Sex Addiction - my journey as a sex addict and my experience with sexaholics anonymous

Dear #TruePrincesses! God created sex to be enjoyed by a man and a woman in the context of their marriage. I was sleeping around since 16 and diagnosed with sex addiction in 2014. Let me share what I’ve learned on my journey. I hope this content will help you if you’re struggling right now.

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The term “sexual addiction” is used to describe the behavioral problem some people have when they act out sexually in such ways that makes them feel out of control, which results in detrimental health, relationship, career, financial, and other negative consequences.

I behaved in an “out-of-control” way sexually, and the consequences were severe. I will share my personal story in detail here. First, I want to explain sex addiction, especially given how many people laugh when they first hear about this serious type of addiction. Yes, many people laugh and they can’t even comprehend the devastation of this disease. I couldn’t either, so I understand. That’s why I’m taking so much time to talk openly and vulnerably about my own problems with sexual addiction.

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We will discuss sex addiction symptoms and signs.

Multiple symptoms must occur simultaneously to indicate sex addiction.

When specific behavioral patterns inflict on you significant distress and disrupt your life, you might be struggling with addiction.

Just so you know, I refused to deal with my sex addiction issues for a long time. I was unable to face the possibility of being called a sex addict.

RELATED: What is a Sex Addict?

The unspeakable shame I felt due to my lifestyle was too much for me to bear. I liked thinking of myself as a “good person who has it together.”

I had nothing “together” though, I was broken and I was sinking in my own shame. I was sick to my stomach from what I was doing, yet, I couldn’t stop doing it. I was powerless, and my sex addiction was powerful.

I was suffering from sexual addiction, yet I chose to remain ignorant about it, pretending like everything was ok.

I was not ok.

What’s the Definition of Addiction?

Before talking about sex addiction specifically, let’s first define what addiction is in general.

“Addiction is a chronic defect of the brain’s reward, motivation, and memory functions resulting in specific substance or behavior cravings causing an obsessive-compulsive pursuit of “reward” accompanied by the lack of concern regarding potential consequences.” (click to tweet)

Anna Szabo

Addictions lead to an inability to:

  • Stay away from the addictive substance or behavior
  • Practice self-control and set healthy boundaries
  • See how the behavior is causing problems
  • Produce an adequate emotional response

Over time, addictions can seriously interfere with your daily life.

People experiencing addiction are also prone to cycles of relapse and remission.

Addictions typically worsen over time leading to permanent health complications and serious consequences like STD, bankruptcy, divorce, unemployment, loss of child custody, homelessness, etc.

What Is Sex Addiction?

The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) is a non-profit multidisciplinary organization dedicated to promoting sexual health.

Here’s its definition of sexual addiction referred to as hypersexuality:

Hypersexual Disorder

Hypersexual disorder is a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior, despite adverse consequences or deriving little or no satisfaction from it.

SASH

When the obsessive behavior continues for six months or more, it may lead to a significant impairment of functioning in such areas of life as family, career, self-care, hobbies, financial and relational responsibilities.

My sexual addiction impaired my functioning to the point of jeopardizing my career, mental and physical health, and my relationships with friends. More on that later.

Sexual addiction is a condition in which you can’t manage your sexual behavior. Persistent sexual thoughts affect your ability to work, maintain relationships, and fulfill your daily obligations.

There were days when I simply stayed in bed, had sex, slept, had more sex, slept, and craved more sex. There were many times I forgot to eat and completely disregarded my responsibilities as an adult, such as taxes, for example, cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills, and meetings scheduled on the calendar. I depended on sex to live. That’s why one of the names of this addiction is “sexual dependency.”

What else is this disease called?

The Five Sex Addiction Synonyms

  • Sexual dependency
  • Hypersexuality
  • Compulsive sexual behavior
  • Nymphomania
  • Satyriasis

Typical behaviors of sex addiction include compulsive masturbation, persistent use of pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, extreme acts of lewd sex, and failure to resist sexual impulses.

Let’s talk about the signs and symptoms of sexual addiction.

A sign can be observed externally. A symptom is felt internally.

Sex Addiction Signs 

I’m telling you about my sex addiction to give God all the glory for my story. He was the one who rescued and delivered me from my misery. Sexual addiction is NOT something people typically share. This disease is extremely secretive due to the shame as its natural outcome. Anyone can suffer from sex addiction, and at the same time, on the outside, they may look completely ok. If you’re the one suffering from this, you may even persuade yourself that you’re ok.

Sometimes, sex addiction signs are noticeable to people around you but not you. It’s because sex addiction causes you to live in a state of mental fog and confusion. You are so preoccupied with your temptations that you have no time, energy, or courage to reflect on your lifestyle.

That is why I say “I was dead and God brought me back to life” through Jesus once I fell on my knees and asked Him to change me.

I’ll share the details later here. Let’s discuss sex addiction signs first.

The signs of sex addiction are external and observable.

