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Sam

7 years back in denial

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Hello,

I started to recover way back in 2012 when I was 29 years old.  I was making good progress but then, towards the end of the year, something seemed to trigger my underlying issues.

I think it was because, between the ages of about 16-21 my addiction (perhaps combined with simple teenage impulsivity) had caused me to do some things that I genuinely found traumatic which were seemingly tied into things that happened to me during my childhood. I managed to cope with these things all on my own but in 2005 aged 22, this feeling of horror overhwelmed me and I found myself going through life like a ghost for 7 years.

I was glad to have found sex addiction treatment in 2012 but I don't think I really made use of the treatment to deal with the underlying issues.  A number of counsellors and therapists over the years have said how I can recount really upsetting experiences with a smile on my face.  I think the therapist I was seeing in 2012 got under the surface of that but I hadn't developed the trust to work through it with them so I left therapy abruptly.  That's something that I still feel really sad about.

After I left therapy, I started to behave and think quite strangely, did something utterly stupid (not directly addictive acting out but based on a need to manage feelings of shame about my past) and just collapsed back into depression and addiction.

It genuinely haunts me how I utterly trashed everything just as I started to make progress. I can kind of forgive myself for that given the underlying issues that I hadn't dealt with.  I just want to turn the clocks back but I know that feeling like that just keeps me stuck.  I need to move on from where I am now.

Since 2012, I've been able to function but I've not really been growing as a person.  Addictive behaviours haven't been completely overwhelming so I tried to convince myself that they don't matter.  But I suspect that they do.  I think it's just that I don't have a partner or family and my employers tolerate me being mentally "scattered" a lot of the time.  Basically the addictive behaviours don't feel like they matter because I don't have anything more important in my life. Says it all really.

I've been seeing a psychotherapist about the other issues but she isn't trained in sex addiction. I've been reluctant to get sex addiction treatment again because of what happened the first time.  A large part of me felt like the addiction treatment was "telling me what to do" and I really didn't like it.  That's just my feelings and responses though.  I couldn't accept that I'd not already found a way to live a healthy life on my own - shame, shame, shame placed me beyond help.  I felt like it was my fault that I had these unresolved issues keeping me stuck. 

I feel like I know the basics of what I need to do from my previous attempt at recovery and the treatment that I had back then.  I'm very open with the therapist that I'm seeing now so if I'm not doing the things that I say I'm going to do then she'll gently bring it to my attention.  Part of me feels like I'll need a therapist who can be more directive with me.  But I'm working well with this therapist so I'll give it a try with them.  It's got to start with removing addictive behaviours using whatever tools are available and doing the basics of looking after myself again.  I'm prepared for underlying issues to become harder to deal with as I remove the addictive behaviours but I do have support with them now.

Not sure why I'm writing this - just reaching out somewhere.

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Dear Sam,

Thank you for sharing.  Sounds like you trust your therapist and have a good relationship with her.  This is really important.   Have you read Paula's book on "Understanding and Treating Sex and Pornography Addiction"?   This resource could help support you and you could suggest your therapist reads it too.   There are also lots of blogs on our website which is aimed at helping and informing.   Also we offer a one day workshop for people wanting to understand their sexual compulsive behaviours - so this might be an option for you.   A lot of sex addiction counselling can be directive as the therapist is working with you to change compulsive habits that you want to change.  The pace of this directiveness needs to be handled with care and negotiated with the client.   The client needs to feel safe and trust their therapist so they can begin to look at their shame and at very painful parts of their story.  This does take time and it is hard work.  There are lots of testimonies on our website that state that the effort is worth it.   I wish you well in your journey to recovery from your addictive behaviours. 

Virginia

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Thanks Ginny,

I have read Paula's book. It's the best thing that I've read on the subject.  However, it's sad because it reminds me of the treatment that I had all those years ago and couldn't make use of.  To be honest, I resisted the treatment.  I changed despite my resistance and then hated myself for allowing someone to change me.  All stuff that I should be talking to my therapist about.

I feel so embarrassed about it.  So much regret at chucking away 7 years so needlessly.  Trying to forgive myself and remember that there were underlying issues that were causing me to resist and feel self-hatred.  It's just so so sad that I can barely live with myself.

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Sam, try and take one day at a time as you learn to forgive yourself.   Be gentle with yourself, there was a reason that you were resistant 7 years ago.  Working through with your therapist now about that resistance will hopefully give you some clarity of the reasons.    Knowing yourself better will then allow yourself the head space to work out what your next step is in your recovery.   

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Thank you.

it's painful to feel that, at almost age 37, there will now be dreams that might go unrealised, experiences that I might never be able to have.

I keep thinking of that quote "it's never too late to be what you might have been."

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Edited by Sam
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