A brief update – par for the course

So I managed to drop off the face of WordPress for several months since my last post. I never did get around to posting a debriefing, and I’m not even sure if I could remember the specifics of that meeting at this point, but suffice it to say, the fight continues. In the interim, Mrs S and I have met with our counselor a few more times, with fair-to-middlin’ progress. For the most part, we have still settled into the familiar rut of feeling much like roommates who are very kind to one another (on the whole). We have good weekends here and there and long hum-drum weeks where I wonder whether it’s really worth the struggle or not.

I’ve started to come to grips with the nature and long-standing extent of my addiction(s) and some of the underlying tangle of issues that have preceded and succeeded them. It feels like a scattered effort at times. While I have not acted out with anyone since before the affair(s) were discovered, I’ve still been plagued by bouts of confusion, irritability, lusting fantasies, and rare instances of PMO. Since our last session with the counselor, I have tried to cut out all MO (let alone PMO). It’s been torturous at times, especially last week – the thoughts and lack of concentration PARALYZED me at work. The Mrs and I finally connected intimately a couple of times over the weekend which brought much needed relief.

I still find it hard to share any kind of deep emotion or be vulnerable with her, which leads to my hesitance to initiate lovemaking with her (which is in turn read as “low desire” or “no desire” or “he must be fooling around”). It’s almost like a lose-lose situation. I find it hard to put my feelings into words with anybody, really, or even to *feel* sometimes. I’m starting to wonder or guess that such difficulty goes hand in hand with my desires/addiction. Being “vulnerable” with others would always lead to being hurt, teased, mocked, called horrendous things, bullied, beaten. No, it was better to not feel those things and find enjoyment in other places – things I could control, like PMO. I could go on and on about where that led, but then this wouldn’t be much of a “brief” update.

I’m just trying to pick a strand on the knot, and see how far it will untangle. Maybe if I don’t promise or hint about another update or follow-up post, it might actually happen 😉

 

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Session prelude

I still haven’t been very “post-y” around here, but by and large I feel that may be a good thing. I saw where another fellow struggler once wrote that the more they think about their struggle and focus on how the behaviors and urges seem to “click” inside them, the harder the fight seems. I concur.

On the whole, things have been working well. Mrs. Sharpley & I have been “firing on all cylinders” together much more as of late. We’re both in good spirits, we’re more loving & patient with one another, gentle in correction, and joyfully intimate when the time allows. It used to be that I dreaded the weekends and looked forward to the work week – largely because the weekends meant more time in difficult situations around home with Mrs. S. Now, I look forward to quiet non-busy time at home with her.

The work week has actually become my bane, especially when Mrs. S and I go more than a couple days without bedroom intimacy – more on that in another post though, perhaps. As it stands, I’m about to leave for my first one-on-one session with our marriage counselor. We’ve seen him as a couple for the past 4 or 5 months, but this is my first time with him solo. I’m slightly nervous, as I’m not really sure what to expect, but I know he has our best interests in focus.

I may post a “debriefing” later. Until then…. SDG

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A portrait. A paradox.

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NOTE: This post will hint at some fairly graphic sexual content. No details, but some topics and specific paraphilias are mentioned that usually aren’t done so in polite company.

…so…

What are the things that I deal with in my mind/heart on an (almost) daily basis?

From the few posts I’ve made and the description of the blog, you can gather that a lot of it revolves around sex. More specifically, I’m starting to understand that at its root my addiction stems from a cocktail of insecurity, social anxiety, and a desire for approval and affection that manifests itself through the outlet of sexual desires. Throughout my life this outlet has existed in many forms; and it’s those forms, experiences, and memories that I struggle to keep myself from getting “lost” in almost daily.

I have been drawn to lingerie and womens’ clothing since I was a preteen. I dressed in what was available on a few occasions when no one else was around; and once I discovered mb’ing, womens’ clothing was sometimes involved a portion of the time until high school or so.

Since my preteen days, I’ve also fantasized about being someone or something else entirely. Sometimes as pure childhood escapism, but also in a sexual way at times. I would often imagine what it might be like for a man and woman together, usually more curious about the female (receiving) end of things. Looking back, this seems to be the first inklings of “sexual submissive” tendencies.

I’ve indulged in viewing porn in one form or another since high school, mostly through the advent of the internet and it’s precursor: bulletin board systems (BBS’es).

I had a handful of relationships with women in college and shortly thereafter which were built upon mutual sexual attraction (more like “availability”) and then trying to build something on top of that.

Since a couple of experiences in early high school, I have been sexually attracted to male canines. I’ve always felt a strong emotional connection dogs since my childhood reliance upon our family pet. But the introduction of a new pet later in life saw that emotional connection take on a more physical turn. I won’t indulge in more detail than necessary for fears of alienating readers or letting my mind wander. Suffice to say though, I was always the “submissive” participant, I had experiences in college as well, and thoughts related to this activity still pop into my mind. It was also my comfort with this activity that turned me on to the idea of possibly of being with men.

