By an Anonymous Member
At 9 AM, on New Year’s Eve of 1986, I asked the two hustlers to
clean up and leave my apartment. I was finally exhausted from
the combination of six hustlers and seven drugs I had had over
that last 24 hours of acting out.
I had spent $1,000 on this binge; the same amount I had spent on
each of the two preceding nights I had gone out. Alone, on the
floor, I sat listening to people going to work in the “real
world” just outside my windows. I never felt more degraded,
empty, unworthy of existence.
At that moment, I deeply realized that one hustler was too many
and a hundred not enough; that my disease was a thirst that
couldn’t be quenched — an itch that I could never scratch — and
that my bottom was bottomless. I was ready to stop.
I had used sex for twenty eight years to escape from painful
feelings — for the most part, a titanic sense of low self
worth, fear and shame of being gay. From age thirteen to twenty
one, I engaged in compulsive masturbation. I came out as a gay
man in the late ’60’s, after college. The message from my gay
peers was that lots of anonymous sex was OK because that
affirmed our gay identity. At first, this helped to make it
feel like acceptable behavior to me.
I started my own business under the crushing weight of feelings
of low self esteem and incompetence. I turned to alcohol and to
more and more compulsive sex for relief. In fact, I became
cross addicted to both alcohol and sex. I rarely used one
without the other. The alcohol acted as a disinhibitor for
sexual behaviors I would never have engaged in without its
influence. And once I had “done it”, it became behavior that
would be repeated. And so the next twenty years were a
descending spiral of acting out behavior.
Though I preferred meeting people in bars and bringing them
home, I also acted out in parks, baths, theaters, bookstores and
rest stops. My estimated body count is certainly over 3000.
Early on, my reasons for acting out became lost in the behavior
itself, since acting out took on a life of its own and became
self perpetuating. I often couldn’t identify what I was feeling
before having compulsive sex, though, afterwards, I felt
remorse, guilt and shame, which often led to alcohol and more
compulsive sex to expunge the feelings.
Once, after an uncomfortable dinner with a friend, during which
I couldn’t get in touch with my feelings of anger, I tried to
pick up a car full of straight young men. They took me to a
deserted marsh near the Philadelphia airport. I was held at gun
point, bludgeoned and almost gang-raped when I broke free,
running through the marsh with blood pouring into my eyes.
After getting stitches at a hospital, I compulsively masturbated
all night and, soon after that, went out looking for a similar
situation. That was fourteen years before I found SCA.
I was involved in serial relationships, often to retreat or rest
from my compulsive behavior, remaining monogamous for brief
periods, then permitting myself to have sex outside the
relationship. Almost all ended badly. Filled with
self-loathing and near suicide, I dove into my last relationship
pledging monogamy, convinced that the relationship would save
me. I was faithful for nearly two years, but, as it always had,
alcohol pushed me over the edge one night while alone on a
vacation. Once I started again, I couldn’t stop.
I became involved with hustlers, feeling that what I did with
them was play-acting out old high school fantasies of the sort
that I wouldn’t do with my lover. Because I didn’t extend any
affection to them, I thought I could protect my relationship. I
quickly saw that I was out of control.
The first week, I tried to stop by setting monetary limits.
Initially, I allowed myself a $1,500 ceiling — the cost of a
vacation. At $3,000, I set a $5,000 “for life” ceiling. At
$9,000, I was looking for a new therapist. At $15,000 and eight
months into my spree, I tried hypnosis and cognitive therapy.
At $25,000, I actually gave up alcohol, but substituted Antabuse
and Xanax, a powerful tranquilizer to which I became addicted. I
continued to buy hustlers, spending many thousands more. My
therapist prescribed a combination of drugs which, when taken,
would cause me to pass out in about forty minutes. Often, after
twenty minutes, I was in a taxi on the way to my hustler service
where I would purchase cocaine to counter the effect of the
sedatives and be able to act out. When I wasn’t drinking, I
used cocaine, grass, Xanax and poppers to abandon myself to
I kept all his hidden from my lover for fear of losing him.
Maintaining this double life was one of the most painful aspects
of the disease for me. Sometimes, I would lie about having an
evening freelance job. I’d check into a seedy hotel and go off
to score a series of hustlers. I would always carry my own soap
so that my lover wouldn’t detect the scent of cheap hotel Ivory.
I became suicidal and was hospitalized for a month in 1986.
This experience was the beginning of my recovery. It was there
that I first sensed that a power greater than myself could
restore me to sanity. Upon discharge, it was suggested that I
find a group like AA for sex addicts. Two weeks later, I found
After my first meeting on June 17, 1986, I deeply sensed that I
had found something that would finally work. I stayed sober for
a week. I slipped. Contrary to what I felt I deserved, I was
not asked to leave, but, rather, supported and given guidance.
I got a sponsor and devised a recovery plan which stated that I
would not have sex outside of my committed relationship.
Alcohol and drugs were not addressed.
I stayed sexually sober for four and a half months while trying
to control or limit my drinking. It was hard work! Finally,
one night during a very stressful period, I had a little alcohol
to relax. Suddenly, I felt myself losing the willingness to stay
on my plan. I was with my lover that night, but all I could
think about was acting out. The desire to stay sober didn’t
return in the morning, but I DID make a phone call at 7 AM, and
was having breakfast with a Program friend at 7:15. I met with
two other Program friends during the day and by the evening SCA
meeting my willingness had returned.
I vowed not to drink anything for at least a week. One week
later, I picked up a drink, lost my willingness again, DID NOT
make a phone call, and went out on a month and a half binge. My
sponsor took me to an AA meeting. I started to go to those
rooms daily, but when I acted out, I drank. When I drank, I
acted out. My acting out was worse than it had ever been. As
they say, my disease had been doing push-ups in the hall while I
sat in the meeting rooms. I finally bottomed out on that New
That night, the champagne that I had counted on to relieve my
guilt and shame only depressed me. By Grace, I was finally able
to admit that if I continued to drink and drug, I could never
stay sexually sober. I stopped acting out and took my last
drink on that same day.
The withdrawal from compulsive sex — the feeling of always
being on the edge of slipping — took almost two and a half
years to abate. With each choice of sitting with a feeling,
instead of avoiding it, I get stronger. The more time that
passes since my last slip, the safer I feel. I ask for daily
strength and guidance from my Higher Power and continue to work
on myself, using the Steps as a guide. If I don’t continuously
work the Program, I believe I’ll slip again. I go to meetings
daily (either SCA or AA), and I give away what I’ve been given
through a lot of service.
A prayer, a phone call, a meeting, and service are the powerful
tools that keep me sober.
Today, my life is filled with promise. Continued sobriety and
working the Program has helped to raise my self esteem. The
relationship with my lover is flourishing. I’m happier than
I’ve ever been and I believe that if I stay on this path, I’ll
continue to experience the happiness which I believe is God’s
will for me.