What is sexual addiction? How does one recover from this addiction? Sue William Silverman
In her first book Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, Sue William Silverman writes about the childhood sexual abuse she experienced. She had an incestuous father and a complicit mother. The tragedy of incest leaves any child feeling that she is unlovable, and the confusion that sex equals love. The incest was woven with the elements of secrecy, danger, and destruction. In Love Sick, Sue shows the reader how those elements became a blueprint for her relationships.
As with any addiction, sexual addiction is a narrow one-dimensional drive serving only to feed itself. Sue was starved for real love as a child, so she uses unhealthy behaviors to search for love; she literally does not know better because she was not shown unconditional care. In college, she is caught in an affair with an emotionally unavailable married man, who has a son her own age. She also meets (for sex) a random obscene phone caller who is a stranger. Incest leaves the victim with instinct askew, so Sue literally believes that this strange caller was meant to meet her to show her how loveable she really is. Sue later marries Andrew, and confesses: "I first had sex with Andrew while married to someone else." Andrew is unable to comprehend Sue's turmoil except in terms of how it affects her role as his wife. He says, "I'm tired of shouldering all the responsibility. She could at least try to get a job teaching..."
Sue's primary responsibility becomes recovery from childhood abuse and its ramifications. After trial and error therapy with ten counselors, Sue meets a therapist named Ted. He learns that Sue cannot will herself to stop seeing yet another married man, even while she is married to Andrew. Ted says, "Love doesn't result in sitting alone in motel rooms. Addiction results in sitting alone in motel rooms." Ted encourages Sue to enter a facility with a program for sex addicts. Sue learns that she is as much a predator (searching for love via sex) as she is a victim. She writes, "I am not your victim because you are not a predator any more than a bottle of scotch stalks an alcoholic." That sentence offers enlightening information regarding the vicious cycle of addictions. Sue offers the reader reasons to have compassion for those struggling with sexual addiction by giving us glimpses into the psyches of others in the facility. During the recovery program, Sue searches her soul for genuine feelings that are not in context with a man.
As an author and advocate, I read this book twice: once to become informed about sexual addiction (or any addiction) in reference to victims of abuse, and again for the creative writing that Sue William Silverman is so keenly able to craft.
review by Lynn C. Tolson, author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story