Looking for Sex Addiction help? Let me share what helped me, including my experience with Sex Addicts Anonymous. I was diagnosed as a Sex Addict in 2014. Here’s my story of sex addiction recovery to help you.
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My ministry, Online Discipleship For Women, is dedicated to alleviating suicide among women globally. In his book titled “Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction” author Dr. Patrick Carnes on p.37 names suicide as the first negative outcome of sex addiction.
RELATED: What Is Sex Addiction?
We can’t talk about women addicted to sex and not discuss suicide issues candidly, as well as depression. I myself struggled with suicidal ideation in life and even attempted suicide twice.
The first and foremost sex addiction help I will share today is identity-related. Building a strong identity is the first step to sex addiction recovery and suicide alleviation.
Identity-Related Sex Addiction Help
From my experience, one of the causes of being addicted to sex is an identity confusion. Sex addiction help I received first largely focused on establishing my true identity in Christ.
Next, I focused on transforming my lifestyle in accordance with my identity.
Here’s the process I went through.
My identity was the primary cause of my sexual acting out. The same might be true for you. So, as you read, reflect on your own life and struggles.
What was my identity, anyway?
From what my mom taught me since I was very little, I learned the following things about myself (stated in the present tense here, just like they were received and adopted by me early on in life).
I am an unwanted accident
My mom told me she didn’t want me, went to abort me but wasn’t able to due to health reasons. She condemned me for being born, making it clear that I was a burden and had no right to be.
I am worthless
My mom told me often that I was worthless and had absolutely no value, that there was no purpose to have me around, and that it would have been much better for everyone if I wasn’t born.
I am ugly
My mom criticized my legs, how skinny they were, and how they were no match to the beautiful legs of my cousin Vika. She also criticized my eyebrows, making me redo my makeup, even if it caused me to be late for school. She’d get Vika and me in front of her and her sisters, and start comparing our bodies, making fun saying “You have no boobs and your butt is so flat! Look at Vika, she’s beautiful!”
I am stupid
My mom called me ugly and stupid. Not only would she tell me this to my face but also she’d talk to her friends about it. She’d claim that I would never amount to anything in life.
I am fatherless
My mom didn’t protect me from anyone who called me “fatherless,” rejecting me for it. Instead, she also called me a “miscarriage” and made sure I knew that neither she nor my father wanted me. She blamed my lack of father on me.
I am rejected
My mom rejected me for being born, for being a girl, for me demanding that she’d call me by my actual name and not the boy’s name she normally called me, for pursuing education, which was against my family tradition, and for everything else about me.
I am unloved
My mom sometimes told me that she loved me. It was after she’d grab a black leather belt and beat the crap out of me. In school, if she was called to speak with a teacher, she publicly condemned me for whatever the teacher said and would demand that I’d be perfect if I wanted her to love me. I had to perform for approval, mainly with cleaning after all the people in our condo and doing heavy labor on the farm. If I did those things, I was ok, if I wanted to study on play with other children, I was bad. I knew that I was unloved, and she also told me that. She’d bring to my attention how my grandma didn’t love me, my father didn’t love me, my aunts didn’t love me, my teachers didn’t love me, and neither did my friends. mom would say there was nothing to love about me.
I am a daughter of a janitor
My mom and grandma were janitors, which was totally ok with me, but me being ok with it was not ok with my mom. Any time I dreamed big or had goals for a brighter future, she’d say: “Who do you think you are?! You are a daughter of a janitor!”
I am for men and for sex
My mom taught me that the purpose of my life was to be a mother and a wife. To get a husband was my only goal, according to my mom. I was for men, she taught me, and men loved sex, so I was for sex. She showed me porn at a young age to teach me how to love men with sex because sex was exactly what love was all about.
I am not good at anything because my hands are growing out of my ass
My mom made sure to discourage me from trying anything creative: painting, drawing, cooking, knitting, or ever writing. Whenever I tried something that brought me joy, she’d say: “Your hands are growing out of your ass, I can do everything so much better!”
I need men to validate me with gifts and flowers, otherwise I don’t exist
My mom insisted that if men didn’t bring me flowers, cards, and expensive gifts, it meant I didn’t exist. This actually started in elementary school and related to the traditions of the International Women’s Day celebration in Russian elementary school. Then, the torture continued into my teen years.
I need sex to get vitamin E or I’ll get sick – my health depends on sex
My mom would explain to be how essential sperm was to my health and wellbeing because it was “the best source of vitamin E,” as my mom believed. She’d find articles to support her point of view. She’d demand my reports on how often I had sex and encourage me to take it up a notch.
I am as good of a woman as the quality of my sex skills
My mom gave me a series of books as a gift for my birthday. It taught me all aspects of seduction, sex, and orgasms. She would have long talks with me about what really makes for a great woman: sex skills. She’d describe to me her girlfriends and what they did to please their lovers, who by the way were all married men, and she’d assure me that as long as I mastered my sex skills, I made it in life.
I must pursue many men if I want a husband, the competition is high
My mom taught me to sleep with as many men as possible, and my cousins were a great example to learn from, according to my mom. A few years into my teenage season, my aunt who was married began bringing home her lover and make out with him in front of the entire family when her husband wasn’t around. Watching the adultery take place in my family for years was the only school of life I had. My other aunt who lived with us brought multiple married me home and slept with them in the same bedroom where my grandma slept… My mom also dated a married man who often stayed with us overnight. Everything I learned about love, I learned from my family.
I am weird and I don’t belong to my family, I’m an outcast
My mom told me that I wasn’t a part of her family. She’d pick apart my teeth and arms and even the color of my sweat, declaring that I was just like my father’s family. My father’s family went to college, so later when I decided to pursue higher education, my mom would yell regularly how she was done with me. After I graduated from three colleges, my mom cursed my existence and said all she wished me was death because she hated me so much. She’d say: “I hate you and I just want you dead!” I knew it was true because she was so violent.
I am alone and on my own in the world, no one cares about me
My mom refused to stand up for me since I was little. One time, I asked her to join in when other kids’ parents were out there figuring things out when a conflict occurred on the neighborhood’s swing. My mom declared to me early on that she’d never stand up for me and that I was on my own in life. She kept her promise, indeed.
I came into the world from my mother, I must obey her instructions
My mother persuaded me that I owed her big time for the fact that she didn’t abort me or gave me away at birth. In our relationship, I was more of a servant to her than a daughter. She always found a way to bring up how I’m forever deeply indebted to her. That was the bonding glue that kept my mom’s crazy crap in my head for many years, forcing me to act out sexually until I sought out new beliefs. I learned that I didn’t come into this world from my mother, I came here from God through my mother. I am a child of God who planned me for His purpose.
What I shared with you was tough. I always loved and worshipped my mom. She gave me the best she could, based on what she knew, her family background, her educational and professional environment, and the culture she grew up in during the Communist Era.
I forgave my mom.
RELATED: How To Forgive
I’m sharing my identity development and evolution to help you relate my story to yours. I’m going to explain many details here to demonstrate how my sex addiction came about and what exactly got me to hit the rock bottom.
These details are ought to help you reflect on your own life and behavior and figure out which type of sex addiction help YOU need based on your signs and symptoms.
RELATED: Sex Addiction Symptoms
I demonstrated to you what my identity eventually became. Now, I will share with you how that identity actually developed.
Before we dive into it, please note: figuring out all of this took years and a ton of work. The things I’m sharing here weren’t obvious to me. They were the things I avoided. They were repressed and suppressed memories. They were never-dealt-with feelings. They were at-all-costs-avoided questions about my background and childhood that I never answered in conversations.
The things I’m sharing here with you were for decades the forbidden fruit in my life. I was taught to put makeup on, wear hills, dress up, and hold my head up high to look good at all costs, no matter what I felt. Well, I never knew what I felt because feelings weren’t even talked about in my family.
