Prison - LEO


Learning to Observe Emotions Coming and Going

My sponsor defined “insight” as having an understanding of my behaviors. So, to me, having an understanding of why I am addicted to lust and sex has been a huge eye-opener.

For many years, I compared myself to other addicts, and convinced myself those people who were addicted to alcohol and drugs were different than me—I did not have a problem at all. However, the truth is I have an addiction to something as well: lust and lust-driven sex.

What sex did for me in the past was to allow me to not feel weak, worthless, unlovable, ugly, or damaged. Because, during sex, the person I was with was providing me with a sense of false “love” and “worth.” Sex became one of the manipulative tools that I utilized to feed my need to be loved, accepted, and validated. I would utilize sex to find someone who would engage in a relationship with me.

Similar to being addicted to alcohol, meth, cocaine, or heroin, whenever I was in any relationship, I needed more and more and I would cheat on my partner. This was because I am an addict. And whenever my partner was available to have sex, I would get my “fix” from him. And whenever he was not available or around me, I would find someone else to get my “fix,” and I wanted my “fix” all the time.

It did not matter how long the “high” lasted, and I wanted to feel the same high over and over again. Sex made me feel alive and I forgot that I felt sad, alone, frustrated, worthless, weak, and unlovable.

These deep buried emotions are the result of me going through many negative experiences in my life—mainly shame for believing that I was weak and not good enough. I believed my father when he would tell me, that for the rest of my life “I would need someone to be there for me.”

I experienced frustration whenever my father would physically abuse me and I was trying hard to figure out what I did wrong and how to change. Confusion, whenever he would tell me that he loved me, but then would put me down and call me names. Guilt, that I could not do anything to keep my mother safe from the monster that was beating her up. Shame, that we were poor and only allowed to use the back part of my grandmother’s house.

Hurt, because I could not be good enough for my father so he could be happy and stop beating us up. Anger, because it did not matter what I did; it was not going to be enough for my father.

Anger and fear of being rejected and left behind, because I was weak and unlovable, and my father would tell me that he would send us away. Anger and fear of being rejected and left behind because the people who molested me as a child would threaten that they would expose my homosexuality to my parents if I did not cooperate with their demands.

I knew how these emotions felt and I avoided feeling them by putting up a wall. I utilized sex to escape from these paralyzing emotions. By being exposed to sex early on in my childhood, I discovered and believed that sex was the solution to my many problems. However, what became a temporary solution to my many problems turned into a poison.

Today, however, I have learned that these same emotions will come up again. But instead of acting out, I can manage my emotions in positive ways. Being a participant in the Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment Program, I have learned to feel my emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Emotions will come and go and I don’t have to negatively react to them because I am aware that they don’t last.

In therapy, my therapist challenged me to use other ways such as exercising, journaling, and talking to my therapist, my sponsor, and other people in my support network. My sponsor Kevin tells me to go outside and look around, to enjoy my surroundings. In doing this, I can observe my emotions coming and going.

Finally, I can appreciate that, today, I am feeling my emotions instead of numbing and trying to escape from them. This only makes me stronger so whenever the next life experience comes around, and one of these emotions comes up, I will be grateful to know exactly how to feel them and live with them.

Every day, life allows me to go through different experiences, and how and what I learn from them is how I would deal with similar experiences in the future in non-violent ways. I will never stop gaining insight into life’s many experiences because Life is constant. It is how I see things in life that changes.

Arvin C., California, USA

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