Words: 4, 334 (flamingo1325 added like 2000 of it! Thank you!)
Part of this chapter come from psychcentral (dot) com/lib/2006/what-is-sexual-addiction/
Thanks to my beta/ co-writer flamingo1325 for editing
and helping with this!
C H A P T E R 1:
"Hi Edward." The round circle said as I took my seat. It actually surprised me how unpatronizing the customary return hello's were; I always viewed it as something that just rubbed in the fact that people at these meetings needed help.
I leaned back against the mustard colored chair and gave the group of misfits a polite smile.
To my left was Alex, a police officer who was engaged and to be married sometime within the next two years. They had postponed the wedding, due to his addiction. He and his fiancée were on a break of sorts while he worked through all this. She hadn't given up on him, but she also wasn't crowding him and trying to rush him through this.
To my right was Leo, a librarian who just graduated from college with a degree in business. He had almost lost his job when he was caught with one of the assistants in the back room. It hadn't been the first time they were together, and it meant something entirely different for her than it did for him. Each time, he felt horrible afterwards and would spend the rest of the day in front of his computer, berating himself for his unacceptable actions.
They were so different yet so alike.
We all had let this addiction take over our lives. We all let this addiction take over us. We all felt like some kind of an outcast, like we didn't belong. We didn't think we deserved love for our stupidity. We all didn't think we deserved to live. That's what made us the misfits we are today.
Each one of us wanted to change for some one or something. Whether it was Alex who was trying to become the perfect husband and not let this destroy the life he so desperately wanted, or Leo who wanted a future with out his addiction looming in the shadows. Me? I was here for my family.
They are everything to me and I had already let it come too far. I didn't want my life to be consumed by this anymore. Enough was enough. Because of it, I missed my son Anthony's first day of kindergarten, Cindy's first steps and Danny's first word. I had missed something life changing in each of their lives and I could never get it back. Anthony was more important than the video that played on my computer screen, Cindy was more important then my need to release stress and Danny was more important then the woman I met at the bar. Each one of them I missed because at the time I thought my need for satisfaction was more important. That hurt the most.
The light bulb went off about two or so weeks ago, thanks to my wife. This was my third meeting and I still didn't like being here. But I made her a promise and I didn't want to lose her. She still has the heart to love me and stand by me after everything I've done. True, we had a lot to work on but we were trying. I love her and my family more than anything. I will do anything for them.
The conviction to change may have been overdue, but it wasn't too late. Amy hadn't even kicked me out of the house, and she wasn't worried about the children being around me. She figured that if I had been able to hide this for so long, even from her, there was no reason to put the kids through a separation from me. But I also think that she was trying to uphold our social status, and not do anything that would turn the public's eyes on me. It was understandable, yet maddening at the same time.
The past two meetings were…awkward. Jasper said it was normal for first timers, and with time everything would get easier. He said that reading up about my 'addiction' would help, so I did. The World Wide Web has been my friend for a while, only this time I was using it for something other than satisfaction.
One site said The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as "engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others." And it was true. Each and every word in that sentence could be used to explain me and the things I have done.
It will always follow me in the shadows of my life and I will always remember what I had become. That person I changed into is still who I am today; I can't change that. All I can do now is try to become the husband and father that my family could be proud of. How do you really explain this kind of thing to your children? What do you do to make them understand how and why daddy is sick, without destroying their innocence?
Maybe with time, things can go back to how they were and we can forget all of this. That was a lie, but it helps with some of the guilt I carry. I had become rather adept at rationalizing things to stave off the guilt.
But in my defense, not all the blame could go on me. Every time I passed a billboard on the street, turned on the radio, flipped through a magazine or turned on the television, something sex related was on. And it keeps getting more and more prominent with each passing day. It makes me sick to think that my children might have seen something like that. It makes me sick to think that my children might have discovered some of this world because of me.
Then the guilt comes back, knowing I contributed to it. "Increasing sexual provocation in our society has spawned an increase in the number of individuals engaging in a variety of unusual or illicit sexual practices, such as phone sex, the use of escort services and computer pornography." How right they were. Thing were not this bad when I was in high school.
