Today we have Jace Downey joining us on The SHAIR Podcast. Jace is a sex addict. She spent the last 15 years living a double life. She destroyed her life so many times, she finally decided to end it. She read the self-help books, tried trial and error experiments to get better, and was seeing multiple therapists. Nothing helped or made any sense. She was destructive, a bad friend, selfish, and a complete mess. She hated herself. The idea for suicide didn’t come from a place of dramatic depression. It really just seemed like the next best step.
“I was miserable; I made those around me miserable, and the only people who liked me didn’t know me at all. I just couldn’t go on doing it anymore. I wanted to turn to the escape I had used so many times in the past, but I couldn’t do it. The urge to evade the pain I was feeling was so overpowering that I began to wonder. If sex releases chemicals in the brain similar to that of drugs, could it be just as damaging?
This question prompted me to do a little research before making the big final decision.
Like a flash of light in a dark room, my world was illuminated. I read deeper and discovered I was definitely not alone and that there was a solution.
I joined a recovery program that week, and for the first time in my whole life I felt like I belonged somewhere. I was home.”
Join us now as Jace takes us through her battle with Sex Addiction and her inspirational Journey into Recovery.
Sobriety Date: February 2, 2015
This episode was brought to you by Sober Nation.
Here are Jace’s SHAIR Podcast interview highlights and suggestions for the Newcomer:
Jace: Yeah, sure. Life right now is an insane blur of busyness between my normal job and the film that we’re making and recovery of course playing into that as well. My hobbies are more work, but when I do break free, I like to dance. I like to blues dance and tango. I got a couple of dogs, so I spend as much time as I can with them. Yeah. My day to day is I get up at about 6:00 AM, and I work as an editor and a videographer here in Austin, so I go and do that as my normal job, and then as soon as that is done, I work on the film. Right now, we’re in a big fundraising period for Suddenly Celibate, so that’s a whole job in itself, really. Then at some point late at night, I drag myself into bed and get stoked to do it again the next day.
Omar: So now talking about sex addiction or the disease of addiction. What do you do as far as recovery? Do you go to 12 step meetings? What is it that you’ve got going on as far as that is concerned?
Jace: Yeah, though it’s not quite as old as some of the other twelve-step meetings, there are meetings for sex addicts, and love addicts, and sex and love addicts, and anyone who fits in to any of those categories. They follow the same principles. Of course there are others that are not twelve-step oriented that look into sex addiction as well and treating that. I do participate in a couple different twelve-step anonymous programs.
The recovery is very similar to that of alcoholics or drug addicts, just as the addiction is not all that different from those either. The recovery looks pretty similar as well. Though I’ve not been to either of those fellowships, but there are a lot of folks who are working on the recovery for sex addiction who are also in those programs, and they say this one really goes a lot deeper and it’s a lot harder of a program, and it really looks at not just a substance or “What is that doing to you?” but “Where did this come from?” It’s such a personal thing since it’s in you. It’s a sexual thing. It’s a love thing. It is treated a little bit differently, but the meetings that I go to follow the same principles as other twelve-step groups do.
Omar: Right. Is it SLAA, or SLA? I forget, there’s quite a few different ones.
Jace: There’s several of them. There’s SAA and SLAA, there’s SA, there’s S&I, a bunch of co-dependency programs that go along with the S programs as well. There’s couples in recovery. There are really quite a few that fit under the S flag.
Omar: Right. Right. Well, we’ll cover that a little bit more as we move along. Now, on a daily basis, how do you maintain your spiritual condition, that conscious contact with a higher power?
Jace: That is key. That was really the turning point for me in the program. I went in at one point and really failed miserably, because I thought I could do it without that element, and maybe some folks can. I certainly can’t. For me, that really means not just a prayer in the morning and a prayer at night, but a constant conversation all throughout the day. I do start my day with a prayer and showing gratitude and asking for guidance, and then I do a period of meditation before I get up out of bed.
I hear a lot in meetings as far as spirituality goes as well, and always picking up different tidbits there. I really struggled because of the past I have with the actual understanding of God and what that has meant in my past. I had to come up with my own higher power, and once I did and realized it can be defined in any way you’d like it, then it’s made it a lot easier where I’m not feeling like I’m under the eye of shame or disgrace or judgment, but an all-loving all-excepting type of thing where it’s really more like a partnership.
Omar: Absolutely. Beautiful. I feel exactly the same way. I was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness, so I had a lot of resistance to any form of spirituality because I combined spirituality with religion, so I was very resistant to anything that revolved around the term “God” or even the higher power concept. Once it became clear to me that I could come up with the understanding, the power greater than me of my own understanding, then it became a lot easier for me to adopt that philosophy, so I am right there with you.
Jace, tell us how much clean time, how much sobriety time do you have, and when is your anniversary date?
Jace: My anniversary is February 2nd of 2015, so I have just over ten months of sobriety under my belt.
Omar: So on the topic of Porn Addiction is there anything specific you can tell someone who’s new, who’s suffering from porn addiction, who’s been up for like three days and their eyes are about to pop out of their heads? Is there something that they can do? What would you say to them?
