In my darkest, most self-pitying of moments, I think to myself, ”Why can’t I just be normal? When will the chaos subside? What does it feel like to live free from manic highs and depressive lows?” But usually, all it takes to shake myself out of such a funk is to think back to my teenage years, when I lived an exceedingly average life and prayed to the universe to “Spare me from a life of mediocrity!”

I’ve always just been the type to opt for adventure over stability. Call it brain chemistry, personality type, or astrological sign. The fact of the matter is that no matter how green the grass on the other side looks, I wouldn’t trade my shenanigan-filled melodrama of a life for anything.

Starting in childhood, a big part of that melodrama involved regulating my emotions through food, sex, and drugs. The NHS defines addiction as ”not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you,” so it’s no shocker that various healthcare professionals have tried and succeeded in boxing my self-perception into that of an addict over the years. 

Picture me – a nihilistic, black leather pant-wearing, Turkish Royal-smoking punk attending Alcoholics Anonymous despite not even being old enough to legally buy myself a drink. I explored different 12-step programs as well. There’s Overeater’s Anonymous for people who are weird about food (me) and Narcotics Anonymous for druggies who think AA is too square (also me for a hot sec). 

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I was 23 and living in Brooklyn the day I found myself filling out an intake form in what was at that point probably my 10th therapist’s office. It wasn’t like I was some tyrant firing my shrinks left and right. I just happened to move around a lot. All the practice hadn’t made baring my soul to a total stranger any more pleasant, but it had made it easier. 

By the time I rolled into Dr. Greenbaum’s shoebox of a therapist’s office on that fateful spring morning, I knew the drill. I led him through my life story, hitting the big traumas and little traumas in an entertaining albeit roundabout way. 

I touched on how I was sugaring, in addition to dating casually. I was not interested in being in a serious monogamous relationship because I wanted to focus on my own personal development. I acknowledged that balancing several dick appointments a week and being financially dependent on sugar daddies was not fully aligned with my plan for self-actualization. But for the time being, it was fine. 

Unlike previous therapists, Dr. Greenbaum was not afraid to hold back. He called me out on my bullshit in a way no one else ever had. Typically, I had worked with middle-aged females who had taken a nurturing approach to overcompensate for the lack of warmth my own mother had brought to her childrearing. But this made it too easy for me to bullshit and manipulate them.

When it came to my straight male therapists, the dirty fantasies I had tended to prevent me from getting anything worthwhile out of my sessions. My primary focus always seemed to become seducing them through subtle nip slips and confessional style shares about all the filthy sex I was having. But good old Dr. Greenbaum was a sassy, gay man who, from day one, told me: “This slutty baby routine is not going to work on me. The sooner you drop it, the sooner we can get to work.”

So when he candidly diagnosed me as a sex addict a mere three sessions into working with me, I was quick to believe him. After all, he was the only mental healthcare professional I had worked with who had seen through my wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing act straight off the bat. If there was anyone I could count on for guidance, it was him. 

Sensuali Blog: Male Therapist
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The air was thick like molasses as I wandered into a poorly ventilated room atop a bistro in Williamsburg where 10 chairs were set up in a circular formation. It was my first (and only) Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) meeting. My fellow attendees were two Hasidic men with porn addictions, an English au pair hopelessly in love with her married boss (with whom she had been having an affair with for the five years), and a trust fund baby in his late thirties who had most definitely attended a pickup artist seminar at some point in his life and who had (without fail) tried taking me home after the meeting.

“I definitely have some issues but I’m not anywhere as dysfunctional as this sad lot,” I remember thinking to myself as I made my way home. “Maybe Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) will be better?” I thought. But I wasn’t all that convinced. SLAA gets a rep for having more women and being centered around relationships as much, if not more than the sex itself.

SAA, meanwhile, is more about the physical act of sex and generally yields a rougher crowd. I showed up to my first SAA meeting 10 or so minutes early and though I had purposely chosen to wear the longest pair of shorts I owned, they barely came midway down my thigh. 

“This is uncomfortable,” I blushed as I realized I was and probably would end up being the only woman in the group. I decided to kill a few minutes in the bathroom before returning. When I left, there were eight guys. When I came back, there were about twenty men and me. The best part? Sitting down and realizing that the person sitting directly across from me was an ex-coworker and lover that I had had reckless sex with on more than one occasion.

I spent the remainder of the meeting with my tail in between my legs and my eyes diverted. A few weeks later when I got a booty call from the same ex-flame, I apprehensively obliged. The taboo/absurdity of the whole thing was hot but was my willingness to engage in this casual hookup pure naughty fun or an insidious manifestation of my addiction? Older, wiser me can safely say that it was indeed a harmless act of hedonism. 

While I’m eternally grateful for the community support, self-awareness, and spiritual guidance I’ve gained through my various stints in 12-step programs and consider it a valuable tool that should be accessible to anyone looking to heal, I gotta say I have my qualms. Much like religion, the 12-step program is a little too based on fear for my taste (i.e if you don’t do x, you will suffer y). 

This proselytizing message of “join or die” is quite effective for recruiting vulnerable addicts aimlessly attempting to straighten out their lives. But the whole “Let’s over-identify as this one negative thing we hate about ourselves and buy into this idea that we are victims who lack autonomy” bit isn’t quite as compelling. 

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With sex especially, it’s tough to gauge the line between personal demons and socialized shame. Puritanical values permeate our culture to such an extreme degree that I struggle to grant any legitimacy to a program even tangentially related to Christianity and the sex-shaming, piety-promoting culture that surrounds it. 

While I think fellowship of any kind can play an instrumental role in overcoming destructive behavior patterns, I for one think we’ve gone too far with the labels. I also can’t help but wonder whether my therapist would have told me I was a sex addict had I not been a woman. Or if attending therapy in 2022 would have yielded a different diagnosis then in 2017? In a post #MeToo world, double standards surrounding acceptable sexual behavior are finally coming to light. 

Did I spend my twenties playing the role of a risk-taking slut on a pilgrimage to claim her pussy power? Totally. Were some of my decisions during this time regarding sex, love, and relationships coming from a self-destructive place that bordered on compulsive? Totally. These two statements are not mutually exclusive. Both are true and neither one makes me a sex addict. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a sex addict. But there is something wrong with a generation of sexually liberated women getting bamboozled into believing they are sex addicts by their allegedly “woke” healthcare professionals. It’s basically the 21st-century version of telling a woman she is being possessed by demonic forces. 

Per usual, female sexuality is too much for men to handle. And so out come the labels – hysterical, addicted, out of control –  in hopes that we’ll continue to blindly accept them, as we’ve been doing in some way, shape, or form for millennia. No mas tho. My consent to be subjugated by patriarchal power structures has officially been revoked.

Culture
psychology of sex
Sex positive
Sugar Baby
Author

Jules

Author

Based in Brooklyn, Jules has dedicated her twenties towards harnessing her pussy power, exploring the muse, whore, and wild woman archetypes along the way. When not blogging, you can find her sweating the toxins out in a hot yoga class or sipping a matcha latte at a pretentious coffee shop, whilst she scribbles away in her journal.


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