Addiction is by its very nature a
tricky thing, as most people realize. It is, psychologically speaking,
extremely difficult to identify a true need (air) versus a perceived need
(alcohol), because to the addict, it all feels about the same. No air/die. No
alcohol/die? When the perceived need is sex, which is after all a biological
urge programmed into our very DNA, the situation is compounded.
Sue William Silverman learned this
lesson only too well. Following a childhood of molestation by her father, she
equated sex with love. She figured that if her father loved her and her father
demanded sex from her, the only way anyone else would love her would be if she
gave them sex, and so, following this scenario to its logical conclusion,
anyone she was having sex with must love her. Those enraptured, intense
feelings she felt during sexual intercourse that was love. Right?
To her immense credit, Silverman
eventually figured out that there was something wrong with the whole set-up.
She began to see a therapist largely, it seems, because of the eating
disorders she also suffered from and gradually, opened up to him. And although she understood his words
("For months, like a mantra, my therapist has told me, "These men are
killing you." I don't know if he means emotionally, spiritually of
physically.") and understood that she had a problem, she was unable to
stop herself from the repeating pattern of her sickness.
"Every Thursday at noon I have
sex with Rick in room #213 of the Rainbow Motel. Today, even though I promised
my therapist I wouldn't come here again, I pull into the lot
" she writes.
She simply cannot resist sex, "a sweet amnesiac." Therefore, at her
therapist's urging, she checks herself into a treatment facility.
Love Sick is an account of
her twenty-eight day stay. The first chapter of the book is titled "Last
Day Out," and each subsequent chapter is a day, through the final
installment, "First Day Out." She chronicles the high points and
black moments of her treatment with absolute candor and disarming humor. With
the other women in her unit, she attends counseling sessions and groups based
on AA's 12-Step approach, and she writes it all down. Some of them are
resistant one patient who refuses to eat is a macabre presence, strolling the
halls in silence with her IV pole and some are downright rebellious, like
Sue's roommate Jill, who checks herself out on Day Two. Their pain and
resistance to change is not easy reading by any means, but anyone who has ever
experienced the power of an addiction, whether to sex, drugs, alcohol,
gambling, adrenaline or whatever, will understand.
In "First Day Out," she
rehashes what she learned from the program, and considers the many challenges
ahead of her. For a woman who has never known normality, thinking about what
her normal life will be like is not easy. But her time in the program and the
one-on-one sessions with her therapist has given her hope for the future. She
recognizes the danger of relapse will be ever present. But with the help of her
new support network, she vows to keep trying. She sets her new goals: "I
must find comfort in these ordinary messages, normal people, everyday things. I
must accept that the ordinary isn't boring, that the everyday can be
Your readers are with you, too,
Sue. Good luck, and thank you for your most moving memoir.
© 2002 April Chase
Chase is a freelance journalist and book reviewer who lives
in Western Colorado. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications,
including The Business Times of Western Colorado and Dream Network Journal.