a while who was addicted to obsessing about whether he was gay or not, in conjunction with using different types of porn. Somehow your brain becomes accustomed to obsessively worrying over something, which becomes connected to seeking out situations (anonymous sex, etc.) which give you something to worry about.

Day 5 withdrawal symptoms

Thank you for your support. I feel the same way about the hypochondria as being part of the addiction. It offers a giant release when the test comes back negative and I am focusing and obsessing in a way similar to porn. Since I am not focusing on anything else right now as far as my addiction, it would make sense that my attention would be focused on this. Plus, I am sick with a cold and it has become a symptom in mind perpetuating my fears. I wonder where hypochondria lies in relation to dopamine?
Similar to this kind of obsessing is the obsessing with my own process in recovery, but as a member once pointed out in SLAA: Although you dont want to get addicted to program, its not the worst thing in the world. And certainly better than being obsessed with other things. One characteristic about addicts is that they are self-absorbed. I can tell you that all this obsessing and addiction has me so into myself and my conditions, etc. I havent really been able to think straight or objectively.

Day 5 withdrawal feelings-
(also kicking sugar)

-I am sick with a cold
-depressed
-feeling rejected
-suspicious
-severe hypochondria
-bed-ridden
-stressed
-irritable
-low sex drive, almost repulsion, but i will get strongly excited about seeing something on tv or online for a second.
-very anti-social
-romantic fantasies of women I hardly know

Again, Im not sure if some of these feelings are from being sick or what. Its hard to tell. But overall, my hypochondria is in full force and definitely the dominant theme.

Sounds grim

Is there a way to put your attention on someone else? Anyone you could call and cheer up, for example? See if it makes you feel better.

Day 6, 7, 8 withdrawal

Day 6-
Too ill to really differentiate between withdrawal and sickness.

Day 7-
Still too ill. I did have a lot of memories of times in my life when i felt good (prior to active addiction) and brief clarity. But overall in terrible pain.
Went to hospital and was tested for flu.

Day 8-
Still ill. Head very clouded. Feel the sickness subsiding and am starting to eat, sleep and drink again.
Some sexual thoughts, but generally too sick to really want to act on them right now, thankfully i guess.
Thoughts of previous sexual encounters were strong, especially those that I had a strong emotional attachment (ex lovers, etc.)

Looking forward to getting to some meetings and exercising again. This has been a tough week.

Wanting

to connect lovingly sounds like a good sign. By the way, it is not unusual for people to get a cold or something during withdrawal. Weird. Wish we knew more.

Glad you're on the mend. Good luck!

*a big hug*

Day 9 withdrawal

I read up on it a little, yes it is a little weird. I saw that withdrawal symptoms from substances mimicked the flu for some people. Given your premise that addictions are more situated in a person's brain chemistry, then I could have been having this kind of mimicry. Or, it might be that my defenses were down and I acquired a virus. I was tested for the flu virus. It will be interesting to see what the results are next week. Ill keep you informed.

Day 9-
-dehydrated
-sleeping again
-still sick
-eating again
-optimistic
-a little more motivated
-clear
- I am feeling better mentally in general. Its hard to explain, less irritable and more forgiving. Not getting sucked into other people's drama so easily or at least so reactive. I feel better mentally. This might be from the involuntary fast!

Interesting

that it shows up in the literature. Some people say it's "detoxing," but that doesn't seem to fit porn. I wonder if it's just the stress of not being able to grab one's usual relief that lowers immunity a bit...and bingo! It's a big shift for your body to have to retrain to find other sources of soothing comfort/balance, perhaps.

Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you're feeling better.

Day 10

Thanks, detoxing or whatever it has been hard. I am feeling better today. I havent left my house in a week! Nice to get some fresh air.

- little depressed
- still run down and tired
- feeling anti-social
- thinking about ex's and sexual experiences
- slight headache
- sexual urges not paramount, but they are enticing if I give them even the slightest.

Overall, I feel a subtle strength that I havent felt in a long time. Like a sturdiness. Its faint, but it feels like something I used to feel naturally before depression and addiction became a norm. I look forward to seeing if this feeling takes a life of its own like my addiction had.

