Diary of a Sex Addict
Gradually, I found myself back with a glass of wine or two, which less gradually became three or four or more, and then the search for a nearby strip club. Because I still hadn’t allowed anyone to get close to me, was I more vulnerable to the false love I received for an hour in a back room? What became clinically clear to me was the unavoidable connection between drinking and sex; intoxication would kick-start the craving brain, so that I was more animal than man by the time I arrived at the strip club, looking for a woman shaped to the proportions of my fantasy.
The truly liberating and scary thing was the lack of control. Blackouts were increasingly regular, and I was susceptible to every temptation, including harder drugs. One day a stripper gave me several hits of cocaine in a VIP room. Next thing I knew I was agreeing to meet at a nearby hotel, where more cocaine was promised and delivered. As people were rushing off to work, I got myself home and once in bed noticed my heart racing. I summoned all my energy to climb into a taxi and enter an emergency room, sheepishly answering the affirmative to the question posed by a hard-working intern, “Have you taken any drugs”?
What became clinically clear to me was the unavoidable connection between drinking and sex.
I escaped that night, but my addictions were spilling into work. I was less tolerant of difference. After a heated conflict with a co-worker, I decided to give notice and move back to New York, where I was most at home.
I started exercising more, taking yoga, meditating. I went to counseling and gradually weaned myself off of alcohol. Now, two years sober, I like to think: I traded in a good salary and job for a balanced life with fewer thrills but more assurances. The pain I had induced upon myself began to ease. The world had changed, too; the recession deepened, I started freelancing, found new girlfriends, and fought to be more honest with others and myself.
A few weeks ago, I saw a familiar-looking face near a subway stop. On closer examination, it was definitely her: we had met at the Dublin House, kissed on Broadway, gone to her parent’s house, been intimate, and I had deliberately lost her number—never even called. I wanted to apologize, to tell her how wrong I had been, how I had thought about that night for years and felt terribly. But she vanished into a blur of rushing bodies, just another reminder of the man I couldn't be, of how far I have traveled.
This article could end there, but it wouldn’t be truthful if it did. Although I may have beaten my addiction to the "fix" alcohol had long given me, I’m still wrestling with a lingering sex addiction, which might be an even tougher opponent in terms of how it continues to keep me from real intimacy.
Just a month ago, I went to a strip club in Latin America. Yes, I went sober, with far more awareness and control than when under the grip of alcohol, but the point is I went. Alcohol had spiked my sex drive and heightened my need to touch and be touched. Fueled by that seemingly celestial fluid, I had developed a system to escape the mundane, enter the fantasy world, and "cure" and "replace" what I might have lacked as a young boy. In the dimly lit caverns of the club, Stripper becomes all-attentive Mother, and sex is available without responsibility or guilt, without heartbreak or drama.
But maybe, with the new year, it’s time to own up to this: Going sober to the strip club might save me money and even my life, but it clearly won’t bring me any closer to the intimacy I desperately long for and need. The lure is great, but so are the losses.
Lance Lewis is the pseudonym for a writer living in New York.