It drives me crazy to wake up with a thought and I can’t get the thought out of my mind. Like hearing the squeaking wheel spin from a hamster sprinting in his cage. One pulls the pillow over his head to cover his ears from that grating, annoying noise.
But a pillow won’t make this noise go away. It’s in my head to begin with.
It’s been 15 months since my ex and I have slept in the same bed. And a couple of months before that, we had a body pillow between us to prevent me from instigating physical contact with her.
Today, I wake up missing having my ex next to me.
Physical touch was my primary love language (The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman). Not just physical touch, but sex. I used to put so much emphasis on sex that it drove my ex crazy. If I had sex with my wife, I believed that she desired me, craved me, and wanted me. It meant I was valuable. It meant I was important. It meant I was worthy.
My faulty thoughts set me up to believe that if a woman loved her man, she would have sex with him, pretty much whenever “he” wanted it. To not to have sex meant he was not loved and not worthy.
Yes, you may insert the word “asshole” here.
In fact, I put so much emphasis on sex that if I didn’t get any, I would bitch and complain, blame and shame, attack and belittle. I would say things that put my ex down for not showing me affection.
As I see this from a healthy perspective, who would want to have sex with someone that’s constantly berating them anyway?
As I’ve said before, I create that which I believe. As I've said before, I create that which I believe. Click To Tweet
I’ve had sex three times in the last 15 months (not that I’m counting) and really, it isn’t sex I miss or crave, I miss my wife.
Recovery has been a series of learning how to handle and manage withdrawal. First, withdrawal from sex. Next, withdrawal from any physical contact. And now, the most excruciating of all, withdrawal due to divorce.
Almost six years ago, my primary therapist put my ex and I on a 90-day “No Touch Contract”. For 90 days, we were not allowed to hold hands, kiss, snuggle, or show any kind of physical affection.
Maybe an occasional hug. What wasn’t allowed was the long, “I don’t want to let go” hug.
Anyone going through withdrawal from any kind of addiction can attest to the excruciating discomfort, both physical and emotional, that withdrawal brings on. I have no idea what withdrawal from alcohol or drugs feels like, but it’s been said, that withdrawal from sex or physical touch, when that has been the drug of choice, is the same.
The feelings of withdrawal are similar to the grief of losing someone that has been a part of your life; it doesn’t just affect us emotionally, but has extremely painful physical symptoms as well.
My ex and I never made it more than a couple of weeks through our No Touch Contract before we’d both say, “Fuck it, we’re married anyway” or rationalize and justify why we didn’t need to listen to my therapist.
It’s interesting that if I was told to do something by my individual therapist, I’d grumble and moan, but I’d reluctantly do what I was told. Yet, when it came to my marriage, I never wanted to listen to the challenges our therapists would give us.
This morning I woke up, not with the same emotional and physical pain of withdrawal (which used to happen daily), but the pain of loss and longing.
The thought that the silly hamster conjured was, “Even though there was so much tension between my ex and I due to dealing with my addiction and the pain and anger my ex felt, when I was home for seventeen months, I was finally at peace. I truly loved waking up to my wife every day.”
This morning I was transported in time six years ago when I wasn’t waking up in hotel rooms, but spending every day with my family.
Due to my career, I estimate that it’d be lucky if I woke up next to my ex a total of two months in a year; that’s ten months we’d both wake up alone. What a lonely life I created for myself, for my ex, and for my girls, just to pursue my dreams and my passion.
Although, it has been pointed out to me numerous times, that my career has sustained my family, put a roof over their heads, kept food on the table, and allowed my ex to be a stay home mother; something that both of us really wanted for our girls. I easily dismiss the benefits my career has had because I always end up focusing more on what I lost.
When you lose something, it changes your perspective about what is most important in your life. Everything else seems miniscule.
When you lose something, it changes your perspective about what is most important in your life. Click To Tweet
This morning I wished I woke up, rolled over, and could see the peaceful sleeping look on my ex’s face while listening to her increased breathing (her breathing always increases when she falls asleep – that used to be my cue to finally drift off myself while she lay snuggled in my arms at night).
I could picture her slowly opening her eyes and watching them light up when she sees me looking at her, instantly followed by her embarrassed smile realizing I’ve been staring at her for quite some time.
I don’t want to touch her. I don’t want to kiss her. I just want her presence next to me.
This is why I have struggled to let go of my marriage. They say, that once you stop looking at porn or objectifying women that there will only be one true beauty in your life. I can confirm that’s true.
I was going to say, “as a man”, but that’s a societal trap that we allow ourselves to believe.
How about, as a man in the society we have created, my head used to swivel left and right. It’s hard not to sexualize every woman I saw when that’s what the media bombarded me with and how I was raised. I had always seen the beauty in my wife, but then, I was also sexualizing everyone else.
I never fully appreciated what I had.
After six years of sobriety (well, to be honest, one slip over a year ago– another post for another day) from sex addiction, I understand what it means to “only have eyes for you.”
Don’t get me wrong, I still appreciate beautiful women, but I no longer sexualize them.
There’s only one woman that I truly see; my ex.
I feel sadness.
The thought behind that emotion is that when I finally learned to appreciate one woman, when I have found what is important to me, the damage of my past actions have already pushed her away.
We used to joke about Twilight and many times I wished she had powers like Edward (not all the time though – that’d be kinda scary); I wish she could read my mind.
If she could read my mind, she’d see that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world and fully has my heart.
I feel fear.
