Sunday, September 14, 2008

A quiet day for reading

I'm thankful to have had some time yesterday to catch up on reading blogs. I was reminded today how helpful it is to my sobriety to read the blogs of the wives and ex-wives of male sex addicts. Reading about the pain they have been through reminds me that sexual addiction has many victims, and also renews my committment to do as little additional harm in my life as possible. The unfortunate thing is that reading those blogs and making a heartfelt committment to never hurt a woman like that again does not erase the fact that I am an addict. Sex and love addicts, according to their very characteristics, "sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support." My committment has to be more than not hurting other people -- because that binds me to the shame of all the people I have hurt in the past, which I will without fail attempt to cover with the insanity of taking a sexual or romantic holiday from my emotions. If I truly had to bear all the guilt I "should" feel at once ... it would be equivalent to plugging the entire electrical system of New York City into the outlet that runs this computer. Everything inside me would be fried. So my commitment has to be learning healthy ways of relating to others and taking care of myself, joining with these women who have been hurt in the process of healing.

I am also reading, at the suggestion of my new therapist, a book by Kelly McDaniel called "Ready to Heal," written specifically for female sex, love and relationship addicts. The reading has raised a number of questions about the messages society sends to women about sex -- and the ones I have picked up on. McDaniel asserts that women hold one or more of four cultural beliefs that cause them conflict with sexuality and relationships. The four beliefs are: 1. I must be good to be worthy of love. 2. If I am sexual, I am bad. 3. I am not really a woman unless someone desires me sexually or romantically and 4. I must be sexual to be lovable. McDaniel contends, and it makes sense to me that holding two or more of these beliefs puts a woman in a double bind -- If she sexual to be lovable, then she believes she is bad. And if she is bad, then she is not worthy of love, and if she is not worthy of love, then she must not be a real woman. There is very likely a corresponding theory for men -- as men are often raised to think that they must be good too be loved and if they are not sexual then they certainly are not REAL men. Likewise there are cultural messages that say men are nothing more to women than sperm and cash donors. Reading this book is causing me to really look closely at the subliminal messages I have picked up on regarding sex and love. One more layer of the onion being peeled away.

I should also note that I'm getting a lot of what can only amount to Higher Power messages that are opening my heart more about more honest disclosure about my addiction to my husband. I am willing to wait and listen and continue to be open to God's will for our lives.

1 comment:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Well, it really helps me to read you. What you share helps me have compassion for my husband, but most of all helps me feel for and forgive the women he was with. And that brings me healing. Thanks for being here, Rae.