The People-Pleaser

I like to make people feel good. My favorite is showing the cynic that an amazing life is possible; you can have mind-blowing sex, a better self-esteem, or a trustworthy friend. While all is blissful, I get a high. Being swept up in a whirlwind of the best life has to offer.

This. Is. Unsustainable.

I have been busy attempting to understand what changes for me in these short but sweet chapters of my life. I can go from attentive to avoidant seemingly overnight. Through therapy I have begun to recognize my need to push boundaries in the initial stages of a relationship all while failing to set my own.

Examples of how this may show up for me:

-Seeing someone everyday for two weeks straight after first meeting them.

-Being overly agreeable initially

-Creating such a safe space for people that they divulge their deepest of secrets and relish in the feeling of being held, often for the first time in their lives

To me, the lover of learning, I am taking advantage of an opportunity to learn about someone new and subsequently gain an insider’s peak at their world. This justification would be fine if I were experimenting with inanimate subjects, but the human element that exists here is one that causes concern. I tend to intellectualize everything, a skill gained in childhood as I attempted to meet my unmet needs for mental stimulation. In deconstructing everyday life, something is lost. Humanity, perhaps? In the end, I am left exhausted and unhappy. I crave getting back to my own normalcy and simplicity, no matter how great the ride in someone else’s world has been.

Of course, I am in need of something as well. There has to be an incentive for me to continually pursue these situations, despite how infrequently they end well. When I’m not in the midst of getting to know someone new, I feel the worst loneliness/emptiness imaginable. My best guess is that this also stems from the lack of intellectual engagement I received as a child. I craved nothing more than having someone to see the world from my viewpoint, or at least attempt to learn more about how I see the world- show interest. As I’m certain you are all familiar with, the beginning of a relationship provides ample opportunity and motivation to learn everything you can about the other person. This is the time when people seem most intrigued about the way you see the world. Having an opportunity to attentively assist a new partner in having the best orgasm of their life is a small price to pay for filling the void of loneliness.

My next step is to work on figuring out what maintaining healthy boundaries in a relationship look like while also holding onto the fact that I live with loneliness. I am terrified and relieved that I have gotten so much insight in the last few months. I will be sure to update you all with any progress!

As the fog lifts

Over the past few weeks, I have been gaining more clarity into my situation. This hasn’t made anything easier but I am beginning to feel as though I’m learning the skills to work through things.

At this point I have taken a hiatus from the SLAA meetings. One one hand they have been a great outlet for me to speak openly about my experiences in a nonjudgmental setting. On the other hand I’ve noticed such great resistance to beginning “recovery” that it was beginning to feel like I was suffocating at the thought of changing my way, even as fucked up as they may be. Also, my schedule will be much busier for the next few months and my favorite meeting falls on a day that my partner and I have just made sacred (we both have that day off together). I don’t mind taking a few months off in exchange for quality time with my partner.

I have been seeing a therapist lately as well. Life-changing! This is what I’ve been waiting for. I was able to find an inexpensive, quality therapist nearby that is comfortable talking about queer relationships, non monogamy, and sex/love addiction. What a gift! As I begin to talk through the overwhelm, patterns are already beginning to emerge. I haven’t had a breakthrough specifically regarding my patterns for loving and leaving but I am learning more about my relationship needs and where they may stem from.

Regarding my relationship, we are at a stalemate. I’ve been trying to engage my partner in sex more- despite how difficult it is for me right now. She hasn’t brought anything up related to her need for physical connection. I am beginning to think she doesn’t exactly know what she needs though. She is seeming more and more clueless about insight to her feelings. Strange how someone you once thought was strong and self-aware begins looking different once the cracks show. That is the essence of getting to know another human though. Recognizing vulnerabilities and weaknesses in each other are our own worst fears.