The thought behind that fear is that if my ex was to read this, once again all I do is talk. Actions speak louder than words and I’m nothing but a wall of words. By sending this out to the world for everyone to read, I’m afraid she’d think that once again I’m manipulating and trying to control my circumstances. I can argue that I still don’t have a website set up yet, let alone a blog…
Rafiki hits me over the head once again!
“Ouch! What was that one for?”
“When you say, ‘I argue that…,’ anything afterwards is case building.”
When you say, I argue that... Anything afterwards is case building. -Rafiki Click To Tweet
Ugh! Sometimes I wonder why I befriended him?
Journaling my thoughts is my way of slowing that hamster down so I wouldn’t end up like I usually end up; in a puddle of tears on my hotel bed followed by anger and resentment at myself for creating the situation I’m in.
Through blogging, I’m trying to process my grief and my loss in a different way so I can hopefully stop that fucking, irritating, chalk on a blackboard, screeching hamster in a wheel sound that constantly echoes in my head.
Hopefully, my readers can relate. Hopefully, we can collectively give each other strength and support. I hope that by going through my struggles, I can help someone else overcome their own emotional pain. Even if it’s just enough to let you know that you aren’t alone.
Come on, it’s been over two years. Shouldn’t it be easier by now?
I feel more fear.
The thought behind that fear is that I have disclosed too much about my addiction.
Sex addiction is stereotyped and seen as taboo. To admit it publicly, not in the safety and security of my twelve-step community, is to open the door to judgement. I fear that I will alienate my readers in just my fifth blog. I’m afraid of bringing the naysayers down upon me.
On the other hand, sex addiction is so prevalent in our society, yet it’s kept secret just because of harsh judgement. It’s the secretiveness and the intimacy problems that come out of sex addiction that destroys so many families. Most people aren’t willing to look deep within themselves and do the extremely hard inner work that’s necessary to recovery from an addiction.
It takes courage to admit that sex addiction is what destroyed marriage and my life.
And again. I swear, this is starting to get old.
“Phoenix, sex addiction did not destroy your life. Your actions broke your wedding vows; the covenant you made with your wife. There are consequences for poor choices and bad behavior. Your decisions only changed your definition of family. But your life isn’t destroyed; it’s just different than what you desire.
Sex addiction hardened the ground so nothing could grow. Recovery ripped out the weeds and tilled the soil. Your divorce was fertilizer to the terrain that had no nutrients.
Every step in your journey has been necessary so you could change and grow. Your flowers are blooming Phoenix.
Your life is not destroyed. Your life is just beginning.”
Sex addiction did not destroy your life; actions broke vows, but your life is just beginning. Click To Tweet
Ok, I take it back. I know why I befriended him.
It’s so easy to look at the negative and get into a pity party. That’s the one party I need to stop drinking at.
It's easy to look at the negative and get into a pity party. That's one party I need not attend. Click To Tweet
Through recovery, I’m becoming reborn and I view the world from a completely different place. There is grace and beauty. There is peace and serenity.
Sometimes it’s easier to focus more on what I’ve lost, than it is to appreciate what I have and what I’ve gained.
I miss my wife, but I would not change the journey I’ve been on.
Self-discovery has taught me how to love myself and I no longer need to medicate my emotions. I’m learning how to work through them.
This is what my blog is all about. Rebirth and growth. To evolve. To bring us together to support one another on our journey of self-discovery.
I do hope you stay with me.
And I do pray that by admitting sex addiction caused the breakdown of my marriage, it doesn’t put a wall up between us.
For more information about sex addiction, please see the Sex Addiction Link.
It’s been three months since I wrote this blog. Written January 13th I finally posted it April 20th (back dated of course).
Since I’ve written this blog, I’ve finished 44 others and have 12 more in the queue I’m currently working on.
I forgot how lost I was three months ago and how much I was still struggling. I still have tough days, but I’ve found more peace than I thought I could ever find. The pounding tidal waves of the ocean have subsided and just a small lapping of the water upon the shore remains.
As I re-read this blog, I recognize that I still feel some fear to publicly admit that I’m a sex addict. That’s because society is so quick to judge.
However, after seeing the journey I’ve taken and the growth that has come from my addiction, my recovery, and my writing, the bulk of that fear has diminished. It’s still there, but I feel it’s important for me to be transparent for my Fledglings.
So, I wrote another blog today, Hi. I’m Phoenix, Grateful Recovering Sex Addict to go more into depth about what sex addiction is and how my addiction hurt me and my family.
Today, I’ve come to really love who I am and I’m learning to forgive myself for my past actions.
My ex and I are still amicable, we are still good friends, and we still work well together as co-parents. This past weekend we had fun watching The Fate of the Furious with our girls. We enjoyed a beautiful Easter brunch as a family. And just yesterday, the two of us spent a wonderful spring morning and early afternoon enjoying a cup of coffee and running errands together.
I still miss her, but not in the obsessive I won’t survive if we don’t talk sort of way (yes, I used to be that bad). I just have learned to cherish any time we do spend together. I’ve learned to enjoy those little moments and let go of the rest.
I still fear what my Fledglings may think about my past choices and my past actions. But, I’m also aware that through my blogging there’s much insight for those who decide to continue with me on this journey of healing. I believe there’s a lot of great insight that may help others make it through difficult times.
Once again, this site is not to belittle and put down one another for our bad decisions in life, but to accept, forgive, and grow from our mistakes. We are imperfect. We are human.
And Together We Can Heal.
Thank you so much for being willing to be a part of my journey.