From the Edge of Insanity to the Refuge of Recovery

Similar to a lot of sex addicts out there, I was born into a dysfunctional family. My family was riddled by addictions, shame and sickness. Throughout her life my grandmother married several times. My paternal grandfather was an alcoholic and divorced my grandmother when my mom was 3 years old. My mother then met my father and had me and my younger sister. Unfortunately my father was addicted to drugs and left the family when I was two. Since then my mother had 3 more failed marriages. My mother and grandmother were emotionally disturbed, as a result boundaries were crossed, and they used me and my sister to meet their emotional and physical needs. My mother used to call me her husband, and I had to sleep in the same bed with my grandmother until the age of 12. They both had temper tantrums, and lashed out at the entire family frequently.

Growing up I always felt a sense of impending doom and was on high alert mode most of the time. I also had a lot of shame for being obese and developing breasts, and were often teased by other boys. At an early age I found that I could escape reality through fantasy, and spent a lot of my waking time creating story lines  about cartoons, movies etc. My obsession with women also started at an early age. I tried to kiss my uncle’s housekeeper on the mouth when I was 5 and felt upset and rejected when she laughed it off.  At the age of 9 I started obsessing about singers, and women I met and watched on TV.  I would retreat to a corner of my living room and fantasize about these women, even though I had no knowledge about sex at that age.

At the age of 15 puberty hit and my addiction to masturbation and fantasy went full throttle immediately. I would compulsively masturbate on a daily basis to fantasy, and used masturbation to go to sleep every night. By the time I was in university my sex addiction escalated further as I started visiting massage parlours and sleazy bars for “happy ending” massages. I also dabbled in porn, began drinking heavily and abused substances to enhance my acting out experience.  In a short period of time I began visiting prostitutes frequently.

By the time I started working at the age of 22, I was leading a double life, a loyal and hardworking employee during the day, and a deviant sex addict as soon as I left the office. All the money I earned was spent on karaoke girls, prostitutes, alcohol, substances and partying with friends. As each year passed my sex addiction progressed to new levels, where I would need to increase the frequency of visits to prostitutes, engaged in riskier acting out behaviour to reach the desired “effect” and “satisfaction” that I craved.

Like the Dr Jekyll and Hyde parable I would come back from my adventures and binges disgusted with myself, and swore I would turn a new leaf. I was doomed from the get go as any attempt to stop acting out failed utterly. The longest I could go without acting out was two days.  Every attempt to stop followed by humiliating failure pushed me to extreme self-hatred and shame.  I started developing psychological issues such as talking to myself and went into severe depression. This went on for 10 years.

By the time I was 30 I feared I was losing my mind, and was in constant terror that my employers, family and friends would find out about my secret. I felt hopeless and thought I was sure to die from a sexually transmitted disease or suffer permanent insanity. During this time I started reading online about sex addiction, and found the Patrick Carnes book “Out of the Shadows”.  I deciphered the book many times, and it was highlighted that if I wanted to recover from my sex addiction, joining a 12 step group would be a good option for me.  Many sex addicts had recovered through joining these groups.

Being an obstinate sex addict I still thought I could control my acting out, and took me two more years of misery to reach a point of desperation. I was sexually acting out to the extent of physically hurting myself and my mental health was deteriorating rapidly. I later learned this term was called my rock bottom.

I decided that I could not stop on my own and needed help, and searched online. There were no 12 steps fellowships for sex addicts in Malaysia at that time. The closest group was in Singapore, and this fellowship was called Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA). I contacted them via e-mail and in November 2012 made a trip to Singapore to attend my first SLAA Meeting.

My life has changed ever since I stepped into the rooms of SLAA. The fellow members shared their experience and strengths in dealing with their addictions to sex and love. I felt a sense of hope as I listened to their shares. All my life I felt alone in facing this terrible addiction, but things changed when I found out that there were many men and women who are in the same situation. I was guided through the 12 steps by a sponsor, and learned the tools of recovery.  Terms such as living one day at a time were repeated frequently and later became my mantra. I found a connection to a Higher Power, which is the God of my understanding, and began communicating with this Higher Power.

In recovery there are challenges, as the power of addiction is strong and deep rooted. However I did not give up in spite of setbacks and continued coming to meetings and work the steps.  In November 2013 we started Sex and Love Addicts Malaysia and reached out to suffering addicts. As of today I am 9 months sober from sexually acting out, and will continue taking it one day at a time.

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