The Ten Signs of Sex Addiction (External):

  1. Repeated compulsive pursuit of sexual activities
  2. Obsessive sexual conversations and fantasies
  3. Compulsive relationships with multiple partners and strangers
  4. Deceptive lying to cover up the shameful behaviors
  5. Abnormal preoccupation with sexual ideation during work hours
  6. High tolerance for just about any sexual activity and need for more
  7. Genuine promises to stop the behavior broken over and over again
  8. Careless pursuit of sexual satisfaction despite any dangers or risks
  9. Candid expression of remorse and guilt after the sexual behavior
  10. Apparent withdrawal symptoms when stopping the behavior

That’s what others can see and witness as it relates to sexual addiction you’re battling.

Later in this article, I explain how all ten of the above signs showed up in my personal life as I was suffering from sexual addiction.

We must also discuss a separate, extreme group of sex addiction sign, called sexual fetishism.

Extreme Sex Addiction: Sexual Fetishism (Paraphilia)

Paraphilia (previously known as “sexual perversion” and “sexual deviation”) is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals.

Such attraction is often labeled as “sexual fetishism.

When sex addiction manifests as a paraphilia, you experience severe distress, functional impairment, dangerous harm.

You may harm yourself or others.

It is common to have multiple paraphilic disorders.

The DSM-5 includes eight major types of paraphilic disorders.

The Eight Major Types of Paraphilic Disorders:

Voyeuristic Disorder

The act of observing others in sexual activity. This may also include observing naked people or people who are getting undressed.

Exhibitionistic Disorder

When a person exposes their genitals in public. This does not include urinating in public.

Frotteuristic Disorder

Includes touching and rubbing one’s genitals against a person who has not consented to this behavior (such as in a public place like a subway).

Sexual Masochism Disorder

May include engaging in humiliation, bondage, or suffering at the hands of another. People will engage in these sexual acts despite concerns of death by erotic asphyxiation (choking).

Sexual Sadism Disorder

Refers to inflicting humiliation, bondage, or suffering on another.

Pedophilic Disorder

This refers to a sexual focus on children and is defined when a perpetrator is 16 years old or older and the child is five years old or younger.

Fetishistic Disorder

This refers to using nonliving objects, such as clothing, shoes, or leather, for sexual arousal. This disorder also includes eroticism over non-genital body parts such as toes or hair. This does not include the use of vibrators or women’s clothing when used for cross-dressing.

Transvestic Disorder

Cross-dressing for sexual arousal.

Sex addiction signs cause your family and friends much pain because they can see your problem but you can’t. My friend Candace was the one who first brought this humiliating issue to my attention. I was embarrassed and upset but, thanks to her, that was the beginning of my journey of healing and recovery.

While you are likely not to be able to observe your actions with self-awareness, reflect on your lifestyle objectively, and change your direction, you can pay attention to the symptoms of sex addiction, which are internal.

Sex Addiction Symptoms

Risk-taking is the number one symptom of sexual addiction.

You find yourself willing to have sex in parking lots, in public bathroom (I did that), in the car while driving (I did that as well), in stores (I did that overseas), in public sminning pools (I did that at some luxury hotels in exotic countries), in your family home where you can easily be caught, at work where you can lose everything, etc.

Studies have demonstrated a strong link between alleged sexual addiction and risk-taking.

Sex addiction may cause a person to persist in taking risks even if there may be health consequences, physical injury, loss of family, financial devastation, or emotional pain.

Anna szabo

The risks I took for the sake of satisfying my sexual temptations were many. I sacrificed my professional reputation, my close friendships, my personal integrity, my financial stability, my physical wellbeing, and my mental health. I sacrificed my dreams of a peaceful and joyful life because I hated the life I lived and I always wanted a vacation from myself, but anywhere I went, there I was again, there was no way to escape myself. Ever.

The Fifteen Sex Addiction Symptoms

  1. Inability to contain sexual urges and respect the boundaries of others
  2. Feeling of detachment leading to sexual activity not being emotionally satisfying
  3. Obsession with attracting others, being in love, and starting new romances, often leading to a string of relationships
  4. Feelings of guilt and shame
  5. Awareness that the urges are uncontrollable, in spite of financial, medical, or social consequences
  6. Pattern of recurrent failure to resist sexual impulses
  7. Engagement in sexual behaviors for prolonged periods of time
  8. Attempts and failure to stop the behavior
  9. Energy allocated to obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from a sexual experience is significant
  10. Rage resulting from an individual becoming distressed, anxious, restless, and possibly violent if unable to satisfy sexual temptations
  11. Preoccupation with sex that is all-consuming and is used as a way to escape reality
  12. Escalation of uncontrollable sexual temptations over time as they become riskier and more intense to chase the desired thrill
  13. Inability to fulfill obligations, for example, missing work due to sexual indulgence or not paying bills because of sexual pursuits
  14. Withdrawal felt intensely and painfully when a person tries to stop
  15. Dominance of sexual pursuits in an individual’s mind to the exclusion of everything else

That’s what a sex addict feel on the inside. That’s what the internal battle is all about, even when it is not apparent to anyone on the outside.

This is the very foundation of feeling powerless when facing your own genuine desire to stop your unwanted sexual behavior and not being able to do so. When sexual temptations get in the way of living life as a productive member of your community, you are addicted. And you are powerless, so you need help.

I needed help. I needed to be saved from myself and my own destructive behavior. That’s how I met my savior – Jesus Christ.

