Cara's story
The name I am giving is Cara, and I am a sex addict. On the outside I have lived a respectable life, held down responsible jobs, been married and brought up children and attended churches as a committed Christian. However what many people do not know is that for the whole of my adult life I have been obsessed with romance and sex. Those two words mean the same thing. As a young, shy, awkward teenager I came to believe that one day a special man would come along to save me from my rather narrow and unfulfilling life. These fantasies became more sexual as I got older.

I began by reading and writing romantic stories, I loved the exciting feelings these gave me. My first relationships too quickly became sexual, then cooled as I realised this person was not the man of my dreams. Even though I was intelligent my schoolwork suffered and I failed my exams because I wasted my time dreaming. I tried to live a Christian life but was ashamed of my thoughts which frequently led me into sexual encounters or masturbation which I felt was wrong. Trying to live without these things was impossible and I felt ashamed and a failure. Sex was a fear and an obsession.

I married but the temptations to find another man were unbearable. Sometimes I was scared to feel sexual at all, at other times I developed passionate obsessions about other men believing them to be ‘the one’ even though they were often married and uninterested in me.

I began to read pornographic literature and the fantasies just never stopped. My work suffered and I never progressed in any job. I emotionally neglected my children. At church however I was willing to participate and became respected for my spirituality even though I knew the thoughts and desires I had constantly prevented me from living out my faith. The thought of being found out was terrifying.

For years I avoided being intimate with men in any way because I knew I could not say ‘no’ to any kind of sexual invitation. Then someone at work got past my defences and I had the affair I had been dreaming of for years. For the next two years I lived a double life. It was as though I was two different people and although I am usually an honest person I lied unashamedly to my family and friends. It was exciting but heartbreaking and exhausting.

Trying to end the relationship I left the job but was unable to stop seeing this man and the affair went on for another year. This scared me, I knew it was wrong and could ruin my life but I could not stop. Then I heard about sex addiction. At first I could not apply it to myself; it seemed to be about men and their extreme sexual behaviours. I looked for information and came across Patrick Carnes’ book ‘Out of the Shadows’. I knew at last what the problem was.

The book pointed me to SAA and I found out about a meeting. There I found a sponsor and started to work through the 12 steps. It was difficult at first as I was the only woman in the group but I was determined to find the answer.

Over the last four years I have slowly recovered from the behaviours and thought patterns which characterised my addiction. The affair ended and was never repeated; I learned to reject the desire to fantasise and am now much more present in my life. I have come to understand more about obsession and how it affects me. Finally I have found an enduring spirituality which supports and sustains my life.

I have learned that physical and emotional neglect as a child caused my addiction. Now I do what I can to support women in SAA. I have spoken to other women who like me had no idea what was making their lives unmanageable. It doesn’t matter how sex addiction affects you, there is an answer.

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