I was talking about sex addiction with my-wife-the-shrink this morning (she’s one of my strongest supports), and mentioned that I feel I’m so lucky because the way my addiction manifests itself is relatively uncomplicated to manage, compared to many other people I know. I never visited establishments of ill repute, never picked up hookers, never frequented strip clubs and hook-up bars, and didn’t hang out in chat rooms, on dating sites, or get involved in extramarital affairs, casual liaisons, and the several other ways it’s possible to act out sexually.
Not that I don’t have issues with relationship and love addiction (along with emotional anorexia). It’s just that I haven’t been involved in any outside stuff for a long time — close to 30 years. So in recovery, apart from reasonable care, I don’t have to worry about driving down certain streets, passing certain places of business, who I talk to, who phones or texts me, and the myriad other things that are triggers for many sex addicts. There are certain precautions that I take, but generally speaking I can function more or less normally in “the world.”
Many of my companions in recovery have had to lose old friends, change addresses and phone numbers, block people from email, completely reorganize their lives in some cases, change jobs, and do it all without the understanding of their partners — and, in many cases, without the partner. Period. So I’m really grateful that my addiction is fairly simple to manage, if not by any means easy. I have protective software on my PC to help keep me honest and avoid my surfing to dangerous sites by accident. There are magazines I avoid, many of them far more mainstream than you’d think, and similar precautions I take for my own good, but essentially my addiction hasn’t (yet) circumscribed my life nearly to the point it has many others.
So I’m grateful for that, but I’m grateful for much more: a family and friends who are able to accept that my issues don’t make me a horrible person, the availability of a 12-step meeting every day within driving distance, the gift of having been able to go to treatment, a first-class therapist to help me work on the issues that got me here, and so forth.
And, weird as it may seem, I’m grateful that I’m a sex addict. Although it screwed up my emotional and personal life for nearly 7 decades, if I hadn’t had these problems I wouldn’t be where I am today. My relationship with my wife is the best it’s been in 36 years, my attitude toward life is incomparably better, my self-concept and self esteem are much improved and getting better, and I’m happier than I’ve been in as long as I can remember. Because of issues dating back to my early childhood I would have been a miserable, unhappy man even if I’d been “normal.” Most likely, I would have convinced myself that I was fine, and never sought help. Now — although it’s pretty late in life — I’m getting what I need, and growing in the directions I’ve needed to grow for several decades.
So I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. Now if those damned spammers would leave me alone….