In late college, I discovered adult bookstores and “cruisy” spots around campus where men would go for anonymous relief. Again, I’ll say only that I was always in the “submissive” role in these encounters.

I cheated on my wife.

After marriage, I began acquiring toys. A couple of these were mutually beneficial, but I was always more “jazzed” about them than my wife. I had joined a review site that allowed me to acquire these items for free, so I gathered a decent collection & variety of items including a couple of dildos for my personal use. I’d use them when I had the house to myself in lieu of going out to a bookstore and doing something much worse. I enjoyed them, but had to do so mostly in secret. A few months ago I threw away all these items (even the ones that were a bit helpful) because it was expected of me.

…and here I am.

Addict. Crossdresser. Fantasizer. Porn consumer. Zoophile. Submissive. Fornicator. Bisexual. Adulterer.

…in past deed and present thought, at least. And herein lies the paradox (and hence the title of the blog), because one other title has always contended with those and must now & ever prevail:

Redeemed.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” –Rom 8:28-30

The “already” and the “not yet”. The paradox. Already justified, being sanctified, unto a glory that is to come. A paradox and a place of comfort.

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Envying the wicked

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There have been times lately in my struggle where I’ve felt much like Cypher from the Matrix. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll remember the scene. He’s sitting at a table in a restaurant within the Matrix, speaking with an Agent about selling out his comrades. He stares at the bite of steak on the end of his fork knowing that it’s only an illusion . His desire is to be plugged back into the Matrix. To go back to “sleep” and be able to enjoy the illusions of that world again without the hard struggle of reality.

I find myself wondering at times if I’d only “enjoyed myself more” in the “freer” days of my youth (especially my college years & post-college). If I were without responsibility or “conscience”. But then that very conscience and God’s Word remind of what is written many times in the Pslams and Proverbs:

“Do not envy the wicked”

 

“Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.”

There’s not much I can say after that. I’d love to type something profound or even witty, but I’m tired from a long day of fighting with myself.

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A pivotal time

As I makes strides forward in my journey out of a sexually-obsessed mindset, I find myself doing more and more self-analysis in an attempt to try and figure out where, how, and to what extent the train veered off the wrong track. Looking back, I’ve always known that junior high was an EXTREMELY traumatic time for me, at least in terms of the bullying and verbal harassment. Once I went on to High School and a mostly new set of peers, the bullying ceased (for the most part) and I thought junior high was safely behind me. It’s only in going back through that time (and even elementary school) and seeing the places, people, and things I ran to for “refuge” during those years that I realize I had all the seeds planted for sexual dysfunction soon after in life (not to mention the social dysfunctions I already nursed).

Somewhere around the 8th grade, I remember feeling desperate to win the affections of a member of the opposite sex. I had already suffered some humiliation and heartbreak at the hands of a girl in the 6th or 7th grade, and I was really starting to “notice” girls in my age group. There were a handful of girls I pined over. I had the nerve to ask a couple of them out, but they always declined – usually very loudly, to the delight of others. There were two girls in particular that I was downright obsessed with (though not at the same time). I would daydream about hugging and kissing them, holding their hand, I’d even write super sappy lovelorn poetry. Nothing ever became of either crush.

It was around this time, amid almost daily verbal harassment (and sometimes physical assaults) from my peers that I began attending a church and met a boy my age I’ll refer to as “B”. B actually lived just a few houses up from my parents and we happened to go to the same church VBS one summer and “got saved”. In honesty, we had the fear of Hell put into us, and we enjoyed the free food and not-too-Bible-y entertainment the church youth group offered, so we became regulars there and friends outside of church. B actually attended a Christian school, but didn’t seem much like other “churchy” kids I’d heard about. Quite the contrary: at age 14, B rubbed snuff, could cuss like a sailor, and had plenty of tales of sexual escapades to share when we weren’t playing video games.

It wasn’t until a handful of years later that I realized that not only was B a complete liar, but he was also a thief who stole a lot of things from me one night while he slept over at my house. But if only that was all the damage our friendship had caused. I’d put so much stock in B’s tales (and his promises that he could “hook me up” as well), that I had indelibly fashioned an idol – an unreal image of what sex should mean in my life.

Around the time our friendship was waning, my parents started getting into church (one of the more pentecostal variety), and it was there that I came across the second girl I obsessed over: the pastor’s daughter. Long story short, she never gave me the time of day either, but while I was there, I attended a summer camp much akin to the movie “Jesus Camp” and was subjected to more false doctrine and spiritual peer pressure than any child should ever have to endure.

Bullying, rejection, false friends, aberrant churches, and a socially awkward teenager starved for friendship, love, and affection among his peers. There’s no “early childhood trauma” that I can remember, but with such a recipe, was one really needed? I remember scattered instances of trying on bras and pantyhose when no one else was around the house growing-up. I remember coming across my older brother’s dirty magazines and seeing topless women on HBO & Cinemax. I even remember having a wet dream about being restrained under a net of some kind and being aroused by struggling against it. But no molestation or other “trauma”.