Until my sex addiction was out of control and I reached out for help, I was in denial and didn’t know any of the things I’m sharing here with you. I never reflected or processed these details. I was just busy preforming for approval or escaping life into sex.
RELATED: Signs of Sex Addiction
Then, my healing journey had begun with uncovering all the intimate details of my childhood trauma. Those details were the answers I needed to my sex-addiction-recovery-related questions.
My Sex Addiction Story
My story of sex addiction is very simple: from a young age, my mother gave me porn to read and watch, which led to compulsive masturbation since I was in elementary school, and eventually mom instructed me to have sex with many men to achieve multiple orgasms so I could tell her all about it, which ultimately resulted in out-of-control sexual addiction lasting for years. My mother molested me when I was a child.
Introduction to Pornography
When I was five, my mother taught me about sex, explaining to me that I was for sex and sex was love. It was 1988. She used to leave a hard-core pornography book called “Emmanuelle” on a table for me so I could read it.
“Emmanuelle” was also a film I was encouraged to watch to learn about love. This porn series, which was banned by the President of France initially until the new government authorities set it free, includes group sex, lesbian sex, sex with children and strangers, and even rape.
I was a little innocent girl when those images and videos were introduced to me as love.
In the first 14 weeks when this porn film was released, 2.5 million Frenchmen stood in line to watch it.
That film was shown to me causally to educate me about love and my identity as a woman.
I was taught from that point on that to be a woman worthy of a man, I must be as sensual and sexual as the Dutch model and actress Sylvia Kristel.
Why was she Dutch in a French porn series?
Because the pornography was so mind-boggling that the producers were unable to find French actresses to play Emmanuelle.
Here’s elderly Kristel herself explaining that “Emmanuelle” was not even expected to ever be released because it was such a hard-core-porn film.
Yet, to me, a little Russian girl, the film was shown very casually and presented to be about the kind of woman I must become teaching me what love is and how to love.
Released in 1974, the soft-focus French film was one of the first erotic movies to be shown in mainstream cinemas. Sylvia Kristel described the film as violent, humiliating, and disgusting.
She hoped her mother would never see it but it became the most popular film in France and other countries around the world for over a decade.
In Russia, my mother even took me to movie theaters to watch pornography. She was single and obsessed with sex. Emmanuelle was the book popping up everywhere I was. When I saw my mother reading at home, it was Emmanuelle she was holding in her hands.
My mother never wanted to hold me for comfort as other parents I saw did with their children. She would give me affection by gently petting my back with something soft if I agreed to do the same to her.
I experienced severe affection deprivation growing up.
RELATED: Narcissistic Mother
There were days I’d beg my mom for affection but she’d reject me over and over again. Even as I’m writing this today, at 36, I feel physical pain in my stomach and I have a lump in my throat thinking about that cruel rejection of a child starving for her mom’s affection.
As children, we were left to our own devices.
So, we will talk about my cousins because they influenced me significantly when it comes to my sexual acting out.
Cunnilingus at Five Years Old
My mother told me that she was not good at sex and that women who were better at it had a higher chance of getting married.
Getting married and having a baby was the purpose of my life.
So, my mother couldn’t wait for me to get rid of my virginity.
I was supposed to be encouraged to save my precious purity for the one and only special man but instead, I was shamed openly for being “behind” since my cousins and neighbors had sex openly since a very young age.
A word about my cousins.
I was five when my cousins and I were practicing cunnilingus on each other.
We are one year apart.
My older cousin was the enthusiastic organizer of such kids-friendly activities as cunnilingus, mutual masturbation, and other interesting expressions of curiosity she witnessed inside our home.
This was all taking place within the four walls of our little condo with our parents and grandparents present.
That cousin was my mother’s golden child, and I was her scapegoat.
Giving Away My Virginity at Sixteen
My mother was obsessed with sex and always talked to me that I was for men and for sex. She was disappointed that at 16, I was still a virgin.
So, one night, my cousin Yulya and I went out. She had a boyfriend, Valik. We were at the lake drinking, and Valik brought his fried.
I just met the guy. After a few bottles of vodka, I remember us driving to some condo. It was rainy. There were a large TV and a futon sofa in the middle of the living room.
The guy I had just met and I were having my first-ever sex.
I don’t remember his name but I do remember how delighted my mom was, interviewing me about the details of that night.
My mom’s behavior was the sign of her own sex addiction but I didn’ know it. I didn’t think that anything was wrong with my mom because no one was there to confront her, and she was all I knew.
RELATED: Signs of Sex Addiction
Those interviews were the only time when mom showed me affection and acceptance or was interested in my life at all. Mother loved asking about my sexual experiences, and she wanted to know everything.
Eventually, I got pregnant.
Mom’s ideal future for me was to get married early on, have a baby, get divorced, and live with her for the rest of my life so she could raise my baby. She obsessively talked to me about her vision on a regular basis. I was scared that such a terrible scenario would actually come true for me. I loved school and learning and I wanted to have a better life.
However… I was pregnant at 17 and miscarried.
After that, I never got pregnant again.
From a very young age, I remember my mother’s conversations with me about the importance of sex, how much I needed a man, how essential it was for me to master my sex skills by practicing a lot, as well as how I needed to prepare myself for marriage by developing my sex-related abilities.
She literally taught me to be obsessed with sex, orgasms, lingerie, seduction, sex toys, and masturbation.
I was promiscuous in my teenage years.
Two Sexual Assaults
I was raped twice as a teen. My mother advised me to consider it a blessing. She advised me to focus on how lucky I was to have more sexual experiences than other girls because that was a sure sign that I’d get a good husband soon.
The rape was never talked about again but I did learn that I was on my own in life. Also, I began to realize that perhaps something was wrong with my mom whom I had worshipped since I was little.
An Enmeshed Mother-Daughter Relationship
It was an enmeshed and awkwardly confusing relationship where my mother brainwashed me and required inappropriate things to be done in order for me to earn her love and approval.
I worshipped my mom and loved her, I wanted to protect her because she was the scapegoat of her family, and I was rejected by the family at large, so I never felt like I belonged, which made me attached so much to my mom. Also, growing up I only had school and home. No one ever paid for me to go to extracurricular activities or classes. I tried many things I thought were free but as soon as supplies or trips were required for the clubs I tried to join, it was the end. My mother discouraged me from trying dancing, painting, writing, or anything because she herself competed with me.
When I tried to pursue anything creative, such as cooking, drawing, painting, knitting, sewing, etc, my mom would tell me that I was incapable and she’d declare with confidence “Your hands are growing out of your ass! Look at me, I can do everything so much better!”
I felt anxious, fearful, rejected, and abandoned every day growing up. To deal with my anxiety, I found some comfort through masturbation, like in those movies mom showed me early on as a child.
I was still in elementary school when I placed my little orange jacket on my chair and was moving my little butt in circles masturbating in front of my teacher.
No one ever addressed this or offered me any help. No one ever questioned my mother’s parenting, the pornographic literature she offered to me, or the hard-core porn films shown to me as a child.
Here’s what I learned from therapy and support groups on my journey of healing.
Little Anna had a need for attention and acceptance. Her mother only gave her love when talking about men and sex.
So, that little girl was thinking: “Want attention and acceptance form your mother? Talk sex and men!”
That led to the feeling of obsession with sex and men in the heart of the little girl who was simply starving for her mother’s love. She was scared to be rejected again and again by her mother if she refused that mentality.
That feeling led to the development of obsessive-compulsive sexual behavior.
Because the model that was developed in that girl’s head was this:
“Want to feel loved by your mother? Have a lot of sex and talk to her about it, so you two can bond.”
The pattern was reinforced for years, and that’s how I ended up suffering from sexual addiction, giving myself away for the sake of the opportunity to bond with my mother.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with sex addiction.
