Compulsive sex became a drug which we used to escape from feelings such as anxiety, loneliness, anger and self-hatred, as well as joy
I was not fully aware, until I came to SCA, how I had slowly come to use compulsive sex as a drug and that sex had replaced my former dependence on alcohol as my "escape of choice". It took coming to meetings and listening to other sex addicts struggling with sexual compulsion to understand the full implications of the second characteristic.
Prior to my first meeting, I thought that I was just "having fun", that after many years spent in two consecutive monogamous relationships, I was finally sowing my "wild oats", not realizing that I was merely avoiding feelings by acting out my compulsion. My sponsor in another twelve step program pointed out to me (more than once) that my sexual behavior was out of control. Finally, I began to grasp that I had traded one addiction for another, and in fact that my sexual compulsion might have always been at the root of all of my addictions.
When I came to SCA, I didn't think the behavior that I was engaging in at the time was so terrible. I was "dating" three different men, none of whom knew of each other, acting out in video booths three or four times a week, going to a bath house a couple of times a month and picking people up on the street whenever possible.
I was working very, very hard not to feel the feelings that had surfaced in the three years that I'd been sober from drugs and alcohol. For many years I had sustained relationships and though I can now see that I acted out within them sexually, at the time my preferred method of escape was alcohol and drugs. But once I put those down, and also ended my relationship with my lover, I found myself quickly in the grips of almost daily sexual acting out. Obviously it didn't work for long. The pain of living that way while trying to apply the principles of a twelve step program "to all of my affairs" and attempting to establish a conscious contact with a higher power became unbearable, and fortunately SCA was there to help me pick up the pieces.
The second characteristic is important to me because it implies that my sexual "acting out" behavior is a compulsion, a "dis-ease" as it were, which continues to tell me that I don't have to feel, that I can numb myself and escape the difficulties of life through sex. The first key to awareness, acceptance and action for me was coming to meetings. The second, continuing to look at my behavior and committing to recovery.
The urge to act out sexually is still with me unfortunately, sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker. I find that if I talk about it with other addicts and sexual compulsives in meetings and in fellowship, I have a chance at sobriety. On my own, I will be led right back into acting out the way I did almost three years ago when I first came to SCA.
Now I find that different feelings come up for me and that I continue to find ever more creative ways to suppress them whether it be flirting on a subway, using wet areas of my gym or the now so popular Internet chat areas. Continuing to look at the second characteristic and applying the tools of the program to these new trouble spots helps me stay sober one day at a time.