"Getting Off" Is The Story Of A Woman's Struggle With Shame And Sex Addiction

January 30, 2018

|Zoralis Pérez

How far would you go to satisfy a craving? Would you keep going, no matter how much it hurt, or how much it destroyed you?

Erica Garza’s memoir is not a light, feel-good story about a woman who maybe starts having too much sex at an early age, makes some bad decisions every now and then, and is finally saved by true love. Getting Off: One Woman's Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, published earlier this year, is an incredibly well-written yet painful account of this woman’s addiction to sex and pornography. In her book, Garza is unafraid to share with the reader every single aspect of her story, from the weekends she’d spend holed up in her bedroom as a teenager masturbating for hours to online porn, to the countless bad hookups she endured for years in order to satisfy her urges. Even though her story has a traditional “happy ending” (love, husband, family), it is so much more than that. Getting Off is a brave exploration of the author’s deepest, darkest, and most humiliating moments as an addict, narrated in a way that makes her journey both scary and also relatable.



She explains that it all started when she was a teenager living with her Mexican-American family in a middle-class Los Angeles suburb. As basically any teeanger in any suburb ever, she was always bored, so TV and the internet were her only form of entertainment. That was where she discovered sex. Before she knew it, porn and masturbation were her favorite pastimes, a shameful yet exhilarating secret that she kept from her strict Catholic family, and also an escape from what she called the “mediocrity” of Mexican-American suburban life.


“...the sad, anxious mess of a girl alone in her dark bedroom, hot laptop balanced on her chest, turning the volume down low, scrolling, scrolling, choosing, watching, escaping, coming.”


Image: @semajwerd


Even back then, as a teenager, she knew that her fixation with porn and masturbation was unusual and probably unhealthy, but she was addicted to the feelings that came with it: not just the arousal and the dozens of orgasms she could give herself in a day, but also the shame that she felt for spending so much of her time in the dark, fantasy world of perfectly airbrushed porn stars performing impossibly complicated sex acts. She was addicted to that shame, self-loathing, and emotional isolation that she imposed on herself so that no one ever came close to finding out her secret.


She starts having sex at 17, and that is when the next chapter of her journey begins. As she explains early on, for most of her adult life, sex was never about pleasure, enjoying being with someone or even enjoying the act. No matter who she was with or how, sex was always about a “craving” that she had to satisfy in order to be able to focus on other things and have a “normal” life. This craving was for sex, but also, as was mentioned before, shame: the more shameful, humiliating, and dangerous the sexual encounter the better.


“I prioritized the satisfaction of sexual release over everything else screaming inside of me Please stop.”


Image: @semajwerd


For years, she moves from one city to another, all around the globe, looking for situations that fulfill her needs. And this is what, personally, makes her story so hard to read, but also so important in terms of discussing sex addiction openly. For instance, she talks about having sex with multiple strangers in one week (for weeks on end), with people she doesn’t even like, sometimes without using a condom, knowing fully well that what she is doing is destroying her both emotionally and physically, but not being able to stop. Sex didn’t make her feel happy or fulfilled, it just left her feeling broken, but it didn’t matter. That is the definition of addiction. 


“In Barcelona, suffering from the worst bout of strep throat I’ve ever had (which turned out to be mono), I chose to go home with the fifth guy in the space of a few weeks. It was the only thing I could do to stop thinking about the fact that I had just ruined a three-year relationship with the man dated after the filmmaker, someone I truly loved and felt loved by, over a hand job with a Colombian man on vacation.”



Image: @phiaphotography


The turning point in her life happened many years later as a result of an “Eat, Pray, Love”-inspired move to Bali. There, she rediscovered herself thanks to yoga, self-reflection, and yes, love. In Bali, she met the man who would later become her husband and the person who finally led her to face the reality of her addiction and get help. However, as she explains in these chapters, this doesn’t mean that love “cured” her addiction. Her husband simply has helped her in her journey to overcome this condition, giving her the support she needs to keep going.


***

Knowing that this is not a fictional story, and that all of these things really happened to a woman who is not so different from us makes the book a compelling but also uncomfortable read. Most importantly, though, it makes it groundbreaking work about sex addiction that fights stereotypes and prejudice surrounding this condition.


Don't miss these books:

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Main photo by @phiaphotography

Zoralis Pérez

Zoralis Pérez


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