Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charlie Sheen's addictions: not making his life part of ours

The recent news has been full of articles about celebrity Charlie Sheen’s drinking and womanizing with various women sex workers and porn film actors. Many media outlets will ignore this story, understanding it is not news; but other media will cover it. Comedians and late night hosts will use it as nightly comedic material, celebrity media outlets will speak with well-known addictions experts for their spin on Mr. Sheen’s situation and condition. This maelstrom of media will blow over in a few weeks but during that time it can often be extremely triggering for sex/love addicts and their partners. Often times those triggered will feel embarrassed, anxious about if the other is paying attention to the stories, wonder why they aren’t talking about it, and in some cases obsessively look for more stories.

If you are feeling vulnerable and anxious when these kind of stories hit the news here are a few suggestions:

1) Talk to someone. If you are in therapy talk to your therapist, if you attend 12-step meetings talk to your 12-step group, or just talk to someone you trust about the feelings, thoughts, memories and fantasies this story arouses inside of you.

2) Be honest with yourself and support system if you are feeling triggered to “act out” in your
addiction if you are a sex/love addict or in your Unhealthy Relationship Patterns (URP) if you are a partner. URP can be snooping, constantly looking for more stories about the celebrity, controlling behaviors, obsessive fear based thoughts, and not taking care of yourself.

3) Talk to your partner with non-defensive communication. The following are some examples of how someone who struggles with sex/love addiction or their partner could bring up feelings that may have surfaced.

Partner Example
I noticed the celebrity story has made me feel anxious and brought up painful memories. I don’t need to rehash that with you, I just want you to know I am feeling anxious and could really use some comfort right now. Have you had any feelings about this story?


Sex/Love Addict Example
I have had feelings of shame every time a comedian makes a joke or someone in the media tells me sex addiction is just an “excuse” for bad behavior. I have been working hard on my recovery and can see that I have more work to do since someone elses (the celebrity) problems bring up feelings of shame in me.

When sex/love addiction hits the news it is a time when sex/love addicts and their partners need to have as much abstinence as possible from this kind of media blitz and engage in meaningful communication with their therapists, 12-step sponsors and each other to discuss honestly the feelings and thoughts about their own addiction experience.

Elizabeth Corsale, MA, MFT

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