I’ve allowed the curser on my laptop is blink for at least 20 minutes while I thought about how I would begin my post today. I even have my notebook open to my notes about self-forgiveness. But, there is a very intimate story that I would like to share, but I am afraid. I am afraid of judgment. I am afraid that my children may read this one day and think less of me. I am afraid that talking about this would bring up old feelings of resentment and self-hatred. But, this subject has been on my heart to share. I feel there are so many women who are afraid to address this topic because of the same fears. So, then, is it my responsibility to share my story so other women like me can know that they are not alone? So they can have the courage to speak their truth? I don’t know. I honestly, do not have the answers. So, I’ll just get into it with hopes that you, as my readers, will understand my story and why I am deciding to tell it.
During my childhood, I thought sex equaled love and love equaled sex. Due to this ideology, I lost my virginity at a very young age. Maybe it had something to do with being sexually assaulted by a close family member or maybe it was all of the dirty movies and televisions shows I watched late at night on HBO. By the time I had turned nineteen, I had already had over fifteen sexual partners. Half of them were one night stands. It wasn’t until almost ten years later when I had to spend three weeks at a addiction and mental illness outpatient facility, where I learned that I had an addiction and that having sex with every Tom, Dick, and Harry wasn’t a healthy lifestyle to live. Not an addiction to sex, per se, but addiction to the feeling that comes along with sex. I was addicted to the 10-15 minutes (sometimes shorter) of peace that I had of NOT feeling worthless, empty, doomed, sad, angry, etc. I even carried on a relationship with a man who had a live-in girlfriend with children because he made me feel like someone other than myself. I allowed men to destroy my self-esteem. I listened when they told me that I was only good enough for sex. They didn’t verbally say it, but their actions did and I allowed it.
After my outpatient treatment was over, I felt good about myself again. I vowed that I wouldn’t put myself through spiritual damnation any longer. That I will not tolerate men who wanted to treat me less than I deserved. I began going to SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous) meetings. It felt weird at first. When I was first told about the meetings, I thought it was for people who were considered nymphomaniacs. It never occurred to me that you could be addicted to love or the illusion of an unhealthy definition of what love is. At first, I only attended women’s meetings. I thought I would be more comfortable there and I was. The women there were so nice and sweet. To my surprise, a lot of them were there to learn how to love themselves again. To treasure their bodies as they would a holy temple and not use it for a few minutes of human gratification; to feel absentee emotions.
One night, the women’s meeting was canceled. The only group that was meeting was a mixed gender group 30 minutes from my house. I was really dedicated to my recovery, so I decided to go. As I walked into a small room filled with old, musty books, I looked around to see about 10 white men over the age of 40, sitting there waiting for me to join them. I felt so awkward. I immediately wanted to turn around a leave, but the leader came up to me and introduced himself. He was surprisingly welcoming. After he introduced himself, everyone else introduced themselves and welcomed me like I’ve been a regular part of the group for years. It was amazing, yet intimidating. They didn’t judge me, nor treat me like I was a young, black woman. They treated me like someone who needed help just like them. After we sat down and shared our stories, we found that we all had a lot in common. How this addiction had affected our self-esteem and our personal relationships. Although, our stories we different, the outcomes were ultimately the same. I walked away that night feeling fulfilled. I had a better understanding from a man’s perspective. The leader of the group told me afterward, that because of my story he felt like he had a better understanding of this illness from a woman’s perspective.
I will never forget this time in my life because this was the beginning of how I have learned to love myself. It also taught me to have so much compassion for other people. Young, old, black, or white, everyone has a struggle. Some struggles can be seen and others you can’t see. A lot of those men and woman I spoke to were successful and well-put together. Some were professionals, some were homemakers. There were people that were single and other’s that have been married for decades. Being all together in one room for an hour or so was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever felt. We all had different backgrounds, were from different cultures and religions, but we each knew exactly how the other was feeling. It’s the biggest connection I’ve ever felt (outside of my family) to another human being. That is what I was missing. Not sex, not a few minutes if possible pleasure, but to feel real love and real human connection.
This is my truth. This is my story. I want young women and men to know that sex does not equate to love. Love is endless. It fulfills a void that you didn’t even know was missing. Love is beautiful and sirene. It is not questioned, nor oddly observed. Love is all and all is love. Love is not a quickie in the back seat. Know your worth and love yourself. Treat your body as a beautiful temple made by our Creature. You are worthy. You are special. You are beautifully made.
“Love who you are, embrace who you are. Love yourself. When you love yourself, people can kind of pick up on that: they can see confidence, they can see self-esteem, and naturally, people gravitate towards you.” -Lilly Singh
To those who have nominated me for awards, I have not forgotten about you. I will post my responses soon. Thank you and I love you all.