My name is Meira, and I am a sexaholic. Or perhaps, more correctly, a lustaholic. I was using lust to cope with life as far back as I can remember, perhaps from the age of four or five. At first I used fantasy and compulsive masturbation, way before I even knew what sex was. These behaviors weren’t a problem then—they were my solution.
During my teen years I became addicted to unhealthy relationships, and later on to erotic literature. I began to deteriorate emotionally in my teenage years, and started seeing mental health professionals. A psychiatrist diagnosed me with clinical depression, and gave me a prescription for antidepressants. The therapy and meds helped up to a certain extent, however there was still a gaping hole inside me that I kept trying to fill (unsatisfactorily) with relationships and fantasies. I didn’t know that I was addicted to lust.
Fast forward a few years, and I was a young married woman with a newborn baby. I don’t remember what triggered it, but there was one night when I experienced my first emotional rock bottom. The pain, emptiness, and loneliness that I felt were unbearable, and I decided to attend a Twelve Step meeting. I was pretty clueless. All I had learned by that point was that addiction existed in my family (never mind myself) and that I desired the comfort, support, and understanding of other people who might have had similar experiences. I didn’t know what the Steps were, or sponsors, or anything else. Still, I cried throughout that first meeting. Perhaps it was the feeling of a Higher Power in the room, or maybe the relief at realizing that I wasn’t alone. All I know is that I finally felt like I belonged.
I continued to feel restless, irritable, and discontent. I searched for more help and ended up at an outpatient facility to treat my codependency. I began working the Steps, taking responsibility for my own character defects, and making amends to others. I completed treatment after about a year and a half, and continued to attend various Twelve Step meetings. Much about my life had improved; my relationships and ability to function in the world were markedly better. But lust continued to be my deep, dark, shameful secret. I was leading a double life.
Ironically enough, it was after I became a member of S-Anon that I finally realized that I was powerless over my sexual acting out. The realization hit me for the first time at a convention, where the SA and S-Anon members split up into different rooms for some of the talks. I remember thinking, “Here I am, completely lust-drunk, sitting in an S-Anon talk. I should be in the other room.” It took some time, but with the encouragement of other women, I finally decided to deal with my sexaholism.
I went to a different “S” fellowship first, where I took half-measures for my recovery. I sort-of worked the Steps, sort-of talked to my sponsor, and talked to one other woman. I was high on the “pink cloud” of sobriety, and after six months, inevitably, I acted out. My one female friend from the fellowship had left to join a women’s SA group, and, having concluded that I had nothing to lose, I decided to join as well. That evening was June 10, 2020, and I have not acted out since.
Since then, I have come to realize that lust was the driving force behind my sexual acting out, along with all the other unhealthy emotional attachments from my past. I started out slow; my first sponsor was very patient. She talked a lot about doing service, especially at home, which helped immensely to get me out of my head.
Eventually I began to work the Steps, and switched sponsors along the way. I had joined in order to get sober, but being sober wasn’t enough. I could never do life on life’s terms (which is how I came to act out in the first place), and so I needed to make the program and Step-work the top priority.
I try to read and apply Steps 10 and 11 from the Big Book every day. It says that “we have a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition” and I take that very seriously. If I believe that my sexaholism is a disease, then I have to take my medication every single day. I made this decision and commitment when I took the Third Step. It says “We became willing to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God…” It doesn’t say, “Became willing to turn our lust over…”
Yes, turning over lust is important! I have to be willing to relinquish the right to lust after someone and be lusted after by someone else. I have to be willing to acknowledge that no other person belongs to me. This, however, applies to all aspects of my life. Whenever I make demands on the world or others, I am unhappy. Throughout my recovery I have become more and more aware of this. Whenever I am disturbed and take inventory, there is always an underlying expectation for something to give me a sense of security, something that I can identify with, like status or beauty.
The truth is that my identity is rooted in the fact that I am a beloved child of a loving God. Everything else I do in this life is a role assigned by the Ultimate Director. All these different roles are a gift and a privilege.
As long as I can walk through life one day at a time, with the intention to be of service to my Higher Power and all beings and creations, I can be content. I am grateful that, just for today, I am free of the obsession to lust, thanks to God and the wonderful fellowship of SA.