A member's story

My Journey
My name is Darrell, a recovering sex addict, and this is my story. Denial and fear have been constant companions for as long as I can remember. It wasn't until I started my recovery December 9th 2014 did I see that these character defects shaped my life and self loathing. During the writing of my first step I saw the progression of my addiction and the damage that it caused me as well as others. Working my steps has helped me to learn to love myself and to change behaviors that have been shaped from learned behaviors I saw from Dad and Grandfather. It has helped me see generationally how deep the roots of this disease goes. I'm learning how to be emotionally present with my family, how to cope with my emotions without medicating myself with sex or porn, and how to have healthy and real intimacy with my kids and wife. Sane and sober working one day at a time.

My name is Darrell, a recovering sex addict, and this is my story. Denial and fear have been constant companions for as long as I can remember. I have been constantly trying to run away from reality. I have not been able to face my feelings and confront reality. I grew up in a home with a distant father whose only interaction was one of ridicule. When he wasn't ridiculing me, he was yelling at me. I never felt he loved me. He never uttered the words “I love you” or gave me a loving embrace as a father would do with his child. To this day he still treats me this way. He was a computer engineer who worked long days and long nights. When he came home from work, he disappeared into his room or in the attic — a behavior I would learn to model. He was incapable of emotion, as I would become, and I was desperate for his approval.

I tried my best at school to please my father and up to the third grade I did very well. Then we moved to Cleveland Heights because my mother was pregnant and we needed a bigger house. This was a pivotal point for me. I began to be ridiculed by my schoolmates because the principal of my previous elementary school got me placed in his wife's class. I guess in his mind this was supposed to be helpful, but it just made me a target of ridicule. My classmates ridiculed me constantly for being the teacher's pet and picked on me for everything from my appearance to the way I talked. I began to close down emotionally to shelter myself from the pain. I never spoke about it to my parents because they were not approachable. They were constantly yelling at me and disciplining me with anything they could get their hands on. So I tried my best to hide with hope that if I stay hidden they wouldn't scream or discipline me. I was learning that I was all alone in dealing with life’s problems, even though I came from a large family. I was the first born out of 7 brothers and sisters but most of the time I was the focus of my parent’s anger and fury. I took refuge by shutdown and isolating. The smiling little kid disappeared into one who felt unloved and a burden to his parents.

My mother was the religious anchor of our family and I remember her being fearful that we might get caught up in drugs, sex, and crime. She forced her beliefs down our throats and sheltered us from the world, so we did not know anything of the world, let alone about sexuality. She seemed to fear that we might follow her path and experience her struggles of drugs and sex, so she tried to shut us off from what was going on around us.

My first encounter with sexuality was in sixth grade when I overheard a boy telling a girl how he wanted to do things to her. I was confused about the conversation, and my curiosity took over. I wanted to know more and the boys at school would always talk about parts of girls' bodies. I did not feel comfortable to talk to my parents because my dad was emotionally unapproachable and my mother made me feel that anything sexual was immoral. Therefore, as my curiosity increased, I tried to figure out for myself what the boys were referring to. I started looking at lingerie ads and began fantasizing about girls in my class or whom I saw passing by. As my addiction evolved, my sexual appetite increased.

In the sixth grade, I sneaked peeks under girls' skirts and watched them as they played with their shoes. The playing with their shoes was similar to a woman slowly undressing as they would slip off their shoes bit by bit a little more of skin was revealed. This turned into my primary fetish. I continued to be ridiculed by my peers because I was so naive about the world and my appearance. Therefore, I would never approach girls or try to talk them. For me it was safer to stay at a safe distance and fantasize about them. I would run home to my bedroom and fantasize while the image was still relatively fresh in my brain. I would begin pleasuring myself until I got my high. I remember one time I was in my room and masturbating and my mother came in and caught me. She shamed me, telling how wrong it was and trying to make me feel guilty about it. My dad never spoke to me about anything sexual, so here I was, a young kid who just got caught pleasuring himself and unable to feel comfortable talking to his dad about what he was feeling or what was going on with him. I felt shameful about my curiosity and urges.