Also, in 2014, I gave my life to Christ, embarked on a celibacy journey, went to sex-addiction therapy, and attended Sexaholics Anonymous here in Atlanta at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.
I wrote this poem about the experience.
When I was five years old, my mama told me
That I was born to be a mother and a wife.
I was taught how to make men want me
And that sex was the best key to my best life.
When at six years old I strived to study,
Mama told me that instead I needed men,
That their focus of attention was my body
And I’d better master sex to live in zen.
When at 15, graduating with high honors,
I left school to go to college and to work,
Mama told me that my wasteful life her bothers,
That my oddity and fancy were a quirk.
When at 19, graduating with high honors,
After college, I went on to Busines School,
Mama told me I was crazy and went bonkers,
She was hateful, she was violent, she was cruel.
At 24 I graduated with high honors
From two good schools with two degrees in law and business.
I mastered also sex and men to meet my mothers
Expectations and demands for my life’s richness.
I got married to Prince Charming and left Russia.
And I strived to be a mother and a wife.
Domestic Violence was my marriage daily crushing.
I had to run away to save my life.
When police took me away to homeless shelter,
I was crushed, I was confused, I was in pain.
In a foreign country I life entered.
To survive, I had to daily use my brain.
Within 18 months, I learned the language
And I passed the Academic English Test.
As an immigrant, I had a disadvantage,
So I went to school to prove my best.
MBA from GSU was good decision,
Only mama was still living in my head.
She continued my identity collision:
To be mother, to be wife, or stay unwed?
Mama’s voice remained the strongest, so I married.
He was doctor. I was student. We had kids.
Her ideas of myself I always carried:
I’m for men and I’m for sex. Mom’s voice mine beats.
When I got my MBA and started working,
That second marriage quickly also got dissolved.
As I was hustling a lot and money earning,
My identity and purpose both evolved.
But Mama’s voice was surely ever-lasting:
You’re for men, you are for sex, you must be wife.
In confusion and in pain my purpose wasting,
I went on to live a very furtive life.
Slept around, drank like crazy, I was sinking.
My identity collision was a burden.
To avoid my pain and life, I was just drinking,
Who I was and whose I was, I was uncertain.
It was April, it was dark, and I was crying.
There was carpet, there were stars, and I was kneeling.
I was praying - to surrender I was trying.
And that night I did experience deep healing.
I asked Jesus: change my mind and my head’s voices.
I asked Him to lead my life, to guide my journey.
Ever since my soul is healed and it rejoices.
Mom’s and mine beliefs on life no longer tourney.
Jesus taught me that I am, in fact, a royal.
Child of God, I am, in fact, King’s Princess.
Ever since, to Him I’m being loyal.
Trusting Him, I am becoming fearless.
Mom’s beliefs and my beliefs no longer matter.
Jesus tells me my life’s purpose and desire.
Single life for me, He says, is better.
His commands today my life inspire.
4/27/19 © Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
My sex addiction was the outcome of extensive severe trauma. It was my brain’s defense tool to protect me from being crushed by the pain of my terrifying life at home growing up. It was a way to escape my life as an adult, as well.
My Sex Addiction Consequences
The consequences of my addiction to sex were not obvious to me. What I’m sharing here took years to process and put into words after I understood all this. As I was going through the misery of sex addiction, I was in denial.
Sexual addiction resulted in my inability to:
- Stay away from the addictive substance (a release of oxytocin and increases in dopamine)
- Practice self-control and set healthy boundaries (I was both the subject and the object of unstoppable daily booties calls feeling trapped and helpless to resist both my own temptations and those of men who preyed on me)
- See how the behavior is causing problems (in short, I thought it was all normal and “everybody” lived the same kind of lifestyle)
- Produce an adequate emotional response (my response was a persistent pattern of failure to control my intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior, despite adverse consequences)
My sexual addiction impaired my functioning to the point of jeopardizing my career, mental and physical health, and my relationships with friends.
I was late for work. Repeatedly. I wanted to leave early on a regular basis to satisfy my temptations. I was confused because I loved my job so much. Yet, even throughout the day, pervasive sexual ideation would carry me away someplace else. I was foggy-minded and ashamed of myself.
Shame led to many lies. I lied to myself. I lied to my friends. When we had a get-together scheduled and I chose a bootie-call instead, I’d lie to cover up my shame. I’d also bring different guys to spend time with my friends, in one day, and I’d beg them to pretend like it was normal. But it wasn’t so my friends began to avoid me.
They saw my problem because the signs of sex addiction are observable.
Lack of conscience describes individuals who are too preoccupied with their own agenda, often to the exclusion of the needs and concerns of others.
That was me.
Many married men took me to many expensive hotels, bought be many buckets of roses, and gave me many luxurious gifts. They had wives and children. I thought nothing of it. I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. I had “needs” and I worked on satisfying those needs. Everything else didn’t really matter to me.
When I look back and remember those times, I have chills all over my body. The only way I can describe that to myself today is in terms of being spiritually dead while appearing physically alive.
When I was a teen, I had a long-distance boyfriend and a local boyfriend. One night I came home with my local boyfriend after we just had sex at his parents’ place, and as I walked in, my mom said: “Your long-distance boyfriend is here (she called him by name of course) and he’s sleeping in your bedroom. Go have sex with him.” My response was shock and confusion because obviously I just walked in with this local boyfriend of mine and he was there, at home with us… No worries! My mom had a clever plan: she kept my local boyfriend busy talking with her while I went and had sex in my bedroom with the boyfriend who was sleeping there. My mom was happy and thought it was really awesome how we did it! She praised herself for being so clever. My mom lacked a conscience, yet she was the wise counsel I looked up to.
Today, I have high sensitivity to the walking dead: those people who lack conscience.
A few simple questions can reveal whether the person I’m talking to is actually alive or rather dead. This ability developed with the kind of experience I described above.
When in April of 2014 I came to the end of myself, fell on my knees, and prayed to God for a new life, He gave me conscience and a new heart.
God opened up my eyes to the things unseen.
And with that came depression because I finally saw who I was and how much hurt I had caused to other people and to myself.
I felt so many feelings – I felt suffocated by all the emotions.
Here’s what I felt…
How I Felt as a Sex Addict
I felt ashamed of myself, my actions, my motives, and my lifestyle.
I felt confused as to why my mother made it her life’s priority to train me for sex addiction.
I felt sad. I experienced deep sorrow for myself and for everyone who got hurt in my pursuit of sexual pleasure.
I felt anxious. Being alone with myself was awkward because I finally saw who I really was, so facing myself was not only uncomfortable but truly scary, I was questioning myself and what I would do next, I felt unstable and unreliable. I felt unsafe in my own relationship with myself.
I felt betrayed, and not only by my mother, who was supposed to take care of me and prepare me for a productive life as an adult but also by me. I betrayed myself. My sexuality was precious, and I gave it away for years as if it were a tradable commodity.
I felt objectified: I used myself, my body, my personality, my smarts, my talents – all to chase sexual pleasure as if I were an object.
I felt terrified. I wondered: will I stop, am I able to, what will I do next, am I a monster, what else am I capable of, do I even care about humans and myself as a human being, can I live with myself for the rest of my life, can I trust myself?
I felt traumatized: all the things that were done to my body and mind were so traumatic. The realization of my mother’s betrayal of my trust was traumatizing because I worshipped her.
I felt disgusted just thinking about all my sexual experiences.
I felt angry: at God, at mom, at my cousins, at the men who raped me, and at myself for giving my body away.
I felt grateful that God brought me out of deadness into aliveness, into His loving arms. He gave me a new heart, He renewed my mind, and He revealed to me my true identity. God showed me that I came to earth not from my mother but through her, I came from my heavenly Father God. He made me, not my mom. And that truth allowed me to begin replacing mom’s harmful teachings with the Biblical teachings.