I have come to terms with the fact that I need lots of communication and one-on-one uninterrupted quality time with a partner. I have an insatiable craving for knowledge, always have. A curiosity for everything in life. This extends to people I am in relationships with. Closeness, safety in relationships for me comes with opportunities to know as much as I can about someone. I love to pick brains. Discuss philosophy. Understand your values and why you believe they are so. My current partner is not a talker. Hates discussing feelings. Doesn’t appreciate the art of conversation. My worst fears have come true. We are the couple that can drive in a car together, sit across from each other at a restaurant, in silence. Conversation seems forced and unnatural. She responds the same way whether I recite her a book-length explanation of how my day was or I just mumble “It was good”. I’ve opted for the latter as of late. Not wasting my breath. This also means I haven’t asked for her perception on how “we” are going or updated her on my progress in therapy, etc. Things are more peaceful this way but neither of us are happy. Just surviving. Together. Somethings got to give.

As the fog lifts, I’m beginning to see the work that I need to do to learn more about how I can improve my impact on the world and cause less harm in relationships. Simultaneously I see the things that need work in my relationship. Some aspects mutually exclusive. Some not. But at this time I have to be realistic about the energy I’m putting into either side.

Beta

Sometime during the summer before heading off to college, I was told by a friend that Beta was interested in hooking up with me.

I was also interested. Beta was slightly attractive with a nice body and I’d known him for a few years through my ex turned bff. There was no interest in pursuing a relationship on either part and no-strings-attached sex seemed perfect for me before moving to another state for college.

Id met the goal of having my sexual debut, but I knew (mostly anecdotally) that the more I had sex, the more comfortable I would be with myself and my sexuality. I was interested in getting to a point where I knew my body and limits more and saw sex as more pleasurable overall. I was a young lady on a mission!

I think it important to note here that I’ve always prided myself on taking charge of my sexuality and knowing what I’ve wanted. I’ve felt in control since the beginning. Powerful almost. Mastering the art of seduction.

Beta and I didn’t have much chemistry so sex was sub par at best. But, before the night was over I aimed to try fellatio. I felt fairly good about my performance but returned home without thinking much of it. Within the next two weeks, my bff had contacted me again on behalf of Beta for another rendezvous. Apparently, despite our lack of chemistry, Beta praised my phenomenal fellatio skills and, interested in fine-tuning my talent, we planned another meet-up.

Without many places to go, our friends got together and we all went to hang out at a local park. Beta and I wandered off and I proceeded to perform amazing fellatio in the park on a small blanket that we had brought for comfort.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. I liked having the comfort of practicing skills on an associate and the no-pressure situation of casual hook-ups. There were no feelings of embarrassment for shitty and awkward sex or need to justify my intentions.

Ive probably spoken to/seen Beta 1-2 times since then but if he were to walk in this room right now we’d be able to catch up like no time was lost. I’m still friends with our mutual friend and the entire ordeal hasn’t come up since then & that was 12 years ago!

Looking back I am always astonished about how direct and confident I had been regarding my sexuality and desires. Even before I truly had the self-esteem to back it, Ive always made a commitment to myself that I would project an air of confidence, knowing that it was much sexier than the insecurities most teens/young 20 yr olds project.
Id say that paid off.

Fantastical nightmare

While most people have experienced daydreaming, many of them indulge at a healthy rate. Since childhood, I have been on journeys throughout time, often rethinking the past and conjuring up my ideal or feared future. I have only in the last few years become aware of how unhealthy my relationship with my own mind can be. In fact, it is this fantasizing/day dreaming that connects me to my addiction of seducing people. A partner that I was involved with in 2013 was the first to ever comment on my habit of daydreaming and how it affects the way that I interact with my world. At that point, I started monitoring how often I end up daydreaming and seeing if any themes emerged.  I believe that fantasy, for me, generally consist of one of the following:

1. Rethinking the past

As someone who was very passive throughout her childhood, I would often dwell on what I “should have” said or done in a given situation. I continue this habit even as an assertive adult. There is always a “better” way that an incident could have gone. My imperfect year is about radically accepting myself and the choices I make. I have done well in life so far, considering; time to start trusting myself.