At the same time, I was uncomfortable around females, and I was still being ridiculed for my appearance as well as bullied by football and basketball players. With my self-worth and confidence destroyed, my fantasies intensified. I would peek down girls’ blouses, become fixated on watching them play with their shoes, and check them out when they bend over. I needed to feed my disease with fresh images. I would get close as I could to bump into them to cop a feel on their butts. I became like lion on the prowl searching and seeking out any opportunity for a bodily encounter or for a lingering graze. I remember on an eighth grade field trip sitting next to a girl who was sleeping on the bus. I purposely sat next to her in hopes I could lift up her skirt to see more of her. I did lift up her skirt slowly. Never before in my life had I felt such an indescribable high and thrill. Hooked, I wanted more, and I began finding more opportunities to test how far I could go until one day I was on a trip with my eighth grade class, and I was in the midst of pushing the limit. I wanted to feel her skin against mine so I reached under her skirt and my hand trembling from fear I graze her leg. The girl felt something and woke up. This scared the hell out of me. I tried to suppress my sexual desires by staying busy and preoccupying my mind with healthy images. This worked for some time, but eventually my hunger was too much to resist. I gave in by sitting behind an adult female chaperone at a school outing. I slid my hand on the side of the her chair trying to feel her butt. I ended up ejaculating without touching myself just from the intense anticipation. I continued this whenever I got a chance I to sit behind a female. I do not know looking back now if I was actually touching the females, but in my brain I was and that just intensified my thrill. In the ninth grade I wanted more but my fear of being caught by engaging in physical interaction with a female led me to voyeurism. I would go out at night and see if I could see women undressing in windows. I masturbated to the thrill of being caught and the woman unaware of my presence outside. So the feeling of risk and secrecy added to my excitement, and sense of shame and fear.

This took on a new twist when my next-door neighbor’s granddaughter came to visit. She was very flirtatious and would dress to attract attention She would wear pants two sizes too big so they would keep falling down. I would set up opportunities where she would have to help me just so I could get to see her pants fall down and she would need my help. I would use one hand to help her, and use the other hand to secretly bring myself to fulfillment. I felt shameful that I was taking advantage of this girl and more importantly that there was something seriously wrong with me. But I pushed my feelings aside, rationalizing that I was feeling paranoid and that it was healthy for me to be acting out this way. I also escaped responsibility by blaming her for dressing provocatively, and convincing myself that she wanted this. It wasn't till one day when she came home followed by five boys that I saw what this could lead to. They tried to rape her in her house in front of her siblings, and I stood there paralyzed. Not paralyzed by fear but by shame because I wanted so many times to force myself on this young girl the way they were doing. At that very moment my father pulled into the driveway and chased the boys out of the house. After that she left and never came back. I did the only thing I knew to do, and buried my feelings and shame. Avoidance was my companion when I was growing up when I couldn't handle my feelings. Or I would turn to my addiction and medicate them. I never understood the importance of actually dealing with my emotions. I would soon think that I retreat into relationships to hide from my true self.

The problem I soon found out was I didn't know the first thing about being in a relationship. My inability to engage with a person hindered me from having a healthy and maturing relationship. So I turned to chat rooms where I could strike up a conversation with women, asking them superficial questions. Fear of acceptance was becoming a defining feature of my personality. I created a false persona and lied about the type of job that I had, my sexual experience, and my appearance. As to be expected there came a time when the woman wanted to meet me, and I would cut her off without a word. I would change my account to avoid coming in contact with the same woman.

I kept this up till I met a girl in college. She was very attractive and we had a lot of similarities such as our love of music and basketball. At this time I was desperate for acceptance and being loved. I remember thinking to myself, “why do I need a relationship to feel that I mattered?” I quickly dismissed this thought, and I aggressively pursued this woman no matter how unrealistic it might be. I refused to believe she was not interested in a relationship with me. What she really wanted was a basketball player, but in my mind she wanted me and we were a couple. So when I found out that she and a basketball player slept together, I was incensed because in my mind she betrayed and manipulated me. I shutdown emotionally and became spiteful towards women. I wanted to make females feel the same pain and hurt I felt. I became very sarcastic and disrespectful towards them. I saw women as bodies to use as I saw fit and discard when the newness of the relationship was gone. It was at this moment when unresolved feelings of betrayal from females festered into anger, and my hatred for females grew.

