From the brink of destruction to happiness

My life began as normal as you can imagine.  Born into a staunch Catholic family, I was the fourth of six children.  My father was strict.  Kneeling in prayer was a daily ritual for us and church was a must every Sunday.  My religion was grounded in me from an early age and I was then as I am now a firm believer.

Although my childhood passed fairly normally, on reflection there were some incidents that influenced the course of my life.  My father believed in “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Being the most mischievous of my siblings, I was at the receiving end of many canings. During one particular incident was when I received 70 hits on the hands – I remember the pain, the hurt, the bruises and the anguish I felt to this day.

My mother was and still is what I consider to be a congenial sort of woman, however, I do not remember receiving much nurturing or attention from her and to this day our relationship can only be described as cordial.  I cannot recall any praise or validation from either of my parents while growing up. I was never made to feel special in any way and in fact one painful memory that lingers is why I never had any baby pictures whereas all my siblings had.

It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time when I became a sex addict but certainly there were occurrences in my early years that, combined with my perceived lack of nurturing from my parents, contributed towards sex addiction. One of these incidents was witnessing a man rubbing himself against women in a crowded marketplace when I was very young, before even my teenage years. I remember watching him when he turned to look at me – his eyes were red. He went on and on rubbing himself on the back of every woman he had the chance to do this making it looked like an accident. I guess being very young and impressionable, I did not know what that was all about and later on I do recall myself wanting to imitate him in crowded places and get a kick out of it. Fortunately, as an adult, realising the severity of such an action and the trouble it could have got me in, I did not engage in that.

Coming from a typical Asian conservative family, I was not taught anything in regards to sex from my parents when I was young. I grew up believing that I would only have sex after I was married. I did not have sex with any of my girlfriends in my teens holding onto that belief.

Unfortunately, though I believed that, my first sexual experience was when a colleague introduced me to prostitution. He took me to a brothel and there I had sex for the first time. Soon after the brothel became a place I would return to from time to time to escape or just to “feel better”.

As I grew older, I discovered “Health Centers” or “massage parlours” that had sprouted everywhere in the city and where I could get my sexual fix. In my later years I also discovered, “girly bars” and KTV lounges that I indulged in whenever I felt like it or whenever I felt pressure at home, or stress at work. I continued to indulge in prostitution when I was bored, sad or even happy. I had some friends that whom went to these places occacionally so I developed the belief that it was a norm and a “man” thing.

I remember an acting out incident during a past birthday where I was waiting for my my then fiancee who was at that time working late. Feeling bored while waiting for her I called and I lied to her that I will be going for a quick beer in one of the nearby pubs. Instead I ended up going to a KTV Lounge, had a few drinks and ended up having paid sex. In order to get my fix, dishonesty was a part of my daily life.

Despite all these incidents which I kept secret from my fiancee we subsequently got married and soon after my addiction escalated further through an affair with our domestic helper. At that time I was continuing to spend money on prostitutes and it started to worry me. While thinking of the money issue at the same time my wife had told me that my snoring kept her awake at night and asked me to sleep in the spare room. I used this as an opportunity to start an affair with our maid and this fuelled my sex addiction further.

I was subsequently found out and kicked out of the house. Instead of feeling remorseful and reflective on what I had done, in the insanity and selfishness or my addiction my first instinct was to call some friends of mine and hit the girly bars the same night. I drank a lot, partied the night away and ended up having sex with a prostitute. I was numbing my self with total disregard of my actions, past and present.

A few months after that I managed to reconcile with my wife. It was at that time around 6-7 years ago that we realised that I had a sex addiction problem. After some internet checking my wife found a website that contained the 40 questions of Self Diagnosis. After answering the questions I realised that I had a problem with Sex Addiction.

I found about SLAA and started attending the meetings. It felt good to share and I formed a bond with several other men in the group.  After a couple of years of meetings, I decided to make an effort to get sober and I managed a year of sobriety just by attending the meetings and using my willpower. At that time I did not have a sponsor and did not work the steps. I now know that recovery does not come only by just going to meetings and staying sober by ‘white knuckling’ as they call it in AA. How do I know? A year later I relapsed and my addiction started to escalate again. On hindsight also I realise now that at that time I was not really willing to work on letting go of my addiction.

Over the next 4 years I got worse and worse, drinking more and acting out more. My wife decided then that she had enough of all this as our fights became more intense and regular. I recall an incident when we had an argument, I was so arrogant and uncaring that I just took off, travelled to a nearby island and stayed there for a couple of days drinking and having sex with prostitutes. Soon after that we separated due to my out of control behaviour.

Last year I was at my wits end, had given up on myself and was resigned to a life being a sex addict. I was now a full blown sex addict and had gone from one to a hundred in my sexual behaviours. In the insanity of my addiction I did not practise safe sex with some of the prostitutes I was sleeping with. I did not care for myself and had practically given up on my life. I was a wreck and I even got prepared to die because by then I could see no way out.

Even though we were separated and I was in self destruction mode I still kept seeing my wife at the time. The amount of suffering my wife has gone through being a sex addict wife was indescribable. She was now also in full depression.

One day I went back to see her and as I let myself into the house there seem to be no one at home. I slowly open the master bedroom door to look for her it was then that I saw her sprawled on the bed, her hair dishevelled and faced down on the bed. I picked her up and saw that she had been crying and in a bad state. I ask her whether she was crying like that all the time and she said that since we had separated she cried all day every day. She told me that she banged her head against the wall and at times burn herself with very hot water from the shower as she could not take the pain she felt. She had to do this in order to numb the pain in her heart. She also had to take extremely strong medication just to get each day and most times she would be severely affected by the array of drugs that she took.

The image of her when I walked into the room that day broke my heart, for some reason I realised there and then what I was doing was not only killing me but also my wife. If I did not want to get sober for myself I could at least try and be sober for my wife….someone who have loved me so much and so dearly without any reservations. I realised that finally I had to do something about my sex addiction.

From that day on I told myself that I needed to change, have real willingness to recover and take action. I went back to the SLAA meetings and became willing for the very first time to find a sponsor and work the steps. I found a sponsor by asking one of the members whether he could be my sponsor and soon after I started working the steps with his support. I started praying to my higher Power every morning to keep me sober and every night to thank my Higher power for the day.

Soon after the initial hourly and daily struggles with the pull of addiction started becoming less frequent. The combination of wanting to be sober, going to meetings and having a sponsor, working the steps, learning how to be compassionate through providing service to the group and others and connecting with my Higher Power started changing my life.

Today I am 7 months sober, things have changed a lot and are changing changing for the better. Last year I was heading towards self destruction and hurting people around me along the way. Today I am learning each and every day on what it takes to lead a good, healthy, rewarding life and I am starting to experience that.

My wife and I are rebuilding our relationship and marriage and have never ever been so happy! Never before in the last 20 years that we have been together we felt like this for each other. Despite the occasional triggers which we are learning to deal with, the constant quarrels and unhappiness have now been replaced by many moments of laughter, peace and happiness.

For these I thank my Higher Power, the meetings that I attend twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays, the steps that I am working on, my sponsor that helps me with accountability and responsibility and of course my wife who suffered so much but never gave up on me…I am grateful.

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