How does this present in my addiction? Once I begin losing desire for my current partner, I become consumed with idealizing my past partners- how amazing they were, how great that thing they do with their thumb was, how they treated me. It never ends. This is the cycle with me. I move on from my current partner while pulling my last partner back into my fantasy by telling them about their greatest qualities. At the same time, Ive begun eyeing a new person to loop into my world. None of this has been based in reality.

2. Planning and re-planning the future. Then re-planning again.

I run through possibilities A thru Z in my head about everything from the mundane (what will happen when I go to pick up my check from work today) to the exciting (what would life be like if my professor and I fell in love and ran away together. What would life be like?). A piece of this fantasy surrounds my planning for the worse. I gauge my reactions and come up with a solution. This calms any most anxieties I have around any given situation. If I know what I will do if the worst case happens I will always appear cool, calm, and collected. And I do. People often remark at my “laid back” personality. If only they knew the turmoil of running through 101 possible outcomes.

How does this present in my addiction? Much like the example, I fantasize about how perfect someone and I will be together, focusing on all of the things we have in common, never the things that we do not. The scary part for me is that my fantasy is not always best case scenarios. I often run through an entire lifetime with a person including how we many end. Ive been dream-cheated on countless times, walking in on monogamous partners with someone else in bed. Ive also had unfortunate situations in which a potential partner is involved in a tragic accident- sometimes fatal, sometimes not. How would I handle that situation? This is the most frustrating and debilitating of my habits. After thinking through possibilities from your own perspective, I believe I limit the actual life that someone can bring into my world. Unpredictability makes us human. I want to let go and experience this.

Managing daydreaming has only been successful at times when I prioritize practicing remaining “present”. I practice this through meditation and overall bringing my awareness back throughout the day. Letting go of the past and reaffirming with myself that I am a beautiful, imperfect person allow me to refrain from dwelling on things that have already happened. Reminding myself that I am completely capable of managing situations as they arise have helped me refrain from over-thinking the “would be” situations in my future. I hope to shed some light on this in the near future through therapy.

The Imperfect Year

I like being in control. This goes beyond sadism. I like being right and having a plan B, C, D, and E.

There is no way to retain control when your world is unrecognizable, so any attempt at doing so can make you feel more lost than ever. I’m in need of finding comfort with imperfection. While I strive to work on myself right now, letting go of the anxieties that I have to do and say all of the “right” things during recovery will preserve my sanity. There is no perfect way to be an addict. Or a partner. Or a daughter, etc. My need for control wants me to focus on everything but my emotions. If I am busy making sure that everything around me is in order perhaps I will appear to be in order? More distorted thinking. By letting go, I have no excuses. I am better able to work on myself.

This year, I want to be imperfect. I am aspiring to put things into the universe and not having regrets or second thoughts that make me feel less than.

Through accepting imperfection I seek peace.

The Best Me

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “New Skin.”


As many people do around this time of year, I have set a goal for myself. Typically, I would have a list of up to 10 things to attempt changing once the clock strikes midnight ringing in the new year. This year, all I want to do is wake up each morning with the commitment of being the best me that I can be. This idea of new skin is interesting because the only “me” that I’ve ever know, the old skin, feels so uncomfortable right now. As I continue to learn more about myself each day- my addictions, my past hurts, my fears, I am slowly working on becoming a more functional partner and better person.