Again I resorted to online relationships. I would try to see how I could manipulate these females and how I could strip them of their dignity. I pretended to seem caring and understanding of their feelings once they felt safe and secure. I would get them tell me their sexual desires, experience, or wardrobe selection and I would masturbate to whatever they shared. After I was done with them and heard all their stories, I would discard them and avoid using chat rooms for a while. One day while I was using the college library, I was viewing a porn site and touching myself. The library monitor caught me looking at the porn site, and I suddenly felt shame and anger at myself. I avoided eye contact with everyone I saw and started missing classes. As to be expected, my grades suffered and I fell further behind in my studies. I was already having problems with my finances, so my falling grades forced me to drop out of college. I began to slip into a deep depression and had thoughts of killing myself. At night I would plan out how to kill myself because in my mind my life meant nothing because no one accepted me. I began to struggle with what was my purpose on earth.

I placed no value on my well-being and wanted to self destruct. This behavior led me to put walls up and not let people in for fear of them turning their back on me. Upon dropping out of college, I was desperate to find a job to get my parents off my back. I was tired of my dad ridiculing and shaming me because I dropped out of school. Within a month, I found a job at a sandwich store. It wasn't much but I was making some money and could start taking care of myself and not be a burden to my parents. It was at that time that the supervisor took me under his wings as we walked home together. He introduced me to smoking weed and chasing girls. He would share stories about being with women and show me pictures of them. I was a very guarded person and my supervisor saw that and encouraged me to get out of my shell. There was one girl at the store whom I found attractive and my supervisor convinced me to ask her out. I remember asking my supervisor how I should act. He responded to me that I needed to be a man and be aggressive. Needless to say, I didn't know how to act that way with women. She gave me her number and we talked in hope to get to know each other better. I can remember feeling uncomfortable during our conversations. I could not let her get close and my barriers went up when I was with her. The day of our date came and I was full of panic and fear. I turned to masturbation to calm me down before I went out.

It was then I had the idea to look at porn to see what I needed to know about being aggressive. These images shaped my perceptions of what I needed to be like on my first date. I remember picking her up and holding a normal conversation. When we arrived our destination I leaned in and kissed her; then waited a minute or two and kissed her again. I took her silence as acceptance of my actions, and as we watched the movie my hands roamed over her body. Her stillness encouraged my actions. I became more daring and I unzipped her pants . I slid my hand in and rubbed the front of her panties. I immediately ejaculated. I was so focused on my actions that I never once paid any attention to the movie or to her reactions. She was no longer a person but an object for satisfying my desires. It was at this moment that I snapped out of my obsession and return my hand to my lap. Leaving the movies, we didn't talk once about what had happened. However, the urge to touch her again returned. As we were walking through the empty rapid station, I pressed her against the wall and started kissing her. My hands again were all over her and I started to unbutton her shirt as she remained motionless. I was so wrapped up in what I was doing I wasn't aware of a person walking by. I had failed to notice a cop entering from the other side. I immediately became ashamed, and we went our separate ways. I went back to work the next day and couldn't look anybody in the eye. The girl walked in and I immediately got so sick I threw up and had to go home. Later she called and said she needed to talk to me. I made up excuses as to why I couldn't talk and got off the phone. This went on for a two weeks until finally we were closing the shop down together and she trapped me in the back. She said, “What the hell was your problem on our first date. You were all over me?” I responded that if you didn't like it, you could have stopped me. She said, “I tried, but you acted like you didn't hear me so I kept pushing your hands away." I was shocked. How could she insinuate that I wouldn't notice. Again I denied her accusations. She continued to say that she didn't want to make a scene but I was totally out of line. She told me that she couldn't go out with me anymore. Then she turned around and left me alone in the store. I remember feeling a mixture of anger, denial, fear, shame, and relief, but I just pushed those thoughts away and continued with closing down the shop. My fear of being alone grew and I wanted to call her to tell I was sorry and wanted another chance. But all the while, I didn't believe I had done anything wrong. I rationalized that I couldn't handle being alone and needed to be in a relationship, and that was why I groped her.

