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July 10 • Too Much or Too Little?

Day 732

I recently mentioned in a 12 Step meeting that I struggle a lot more with sexual anorexia than I do temptations to act out or give in to my fantasies. I was taken back by the number of guys that nodded their head in agreement. I've assumed that this was the exception for sex addicts, not the norm. Apparently, it's a lot more pervasive than I presumed.

It is difficult for me to talk about this. There is still that sophomoric belief somewhere in my brain that while having multiple and inappropriate sexual partners is bad, it is still somewhere on the arc of the normal, hormonal, All-American male. It is terrible, but it's still celebrated in movies, music, and advertising that claims to define our culture. Nobody praises the person that is afraid to be sexual and intimate at the same time. No one gets that look of envy when disclosing that they can't perform. Whether it's physical or emotional, it's just not something that anyone receives kudos for.

So, yay me! I now have two years of not having sex outside of my marriage. That's something that I'm still not comfortable claiming as a success because that's just the way it's supposed to be. If I measured my recovery according to the progress I'm making in intimacy within that same marriage, I doubt that I'd be getting any coinage of consequence.

I don't remember ever comparing the failure of sexual anorexia against the failure of sexually acting out, not in this context. Certainly, if we're talking about the dangers and potential harms, not doing anything bad seems to be better than doing many bad things. But is it?

If both of these extremes are symptoms of the same disease, as most experts suggest, then maybe I should re-focus more on the causes than the results. If hyper-sexuality and sexual avoidance are two sides of the same coin, how does the same treatment program address the whole spectrum?

It seems to me that the answer has to be buried in the sexual formations of our childhood, the defects in our personalities (whether biological or emotional), and our willingness to face our own darkness on the road to recovery. I've made progress in this triad of tears, but I have much further to go.

I want to say that I would prefer to struggle with the temptations of fantasies and sexual opportunities rather than the pain and inflicted rejection of sexual anorexia. That would help describe how much I do not want to be this way, but saying it would not make it true. I am fortunate to have survived the excesses that my brain and lack of willpower inflicted on me and others over the years, and I am determined not to go back there. But dear God, let me find a way to heal from this shadow within the shadow of sexual addiction.

I am willing to do the work, as long as it doesn't hurt too much or cause a lot of conflict.




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