Processing all the feelings shared with you here and to grasping all the trauma has taken me many years. Yet, my shame was instantly taken away by my lord and savior Jesus Christ the very night I asked Him to come into my heart and save me.
He asked me to go into the world and share my story with you and let you know that there’s hope out there for YOU.
My Life After Sex Addiction
My life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks.
This is the main message I share through this ministry. I say this phrase everywhere, all the time because the truth is that everyone’s life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. No one has a perfect life. No one is perfect. No one is living out all of their dreams. Everyone struggles with something.
That’s life, yet, it’s worth living.
I am a human woman who struggles just like everyone else. Most of the time, I behave and sometimes I don’t. I often procrastinate and avoid dealing with life, I sometimes pretend like everything is great when it isn’t, and I also get scared and hold back on my story, trying to protect my reputation (lol).
For example, I was called to write this article eight weeks ago, yet I procrastinated all this time, trying to avoid the pain associated with remembering the events of my story shared with you today. I procrastinated hoping that God would change His mind and not have me share all this stinky dirty filthy laundry with you. I procrastinated hoping to skip the need to remember all this mess.
Well, it didn’t work because God never let go of His hold on me, so here’s my whole story for you after eight weeks of procrastination. And I’m now rejoicing that I wrote it all out, I’m confident it will help YOU, and that part rocks, but writing all of this sucks.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Ephesians 4:1
Sharing is what God called me to do. Sharing is caring.
My life is committed to sharing vulnerably and openly (and sometimes I do it after fighting God for weeks LOL).
Ministry is hard work. Not only physical work (I do this website, podcast, videos, pictures, everything myself) but also emotional and spiritual work (processing my past and verbalizing it to you is extremely difficult).
My podcast called The Anna Szabo Show is where we have real-life conversations about God, Gospel, and the matters of life. You can subscribe anywhere podcasts are available. Beware that you’ll often hear me cry on the podcast. Also, there, I pray for you to lift you up to God.
YouTube is where I publish videos about the six pillars of joyful living: faith, food, fitness, finances, felicity, and fortitude. Subscribe here.
My book “How Princess Lana Developed Faith and Fortitude” is a collection of three autobiographical Christian fairytales that share the lessons I learned in life: lessons about faith, hope, perseverance, and God.
My dream is to get a book deal with a major publisher to write a book about hope. Why? Because the purpose of my life is to help alleviate suicide among women globally. We need a truthful book about hope revealing that sometimes life rocks and sometimes it sucks, yet, life is worth living.
Celibacy, Singleness, and Sexual Temptations
I’m single and celibate. My life is dedicated to Jesus Christ.
This commitment allows me to serve God, have peace, experience joy, and fulfill my life’s purpose.
It was not an easy decision.
I held on to my box of sex toys for a long time. Eventually, I organized a burial service for my toy box and let it go into the dumpster. Celibacy is a serious, significant, and challenging commitment. Yet, all things are possible through Christ.
I mentioned to you that the first most valuable sex addiction help for me was realizing my identity in Christ. Everything I learned is shared in my FREE ebook called #52Devotionals, which gives you 52 Biblical affirmations to memorize, all based on scriptures, so that whatever you were taught about your identity falsely can be eradicated with the Biblical truth.
Get my #52Devotionals book for free right now.
People ask me about my temptations all the time.
Some seasons are easier than others. I do have temptations sometimes but I starve them. It’s like when I became a vegan, I had temptations for cheese and steak but I starved those urges and they were reduced significantly to a manageable size. Same with sexual temptations: whatever you starve won’t grow.
To minimize temptations, I guard my mind.
I remember at Buckhead Church, I was a part of a small group where one of the leaders invited the entire group of singles to watch “Magic Mike.” I never watched the movie but I heard that it’s extremely sexual. I confronted the leader to no avail but my point is that I don’t watch fifty shades of grey, magic mikes, and other sexual movies. I guard my mind and think about whatever is honorable and praiseworthy. For example, I watch Netflix documentaries about the brain, mind, Billy Graham, nutrition, and health.
And of course, all things Santa! But, I don’t watch unexpected affection scenes in Santa movies. I cover my face or turn away. I don’t read anything erotic or pornographic.
Over time, temptations starved get very weak and little. For me, it’s been a while, and at first, yes, temptations were huge and tough.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13
Writing this article, especially looking up the links about sex addiction resources and also about Emmanuele, has been tough for my mind. While writing this article, I took many breaks to go for a walk, to call a friend for encouragement, to cook, to nap, to meditate, to play with my dog Bruno, to pray, and to breathe. This series of articles on my website is as close I allow myself to get tempted and think about sexual anything. But God is faithful, He keeps me focused on YOU and how this information will serve YOU, so I keep going, though I did want to quit a few times (lol).
If you’re considering celibate lifestyle, you’d need to manage your mind, guard it, protect it, and focus it on God’s Word.
Habits and routines help me stay focused, grounded, and celibate.
Habits and Routines
Addiction is the result of trauma. Trauma leaves us feeling uncertain. Habits and routines get us grounded and add certainty to our lives. Same with goal-setting. Goals give us a roadmap and help us get to where we’re going. I have written goals. My habits and routines support those goals.
Over the years, as women addicted to sex, we failed ourselves often. We no longer trust ourselves. Habits and routines developed on purpose can help us rebuild the most important relationship ever – that with ourselves.
My goal is to abide in Christ instead of walking through life in my own power. This was one thing I desired to start with as I began to heal. Yet, it was hard to maintain this habit. But understanding my purpose and why this habit is so important to me, I eventually, over time, negotiated with myself this: to help my goal, the first thing I do as soon as I get up is pray.
Prayer. I get on my knees next to my bed, I thank God for His blessings, I declare His goodness and my surrender, I cast my cares on Him and ask for help, I pray for my friends (and enemies) by name, and I do all that in Jesus’ name. This habit helps me remain in fellowship with God and hear from Him daily so that I don’t wander off and go astray.
Meditation. I meditate every day, especially before bed, but sometimes I need to meditate in the middle of the day and so I do it. My meditations focus on Biblical truth. It’s a way to take every thought captive, to renew my mind, and to think about whatever is honorable and praiseworthy.
Journaling. I journal every day, and this one habit helps me witness God’s goodness. First, it helps process my life. Most importantly, when I go back and read my journals, I see God’s plan and blessings. It renews my faith and empowers me. Journaling helps me stay true to my goals and remember what I’m doing with my life and why.
Reading. I consider reading as essential as breathing. If it wasn’t for the wisdom of the Bible, Dale Carnegie, Billy Graham, Jim Rohn, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Dave Ramsey, Daniel Goleman, Greg Laurie, and Jordan Peterson, I don’t know where I’d be today because there wasn’t anyone teaching me anything good growing up, but books. Reading a book is a magical experience. It’s peaceful and transformative. It’s very intimate and sacred. Good books influenced my life in a good way.
Writing. I was always good at writing, I mean in Russian and in a secular way, especially when it came to The Importance of Human Capital to Organizational Success, which was the topic I wrote and spoke at conferences about in Russia. The kind of vulnerable writing as you see on my blog here is not something I ever pursued or studied but God called me to write and so I do it, though it’s the most unnatural thing for me. He also gave me poetry, so I’ve written 200+ spiritual poems since 2017. This year, God asked me to start speaking about the bold and painful topics of abuse and my brokenness, so I’ve been writing speeches as well. I wrote two books, 52 devotionals, 700K words of content for this ministry, and it’s been amazing. Writing is living for me. It helps me stay present and grounded, remember what life is all about, cry out to God and praise Him, and share everything I know about living. Writing is therapy. It is something I can’t do without. Writing is my air, food, water, and nutrition. Writing is the key to mental health.
