First, before I share my story, let me share the inspiration for my name. I have thought long and hard of how to blog with anonymity as a woman recovering from sex addiction. I wanted my nom de plume to have substance. I chose Jane DoE.The DoE stands for Daughter of Eve, a nod to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Each of us is a daughter of Eve or a son of Adam. And I am most definitely a daughter of Eve.
I also want to say that although I blog anonymously, it is not because I am ashamed of my story. Becoming open about this struggle is a process, and beginning to write about it is the next step in mine.
My story is very similar to most women in the South. I was raised in church. I went to youth group, youth mission trips, youth choir tours, First Priority, the whole gauntlet of activities a “good Christian girl” would do. I don’t remember getting baptized, but my mother says I knew what I was doing. I just remember trying to be good. That’s always been my struggle – trying to be good enough.
I struggled with self gratification or masturbation from age 8. I was not abused. I don’t know why I knew how to please myself in that way. I just remember using it to feel better about myself. To be good, in a sense. But I was also ashamed. No one else talked about it. Ever. Not even the church. I remember asking anonymously via index card in a “Girls Only” talk what masturbation was, only to be responded to with giggles and a general answer of the definition of the word, not how masturbation affected your heart. That’s what I was desperate to know. Did anyone else struggle with this too? Am I the only one?
I must be, because the other girls are just laughing.
I ran to it so often. I wanted to feel better, especially whenever I wasn’t feeling good. In college, it got to a point where I couldn’t go to sleep unless I did. The counselors call that “compulsive masturbation”. In college, I was finally able to open up to someone else about it, but even she didn’t know what to do. She gave me some resources but moved away and we didn’t stay in touch.
I also struggle with fantasy, with imagining what it would be like to be all-powerful, all-adored, all-enamored by others. Basically, I want to be God. I want His job because I doubt Him. I doubt if what He has given me is truly His best. So I make up my own way to feel better about what He has given me.
I especially struggled with fantasy and imagining myself sexually with men about four years before I first had sex. Something happened in the first sexual relationship I ever had. It was like part of me was empty and I was using sex to fill it. I wanted so desperately to feel better.
Once I’d had sex with a man, masturbation lost its charm. It had stopped being enough, so I moved onto something I thought would be more filling. It was like I was “leveling up” on sin. It became more consuming. I did not know what it was like to have a relationship without sex. I felt like I had to have sex to keep a relationship. And it was exhausting.
Using someone or something else to make yourself feel better is never what God had in mind. It’s living in isolation, when He has called us to live in community.
Thankfully, I had some friends who intervened in that first relationship. But even after that, I went back to trying to be good. I hid. I hid my desires from those I loved, even while leading a small group Bible study. I started living a double life and looking to a purely physical relationship to make myself feel better. I flat out told Jesus “I know this isn’t Your will, but I’m doing it anyway and I hope You’ll be there at the end.”
Flash forward to more empty relationships, including one in which I betrayed someone I loved at the time. The thing is, in each of those instances, I started out trying to be good. But when the goodness never seemed to fill me, I tried to create it artificially.
Here’s what I’m coming to understand…
Jesus never says we have to be “good enough.” He just says we are to be His. He says we ARE worthy to be loved in a way that doesn’t completely decimate ourselves or others in the process. He says we are worth a LOT. He says we can have peace and rest, even in the loneliest places and the darkest of times.
He is with us, even when we try to hide ourselves from Him. When we seek other things to fill the emptiness, be it food, work, approval, exercise, budgeting, or sex, He is still there.
When I asked Jesus to still be there in October 2013 even as I consciously fed my own desires as a single 28 year old who claimed to love Him, He was still there.
Jesus didn’t treat me like what I thought I was. And He never has. And He never will.
I am good. I am good enough. And that is what I am learning. It doesn’t mean I’m now a Puritan, including bun, Pilgrim attire, and never feel a single emotion whatsoever. It means I can tell when I feel desire and I have a plan of attack for those times. I can tell when I am stressed. I am more aware of the places I run to when life gets hard. And I now have a group of people to be open and honest with who love me in those times.
So I invite you into the journey of a single female sex addict in recovery.
Jane DoE is a new contributing writer to the Awaken blog. She facilitates an Awaken group in Birmingham, AL, for women who struggle with sex addiction. We’re excited that she is bringing us into her journey of recovery, as we realize that there are many other women who share her struggle. Our prayer is that through her journey, you’ll find hope and encouragement for your own.
Awaken also offers groups in Birmingham for men who struggle with sexual addiction, and for women who have been affected by their husbands’ or boyfriends’ addictions. Additionally, we have Twelve Step groups dealing with issues of addiction and control. CLICK HERE to get information on all of our group offerings. Or contact us with any questions you have.