Shame, a film about sex addiction

Shame came out on DVD today. The film by director Steve McQueen stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. I used to laugh at the idea of being addicted to sex – how ridiculous! Now I realize sex can be just like any other addiction – when you use something outside of yourself to fill a hole that only God can fill. The fellow in the movie was obsessed with sex, having daily encounters with strangers and prostitutes, consuming constant pornography both at home and at work, and masturbating several times a day at home and work. Ironically, even though he was swapping fluids with strangers, he was compulsively clean: a germophope. And fittingly for a sex addict he had no real intimacy in his life. When the opportunity came to have sex with someone he cared for he couldn’t get it up! Immediately he went and had sex with a stranger in a high-risk encounter. He was hooked on illicit sex but sex with any tenderness was impossible.

Brandon’s sister who has her own issues (perhaps alcoholism) comes to stay with him and turns his perfectly ordered life upside down. she speaks my favourite line in the film when she says to him: “We’re not bad people; we just come from a bad place.” To me, that ties into childhood traumas and how they can cause pain so deep that addictions seem the only way out.


Why men pull away

relationship, marriage, wife, husband

One of my men (my favourite because he seems to read my mind and know exactly what I want) pulled away for a few days. I did not hear from him for 5 days and I was disappointed, but my skin is thickened so I sloughed it off and moved on. As these things happen, as soon as I had forgotten about him he got in touch. I was shocked to see his email in which he wrote that he feels I am the woman for him and he would like to take our relationship to the next level. He said he wanted to talk to me that night and we spoke for 2 hours as he asked me about what I want in a relationship and what he would give me. We spoke again on the phone for 2 hours the next night. (He is travelling for work).

I remembered hearing this is what men do – pull away right before they decide to get serious. Of course, I had never experienced it because I never gave anyone enough breathing room to let that happen! When he called, he was surprised to hear “a smile in my voice” and I said, “Well, I’m happy to hear from you!” Before I probably would have tore a strip out of him and possibly ruined a chance to get to know a guy who could be a compatible partner. All out of my own pride and controlling expectations of the way a man should behave.

I read somewhere about embracing the surprises in life, that you don’t have to always know the outcome, what’s going to happen and when, and that’s they way I want to be with this man. He wants to know the real me, communicates authentically, and he cares about whether I get enough sleep, whether my children are having their needs met, and how I am feeling. He is constantly asking about me and I am so happy to bask in that attention that I forget to ask about him. I am being a little bit selfish and he seems to like that. He accepts the fact that I’m not having sex (oral or otherwise) until marriage and says he will support me in that.

I am going on a date tonight with the athlete who had to cancel last week but I will be thinking of my man. For now, I am taking things day by day but I feel I have found someone very compatible with me.

Masturbation Guy

Today was a better day. I did lots of exercise and cared nothing about my appearance and I did have to masturbate this afternoon before taking a nap. Pleasuring myself is getting really boring; physically I’m dying for a man which I know is impossible. I asked my friend if masturbating is breaking the vow of celibacy and she said as long as you’re not missing work or becoming a hermit as a result of over-stimulation everything is ok.

When I first became celibate I used to masturbate every night because I was beside myself with physical craving. In just two months I’ll be finished my one year respite and I know I won’t be having sex on the anniversary…I’ve decided even when I meet someone I’ll wait for sex, possibly even until marriage. Samantha on Sex and the City once spent an entire afternoon taking care of herself which prompted the girls to ask one another who is their masturbation guy, the one they fantasize about to get things going. One of them said Russell Crowe.

If pressed to name a masturbation guy mine would be Colin Farrell. I once had sex in a movie theatre during a Colin Farrell movie because I was so turned on (we were the only ones in the place). I also had sex right after watching Good Will Hunting because the Matt Damon character made me randy. Who’s your masturbation guy?

Relationship patterns

honesty, relationship, abstinence, celibacyI’ve been going over my previous relationships; you know, so I spare myself making the same sorry mistakes again. I see a pattern emerging which I used to think was men are all unfeeling bastards, but which has actually been my own dishonesty. I never told any of the men in my life what I wanted or needed in any meaningful way and I never set personal boundaries: if you’ve been reading this blog, you know I’ve only just discovered that boundaries exist at all.

I’ve had sex with men when I didn’t really want to because I thought it was what they expected and I needed their approval; or I’d do it to put him in a good mood so I’d have a happy man to spend time with afterward; or I engaged in sex because my ego liked the feeling of being desired and wanted. I’ve rarely, if ever, had sex based on a mutual connection with another person. It has always been dishonest, manipulative (on my part), seedy, and devoid of love.

I’m getting really honest with my sexual past here because if I’m going to find a new way, I have to admit to myself the dishonesty of my actions. If I had spoken up about what I need, it’s possible I may have received it. Who knows? But I was so frightened of rejection and so convinced that I was unworthy of something that pleased me, that I engaged in sex that chipped away at my self-esteem and made me feel dirty. Rather than honouring me and making me feel connected, sex made me feel used and ashamed. I covered those feelings up with lots of false bravado and loose talk. I wonder how many other women are doing the same thing?

