Diary of an Alcoholic, Non-Monogamous, Polyamorous Sex Addict
Figured the title might get some attention. That's what it's all about. Me. haha.
Actually, I hope my tale might be useful to some people out there. I have had about 4 decades of often-painful and consistently confused sexual and relationship history to try to get next to precisely WTF makes me tick. Maybe some will be able to relate to the twists and turns.
Much of my recent, still-limited awareness I owe to intensive 4th step and 5th step work in a 12 step program. I have been working in recovery for a little more than 6 years, and only recently gathered enough "courage" (truthfully, misery) to attempt a searching and fearless sex and relationship inventory. God only knows how I managed to stay sober from alcohol and drugs without one for the past six years, but that's really none of my business.
The rough outlines of such a thorough inventory are very simple. From the Big Book of AA, on the wonderful page 69:
"We reviewed our own conduct over the years past. Where had we been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, what should we have done instead? We got this all down on paper and looked at it.
In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test-- was it selfish or not?"
How eye-opening to see, gradually, through the process of getting every sexual or intimate relationship down on paper and looking honestly at each one with the aid of another loving, clear-eyed person, that all of my relationships were essentially characterized by selfishness, dishonesty, fear, self-pity, self-delusion and self-seeking. Even when I thought I had "good motives," I was using people to get what I thought I wanted. If it seemed expedient to lie in order to "maintain the peace," so be it. If I risked "losing love" by being honest, screw that! If I risked short-changing myself some sexual thrill or NRE by being honest (to either involved party), again, screw that! (literally).
Cloak all of this nefarious self-serving narcissism in a fine coat of "romantic" and "poetic" love goo, and you see the usual picture of potential for real harm. It's an explosive mix. The more flat out expedient and Machiavellian I have been, the more truly epic my romantic fantasies and "twoo wuv" gobbledygook has been. As Jungians are fond of saying, "the brighter the light, the darker the shadow."
The best I have been able to string together is serial monogamy, but not with any real or clear intention. In fact, the compulsive tendency to form exclusive pair bonds has not been examined much if at all. I still carry some smoldering resentment that I must give over toward the cultural institution of monogamy as a result of my own irresponsible and compulsive codependent behavior. The usual pattern has been to get into a romantic relationship fairly quickly, "fall in love," make implicit or explicit monogamous promises and commitments quickly and then begin to fantasize about sex with other women fairly soon and then get back to looking at and jerking off to porn and eventually, cheat. Or, be cheated on, ironically.
So throw into my mix compulsive sexual acting out behavior that includes masturbating to porn, paying sex workers for sex and hooking up casually with women outside the ostensibly monogamous relationship. It's no real surprise that I am a sex addict, given the simple fact that I am an *everything* addict. It took a while to digest the simple fact that I am powerless over sex, relationships, people, you name it. No surprise, again, as it took me 42 years to admit the same regarding a mere liquid chemical.
The sex addiction has definitely complicated the slowly dawning awareness that I am not interested in exclusive pair bonds. The exclusive dyad is not for me. Honestly, I do enjoy the boundary around the exclusive pair for the first segment of a new relationship. I can see that it provides clarity, safety, focus. I also envision myself being interested in a primary relationship that is at the same time open, both relationally and sexually, to a variety of seconds and thirds. But I have charged forward many times over into exclusive monogamous promises. It is just like the conundrum of the substance addict: "This time it will be different. This time I will successfully manage this monogamy thing. This time, this partner will be the right one. The One." Etc.
The resentment I have toward romantic love is pretty flaming right about now as well. So there's more work to be done there. The ideal of romantic love now seems like a spiritually sick joke to me. I am praying that this disillusionment eventually blossoms into a greater purpose, but for now it is what it is. It just seems to me that romantic love actually has nothing to do with love. Or that it is a tawdry simulacrum of real love. That it has its purpose in drawing me out toward someone, but that it is worth dismissing fairly soon after being drawn out. It reminds me of the Roman semantically depleted Cupid, fat little fucker with a bow. versus the much more potent Eros, primal and potentially fatal.
Anyway, on top of wanting a heart open to Big Love with as many people as come across my path, I also want the possibility of multiple sexual partners. I want to develop this non-monogamy in the freedom of honesty with all people concerned. This feels like one way to heal the shame and guilt based compulsive sexual behavior. In alcoholism, the daily reprieve can only begin with total abstinence, and while I am currently on a "sex vacation," I think the form of abstinence for sex addiction is abstinence from hiding, lying, "cheating." I seem to be guided toward spiritualizing sexuality as a way to relieve it of its burning, compulsive and imperious qualities. The idea of inviting the great reality into sexuality has only recently begun to present itself to me, as my upbringing was characterized by the usual cultural dreariness of shame and guilt surrounding sexuality.
