MC: “Change my reality.”

Summer of 2012 our marriage almost ended.  And, the double-life I had been leading ended.  Through all our years together I had been struggling with jealousy, possessiveness, anger, and a sense that I wanted TL to be a different person and to meet my needs more.  I wanted her to be significantly less sexually experienced than I when we first married.  I wanted her to give me sex at the drop of a hat, in all the ways I liked.  I wanted her to look up to me sexually.  Instead, I looked up to her sexually. I felt inferior. I felt inadequate and intimidated.  Those feelings lead me to wish for things beyond my control.

I wished TL’s sexual history would magically change.  I wished mine would magically change.  I  became pathologically obsessed with those trivial, illogical thoughts.  At first I burdened TL with badgering and pleading, begging for her to change my reality, to make me feel like a man, and to re-tell our stories in a way that would make me feel confident, bold, and good about myself.  She could not.  No one could.  I was asking something impossible:  changing reality or having someone else change the way I think.  I gradually stopped burdening TL with those sick obsessions, at least on the surface.  I put up a front of being just fine emotionally.

I began a long, gradual process of sharing fewer and fewer of my feelings, wants, needs, and insecurities with TL.  I also was very prideful and petty about my desire for sex.  I told myself TL did not want sex with me.  I told myself I would see how long I could go without initiating sex with her, to see if she would initiate it.  And, I told myself that if I found an opportunity for extramarital sex, I deserved to take it.  I entered my double-life, ultimately pursuing three affairs, dozens of prostitutes, a porn addiction, and online chat rooms leading to sexual encounters.

My final affair was like all of them.  I found a needy woman, selfish in her own way, who used me for money, attention, or a hope for social advancement, just as I used her for sex and self-validation.  When my wife and kids went to see family in the summer of 2012, I jumped at the opportunity to indulge my selfish whims.  I implemented a strategy to get sex from the affair partner (AP).  I took every opportunity to sneak in indulgence for myself.  My attention to my family was the first thing to suffer.  TL was out of sight and out of mind.  I had my mind on work, fitness, and the affair, and nothing else.  I rushed through everything else to focus only on those things.  Phone calls and notes to my family took the back seat.  I would have my whole life to be with my family, I told myself, but I would only have three short weeks to sneak in all the self-indulgent sex I could get, hopefully enough to last me until my next opportunity for illicit sex.

I was not a sex addict, but I behaved like one.  I binged on illicit sex.  Now that I think about it, I binged on lots of things.  I remember as a child thinking of certain foods as rare opportunities, things parents seldom made available.  And, I was not in control of what I ate, when I ate, or how much I ate.  So, whenever I saw certain foods on my plate, I binged on them, not knowing if and when I might encounter them again.  In my late teens and early twenties I treated alcohol that way.  It was so taboo, so rarely available, and treated by peers and media as so seductive that I binged on it whenever it was available to me.  I did this with pornography, and with sex.  To some degree, I did it with tobacco too.

I gradually corrected my views of food and alcohol, finally seeing that I could largely control my access to those things.  Seeing them as within my control reduced their appeal.  I put them into perspective, allowing me to make rational, cost-benefit based choices regarding them.  And, importantly, I learned to evaluate the costs of overindulgence based on my own goals, plans, and preferences rather than those of my mother, wife, boss, or peers.

I never really learned to see sex in that healthier, less-desperate, less needy way until it was too late.  I binged on illicit sex right up to the moment TL caught me and my house of lies began to collapse.  So, when TL called me during the affair, I saw her as a low priority.  She was not a taboo, controlled substance like food, alcohol, tobacco, porn, or sex.  I didn’t have to binge on her.

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