Characteristic 4

We sought oblivion in fantasy and masturbation, and lost ourselves in compulsive sex. Sex became a reward, punishment, distraction and time-killer.

Paul McD (NY) 
In Hope and Recovery it says we tried to determine "when we crossed that invisible line". For me, that happened when I discovered masturbation. I took to masturbation and fantasy like a fish to water. In fact, masturbation and fantasy overtook my life very quickly. Early on, it was more of a security blanket that I turned to when I felt anxious or upset. And, with two alcoholic parents, I was anxious and upset most of the time.

They say that sex addiction is a progressive disease and this has certainly been true for me. After eight years of masturbation and fantasy, I added live people to the mix. My first experience took place in a public restroom and I can remember the adrenaline rush like it was yesterday (it was 16 years ago). Deep down I knew and feared that I was not in control of my urges and was completely powerless over my feelings and actions around anonymous sex. The foundation was laid in my early years with masturbation and fantasy.

I did not stop masturbating and fantasizing after I began having compulsive sex with strangers instead it intensified. One provided fuel for the other and it became a vicious cycle. At this point, sex was not pleasurable it became an overused tool to help me deal with life's ups and downs. For instance, getting good grades, a promotion, or not getting them was reason enough to act out. Free time was always my mortal enemy. Even as a child time was scary. Thoughts filled my head if I was not preoccupied with an issue or activity. If I did not act out, I had to spend much of my time thinking of other ways to stay busy in order to avoid my feelings, so acting out was a faster, and quicker solution. In fact, it eventually became automatic, a habitual act. Interestingly, acting out no longer stopped my pain, but instead became the source of my pain.

This is when I found program (or program found me). I simply could not continue that way of life. I had to take some serious action to get control of my sex life. Or so I thought. Ironically, we learn that admitting our powerlessness and lack of control over sexual compulsion is the only way to get a daily reprieve from this horrible disease. I am happy to say that with the help of the program and other sex addicts in recovery, I have been able to stay sober on my plan, one day at a time, for over five years.