So my choices now are to begin with honesty with myself and others as the constant foundation of all my choices. It has been fascinating to watch my impulses to lie continue to emerge. For example, a woman to whom I am powerfully sexually attracted recently asked me "so are you split up with your girlfriend or what?" My girlfriend and I are separated, but we are still in relationship that is loving and that could in fact open out into a poly and non-monogamous relationship. It was so tempting to say to this woman "Yes, we are," or even to pull that "oh poor me, I am so sad, how brokenhearted I am" bullshit in order to get into her pants! Instead, I did observe this all unfolding in me, and I said "Well, I love her dearly, and we are separated but still figuring things out. I'm non-monogamous and polyamorous, have you heard of this?" The woman was very interested and we ended up having a long conversation about it. I think whatever interest in me she may have had was completely eliminated by the conversation, haha, but at least I kept my side of the street clean.
So that's where things are now. A heart broken open can contain the entire universe. My meditation practice has recently come to incorporate the Brahma Viharas:
May all beings be happy and have the causes of happiness
May all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering
May all beings never be separated from bliss without suffering
May all beings be in equanimity, free of bias, anger and attachment
I often repeat these in short form through the day:
May I be well
May I be happy
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be full of lovingkindness
For the first person pronoun, specific other people or groups can be substituted or the universal form of "all beings."
I have found these meditations to be releasing and liberating during what has been a heart breaking and emotionally turbulent time.
More to come. :-)
PS: thanks to Idealist for encouraging me to blog! It didn't take much. haha.
Thanks for sharing. I think its amazingly honest of you :)...
Thanks! I have nothing to lose by being honest. I figure the more I just keep spilling the more the universe will direct me on the way home. I can take as many side streets as I like but I'm still going to have to come clean sometime, so why not now?
I spent most of today so far helping my recent long term gf move. Fortunately, she had also hired a moving company. For the past three years, we have lived together in a pretty small house (900 sq. ft.), but she already had a lot of stuff when we moved there. After three years, there's...more. It was fascinating to observe my codependent, rescuing impulses. She had not finished packing completely by the time the movers arrived and was feeling a lot of shame. I kept wanting to reassure her that it is just fine, it's no comment on her essential worth as a human being or whatever if she procrastinates and does things at the last minute. It's her style; it's just how she does things. But I have been working toward more of a balance for the past couple months and letting go of the bullshit "knight in shining armor" role, so instead I asked her some questions about where the shame was coming from? Which parental voice was it, her mother or her father? It opened up into an interesting conversation about poverty, hoarding, fear, the upheaval of moving and the whole idea of home and how we define ourselves through our stuff.
I noticed several times throughout the morning how many chances there were for me to take charge, solve a problem, direct the situation or otherwise make myself indispensable (haha) that I would just let go of. Not my problem. Not my role, not my place, not my job. It's good to notice, interesting to know I am moving on, fascinating to try to find a loving and compassionate balance that isn't obsessive, self-serving or based on the fear of not being loved.
Helping a significant other move after one has recently separated is a trip. It could be a recipe for real trouble. No jinx, but it is going all right so far. The two of us still have no idea precisely what sort of relationship we are going to have with each other, but we're in an okay period right now of not forcing the issue. It makes me think there should be a modality of couples counseling that simply has the two people get way into some sort of real world project, like building something together, moving, working at a shelter, cleaning out a barn. Can two people work together and be a team? Can that energy end up being healing energy for all of the hurt feelings, resentments and jealousy? It seems like a lot of couples work already involves this mutual project orientation, but makes the mistake of making the project the relationship itself. I don't know about you, but I don't really want to be in a primary relationship that is all about processing being in the relationship. Ugh. It's like a closed system. It might work for some or for short periods of time, but it starts to feel crushingly sealed off to me after hardly any time at all. Is it not a death knell when a relationship starts to be entirely about itself?
Anyway, I'm enjoying writing here and I hope some have enjoyed as well. Commentary is always welcome and I look forward to getting to know others here.
Interesting encounter with a powerfully energetic, mystically inclined woman last night who is way into Human Design, which I hadn't heard of before. (http://www.humandesign.com/). It amazes me how many systems of esoteric knowledge/insight/symbolism have been developed by humans. This one seems impossibly detailed and has one of those fascinating lineages that includes transmission by channeling, an archetypal pattern that always gets my Virgo skepticism going.
Anyway, the interesting thing about this encounter was a brief conversation about sex. My position was that it's an activity with strongly spiritual potentials, a valid path toward awakening. Hers: sex is base, lower energy, not spiritual, and people who try to spiritualize it are just trying to rationalize fucking.
It was interesting to encounter in a New Age spiritual priestess sort of persona the same kind of dismissive attitude toward sexuality that I might expect to find in a wide variety of other religious folks. I have been engaging in tentative conversations about sacred sexuality with various people and I have always been surprised by the responses, never quite what I expect.
