Private Magazine

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Finding True Love At Sex Addicts Anonymous

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Disclaimer- Sex Addicts Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous,  etc. ask that addicts keep fellow addicts anonymous, hence the name; therefore, all names and verbatim sentences are fabricated to protect those involved. Also, members of the SAA program depicted in this article, as stated in their booklet, “are not [SAA] representatives or claim to be spokespersons for the press, radio, TV, films , or the Internet.

 

One month ago, I briefly dated a sex addict. It’s hard to be sure, because I’m fairly certain that he’s also a pathological liar. Then again, from what I know, many addicts are also liars.

I only went out with him because he wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept showing up at my job.

“So, when are we going out to dinner?”

“Never.”

It went on like that for a couple of weeks, until finally, I relented. We went to Taste of Siam. Over dinner, he opened up about his wife who suddenly died of cancer four months ago. I realized he was still wearing a wedding band.

“Isn’t that a little quick to be dating?” I asked my 81-year-old friend Annette, afterwards.

“No, you’d be surprised how quick men are able to move on.”

I figured Annette knew what she was talking about, being 81 and all. But only a week into our frenzied fling, my stalker opened up to me at Spot Coffee.

“I’m a sex addict,” he said, looking over his thick black frames. “It’s how I’ve been grieving. It’s hard. I’m dating multiple cougars…” He began to scour the Spot scene with frantic eyes. “You’re the only non-cougar I am seeing.”

He then called over a random woman and  invited her  into a threesome with us.  Not many  situations embarrass me, but that did. I never spoke to him again.

He still stalks me at my job.

 collage

———————

That confession of his has never left my mind. I don’t think about it daily, but sometimes I wonder if he was truly sincere. Probably not. But that isn’t stopping me from investigating the reality of being a sex addict by attending a local chapter meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous.

I called a phone number I found on the Sex Addicts Anonymous database two days ago; apparently there’s a suburban Christian fellowship that hosts many AA and SA meetings. I pull up outside; a few women are smoking cigarettes in their cars. Armed with a venti Starbucks, I attempt to project a seen-it-all, done-it-all demeanor. In reality, I have no idea what to expect.

I’m worried that my all-black outfit is too sexy for Sex Addicts Anonymous. I mean, vintage leather mini skirt? Hugo Boss blazer? Motorcycle boots? Stockings?

Upon entering the building, I’m greeted with inspirational Christian banners. A few women are heading into an alcove at the left side of a roomy foyer. I follow them. A pot of coffee is steaming on its burner, but it appears to be decaf. Fuck! They start talking about “back when they were drinking.”

“Um, I think I have the wrong meeting,” I meekly express.

“This is a womens-only AA meeting,” says a 30-something with a pleasant face. “What group are you looking for?”

“Well…. well, I must have the wrong place…Maybe it got rescheduled?” I say, walking into the carpeted foyer.

“What group are you looking for?” she asks again, following me.

I swivel around once we arrive in a shadowy corner.

“The sex addicts!”

“Oh, they meet in the basement pretty much every day.”

Figures…

I go down a few steps into an olive green annex. A guy in an olive green dress shirt, cuffed loose-fitting slacks, and orthopedic shoes beckons me into an adjacent room.

“Is this – Sex Addicts Anonymous? I called Tuesday – are you Bruce?”

The guy in olive green confirms that he is Bruce. He facilitates the meetings. I look around; only one other person besides Bruce is present. He’s well into his 70’s and wears sweatpants.  There are a few mismatched recliners and armchairs to choose from, but I opt for the folding chair by the window.

PPhood

I’m surprised there are only three of us here. That is, if you include me, and I’m not even an addict. Or am I? Why the hell am I here? Why do I have a compulsion to do these things? My thoughts aren’t that different from the others in this building. I’m given a blue pamphlet which lays out today’s meeting, two green books about beating sex addiction (which Bruce wrote, impressively), and the monthly group newsletter. We begin with the Feelings Check.

“Russell, would you like to start, since we have a newcomer?”

Russell begins by choosing two adjectives to sum up his feelings of the day.

“I feel appreciated -”

“Yes you are!” Bruce reinforces, winking at me.

“And, um, hopeful.”