Jace: I would say go to a meeting straight away. I know that that seems like a really scary thing, that it’s going to be a very shameful thing. You are not alone. Even I get some of the guys in there kind of like, “Oh, I’m sorry to mention that in front of you, Jace,” and I’m like, “I am in this program for a reason.” Porn addiction … Sex addiction in general, but especially porn addiction, is the fastest growing addiction right now. You’re not alone. It’s not that shameful. There are so many tools that can help with things from blocking your phone, blocking your computer from going to those websites. There’s a lot of organizations out there working specifically to help porn addicts. If you are going to be addicted to any element of the sexual realm, you picked a really good one, because there’s a lot of help for porn addiction right now.
Omar: Wow. I love it. That’s fantastic. And what books would you recommend to newcomers that you read in your early recovery, or you’re currently reading?
Jace: Oh my gosh. I love to read, so I’ve read so many, especially when I was so gung-ho in the beginning. A really good one, if you’re just wanting to learn about sex addiction and recovery, Patrick Carnes, he has so many phenomenal books, one of his earlier books is called Out of the Shadows, and it really talks about what the addiction is, what it looks like, who’s suffering from it, and how we’re getting better by it.
Robert Weiss also has Sex Addiction 101: A Basic Guide to Addiction and Recovery. That’s a great one.
My favorite that I’ve read so far, it’s called Women, Sex, and Addiction. It’s by Charlotte Davis Kasl, and though it does focus more on women in general, it’s a really amazing book for anyone to read. It really talks about the connection between all the addictions. It goes in to the relationship between adult addiction and early abuse and neglect, and it talks a lot about how we as a culture, and especially women, use sex to escape pain and to really gain a sense of power, and how we can really use it as an expression of our soul, and it can really be a good thing. Women, Sex, and Addiction, especially if you’re a female out there listening, I know firsthand how confusing all of this is and how there are fewer resources for women. That’s a really good place to start.
Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction –Patrick Carnes Ph.D.
Women, Sex, and Addiction – Charlotte Davis Kasl Ph.D.
Omar: Wonderful. Wonderful. What is the best suggestion you have ever received?
Jace: Oh my goodness. There are so many amazing people that I’ve come across, but I think what really helped me the most because it blew my mind is somebody told me to just sit with my thoughts and feelings, and that never occurred to me before that I could do that. I thought I always had to act on them instantly. Just sitting with them was shocking, very uncomfortable, and amazingly helpful.
Omar: Oh, that’s fantastic. Wonderful suggestion. And if you could give a newcomer only one suggestion, what would that be?
Jace: Oh my goodness. Aside from that one, which is good advice, I know this is going to sound mean and I don’t mean it to be, and spend ten minutes with me and you’ll know I’m not this mean person I’ve been telling you all about. Oh man. I’m sure you’re really wonderful, but you’re just not as unique as you think you are. You’re not unique in your addiction. You’re not going to be all that unique in your recovery. Though twelve-step doesn’t work for everyone and I wouldn’t push it on anyone who it’s not working for, there are recovery programs out there that do work for every type of person, and there’s a lot of experience and knowledge in those groups, and you’re going to save yourself a lot of time if you just give up the idea that you’re above it all and that you’re different than everyone else, because you’re going to find out eventually that you are not. You can skip what my sponsor calls “field research.” Skip the field research and just start listening.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE NEWCOMER!
“You’re not unique in your addiction. You’re not going to be all that unique in your recovery.”
Omar: Oh man. There’s so many absolute similarities. I’m looking forward to hearing the feedback from our listeners, I got so much out of this because it got explained to me the same way I’ve explained drug addiction and alcoholism to others. The explanation, the feelings, the emotions, the story behind it, it paints a picture that I had no idea was what was going on behind the scenes of being a sex addict. Addiction is addiction, and it affects each and every one of us in the exact same way. It just completely dehumanizes us, disconnects us from society, disconnects us from a higher power, isolates us, and ultimately wants to kill us. It’s all basically the same, so I’m so glad you came on, because your story was awesome. Thanks Jace.
Jace: Well, thank you. I know we’re wrapping up, but I’ll say real quick that there are a lot of studies going on now on the brain that are showing sex addiction showing up very similarly to drug addiction. It’s reacting the same parts of the brain in the exact same way, so that’s still a science that is emerging right now, but as you’re talking about all the commonalities, it’s actually scientifically very common. It’s all right there in the limbic system. There’s so much that goes on there as far as judgment and decision making and the lack thereof being blocked by all of those other chemicals flooding your brain. What you need to do to reach that same peak and whether that’s more sex or more extreme sex or more dangerous sex or more violent sex, or porn watching as well really progresses, the idea that we are all so different is hurting everyone.
Just like you’ve said, this could have been replaced with drugs or alcohol or even food or gambling, whatever it is. You’re right. Addiction is addiction, and I love that we got to talk tonight, and that other people are bringing this up with you as well and asking questions. I know I need more support and more education and more knowledge and more research and more … I know that other people are out there that are the same way, so the more we drop these walls that we’re different and we all need to be separate, the better I say.
CONTACT Jace Downey:
Thanks again for your SHAIR, Jace!
See you then!
Disclaimer – The opinions shared on this show reflect those of the individual speaker and not of any 12 step fellowship as a whole and though we discuss 12 step recovery and the impact it has had in our lives we do not promote or endorse any 12 step anonymous program.