Here is how 12 step meetings start, specifically Castimonia Christ centered ones. We introduce ourselves using first names and we identify ourselves by our addictions. Here is where I digress. This is how I introduce myself: My name is K_____, I am a follower of Christ and … well this is where it gets difficult. Many people in my group introduce themselves as sex addicts or struggling with sexual purity. And I did the same for a while. I struggled with how to label myself. Until I realized something. I am not a sex addict. Ok, before you think I am in denial, hear me out.
I am not better or less of a damaged, fallen sinner. I just have a different view of where I am. Believe me, I didn’t get here on my own. I struggled with this for months. I labeled myself a sex addict, a relationship addict, an addict, damaged, struggling with sexual purity, fighting for sexual purity. I got very confused and just wasn’t sure. So I stopped. I asked my counselor for advice and guidance.
Here is how he put it to me. He asked me what I sought throughout my years of acting out. Was I seeking sexual gratification or pornography to medicate whatever I was struggling with at the time? The answer was no. I sought to fill those empty spaces in many different ways, not just one.
For me that took many different forms. From seeking affirmation, to long term relationships, to constant escape through reading, and through compulsive behavior through running up to and including marathons. I can name off multiple ways I sought to escape and numb any pain or emotion. Intimacy avoidance is how I describe my path prior to recovery. I think that is accurate. I think I used many different destructive behaviors to hide from intimacy is how I would classify myself.
I tend to now just identify myself as being in recovery. I have a story. It is different from anyone else’s story. It is much the same as everyone else’s story as well. I am fighting for sexual purity, struggling with addiction, trying to refrain from compulsive behavior and remain in recovery. I just don’t think I can call myself a sex addict. My story isn’t about the pursuit of a sexual high through pornography, masturbation, or sexual experiences.
My story is about trying to stay away from the emotions that hurt. Through whatever means necessary. My story is about seeking out ways to lessen the sting of abandonment, of medicating my anxiety from not being in control. My story is about a lack of trust. I learned from an early age that I couldn’t trust my parents. That my mother would lie to me and others to control a situation. That I couldn’t trust anyone, especially God, with the truth of my flaws and sins. I could turn my life over to God, my salvation, but not my will. Not my daily life.
That is the crux of my story. I didn’t believe I could trust anyone. I knew I couldn’t. How could God be any different? I saw first hand in the fundamentalist environment I grew up in that sin and flaws were not acceptable not only to God but to others as well. So I dove deep. I dove deep into hiding and secrecy. I fled an intimate relationship with God and with others.
My name is K______, I am a believer in Christ, and I am in recovery.