“I don’t know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago, was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, ‘well, if I’d known better I’d have done better,’ that’s all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, ‘I’m sorry,’ and then you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry.’ If we all hold on to the mistake, we can’t see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can’t see what we’re capable of being.” Maya Angelou
It may seem odd to hear Angelou’s voice on a piece that delves into the challenges of sexual addiction, but Angelou has a lot to say about the core of the addiction and others like it. We often engage in dangerous behavior when we are carrying tremendous burdens within us. Said another way, we hurt ourselves and other’ we love when we are hurting inside.
Sexual addiction can be an extremely corrosive disorder
On the one hand, sexual addiction can strip us of time, concentration, and a commitment to self care. On the other hand, sexual addiction can also damage the relationships around us. Sexual addiction diminishes the most important “connections” in our lives, and can introduce a host of other unsavory issues into our relationships.
Are you suffering from sexual addiction?
If so, the fact that you have enough insight to peruse this article suggests that you are committed to getting help and moving forward with your life. When sex undermines our health, and damages our commitment to family, work, and community, it’s time to get some help. Read on to see how many of these sexual addiction “markers” fit your situation.
Are you constantly thinking about sex?
If sexual fantasy becomes a preoccupation that pulls you out of productive living, you may have a problem. While most human beings enjoy or have enjoyed sex at some point in life, a complete preoccupation with sex is a problem. If sexual fantasy or sex keep you from completing work or other commitments, it’s time to take a step back and determine, “Why?” If you don’t feel like you can be objective in this endeavor, share your “patterns” with someone else and ask for their feedback.
How often do you masturbate?
While this may feel like an uncomfortable question to ask yourself, the answer will help you determine if an addiction is in play. People masturbate. In fact, just about every adult on the planet has masturbated at some point or another. The issue is frequency. If you find yourself masturbating multiple times a day and just about every day of the week, it is time to seek some help. At this point, masturbation is keeping you from fulfilling the tasks of daily living. If you masturbate less frequently, but tend to masturbate right after a sexual encounter with a partner, there is also reason to be concerned.
Do you find yourself seeking pornography often?
While we can refrain from a discussion on the “ethics” of watching pornography in the first place, let’s go ahead and admit that purchasing a pornography subscription is probably a sign that you are moving into addiction territory. Further, if pornography is putting a dent in your daily cash flow, you can assume you have a substantial problem. Pornography objectifies human beings, and offers none of the benefits of a healthy relationship.
Has infidelity crept into your long-term relationship?
While individuals cite a host of reasons for infidelity, it is important to acknowledge that infidelity destroys relationships. When your infidelity entails moving from partner to partner on a regular basis, you are in trouble. Do you and your partner(s) a favor… get some help. Infidelity also can bring STD’s into the equation. Would you want to bring an STD into a long-term relationship because of your sexual indiscretion? Would you want a partner to do this to you?
Do you love yourself?
This is the most important question to ask of yourself as you discern whether or not a sexual addiction is complicating your life. People who trend toward sexual addiction often have unresolved emotional injuries that have them seeking constant gratification and connection. In a way, the drive toward constant sex or sexual fantasy is fueled by a desire to fill the voids in the heart and soul. Generally, we know if we love ourselves or not. If your answer is a definitive “no,” then recognize that it’s time to engage a counselor, psychologist or a well-equipped clergy person. When we can address the holes in the heart, the healing can truly begin in our lives.
We are sexual beings, genetically hardwired for sexual intimacy and procreation. Sex is a beautiful and purposeful gift. But when sex damages our relationships, our commitments, and our emotional/physical health, we need to step back and determine if we are dealing with a sexual addiction.
There is help if you are dealing with sexual addiction. Caring individuals like counselors, spiritual leaders, and trusted friends always stand ready to step into your trouble to provide helpful guidance and exquisite support. Determine if you are suffering from addiction. Tell your story to people willing and prepared to help. Prepare to let the healing currents into your life’s heaviness.