I’ve been writing this post in my head for a while now, I guess it’s time to finally put it down.
So, recovery has made me a pretty honest person. Honest, and open. Sometimes I forget that not everybody is like that–not even in recovery.
Because I generally only say it to others in recovery, sometimes I forget that when I say “I’m a sex and love addict,” that at least the first part can carry a huge stigma.
When I say I’m a sex (and love) addict, I don’t think of it the same way someone who’s never met me might. For me, it means that I’ve made some questionable decisions in my life, and perhaps had looser morals with respect to sex and relationships than… well, looser than was healthy for me, let alone other people.
I think there is a spectrum. I’ve never engaged in anything illegal (prostitution, child pornography, etc.), or even anything that’s not quite illegal but incredibly immoral. I never cheated on my husband, and (to the best of my knowledge) the only married man I ever slept with was the one married to me. There were two guys who had girlfriends, but that was way back when I was an impulsive, rebellious teenager. I never even engaged in anonymous sex, which is ridiculously easy to find on the internet, though I came damn near close–and that’s what finally got me to start going to SLAA.
When I say my (almost ex) husband is a sex addict, I mean he has engaged in illegal activities, specifically paying for sex. Though he alleges he only did it once, I don’t care if he did it once or 100 times, he still paid for it. He regularly engaged in anonymous sex from the internet, and committed adultery more times than even he could count. I imagine that at least one occurrence involved all three of those. As an aside, I’m almost positive Seth qualifies as a Love addict, too.
Still further down the spectrum, there would be someone who has an even faultier moral compass, or perhaps none at all, and engages in horrible things I don’t even care to list here, most of which would end in -philia.
So what I need to remember is that if I say “sex addict” it can mean very different things to different people.
Maybe this realization will help keep me from judging others in my program who say things like, “I’m [so-and-so] and I’m a love addict.” But, wait, isn’t that what I’m there for? To judge other people and their recovery? Just because I can say I’m a sex & love addict, and I can swallow that stigma knowing that it doesn’t mean all the awful things someone might assume about me… doesn’t mean I need to feel threatened by someone who can’t.