I will share with you the poem I wrote about that divine encounter.

The Five Consequences of Sex Addiction

Sex addiction is an illness. If untreated, it can leave the individual with intense feelings of guilt and low self-esteem, it can result in anxiety, depression, and even suicidal ideation.

Here are the most common consequences of sex addiction:

  1. Social: impaired family relationships, divorce, unemployment
  2. Physical: common STDs or unintended pregnancies
  3. Emotional: anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation
  4. Legal: arrests for soliciting sex, sexual harassment, sex in public
  5. Financial: loss of wages or profits due to the impact of sex addiction

The biggest consequence of this disease for me for self-condemnation.

RELATED: I Am Forgiven

I pursued sex due to feeling low, then I’d fulfill my sexual desires and feel even worse, so I’d look for more sex, and on and on.

It truly is a vicious cycle.

The only one who can interrupt it for you is Jesus.

He doesn’t just give you mercy canceling all your debt and shame.

He blesses you with grace beyond expectations making you a child of God and giving you a new identity, new heart, and new life.

The Eight Activities of Sexual Addiction

I’m often asked by women: “Anna, maybe you never had an addiction? Maybe you were just looking for love?”

That’s why many sex addiction support groups are called “Love and Sex Addiction Support Group” because it’s virtually the same thing.

Women who ask me these questions often have issues with their own sexual behavior, which they avoid thinking about, but they feel good saying they are in pursuit of true love since love is “natural” and it appears as if everyone needs love.

Let me clarify: there are specific activities of sex addiction, and when combined with the symptoms we discussed, the behavior is most definitely called “sex addiction,” whether we admit or avoid the truth.

The Eight Activities of Sex Addiction

  1. Compulsive masturbation demanding multiple orgasms
  2. Multiple affairs, sexual partners, and one-night stands
  3. Persistent use of pornography, even at work or while driving
  4. Practicing unsafe sex, even with strangers
  5. Cybersex, phone sex, text sex, etc
  6. Visiting prostitutes or practicing prostitution
  7. Exhibitionism (a mental condition characterized by the compulsion to display one’s genitals in public)
  8. Voyeurism (the practice of gaining sexual pleasure from watching others when they are naked or engaged in sexual activities)

Addicted to sexual pursuits can be anyone.

Sex addiction does not discriminate.

Anyone can be a sex addict.

What Is a Sex Addict?

Let me tell you a story.

My employer had an Employee Assistance Program where I had access to therapy. I remember having this trifold brochure with the number and the list of services… and I looked at it so often! I kept it in my then-new Prius, and one day I gathered up all my courage and called the mysterious number.

A woman on the other end was friendly, yet, I was unable to say the words “I am a sex addict.” it wasn’t coming out. So, I just asked a question: “Maa’m, can someone like me really be a sex addict/ I’m a good person and I graduated from four colleges!” There were a few moments of silence on the other end of the line… I can only imagine the shock the lady experienced at my arrogance.

I thought only “those others” who are “not good” could possibly be called an addict. Well, I hate to break it to you: an educated, well-spoken, church-going person can be a sex addict.

So, what is a sex addict and how do you know if you’re maybe one?

You live a double-life.

You might be cheating and lying about where you are or what you’re doing or how you spend money. If the truth is that you have sexual secrets, which you refuse to share with anyone due to shame, if you figure out how to spend Easter with two different men (I’ve done that), then you have to lie to everyone constantly just to stay afloat, and you obviously have a huge behavioral issue due to your sexual temptations.

You exploit people.

You might come across as a good woman. You might be volunteering at a charity and giving motivational speeches to inspire positive social change and all that… Yet, when it comes to sex, you could care less about people and you’re willing to manipulate and exploit them for the sake of satisfying your sexual desires. That’s a clear sign that you need help.

Your life is a drama.

Sex is your number one priority. Everything else is a mess: your career, finances, health, chores, taxes, family, and your headspace of course. You might manage to stay employed, yet, you’re broke. You miss your period, call friends in a panic attack about potentially being pregnant (all the time), and you get tested for STDs as often as your girlfriends go grocery-shopping (because you disregard condoms in the moment of your temptations). If that’s you, seek help right away.

You’re preoccupied with sex all the time.

You can’t concentrate on work, hobbies, self-care, or even a meaningful conversation with a neighbor, because no matter what, you find yourself drowning in your sexual fantasies. When you aren’t fantasizing about sex, you’re planning your next sexual affair: shopping for the best hotel, the sexiest lingerie and heels to go with it, as well as the best sex toys and the newest lube on the market. If you aren’t planning your next sex affair, it’s only because you’re actually having sex. Then, guilt and shame attack you, and you escape them straight into your sexual fantasies. This vicious cycle can only be broken with help, so if that’s your life, ask for help right now.

You pursue sex no matter the consequences.