Sex, lust, desire be gone

men, women, relationship, love, lust, sex

I can’t believe I’m saying this after the way I felt when I started this journey of celibacy nearly eight months ago, but the desire has been taken away from me. That is, the need for sex has been removed. I don’t even feel like masturbating anymore. I don’t look at men with lust and I don’t pay attention if they look that way at me.

That may sound sad to some but for me it is a victory. See, before I only bonded with men on a superficial level, based on sexual attraction and things like how good he looked in a suit and what type of job he had. Of course, he responded to me in the same way, except replace suit with dress…and I don’t think he really cared what job I had. So, I never connected with a man on a level deeper than surface which means I never connected with a man at all.

Now that I am FREE from the distraction of lust, I am finally connecting with men on the friendship level. Even being able to have a conversation with a reasonably attractive man and not have it be sexually charged is new to me. It’s a wonderful discovery to find out that men exist for other purposes besides sex. You can actually converse with them. Imagine that.

Sure I talked to men before but the ulterior motive was always there on one or both of our parts: the need to impress, to be one up on the other person, to reveal very little, to play your hand close to your chest, to protect yourself from getting hurt. Now that I see men as people, yes people, I can be myself, let my guard down, look less than perfect, and be honest. I don’t feel like I need their approval or for them to like me.

For the first time since I was 16 I have been without a man for more than seven months. It has been the most liberating experience of my life. I don’t even think about men anymore and if I do, rather than negative thoughts about them I have neutral ones. I have nothing against men, I just don’t need them at the moment. I am pleased that I have an idea of who I am without the need for their attention.

Sex is not food, clothing or shelter

I can’t believe the day has come when I really don’t care about men at all. Seven and a half months ago I thought I would die without their attention and physical contact, or at least disappear in some way. I couldn’t imagine life without them. I feel such freedom being able to walk around without any thought about whether I’m going to meet a man or the next time I’m going to get laid.

I used to think sex was a physical necessity. It’s not. Food and shelter are physical requirements. Sex is a whatever. I can’t believe how much weight I put on it, as though I couldn’t survive without it. Now all that energy I used to put into sex, which includes preparing myself in order to attract a man, is getting put into constructive pursuits… like making myself a better person. Yay!

Crossing the threshold

I can’t believe it, but I’m feeling almost chaste. Literally, I am chaste since I’m abstaining from sex for a year, so I guess the word I’m looking for is modesty. Where in the past I would sleep with someone I met a few hours ago, now I can’t imagine exchanging more than a handshake with any man I’m not deeply involved with. I have crossed a threshold where I now know that I am not having sex with another man unless we are in a relationship. That may sound obvious to most normal women but for me holding out until you were in a relationship seemed completely uptight. After my divorce I just wanted to play the field and experience as many sexy men as I could. I was like a starving man at  a smorgasbord. I had no interest in relationship because the idea of being stuck with one person when there were so many out there to explore sounded like jail to me.

Now I realize how that self-destructive thinking kept me stuck in a place that wasn’t good for me. Refusing to let anyone get close to me kept me emotionally and spiritually stunted. Not that I regret anything I’ve done. Because everything in my past has brought me to where I am today, which is a pretty good place. I feel a lot of pride in myself because I don’t need men’s attention anymore to feel validated. I wear a lot of blazers now when before I used to expose a lot of skin. I don’t bring attention to my body and I don’t over-exercise so it looks “perfect”. I am perfect.

I am even beginning to feel strange about using my vibrator. I used to think it was a necessity, this substitute for sex but I realize now that it’s not. I do have the craving for sex and sometimes it is purely physical, ie., all I want is to be penetrated. But I can feel that and not have to fulfill it. Like the quote I read on Twitter that said:

“I have discovered happiness by limiting my desires rather than attempting to fulfill them.”

I no longer walk around like one big ego that needs feeding all the time. Sure I miss sex, but right now it’s not what I need. Until and unless I meet someone with whom I can imagine falling in love and sharing a true connection, I’m staying celibate. I don’t care how long it takes.

Toy Story

Sex and the City's Samantha makes the most of fireman's suspenders

Before I began my journey of celibacy, I encountered an accidental dry spell last year that lasted three months. I simply couldn’t find anyone I wanted to shag. When my single and sexually active friend heard my dilemma, she came to my rescue:

“We’re getting you a vibrator,” she determined with a resolute nod of her head, a desperate times calls for desperate measures steeliness in her eyes. I had never used a vibrator (not by myself anyway–it had always been a sexual aid rather than a replacement) so I was a little scared but my friend was firm. She suggested something called the We-Vibe and regaled me with stories about how she spent the whole weekend in bed with her new toy and only emerged when she worried her livelihood might be compromised if she didn’t leave the house soon.

At the “toy store” the well-informed (and not very attractive, I might add) saleswoman made me blush on several occasions with her detailed accounts of how to use the various vibrators. The We-Vibe was no longer available due to issues unknown. Scary. So I went with the ever-popular since being featured on Sex and the City Rabbit. Oh my God, does this gadget ever leave masturbation in the dust. It’s not the same as having a man–nothing plastic ever is–but I felt the same relief of tension I felt after a real session! My head was clear! I was no longer cranky! I could work again.

“Well, at least it takes the edge off,” I thought to myself. And you know that baby will be getting a workout over the next year. Year! Oh, Lord, how will I manage?

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 3:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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