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Masturbation, Pornography and Prostitution: Story of recovery.

Progressive detox from lust

I’m Mike and I’m a sexaholic. I acted out with fantasy, voyeurism, masturbation, pornography and prostitution. I am addicted to lust, and entertaining lust in any way leads me back to these behaviours. I have learnt that the type of behaviour I did is not really relevant – the listed items were my favoured ‘drinks’, although I tried most things. Underlying this behaviour is my addiction to lust, just like underneath the type of drinking for an alcoholic is an addiction to alcohol. I should know, being an alcoholic as well!

I grew up on a council estate feeling lonely, on the outside, always putting on a façade to be accepted and intrigued about ‘girls’ from the age of three. Age 7, I had some strong feelings for a pretty girl from class and tried to meet her after school. She turned up with a friend and teased me; I was mortified and panicked and didn’t speak to them again. From that point on, I unconsciously adopted a strategy of looking and fantasising about girls from a distance, never talking to them, or showing an interest in case they humiliated me. I had a succession of intense crushes, moving from one target to another, fantasising, voyeuring and dreaming about them. I would spot some small imperfection that would burst the fantasy bubble, and then move onto the next girl. I did a lot of showing off to indirectly attract girls; occasionally they would tease me or ask me out. I would turn them down and then hate myself for doing so, redoubling my efforts then to re-attract them. Some girls got confused (and hurt) by my mixed messages – I was a compulsive flirt (from a distance). By age twelve, I was terribly confused and had given up on ever having a girlfriend, which was a driving obsession by now.

I discovered masturbation

I discovered masturbation after having my curiosity piqued in the school yard. It became a release for the massive tension and pain that built up in me every day. I found waiting for a couple of days before masturbating gave a bigger hit and used it as a reward for surviving another day at school or on the council estate, so I became a ‘binger’ rather than a regular for acting out. It was fueled by my brother’s pornography and scraps of magazines hunted down in the local woods. Although the crushes continued, my acting out allowed me to bear my desperate loneliness and need for the girl who would make me complete. This got me through to university.

At university, I hid behind religion and an exceptionally prudish exterior; still not dating girls and too proud to admit I did not know where to start, and was painfully shy. I kept off pornography for a couple of years and used my masturbation fantasies to get through. But I went back to porn, walking miles to buy magazines so no one would spot that I was buying this stuff. I’d destroy them after a couple of days and then get another one after a couple of weeks. My compulsive flirting continued – amusing some girls and probably hurting a few girls. I hadn’t grown out of my childhood patterns.

Fantasy, masturbation and magazines

Moving to London, my church introduced me to a therapist. With hindsight, most people could see there was something not quite right with me and tried to help, but couldn’t. I didn’t have a clue what was the matter with me. The therapist introduced me to concepts of emotions and dysfunctional families. Even his fine efforts never broached my secret sexual life – still just fantasy, masturbation and magazines – although my apparent lack of interest in girls made him wonder if I was gay. He sensed I was an addictive sort of person (all the ‘isms’ were there) and ended his work introducing me to CODA. I left after one meeting. By now, I had blamed everything on my family and decided that I just needed to have sex with a real woman to sort myself out, and prove I wasn’t gay. Thus started five years of telling my family it was their fault that I was a mess (causing a lot of hurt and damage) and acting out with prostitutes. The latter was a real disappointment for me – it hardly lived up to my elaborate fantasies. So I tried all sorts of sexual experimentation, and eventually settled on the internet as my favoured mode of acting out. All unconsciously driven – I hardly knew what I was doing and was in total denial. I had a couple of walking breakdowns in this period and drank alcohol to cope.