You’re out of control. You miss work. You lie to friends. You don’t pay your bills. You compromise your wellbeing. You don’t take care of yourself. You’re not pursuing your dreams and goals. You’re betraying the trust of people who rely on you. You dismiss your own conscience and silence it in order to follow your sexual temptations. Eventually, you lose yourself to this pervasive disease and you find yourself trapped in your own web of misery. You know the pain you’re suffering from is self-imposed, so your hatred and condemnation are all addressed to yourself, and, eventually, you may not want to be anymore. I read many stories of suicide as the result of sex addiction, simply because eventually self-hatred is just too much to bear. The consequences of sex addiction are serious. If that’s your life, don’t suffer alone in silence. You need help.

Your appetite for sex and orgasms is unfulfilled.

My mother was the one who instructed me to pursue multiple orgasms with many men, from my early teen years I followed her instructions. Eventually, I needed more toys, more times, more extremes, more role-plays, more dress-ups, and more all that often. There was just never enough, eventually, to satisfy my desires. There were days and nights spent having sex with little to no break, in hotels where everything else was taken care of by the service staff, yet, no sex, no toys, no pleasure was enough, and I was left with an even bigger hole to fill, desiring more and more sex.

You masturbate all the time everywhere.

This one is painful… because it began when I was very little. I was masturbating in elementary school on a chair using a little orange jacket, folded under my butt… Pornography was my mom’s way of educating me about life and relationships and preparing me for womanhood. So, masturbation was my go-to escape place, evey day growing up. if you do it in the morning, on your lunch break, in the car, in the shower, in bed before you go to sleep, in your sleep, and even right after having sex, you’re a sex addict and you need real help as I did.

You feel powerless.

You can’t stop acting out, though you genuinely do want to stop. You try but you also fail at it. One day, you come to the end of yourself and realize: “I am powerless.” Talk to someone you trust who can help you with this.

You condemn and resent yourself.

You know you’re hurting people and destroying yourself. You lost your sanity and dignity. You can’t count on yourself. You don’t rust yourself. You despise yourself. You hate yourself. You condemn and resent yourself. Get help for sex addiction because it won’t get better on its own. You’re not just feeling powerless. You are actually powerless. Sex addiction is powerful.

Remember, that a sex addict is someone who has many sex addiction symptoms and behaviors running together at the same time.

Multiple symptoms must occur simultaneously to indicate sex addiction.

How do you know for sure if you’re a sex addict?

Can you get diagnosed?

Sex Addiction Diagnosis 

Sex addiction has been excluded from the fifth edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), but it’s still written about and studied in psychology and counseling circles.

Yet, it CAN be diagnosed using both DSM-5 (as “other specified sexual dysfunction”) and the “International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems” (ICD-10) criteria (as “other sexual dysfunction not due to a substance or known physiological condition”).

I was diagnosed by a sex addiction therapist.

Beware that such a diagnosis may leave you feeling hopeless and disgusted with yourself. I felt that way. In fact, I felt devastated. I withdrew. I isolated. I felt terrible BUT from the other side where I am today, I am encouraging you and cheering you on: face it and deal with it. Your addiction is NOT the end of the world. You can conquer it. You can free yourself from it.

And a proper diagnosis is the first step.

In order for a sexual addiction to qualify as a mental health disorder, an individual must experience repeated sexual fantasies, behaviors, and urges that last upwards of six months, and are not due to factors, such as medication, another medical condition, substance abuse, or manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder.”

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA

To receive the diagnosis, a person must show at least three of the following traits during a 12-month period:

  • The behavior has increased in frequency and intensity to achieve the desired sexual satisfaction
  • Continuing at the same level of intensity as before fails to produce the desired sexual satisfaction
  • Discontinuing the behavior leads to withdrawal syndrome, including physiological or psychological changes
  • Similar behavior is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Engaging in the behavior for a longer time or at a higher intensity or frequency than intended
  • Having a persistent desire to cut down or control the behavior, or making unsuccessful efforts to stop it
  • Spending a significant amount of time preparing to engage in and recovering from the sexual behavior
  • Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the behavior
  • Continuing the behavior despite knowing that it is likely to lead to negative consequences

Where does this destructive disease come from?

What caused this?

Sex Addiction Causes

Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain.

It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms.

Let’s pause for a second. If you’d never been to psychotherapy or taken the time to understand the trauma YOU personally endured early in life, you might be puzzled right now.

Addiction is linked to survival?

Let me share my personal example real quick.

Before I do, though, I want you to know that it took decades to discover this but once I did, this profound realization changed everything.

Everything is summarized in these two pictures.

Sex Addiction Explained – Part One
Sexual Addiction Explained – Part Two

Anna (me as a little girl) needed her mom’s attention and approval to survive. And Anna’s mom loved talking about sex. Talking about sex led to the only real bonding Anna experienced with her mom.

That’s my story…

My feel-good hormones came from bonding with my mom over her obsessive sex-related questioning, attention, and approval of me.

But in most cases, here’s what leads to sex addiction.

The midbrain, which is the section of the brain handling the body’s reward system and survival instincts, sometimes get confused. here’s how.

As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain, this triggers the feeling of pleasure.

The midbrain then mistakes this feeling of pleasure as being central to survival.

Some studies have found a higher frequency of addictive sexual behavior in people from dysfunctional families.

I am certainly from a very, very dysfunctional family. You?

A person with a sexual addiction was likely abused as a child.

I was. And you?

