The last week or so I have been reading the first 48 chapters of “The Most Personal Addiction” from the sexualcontrol.com website. You can find chapters 1-15 on the website, but 48 are available at a link on the bottom right. It I regularly follow Dr. Mark Chamberlain’s blog and saw that he had referred to that website as an online source/option for people trying to work through things via online help. I have mentioned before that I am looking for any source of help I can find, and decided that in addition to therapy, marriage counseling, hypnotherapy, 12-Step Group, God, Church, working with my spouse, blogging about my own experience, this might be another source that could help. I’m always looking for another piece to the puzzle, or perhaps more correctly – another piece of the solution to the puzzle.
I felt like I found something the other day, although at first I was very cautious. I was surprised when I went to the site and spent some time reading and realized that the author admittedly has no degree in counseling/therapy, and in fact admittedly dropped out of high school and had to work hard to then get equivalency. This surprised me because the reference to the site came from Dr. Chamberlain who is himself a Ph.D and specializes in helping counsel people with sexual addiction. It seemed odd or at least incongruous. But that incongruity is exactly what made me look a litter deeper. I have had enough education and formal degrees as well as enough business experience to know that not everyone with a paper degree can solve real business problems, and that there are some people who have no academic degree at all but who are extremely skilled at solving real business problems.
So, I wanted to see what the author’s other qualifications were. He had suffered from multiple addictions, including sexual addiction. Major plus. I believe a personal understanding and personal experience with the problem can help, in some cases it adds benefits in addition to academic understanding, and in other cases it provides insight that is more valuable than academic understanding unaided. I saw plenty of explanation that indicated the author has counseled others to successful outcomes. After reading, I could see that the author did indeed have understanding of aspects very unique not just to addiction but to sexual addiction and its variants as well. And importantly, I noticed that the focus of the site did not seem to be…for profit. There is a lot of content there, and I think it would be silly for me who is making a blog about what is helping me to ignore the same efforts of someone else who is or has worked with and gained insight as well.
The site also challenges some of the benefits and points out some potential weaknesses in the 12-Step approach, religious approaches to overcoming sexual addiction, and licensed therapy/counseling approaches. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am planning on abandoning those approaches – not by a long shot. What I am saying is that I believe you can get even more out of therapy/counseling, more out of 12-Step, more out of religious approaches when you realize what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are, what their assumptions are, and what their limitations are. It even gives a very challenging and rigorous set of questions to ask your potential therapist/counselor to ensure that you are getting highly competent help when you seek therapy/counseling. The questions are hard, and fair, and directly applicable. I was also impressed at the understanding and advise in the later of the 48 chapters about not just overcoming addiction, but building emotional intimacy (rather than just physical sex) with one’s wife or partner, even to the point of suggesting that because of the design of our body we need a partner and sex (or more correctly emotional intimacy and the resultant sex that follows) has a purpose in strengthening that relationship. It challenges a lot of assumptions, and presents a lot of what I think of as common sense that sometimes gets ignored in the other approaches. It discusses the two sex drives that addicts have. In the later chapter, it also gives advice on not just how to overcome addiction, but also how to build a healthy relationship instead. It talks about avoiding pitfalls of the “man test” that I often find myself measuring myself against, and using as an excuse to feel inadequate about myself over.
I have to admit, I have been feeling for a few weeks now that the set of approaches I am following so far are helping some but are still missing something and/or were not doing enough to show me or help me understand a clear and long term sustainable path forward. Sure I am doing better on keeping my sobriety, and being honest. But I have been concerned that I might be doing well so far at suppressing my desires and actions, yet in the long run not making much progress at overcoming them in the long run. Sure, I am sober…but am I strong? Sure, I am identifying underlying feelings/needs/wants, but I am not seeing yet how to satisfy them in a different way? Some of them I still question if or how well that can be done. In some cases, I suspect the feelings/wants can be completely satisfied by other actions, some partially, and some not at all. I have also been concerned because I have seen some people in my 12-Step group with years of sobriety fall, and others admit they have been attending for several years, yet still admit that they fall and that they fall often. I get that individual results can vary, but some of these people have also been seeing therapists and counselors for several years and working with their religious leaders for several years as well.
I’m not willing to throw my eggs in one basket yet for recovery. I’m still open and looking for any and all approaches that can help. Sexualcontrol.com presents itself as “The Choice Based Approach to overcoming addiction.” Ok, so for now I am adding that to an arsenal that includes, a 12-Step surrender to a higher power approach, a spiritual approach, a therapy nurture/nature dealing with underlying feelings/wants approach, a hypnotherapy visit your past memories and strengthen your subconscious approach, and others. In addition to the site’s 48 cahpters on “The Most Personal Addiction”, I still intend to read the advisories and the home page topics.
Already, I have also found that after reading what sexualcontrol.com has to say, it has helped me be able to realize more things about myself. I feel I have been getting insight and recognizing some things at a deeper level, like what does having these feelings say about me (in an honest, not a demeaning way), and why do I feel them. So, what have I been learning about those feelings? The other day I really felt tempted to crossdress. I was feeling very strong feelings, and so I decided to write down what my feelings were. I wrote at the top of the paper “I want to crossdress because I want to feel:” and then I started listed what I wanted to feel like. I wrote a whole page of including “wanting to feel seductive, teasing, looked at, wanted, like I am tempting, etc.”
I had been reading from sexualcontrol.com about, among other things, how some addicts have the need to feel in control. I came to the realization that those feelings I wanted to feel all represent the power, influence, control, and abilities that I feel attractive women have over me when I am in my normal life as a man. Suddenly another part of the picture made a lot more sense to me.
- I want to be immune to that power, control, and influence because of how strongly it affects me. It makes me feel susceptible, weak, and not in control, as a man.
- Crossdressing allows me to feel like the one instead who wields that very power, control, and influence. Over myself and others – at least in my mind.
- When I feel that I am the one who possesses that power, control and influence, I feel immune or at least in control enough to ignore or not feel threatened by others who have that same power, control, and influence. I no longer feel inferior to their power.
- By taking on that power, and internalizing it into my own world in my head, I gain full control and influence over how I respond because I control all the roles. I feel safe. Nobody can reject me, or tease me and then ignore me, hurt my feelings, or do or not do anything to me that I don’t want, because I am the one in control of that role.
I suspect this may just be one more piece of the puzzle, but both the feeling of being safe from that power, and the feeling of controlling that power myself seem to be part of the addiction. I guess I need to learn to accept that:
- It is ok to feel vulnerable and susceptible.
- It is ok to not have to feel that power.
- Not having that power does not have to make me feel inferior.
- It is ok to be rejected sometimes.
- Rejection is not always permanent or as dramatic as imagined.
- It is ok, and can in fact be even better, to not have all the control.