Another move to another city. By now I was 26, never had a girlfriend, no interest in a promising career which I was slowly dismantling, alienating from my family, spending loads of time alone and acting out, using my friends purely for what I wanted and not giving anything back (more people hurt), full of self-hate and fear, a sense of ‘something being wrong with me’ and baffled as to what it was. As I could not seem to settle with a woman, I thought maybe I had ‘relationship problems’ and went back to CODA. I enjoyed being in a group, didn’t have a clue what co-dependency was at the time, but formed a ‘relationship’ with a woman 15 years older than me. I used her to gain some sexual confidence (another person hurt), tried SA and SAA briefly as even I couldn’t deny my internet pornography sessions were excessive, didn’t connect with either (I just thought one was stopping completely and the other one was stopping with the help of circles – couldn’t grasp either one) and then joined AA. Putting down my whisky certainly made a difference, and AA was the first place I encountered addicts with recovery. This was very attractive and I desperately needed and wanted it, so I had a go. Someone told me to write a story, do some prayers, write about myself in columns, and tell him about it as I went along. After this, he said ‘congratulations you’ve done the first Five Steps.’ I didn’t know what he was talking about, but we did have sex problems in common, so I gave him my computer, stopped looking at porn, masturbated occasionally, fell out with him, stayed in AA because I didn’t know where else to go, asked my first ever girl out, and married her a year later! It was all a blur really.

For a year or so, I think I was as well as I ever was before SA. I tried to stop masturbating, couldn’t, thought ‘so what, everyone does it’ and ‘I’m okay provided I don’t look at porn and visit prostitutes’. ‘I’m clean of alcohol and working the steps – sort of.’ I was full of lust towards my new girlfriend, but .. she wasn’t full of lust .. and well, it baffled me. I pulled away from sexual contact with her, and masturbated to fantasies about sex with her. I thought, that’s okay, I’m thinking about my wife, very loving. Another person hurt in reality. But, masturbation alone was getting boring and I was getting uncomfortable. I decided after three years without a computer I needed one for emails, and to get the best financial deals.

The first thing I did was look at porn, even though I had no intention of doing so. Thus started about three years of a secret life, working part time, and looking at porn at every available opportunity. Building up stashes and discarding them. Deleting and cutting off from the internet, and then rushing out two days later to spend hours reinstalling it. My binges got longer and longer, I was getting less and less comfort from them, and slowly I was falling apart.

Just to round off the picture, here are three other insane things I did during my 25 years of acting out: wrote elaborate erotic fiction, created tables of the women I viewed scoring them on various attributes, and acting out to the one with the top score; dressing up as my dream woman and acting out to my image in a mirror (I can still remember the image, but now I see it in its’ grotesque reality). I forgot I had done this until I came to SA.

My rock bottom was this:

“Wife away for the night; start masturbating to porn about 18:00/19:00; seen it all before, nothing new, all a bit rubbish, even the old favourites don’t do much; trying harder and harder to numb out – swelling, blood, self-hate; work tomorrow, try to get a couple of hours sleep; 5:30am orgasm, totally rubbish, this stuff doesn’t work any more, what am I going to do? I’m cracking up, I hate the way I’m treating my wife, hate myself most of all, I can’t stop, it’s this stuff that’s been wrecking me – not work, not family, not my wife – I’m killing myself and I can’t stop. Must leave, stop hurting her, broadband connection, bedsit, shorter sessions, more frequent, might numb it a bit. Prostitute might work, never did, have to try it again, maybe better this time. Why do I fancy my best friend – I know I’m not gay? Can’t drink alcohol now I’m in AA, I’m really cracking up for good this time. Wish I could kill myself, but scared of what’s on the other side. There’s …. no way out…. how did I end up here? I’m a good kid really.

I’ll have to try SA again. If that doesn’t work then I’ll try to stop hurting everyone and go away alone and cope with life as best I can. Don’t want to go to SA, too much like hard work having to travel, and put loads of effort in, but no good trying to control it like I did in SAA, it’s all or nothing for me. Can’t stop masturbating, but I kind of know this is at the core of my problem. I’ll have one more go at counselling before SA.”

