I will never f*ck a stranger again.
My wake-up call was in 2014. I’d just moved to New York. I was lonely. My only friends were this nice guy from meetup.com and this chick from my support group. I was meeting guys off OkCupid. I’d done bars, clubs, the kink scene, etc. I had to try everything. Otherwise, I felt like I wasn’t real.
The psych community is divided on sex addiction.
It’s not in the DSM-5. Professionals tend to see hypersexuality as a symptom of something else: bipolar or borderline — a way to fill the void left from bad parenting; compensation for a poor or non-existent self-image. It’s that last one for me. I have to be active. I have to be beautiful. Everything else is secondary.
I think a lot of it has to do with my autism. I was diagnosed at 13, around the same time I started getting hit on. I wasn’t used to positive attention from kids my age, just from teachers telling me I was smart
In high school, I developed a reputation. I dug it at first. I liked being something other than the weird smart girl. But my relationships weren’t healthy. My rep wasn’t making me any friends, either. I hated myself for what I was doing, but at the same time I fed off it. I remember this nifty story by Bolshevik mascot Maxim Gorky called “Twenty Six Men and a Girl” that rung a bell. He writes about a devilish bun baker:
“There are some people for whom life holds nothing better or higher than a malady of the soul or flesh. They cherish it through life, and it is the sole spring of life to them. While suffering from it they nourish themselves on it. They complain about it to people and in this manner command the interest of their neighbors. They exact a toll of sympathy from people, and this is the only thing in life they have.”
I’ve seen buff autistic guys use sex to connect with people too.
Anyway, back to this man from OkC. He was hot. Very hot. He was Argentinian. He wore a blue velvet blazer. We met at a bar, and he talked about Wall Street. I drank Blue Moon and flipped through W magazine. I didn’t notice that the stuff he was saying didn’t add up.
He took me to his place. He played Drake. I climbed on him on his couch, and I felt that high. The sex was terrible, but the room lit up. I felt alive.
The second time, we went dancing, and he bought me cheap empanadas. The third time, we went to a club. He knew the bouncer. I dragged him in the bathroom, and the guard let us pass with a wink. I faced away from him and put my hands on the wall. When I turned around, I realized the condom wasn’t there. I kept saying “Did you use it?! Did you use it?!” and he kept insisting he did.
I asked him where it was. He said he’d “put it away.”
I scrambled out of the club and hightailed to the emergency room to get post-exposure prophylaxis. The cab driver kept asking if I was okay; if he needed to pull over so I could puke. I wanted to tell him that I wished I was having an overdose. But I didn’t have the nerve. I realized with horror that this probably wasn’t the first time he’d stealthed me. I just hadn’t noticed.
I was at St. Luke’s all night. They put me at the front of the line, to the chagrin of a car accident victim. That was when I knew it was real.
Sex addiction can get surreal. You’re both hyper-present and dissociated, like you’re moving through a Toulouse-Lautrec painting or a Lana video. Music can put me in that state. So can books & movies. I’m calm for a while and then I want to act out again.
There’s the inevitable crash.
Those three months after getting stealthed were the worst of my life. I checked my arms for rashes in class. I spent all night every night scouring the Internet for AIDS stuff. The moderators on poz.com called me a drama queen. When I went to Gay Men’s Health Crisis in Chelsea, I kept telling them how hot this man was. I didn’t want them to think I was a loser.
Every addict I’ve talked to has a story like this, when they knew it was the end of the line. I remember when my bipolar lover in college showed up loaded outside my door in a Renaissance costume with a bunch of guns in his car. Another old flame, a love addict, tried to get back with his wife and realized she was having sex for meth. Everyone has a breaking point.
But addiction never really goes away.
Dry addiction is a real state of mind. People transfer their addictions too. They might go from a hard addiction to a soft one. A lot of “ex”- addicts crouch in their apartments on the Internet for 10 hours a day and call it normal. Gaming addiction is a thing now. These habits won’t kill you, but they’ll gnaw away at your soul. I’ve spent the last two years as an Internet croucher and 24/7 pot smoker because I couldn’t stand to face myself. I was riddled with fear.
This is not a sustainable life. Especially if you have people who care about you. After two years of me living in a constant stupor, sexting, reading smut, and committing some intermittent acts of egregiousness with others, my now ex-partner and our couples counselor finally sent me to rehab. The first day was scary, but I walked out feeling better than I have in a long time. A whole room full of drugged-up hermits. I’m not alone.
In these groups, people talk about dope, prison, losing their families. I know that’s some fucked-up shit, but in a way I envy them. These people weren’t afraid of taking action in their lives as I’ve been. They went all the way. I was sitting there in my neon orange sweater and snowboots, going on about stealthing. I didn’t want them to think I was just some lame-ass pothead. Like look you guys, I’m hard too.
I gave up the weed right away. The sex will be harder. I feel like it’s part of my core self.
Being sexy isn’t a bad thing, but I don’t understand which parts of me are my adventurous spirit and which parts are the addiction.
I’m a quiet addict, and I don’t act out as much or as dangerously as I used to. But the feelings are always there. I feel like I’m two people sometimes. And I don’t know which one is going to win.
#ActuallyAutistic lady from New York. Her work has been published in Slate, Broadly, Psych Central, ThoughtCatalog, Cleis Press, Erotic Review Mag & other places.