How did I get here…
I got pregnant a year ago after a three-week fling with a man I met while living in Guatemala. There was nothing special about it. We mostly stayed in and watched movies, met for lunches a few times a week and went out for fancy dinners. If anything it was a little boring. After our three-week romance, we parted ways and I discovered I was pregnant.
At 36 years old, I was living in Antigua, Guatemala with all of my worldly possessions fitted neatly into one large backpack. Having left Canada for good to travel the world as a yoga teacher; I was over kids.
My initial reaction was the same as anyone from the west who is not in the “perfect” situation (I have since realized this phantom perfection does not exist), my first thought was, “abortion”. But after speaking with friends and the man of this fling, I had second thoughts. He was really into the idea of becoming a father and promised me that he could support me financially for the first six months and his large latin family would be over the moon to help with their first grandchild. The seduction of a big supportive family was enough for me.
You Can’t Forsee Everything In This Life…
Skip forward 7 months and I was fleeing Guatemala in the middle of the night with a van load of stuff, over the border into Mexico to birth my daughter alone.
So what happened?
People at home often blame his latin-ness on why he abused and ultimately abandoned us. But, to tell you the truth, many latin men take care of their kids, pride themselves on family and willingly step-up to the plate to pay for their children. If anything, I felt he was an entitled western brat like so many men I left behind in Canada land.
But I digress.
While I was pregnant, we stayed together at his insistence. I was vulnerable and isolated having few friends with children, and after quitting my job teaching yoga due to my largeness as a pregnant woman, he was my best friend and my partner in this journey. I was also suffering from antepartum depression and chalked a lot of my “crazy feelings” (later I learned these are actually instincts and you should trust them always) up to hormones.
Slowly, but surely I stopped sleeping at night. I was smoking a lot. I was suddenly obsessed with my partner’s actions, his social media activity. He drank, but not much; he partied, but rarely. But I was acting like someone living with an addict – behaviour I am familiar with having loved substance abusers in the past. There was also the constant gaslighting. He was always telling me it was in my head when I asked about the women he flirted with online, why there were so few photos of us – even as friends. I believed it was cultural differences.
At the end of August, I started to hear rumors of infidelity. We had both been told the risks of sleeping with people outside of our partnership by our midwife and by a doctor. Because our relationship was more of a “partners in the struggle” type or even a close friendship, I told him that if he ever wanted to be with someone else, he would just have to tell me before sleeping with them, because of the baby. I am a liberal feminist woman after all.
One of the rumors was coming from an American girl who was telling people around town that he gave her chlamydia, that I was an idiot and that they had been cheating behind my back.
I went bananas. I cracked his Facebook account and what I found left me reeling. Thousands of messages to women about sex, about pornographic sex (I am not against this, but it was shocking to read it on that level), many of the women knew he had a pregnant partner and didn’t care, many times they spoke poorly of me and he even wrote that he wished that the baby was theirs, that he wished I was dead. This is someone I spent every single day with, buying baby items, furnishing a home, spending family time together on weekends, making love to daily.
He was sending up 50 messages a day for over a month to one woman about the sex they would have when they were reunited and she was also talking about having herpes and chlamydia and he responded that he wanted to sleep with her without protection. It was like the danger turned him on. I had never seen anything like it.
“Sex addiction is the active using of a sexual behavior, whether it is masturbation, an internet porn addiction, fetishes and/or behavior with self or others in a compulsive life-destroying pattern.” – Definition from SexAddict.com
Alone in Mexico
After I arrived in Mexico, waiting to find out if I had STDs myself, if my daughter would be born blind, I fell into a deep depression and started to reach out to groups like CoSA, a fellowship for people with co-sex addiction, and SLAA – a 12 step group (Sex And Love Addiction Anonymous) for people suffering from disease of relationships.
Sex addiction has the same recovery rate as heroin addiction – 10% of those who get help, survive. The markings of sex addiction are numerous and in this day and age, a lot of people could sign up as having some. But, the clearest marking is someone who is turned on by the danger – needing to get high to have sex, being turned on by someone with diseases, or someone very young, or your best friend’s wife (except many times over), and unwanted pregnancies.