Yes curious, its weird how those things work. Its quite a puzzle. Changes are stress! At least this research is taking some of the mystery out of it. Ultimately, I just have to grow up emotionally and learn to be present and comfortable with myself. I know that abstaining will help me to regain my life and self respect again.

Stress, change and sickness

The day before I got married, I started getting cold-like symptoms. We got married in the morning. By afternoon I was feeling very tired, and by evening I was half dead with the flu or something. After a couple days my wife was getting very worried. She took some of my clothes to her mom, who took them to a healer who did some sort of voodoo-like ceremony with them. She also gave me some tea with incense ashes from the temple in it. I had no knowledge of any of that at the time. A couple days later, I got better. So maybe I owe my life to those dear women. Smile

A few months later, I read a book that said that stress negatively impacts the immune system, and that any sort of change, not just bad change, is a kind of stress. So moving, changing jobs, getting married, etc. are all stressful and can make one susceptible to getting sick. Makes sense to me!

changes

[quote=CuriousFellow]The day before I got married, I started getting cold-like symptoms. We got married in the morning. By afternoon I was feeling very tired, and by evening I was half dead with the flu or something. After a couple days my wife was getting very worried. She took some of my clothes to her mom, who took them to a healer who did some sort of voodoo-like ceremony with them. She also gave me some tea with incense ashes from the temple in it. I had no knowledge of any of that at the time. A couple days later, I got better. So maybe I owe my life to those dear women. Smile

A few months later, I read a book that said that stress negatively impacts the immune system, and that any sort of change, not just bad change, is a kind of stress. So moving, changing jobs, getting married, etc. are all stressful and can make one susceptible to getting sick. Makes sense to me![/quote]

Dear Curious Fellow,
Don't you suppose when your marriage started going real south a few years ago, that those changes had an impact on you, too? Do you think "Change" of the marriage day signaling major changes at 27 yrs, caused your illness? Was it a "big" wedding? Sometimes it is such a relief that all the planning and details are finally over, that you could find yourself exhausted. Just being a curious giraffe.

Re changes

"Don't you suppose when your marriage started going real south a few years ago, that those changes had an impact on you, too?"

Impact - of course. However, I don't recall getting sick around that time. But the "going south" was a gradual process throughout the marriage. She had stopped sleeping with me, sometimes for weeks or months at a time, and then come back, several times, so there was no way to know that the last time she moved out of my bed was really the last time.

"Do you think "Change" of the marriage day signaling major changes at 27 yrs, caused your illness?"

Well, I don't know for sure - maybe if the marriage had been later I still would have gotten sick on the original day - but I think it's plausible that the "change" of getting married was a kind of stress, and could have made me susceptible to illness, and so might have contributed to my getting sick.

"Was it a "big" wedding?"

Not very. It was a group wedding (several couples getting married) at a courthouse. Half a dozen of our friends and family attended.

"Sometimes it is such a relief that all the planning and details are finally over, that you could find yourself exhausted."

Could have been exhaustion, but it was certainly more than that. Something like a 96-hour flu, I guess.

Hang in there

Hang in there, dirtyangel.

Thank you for your story. I haven't been down that road. One thing I do know is that what you are doing is worth it. This is your gift to yourself and you deserve it.

When you feel better, think about where to put your passion. What path has heart for you? You have had a lot of adventures and you write well. You could turn your experiences into a story.

Day 18

Thanks, it has been a nice gift to myself. It has been a struggle this week for sure, but there is enough of a reward to keep me motivated. I do feel better. One big difference thats subtle but very noticeable is that I am better able to handle challenges in daily life. My mind has kind of worked against me in the past, but right now I seem to have a glimpse of the kind of confidence I need to confront challenges head on. Im certain that it is due to celibacy because Ive tried every self-help method imaginable to try to deal with my confidence and motivation, etc. This method does all the work that I was trying to achieve in therapy and self-help. The only way that I can explain it is that while Im losing semen Im "pouring water on a fire that Im trying to start". I cant say that Im breaming with confidence and all of that, but I feel a subtle shift in me that feels very right and important in what I want to do and where I want to be emotionally. I feel more grounded and stronger for sure.