Speaking. I speak openly about my life story to give God all the glory. My goal is to reach as many women as possible and share the truth, the Gospel, in order to alleviate suicide among women globally. I am working on my speaking skills through Toastmasters. Speaking is a mission-critical activity to my ministry, and it’s an essential leadership skill for anyone. Defining my speaking topic, developing my speaker style, and devoting myself to helping the audience who hears my speech – these three things help me grow daily.
Painting. I paint abstract art, and all my paintings come with tales. That’s why my collection is called #PaintingsWithTales. Click here to view my work. Painting is my communion with God and one of the ways I hear from Him. Creating art helps access the deepest and the most forgotten parts of who I am and bring them to life so I can be more whole. Through art, I share the lessons learned from my life’s journey. Painting is new to me – I started painting in April of 2019 and by June, I had a collection of 22 paintings with tales. Learn here how I became an artist.
Cooking. I mistreated my body for decades. My body resented my lifestyle, it was sick, it was crying out for help through inflamed ovaries, pelvic inflammatory disease blocking my fallopian tubes, vaginal yeast infections, and rectal bleeding. I had a lot of sex with many men under the influence of a lot of alcohol. Bronchitis, ear infection, sinus infection, and on and on the list of health issues goes. Cooking healthy, plant-based vegan meals with intention and love allows me to slow down, pay attention to my life, respect and honor my body and its nutritional needs, give it the proper care it deserves, and heal it. I serve most of my meals to myself at a dining room table, with candles, beautiful setup, and calm relaxing music. I eat some of my meals on the river or at the pool. When I do that, I cook my organic food, organize a beautiful tray, take it to the river outside my front door, and eat on the floating dock watching kayakers and paddleboarders passing by waving hello (or I enjoy it on the side of the saltwater pool overlooking the river).
Exercising. I care for my body. I appreciate my body. I love my body. I value the body God gave me as a blessing. My body never failed me, though I did fail it. Working out is essential to maintain my healthy body, and it deserves my intentional care. Exercise also helps boost my mood because depression is something I dealt with and want to prevent as much as possible in the future. Exercising gets my heart rate up, allows me to prevent heart disease, obesity, and many other health issues I don’t want to experience. I work out in the morning, after which I immediately take a really cold shower. It makes me laugh because I never want to do it but I do it anyway because I promised to myself I’d do it. Cold showers are a huge part of why I’m healthy and don’t get sick.
Swimming. I was never a swimmer, it’s something I learned recently. Holding my breath underwater was tough to learn but now I’m able to do 75-second long handstands underwater. Handstand practice allows me to challenge my body, improve its balance, which of course optimizes my overall wellbeing. Watch this 75-second long underwater handstand.
Kayaking. I was scared of kayaking but once I tried, I was hooked. It’s such a peaceful activity, and the benefit is also really well-shaped arms. Making lunch, getting in my boat with Bruno, my Cocker Spaniel who must wear a safety jacket because he’s afraid of water, and going up against the current – this is something I love doing in the mornings or afternoons when there’s not a lot of tube-traffic on the Chattahoochee River. The sound of water is soothing. The rocking of the boat is soothing. The animals I get to see and observe are precious. The creation of God’s masterful work is something I enjoy with deep gratitude.
One more thing. My life after addiction has had many ups and downs but I know for a fact that it’s been a good life, a much better life than when I was addicted, avoidant, afflicted, and lacking conscience, living the life of the walking dead.
I’m fully alive. I love living. I love my life.
Nothing is perfect, trust me, but I have a purpose and I’m able to experience genuine joy, peace, and passion. So many blessings to be grateful for!
Grieving and Feeling
Here’s a very important part of living a productive life after receiving sex addiction help: grief. I didn’t know how to feel emotions, only anger, which was actually unprocessed sadness.
Learning to feel, being willing to face my painful, overwhelming, and uncomfortable emotions and process them productively one-by-one, and not avoiding my own humanness are the most valuable skills I’ve gained in my 36 years of life.
I wrote this poem about feeling feelings.
"Feeling the Feelings" #PoemsFromGod
Do you know how to feel feelings?
I mean - the whole range of them, all of them?
Like fear, faith, joy, surprise from others' dealings,
Like anger, peace, responsibility or defensiveness when people you condemn?
Do you know how to feel sadness or to grieve appropriately?
Like sitting down with your sad thoughts a cry?
Like writing heartfelt entries in your journal openly,
Without pretending and without saying a lie?
But just really pouring your heart out,
Just putting all your emotions in the universe,
Just being open and vulnerable without a doubt,
Just being yourself, who you are, without intentional rehearse?
I've learned slowly how to feel my emotions.
In the past, my primary feelings were anger and rage.
I've been intentional about using the experience to write devotions
To help you with your own emotions to engage.
Please take the time to be still and feel uncomfortable.
Please make it your priority to focus your mind -
On the important intention of being vulnerable,
So you can that place of healing within yourself find.
There's actually nothing much more to it-
Just sit, be quite, be still and feel.
When you're feeling though make sure you do admit
And label each emotion without pretending, be real.
If you feel joy, say I feel joy now.
If you feel sadness, say I'm very sad.
If you're crushed, then the experience of pain allow
By saying I'm in pain and on that in your journal reflect.
You will feel odd and weird at first. It's normal,
But so what, it's a skill like learning to drive a car
Keep going, keep feeling, this process is very informal
But I promise with time it will help you heal your every scar.
9/24/17 © Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
Also, I have a great podcast about feelings called “Tell Me How You Really Feel” and I offer a free comprehensive list of feelings for you to learn how to label what you feel, which is an important skill to develop if you want to conquer your sex addiction.
RELATED: A List of Feelings
This article has been the most painful story I ever shared. Honestly, I’m overwhelmed right now, and I also feel a lot of fear sharing these intimate details of my complicated life with you.
But I do it anyway because God called me to share and because I know my story will help you.
I received much comfort from God and His people to help me with my troubles, so now I want to comfort YOU in your troubles.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.2 Corinthians 1:3-5
I want to help you.
When I went to SA and heard people’s sex addiction stories, their sharing helped me so much. It helped me to know I’m not alone, my life can be rebuilt, there’s hope, and I can recover.
Story-sharing at SA encouraged and empowered me, and I want to encourage and empower you.
Confessing our stories is also how we seek forgiveness.
I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.Psalm 32:5
I first confessed my story to God, and He forgave me.
RELATED: I am Forgiven
Then, I had to forgive myself.
To summarize, identity-related sex addiction help was the essential key to unlocking my story and trauma, as well as figuring out what exactly I believed about myself and why. It’s all shared in the video below, which was a speech I delivered to a group of addicts at a woman’s shelter. In this video, I uncover one-by-one each belief I inherited from my mom and how I replaced it with the Biblical truth. That was the first step to my recovery and the most critical sex addiction help early on. Here’s the video.
After working through my identity beliefs, I had to unpack all the abuse endured at home growing up, which I had never considered “abuse” and thought of as “normal” family dynamics everyone else also experienced.
Abuse-Related Sex Addiction Help
I was a new Christian in 2014 and remember being a part of a small group. Here we were, sitting in a circle, sharing about our lives, and I was hearing story after story how girls in my group were loved, knew they were loved, felt loved, and also got to bond, travel, and do fun stuff with their families… It hit me hard, and the chills were taking over my body…
I had realized for the first time just how different my story was because I never experienced either love or bonding or travel or fun. Only hard work, school, books, chores, and abuse, abuse, abuse.
I endured a lot of hatred and violence at home growing up.
RELATED: Domestic Violence
In 2014, I was working through my childhood trauma and had to do this exercise where I needed to describe my family relationships.
Here’s Family of Origin Genogram for Anna Szabo below – you can see that in my family, relationships were either estranged or conflicted or enmeshed.
Enmeshed relationships were very clear between my mother and me where I was more of a servant to her, and also her and her mother. I was a scapegoat to my mother and she was a scapegoat to her mother.