Sex addiction, unlike say, meth addiction, is undetectable. If your best friend starts smoking meth every day, you will see them literally degrade in front of your eyes. But you can’t see sex addiction. It is shrouded in secrecy and shame. Sex addicts degrade themselves and others regularly and the shame they feel from it is enormous, so enormous that they need to relieve themselves by doing it again.
There is a 40 Questions test that can be found on https://slaafws.org — If you want to know if you are a sex addict. My partner took them and he scored over 35.
While I was blaming hormones and pregnancy and my crazy-woman-mind, I was slowly being degraded more and more without my knowledge. I was in denial and trying desperately to hang on to an idea of the perfect family with someone I wasn’t even in love with. I was spending so much of my day obsessed with his behaviour, especially what he was doing online. I was in full rescue mode. Occasionally he would break down in tears and tell me he was having a hard time giving up the idea of his old life to become a parent. He never slept well. He would grind his teeth so bad in his sleep, it would wake me up at night. His phone was always dead or broken or he left it somewhere. He was always working late. I thought I wasn’t beautiful enough – I cut my hair, would wear makeup, get sexy undergarments, all to please him. To keep him. Because I believed the problem was me.
When Things Changed For Me…
Once I left, I started to get help. I started to recover. Neither I nor my daughter contracted STDs, thank god for small graces. She was born healthy – although by c-section since I was emotionally unable to birth her naturally – under the Taurus Supermoon in November 2016 no less.
In my own recovery, I have been forced to look at my own family history of substance abuse and co-dependency, and it’s been the hardest journey of my life. But my daughter, Luna, keeps me going. She deserves a strong parent who can show her how to love herself and others while staying true in her belief in her own instincts. The only way she will learn this is if I show her these attributes in myself.
Sex addiction is not a thing in Latin America. It affects millions of people but is still shrouded in secrecy and denial. His family is full of excuses, extending both support and blame towards me in equal measure. I have heard that one addict can keep up to 15 people sick in their lives.
He has begged to meet her. He has bought tickets to visit. But he can’t do it. Every time the day looms in the near future, he disappears with some young thing. We even took a trip to Guatemala when she was 2 months old and although he said he wanted to see her, called me every day, when the chance was in front of him, he went out to get high and sleep with the same diseased girl he lost us over in the first place. Like all addicts, it’s heart-wrenching to hear their pain. It’s like talking to two people – the caring, loving man who was my best friend and dedicated partner who wants nothing more than to be a daily positive presence in his daughter’s life and the smug, addict, lost in his addiction, sending me threatening messages, disappearing, degrading himself and other women in order to relieve the pressure of being a parent.
My Life Now
It has been six months since I saw those messages. I still have difficulties even using tampons, my body still feels utterly violated. I don’t trust new people, especially men. And I am working on co-dependency, learning healthy boundaries with my friends and family; learning how to love myself every moment of every day… Sex addiction is real. It destroys families and ruins people’s lives. The good news is, there is fantastic support out there if you have a decent internet connection. SLAA and CoSA have been godsends for me. I have become a part of a rich community online of people who get it, and who are available 24-7 with open ears and open hearts.
In some ways, I am grateful for this experience and over time I know I will look back with even more compassion and gratitude. This past year was the darkest in my life, but there is some truth to the famous Rumi quote, “the wound is the place where the Light enters you”, through this darkness I have been blessed with a renewed excitement for life, a passion for parenting, and a strong belief in myself. I definitely won’t be taking anymore s___ from anyone, and my new confidence and love for myself is a force beyond anything I ever dreamed of.
My dream is to have a beautiful, healthy, loving family. If that’s a family of two, then so be it – but I suspect it will not be two for long. The best is yet to come. Like one of my hippie friends loves to say, “the better life gets, the better it gets.”
And the getting is good.
If you think you might be suffering from co-sex addiction, here’s the article that blew the door open for me: http://waterfallconcept.org/what-do-you-mean-i-am-a-co-sex-addict/
Cover Image Courtesy.