“Yes you do!” I chime in this time. For some reason this makes me blush. Then it’s my turn. I start to sweat, and roll up the sleeves of my blazer. This exposes the burn from my stove on my wrist and armful of bracelets. Great, I probably look like a cutter.

“Hi, I’m —-, and  I am a recovering sex addict.  Today I feel calm, because well, this is a pretty laid back setting – and inspired, because I like meeting new people.”

“Yes you are!”

We then recite the Serenity Prayer (“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…”) together. However, the group maintains a casual, open, accepting, non-religiously affiliated vibe. I actually learn a lot from Bruce. For example, AA meetings (12 Step programs) originated in the 1930’s, when people asked God to fix problems instead of seeking medical explanations. Bruce finds error in the fact these methods are still used today to mend complex addictions. The man who developed AA in the 30’s apparently got sober from alcohol, but remained a smoker, compulsive spender, and sex addict until his death.

Right in the middle of our Validations – “I am acceptable, competent, and focused; I trust my own thoughts and emotions; I have positive expectations for today and for tomorrow, etc” another man walks into the room. He’s clutching a liter of Coke and filling the room with the aroma of a Marb.

“Are you here for the meeting?” asks Bruce.

“Yeah, uh, SA?”

“Yes, are you Patrick? Weren’t you here last week?”

“Yes I was.”

He takes a seat, and I catch him looking at me many times. He probably wants to bone, I think to myself. But what’s so erroneous about that?

We continue the meeting, reading through a chapter in the green book about the basis of sex addiction. According to Bruce, his group uses the most up to date, medically sound information regarding the nature of addiction. While medical knowledge 25 years ago relied on pegging addiction as a “disease,” that isn’t entirely true. Also, the only addiction relying heavily on genetics is alcoholism.

Camo

Rather, addictions which are “learned behaviors,” like sex, shopping, eating disorders, and gambling,  can also be un-learned. It all goes back to conditioning and feeling abandoned as a child. This “trauma” increases the likelihood you will develop the Addict Personality.

 

I wasn’t abandoned as a child, but I have an Addict Personality. Bruce says some people with Addict Personalities weren’t traumatized as children. Addiction can just form from faulty wiring in the brain, dopamine and seratonin receptors. He tells me you can work hard and re-wire the brain, if you work at it every day for three years.

Staring down at my sex addict literature, I’m forgetting that I’m not really a sex addict. Or am I? No, I’m not. Our generation just has a problem with intimacy as a whole. I’m sure  some will wind up in SAA when they’re a sweatpants-wearing age 70.  But while I’m not a full-blown addict of any sort, I know that I chemically possess the Addict Personality.  Sex addiction was never my problem, not at all. I’ve already marked a nearby wine store, so I can buy a bottle of pinot grigio after this meeting. Am I an alcoholic?  There have been downward spirals and self-destructive benders, over the years. But I think I manage to toe the line before I hit full blown addict rock bottom. I have too much to lose; I always have to keep myself in check.

Martini

The meeting draws to a close, and I thank Bruce. I might return, because I don’t want Bruce to feel Sad during the Feelings Check, sad that I never showed up again. Sad that I gave up my recovery and returned to an addiction that I never really had.  

This thought almost makes me burst into tears, as I walk to my car, smelling a clove cigarette in the night air.

But I need to stop with always putting others’ needs/wants before my own…I need to affirm my own needs/wants…Maybe I will check out the womens-only AA…


I am competent and capable.

Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent

Books

A fire burns inside of #54. It’s a soft, welcoming cocoon of holiday cheer. Outside, snowflakes ferociously converge like bumblebees, and I hope Dan will get here soon. He’s my date for the night, to the Pearl Street Grill Christmas Party. I’m hoping that he gets here soon, because I’m ever-so-steadily sipping bourbon from a pint glass with my downstairs neighbor, Michael. If Dan doesn’t get here soon, I’m going to be drunk. Very drunk.

It is mandatory that a true lady remain sober and in control for an entire date. I already fucked it up. Bah! My phone rattles and dings like a goddamn slot machine. Dan has arrived!

I’m clomping down three flights of stairs in precarious and uncomfortable Forever 21 platforms and some outlandish beaded top. Must go and meet Dan in the parking lot with dignity.

