I want to take you on a trip. For some of you, it will be considered educational. It will require a lot of imagination and calling on every ounce of your emotional repertoire and compassion. Even then, you will likely not understand. You may have more questions at the end of the trip than when you began.
Sadly, for others, it is a trip known all too well. It is less a trip and more a description of your daily, lonely and agonizing existence. It will not be educational, unless you are allowed to be the professor. If this is you, take your time and make it to the end. There is hope and rest that can be found.
So, let’s get going…
To begin, you may have to stretch yourself a little. Try and remember a time when you were in a deep sleep. In that deep sleep, you were having a dream that you were completely invested in. It was so real, and in the moment of the dream, you convinced yourself of its reality. Okay, good job. I want to guide you a little. Take that experience, but imagine that in your dream you were doing something that you would never conceive of doing. You are engaging in behaviors that violate something deep within. Something inside of you is telling you to stop, but a larger part of you is propelling you forward. You know you are blowing past the point of no return but can’t stop yourself. It feels amazingly terrifying— and you are lost in it. You want more and you want it to stop. Then, you awaken suddenly. You remember—over the next several minutes you begin to sort through the shock of the dream and of reality. Your heart is racing and you are disoriented.
Now, this is the important and difficult part if you want to try to understand someone who struggles with sexual addiction. Don’t allow yourself to give into the relief of realizing you didn’t actually do what you believed you had done in your dream. Instead, the dream IS your reality.
Okay, stop for a second with me and really try to imagine that it was real. With this reality you become flooded with a loop of questions of contempt towards yourself. Things like:
- “What were you thinking?”
- “How could you be such a *%#@ idiot!?”
- “What is wrong with you!?”
- “Did you really think you would get away with it?”
- “What are you going to do now?”
These are less questions and more statements to further penetrate the indictment of seething hatred towards yourself. You feel bound up, shackled and trapped in misery by your own hands. There is nowhere to run or hide. No one else to blame. Feelings of being completely guilty, empty, out of control and hated are ever growing as you attempt to realize all the ramifications of what you had just done.
You realize how much you had to deny in order to go as far as you went. You begin to gain more clarity about what happened. Gaining insight also brings intense feelings that grow inside and become unbearable. This emotional intensity spreads quickly, like a wild fire in a very dry land. You may even begin thinking that the best option for everyone is to just disappear, or worse—end everything. You are wrestling with feelings of despair, terror and hopelessness.
Subconsciously, a numbness begins in order to make it through the next few seconds. Soon, the numbness takes over, and emotions are caged deep inside. It is sudden and you lose sight of what it feels like to be truly alive. You become a shell of your true self. You resign living to simply surviving. In a strange, yet welcomed way, you are willing to give up feelings of hope, joy and wonder in order to stop the feelings of self-contempt, loathing and hatred. It works.
Next, imagine that a monologue breaks out in your head where you resolve to do whatever it takes never to do that again. You say to yourself, “That’s it! That is the last time I’m doing that!”
You try to convince yourself that it’s not that bad; you don’t have to let anyone know. You’ve got this. Besides, you will not do it again. You’ll figure it out. It will be the last secret you have to keep. You’re sure of it—more committed than ever.
You know the foundation on which you are building is faulty, but you move on thinking that time will somehow make it better. You tell yourself repeatedly that no one will have to know and the narrative inside turns you into some kind of heroic villain. You carry the secret and shame to protect others from having to experience their own certain horror and pain. There is a corresponding, constant feeling of fear developing as well—when you will be found out? When around others, you struggle to think that they already know somehow, that they see right through you. But you’re good at covering up the feelings of being a fraud by displaying your best persona and faking it. You know everything is being held together by scotch tape and band-aides and you hope it will be enough. You manage to barely keep it together.
Until you can’t any longer and escape to dreaming again…
This is sexual addiction, and every time this cycle repeats, it takes a little more from you. It kills a little more of your capacity to live and love.
Most of the time you don’t even recognize it. The other times you use all available energy to prevent yourself from acknowledging the secret because you know it has grown to terrible proportions and you believe the consequences will be far worse to disclose than to continue to conceal. Without seeing it, you are slowly feeling more and more like a walking, breathing corpse.
This is where our trip ends—for most of you. You will move on in your day from here. It may be inconceivable to you, but you won’t lose any sleep over it.
For others, it still doesn’t make sense, and you may have found yourself growing in feelings of anger and injustice as you read along. In the event this was true for you, I could only imagine that you know intimately of the pain that comes with living with someone described above. Maybe it was many years ago, or maybe it is now. Reading this was like opening up old or fresh wounds and you will continue to be effected as you leave this webpage. Let me assure you, if this is your story, your anger and pain are appropriate responses and I would encourage you to make an appointment so that you might give yourself a chance to heal and grow beyond your wounds.
For others still, I’ve described YOU above and you are relieved and scared that someone actually knows what you are experiencing. But I have good news. You were made for more than this. Freedom, forgiveness and hope are still available for you. Just make the call and take the first step of surrendering to the process of a new future. It will be the hardest part of your journey yet, but the wages of the work of recovery cannot be measured, predicted or manufactured somewhere else. If your heart longs to be FULLY ALIVE and FULLY LOVED, there is no other way.
Make the call today.