Within a couple of weeks we were dating steadily. She told me she had never been in a relationship that lasted longer than a year. So that became my new obsession. I was determined that that we stay together for a least a year. I was twenty-four at this time and I told her that I had never had intercourse with a woman. She said she didn't believe me because of our first date. I admitted I did what I learned from TV and porn. That is when said that she, too, liked porn and had a collection of her own. At her house, we watched porn, but did not have intercourse. Instead, we masturbated individually. This became our routine for a year, although she wanted more but I couldn't give to her. I didn’t trust people and kept emotionally distant. Not surprisingly, she got what she was looking for from her ex-boyfriend. We broke up I felt betrayed and abandoned. I was a mess. I believed something was wrong with me.

My self esteem plummeted even deeper because once again I was alone and rejected for a better model, as it were. What I was giving wasn't good enough. I told myself that I couldn't trust anyone. Several people told me that I needed to take time to focus on myself. I felt that was their way of trying to make me feel better now that I was now alone. So my focus changed from getting into another relationship to getting my life together. I had found a new job in 2005 working as a hotel dishwasher. I kept to myself only talking when I needed help with something at work. For a year this went on till one day a friend asked me to go to a party. I reluctantly agreed. Once we got to the party the party had dispersed and only two girls and the host were left. One of them would become my first wife and the mother of my three children. Our meeting was no fairytale romance: we got drunk and passed out on the futon. I remember waking up next to her and ignoring my conscience, I explored her body. After all, I thought wasn't hurting her and I could stop before I got into too much trouble. To my surprise she woke up with my hand between her legs. Not missing a beat I asked her for her number. I didn't brag about what had happened because I was both ashamed and scared that I was going to get in trouble. I got up the nerve to text, not sure if she might report me. I hoped that she would overlook my aggressive behavior and give me a second chance. A few months later, however, she did she bring it up as an indication of how intoxicated we both were.

We continued being physical and realizing how superficial our relationship was. As we dated, I sought approval from her family. At the same time, she was seeing another guy who like me had his own anger issues. She was in love with him and was reluctant to break up with him. On many occasions when she got drunk, she would go sleep with him. There were two other incidents when she got drunk and slept with two other guys. I was so angry and resentful that I didn't want anything to do with her, but I didn't want to let her go as she was like a security blanket. So I buried those feelings. I saw that I had my own trouble being intimate and trusting someone, and I was using people because I was insecure and did not feel lovable. I could not treat others as equal partners, and my relationship with this woman was no different. She had a car, she had family with status and money. I wanted what she had, so I opened credit accounts and ran up debts. I didn't have my driver's license, but I lied saying that I knew how to drive. She would loan me her car not knowing I was driving illegally until one day she was looking through my wallet she saw that I had only a learning permit. She was extremely angry at first, but later calmed down and helped me get my license. The day before my test I took the car and went to the store. I got pulled over by a cop and by the grace of God I was let off with a warning.

This was just one of many examples as how my irresponsible actions put my life in danger. My future wife and I didn't have a healthy relationship and we continued to live in denial. In August 2007 we had our first son. She had a history of clinical depression, and succumbed to postpartum depression. She became verbally and emotionally abusive. I felt that I needed to suck it up and deal with it. I felt I could change her make our family work. In my way of thinking a father should stick it out no matter how bad it got. I didn't want to be considered weak and uncaring so I stayed with her. I buried my emotions, particularly my anger, as I had done so many times before. I tried hard not let myself take things personally, thinking that this year of abuse was because of her sickness. I felt if I got a better job then we could afford medication and counselor sessions.