This morning my partner and I continued a conversation that we mistakenly began last night (NYE). I’m torn between leaving her completely in the dark and being honest about any breakthroughs I have as I learn about the role my childhood may have played in my sex and love addiction. Being honest means having very difficult conversations that I don’t think she is emotionally able to handle. She frequently gets very upset and ends up in tears, which makes me feel horrible. As we continue talking more about insight into my compulsions and behaviors, I feel as though I am exposing evidence that I will never have a successful relationship. Even though we have discussed how much easier it would be for the coward in me to just walk (run) away from this relationship to return to the comfort of my addictions, I am committed to putting work into this for at least the next year. So why, then does that still feel inauthentic? Every day is new and challenging as I discover my true self and I have recognized the cognitive dissonance that exists between what I am logically capable of achieving (a healthy relationship) and the dissociation I experience when I can not initiate physical intimacy with my partner (feeling as though I’m standing in cement). Leaving her in the dark means that perhaps I can pretend to be the partner that she needs and hope that eventually the groups and therapy will pay off enough so that the fantasy becomes the reality. As I reread that last sentence, I can hear how unhealthy that sounds. Attempting that level of dissociation is destructive to my mental health and the sanctity of a relationship. I think the silver lining of this choice would be that Id eventually end up justifying cheating which would mean sticking it through with my partner for just a while longer. then again. and probably again. Somewhere inside I do hope that the therapy pays off so that I can have a sense of normalcy. I’d be interested in meeting the “me” that sets healthy boundaries, finds comfort in intimacy, and isn’t trying to bury past hurts with sex.

So for this new year, striving to be the best me that I can be does mean that by the time I’m ringing in 2016 I will be a radically different person. Hopefully. And that scares the hell out of me!

 

The Familiar

Since Christmas Eve, I have been plagued with an overwhelming feeling of emptiness accompanied by loneliness. What I am experiencing is agonizing but oddly familiar. It seems as though each time I begin sensing the onset of this, it is both familiar and foreign. In my new state of awareness, Im a lot more apt to describe my life as having been lived alongside emptiness. I have had an absolutely amazing 30 years on this planet, don’t get me wrong, but I have chronically experienced this consumptive diseased state.

I’m currently reading a book about the pathologization of hoarding and one of the anecdotes sparked a memory that I often bury from my childhood. I am by no means a hoarder (quite the opposite) but reading about one woman finding more comfort in things than people during a vulnerable time in her life reminded me of how lonely I was as a child. Always feeling like an outsider for being highly intelligent and admittedly “weird”, I can recall a period in my childhood when I would deconstruct ballpoint pens in fascination with the design. Inside most ballpoint pens exist tiny little springs (pictured). Somewhere around age 10, I remember frequently carrying one around in my pocket. It was oddly comforting. The tiny springs often became… friend-like. I do not remember assigning names or humanistic qualities to these springs, just feeling comforted knowing that they could forever be in my pocket- accessed at will. The familiar. The nonjudgmental. The trustworthy. The inanimate. I wonder what themes from this still exist in the way I relate to people currently?

Im experiencing this same familiar level of loneliness now- while being partnered. I can see that through sexualizing my emotions, I lose myself in intimate partners- particularly the “getting to know” you phase where you are more apt to finding out about a world that you are not a part of- a world that your partner exposes you to. I want to explore the reasons why I lose interest, especially honing in on the reasons why these excruciating feelings are arising now- despite a partner currently being in the picture. This is a huge gain in insight for me. Im missing something. Im frantically searching for a way to fill this void. The constant need for gratification, someone to put my energy into, someone to take my attention away, to seduce, intrigue, and desire. I begin therapy soon and am really looking forward to finding out more about myself.

I will keep you posted.

Alpha

Alpha was my friend. I was 17 at the time and had never really had any sexual experiences, I’m talking barely covering bases 2-3 before sliding into home, but I was ready.

Ready for me meant that I had serial dated boys throughout high school yet never felt fulfilled. My 17 year old brain figured that I was “too mature” and in need of an adult male partner to find my match. Adult male partners expect sex. I needed to prepare by getting over one small obstacle…I had never done it before.

I’d never romanticized what I though my first experience would be like.  I knew that there was a purpose in it for me- to come and learn more about my body- to come more- and warm up enough to learn the best ways to knock my partners socks off. I was prepared for this. Id been the one coaching my friends for years, Id just..never done it.