Many people recovering from sexual addiction reported some type of addiction among family members.

My family was addicted to sex and alcohol. What about yours?

It can occur alongside another addiction.

Here’s a quick questionnaire to test the possibility of you being a sex addict, BUT!!!

Remember…

I am not a therapist, I have no mental health training, I share my personal experiences only, and these are my opinions, nothing more than that.

You need to see a trained mental health professional in order to receive an actual diagnosis for any of the behavioral issues you might be dealing with.

How Do I Know If I’m a Sex Addict? Sex Addiction Quiz

  • Do I often find my mind preoccupied with sexual ideation?
  • Is my sexual behavior not “normal?”
  • Do I typically feel guilty and ashamed after sex?
  • Has my sexual behavior ever caused problems?
  • Did my sexual behavior ever hurt people?
  • Do I ever hide my sexual activities from others?
  • Do I ever feel that your sexual desire controls you?
  • Have I been neglecting my life because of sexual pursuits?
  • Is sex almost all I think about on a daily basis?
  • Have I ever used sex to escape from my reality?
  • Has sex become the single most important factor in my life?
  • Am I in crisis due to my sexual pursuits?
  • Do I watch porn and masturbate regularly?
  • Have I engaged in an unsafe sexual activity disregarding the risk?

Overcoming Sex Addiction

For me personally, sex addiction was an identity problem.

In this video, I share the intimate details of my journey and how my sexual addiction came about, as well as what happened in 2014.

This speech was delivered at Rising Phoenix Toastmasters on 8/24/2019 when I was invited to be a guest speaker.

Overcoming addiction to sex is a process, not an event.

You need to decide what kind of future you want for yourself and commit to building the life you choose and want.

But before that happens, you must understand what happened to you.

Why are you where you are today?

What caused sex addiction in your specific case?

What are you getting out of your addiction?

The latter was the hardest thing for me to understand.

I’ll share with you later how I gained my breakthrough.

Now I want to share the path to sex addiction recovery that helped me. perhaps, it can also help you.

Again, this is from my own sex addiction recovery experience.

I am not a therapist.

How To Deal With Sex Addiction: Six Action Steps That Helped Me

  1. Face your sexual addiction


    I initially had avoided facing my sex addiction because it was so shameful and I preferred to believe that I was a good person.

    Facing my addiction eye-to-eye empowered me: instead of it being in control of me, finally, I was in control of it!

    From there, life got better and, eventually, I was liberated, thought the healing took a long, long, long time and much effort.

    Narcissistic Mother Explained by Anna Szabo of Online Discipleship for Women

  2. Seek sex-addiction help


    I sought help from a sex-addiction therapist, a sex-addiction support group, and a friend who had been through the same thing.

    Seeking help was the key to my recovery. Remember: God was the first source, from which I sought help.

    I am strong - Daily Devotional for Women by Anna Szabo of Online Discipleship for Women

  3. Talk with a sex-addiction therapist


    I benefited from a sex-addiction therapist, though I also did a lot of work on my own prior and during my time with her.

    Having a book club for the book called “Discovering Intimacy – Relating to God and Others as a Single Adult” changed my life. It opened up my eyes to see exactly what happened to me as a child. It was so painful and depressing, yet the truth was revealing and healing.

    Having a book club for the book called “Safe People” was very helpful on my journey of healing. It taught me how I had no safe people around me growing up and I needed an escape. Initially, I escaped into my head, and ultimately, I escaped into sex. All I sought was safety, acceptance, and approval. These are very basic human needs, and I tried to fulfill them the best way I knew how to, considering my upbringing.

    Having the book club for the book called “How We Love” led me to a huge breakthrough: I was never loved and I didn’t know how to love. That answered many questions about my sex addiction because I was taught that sex was love and I was for sex.

    A few therapy sessions I received in addition to my own work outside of traditional therapy were really helpful.

    Especially, the last session was valuable to me, though my reaction was resentment at first.

    The therapist asked me to grieve.

    I resented her advice, but after all, it was the biggest and most important step on my journey of healing – deep grief and genuine sorrow.

    How I Came to Christ - walk with Jesus by Anna Szabo of Online Discipleship for Women

  4. Attend a Sexaholics Anonymous support group


    I was terrified to go to a support group for sex addicts. It’s called Sexaholics Anonymous (SAA). My friend helped me find a list of groups to attend, and I visited one of those locations here in Atlanta.

    It was so helpful, I don’t really know how to even begin putting the power of what I experienced there into mere words.

    First of all, I knew the moment I walked in that I was not alone in my affliction. There were about 60 men and about three women there.

    A small group of people had a conversation with me afterward, and they blessed me with “The White Book of SA,” the official 12-step manual for sex addiction recovery, which also helped me since then.

    That group was where I received my sobriety chip, which I keep right before my eyes on display here at home every day to remember the misery, from which God delivered me and also that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

    Spoken Word Poetry by Christian Speaker Anna Szabo of Online Discipleship for Women

  5. Ask God to give you a new heart and transform your mind


    I came to the end of myself, fell on my knees, wept, and prayed. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and make me a child of God. I asked God to rid me of myself and open up my eyes to the things unseen. And He did.