But after my promotion in 2008 she continued to refuse any type of help. So I switched my emotions off completely. I became like a robot: void of any emotions towards anyone, even my son. Even though we had our son we weren't ready for marriage, but after being pressured by her family, my family, and our church we got married in August 2008. The problems, however, remained and I became increasingly distant. I denied my son the joy of having a loving father. I became angry with him and resented him because his mother would be loving to him, but treat me like crap and act like I was less then a person.

In March 2009 we had a beautiful baby girl. We thought having another child would be good for our marriage, but this only added more financial stress. She became resentful towards me because I was able to leave the crying to go to work. She felt abandoned and took her anger out on me, which made my bury my feelings all the more. At times during our fights she would state that I had no emotions and would purposely say things that would try to trigger my anger. We were spiraling out of control becoming more distant emotionally and physically. We would go three weeks to a month without being intimate with each other. I would get angry and feel trapped so I would escape into the world of erotic stories. I would stay up all night reading and masturbating to them, often going days without sleeping. One morning I drove to work after a three days acting out and I was so exhausted that I fell asleep and hit a barrier. I yanked the wheel and the car slammed down. I end up racking up 5,000 dollars worth of damages that day.

This event scared me straight and I tried to focus on my family, work on my relationship with my wife, and my relationship with God. I sought out professional help and started seeing a counselor who, in turn, referred me to psychiatrist. I became frustrated that things weren't getting better. In fact they were getting worse. I stopped taking care of myself as I pulled away emotionally from her. In June of 2010 we had a third child, a little girl, and for the first time in long time we put our bitter feelings aside and managed to coexist without igniting a war zone. Even though we weren't fighting, we were not engaging emotionally or physically with each other. I fell back into old routines and sought out other ways to fulfilled my sexual needs. I started acting out with erotic stories and porn. At this time I realized that my addiction was a problem I would stay up late and oversleep and arrive late for work. My supervisor brought me into her office saying that I need to get my priorities straight or else my job would be in jeopardy. I started being on time and focusing on improving my job performance, putting in long hours at work. But with my life being totally out of balance I lost sight of what was most important to me, that is, my relationship with my family and God. This obsession with work added extra strain on my marriage. My wife shut down even more and I used masturbation as a form of coping. I would masturbate four times a day (sometimes even more) if I happened to make it home before my wife. If I was sad or feeling overwhelmed with life, then I would masturbate. I remember feeling relief and at ease after climaxing. I would justify my actions, saying that I was only doing this to relieve stress and that this was better than cheating with an actual person or getting involved with drugs.

I tired to convince myself that I could manage this behavior, but soon realized that I had no control and preferred masturbation than being with my wife. I would purposely pick a fight with her and push her away just to find solitude in masturbation. After she caught me masturbating on numerous occasions, we both realized that this was a problem. Fear of being looked at like a freak, I tried to stop. I sought out help from a local pastor. I remember during this meeting I was trying to explain my struggle, but the pastor seemed uninterested and kept yawning. This discouraged me and I didn't want to share anymore and I began to shut down. I left that room feeling like no one would be able to help me or understand me. I felt it was hopeless and gave up trying to seek out help for my struggles. Again I began living two lives: one involved in the church, appearing to have everything together, the other one a man deep in his addiction drowning in his lies and fears. One night my wife and I got into a huge fight, and she punched me. This was the beginning of the end of my first marriage. we ended up splitting up a day after that fight.