My mother was narcissistic to me, and her mother was narcissistic to everyone in the family, except her golden child.
RELATED: Narcissistic Relationship Abuse
In his book “Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction,” Dr. Parick Carnes explains on p. 114 that most people who developed sex addiction were abused as children by their blood relatives.
I tried twice to commit suicide to escape that awful family but I failed, so to survive my life with all those monsters, I escaped a lot into my head, and porn was always there since my mom made sure I was addicted to it, so I watched and read, and that was a part of my escape. The second part was alcohol, and the third part was my love for books, learning, school, libraries, and public speaking.
The second most important sex addiction help I received was a deep, comprehensive recollection and understanding of my childhood trauma. Not all of it happened in one day. If it did, I’d be crushed because there is so much pain associated with all that. Over time, as I worked through exercises and therapy, I unpacked my abuse and trauma experience.
And I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD.
Sex Addiction Help Literature Related to Abuse
- Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction
- Discovering Intimacy; Relating to God and Others as a Single Adult
- Five Love Languages
- How We Love
- Safe People
To summarize, I want to reiterate once again that to help yourself with sex addiction recovery, you must realize, understand, and accept your abuse-related trauma. By the way, I mentioned to you the kind of abuse I lived through daily BUT your abuse might not have involved any yelling or beatings, yet, it was abuse nonetheless. So, work on your abuse trauma.
Shame-Related Sex Addiction Help
Growing up at home, I was blamed and shamed for many things. Some examples include being a girl, having large teeth, laughing not as beautifully as my cousins, wanting to pursue higher education, not having a father, speaking in eloquent ways that didn’t match my family’s kind of language, dreaming big, having goals, and being a virgin.
It’s naive and ignorant to think that something as serious and complex as addiction has the cause. It’s actually a host, a collection of causes. Many things went haywire for me and probably for you, too, which resulted in sexual addiction. That’s why when we talk about sex addiction help, I want to mention all of the different aspects of the help I personally needed.
Guilt and shame are the third important priority to consider when thinking about sex addiction recovery.
I was ashamed of who I was and how I was: my voice, smile, boobs and butt, my thinking and even my longing for my mom’s love – everything about me was criticized, not just privately at home, but publicly everywhere. I was publicly humiliated on a regular basis by my mother and other family members.
What is “shame?” It’s a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
My behavior was not separated from me as a person. Instead, I was wrong as a whole person, I was considered and called a fool, and I was made fun of – all of me, not just some of my behaviors.
In his book ‘”Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction” Dr. Patrick Carnes on p. 173 says that the same-based family environment serves as a catalyst to all those forces that make a person vulnerable to addictions. Family shame is key to the formation of shame-based personality. when the influence of culture, abuse, and neurochemistry interact with individual and family shame, we have a total human ecosystem vulnerable to the addiction process.
I had both individual and family shame.
When I fell on my knees, prayed to God, asked Jesus to rid me of myself and save me, and I surrendered to Him, my Ego let go of me and I accepted God’s grace, love, and forgiveness.
RELATED: I am Forgiven
God released me from my shame and asked me to share my story with YOU so that you also surrender your Ego and free yourself from the bondage with shame. Jesus died on the cross to set you free for this very reason.
You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own.Ephesians 2:8
You see, I wanted to stop my sexual acting out but I wasn’t able to because I am imperfect, fallen, and sinful in flesh. Nothing I can do to be good and earn God’s forgiveness. My deeds can’t save me. Work on myself had failed to make me better. But when I placed my faith in Christ, He saved me.
From Death to Life
In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. Once we were also ruled by the selfish desires of our bodies and minds. We had made God angry, and we were going to be punished like everyone else. But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much he made us alive with Christ, and God’s gift of undeserved grace is what saves you. God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve.+ This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. This is why he sent Christ to make us what we are.Ephesians 2:1-10
Shame is a stronghold of Satan who loves to condemn us so that we believe his lies about our unworthiness and unlovability. He wants to bring us down and keep us away from God who loves His children unconditionally.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16
God doesn’t need us to perform to earn His love. He already proved His love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sins while we were sinners. His love is unconditional and it’s been proved already, we don’t need to strive to earn it, nor could we earn God’s love: it’s ours already.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8
To summarize, I want to reassure you that everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. We all need Jesus daily. Shame is a byproduct of Ego and the comparison trap. Surrendering my Ego to God liberated me from guilt and shame, helping me move forward on my journey of sex addiction recovery. Shame-related sex addiction help has enabled me to share my story and give God all the glory.
Brain-Function-Related Sex Addiction Help
As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine – the “feel-good” chemical in the brain – the process triggers the feeling of pleasure.
According to Wikipedia, “Addiction is a state characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. The process of developing an addiction occurs through instrumental learning, which is otherwise known as operant conditioning.”
Have you ever heard of the brain’s neuroplasticity? Here’s how Wikipedia defines it: “Neuroplasticity, also known as brain plasticity, neuroplasticity, or neural plasticity, is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual’s life.”
So, sex addiction is not permanent and can be eradicated leveraging the brain neuroplasticity.
When we develop a habit, the brain creates a path in itself in support of that habit. As we engage in the habit over and over again, the pathway becomes well-worn or stronger.
This is similar to lifting a weight. If you lift a weight over and over, the muscle will get stronger.
In many ways, addiction can be explained as a neuroplastic event. The brain gets trained to do a particular behavior, use drugs or alcohol or gambling, eventually to the exclusion of all else.
But in treatment, we can retrain the brain, that is, develop a new pathway that supports recovery. With intensive psychotherapy and other holistic interventions, we strengthen the new “recovery” loop within the brain. The brain then learns to enjoy recovery, those things that give us pleasure in our sober lives: family, work, and interpersonal interactions.
We retrain the brain and thus change our lives.Psychology Today
Psychotherapy is something that helped me personally in a very significant way. What is it? It’s a treatment of sex addiction by psychological rather than medical means. I personally don’t take any meds but I have been willing to do the hard work of talking about my life’s troubles, recall and analyze the abuse I endured as a child, and relate it back to my behavior today. That’s what psychotherapy is all about: talking over the trauma.
The Seven Types of Psychotherapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify and change thinking and behavior patterns that are harmful or ineffective, replacing them with more accurate thoughts and functional behaviors. It can help a person focus on current problems and how to solve them. It often involves practicing new skills in the “real world.”
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a short-term form of treatment. It helps patients understand underlying interpersonal issues that are troublesome, like unresolved grief, changes in social or work roles, conflicts with significant others, and problems relating to others. It can help people learn healthy ways to express emotions and ways to improve communication, as well as to relate to others.
Dialectical behavior therapy is a specific type of CBT that helps regulate emotions. It is often used to treat people with chronic suicidal thoughts and people with borderline personality disorder, eating disorders and PTSD. It teaches new skills to help people take personal responsibility to change unhealthy or disruptive behavior. It involves both individual and group therapy.
Psychodynamic therapy is based on the idea that behavior and mental wellbeing are influenced by childhood experiences and inappropriate repetitive thoughts or feelings that are unconscious (outside of the person’s awareness). A person works with the therapist to improve self-awareness and to change old patterns so she can more fully take charge of her life.
Psychoanalysis is a more intensive form of psychodynamic therapy. Sessions are typically conducted three or more times a week.
Supportive therapy uses guidance and encouragement to help patients develop their own resources. It helps build self-esteem, reduce anxiety, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social and community functioning. Supportive psychotherapy helps patients deal with issues related to their mental health conditions which in turn affect the rest of their lives.
Creative therapy sometimes used in combination with psychotherapy and includes:
Animal-assisted therapy – working with dogs, horses, or other animals to bring comfort, help with communication, and assist in coping with trauma.
Creative arts therapy – use of art, dance, drama, music, and poetry to process life events and cope with stress.
