View all:  Voices of Recovery

September 27

“It is the feeling that we are never good enough, that there is something wrong with us, that we are bad people. Shame played a part in the addictive cycle, undermining our resistance to
acting out.”

Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 8

Sometimes, after a disappointing date or a party where I felt out of place, I would get a panicky empty feeling in my body, sometimes accompanied by thoughts like, “I’m alone,” or “I don’t belong anywhere.” I used to call this feeling loneliness—not the sharp pang of missing someone or feeling homesick, but a kind of intolerable dread that I imagined would break me apart or dissolve me into nothingness.

As a sex addict, it seemed obvious that the solution to this “lonely” feeling was to seek company, either through a hookup or a pornography-aided fantasy. After all, I often thought, wasn’t “seeking companionship” the answer to loneliness?

I now believe that the fearful sensation I get when I feel rejected or isolated is not so much loneliness as shame: a sense of being socially and personally defective. Acting out sexually could not relieve this feeling; it could only distract me for a short time before the shame came back as strong as ever.

Daily working the program of SAA in recovery with my fellows has allowed me to experience a new sense of value. I look at the trajectory of my daily interactions—more compassionate and increasingly accountable—and I can feel the iceberg of my unwarranted shame start to melt.

Higher Power, help me to see myself not as I fear, but as I am today—a work in progress, an accepter of grace, and a person willing to change.