TW: Mental health; addiction; abuse of power
There were too many choices, it was overwhelming. I thought about the advice Gordon Ramsay always gave the owners of the restaurants he was trying to rescue. Trim the menu down, do fewer things and do them well.
When the waiter came to take our orders, I panicked and ordered a Caesar salad with grilled chicken. Pretty hard to screw that up. Lance ordered a rare ribeye steak which would undoubtedly be over or under cooked. I would have to listen to him complain about it all evening. Fantastic.
This was my third date with Lance. I'm not even sure why I agreed to go, he bores me to tears. His incessant calls and texts wore me down. Now I regretted giving in.
After dinner Lance drove me home and walked me to my door. I knew he wanted me to invite him inside. That wasn't happening.
"Thank you for dinner, Lance." He looked at me expectantly for longer than was comfortable, but I refused to flinch.
"Well, goodnight then." He leaned in to kiss my lips, I turned my head quickly; the kiss landed on my cheek. I turned, opened my door, stepped inside and closed the door behind me. I looked out the peephole; Lance stood on my doorstep for a moment shaking his head before retreating to his car in defeat. I blocked Lance's phone number.
A week and a half later, I sat in a different restaurant, one with a much less intimidating menu. Joshua and I were happily chatting away and halfway through our meal when Lance appeared beside our table.
“Susana, you haven’t been returning my calls.” He looked miffed.
“That is correct Lance, very observant.” I knew I was being rude but if Lance couldn’t take a hint, I was going to have to spell it out for him. “I blocked your number.” His face was red with anger. He looked over at Joshua.
“Don’t waste your time. She doesn’t put out.” Lance snarled.
I stifled a giggle. Joshua raised an eyebrow. “Good to know.” He turned from Lance to me. ‘Therapy is going well then?”
“Very.” I nodded.
“Have a seat, join us for a drink.” Joshua used his foot to push a chair out for Lance who looked baffled.
“Um, no, I don’t think---” Lance stammered.
“Oh, come on man, you just admitted you’ve tried to get into my sisters' pants. Least you can do is indulge me in one drink.”
“Sister? Oh, I’m sorry, I---” Lance didn’t know how to handle this situation. He looked at me. I shrugged. Lance sank down into the chair. Joshua called the waiter over and ordered Lance a drink. Joshua studied Lance for a minute.
“He’s good looking enough. How many dates did you go on? What’s wrong with him?” My brother asked.
“Three. Incredibly boring.” I replied. “This is the least boring I have ever seen him.”
“Hey! I’m RIGHT HERE!” Lance was clearly offended. I didn’t care. The waiter brought Lance’s drink and he took a hefty gulp.
Joshua leaned back in his chair and laughed. “You’re so boring that you couldn’t get into the pants of a nymphomaniac?” He shook his head.
“Sex addict in recovery thank you very much.” I snapped. It had taken four years and three different therapists, but I was finally in a good head space and had my urges under control. I wanted my credit.
“Is this some sort of joke?” Lance asked.
“Nope.” I shook my head; this was no joke. This was my life.
“So, you maintained control with Mr. Boring here; how would you do with a man who actually tempted you?” Joshua asked.
Lance downed the last of his drink. “I’m out. Thanks for the drink.” He stood and ran, not walked, out of the restaurant.
“That was fun.” I grinned. “In answer to your question, I do just fine. Doctor Jones has been very helpful.”
“I’m glad Sis. I was afraid you’d give up after Dr. Warren.” Joshua's face contorted in anger at the thought of Dr. Warren.
Dr. Toby Warren had definitely been a setback on my road to recovery. At the time he had seemed like a good choice; he had a good reputation and specialized in the area of sexual addiction. By my fourth session, we were having sex, right there in his office. Dr. Warren was nothing more than a predator and his victims were the most vulnerable of all, patients who had come to him for help. I wasn’t his only victim; I was simply the first to come forward; many others followed. There had been a huge scandal, in the end, he lost his medical license. After that, I stuck to female therapists.
Our parents hadn’t known anything about my problems until the scandal with Dr. Warren. They pretty much disowned me after that. It was a humiliation to them to have a daughter with such disgusting tendencies. It didn’t matter that I was trying to get help, to them I was a disgrace. My brother Joshua never turned his back on me. He told our parents that if I wasn’t welcome in their home, he wouldn’t be coming to see them either. They wouldn’t budge, neither would he.
I wondered what my parents would have thought if I had told them about my second therapist, Dr. Mary Hobbs. Her answer to all my issues was to blame my parents, my strict upbringing, the religion that was forced down my throat from birth. To me that was a cop out. No one is responsible for me but me. Besides, Joshua and I were raised the same and he had turned out just fine.
Thankfully, I’d found Dr. Alice Jones and with her help, I had made great strides. My sex addiction wasn’t even really about sex (stick with me on this). My root problem was a feeling of inadequacy and the intense need for proof that I was wanted. My true addiction wasn’t the sex act itself; it was in the conquest. I needed to prove to myself that I could make men want me; if they came back more than once, I had proven in my own mind that I was good at something. Let’s face it, my logic was crap; a man will screw just about any woman who is willing. My victories were hollow and meaningless.
With Dr. Jones’ help, I had discovered my own self-worth. I didn’t need men to want me, I certainly didn’t need to screw them just because I could. Sex was now something reserved for a man I truly loved.... If I ever find him that is. I’d gone from having no standards at all to being downright picky. It’s not a bad thing, it‘s empowering, to reserve that part of me for a man worthy of that gift.
“Do you remember my buddy Jonas from college?” Joshua asked while polishing off the last breadstick.
“Um, vaguely.” I tried to think but couldn’t picture him in my mind.
“He’s just back from med school. Took a job at Mercy Hospital. He asked me about you.”
I didn’t say anything. Any man asking about me probably thought I was an easy lay because of all the publicity around the mess with Dr. Warren. Just because Jonas had been away at medical school didn’t mean he hadn’t heard about that. Joshua, as always, knew just what I was thinking.
“He’s a good guy Suz, you know I would never suggest anyone who wasn’t. He’s single, he’s stable, has a good job. He remembers you from when you visited me in college and he brought you up in conversation, I didn’t. He asked if you were single and if you’re still cute.”
“Ugh. You can’t ask a girl's brother if she’s cute. What did you say?”
“I told him you are single but that you are no longer cute, you are drop dead gorgeous.” Joshua smiled.
“You lie.” I rolled my eyes.
“I do not lie. That IS what I said, and you ARE drop dead gorgeous. Everyone says so.”
“Who is this “everyone” of which you speak?”
“Jonas isn’t the first man to show interest in you Sis. He’s just the first one I think is worthy of you. I think you should meet him. I think you're ready.”
I sighed. My older brother has always been my champion. “What if I meet him and we don’t click. Will it cause problems between you two?”
“No way and, even if it did, I will always choose you Suz. You must now that by now.” I did know that. Joshua was the one man in my life who had never let me down.
I agreed to meet Jonas. Maybe he’ll be Mr. Right and maybe, he won't. Doesn’t really matter because either way, I’m going to be just fine.