I’ve come to accept that I’m an addict – which means I have just as easily used people and relationships to “escape” from reality as I have drugs and alcohol. In fact, I’m realizing now that my “deeper” addiction — the one I’ve lived with longer — is based on using co-dependent relationships or sex as my “drug of choice.”
I’ve recently started another “90 in 90” — 90 meetings in 90 days — as part of my twelve-step recovery process. Additionally, to bring some relief and clarity on an emotional level, I’m committing to a 90 day period of abstinence from acting out sexually. More on that later, but let me share an experience I had today that showed me how shallow I have been in my past with respect to people…how I’ve used people, plain and simple.
An “online buddy” of mine text me today to see “how I was doing.” He made it clear pretty quickly what he was looking for…and to be honest, a month ago, I would have been looking for the same thing. In fact, I know I reached out to him on at least one occasion and never heard back from him…he was busy with studies. I remember thinking “how self-centered…all he thinks about are his own needs!” Of course, I just wanted him for mine…but never mind, I couldn’t see that at the time.
Today, I shared with him that I was on a 90 day abstinence plan. He asked, “how long ’til your 90 days are up?” I replied “80 days!” He pondered his dilemma then replied, “That will put me back into the middle of next semester…see you at graduation.” And that was it. End of text.
As I reflected on this, I was proud that I stuck to my plan — that I actually am starting to value myself and others beyond the purely shallow physical needs. Let me add that I’m quite early in my recovery from THIS part of my illness (lest I get too confident!)
I found myself wanting to say “But, I’m available for other stuff — talking, movies, getting to know each other as human beings!” — but I realized that was not the context for our relationship and would be asking for more than it could probably offer…and more than I really needed to be seeking at this point in my recovery!
Then, I found myself a little angry and frustrated — I think he’s actually a pretty interesting character and would like to get to know him…and I was offended that he only saw me for one thing — an object to be used solely for his needs, selfishly and physically.
And with that, the mirror appeared I saw myself clearly….
One way in which my sexual addiction manifests itself is in the objectification of men — seeing them not as whole beings (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual) — but only seeing part or parts of them. I would then use them as solely physical beings to selfishly meet my physical needs, or to help me avoid pain or escape from reality. How was that any different from the way in which I had just been treated?
I see in others the character defects which I so desperately want to overcome. I see the splinter in his eye, not realizing there is a log in mine. I have some to appreciate that parable on a deeper level…it doesn’t just mean I have my own issues, some of which may be “bigger” or “worse…” For me, I now see that it means I often have the same defect…made of the same material…the same wood…the same brokenness.
So, I empathize with my friend – my fellow human being. So quick to judge or anger, I must instead take responsibility for my own needs, actions and thoughts…and admit my powerlessness over my addictions. It is only in surrendering that I will find relief…just for today.