High school. That time period in my life seems like so long ago when in reality it has only been about eight years. I didn't use to be this way. I remember how I was. I was happy and deeply in love. I still am in love, but now so much has changed. I remember the one day that changed my life forever. It was the happiest and most depressing day in my entire life. It was such a short time ago…
"Edward, I need to tell you something." Amy said as we sat in the sun. Today was our four year anniversary and we were eating lunch in my backyard below the sun. The green trees that created a back drop for her was perfect. Her lightly tanned skin and blond hair matched it in a beautiful way. I was so lucky she loved me as I loved her.
I had known Amy most of my life and had been dating her since our freshman year at Forks High. She told me she started falling for me in Junior High, but never said anything because she didn't know how I felt about her. But I had loved her since I first laid eyes on her in the third grade. I know- how could I have known love like that in the third grade? But sometimes, you just know.
She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and wanted to be everything for her. Once she told me that the one thing that made her fall the most for me was because of my music. She said that when ever she heard me play was when I was the most vulnerable and that I never had a shield up when I played.
I had been playing for years. My mother taught me how to when I was younger. She always said that music could portray any emotion in the world. If you felt it within you, you could play it for the world. My mom was my best friend, and the one I could share anything with. When she died, I created a shield to defend myself from the outside world.
Then music became my life. It always made me feel like she was there with me, like she was sitting on the stool next to me or placing her hand against my shoulder for support. The piano and my mother always went together. It was my gateway to wanting to feel closer to her. And it always had.
"You know you can tell me anything." I told her while tucking a piece of hair behind her ear, a pleasant smile on my face. She sighed and scooted towards me. She laid her head against my shoulder as her arms curved around my torso and my arm automatically wove itself around her waist, holding her soft body close to my own.
"Don't be mad, okay?" She told me with tears evident in her voice. My smile fell. I wanted to pull her back and look at her face but didn't. I knew she would just hold onto me tighter so I couldn't see her tears. I laid my head against her soft head to let her know I was here.
"I could never be mad at you. I love you." I whispered into her ear. A sob released itself from her mouth and her body shook against my own. I held her tighter. Something was wrong but there was nothing I could do except wait.
"I love you too." She said in an emotion filled whisper before she went silent. I rubbed my hand gently against her arm for comfort but still she stayed silent. Then right before I was about to ask what it was, she spoke the words that would change my life forever and set the tracks to my future.
"I'm pregnant." And the world stood still.
"Edward?" Jasper's voice broke my train of thought. I looked up and met his questioning blue eyes, aware of everyone else's eyes on me as well. "Would you like to share?" He asked, encouraging me from across the room.
"No thanks." I answered without knowing what to say else to say.
I never knew what to say. It was hard to admit this, even to myself. I understood that acceptance was the first step, and I was well aware of how long I had been in denial about my problem. Even the night I was caught, I still adamantly refused to admit it.
But the look on Amy's face when she found out; the betrayal in her eyes- I couldn't ignore that. I was here for her; at least, at first I was. Now, I would like to think I was also here for myself but I still had my doubts.
"Why not? We were discussing what we thought started our behaviors. What things lead up to this moment? What started yours?" Jasper asked with kindness in his eyes, once again interrupting my own musings and conclusions.
You could say Jasper was our group 'leader' in a way. He was a psychologist and had studied different addictions all through college. His father was in the army and his mother was a drug addict through most of his life. When he was in high school, he said he found his mother's stash and was curious. Whatever it was put him in the hospital for a while months. He never said what it was, just that he accidently overdosed.
He says that was what forced his mother to clean up. She didn't want to lose him, and she furious that he even tried the stuff. But the thing was, she thought he never knew about her addiction. His mother cleaned up before he graduated from high school and his father was now back home. She has been clean ever since, and any time she feels like she might relapse she talks to him. Their relationship is incredibly strong now, and I only hope that the same thing can eventually happen with Amy.
He does these groups to help others through their addictions. He says he doesn't want anyone else to be in the same situation his mother was in. Whether it be sex or drugs or alcohol, an addiction was still the same- a compulsive, inexplicable need with no room for rationality or reasoning. He once told me the sex addict group was his favorite- the public tended to accept and pity those with drug addictions, whereas those with sex addictions were simply looked at as freaks. He wanted to change that- the underlying motives and factors were the same for any type of addiction.
I thought about what Jasper asked and came to a conclusion.
"I'm not sure where it started."
