A member's story

My Journey to Discovering Intimacy
I had no idea I was a sex addict or a "social, emotional, sexual and spiritual anorexic." But my life greatly improved once I made that amazing discovery.

My sex addiction began at age six, when due to some traumatic events, I was both introduced to masturbation and scarred emotionally enough to create a hatred and fear of men which lasted over 35 years. As a child, I would look at my father's photography books in the bathroom (there was a section for nudes in each book). Fantasy, in its many forms, became a way of life for me as I tried to cope with stress and trauma at home and school. I used my sexuality as a cure for anxiety, insomnia, and boredom for many years.

During my dating years, I associated only with emotionally unavailable men. Even though I thought about sex most of the time, I never "starred" in my own fantasies -- they were always about other people -- and I was terrified of any physical contact with guys. I found myself flirting to gain their interest but being distant and manipulative, always maintaining a position of control. I frequently chose to be social in groups of 3 or more, to avoid having to be alone with anyone of the opposite sex. I had few close friends and usually preferred to be alone.

Miraculously, I was able to marry and have children. But since I viewed sex as dirty and something to feel guilty about, I was unable to combine emotional intimacy with sexuality, and as a result, the only way I could be sexual with my husband was by mentally escaping into fantasies about other people being sexual. (This went on for 17 years). Due to the progressive nature of the addiction, I had begun to seek more and more "unusual" depictions of erotic material in books and on the internet, as well as imagining my own.

But my interest in being sexual with my husband lessened over time, even though we had a loving, strong marriage. I began to have frequent frustrating instances of wanting to be sexual with my spouse (or beginning to be), and suddenly shutting down, unable to regain interest. I began focusing on negative things about his body or habits, giving myself excuses to not be "in the mood." Instead of enjoying his loving touch, I would cringe and want to pull back whenever he'd reach out to me. Darkness, pain, and depression were my constant companions and I felt horribly alone, even though I was surrounded by family and friends. I tried to self-medicate through food, fantasy, shopping, and other compulsive behaviors, but nothing took away the pain for very long.

Finally, I stumbled upon the SAA pamphlet, Recovery from Compulsive Sexual Avoidance: A Return to Intimacy while doing some research online, and was astounded -- This was me! The more I learned about what some call, "social, emotional, sexual and spiritual anorexia," the more I realized it was the omnipresent force behind all of my fears, hang-ups, issues, and addictions. I began attending anorexia-focused telemeetings and face-to-face fellowships, learning about the 12 Steps. I found a long-distance sponsor who was willing to learn with me as she guided me through the Steps around my anorexia.

Today, I'm a grateful recovering sex addict-anorexic. I am learning to nurture myself by paying attention to my body's needs. I am developing a close relationship with my Higher Power through daily prayer and walking meditation. I have several close friendships with people whom I feel safe sharing my deepest thoughts and feelings with, including a few men. And I haven't mentally escaped into fantasy while being with my husband since before April of 2012. I'm finally learning how sex can be spiritual and nurturing. And I'm happier than I've ever been.

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