I was isolated in the boonies, alone and friendless. The only companion I had that seemed to care as a “peer” when I poured out my heart was one that couldn’t even speak in return. He listened every time I cried, and was content to let me wrap my arms around him hold him close until the world seemed a little bit brighter. Then he’d happily wag his tail when I scratched his neck.

But that’s something I may talk more about next time.

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Finding one’s stride

It’s definitely been an odd few weeks. Already I’ve slagged-off in regards to keeping this journal updated, so firstly, my apologies for that to the few folks that check in on me. By and large, I’ve been in one of those moods where it seems that the more I try to self-analyze the motivations for dressing or my borderline sex addiction, the harder it is for me to not be consumed by the very thoughts, temptation, and time-wasting I’m trying to avoid. It’s been easy enough to find other things which require undivided attention: the Mrs, my day job, my home business, etc. But even when I’m hard at work or deeply enjoying those other things, the siren call is still there, waiting for a moment to grab my attention.

I used the term “borderline” a moment ago in regards to sexual addiction in my life. Our counselor seems to think I’ve had (or have) mild SA. I’m essentially inclined to agree. While not an “offender” other than having sought encounters in semi-public areas, I’ve definitely placed an unhealthy amount of importance and assessment of my own inherent worth upon sex throughout my life. What should have been reserved as a beautiful gift for a lifemate became the lens through which I measured how much I was appreciated, desired, and loved.

It’s a very tricky thing, therefore, when physical affection and sex are my top two “emotional needs”. It’s tricky to aprpeciate that it *is* a genuine need, and indeed a gift from God that I’m allowed to enjoy in its proper context while at the same time not placing an unhealthy emphasis upon it and making an idol of my own desires. How much/often is enough? How do I overcome the awkwardness of asking for it when it feels like I’m “putting her out”?

As such, I’ve come to the conclusion that when I come across such a knot or dilemma, it’s time to switch gears and try following another thread, so to speak. By grace, my prayer life has been improving slowly. I’ve been getting back into studies of the Word and my ever-present passion for doctrinal, theological, and historical studies has been thoroughly stoked. So I’m trying to make the most of that and focus more on the task of growing some spiritual roots together as “Mr. and Mrs. Sharpley” despite our varied doctrinal stances.

I’m also thankful for a couple of new blogs that have cropped up lately from others who struggle in much the same way I have. Even if Covenant Eyes flags them and it means I’ll have to explain it to my accountability partner – heh. While there were no incidents of sexual abuse in my childhood (that I’m aware of) other than horrendous bullying and physical abuse in junior high, I specifically see much of myself and my struggles in the chronicles of “Recovering Through Faith”

At some point I may give an in-depth chronicle of the various “circles” in which I’ve found myself that have all contributed to the hot mess I am today. But for now, I’m just thankful as ever that Mrs sharpley and I have the opportunity to rebuild as things should have been all along. Even if it is horribly pain-staking work at times – the type that makes you wish you could either catch just a glimpse of the glorious end or else burn it all down and walk away.

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A need summed up in words

I’ve been trying to break-down what it is that appeals to me about dressing, and causes me to spend so much time daydreaming about it (regardless of how many times I tell myself I need to focus on more productive things). I’ve tried thinking back to my memories of early childhood – things I haven’t really spent much thought on ever. Two counselors have asked if I was abused as a child. The first (which was my first and last visit to that particular one) said straight-up a few minutes in “so who molested you? I’ve never seen a man with your condition that wasn’t molested as a child.”

Sadly, there was no such incident (unless it’s buried somewhere WAAAAY deep). I say “sadly” because part of me wishes I could just point to some trauma and say “yep, that’s what did it!” But I can’t. The fascination with women’s clothing, sexually submissive desires, same-sex attraction (at least in a purely physical/sexual context), and other things I may go into at some point down the road.

It’s all a tangled knot – a rush of desires, emotions, fantasies, feeling, wants, etc. So I tried to focus on one thing at a time. I decided to ask myself a question: “What’s the one thing I feel most strongly about the experience of dressing that makes me not want to let go?” After consideration, my one-word answer will probably come as no surprise to others who have been in the same spot. The single-most thing I felt? “Beautiful.”

There’s a part of me that has a desire to feel “beautiful”. Not handsome, rugged, or debonaire – but, beautiful. Even saying the word aloud makes my heart skip a little.

So what do I do with this? For now, it just helps that I can put it into words. It’s one piece of the puzzle, identified. Reading a post from a fellow struggler about “The Importance of Affirmations”  showed me the value of being able to put things into words as you work through your issues. As I try to build my list of affirmations to deal with what’s going on in my heart and mind, it’s one more piece to steer by – one more marker to help me navigate the whole tangled mess.

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