But I was lying, sort of. I knew I started doing this because of stress and, well, more stress I guess. I know that is a common, evenly clichéd, answer, but it was the truth. On the outside, it seemed like my life was perfect and everyone wanted to be me. I was from a well to do family, my father making a more than comfortable living for my small family. I was an only child, so all my parent's adoration fell onto me.
I certainly had looks, and was sought after by all the girls in the school. I had plenty of friends, and I had some of the highest marks in the class. But that was all superficial, and that didn't create happiness despite what many people would believe.
My father is a perfectionist. He wanted me to be better than the best, even doing what I hate. I'm a lawyer and I hate it. I despise it but there is nothing I can do to change it. It was either become this or be on the streets.
Even in high school, I could never measure up to what he wanted. If I brought home an A on a test, where I received the highest grade, his hard eyes would narrow at me as he interrogated me as to why it was not an A+. If I scored the winning point at a sports game- yes, sports, though not by choice- he would demand to know why there was even a need for a winning point because I should have brought the team much further ahead.
Once I started dating, I was well aware of what was expected of me. I was supposed to stay within my social class, which was rather limited in Forks. A small handful of girls were acceptable by my father, and the consequences of bringing anyone else home were not lost unto me. Thank god Amy was one of the chosen few.
The day Amy told me she was pregnant I was scared. Not just scared, but terrified. In the first few moments after those life altering words were uttered, I didn't even think about the effect it could have on her; I only thought of myself despite how much that idea disgusted me.
We were only eighteen and two months away from graduation- how could I not be scared? I wasn't mad at her- I could never be mad at her for something like this. If anything, I blamed myself though that was in part because of my father. I was petrified to tell him; I had messed up and I knew he wouldn't accept it. Still, despite all that, I found it within me to focus on her. I told her everything would be okay and that I would always love her.
At that moment in time I decided that I would marry her and we would raise the child together. I was planning on proposing on her birthday, but this just gave me more incentive to move forward with it. The ring was upstairs in my dresser drawer. I thought my plan was flawless. I hadn't told anyone what I was planning, not even my father. A part of me worried that he wouldn't approve; being 'bogged down' by a wife could ruin my future. At least, that was how I figured he would see it.
Then my dad said he needed to talk to me. That conversation changed things more then any baby ever could. I had always known he wanted me to become a lawyer like him and take over the firm one day, but I didn't want that. Lawyers scam people and some even defend the guilt. I never wanted to be someone like that. I never wanted to become someone like him.
I wanted to be a musician and play my music all over the world. I wanted to write songs that would warm hearts and make people feel. I wanted to teach others to play and show how amazing it could be. But my father thought my dreams were a waste. He couldn't imagine telling his colleagues that his son had taken off to pursue a career revolving around something so transient as music. He worried more about what the socialites would think than what I wanted. So he told me he would only pay for college if my major was law related. That or I received nothing. So my choice was to either become the thing I hate and ease right into his law firm, or be on the streets with my pregnant girlfriend. You do the math.
"Are you sure Edward?" Jasper asked.
"Yes." I told him. He gave me another pity filled look but continued.
It was the same routine we had had since I started coming here. He did this with everyone, but I guess the real difference was that most other people responded to his charismatic personality and talked about their lives. For me, simply standing up and saying me name was taxing enough.
"Well, then I guess that brings us to an end for today. All of you did great and I hope to see all of you on Friday. Remember, your addictions took time to create. Now all you need to do is give the time to break it and be who you want to be. Goodbye guys." Everyone replied with the same goodbye and stood, a few converging into the usual small groups they were with afterwards. Others headed over to their sponsors, to discuss the evening's events further.
Jasper gave me a pointed look, silently asking me to stay. I wasn't sure why, but I obeyed none the less, allowing my thoughts to drift again while a few of the men stayed after and spoke a few words with Jasper before leaving.
I thought about what Amy was doing with our kids tonight, and the toll all this is likely taking on her. She had always been the primary care giver to those kids- I was too controlled by my addiction by the time our second child even came along to really be of assistance. I threw myself into my work in her eyes, but really, I was doing other things behind those constantly closed doors.
When the room had cleared Jasper walked into his office with me following behind him. He closed the door and asked me to take a seat while he sat in his own across the wooden desk. He crossed his fingers on top of the desk and looked at me while I looked away. There always had been something about his piercing blue eyes that made it hard for me to really look at him. I was a lawyer and certainly trained to stare people down, but I couldn't do that with Jasper.