Play therapy – helps identify and talk about emotions and feelings.
To summarize, I’d like to remind you that to help us cope with stress and trauma, our amazing brain detaches from reality, escaping into pleasure, such as sex. Leveraging the familiar pleasure of sex over and over again in order to cope with life, we develop sex addiction. Our brain is neuroplastic and changeable, so working through psychotherapy, which is talk therapy, we can retrain our brain to cope with life’s stress using productive coping mechanisms.
Stress-Related Sex Addiction Help
Stress is a natural part of life, and a sex addict uses sexual acting out to cope with stress. I used sex to cope with stress, and I didn’t even know it because I was in denial.
Sex addiction help must include us learning productive and effective ways of dealing with unavailable stress.
For me, it’s cleaning my home, folding laundry, vacuuming, dusting, and doing other mindless things that require repetitive physical movement. Included in this category is kayaking as well. However, I put cleaning first because it also results in a beautiful, clean, fresh, and organized home, which has its own stress-management benefits.
You need to understand yourself in order to know which stress-management activities will work best for you. I tried coloring books but it didn’t work because I dod see it as a waste of time, so instead, I tried painting, and that worked really well. Today, I even have an art shop on Etsy with my collection of original acrylic art called #PaintingsWithTales
To summarize, it’s impossible to conquer sex addiction without learning productive and effective stress-management techniques that work specifically for you. I recommend trying dancing, writing, blogging, painting, cleaning, laundry, cooking, swimming, hiking, kayaking, reading, and exercise to choose a few of your favorite activities that you will then train your brain to enjoy instead of sexual acting out.
Lifestyle-Related Sex Addiction Help
I had promiscuous friends who loved drinking alcohol and clubbing. Once I decided to deal with my sex addiction and change my lifestyle, it was a problem with my friends. I had to give up some of my friendships and build new ones.
If people around you support your addiction and even encourage it, you will not be able to succeed on your recovery journey, no matter how much sex addiction help you get from therapy.
Identify in your circle of friends who needs to go and choose your mental health, physical wellbeing, and better future as you make those hard friendships-related decisions.
To summarize, I want to quote Proverbs 13:20 “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Choose the wise you plan to walk with so that you don’t suffer harm from being a companion of fools.
Accountability-Related Sex Addiction Help
Have you ever started something yet never finished? Me too!
When it comes to dealing with sex addiction, there’s accountability help available. It comes in the form of community groups: Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, and Celebrate Recovery.
RELATED: What Is Celebrate Recovery
First, let’s talk about SAA.
Also, I provide a resource here to help you locate the accountability SA meetings in your area.
Sex Addicts Anonymous
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is a twelve-step program for people who want to stop their addictive sexual behavior.
Here’s how SAA describes itself.
SAA Recovery Journey
Through long and painful experience, we came to realize that we were powerless over our sexual thoughts and behaviors and that our preoccupation with sex was causing progressively severe adverse consequences for us, our families, and our friends.
Despite many failed promises to ourselves and attempts to change, we discovered that we were unable to stop acting out sexually by ourselves.
Many of us came to this realization when we started attending SAA meetings. In that setting we heard stories similar to ours and realized that recovery from our problem was possible. We learned through the SAA Fellowship that we were not hopelessly defective.
Although we are not affiliated with AA or with any other organization or agency, we are, indeed, grateful for permission to modify and apply the Steps and Traditions to sex addiction, making recovery possible for us.
In Sex Addicts Anonymous we are a fellowship of women who share our experience, strength, and hope with each other for the purpose of finding freedom from addictive sexual behaviors and helping others recover from sex addiction.
Local meetings offer an accepting, non-threatening environment where we can share our common struggles and learn how to apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to our everyday lives.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behavior. There are no fees or dues.
We practice strict anonymity and confidentiality, so that our meetings are a safe place for all of us. Whom we meet or what is said in a meeting is considered confidential.SAA Recovery for Women
Next, let’s talk about SA, which is the group I attended in 2014.
Sexaholics Anonymous (DSA) is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem with powerlessness in the face of sexual temptations.
When I went to SA at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Buckhead in 2014, right out of the elevator slight right led to the room for sexaholics anonymous and sharp right led to the room for Codependents of Sex Addicts (COSA).
Any time I went, most women went to COSA and most men went to SAA, though it doesn’t mean that women addicted to sex are unicorns. It means women who suffer from sex addiction are guilted and shamed by society to the point of not even asking for help.
In fact, I explain why in my article called “What Is a Sex Addict: How a Sex Addict Feels?”
RELATED: How a Sex Addict Feels
Sexaholics Anonymous Statement of Principle
We have a solution. We don’t claim it’s for everybody, but for us, it works. If you identify with us and think you may share our problem, we’d like to share our solution with you (Sexaholics Anonymous, 2).
In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous. We can only speak for ourselves. Thus, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the spouse. In SA’s sobriety definition, the term “spouse” refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman. For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind. And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust (Sexaholics Anonymous, 191-192).SA.org
The only requirement for SA membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually-sober according to the SA sobriety definition.
To be honest, I didn’t stick with an SA group, only because the leader there didn’t appreciate my story of Jesus Christ. He demanded that I’d use the 12-step language, which I wasn’t even familiar with since my sobriety was the outcome of my encounter with Jesus and not 12 steps.
RELATED: The 12 Steps of SA
That being said, I assure you that the value in attending an SA support group is tremendous. I recommend attending it at least once to see what it’s all about because you’ll get helped just by witnessing how many other people struggle with this disease.
Locating 12-Step SA Meetings
To be frank, on my journey of sex addiction recovery, finding meetings for sex addiction help was confusing. There are so many resources! I ended up attending this SA meeting location:
Peachtree Presbyterian Church, Room 4311, 3434 Roswell Rd NW, Atlanta 30305
In this article, I gathered some resources to help you find a community group close to where you want to attend an SA meeting based on your criteria of preferences (women-only vs joint, in-person vs virtual, etc).
Help for Sex Addicts Outside the US and Canada
Help for Sex Addicts in Canada
Help for Sex Addicts in the US
Help for Sex Addicts in the Southeast
Help for Sex Addicts in Georgia
Help for Sex Addicts in Atlanta
Defining Sobriety for Yourself
I am single and celibate. This is my definition of sobriety and I am living it out. If you really want to know why, here’s my candid answer.
What’s your definition of sexual sobriety?
In his book “Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction” Dr. Patrick Carnes on p. 243 dedicates an entire chapter to discussing and defining sobriety. It looks different for every sex addict.
One thing for sure: you must set boundaries for yourself when it comes to your sexuality.
If you don’t know what sobriety looks like to you personally, you won’t know what you’re working toward and, consequently, you won’t know how you’re doing. Are you recovering? Are you getting better?
You won’t know how to manage your sex addiction recovery if you don’t know how to measure your progress toward sobriety.
To summarize, define sobriety for yourself and start working toward your goal using sex addiction help resources I shared and attending SA accountability groups to keep you grounded and connected with others on the same journey.
Forgiveness-Related Sex Addiction Help
Sex addiction is fueled by trauma from the past.
It’s the symptom. The real problem is the bondage with the past. The trauma is the stronghold, and moving forward requires forgiveness.
Forgiving people who hurt us is tough but forgiving ourselves is even tougher. There’s someone else who must be forgiven, and it’s God.
I was asking and you might also be wondering: “why did God allow this to happen to me?” It’s hard to see God’s goodness when we suffer so much ourselves and when we cause others to suffer.
The most natural question when it comes to forgiving God is about His goodness. I recently delivered a talk “God is Good” and I’d like to share it with you. The realization I had was that we are not omnipresent, everlasting, or all-knowing so we’re neither equipped nor qualified to judge whether or not God is good. All we have is faith. I believe that God is good. My faith in God’s goodness allows me to forgive God for my sex addiction.