I am still having tons of sexual dreams and it seems like some nights I come close to orgasm. I am trying my best to stay out of fantasy while awake, so that might help. I am also trying to stay busy with work and school. That keeps my mind and body busy. Exercise is helping me to feel good. Hiking in the woods is becoming a regular thing to do instead of staring at a wall. Ive also been eating good too.

Ive always tried to do all these things that are good for me like exercise and eating healthy, but nothing has really shifted my mood as much as this. Again, I cant say that a radical change has taken place, but it is small and profound. It feels like the missing piece. Also, it feels like I have a chance to step back from my life and see the bigger picture. This might be from a reprieve from my depression, but it is an amazing thing to get a glimpse of something like that when youve been in major darkness for a long time. I guess Im just happy to see a contrast for a change instead of complete merciless darkness!

Oh, as far as my sickness last week, my test came back that I did not have the flu virus. It cant be determined if I had one of many possible viruses or if withdrawal symptoms can mimic flu symptoms. wasnt HIV either, so Im not sure what to make of it. Its all pretty mysterious to me, but I dont really care right now, just glad Im not sick anymore!

So glad to hear

you're noticing the benefits. My husband described it as "I feel like who I really am for the first time in a long time." (Probably since puberty when he first began "burping the worm" with great frequency. *giggle*) Anyway, it's amazing what we can accomplish when we feel "normal" again. It's like putting down a big load of rocks we've been carrying around for way too long, eh?

That's why creating inner equilibrium is such a powerful practice...even though all it does is make you normal. Smile I think you'll find that the periods of feeling this way increase, and the pits get less frequent.

It's cool that you're finding exercise and diet to be helpful, too. Are you socializing? That is the change that seems to help the most with long-term comfort with this practice. We humans are set up to benefit from friendly interaction (and ideally a long-term intimate companion). Meditation/prayer can support inner equilibrium too.

Thanks so much for letting us know how you're doing. And that your illness was nothing too serious. Glad you're feeling better.

*hugs*

Day 2/20

Day 2 because I had a nocturnal emission, Day 20 because thats how long Ive abstained from self-induced orgasm.

Im not sure if the nocturnal emission is relevant, but it might have affected my cycle. I am feeling things similar to the withdrawal (pretty much like most of my adult life so far).

Symptoms:
- slight headache
- nausea
- tiredness
- lack of motivation
- irritability

I am not certain that the emission triggered my cycle, but I sure did feel better last week.

I am also taking an in depth look right now into my spiritual beliefs. I seem to have a lot going on with how I have approached spirituality in the past, actually, how Ive approached everything. Ive been in the throes of perfectionism and obsessive thinking in my approach to everything. I have always held onto the idea that if I became more "spiritual" then I would somehow "transcend" this mess. However, it seems like my approach and relation to spirituality has created the opposite effect for me. This came up this last week while not having anything really to obsess about due to my abstinence. Instead, I reached for the spiritual and metaphysical books. I cant say that I get nothing from them, they are very interesting, but it seems to work my brain in a way that might not be good for me. I then read online a book about a man's (Geoffrey Falk) bad experience with ashrams and his thorough and revealing analysis of the behavior of many popular gurus and why people think the way they do upon entering these organizations. It has been a tumultuous experience because even though I havent identified myself with a particular religion in many years, I still find myself believing or thinking in certain ways. I do not know whether the things that I think are true. Some of the things that happen in the world seem to make sense under that paradigm, but like most metaphysical things, Im not going to know for sure anytime soon in my lifetime. However, being a truth seeker, its not always easy to suspend judgment on everything, sometimes you just want to hold onto to something thats real. Thats difficult to do if you think that the world that you live in is unreal or at least relatively real. Further, I feel that Ive touched something real while living in the ashram and generally had a good experience.

I think Im starting to awaken that beast again, but I might need to just as Im having to reevaluate my relationship to healthy sex. I know that I dont need any organized religion to meditate or pray. I just want to do things in a healthy way.

Ooops

Thought we had already done that. Sorry, Angel! Happy blogging.

My thought is that inner equilibrium is the key piece of well-being. Only with it can we operate at our full potential, and all noble spiritual traditions seem to get at this essential element one way or the other...sometimes with so much dogma on top that you lose sight of it.

What do you think about this article, or did we already talk about it? http://www.reuniting.info/wisdom/sex_and_the_secret