"Edward?" Jaspers voice rang through the silent room. I sighed before I looked up at him as he gazed back at me. "How's the family been?" he asked, surprising me. I wasn't sure what it was I expected, but it definitely wasn't that.
He hadn't ventured too much into my personal life yet, but then again, I hadn't given him or anyone else the chance.
"Fine I guess." I answered shortly, still feeling uncomfortable and almost controlled by his gaze.
The truth was, things weren't fine. My wife was being very supportive of me, but she was still hurt by what I had done. But as in everything else, she was ultimately being perfect. Instead of being disgusted and angry with me, she understood though I had no idea how she could. She contacted Jasper and set up for me to come to these meetings. She did it all; with the help of my father and our newest colleague Rosalie, Jaspers sister.
What made it worse was the kids noticed it too. Well, Anthony, my eight year old, asked if Amy and I were fighting. I told him that mommy was mad at me right now but everything was okay. It satisfied him, and he didn't even mention anything to his siblings about his worries about us. He didn't yet understand how far my lying skills had come. I had said things were fine, and he put his entire trust in my words. If only things could be that easy.
"How's work?" Jasper asked, confusing me even more.
"I think you know the answer to that," I said softly- one of the biggest reasons Amy made for my behaviors was stress at work.
She had explained to Jasper what my job was and that I didn't enjoy it. She had confided in him more about during her meeting with him than I had in the past three weeks.
"How are things with Amy?" He continued, his constantly pleasant tone starting to irritate me.
"What's with the questions?" I asked him, more out of shame that I was even here and being singled out than out of anger. I didn't want to talk about Amy; I didn't want to have to force myself to admit any more just how much I have hurt her. He sighed then answered.
"Edward, you aren't very involved in our meetings." He said.
"Yes I am." I told him, speaking the truth. I was here- wasn't that enough?
It was what Amy told me. She said that I could take as long as I needed- she would be there every step of the way. Why didn't Jasper have that same philosophy?
"No, you're not. You need to participate more or none of this will work. Showing up won't do anything. You need to at least try." He said.
"I am trying."
Jasper sighed again as he took a moment to figure out the best way to word things. He was aware of my temper, and he always seemed to have a sense about how people were feeling.
"Edward, you need to be involved more. If you want to kick this addiction you need to start trying. If not for you then do it for your family. They need someone who can be a working member of society. Someone who can make them proud and provide for them-"
The way he said that, despite his attempts at diplomacy, just infuriated me. It was like he was telling me what I had to be to become perfect. The last thing I needed was one more person expecting nothing but perfection from me. I wasn't perfect, and they didn't need to rub that fact in.
I was trying and I was doing this for my family. All my decisions had always been for my family. Why would he think this would be any different? I could be a 'working member of society', just not in the same way he wanted me to be. At least, not yet. And what lawyer is really a working member of society? Sometimes I wonder if we are only causing more of the problems.
"I'm sorry if I don't fit your idea of perfection. But in my defense, you don't fit mine. Jasper, what makes you think I'm not trying? I'm here, aren't I?! I'm sorry if I am not ready to simply pour out my soul to a room full of strangers. I'm sorry if I can't just jump and shout to the world yet how screwed up I am. But that doesn't mean I'm not trying. And I am trying to be better for my family. That's why I'm here." I told him with anger laced in my tone.
"No, it's fine. I'll see you on Friday."
I told him before standing and walking out the door, closing it with a slam. I walked through the hallway and past the reception desk where Jasper's wife, Alice, was talking on the phone. She looked at me worriedly but I was gone before she even had time to speak; I wasn't in the mood for her exuberance.
The cool air slammed me in the face as I walked out to my silver Volvo- just one more thing that was a product of my life of luxury that signified so much about me.
Now it's time to put on my smile and go home tot eh family I would do anything for.
Hey guys. Long chap, wow. And Bella will show up later on, don't worry. But you have to keep reading to find out when! :) And it may not be much, but it get's the ball rolling.
flamingo1325- you saved my butt with this chapter.
Okay, REVIEW and I'll send you a QUOTE. If you want. If you don't want a spoiler, just say so.
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And go check out the other side of this story, the comedy side, called You Can't Love Me, You Love Sex by Intoxicated By His Presence
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