Around this time of year I came out of denial about how sex addiction was affecting my marriage. It was Autumn. The skies became blanketed by winter’s clouds. The Bee Balm and Lavender in my perennial garden crisped with frost. Thanksgiving in Minnesota passed. The fall reminded me it was a season of change – where summers green growth disintegrated back into the earth preparing for a season of rest. The old needed to die, so something more beautiful and intricate could take its place in the spring. It was the fall of 2008 our marriage died.
Sex Addiction and Sexual Anorexia
Jon had been harboring a secret – one which held so much shame, guilt, and power over his life that he never spoke of it throughout our relationship. An experience as a young boy of seven began this secret life. It was a secret that tormented him at the center of his essence and isolated him from everyone he knew. He thought he was broken. He thought he was flawed. He never told a single soul about the secret life which bullied him into thinking he was truly unloveable.
I, on the other hand, had my own childhood baggage within the realm of sexuality. I coped by pretending sexuality didn’t exist. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t acknowledge it existed on billboards, movies, or everyday life. During sex I would disassociate. I wanted my sexuality to die. I worked hard to keep any sexual connection severed.
Jon and I fit together perfectly – we kept our sexuality and sad emotions locked in a vault. We had no motivation to ever open up the safe and acknowledge what grew inside. It was an ideal relationship in a sense. Our system of emotional disconnection felt safe. Like a hammer to a mirror, the reflection of our life I saw shattered into jagged pieces. It was 2006 when I first found out about Jon’s sex addiction. The knowledge of my husband’s secret life was too much to bear. I slipped back into my comfortable life of denial for another two years.
Jon was coping with his life by using internet porn and chat rooms. It became his drug to numb past and present pain. As with any addict, every cycle adds more shame to the pile, and so in turn motivates the next binge. When Jon felt sad or stressed he used sex to deal with the situation. In this respect, sex was a very unhealthy way of coping. It was also a behavior he couldn’t stop doing. It was more than “that’s just what men do” as our first round of counseling suggested. It also could not be solved with ridding our home of electronics as our religious leader advised. It wasn’t solved with better self control, believe me Jon tried.
Sex Addiction is Real
With a society and experts who do not officially accept this type of coping as sex addiction, we feel grateful to have found brave souls who work with couples like Jon and I to validate this struggle. They are helping people regardless of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) excluding sex addiction as a diagnosis. Not surprising, as it took the American Medical Association (AMA) until 1956 to recognize alcoholism.
Sex addiction has been crushing the essence of people since humankind’s existence. With the invention of the internet, addicts are now able to process images at a higher rate compared to previous years. This addiction is skyrocketing. With brain scans of sex addicts comparing to those of a cocaine addicts, the neurobiological basis for sexual addiction needs to be understood and embraced. This suffering is like no other – invading the very essence of the people we love while destroying our marriages and families.
It is time to shine light on the darkness.
It is time to speak the unspeakable.
It is time to share our story.