The way I had it planned, I would make a teen boy an offer he couldn’t refuse: a night of safe sex, in a bed, no strings attached in exchange for assisting me in reaching my goal. I was never interested in backseat awkward intercourse so I waited until my parents went out of town. No, I wasn’t a latchkey kid with oblivious parents that left a teen unsupervised for the weekend. I was smart. I was staying with family across town, but had a car. and keys to my parents house. That meant a comfortable environment for the five minutes of hot lovin I had coming for me that evening.

Alpha was my friend. I’d decided it would be best with someone that I was attracted to yet friends with. They had to have access to a car, be single, and trustworthy enough not to act like an arrogant ass the next day. Alpha was perfect! I approached him by the lockers and asked what he was up to that Saturday. “Nothing”, he said, “What will you be doing this Saturday?” “You, hopefully” I smiled as I pushed him into the lockers seductively. “My parents are going to be out of town, Would you like to come by?” It was on.

I was not into lying so I was a nervous wreck as I drove past my seemingly suspecting neighbors and approached my parents house. I managed to muster up enough courage to put out snacks and light a few candles in my pepto bismol pink room to set a mood. He showed up on time and we chatted for a few minutes before getting to business. I told him when he got there that this would be my first time, which may have been a bad idea but I’m quite sure there were plenty of nerves in his adolescent mind already, whats a few more?

Five minutes later we were chit chatting and giggling. All done. He asked about my experience and about his penis size (why one would ask an inexperienced person about penis size comparison is beyond me) so I was reassuring and supportive, that made me feel as though we were both comfortable in that moment. After he left I looked in the mirror to see if I noticed anything different about myself. I imagined my eyes lacking some twinkle and feared my mother crying upon laying eyes on me, sure I’d lost my innocence. Nothing. I hadn’t changed a bit but whatever, my mission was accomplished.

The story that I haven’t told is the fucked up part. Although Alpha was in my grade, he had an older brother that was two years our senior. By this time he was out of high school but not out of my life. We’d first met when I was a freshman and hit it off immediately. Throughout my young adult life I was certain that this would be the person that I would marry. I was head over heels for him and my heart still skips a beat at times I see him. So how, then, did I end up having my first sexual experience with his brother?

Id never been around the two of them at the same time and somehow convinced myself that it wasn’t a big deal. Well, it was. Alphas brother was hurt. Really hurt. We didn’t talk for some years after he’d heard what had transpired, but that is an entirely different post. I’ve regretted that for a long time and wondered what things would be like had I made a different decision.

Alpha and I are still friends to this day, as are his brother and I. BUT I never mention either of them to the other. I may be the only one in this alternate world where I can pretend I never hurt anyone in the process but the denial has been working pretty well for me these past twelve years or so.

This may very well have been the beginning of my fucked up sexual habits and legacy for being a fucking heart breaker, but Im really not sure. As I continue on through the historical reflection on my tropes, I hope to examine things in a new light, gain some much needed insight. For instance, you’d probably never guess that something similar happens with another pair of siblings a few years later… no judgements, right??!

Until next time.

Fantasy, Intrigue, & 3-Person Monogamy

I’m at the start of my fourth week of SLAA meetings.
This idea of fantasy and intrigue has been resonating with me as I’ve heard fellow addicts describe patterns of relationships that sound as destructive as my own.
Tonight I found myself at a meeting specifically addressing these ideas of fantasy (fantasizing, at times obsessively, about a partner, potential past or present and/or creating a fantasy facade surrounding your involvement this person) & intrigue. The more I explore these nuances in my addiction, the more I am able to wrap my head around how I ended up in this state. I know that I have an addiction to using fantasy to seduce partners into thinking that I can rescue them. I love making people feel as though everything they are seeking is within me and gaining their trust so that I can heal broken hearts. What I saw as a means of helping people has actually been a pattern of hurting and abandoning folks.