Forgiving everyone who hurt me, especially my mother, was really hard, but two things helped.
First, I put myself in my mom’s shoes, and that allowed me to understand that she truly gave me just what she had – whatever was given to her. She was a product of the Soviet Union and her own abusive family. My grandfather’s severe alcoholism traumatized me but to my mom, he was a dad. My grandmother tried to chock me but to my mom, she was a mother. I can’t imagine what it was like to be a child raised in my mom’s childhood environment. My life was screwed up by those aunts who drank and slept around and chased me with knives to kill me. To my mom, they were sisters. So, she was also screwed up, yes. It was what she inherited, and she gave the same inheritance to me. I experienced genuine compassion for my mom.
Second, I embraced God’s Word.
Forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.Colossians 3:13
Did the Lord forgive me? Yes. So, I forgave my mom.
RELATED: I am Forgiven
Finally, forgiving myself was the outcome of experiencing God’s forgiveness. I am not above God, so if He forgave me, who am I to hold the grudges against myself?
And I forgave Anna.
I want to share with you my poem called “Forgiveness.”
Forgiveness is a lifelong journey.
It's a decision to set people free
From the debt of offense they owe you,
Issuing them an intentional debt-free decree.
The beneficiary of that decree though is not them -
It's your heart that experiences liberation
From anger and bitterness as you no longer condemn,
So issue people the forgiveness decree with no hesitation.
Forgive people often or daily or even hourly.
Decide to quit taking the resentment poison.
Commit to letting go of grudges sincerely
And move light-heartedly toward your new horizon.
8/26/17 © Anna Szabo, JD, MBA
To summarize, I want to encourage you to embrace the concept of forgiveness if you want to heal from sexual addiction. Forgive everyone who traumatized you in the past, forgive God, and forgive yourself.
Boundaries-Related Sex Addiction Help
Sex addiction is the symptom of a lack of boundaries.
I didn’t even know what boundaries were, to be honest with you.
My mom would rush into my room and beath the heck out of me any time, she’d come in and through my favorite toys in the rain, in the dirt, just for fun… She touched me inappropriately in sexual ways. Any family member could be found standing there at night at the side of my bed doing God knows what. One night the father I never knew was literally sitting at night in my bedroom on a chair, invisible, and then… He touched my back as I was in bed naked… Nothing was normal about my family, and I didn’t know where I ended and others began. I mean physically.
I had no concepts for what was an appropriate and inappropriate touch, which parts of my body boys shouldn’t even be touching, or that my body was actually sacred. My body was a thing to touch however whoever wanted, or to punch, hit, chock, etc…
My emotional boundaries were absolutely non-existent. I was blamed by my mom for being born, for being a girl, for my father leaving her, for her hard life, and everything, even for her career failure (which was the result of the crush of USSR). My sisters blamed me for their misbehaving, and even my aunt did the same. My grandma blamed me for being a shame to her because I was fatherless. Even when I fell into a 36 ft deep hole underground and was all bruised, the first thing I experienced was blame. When my mom left me at six years old to be alone in the river while she was playing cards with friends and I drowned, as soon as I was CPRed and brought back to life, she was blaming me for drowning (though she never taught me how to swim and left me at the current’s mercy unsupervised).
I never knew what was actually my responsibility and what wasn’t because everything was blamed on me. Later, that led to promiscuity: I didn’t know how to say no and I didn’t know what was inappropriate so I didn’t know when no would even need to be said.
Today, I have strong boundaries, and developing them took years.
I know who I am and how I want to be treated.
Boundaries empower me. I know I’m not a victim in any situation. I have control over me, my actions, behaviors, feelings, and thought. And that empowers me. I also want YOU to be empowered, so start with boundaries.
RELATED: Empowering Women
I recommend you start figuring out where you end and others begin. I suggest that you define your space and who can and cannot enter it, as well as under which conditions.
Your boundaries are your responsibility to figure out, define, communicate, and protect. If others disrespect your boundaries, it’s your action that must be taken by you to protect your spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental space.
The key to overcoming sex addiction is well-defined boundaries.
Other Helpful Sex Addiction Resources
I want to share with you a quick list of ten links, which all offered sex addiction help to me personally:
- Sex Addicts Anonymous®
- Sexaholics Anonymous
- Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- Find a Free Biblical Counselor
- The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health
- Relativity at Elements Behavioral Health
- Don’t Call It Love: Recovery from Sexual Addiction book
- The White Book of SA
- “Addicted” film
- “Thanks for Sharing” film
When I first watched “Thanks for Sharing,” I had to pause the film over a dozen times because I wept. It was literally my life on a big screen.
Adam, the male character there, resonated with me.
In 2014, when “Addicted” came out, I watched it on a big screen and was devastated as people laughed because the film was painful and very truthful.
In many ways, it showcased my personal sex addiction struggles, and the laughs in the audience revealed the ignorance and negligence in our society when it comes to dealing with this serious disease.
I then read “Don’t Call It Love” and “The White Book of SA.”
If you have any questions regarding specific SA help, leave your comment below and I’ll try to assist you.
Also, you can send me your prayer request.
RELATED: Submit Your Prayer Request
Finally, I want to leave you with some Bible verses so that you can lean on God’s Word as you seek sex addiction help.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.1 John 1:9
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.1 John 4:15
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.2 Corinthians 12:9
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.Ezekiel 36:26
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28
The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children.1 John 3:1
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.Philippians 4:13
How To Figure Out What Kind of Sex Addiction Help You Need
Required if you experienced emotional and mental abuse attacking and distorting who you are, your character, your mind, your worthiness, your value as a human being, and your right to live.
Required if you experienced abuse, were violated, assaulted, chocked, beaten, punched, pushed, sexualized, molested, threatened, etc.
Required if your family shamed you, compared you to others, projected their guilt on you, humiliated or criticized you.
Required for any addict since any addiction is associated with the malfunction of the brain’s pleasure/survival connection.
Required when you’ve been using sex to deal with stress. You need to discover and define for yourself new stress-relief tools to use daily.
Required if your friends and peers are the ones who support and encourage your sexual acting out. You need new friends.
Required if you can’t do this in isolation and want to be a part of Sex Addicts Anonymous community where people pursue sobriety.
Required for every addict – forgive everyone who wronged you, including God and yourself. Forgiveness fuels recovery and sobriety.
Required for every addict because sex addiction is the very indicator of a lack of boundaries, so define where you end and others begin.
Required if you’d like some helpful books to read and films to watch or if you want to find Biblical counseling or send me your prayer request.
In this article, I shared with you ten different types of sex addiction help. I described each and provided my personal examples of benefiting from each of the ten resources.
Addiction to sex is the result of trauma, and I explained my trauma so that, perhaps, it can help you figure out your own sex addiction causes.
Facing my pain from childhood abuse, sexual assaults, suicide attempts, family violence, and broken heart allowed me to gain an understanding of my issues, grief my crushed dreams, and forgive everyone who hurt me, including God and myself.
I hurt myself, and I’m rebuilding trust with myself. I abused my body by acting out sexually, and I’m nurturing my body to heal it. I was confused about my identity and thought that sex was love and that I was made for sex, but I now know that I was made by God to glorify Him and that He is the one who loves me. God is the giver of identity.
If you want to find out what God says about you, download my free book of Biblical affirmations called #52Devotionals.
Writing this content took a lot of time and effort. I wrote it to help encourage and empower you so that you know you’re not alone, your life is not over, there’s hope, there’s help, and you can have a better future. If this article helped you, share it with a woman who needs this information now.
Anna Szabo is the founder of Online Discipleship For Women, a Christian ministry committed to alleviating suicide among women globally by sharing hope in Christ. Anna teaches how to create a joyful life by embracing God’s word based on her own journey of faith and fortitude.
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