Thursday, February 21, 2008

What does it feel like?

When I use another person to get the euphoria of my sex and love addiction, I am also allowing myself to be used in return. And there is no high so high in using that it can balance out the pain and humiliation of being used.

I want to write today what it feels like to be used. I do it because I want to get it out of my head and truly look at it.

I must write by example ...

First example, there's a man in recovery who was such a close friend to me in my early days in the program. When I needed to cry, I called him. When he needed to cry, he called me. We could be honest with each other and we could share at a level only two people could who had known the demonic feelings of having had our childhoods stolen. But we were not ready for that kind of intimacy with a member of the opposite sex, and what was a friendship turned into a love addiction, for a short while a sex addiction, and then into only pain, then resentment, then a note:
"Rae, I'm not sure what's happened between us, all I know is that without it, I am incomplete. I am sorry if offended you in any way. I love you very much."
And thus started my flurry of responding, waiting for his response, texting, waiting for his response ... needing even a crumb, hearing nothing, feeling sad, even more resentful. I know him well enough to know that on his end, he couldn't handle a friendship that did not give him the choice of isolation. And I had not, still have not, let go of the resentment that prevents me from having a friendship with him that does not involve enmeshment and a "savior" mentality. The last conversation we had ... all I could do was try to solve his problems, as if he weren't a full grown man, with as much recovery as me.

Next example:

I used my last acting out partner to help me feel adored and special and I also used him to help recreate the idea that I would never be quite special enough. He was truly more interested in transexual males than women -- but he couldn't admit that completely, and he used me to remind him that he really did like women. After all he was married and very "devoted" to his wife. We both used each other to pass the time and enjoy doing fun things together like see movies, go to plays and have dinner.

Next example:

I guess one has to expect when they keep a public blog about their recovery from sexual addiction, that there will be unrecovering sex addicts who will find it and want to engage in conversation about what sex addiction has meant in one's life. This happened to me recently, and while the intial contact gave me no reason not to respond to the reader, by the second e-mail my response was against my better judgment. I felt my temperature rising, my desire to engage in discussion fervent, and thus flew a string of e-mails that while tempered, grew gradually more sexual in nature. By three or four e-mails I knew I was dealing with a regular old addict, just like me with the same justifications for his behavior and mine as well. I began to feel uncomfortable but said "Keep the questions coming." That's that part of me that sits in one seat and lets the addict take charge while I watch, my hands tucked under my legs and my lips persed together. In the end I was able to stand up and say ... "Enough!" and walk away. I was using him for a hit, he was using me. We were both anxious to know where it would lead ... but for me, I was hoping that this was a test of my sobriety, and as it turns out, the part of me that wants to stay sober was stronger than the part that wanted to act out. I was thankful, grateful actually, and humbled.

So, what does it feel like to be used? For certain, it feels familiar. At some level, I suspect it even feels justified. After all, I do believe at a deep level that I am a bad person. Being used hurts, it makes me cry and feel unimportant. It contributes to the thoughts that I'm not really worth being treated with respect. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, for me to trust anyone who says they care. I feel very alone, because after all, didn't I bring this on myself by using them in the isolation of my disease? It makes me feel angry because some part of me knows I DON'T deserve this. And it makes me even angrier that I have nothing to justify my anger with, because I was an equal partner in the using. Those who reject me, at whatever level, make me feel as if I'm not enough. I take it personally, which means my ego is in the way. The healthy truth is ... their disease is no more about me than mine is about them. But it is not easy to see that when the disease has a face and a voice (or at least an e-mail address and a name).

I don't guess I was looking for answers here ... just the opportunity to own my feelings. More will come, I have no doubt. Getting them out of my head and out in front of me helps me to sort them out.


The Traveler said...

Enmeshment. Many people live in ignorant bliss of the power of that word. Really, in a nutshell, it's THE word of any addiction. Enmeshed with a person. Enmeshed with a behavior. Enmeshed with a feeling. Enmeshed with a substance. That's what addiction is, at it's core: enmeshment. And enmeshment is a * (insert your most powerful bad language here) black hole where we are drawn to the edge, drop our boundaries and principles and values, and just get sucked into the vortex. It's so powerful. And it applies to any type of addiction.

LOL, obviously, that was the word that leapt out at me, in your very gritty entry today. I don't feel it appropriate or necessary for me to comment other than that on today's content, except that I GET that _enmeshment_ word, and your entry really got me thinking about it in a global sense, so thank you for that.


dasgud65 said...

The funny thing is, I feel MORE isolated now. Is that normal? I have no idea.

vicariousrising said...

Excellent observations about yourself and the vicious cycle.

I feel a little like this with my relationship with my male former best friend. There is a part of me that wants to jump back into the mele, waiting for his every email, friendly or acidic. Some days it's all I can do to walk away from my laptop. It was suggested to me I was substituting my alcohol with an addiction to my friend. It wouldn't shock me at all.

The part that I find difficult, and you nailed it here in this post, is the self-loathing that goes along with what feels like you deliberately putting yourself into the situation, thereby not allowing you any room to forgive yourself or any sympathy when the pain is delivered.

I think you need to cut yourself some slack.

Recovering Wino said...

I know that feeling of looking for email responses and resentment. I am so glad I worked to break that cycle. That was maddening.