I am completely overwhelmed right now and feeling like a I am meeting myself for the first time and I’m not sure I like the person I am right now. There is both comfort and fear in such a statement. What I am committed to doing right now is continuing to attend SLAA/SAA meetings, beginning therapy in the next two weeks, admitting that I don’t have any answers and that I am unfamiliar with my true wants and needs regarding relationships. I have to relearn myself while exploring the root of my fucked up habits. I’m terrified. Imagine the comfort you feel in your home, the warmth that surrounds you knowing that regardless of how bad your day is or how fucked up things may be you can return to your space later and relax- letting go of everything else for a while. Now imagine that you return home only to find that not only do you not feel comfortable, but all of your things are gone and someone else is living there. This is how it feels for me to be facing my fears right now. Im so comforted by my addiction that as my awareness grows surrounding the hurt and pain Ive caused, I feel paralyzed by the fear of what will be left after working through this.

One interesting aspect to my current situation right now is the fact that I am in a relationship with someone that I hurt in the past and then pulled back into my life. She has been ridiculously patient with me during this time despite my being such a mess of a partner right now. One of the gentlemen I met at the fantasy/intrigue meeting described monogamous relationships as containing three people: yourself, your partner, and the relationship. All three needing attention and work in order to grow. As someone who is starting over figuring out what relationships and healthy boundaries look like, I know that I have been neglecting my partner and my relationship. Wondering if it is possible to work on me, the relationship, and technically start over while partnered. If anyone out there has experienced this, Id love to hear your point of view. Right now it seems like I am facing an uphill battle and can not see the top.

 

Standing in Cement

I am a fucking mess right now. I have so many feelings that Im experiencing at any given moment as I continue through this stage of gaining more insight into myself. Every conversation that I have with my partner sounds inauthentic because Im still figuring shit out myself. I feel lonely and hurt. Since Ive admitted to myself that I have some issues regarding how I use fantasy and intrigue to lure in partners, I’ve become more aware of my triggers and I feel closer to defining my “bottom-line” behaviors.

My partner is seeing the me that no one has EVER seen. By this point in relationships, the magic has already worn off and I have my eye on someone new. I would have begun blaming “us” ending on something, anything to get away. And then the cycle repeats itself. By sticking around now, my partner is seeing the me that I have never seen. I have never experienced moving forward in a loving relationship, working on things, or talking openly about what I see for us in the next year. The most honest response I can give is that I DONT KNOW. And even that is huge for me to admit. I do have love for my partner. I like having her around for the most part. We barely have sex right now though and that is mostly my doing and comfortable for me. I mean, once in the last 3 months type of barely. I feel as though Im standing in cement when it comes to initiating any sexual activity. I cant move. It feels as though there is a physical barrier between myself and my partner. I dont know what healthy sex looks like in a loving, monogamous LTR. I can have sex alllll day with someone I just met or someone that Ive known for years but never been in a relationship with. Today. I could do that today. And I have been hornier than Ive ever really known since I reached my 30s. So the fact that I cant even pull my partner in close and undress her is frustrating to say the least. Im attracted to her. I am just a fucking mess.

Wednesday was especially hard. See, my partner and I have different love languages. I need one on one quality time and lots of talking. She needs physical connection. Neither of us get that. So we both feel alone. Wednesday (Xmas Eve) we spent the evening together. But alone. I was really lonely and hurt. I left to take a drive and remember having so much anger inside of me. Xmas day, my partner was working and all I wanted to do was find a random partner on Craigslist or stop someone on the side of the street in my neighborhood and fuck them. I settled for some porn and masturbation along with a bottle of wine.

I am definitely realizing that I sexualize my feelings. I never want to feel the way I did yesterday again. But I recognize that I have felt that way many times and that it has no doubt contributed to the sexual risks Ive taken and search for fulfillment.