Why do I act in/out?

When I act in or act out, I hurt myself. I hurt people around me. I hurt my relationship with God. So, why am I so compelled to do it? What is so attractive about something that ultimately causes pain and suffering? For me, it’s all about shame.

When I act out by trying to make men lust after me, I’m doing it because that voice in my head (the voice of addiction) tells me that I’m not worth anything. I’m trying to drown that voice by objectifying myself. I’m trying to prove it wrong. When I’m in caught in the web of intrigue, romance, lust or passion, I get high from the “proof” that I am wanted. I am attractive. I am worthy.

I have struggled with pornography, just as many women get lured by romance novels or erotica. But you know what? I’m never focused on the men in the images. I’m focused on the women and the power they seem to have over the men. I am doing “field research,” revving myself up with an impossible standard of what a truly wanted, no… needed woman is like. I think that if I could be like that, surely no one would find me worthless!

But no amount of being desired is ever enough, because when I am in the grips of sex addiction, I believe that I have no worth, and no one can convince me otherwise. When I get really overwhelmed with that sense of un-lovableness, then I act in.  My social, emotional and sexual anorexia spin out of control, and I painfully avoid any kind of intimacy. All relationships become shams, because I have so many defenses and false masks to keep myself safe. I imagine that if anyone really knew me, they’d be revolted.

Part of my story is that I have a history of abusing food or starving myself when I’m trying to control my sex addiction. At my very bottom, I even cut myself, out of shame. When I do these things, I am trying to “punish” myself for my innate “wrongness”. I feel incapable of getting off of the spiraling cycle of acting in and acting out. I feel completely helpless and hopeless.

That’s how it is when I listen to that voice of shame in my head. The voice sometimes sounds like my mother. Sometimes, it takes on the tone of childhood bullies. It’s the voice of failure, of broken-ness, and of such a deep, deep need that it seems like it can never be fulfilled. It’s the voice of addiction. But whatever form it takes, it is always, always lying.

Here’s what I have come to realize in my recovery: There was a time, before the world was formed, when God conceived of me in His mind. Being all-knowing, he was able to look through time into what kind of person I would be if he chose to make me. He knew exactly what I would look like. He saw the abuses I would suffer. He perceived my thoughts, heard my words and observed my choices. He knew everything about me, and the what the high cost of redeeming me would be.

In that moment, God had a choice. He could easily have discarded the idea of me and thought up somebody better. But He didn’t. He knew exactly who I would be and he chose to make me anyway. And that alone gives me worth. Period.

You know what? You have the same worth given to you by the same loving Creator. You have nothing more to prove. You have nothing more to fight. You are worthy and lovable and complete because of His love. And no one can ever take that away from you. Your shame is a lie. Next time it speaks its evil into your heart, remind it whose you are. You are a daughter of the King.

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