    The Bible says that if you pray and ask God for help, He will take your heart and give you a new one. It also says that He blessed you with the power of the sound mind, which you can renew by taking your thoughts captive and thinking of whatever is praiseworthy and honorable.

    God did all that for me, and He can do the same for you. Fall on your knees and pray, humble yourself and surrender to Him who created you perfect in His own image.

    You are His masterpiece. Ask Him to help you. You’re not walking alone through your journey of life. Reach out and ask for help.

    I am Wise - Daily Devotional for Women by Anna Szabo of Online Discipleship for Women

  6. Replace your unproductive behaviors with productive ones


    My unproductive sex addiction behaviors always started with masturbation. Everything else was the outcome of that. When I stopped my distractive sexual acting out, I turned to overeating.

    I ate to calm down my anxiety. I ate to the point of vomiting. I gained weight. I felt sick. It was no way to live.

    Drinking was also a problem for me. I know some sex addicts who turned into alcoholics, and I know alcoholics turned sex addicts.

    When I committed to NOT overeating or drinking, I had temptations to smoke. I was a smoker from 10 to 17 years old.

    I quit smoking at 17, and I promised to never do it again. Yet, on my sex addiction recovery journey, I was tempted to smoke.

    I was tempted to drink, smoke, and overeat to avoid my thoughts and feelings about the emotional pain I was faced with, yet, thinking was actually the only productive way to deal with my pain and trauma.

    Here are the short statements I wrote during my recovery to help myself deal with the overwhelming memories, feelings, pain, and sorrow:

    > Meditation instead of Masturbation

    > Reading instead of Eating

    > Thinking instead of Drinking

    > Walking instead of Smoking

    > Gratitude instead of Bad attitude

    > Gladness instead of Madnesses

    > Every season has a Reason

    > My life is a Story for God’s Glory


    Narcissistic Abuse Recovery - Anna Szabo Story - Online Discipleship for Women

I hope that sharing about my own experience will encourage and empower YOU as you embark on your journey of recovering from addiction to sex.

There’s great help available.

Sex Addiction Help

From my experience, being addicted to sex is an issue of identity and lifestyle. So, the help I received all focused on establishing my true identity and transforming my lifestyle.

“Who am I?” I needed to seek the truth about this. “How do I want to live my life?” I needed to figure this out. Without the heartfelt, genuine answers to those two critical questions, I wouldn’t be able to liberate myself from sex addiction.

Anna Szabo

Here are some options you have when you’re ready to seek help:

  • Self-help organizations, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. They offer 12-step programs to help you self-manage your condition.
  • Residential treatment programs are in-patient programs, during which you live on-site at the facility and receive care from specialized therapists. They offer sex addiction recovery help. Often, you really need to be removed from your normal daily life for at least 30 days to help you regain control of your impulses and start healing. These programs typically include in-depth individual and group therapy sessions.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) covers a variety of techniques that help you change your behavior. This type of therapy can help you identify triggers for sexual impulses and, ultimately, teach you how to alter your behaviors. It’s achieved through 1:1 sessions with a licensed mental health therapist.CBT can equip you with the tools you need in order to reprogram harmful sexual behaviors and avoid potential future relapses.
  • Prescription medication may be given to you to help reduce your sexual urges.

Sex Addicts Anonymous 

Sex Addicts Anonymous is a twelve-step program for people who want to stop their addictive sexual behavior. There also exists a group known as COSA, for those who have been impacted by others’ sexual addiction.

When I went to SAA 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 shamed by society to the point of not even asking for help.

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.

Any two or more sexaholics gathered together for SA sobriety according to the SA sobriety definition may call themselves an SA group.

Meetings that do not adhere to and follow Sexaholics Anonymous’ sobriety statement as set forth in the foregoing Statement of Principle adopted by the General Delegate Assembly in 2010 are not SA meetings and shall not call themselves SA meetings.

SAA Recovery for Women

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.

The basic principles of recovery practiced by SAA are found in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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

Sex Addiction Resources

Anna Szabo talks about her narcissistic mother and the healing journeys of daughters of narcissistic mothers
Sex Addiction Recovery is a Process, not an Event

I first watched “Thanks for Sharing” and had to pause the film over a dozen of times because I wept – it was literally my life. And I mean Adam, the male character.

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 in our community about this serious disease that takes so many lives and breaks so many families.

I then read “Don’t Call It Love” and “The White Book of SA.”

But I also mentioned earlier other books that helped me before I ever got my hands on any of these resources.

If you have any questions regarding specific SA help, leave your comment below and I’ll try to assist you.

Now, as promised, here’s my story of sex addiction.

My Story of Sexual Addiction

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 for the purposes since I was in elementary school, and eventually mom instructed me to have sex with many men to achieve multiple orgasms, which ultimately resulted in out-of-control sexual addiction.

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.

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, I’m 36, I feel physical pain in my stomach and I can’t breathe thinking about that cruel rejection of a child starving for her mom’s affection…

Cunnilingus at Five Years Old

My mother told me she was not good at sex, and that women who were better at it had a better chance of getting married.

She 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 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.

Here’s an article explaining the difference between the golden child and the scapegoat.