The nature of sexuality with respect to spirituality is a very individual thing. What one may consider a very base act driven by animal instinct to achieve procreation and pleasure, another may associate with a selectively shared form of spititual communication. There are also those who can move between many different aproaches to sexuality depending on the circumstance and people involved. Some people are very stringent and others are more fluid.
There's no right or wrong in much of what we do, just differences which add to the daily flavour of our lives. This sometimes leads to insurmountable differences with an otherwise great potential partner but again that is ok. Not everyone will be on the same page or be able to accomodate differing aproaches to sexuality...but each of us has a responsibility to respect those aproaches in others.
Soap boxes should be made to share how I feel and act..not how anyone alse should.
It is sooooooooooooo nice to read blunt truths . Really. Thank you for being honest with yourself, and finding some humour in the process.
I appreciate you making this blog immaterial. Some things you said about co-dependency hit home, as I've recently moved my g/f who got over a long-term relationship as well.
Also, though I agree with mono in that sexual expression is individually defined; It isn't subjectively understood, it's actually just mis-understood. Like a smaller version of the creationist vs. Evolutionist battle, both opinions are right.
Sex is a universe procreational system, used as an effective means to bond the partners having sex, and make sure the species spans via brain & cell receptors and responders for certain types of protein-link cells and hormones.
Both opinions don't actually have to clash. One is just an underlying part of the other. Sex is literally, the closest we can get to another person physically. If the spiritual world is defined by "oneness", one could conjure sex may be a means to experiment with that oneness.
Keep writing, i love it!
peace & love
Thanks, it's so very liberating to find even a few people to have these sorts of conversations with. I have been way underground for a long time. I am now on that "pink cloud." I am poly, hear me roar, kind of thing.
Mono, I appreciate your live and let live perspective. I also see the wisdom in your distinction, gabe, between subjectively understood and simply misunderstood. This is a very important area for me, personally, and perhaps I play some role in helping other people take a look at their own opinions, examined or unexamined. I know that we so deeply help each other when we test these ideas out in the world, rather than just holding them close and not sharing them with a wide variety of people.
To Superjast: me not finding some humor is me swinging at the end of a rope. :-)
I spent some time with a young woman who is in early sobriety last night and who is going through a painful break-up. "I don't understand it," she said. "Yesterday I was all love and light, completely open to his best interest and feeling all spiritual and free. Sad, yes, but still releasing and letting go. Today...today, I just feel like I'm going to die if I can't see him, talk with him, hold him. I'm angry, selfish, jealous, bitter and miserable. Where did all that love go?"
In a nutshell, this has characterized many of my experiences with intimate friends and loves. There are times when my capacity for compersion seems unlimited. When I can completely let go and hold these significant others in the light. Of course, when that circuit is open and I'm cycling through it I feel liberated, happy, joyous, generous of spirit and if there is grief or letting go, it's the beautiful, loving, releasing and flowing kind. On the other hand, when the grasping, fearful, bitter, resentful, jealous, envious, self-seeking and self-pitying energies are sparking, what a mess. And yet it seems these messy times are tremendous opportunities for growth. Of course, if you tell me that when I'm feeling that way, I might want to tell you to go f yourself. Or, "become irritated and refuse to talk."
All I could offer my friend was an ear. I didn't have any words of wisdom. I did remind her that all of it, the whole shebang, the good, the bad, the ugly, is all welcome. The universe doesn't reject any of it. It's all unconditionally exactly right somehow and unconditionally loved. I did also remind her that pain is only pain. It arrives, we feel it, it departs. If we don't feel it, it's not pain anymore. It's poison. Just my opinion.
I took the dating personality test at OkCupid and got The Bachelor. What I thought was funniest was this line:
"Itís as if you believe in monogamy, so long as itís with lots of different people."
Something sort of like that, actually.
I was immediately drawn to this thread because of the title. I am the daughter of an alcoholic, he has been sober for about 28 or 30 years. I always wondered if my poly tendencies were a result of needing attention and not feeling that bond for much of my childhood. Did I seek as much love as I could get as a teen and young adult because of a kind of neglect that you suffer as the child of a substance abuser? Do I have a kind of addiction to love based on insecurity? This of course is insecurity in how I view my own self worth...do I view polyamorous love as necessary to feed that craving. On the outside most people would consider me very confident and social and kind of a class-clown. I am actually quite insecure but put on a bravado to protect against criticism. I seek solitude often but at the same time considered the center of attention when I am in a social setting. I need both privacy and exposure which led to a brief but very profound addiction to alcohol. My bottom was not violent or typical but it was enough loss that I stopped drinking immediately. I recognized I was repeating my father's pathology as you mentioned. But to this day, I need a lot of love and need to love others to feel worthy. Is this making sense? I feel like I am rambling.
Anyway, I think sex can be just a primal physical expression, but when there is love, trust and real intellectual and emotional synergy then there is a spiritual connection felt. Right?:o
Thanks for the thread. I will being checking back often.;)
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