Sorry, I Don’t Buy That I’m A Sex Addict
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Sorry, I Don’t Buy That I’m A Sex Addict


I never blacked out drinking so I remember all of the sexual encounters I had when wasted. I was young, I was horny and my judgment was certainly impaired with the people I chose to hook up with. I took chances having unprotected sex and dated people who didn’t treat me well. The alcohol dulled my instinct for self-preservation and my behavior was irresponsible and dangerous. It’s a miracle that I never ended up having an abortion or any STD that couldn’t be cured by antibiotics. I know many people have said that having sex without being under the influence was terrifying but I didn’t find it so. I never needed alcohol to have sex with near-strangers, I needed it to blot out the shame of having no inhibitions about it.

Then I got married. We were together for 14 years, 10 of them blissful, and I was 99.9% monogamous in the 12 years of my marriage (except that one weekend in Oregon and I told him right after). Now I’m in the process of an amicable divorce and this last year, I have been like a bird that escaped its golden cage. I have slept with more people this year than any other year in my life and I barely require an emotional connection of any kind to have highly orgasmic sex. I also have a touch of mental illness so, as they say, “God giveth, and God taketh away.”

I have spent the last six years having sex sober of substances but I have never had sober sex. And I have no desire to. In the 12-step world, we have a tendency to pathologize everything and sex is no different. In the group of fellowships I like to think of as Recovering Sluts Anonymous, the only kind of sex that is acceptable is vanilla, monogamous and free of “undue stimulation.” If I wanted that, I would still be married.

We addictive types, as much as we are ashamed of ourselves for the things we have done in search of the next high, also secretly believe our quirks are somehow unique. As if a person who can drink normally or use marijuana recreationally has never done anything self-destructive. People can self-destruct in all sorts of ways. Even my eight-year old puts off his book report to the last minute every month. Does that make him an alcoholic or just someone who prefers being outside playing baseball to writing about Cheyenne Indians?

Yet I myself have been guilty of smugly trumpeting, “That’s alcoholic behavior”— until I’ve run it by a normie who usually reminds me that it was just human. As a mother who loves my children but is often not such a fan of parenting, sex and masturbation provide me with the release I need to be a better parent. Orgasms are not my reason for living but they are one of the highlights of a life that frankly hasn’t turned out the way I’d hoped. You can pry my vibrators out of my cold, dead hand.

Here is a Sign of Recovery in the Slut Fellowship:

We learn to value sex as a by-product of sharing, commitment, trust and cooperation in a partnership. 

Uh huh. Or we could all get together and knit a nice cozy sweater, if that didn’t prove too stimulating. It’s not that I don’t value the kind of sex based on trust and blah blah blah, but I also value sex with people I am incredibly sexually attracted to and with whom I have nothing in common; also bisexual sex, group sex and leisurely masturbation sessions. And all without drinking a single drop of anything stronger than Kefir to keep my vagina pH balanced.

I’m still getting over the brutally painful relationship that followed my separation. I have to fight the urge daily to contact my ex, who may as well have a skull and crossbones tattooed on his forehead for how toxic he is to me (now there’s a Tinder selfie). Many guys go on a fuck rampage after the breakup of a relationship (let alone two) and no one blinks. So why can’t I?

It took me a while to stick to the No Contact rule I knew I needed to enforce with skull and cross bones guy, but I got there. Rather than seeing this as a sign of my “love addiction,” I prefer to think of it as my optimism that if I kept getting back together with him, he might start cooking dinner for me again like he did at the beginning. After six different break-ups in the space of a year (five of them mine, the final one his), I was finally done. But I wasn’t done until I was done and anyone who has ever tried to talk a friend who has just gone through a break-up off a ledge knows that they are not ready to hear what you are saying until the fat lady is singing loud enough to shatter glass.

Love is not logical, neither is sexual attraction and trying to put them into a box that can be controlled with steps and meetings and prayer just looks like “white-knuckling” it to me. I have prayed to have the obsession with my ex removed and eventually it was. But I will never pray to believe in monogamy again, nor to have my kinks removed. It saddens me to see compulsive sex addicts have to eradicate their darkest preferences in order to settle down to a life of “sober sex.” No wonder the married men I have seen at meetings look so miserable.

Sex is number one on my gratitude list. It is rapturous, self-affirming and a definite high. And yet it is not an escape, like alcohol and drugs were, so much as a way to feel more connected to my true self. Since I got sober, I have never wanted to drink before or after a sexual encounter. The relationship following my marriage brought me to the edge of relapse but not because of how much I adored having sex with him. It was the gradual withdrawal of his love and intimacy, as I learned to accept less and less of his attention and care. I’m not a sex addict, just pathologically needy.

I face my neediness daily without the benefit of mind-altering substances and some days the emptiness is agonizing. When I get the opportunity to reach for another human being and connect sexually, as long as I feel that person respects me, I take it. And afterwards, I lie satisfied in the golden glow of connection, feeling all of it. Then at some point, I have to get up, get dressed and get back to life. I have to cook dinner for my two boys, often two consecutive dinners because they gorge themselves on anything within reach. I guess as long as they are not purging, I won’t worry about it just yet.

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About Author

Susanna Brisk is a writer and Sexual Intuitive® who has over a decade’s sobriety from alcohol. Her tell-it-like-it-is missives on sex, love, dating, divorce, parenting, mental health, recovery, and BDSM have been read by the better part of a million people on Medium, Dame, sexpert, thoughtcatalog, yourtango, Sexual Health Magazine, and Real Sex Daily. Her latest book “How to Get Laid Using Your Intuition” went to #1 on Amazon in the Sexual Health category.