Basically, my mother loved my older cousin who stole money from us and worked as a prostitute in several countries, she adored her, bragged about her, and showed her affection.

On the contrary, my mother hated me, blamed me for everything, placed her shame and insecurities on me, and used me as a punching bag.

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 on the river, 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 bed 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. Those times were the only ones when she showed me affection and acceptance.

Mother loved asking about my sexual experiences, and she wanted to know everything.

Teen Pregnancy

Mom’s ideal future for me, which she communicated to me consistently, was to get married at 20, have a baby, get divorced, and live with her for the rest of my life so she could raise my baby. 

I was pregnant at 17 and miscarried.

I never got pregnant after that.

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 a great marriage by developing my sex-related abilities. 

She literally taught me to be obsessed with sex, orgasms, lingerie, seduction, sex toys, and masturbation.

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 am to have more sexual experiences than other girls because that was a sure sign that I’d get a good husband.

The rape was never talked about again.

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 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.

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 teachers. 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.

What Is a Sex Addict - Anna Szabo
Narcissistic Mother Exposed Me to Porn Early on Causing Sex Addiction

In 2014, I gave my life to Jesus, embarked on a celibacy journey, went to sex-addiction therapy, and attended Sexaholics Anonymous here in Atlanta at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

I wrote a poem about the experience and how it impacted my identity.

"Identity" #PoemsFromGod 

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

The Four Consequences of Sex Addiction

Sexual addiction resulted in my inability to:

  1. Stay away from the addictive substance (a release of oxytocin and increases in dopamine)
  2. 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)
  3. See how the behavior is causing problems (in short, I thought it was all normal and “everybody” lived the same kind of lifestyle)
  4. 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 that I was ok.

I lied to my friends on a regular basis. When we had a get-together scheduled and I chose a bootie-call instead, I’d lie and lie. 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.

The Ten Signs of My Sex Addiction

My addiction to sex was all-consuming. I sacrificed a lot in order to satisfy my sexual desires. I was obsessed with sex. I suffered and I knew it, only I wasn’t able to figure out what was causing my suffering. I was ignorant and oblivious. I was also arrogant and even when a friend tried to talk to me about what my problem was, I felt defensive of my “good” persona.

Here are the signs of my addiction she was able to witness.

The Ten Signs of My Sexual Addiction

  1. I repeatedly and compulsively pursued sexual activities. One time, after a night of indulgence in sex with a guy, upon waking up, after he was gone, all I thought was sex right now, so I called and demanded him back, and once he returned, I continued that indulgence. It was very early in 2014. The same scenario I recall from 2005 with a man who was married and had a lake-house where we used to spend time together. There were times, we’d go away from the world for days, and just indulge in sex. I’ve stayed in so many hotels in my life… And one thing I remember: more sex led me to want more sex.
  2. I had obsessive sexual conversations and fantasies and I shared them with my classmate in business school – Katya. I remember after those conversations, I’d dial my bootie call and disappear from school. We’d go away and indulge in sex. And we’d drink a lot of alcohol, too. That was a good way to silence my conscience.
  3. I had compulsive relationships with multiple partners and strangers. How did it all start? 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, me and my cousin Yulya went out. She had a boyfriend, Valik. We were on the river, drinking, and Valik brought a 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 bed in the middle of the living room. The guy I had just met and I were having my first-ever sex. don’t remember his name but I do remember how delighted my mom was, interviewing me about the details. Those times were the only ones when she showed me affection and acceptance. She loved asking about my sexual experiences, and she wanted to know everything. It was not the only time I slept with a stranger. But you get the picture. It was the start of a path that continued to destroy me for almost two decades.
  4. I deceptively lied to cover up my shameful behaviors. I lied to friends, employers, and myself. I feel sad and remorseful as I write these words to share my story, but I don’t feel shameful. Jesus died on the cross for me and washed me white as snow. That’s what I hope YOU can get out of my story. YOU don’t have to continue condemning yourself, drowning in shame, and feeling trapped. YOU can run to Jesus, as I did, and He will set you free.
  5. I experienced abnormal preoccupation with sexual ideation during work hours, and that goes back as far as when I was 17 years old. It fist became a problem when I was a school teacher. I remember sleeping with two men there at school where I worked. The constant preoccupation with sexual ideation led to many problems in the workplace, and I was the only one who didn’t know what the issue was…
  6. I suffered from high tolerance for just about any sexual activity and need for more, and that goes back to very deliberate instructions I received from my mother. Her words were not many but they had a huge impact on my life, even thousands of miles away from Russia. These were her words: “I haven’t had much sex and I never had an orgasm, so you go out there and have as much sex as you can and orgasm for both yourself and me!” And so I did. I knew nothing else but this because no one was there to confront my mother or to question her instructions. I was young, and she was my only parent. Her influence was significant, and she held me accountable to ensure I followed her instructions.
  7. I promised to myself that I’d stop the behavior but I couldn’t. Those promises were broken over and over again, and that’s how I came to Christ. I came to the end of myself, and there, on the rock-bottom, Jesus was the rock on the bottom. I gave my life to Him, and stopped, yet the withdrawal was painful and it lasted for a long time.
  8. I carelessly pursued sexual satisfaction despite any dangers or risks, especially career risks and health risks. I already admitted to you my sexual conduct at work. I also had sex with various men many times without any protection. It’s a miracle I’m alive and healthy today. It really is by God’s grace only that I’ve been kept protected from STDs.
  9. I genuinely expressed remorse and felt guilt after my sexual encounters, yet I did it again and again because I was so sick and had no idea.
  10. I experienced apparent withdrawal symptoms when stopping the behavior. That was actually HOW my reliance on God had begun. I’d repeat day and night: “I can’t but YOU can and YOU can through me.” It was a phrase taught by Andy Stanley in one of his sermons. He gave me a card to look at and to run to Jesus every time I feel powerless. I did that, and it worked. I recommend YOU run to Jesus when you come to the end of yourself and are ready to surrender.

