“Then I drop to my knees because I can’t find a decent enough reason not to, because reluctance rarely stands a chance against repeated behavior.”Kris Kidd
For a year and a half, I had the most ‘Hollywood’ experiences. I trekked across lakes and hills with a man I had only met once before; I drove around the city all night with another one; and I even had sex under the stars, on a snowy peak, with a third. I had so many insane experiences with all these men, that I thought they could be spontaneous and romantic only in casual relationships. And I clung to that idea.
Until I realized that the source of all this pleasure was also the source of my greatest pain. And that was when things went south.
I got a very painful urinary tract infection in the latter half of my first year in college. Because of this, I was advised by a rather judgmental doctor not to have sex for a month. For the first week or so, I didn’t think much about it. But after the tenth day, I realized I had become mildly dysfunctional. My mind was flooded with sexual thoughts all day. I had no control over my arousal; I’d stain my underwear within half an hour of having put it on. By the third week, it had started to affect everything – I couldn’t study, sleep, or meet my friends. I’d miss classes to masturbate, even though I had been advised not to. I even became weak from having missed so many meals.
I didn’t need any more signs to tell me I had a problem. It was quite apparent. But I refused to take it seriously. Once I started having sex again, I just thought, “It’s only natural. Just like everyone would go crazy if they didn’t eat for a few days, you go crazy when you don’t have sex. It is a biological necessity, after all!”
Looking back now, of course that argument was bollocks! Sex is not a biological necessity in the same way that food is. People can go their whole life without having sex and be just fine. Rather, sex is biological luxury – those who’ve been selected for, in an evolutionary sense, have it. But my juvenile brain didn’t understand this.
Until halfway through my third semester in college, I continued to do as I pleased. I followed the very first thought that came to my head in these situations, and pushed problematic ideas away.
But then one boy that I had a particularly dynamic relationship with started seeing his ex, and I got jealous. I had been hooking up with him for a few months by then. I recalled the first time we met – he had asked if I wanted to be with him, date him. I had scoffed at that. I told him off for not appreciating that this could be great without any strings. I had pushed him away, and now I wanted to be with him.
Hereafter, sex started to bore me. It began with longer orgasm latency, and in a few months, translated to a complete lack of excitement, even during sex. I remember, at my lowest, feeling like a rubber doll made for someone else’s pleasure. There were times when I didn’t even know I was being penetrated unless I was looking right at it.
The false sense of self-worth I had derived from my ‘sexual conquests’ shattered.
I had been battling depression for over 6 years by then, and it only got worse. I don’t know why it took me so much time to see that I had overrun my limits. I always believed in moderation – that anything is only good within moderation. But I suppose it took me time to understand what moderate meant for me. And it also took me time to distinguish between my own desires, and my obsession with fulfilling others’ needs.
It was at the end of my third semester that I decided to take control over my life. I went on a detox, with no defined period. After the initial month-long struggle, it got easier. My friends, especially my roommate in college, were very supportive, through all my moody behavior. I tried not to give into my urge to touch myself at least 3 out of 5 times, and over time, the urges became infrequent. I also forbade myself from having sex, but allowed myself a kiss or two once in a while. I stopped getting as wet about five weeks in, and shortly after, my clitoris stopped swelling up unexpectedly.
“And then he’s somewhere inside of me, each thrust rattling my rib-cage like a bottle of pills. I’m somewhere outside of myself, thinking about lust— about my slutty white sheets and all the men who like to hide in them.”Kris Kidd
The thoughts were harder to get rid of. For two months, my thoughts would keep defaulting to sex when my mind was not engaged. Sitting in class was also difficult for this reason. But over time, it got better.
When I returned home in the winter break of my second year, I was a changed person. I didn’t try to meet any of the boys I had been with in the city earlier. I cared more for my friends and family. I met him though – the boy I lost my virginity to. For some reason, I didn’t feel soulless when I was with him – I felt invigorated. This was the first time I was able to sense that, even though I had been seeing him every now and then for the last two years. So, before I left for college that semester, I tried to plant the ‘relationship’ seed in his head. It didn’t work.
Over the next few months, while I was in college, I kept in touch with him. I didn’t want to be the kind of girl that just drops everything and goes chasing after some guy that doesn’t want her, so I tried to keep initiating conversations with new guys. Somehow, I couldn’t stay interested in any one except the one that was halfway across the country. So, although it was difficult, I didn’t have sex with anyone until I got back. And sure enough, he and I got together.
A few months in: I don’t experience intense needs for sex anymore. My fantasies are now shaped such that they depict me loving sex, not just being an instrument for someone else’s pleasure. I now find it incredibly easy to say no, to know what I want and with whom, and when not to compromise. And these are all lessons I needed to teach myself.
No Romeo was going to save me from myself. I was the only one with control. It took a while, but now I know.
What’s important here is the struggle. Self-discovery is difficult and you might not always be ready for what you’re about to uncover, but it’s the only way to really grow in life. When I look back now, I have no regrets. I have stories – stories from events that have each influenced some part of the person I am today; stories that make my struggle unique. What I’m trying to say is that I know it’s hard, but one path I am glad I did not walk down was that of ‘shame’ and ‘dishonor’. I know I was close to hating myself, with all these narratives about men ‘using’ women, and ‘slut’ vaginas being likened to stale food. Some people are condescending towards you directly; they call you names to your face. It’s essential to discard these opinions. If you’re going through a phase of this kind, internalizing these thoughts really elongates your struggle.
In sum, I’d like to say that sex addiction is real. It is a real problem. And it can turn your life upside down. If you feel like you’re just having sex for the sake of it, or if you find it difficult to say no to people even though you previously thought you didn’t want them, don’t wait until you have physical symptoms. If you sense a problem, acknowledge it immediately. But most importantly, don’t assume your value is somehow connected to the number of people you’ve been with. It’s a slippery slope that you don’t need to slide down.