My Story: Bradley W.


by Bradley W.

Right about the time of my 30th birthday, I met this gorgeous guy — a
mutual friend introduced us. I manipulated our next meeting and finally
got him over for lunch where I learned he had had “some gay experience”.
That was the green light I was looking for. I chose to ignore the subtle
reticence I perceived in him. That reticence turned out to be his
particular brand of sexual compulsion which, without going into detail,
had kept him from mature, intimate relationships. I didn’t know then that
the way I kept myself from mature, intimate relationships was to
systematically fall in love with people who had another priority:
sexual, alcohol or drug addiction. This way I could be guaranteed the
victim role (a role I’ve been comfortable with since childhood) and blame
any lack of intimacy, sexual satisfaction or joy on him. Very clever: I
didn’t take any responsibility for my happiness; it was all up to him.

This recipe for trouble is my particular brand of sexual compulsion: I’m a
co-sexual compulsive — someone whose life became unmanageable due to
someone ELSE’s sexual compulsion. This gorgeous guy chose to tell me
about his sexual addiction, and the suffering it caused him, at the
beginning of our relationship. My first thought upon hearing his dramatic
and painful story was to make up to him his suffering and pain with my
love and compassion. I wanted to save him. Later I discovered that this
desire is the top part of the co-addict/addict ratio: GRANDIOSITY over
low self-esteem. Needless to say, I didn’t save him.

Fortunately for him, he (and perhaps God) saved himself. Paradoxically,
it was this relationship that catalyzed MY being saved from a lifetime of
unhappiness and perhaps even suicide. In the beginning I kicked and
screamed. I made ultimatums; I forced him to stop certain relationships;
I berated him. I rewarded him with love and I punished him by withholding
it. All in all, I contributed to both our low self-esteem and I became a
controlling maniac giving up my friendships, my creative work, my life.
I was even becoming physically ill as a result of this obsession with
someone else’s life. I became a supreme spy. I liked to say that I could
tell what he was up to by reading the molecules upon entering a room that
he was in or had been in. To be right became my only objective.

He found SCA, but I didn’t need a program. I was in therapy and that was
enough. Yet I was still in extreme pain, slipping further and further
from reality. Everything was contingent on his each and every sign of
affection. Sex, and how well he performed it, was the most important sign
of his love for me. I became a different kind of a sex addict, constantly
manipulating sex with him.

A friend urged me for six months to try Al-Anon, a 12-Step program for
relatives and friends of alcoholics, for lack of some other place to go.
Finally I got there on my hands and knees. Even though it was hard at
first with all the emphasis on alcohol, I saw quickly that the core issues
were the same and felt at home with these people who were getting better.
Eventually I met others in the rooms whose lovers were sexual compulsives.
Bob R was one of them. It was his idea to start a meeting based on
Al-Anon for relatives and friends of sexual compulsives. I qualified at
the first SCA-Anon meeting on November 24, 1987. It still meets on
Tuesdays at 6:30 PM at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center on 13th Street
in Manhattan.

So this is a success story. It’s been a painful and joyous road to
recovery. I can’t count the times I’ve laughed and cried, or the number of
friends I’ve made. Today, this man and I are on a Spiritual path of
recovery, even though for us our lover relationship has ended. But I am
very grateful to this partner of four years and I love him very much.

Most SCA-Anon members remain in their relationships and are learning that
true intimacy is possible one day at a time. SCA-Anon and Al-Anon give us
tools to feel our original feelings underneath the anger and rage, and
tools of communication with the ones we love. Anyone interested in
starting an SCA-Anon meeting can write or call me (c/o the SCAnner), and I
will send you our combination of literature from Al-Anon and the
co-dependency unit of Golden Valley Health Center in Golden Valley, MN.
We recommend that members of SCA-Anon attend Al-Anon meetings because of
its long history and its addressing of like issues such as low
self-esteem, control and shame; and Al-Anon is the place to go for
structuring an SCA-Anon meeting.