A Lack of Conscience

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.

Today, I have high sensitivity to the walking dead: a few simple questions can reveal whether the person I’m talking to is actually alive or rather dead. This ability developed with experience.

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. He 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.

I felt so many feelings… I was suffocating.

What I Felt when I Learned that I Was 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 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 commodity.

I felt objectified: I used myself, my body, my personality, my smarts, my talents – all to chase sexual pleasure, as if I were a pan to fry potatoes, a thing to use, a tradable something to help me get sex.

I felt terrified: 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, 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. I had to get some serious mental health help to grasp what had happened to me.

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 His loving arms, gave me a new heart, renewed my mind, and revealed to me my identity. He 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 her harmful teachings with Biblical teachings. I shared about the experience in this speech:

To process all these feelings and trauma is taking years but my shame was lifted and taken away by my lord and savior Jesus Christ who asked me to go into the world and share my story with you and let you know that there’s hope out there.

As I’m writing this, I’m weeping and shaking. I did not want to share any of this with you. It’s hard to share something so intimate and tragic. But sharing is exactly what encourages and empowers us in life.

So, here’s my story for God’s glory.

My Life after Sex Addiction

My life sometimes rocks and sometimes sucks. I am a human woman who struggles just like everyone else. Most of the time, I behave and sometimes I don’t. I procrastinate and avoid dealing with life, I pretend like everything is great when it isn’t, or I 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, avoiding the pain associated with remembering the events of my story shared with you today.

I was avoiding sharing it all with you because I didn’t want to feel the pain again. Also, you may judge me, you may troll me, you may bully me…

Of course, you also may be healed by God through my story, you may decide to get help for your own addiction, you may even decide to NOT commit suicide after reading this article because you will have hope again.

I called my friend Felicia today and wept. That’s how much I didn’t want to write this article for you. But God’s calling is inescapable, so I obey and share, all the time, even when I chock from pain and cry publicly, I still share my story to encourage and empower YOU.

Sharing is caring.

Today, my life is committed to sharing vulnerably and openly.

Sometimes, people avoid me because I’m so bold. They get uncomfortable around me because I skip the small talk and dive into the real stuff. And sometimes, I receive letters from people who say they decided to hold on to life because my story encouraged them and they don’t want to commit suicide but want to live empowered instead.

That’s why I share from the heart through my ministry.

Ministry is hard work. Not only physical work (I do website, podcast, videos, pictures, everything myself) but also emotional and spiritual work (processing my past and verbalizing it to you is extremely difficult).

My ministry Online Discipleship For Women consists of this website, blog, my books, a Christian podcast for women, my YouTube channel, and my Christian apparel.

Anna Szabo's collection of Christian apparel for women #52Devotionals

My podcast called The Anna Szabo Show is where we have real-life conversations about God, Gospel, and life matters. You can subscribe anywhere podcasts are available. Beware that you’ll often hear me cry there. There, I pray for you often to lift you up to God and to comfort you.

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.

How Princess Lana Developed Faith and Fortitude

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 – for everyone – yet, life is worth living, and God’s plan is good after all, we just don’t see the big picture, so we lose hope easily.

Celibacy, Singleness, and Sexual Temptations

I’m single and celibate and I don’t date. My life is dedicated to Jesus Christ. This commitment allows me to serve God, have peace, experience joy, and fulfill my life’s purpose.

This 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.

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.

I love living alone, so I never feel lonely.

And I guard my mind.

I don’t watch unexpected affection scenes in movies. I cover my face or turn away. I don’t read anything romantic or erotic.

Yet, writing this article, especially looking up the links about sex addiction resources and also about Emmanuele, that’s been tough for my mind.

While writing this article, I took many breaks to go for a walk, to cook, to nap, to meditate, to play with my dog Bruno, to pray, and to breathe.

If you’re considering single and celibate life, you’d need to also manage your mind, protect it, but if temptations come, simply refocus.

Habits and routines help me with celibacy.

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.

For example, my goal is to abide in Christ instead of walking through life in my own power. To help this goal, the first thing I do when I get up, is I 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 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, 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. This kind of vulnerable writing is not something I ever pursued or studied but God called me to write and so I do. 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 live 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 – 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.

Exercising.

Swimming.

Kayaking.

Processing Life by Talking to Myself

Sharing My Sex Addiction Journey to Help Others

Summary

SHARING IS CARING, SHARE THIS