I moved back into my parents house and hoping that my marriage might somehow work if I gave it time. But it failed after 6 months. I stayed in my delusions. I held onto my veil not wanting to face the fact that I was an addict and my life was unmanageable. I was fearful that I would be alone. That scared the hell out of me because I hated myself. During the separation instead of working on improving myself and my relationship with my kids, I sought out relationships with women online. I felt that I had no value if no one needed me. So I would seek out women with needs that I could fill. Although I didn't have anyone physically, masturbation became my way of feeling love in a tangible way. My lack of trust made me keep people at arms length. In November 2014 I began to let down my guard and met my current wife at church during a music project. During our conversation my subconscious need to be honest kept breaking through. I confessed to having a porn addiction to her, but as soon as I said that my fears came over me. I immediately shut up and change the subject. I hid emotional relationships, As my current wife and I got to know each other, it became evident that we becoming more attached to one another. Since I was not officially divorced, she was reluctant to go any further. Again I was faced with the fear of being alone and I freaked out. I began to drink heavily, trying to escape the reality of being alone again. Looking back on that time I believed I could not face my fears. I drank myself into oblivion to avoid the pain. It was then I met a woman who was in charge of payroll at my job, She was married. We met at the bar and I found out when I went back to work that she was my payroll clerk. I borrowed money from her and slept with her twice. When I found it out she was married with children, I was devastated. I remember feeling sick to my stomach saying I could not believe what I have done, feeling great shame and anger towards myself I despised myself for putting myself in a situation like that. I could have very well lost my job. It was against company policy to have a relationship with the payroll clerk. On top of that I was talking to my soon to be second wife and telling her that I loved her. Yes, it is true that we took a break, but that was only so we can be honorable in our relationship and wait till I finalized my divorce. The guilt and shame was so strong I drank myself into a stupor. I sobered up enough to go back to my parents house feeling sorry for myself. I masturbated numerous times that night looking at porn. I kept wasting my money on alcohol, then coming home and masturbating trying to escape from reality. I despised myself and I toyed with the idea of suicide. Deep down I felt my life coming to a breaking point and I went to the bar again to drown my sorrows and to find answers at the bottom of a bottle.

I was in a financial mess. I had set up no boundaries with my ex-wife and had given her free reign over my money. With whatever I had left I would rent a car so I could see my kids, but often did not have enough money to do that. I would take out loans and borrow money from younger siblings, friends, second wife, and even acquaintances. I took advantage of their kindness and their desire to help me out of my crisis. I looked to others to take care of me; never once did I seek to better myself, but I soon realized that only made it worse because not only did it make my debt grow, but it cause me to despise myself.

I sought out emotional companionship with many online females, most of them I ended when I began talking to my new wife. There was one emotional affair that I continued with. She was someone that remained only an online contact, even though we worked at the same place. I pursued her and thought something might come out of it, but it became evident that she had no interest and I resorted to just being there as an emotional support. I held onto this emotional relationship and kept it hidden from my wife, even up to the day we eloped. I hid my double life from my wife, not wanting to lose her. I would do everything I needed to do to keep her. So I gave her permission to look through my phone and social network account. I believed looking back that was God’s way of bringing my addiction to light. I remember leaving my account up and my wife stumbling onto conversations that I had with women. She also discovered emails between the payroll clerk about paying her back. Yes, in the moment I was still making desperate attempts to hold onto my old lies, and avoid conflict even when caught red handed. On December 6th 2014 after being found out. I tried to deal with my addiction by getting help from my counselor, my friends, and my pastor. I tried this but nothing worked and my wife got fed up. I remember my wife said to me. “Darrell, you are doing the bare minimum to get better!” These words irritated me so bad that I immediately sought to disprove her words. The sad thing is she was doing something that I hadn't been familiar with and that was speaking the truth. December 9th is when I made a commitment that I was going to start my journey of recovery. I would love to say that I’ve had no struggles and gotten my life together, but of course it does not work that way. This disease is cunning and at every turn I am tested. I continue to lie to my wife and am often not present with my family. After years of medicating my feelings with sex addiction and booze, I’m learning to face them and how to cope with my true emotions. I’m learning more about myself now than I have ever known. I’m learning to know and love myself for who I am. Once I was afraid of change, and admitting that I'm weak. I have seen this addiction in two generations: my grandfather, and my father. I refuse to pass this addiction down to my son or my daughters. With the help of God, the fellowship, my sponsor, and my dedication to working the program, I am on the road to recovery. Let the and healing begin!. I am Darrell from Ohio a grateful recovering sex addict sane and sober taking one day at time.

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