Health & Beauty
|On The Gentle Path, Too: A Dispatch From The Front Lines Of Sex Addiction|
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January 23, 2010
Anonymous, a porn addict, is a longtime Deadspin reader and commenter who will soon enter the same sex-rehabilitation facility where Tiger Woods is reportedly receiving treatment. Here, Anonymous explains his own addiction and why Tiger's treatment is no PR ploy.
In a few weeks, I'll fly down to Mississippi and check into Gentle Path, the rehab clinic where the bearded, hoodie-wearing ghost of Tiger Woods was recently spotted. My loved ones say this trip is going to change me for the best, but let's face it: I'm going to miss the hell out of porn.
I've been a porn addict for 10 years. Though I was suffering, I could never really define "addiction" until I took a two-question intake quiz at my therapist's office.
1. Does this behavior interfere with your everyday life in a negative way?
2. Have you tried to stop on your own, but can't?
If you answer yes to both those questions, you're essentially an addict. So what's my main problem, anyway? Unlike Tiger, I have limited access to VIP hostesses. Instead, my thing is porn, and "behavior that affects my everyday life" can loosely be described as all-night jerk-off binges that wreck me physically and emotionally.
Binges all start the same way — with a trigger. It could be stress at work, it could be the simple sight of a hot woman walking down the street and not returning my glance. Actually, the stress of writing this very story makes me want to look right now. The upshot is that in short order my chest feels tight, I'm short of breath, and I think of nothing else but how long until I can start looking at porn. I'll make excuses to friends, move the phone out of earshot, lower my blinds, and sit at the computer. From there, my ritual demands that I start daring myself not to look. I'll check a celebrity blog for nip-slips, telling myself it doesn't count as porn. But by then, it's too late. I'm already in the binge.
I'll usually open a few different browser tabs and hit the sites I like best. By now, I'm so far gone in my addiction that your average penis-in-vagina scenes, even by the grimy gonzo standards of internet porn, may as well be Victorian courting rituals. My favorite message board features only the most hardcore, exploitative, gang-bangiest, piss-drinkingest, public-floggingest scenes you could imagine, and then some. A few months back I horrifyingly noticed myself jerking off to video of a Japanese girl being penetrated with cockroaches. A real girl, not animated. Chuck Klosterman once wrote that some of the more extreme online stuff is about as sexy as watching someone get hit in the face with a frying pan, and he's right, though I don't usually get to the invertebrate smut until the fourth or fifth hour of my sessions.
I've confessed my addiction to friends who wonder if their rubbing one out for 20 minutes a day counts, and let me tell you, you have no fucking idea how lucky you are you can do that. I sit frozen in space during a binge, watching the hours tick away in fast-forward on my monitor clock. My average all-nighter goes from 10 p.m. until dawn if I'm lucky enough to break away, cum in the sink, shower, and nap for an hour before work. But often I'll go until the last possible second without being late for my job, then spend the day consuming energy drinks and jamming Visine into my bloodshot eyes. I sometimes used to not jizz after a long session, which would leave me pissing and leaking little bits of cum for days. In my mind, if I wasn't ejaculating, it didn't really count as a binge. That's how fucked up this thing is.
The physical consequences of this are the worst. Anyone who doubts there is such a thing as sex or porn addiction should ask me why I keep bingeing even though my arm feels like it's going to fall off, my scalp tingles for days afterward, and my knee is sore from being locked in place all night. Have you ever met someone who jerked off so much it fucked up his knee? That's me, motherfuckers. The longest I ever went was 26 hours. Fittingly, it was on Yom Kippur, and I did indeed spend the day in serious devotion to my highest power, except that power featured a great deal of double-penetration. Ever jack off for 26 hours? You're talking at least three-quarters of a bottle of lube — that shit just seems to evaporate after an hour or two. I have no idea where it goes, but I always need more.
And holy shit, believe me, I've tried to stop it. I've installed filtering software, thrown away modems, canceled my pay-per-view service more times than I can count. But it never works. My current software sends a report of every site I visit to my girlfriend, but I found a way to partition my hard drive and install a new operating system, just to look at porn. I could have cured cancer by now with the same level of craftiness. I can't even tell you how many days I've wasted on this. Last year, the physical exhaustion and crippling remorse from my constant debauchery made me consider suicide more than once, and eventually my therapist suggested Gentle Path. If that's where Tiger is now, believe me, they wouldn't have accepted him if his intake interview didn't reveal serious problems and a real desire to change. This isn't any kind of PR ploy on his part. At least I hope not.
The clinic's intake people were understanding and full of Southern politeness, asking what my main problem was and how often I "acted out." That's a weird rehab term, and this process is full of them. "Acting out" is anything that brings sexual pleasure — jerking off, sex, looking at porn, going to strip clubs, etc., and they're all part of the "abstinence" or "celibacy" contracts you sign as part of your recovery (I've broken about five in the past year — my therapist no longer bothers with them). The point of a 45- or 90-day abstinence period (my personal record is 21) is to dry out sexually, for lack of a better term. To break the addictive cravings inside.
Once the check clears, I'll be set. We just did the financials, and this will cost my family many thousands of dollars. But they've been amazingly supportive ever since I told them about this last fall — 10 years of hiding and concealing my problem having become simply too much to bear. There's a reason Gentle Path offers "shame reduction" treatment: The overwhelming embarrassment this causes leads us to isolate and lead double lives — intensifying our addictions. If anything, I hope the Tiger paparazzi sideshow will at least bring sex addiction more into the open, if it doesn't make it as cool and glamorous as cocaine abuse.
So in March, I'll be down there. My boss has a vague idea of what's wrong with me, and I'll tell him more soon. My biggest fear is relapsing the moment I'm done, or messing up my "aftercare" and winding right back where I started. In treatment, they teach you to see your addiction as a faithful yet toxic friend you've gotta break up with. I'll probably have to write a Dear John letter to it in rehab (fuck you for laughing). Porn has been that friend for as long as I can remember, and nothing I've tried so far has ever broken us up for good. It will be painful, but if I never see another vomiting Brazilian porn star again, I'll be a happy man.
There it is in a nutshell, a dispatch from the front lines of sex addiction. Cheating with 12 mistresses or hours-long porn binges aren't just "guys being guys," and rehab isn't a place to go 'cause you're sorry you got caught. It's a place to go when you're desperate to salvage a decent life for yourself, away from your enslavement to the next high.
The author of this post can be contacted at tips(at)deadspin.com