Characteristic 7

Sex was compartmentalized instead of integrated into our lives as a healthy element.

Phideaux X (LA/NY)
Of all the characteristics, number seven is perhaps the one that awakened me to the realization that I was sick. For all my protestations of free-spirit love and sexual experimentation, I could no longer ignore the fact that sex had become a nightly ritual of odd telephone masturbation experiences and personal dares to keep anonymous dates setup through internet or phone line. The sex was mapped out ahead of time, based on fetish, body parts, and particular activities, with no sense of lovemaking or even recognition that another human being was present. In recovery, I realized that I was recreating the dynamics of my childhood molestation. I would concoct situations where I, or the other person, was a purely sexual object. The sex would be about "playing with the toy" that the other person had become. Because of my childhood "incest" (which I define as inappropriate sex between an authority adult and a minor), I subconsciously approached many of my internet/phone encounters with a lot of anger. The sex would be about returning to the scenario of my childhood and acting out anger and rage at the perps. Whoever I found for sex would be a hapless stand in for those figures from my past. 

In these ways I compartmentalized sex in my life. No longer was sex about intimate communication with another person; it was a ritual. My previous sexual expressions (making love with someone I was dating, or having sex with a cute partner I was intrigued with) stood in stark contrast to the sex rituals I was committing with my computer/phone sex dates. Inside my heart I hated these demoralizing encounters. I subjected myself to sex with people I despised because it was no longer about attraction or eroticism. I detached my mind so I could go through motions until I'd completed the ritual and was thus released to return to my life.

In recovery, I've seen how certain guidelines can keep me in touch with my sexual partner and myself so that my sex remains a connected collaboration with another human being. I've been told to refrain from too many fantasies and to stay in the moment. It's even been suggested that I invite God to participate in my encounters.