I found a good counsellor and for the first time ever was actually totally honest. A combination of counselling, AA, AA sponsor, selfwill, medical knowledge and a touch of religion brought me three months without acting out! A totally unbelievable effort that I thought proved I could beat this thing after all, and I was feeling better although not great (I didn’t know, but I was still full of lust). At the end of the three months, I just had a short one hour masturbation (nothing for me), just to celebrate and chill out. I couldn’t believe it when all the pain of my rock-bottom came flooding back, and I was teetering on the edge again. I acted out only three or four times in six months and each time this same result. It was the final confirmation for me that I truly had to stop it all, and I just could not. This meant I finally had to give SA a serious go. The same man who introduced me to SA and AA all those years ago met me and helped me. I chucked myself into it, and it is the single greatest miracle of my life that I am sober today.

This lust addiction is crazy! Since an early age, I either had to be fantasising about some sort of romantic or sexual liaison, planning it, doing it or feeling guilty about what I just did. It gradually progressed into new and worse thinking and behaviours as the years rolled by. This dominated my life and seriously affected my relationships, marriage, work and career, family and friendships. I was never discovered or ‘blown out’ I worked part time and had this huge secret life. The strain of this affected my mental health, but I didn’t realise this – I just thought I had a few emotional problems, looked at pornography just like the rest of the world and was stressed by work. I thought it hurt no one; in reality I hurt many people.

Occasionally I tried to stop the ‘porn thing’ and even more rarely tried to stop masturbating. It was hopeless and I always went back to it. When I tried to stop I still could not stop thinking lustfully (I include my ‘romantic’ feelings and strong cravings for specific people as part of this lust concept) and felt tense, agitated, anxious, uncomfortable and a desperate need to masturbate again would crawl up on me. Masturbating as a ‘natural release’, e.g. to a blank wall, did not work for me either, because afterwards I always wanted more and better – a bigger hit, the next great adventure. Just prior to coming into SA, I had become obsessed about gay sex, revisiting prostitutes after a few years off (even though I hated doing this), masturbation had stopped working despite binges of 8-10 hours at a time, I couldn’t work and was about to leave my wife for a life of active sexaholism.

SA was my last resort

SA was my last resort. I had already tried:therapy, counselling, investigating the medical options, psychiatric diagnosis, churches, all variants of my own willpower, AA, SAA, CODA. All of these options are good and have their place for the people who need them. However, I needed a place that could show me my true drug ‘lust’, how to put it down and how to stay clean of it. The idea of staying clean of lust forever is insane and crazy to a sexaholic like me! Generally, I couldn’t stay sober for more than a few days, but I now do it just one day at a time, in SA. It is about seven and a half years now, but I avoid counting – I just focus on doing the right things for today. Today I do not act out, I do not think about lust, I do not feel it and unbelievably, I do not want it. When it tempts me on a daily basis, I have tools that allow me to get rid of it instantly, and get on with the new life I have been given. The huge hole left by lust is filled by my Higher Power, being involved in the SA Fellowship, a healthy and wonderful marriage, and a full-time job.

Recovery has been hard work, but not as hard as the pain and madness generated by the disease. I had to (and still do) travel a long way to meet with others, do a lot of meetings, phone calls, recovery (step) work and other service work. It was not delivered to me on a plate – I had to be persistent. I always wanted the quick fix or easy answer, trying to solve my problems on my terms, but in SA I had to let go and let the program give me the answers I didn’t have. This is very scary for an addict! Also, I found I could not do SA recovery in AA.

Amazingly, for such a self-absorbed and narcissistic individual, I feel my lifelong project to understand myself and ‘the meaning of life’ is done, although I will and must continuously learn and grow through sticking with the SA program. Learning that I am a sexaholic, accepting this and the implications of this, and taking responsibility for this, was the critical missing piece in my jigsaw, without which I was doomed to a hopeless and hellish life. What matters now is making the best of my time on this planet – how can I give back a measure of the fantastic gifts given to me?

 


Further Reading

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Porn Obsession

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Sexual Fantasies: Something Was Wrong. Story of recovery.

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Crossdressing and Masturbation: Story of recovery.

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