I have been a Sex addict for nearly 50 years.
What is was like
On the face of it, I was born into an stable Christian home but imbued with fear and a strong sense of duty. My parents were self-absorbed in their own ways, dad more concerned about his music playing, church duties and work than making relationships and mum focused on her hang-ups about what others might think.
In those days, folk-lore suggested babies were selfish and needed breaking-in, so I was out in the garden to cry myself out and was hardly ever held by mum or her mum. The other grandma was much more loving – touching, giving words of affirmation and quality time were all gifts she gave willingly. However, I learned only recently that I was only created to try to cheer her up in her recent widowhood and because her other grandchildren had emigrated to South Africa.
I have struggled with unwanted sexual behaviour ever since finding pornography on waste ground near my home as an 8-year-old. Then in adolescence as a shy “good Christian” boy, it was fantasy and masturbation that hooked me as I was not brave enough to rebel against my strict and religious parents.
I used to rent out soft core videos and watch them on the family video recorder when home alone and the thrill of this defiance and fear of being caught added to the adrenaline. In my teens I became addicted to video games. I had a few girlfriends at junior school but the move to an all-boys grammar school put paid to any real relationships with the opposite sex. I had become emotionally closed and avoidant; I now recognise I was already suffering from intimacy disorder.
I got married at 22, to only my second proper girlfriend and am sure that part of my unconscious motivation was to get away from the stifling and intrusive atmosphere at home. I imagined being married would curtail my acting out but sadly that was not the case. In fact, the feelings of loneliness when my wife was working night shifts and fear of her temper led me to more intense and expensive activities.
I spent hundreds of £ on sex chat lines as well as browsing top shelf magazines at every opportunity. I remained an active Christian with leadership responsibilities and I was starting to realise that I was not in control of these sexual behaviours but I didn’t dare tell anyone, as I feared exposure.
At its peak I was acting out at work more than I was working, despite having very responsible jobs in a number of large companies. I had my own offices, which were not monitored. Right from the beginning of the internet I had dial up access and found chat rooms and other direct messaging tools, which became my obsession.
My two main addictions collided; compulsive video game in which I would hunt and win combined with my sexual obsession to be wanted and validated. At home I was able to hide behind having a “global” job, allowing me to check my work phone constantly between emails, news, sport and chat rooms.
This time I found SAA and started attending one meeting a week, I found a sponsor and also in time started sponsoring. I found a counsellor and met him weekly and also read and worked through a lot of recovery literature. Yet I left the fellowship in hubris and yet two years later relapsed.
What it's like now
My main sources of help and growth have come from being active and committed to SAA as a spiritual programme: attending meetings regularly, finding a suitable sponsor and working the Steps. In time I also took on service positions including co-secretary for one online meeting and GSR of another, over covid. I now sponsor a fellow which gives me more insight and a chance to learn about myself.
During lockdown I lived separated in the same house as my wife and it was only through the move of meetings online and then the opportunity to meet one fellow at a time, to walk and talk, that kept me progressing in my recovery. Through these encounters I got to know and understand other fellows’ stories and recovery journeys and I finally started to learn what true friendship and same sex intimacy is.
I have continued this practice ever since and find the face to face meet-ups are some of the best parts of being in the fellowship. My Christian faith is going through deconstruction and rebuilding although my fundamental theology has not changed much, it's more about my relationship with God.
In addition, I found an excellent lawyer and an expert and capable therapist, both of whom assisted me immeasurably through these past few difficult years. I have also joined a Christian sex addiction fellowship and through that have met more men who struggle but are nevertheless accepting and loving. In addition, I have been able to accept and value the monitoring and supervision from the authorities as gifts from my higher power, as they want to support me in my recovery and in moving on with my life.
I have not returned to full time work for a variety of reasons, the main ones being to focus on my recovery, seeking serenity and my time with my family. I still have regular contact with two of my adult children and pray that my relationship with my daughter, their sister will be revived one day.
My wife and I are sadly on the way to divorce. In the recent past she has been mentally and despite living apart, I now go back twice a week to support and care for her, which is both challenging and fulfilling.
Every day I recall three words that I associate with the first three steps of SAA: honesty, humility and willingness.
With those as my watch words, learning to trust in God’s care and with members as my fellow travellers, I can sense my healing, becoming more whole and gradually a more loving version of myself.
From shame to grace.
If you think you might benefit from the SAA fellowship, or if you simply want to find out more, meetings can be found here or you may call 07585 091502 or write to us here for more information.
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