In her new book “Getting Off,” Erica Garza chronicles her struggle with adult videos and sex addiction and her journey towards overcoming it. In writing it, she hopes to end some of the stigmas around female sexuality and adult video use and facilitate discussions about healthy sexuality.
As a young girl growing up in LA, Garza was bullied for her scoliosis and the back brace she wore to correct it. Her Catholic-school education had taught her to associate sex with shame, so when she saw an adult video for the first time at age 12, as she writes in her book, it made her feel “an elaborate mixture of shame and sexual excitement.” Because it was difficult for her to separate shame and pleasure, she says in her memoir, she “continued to seek out situations that would produce the same feelings.”
For the next eighteen years, Garza struggled with an adult video “and sex addiction.” She started watching more and more hard-core adult videos to get off and would spend entire days in bed watching it. It was difficult for her to stay in relationships because of her fixation on casual, meaningless sex. In a recent interview with the Guardian, she describes feeling “really unworthy of love.”
But, when she was 29, she traveled to Bali, Indonesia, which she says was “partly inspired by Eat, Pray, Love.” On her trip, she focussed on her physical and mental well-being. While she was on that trip, in what she describes as a “clear-headed space,” she met her future husband. Because of the self-care work she had done, she felt capable of entering a healthy relationship with him, which helped her gradually develop a more healthy attitude towards sex.
Garza is cautious about using the phrase “sex addiction,” because it has been used by many in Hollywood recently to justify their sexual misconduct (a la Weinstein). But, as she pointed out in an interview with The Guardian, “it’s important to know that not all sex addicts are in positions of power and not all sex addicts want to take advantage of and hurt other people.”
For Garza, there isn’t a hard-and-fast definition of sex addiction, a mental formula you can go through. To her, her use of sex and adult videos was an addiction because it made her feel miserable and made her unable to develop meaningful relationships with other people.
Now, though, Garza has been able to develop a healthy relationship with her husband, and with sex. She uses adult videos “healthily,” and says, of sex with her husband, “’There’s no need to rush or think about what we’re doing wrong — and I can see a glimmer of the bright future that lies ahead.”
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