Now, I met Dan last month, when I was on a date with his friend John at the casino. Dan was there, too, with some girl named Jamie. It was a double date. But after John won $3,000 and was determined to spend it all, we went to Wine on Third to wet our whistles. And there, amid hazy drunken revelations, Dan and I developed a crush on one another.cards

So I invited him as my date to the Pearl Street Grill Christmas Party. Everyone who lives at our apartment, # 54,  is attending – myself, my downstairs neighbor Michael, Jack (a 31-year old dubstep burnout who wears sunglasses backwards on his head), and Kurt. I went to college with both Kurt and Michael. Kurt moved away to California but he’s back now. I hooked up with Kurt on Election Day after he drank a box of merlot and couldn’t ride his bike back to Kenmore. He’s gotten many DUI’s, so he doesn’t drive. Kurt is a hot mess.

Just as I’m settling in with Dan on Michael’s couch, with a background symphony of cacophonous jam-band melodies, Kurt struts through the living room, clad in a dress shirt, tie, and vest. A cigar is sticking straight out of his mouth. My back stiffens. Ugh! Could he get more cocky and conceited?

Kurt continues to walk through the living room and onto the balcony. I turn to Dan.

“Ugh, that’s just Kurt,” I tell him. I really like Dan. He is extremely laid back, with a good head of hair. He’s even put on a dress shirt for this party. Kurt isn’t going to tarnish my mojo. So I toss back some champagne, re apply my lip stain, and pile into a cab with the entire group.

The scene at Pearl Street is intense – wall to wall people, and for some strange reason, I cannot get my footing in these fucking Forever 21 pain in the ass platforms! I can’t control my wobbly, bobbing to and fro body! I feel like the room is circling around me. I need to get some air and have an intimate, passionate moment with Dan.

BourbonAs I pull  him under the stairs, Dan looks at me in confusion.

“What…what is it?”

“I just…I just…wanted to share a passionate moment and get away from it all!”

“Oh, uh..huh? Ok.”

I grab Dan’s fuzzy beard and pull his face into mine.

“Let’s get out of here.”

“But we just got here, oh, uh, ok!”

In my mind’s eye, the two of us are rushing out into the cold, dark night to have passionate sex in my bungalow. What really happens, well…

Dan and I arrive at the foot of the ladder that leads up to my twin size loft bed. I say,

“Go ahead – it’s easy! It’s only nine steps.”

“Don’t you worry that you’ll fall out of there?”

“No, never!”

And the two of us go up to the bungalow.

………………..

My dry, bloodshot eyes snap open to the shrill beeping of my phone. Time to go to work! Put me out of my misery. It’s going to be one of those days.

I walk Dan down to his car, and shower away the sinfulness and inebriety of the previous night. I’m combing my hair in front of the bathroom mirror. Suddenly, my apartment door opens with a chilly gust of wind. I’m only wearing a pair of Victoria’s Secret leopard print underwear. My hands snap up to conceal my boobs. What the fuck!

Kurt struts in, still clad in last night’s apparel.

“Good morning!”

“What the fuck, Kurt, leave Kurt! Don’t you know how to knock, Kurt? Can’t you see I’m trying to get ready, Kurt? I have to go to work, asshole! Hey! I’m talking here! WHOAAAA!”

I work myself up into such a frenzy in my tiny bathroom, I fly backwards – arms flailing-  into my little cabinet and tall stack of magazines. A container of cosmetics crashes on top of me, with a cascade of lipsticks falling around me. I’m lying in a heap, on my back, practically in the nude.

“HELP!!!! Somebody! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! Seriously! HELLO????”

Finally, I muster the strength, wrap myself in a towel,  and charge out into my apartment.

Kurt is standing naked in my kitchen.

“Hi!”

“Kurt, get out, you are still drunk from yesterday…BLAHAAHGHHHAH!!”

He decides to pick me up straight off the ground and spin me around pseudo-romantically. It’s not exactly the most chivalrous deed, to barge into someone’s home and strip down naked. But whatever.

“I just thought we could spend some time together.”

“Your timing is off, and I have to go to work.  Now get out!”

He pecks me on the lips suddenly.  I ever-so-politely push him out the door.

When it rains, it pours…I think to myself, leaning against my door with  a sigh. Still have to put some damn clothes on. I wonder if things will work out with Kurt.

bungalow