Grateful Heart Monday

It’s Grateful Heart Monday, where I begin my week writing about an important piece of gratitude in my life to start things off on a positive note, which for today is for how I recently handled something that could have triggered me straight back into the worst addiction I ever succumbed to.

Everyone knows how easy it is to come across explicit images on the Internet these days. It doesn’t take much to mistype the URL of a website you might normally go, one that’s definitely far from anything X-rated, when suddenly pornographic images start popping up all over your screen. To make matters worse, places like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and even Reddit seem to be allowing content these days that is NC-17 or worse. For a guy like me, someone who’s recovering from a sex and love addiction for a number of years now, it’s almost as if I have to navigate a mine field on a daily basis just to do any research on the web for my writing. Thankfully, I’ve been able to steer pretty clear from it all, because I’m no longer out there specifically looking for it and any time those images happen to pop up on my screen accidentally due to a mistype, I’m strong enough now to quickly close the window.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any other temptations that come my way, as one actually did a few weeks back that I never saw coming. I was having a discussion through Facebook Messenger with a friend who’s partnered that I thought was in a monogamous relationship. Quite abruptly, in the midst of a very healthy conversation, I received a picture of him with his pants down far enough to see very noticeable and rather excited genitalia showing. I was appalled and shocked to say the least, chiefly because the person is someone I was just getting to know and also someone that although I found attractive, I had been keeping very healthy recovery boundaries in place. Nevertheless, I quickly deleted the picture and was about to respond irately, when I received an apology and was told the picture had been meant for someone else he was talking to. Regrettably, the trigger was still out there and gnawing at me to engage, where my old self would have asked to see more and probably ended up in a cyber sexual conversation. But, the strength of my program and connection to my Higher Power was strong enough to accept his apology and end the conversation shortly thereafter. Later, I’d make a few phone calls to friends in recovery from this addiction to help remove any lingering unhealthy thoughts surrounding this. Ironically, a number of those I called wondered if maybe that X-rated picture wasn’t an accident and was more of a come-on.

Regardless, things like this can happen in recovery for any addiction and may set a person down a very dark road all over again if they don’t have a strong spiritual program in place. I’m grateful that I did and my sobriety and recovery is still intact. I truly feel God helped me through an incident I’m not sure I would have been able to remain sober earlier on in my sobriety from this addiction. This is why my recovery from sex and love addiction is so extremely important to me, given how much it used to control my very existence. In the end, I have much gratitude to God and all the 12 Step programs for this addiction that have helped me to build my recovery up as much as they have for me to continue remaining clean and sober, even when such a triggering event came my way.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

Quote #1

“Just because something is addictive doesn’t mean that you will get addicted to it. But . . . if your stomach ties up in knots while you count the seconds waiting for a phone call from that special someone . . . if you hear a loud buzzing in your ears when you see a certain person’s car (or one just like it) . . . if your eyes burn when you hear a random love song or see a couple holding hands . . . if you suffer the twin agonies of craving for and withdrawing from a series of unrequited crushes or toxic relationships . . . if you always feel like you’re clutching at someone’s ankle and dragged across the floor as they try to leave the room . . . welcome to the club.” (Ethlie Ann Vare)

Quote #2

“With addiction to drugs, the user just wants more. Video games and porn, though, are an arousal addiction; the user wants different. And that’s a problem…mens’ brains are being constantly rewired for change, novelty, excitement, and constant arousal, which means they are totally out of sync in romantic relationships.” (Philip Zimbardo, TED Talks)

Quote #3

“Love addicts often pick partners who are emotionally unavailable because deep down, they don’t feel worthy of having a healthy, loving relationship. A love addict craves and obsesses about becoming enmeshed or ‘one’ with another human being at all costs, even if it means putting themselves in potential danger.” (Christopher Dines)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Addiction That Still Seems To Make Everyone Uncomfortable Talking About…

I’m a pretty open and forthcoming person about all my former addiction-laden life, both in my writing and with any public speaking opportunity. While I’ve found it to be quite freeing being that way, I’ve noticed there is one of my past addictions that still seems to make everyone uncomfortable anytime I talk about it. That being a sex and love addiction.

Like alcohol addiction, drug addiction, gambling addiction, overeating addiction, and plenty of other addictions, each were once often misunderstood by the general population. Take alcohol addiction for example. The general assumption long ago was that an alcoholic was someone who was homeless and always had a paper bag-enclosed bottle of some type of alcohol in hand. It was also thought more than not back then that a little more self-control was needed to curb the behavior of someone who drank too much. Nevertheless, it was something not talked about much early on and tended to make people uncomfortable when brought up. The same has been true of any other addiction that emerged into the populace over ensuing years. Yet, as more people have come forward and talked about their own battles with varying addictions, the more each addiction has become understood in society and led to greater acceptance.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case as of yet with sex and love addiction. Currently, the picture still being painted of a sex and love addict in most places in this world is of someone who is either a pedophile or a pervert in general that likes to do things such as exposing themselves in public, especially to children. Sadly, both are quite far from the real picture of the majority of sex and love addicts.

In my case, my former sex addiction consistently related to viewing pornography and engaging in cyber/phone sex acts, all of which were always connected to people my age or older, and usually far older than I at that. As for my former love addiction, which was far worse, I had the tendency to chase after various unobtainable individuals who I’d become infatuated with, always claiming they were my soul mate and then sacrificing my entire life to being around them. And no matter how much I ever tried to self-control either of my sex or love addiction behaviors, I could never seem to escape them.

Thankfully, there were those who came before me that had enough wherewithal to start to talk about this addiction and create programs like Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), and Sexaholics Anonymous (SA). If it wasn’t for them, I’d probably have accepted much of the harsh labels and judgements still being placed on those who suffer from this addiction.

So, here are a few facts with sex and love addiction. Like all other addictions, sex and love addicts can’t miraculously find enough self-control to curb it. Sex addicts are not just pedophiles, perverts, or people who haven’t exerted enough self-control to deal with their sexual appetites. And love addicts are not just codependent individuals who have no sense of self-esteem. Rather, there are deeply-ingrained issues within each person who suffers from this addiction that have led to the addiction in the first place.

My sex addiction began as a way to deal with my feeling inadequate in this world, something that started way back in my childhood. My love addiction began in a similar way, because I never grew any sense of identity growing up and instead my life was always about pleasing my parents and then everyone else in turn.

The bottom line here is that sex and love addiction doesn’t need to make anyone uncomfortable. Most of the other prominent addictions don’t make people uncomfortable anymore because so many have come forward and talked about them publicly making each more understood. The same can be true for sex and love addiction. It’s just going to take more people coming forward and braving the masses to tell their story like I continue to do…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson