ABOUT THE BOOK
Title: I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict
Author: D.J. Burr
Publisher: ABLE Counseling Services, LLC
Publication Date: December 31, 2014
Pages: 232 pages
Format: Paperback, eBook (.mobi / Kindle), PDF
D.J. Burr is a man on a mission; successful business owner, highly respected psychotherapist and survivor of a dysfunctional life. At a young age, all he wanted was to be loved, but instead found himself targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. slipped into a life of addiction and clawed his way through broken relationships and seedy sex clubs–looking for love in all the wrong places. D.J. will take readers on a roller coaster of emotions as he details his search for grace and love.
I Just Wanted Love by D.J. Burr
Every human being comes into the world wanting to be loved. Without love, we are left with heartache, pain, grief, regret, shame and guilt. This is not how I wanted to live my life.
At 26, I set out on a journey to help others as a licensed psychotherapist. I set up shop in Seattle and attempted to do the best work I could possibly do. I wanted to help heal others of heartache, pain, grief, regret, shame and guilt. It was a challenge that I wanted to overcome. “How will I do this?” I often pondered. I hadn’t yet healed my own wounds.
Trying to be present for other people’s issues was the most challenging effort of my life. I was not only a therapist but a teacher. My clients looked to me for education, guidance, and reassurance that life wouldn’t always be so cruel. I couldn’t offer much reassurance, but I could offer one thing: I would be present as long as they showed up and did the work. And they did…
As my clients were showing up and my practice was starting to take off, I felt this nagging sensation buried deep inside. Something was missing. I still didn’t feel like I was loved. This was a deeply rooted feeling that I couldn’t shake. As I tried to fight it so I could stay present for my clients, I sunk into an abyss of shame.
The shame told me “I am not good enough”, “I don’t deserve to be loved”, “and I will be a failure in this business”. How was I supposed to manage now?!
For the last three years, I have been trying to figure it all out. I hit bottom and realized that I didn’t love myself. That was what I was missing. I had no earthly idea how to genuinely love myself. With the guidance of a therapist, I ventured into a space of self-discovery.
I came to understand that several of my negative thoughts and behaviors were caught up in an addictive cycle. I am codependent person and a sex and love addict. First, I placed my value dependent on what other people thought about me. I was raised in a less than nurturing and sometimes abusive household. I grew up believing that I was “worthless”, “only good for taking care of others”, and “never going to be loved”.
Secondly, I spent most of my life caught up in other people, places, and things that were distracting me from my goals of finding love and happiness. The shame that was deep-seated kept me believing that I would never, ever be loved, by anyone.
Lastly, sex became my most important need, because I learned that if I had sex I would be appreciated and accepted. These false beliefs almost cost me my life.
It was all bullshit. I had to learn that I am worthy of love. I found out I was lovable, loving, and loved by trusting in the power of 12-Step meetings. I found a community that accepted me for all my traits, including my flaws. I found a sponsor that guides me on a journey of self-discovery that is natural, loving, and healing.
Through my own work, I have been able to truly be present at my practice. I now help others find out who they are and determine who they want to be. No fairy tales here; just real life work by real people wanting to be loved.
I chronicled my life and journey to healing in my latest book, I Just Wanted Love: Recovery of a Codependent, Sex and Love Addict, available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com.
Thank you for being here.
You can follow me at ijustwantedlove.blogspot.com, @DJBURR1022 on Twitter and Facebook.com/djburrseattle
I AM ONLY AS SICK AS MY SECRETS
Someone actually said they were addicted to me, and that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I could no longer hold in all the pain and shame. I cried out in grief as I had this man inside of me and said, “Take the condom off. I need you. I am addicted to you too.” Every ounce of who I was washed out of me as I climaxed multiple times with this man who was not wearing a condom. When it got right down to it, I just didn’t believe I was worth anything. I wish I could say that I learned from my mistake that day, but I didn’t. I took that risk again and again with him and others.
At this point, I was utterly spent thinking about all the emotional baggage I had in my life. I just wanted to be wanted for me and who I was, but I didn’t know how to get there. Somehow, I thought I would find the answers to my questions at the bathhouse. The bathhouse I frequented was a place where men could freely have sex out in the open or in private rooms. There was porn, a steam room, and showers. The facility even provided vending machines that were stocked with lubricant, condoms, and candy.
I found a sense of false confidence when I visited the bathhouse. For example, when someone approached me and wanted to have sex, I felt empowered. After all, I could say, “yes” or “no.” I hardly ever said no. But, the joy of being needed by others was only temporary, and the power I felt was an inauthentic. It never lasted more than 10 minutes after I left. Always, I worried someone would see me walking out. Often, feared I might see a client there, and then what would I do?
With everything going on in my life at the time, I thought my business was the only thing worth salvaging, but I was wrong. I didn’t realize that through my obsessive sexual behavior, I was abandoning my own business too. I spent so much time worrying about my next sexual fix that often my focus and attention was not on my therapy practice and its growing clientele. Also, I was doing things that were actually illegal, such as videotaping men in restrooms or locker rooms. But what can I say? I got high from that kind of thing which temporarily relieved the pain and chaos swirling around inside me. The fact that I wasn’t getting caught was exhilarating. I actually thought this was normal behavior. In fact, I thought it was so normal that I never hesitated to send copies of my illegal videos and pictures to friends. They sent me their photos too.
I needed serious help. I started seeing a forensic psychologist who has been in the business for over 30 years. Every week I told him about my struggles, and every week he said the same thing, “Go to a meeting.”
But, I didn’t want to hear about going to meetings. However, my therapist was insistent; he wanted me to see how 12-Step meetings could work for me. During our sessions, he often pulled out the AA Big Book, having me read through “The 12 Steps.”
He encouraged me to go to Codependents Anonymous, but at the time, I didn’t get it. Along with “not getting it,” I didn’t want anyone to tell me about how I was “codependent.” Frankly, I didn’t have a real sense of what the word even meant. Most weeks, after therapy, I continued to walk down to the bathhouse to have sex for a few hours. Was I codependent on the sex?
Looking back at the summer after my sophomore year of high school, I now recognize this is when my codependence and sex and love addiction fully emerged. I wish someone would have told me that I was being targeted by a sick, child molester. While hanging out at my great-grandmother, Mama Sara’s house, I saw someone out of the corner of my eye. It was Kenny. I had always known him as one of my dad’s closest friends. While growing up, I had gone over to his home many times to play with his nephew. Kenny had always been friendly to me. He lived right across the street from Mama Sara.
After catching Kenny’s glance out of the corner of my eye, he walked over and asked if he could sit down next to me. I said, “Sure.” I had noticed that his wife and two boys were hanging out on his front porch…I didn’t really know them all that well. Kenny and I started talking, and he asked what was going on with me. Like always, he asked when was the last time I had spoken to my dad. Honestly, I couldn’t remember. Kenny always insisted that I call my dad and try to work things out. He was pretty much a broken record when it came to that subject.
After getting all the formalities out of the way, the conversation slowly turned to an awkward topic. In short, Kenny said he knew what was going on with my family and me. At first, I was puzzled. What he was talking about. But as he continued, it was like he had been a fly on the wall inside my house; he knew I was gay. I was baffled.
At first, I was angry and upset with Kenny. Then he told me he was interested in talking with me about it. He had genuine empathy for my situation, and he made an effort to understand what I must have been going through. Finally, I said to myself, here is someone who is finally willing to listen to me and possibly be objective about the whole thing. At that moment, I felt a ton of weight lifted from my shoulders. But the weightlessness didn’t last long.
After a while, the conversation between Kenny and I turned a little dark. It was like he was too supportive. It was like he was trying to coax me into saying something he wanted to hear, but I had no clue what that was. Throughout our conversation, I kept glancing at him, and he was just staring at me really intensely. His was a look I had never seen before in my life, and I started to get nervous. I felt shaky, and my hands got very clammy. Then, he popped the question I will never forget for as long as I live. He straightforwardly asked me to kiss him. I couldn’t believe my ears. This man was no less than two feet from my face, and he was asking me to kiss him. My heart started to race. At first I thought his gesture was some kind of joke, especially since his family was sitting on his front porch, directly across the street from us, probably wondering why he was even talking to me in the first place. And now, he was asking for a kiss?
I was now beyond nervous. I mustered up the courage to ask him what the hell he was talking about and why he was asking for such a thing, especially since his wife was right across the way. I asked if he was gay. He said he didn’t like “labels.” I thought this was kind of funny because I assumed his label as husband and father, should stand for a lot. But, I guess not. That’s when he told me he was interested in me. That was all I needed to hear to get totally freaked out. I had no earthly idea what to do next. I wondered, what interest could a 40-something have in a 16-year old? I told him I had to go inside, and he looked at me as if I were Juliet and him, Romeo. There was so much intensity in that look, and I was actually scared.
Now, I am aware the interaction I had with Kenny that weekend was his initial step in him “grooming” me for a secret, sexual relationship. It was a gradual, calculated process. Step 1: Targeting the victim Kenny sized my vulnerabilities up that day. He was empathic to my situation at home and assured me he was not going to be just one more adult interested in judging me for being gay. Kenny wanted to “protect” me.
I hurried into the house and went straight to my room. Once there, I began to cry. I was so confused. There were a billion questions rolling around in my head. I didn’t understand what had just happened. This grown man—my dad’s friend, a married man, a father—had just told me of his interest in me. He had asked for a kiss while his wife sat only 50 feet away. I was in total shock. Since I had no one to talk to, I had to deal with it all on my own. I definitely didn’t want to risk my family finding out. I cried myself to sleep that night.
Several days passed, and I hadn’t seen or heard from Kenny. I just kept thinking that the whole thing had to be some kind of joke. I tried my best to banish the incident from my mind. Well, no sooner did I try to do that, and I saw him again. Getting off the bus for my job at the mall, there he was.
We engaged in small talk. He told me he now worked a taxi route that included the mall. When I heard this, I let out a scream in the back of my mind—this was all too much for me. If he was now working at the mall where I worked, this increased my chances of seeing him on a regular basis. Which really scared me. It occurred to me that maybe he was some sick man who lusted after young boys. If only I had decided to trust my own instincts. But eventually, I decided to throw that idea out the window because, if that were the case, why didn’t he do anything or say something before now?
One afternoon after working the morning shift, I walked across the street from the mall to catch the bus home. Kenny’s car was parked near the bus stop. He had also been working that day, so we engaged in casual conversation at the bus stop for a few minutes. Our small talk wasn’t anything really dramatic, but I noticed more and more that I had these crazy feelings whenever I was around him. I found myself growing awkwardly attracted to this man who was old enough to be my father. After all, Kenny was 45 at the time, which was way older than my own dad.
Our conversation ended when the bus arrived. A few days later, I worked the evening shift and once again, rode the bus home. By the time I made it back to my neighborhood, it was dark. I got off the bus and headed down the hill to Mama Sara’s house. Everything was fine until I heard a car pull up behind me. I knew it was Kenny because his car made this awful sound. He stopped the car, and I turned around to see what he wanted. He asked if I wanted a lift to my place. Stage two: Gaining a victim’s trust I thought about it for a minute, and then I got into the car with him. That’s when he said he needed to make a quick detour to the local drugstore to pick up some ice cream for his wife.
We ended up talking all the way to the drugstore, and it was really interesting having such a lengthy discussion with him. I didn’t feel like a child when I talked to him. I felt as though he valued my opinions. I felt a connection with him. We walked into the store together to get what he needed and then headed back toward home.
On the ride back, the conversation took a turn to the topic of him and me. I still thought he was crazy. Why would he want me? I still hadn’t figured this man out. All I knew was that I was growing really attracted to him, and this became evident because I was so aroused around him. I couldn’t tell him whether or not anything could actually develop between us. I couldn’t think that far in advance at that moment.
The car finally reached his house and we got out and stood around on the sidewalk for a few minutes. Since Mama Sara’s house was right there, I was scared that someone would see me with him. As I started to leave to walk home, he pulled me back and held me. I froze. I liked it. I liked the feeling of his hands on me. But then, I quickly snapped out of it, pulled away from him, and hurried home. I knew right then I was in trouble. I actually liked this man, and he liked me. What was I to do? Kenny gained my trust, and I was on my way to “needing” him.
Stage three: filling a need A few days later I got a page on my pager. It was Kenny. I had totally forgotten I had given him my pager number. I called him back, and he wanted to know what I was doing and when I had to work. I told him I had to work that morning, and apparently, so did he. He gave me a ride to work, and it was so strange being in his car this time. I felt like a fugitive on the run. I rendezvoused with him further down my street so my family wouldn’t see me getting into his car. As he drove me to work, I kept an eye out for other family members’ cars. I just knew I would be dead if they knew I was with Kenny.
I finally made it to work undetected, and, afterwards, we planned to go to lunch. So after our shifts ended, we hooked back up in the mall parking lot and went to lunch at this little diner down the street. I felt so strange being with him. I was worried about what people might say. Maybe, they thought I was his son or brother? Maybe, they thought we were lovers? Hell, I didn’t even know what we were.
All I really knew was that someone was paying attention to me and thought I was valuable. He was interested in what I had to say and how I felt. I didn’t feel lonely when he was around. I didn’t feel scared anymore.
After lunch, we got in the car and headed back home. On the way there, he reached over and touched my leg. It felt good. I got this warm sensation. It was unreal. I liked his affection. I believe, on some unconscious level, I forgot this man had a wife and kids. Was I wrong for doing this? I didn’t know then. I was enjoying myself. After all the hell I had been through, I thought I needed to enjoy my surroundings, and he just happened to be a part of those surroundings. That’s what I told myself. I was a scared kid looking for safety.
We finally made it back to our street, and he pulled into his driveway. I looked back, and I could only make out part of Mama Sara’s house, so I doubted anyone could see me. He hopped out of the car and told me to come in. My heart sank. I couldn’t move. I told him there was no way in hell I was going into his house, but he kept begging me. He even came over to my door and playfully tried to drag me out. But still, I didn’t budge. Truth be told; I was terrified because of a serious look on his face, and I knew what was going on in his mind—he wanted to mess around. But, I knew there was no way I could do that. I knew I had to get my ass out of that car. He finally backed off, and I went home. I was relieved to be home, my heart pounding. I was all worked up.
The following days and weeks were filled with him trying to pursue me, and me not knowing what to do. He called me constantly. It didn’t matter where I was; he just kept calling. Having my pager going off so much was sort of nerve–racking, but I secretly enjoyed sneaking off to use the phone to see what Kenny wanted. Kenny called me from his home, work, anywhere—and this made me feel good. I felt like I was the only person in his life whenever I was around him. He paid so much attention to me, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Eventually, the fact that he had a wife didn’t seem to bother me at all, because soon he and I finally had sex.
It all went down one afternoon after he gave me a ride home from work. This time when he pulled into his driveway and asked me to come in, I didn’t hesitate. He took me to the back bedroom in his house. There was a bathroom, mini-kitchenette, futon bed, and phone—it was like his own studio apartment. He showed me around the other parts of the house, and I saw his family portraits—he had a great-looking family. Step four: Isolation He closed and locked the bedroom door, and my heart jumped out of my chest.
At first, I tried to play it calm, walking around the room, hoping he wouldn’t try to do anything—but in the back of my mind, I wanted him just as badly as he wanted me. I had never been in a situation like this before. I had never even been interested in older men.
Step five: Sexualizing the relationship Then, it finally happened. He came up to me turned me around, and we kissed. I couldn’t feel my feet…I was floating on air. His lips tasted so good (smoker’s breath, but still good). The next thing I knew our clothes were coming off and we were having wild, passionate, uncontrolled sex. I had never had it like that before, so I just let myself go.
Kenny was so gentle with me. I felt so wanted, so loved at that moment. It was like nothing I had ever imagined or experienced. After we both had climaxed, he ran some bath water, and we both got in. I was in heaven. He washed my throbbing body, and it felt so, so good. We kissed some more and fondled each other in the bath.
I didn’t know what to think about the whole scenario that day. I was partially relieved because I didn’t have to keep telling him “no.” I was feeling very anxious because I worried that my family would find out. I became trapped in a web of lies and became even more isolated from my family and dependent on Kenny.
Step six: Maintaining control In the following weeks, we met secretly at his home, at work, around the block, in the shrubs near the mall—anywhere we could kiss and makeout. We would even sit out in broad daylight kissing in his car in the mall parking lot. It felt like a real relationship. I bought him sweet little cards from Hallmark, wrote him poetry, and did anything else I could do to show him how much he meant to me. He took me out to lunch occasionally. One time he even went to help me shop for school clothes. We bought matching “K-Swiss” t-shirts! Sometimes I looked out my window, and I could see him wearing his t-shirt, and I just knew it was some kind of sign that he was thinking about me.
Late at night, he came down to my house and talked to me while I sat on my screened-in front porch. He usually stood out in the street while we talked. One night, all hell broke loose. Mama Sara had apparently started noticing how Kenny was always coming over to talk to me (it was usually around 11 or midnight, but she noticed). Kenny and I were standing there talking about random things when my cousin, Samantha, came storming out of the house, demanding that Kenny leave me alone. She started ranting and raving about how he had no business talking to me. It was such a mess. I was pissed beyond belief. Kenny left, and I went inside demanding to know why in the hell she had decided I couldn’t talk to him.
I walked into the living room all fired up. I couldn’t believe Samantha had embarrassed me like that. I demanded an answer as to why I couldn’t talk to Kenny. That’s when Mama Sara said that she knew all about Kenny, and she knew he was trying to mess with me.
I told her that she had no right to tell me whom I could talk to or see. Then, she played the AIDS card. She went on and on about our neighbor whose son died of AIDS because he was gay. I had no clue why she couldn’t understand that anybody can contract AIDS, not just gay people. She got all emotional and started saying that she didn’t want me to be like all the other gays and die.
She then took it further by claiming that I was the cause of some fight Kenny and his wife supposedly had out on the street a few days back. I hadn’t heard about any fight. I asked how she knew about it. Just like I figured, she heard about it from all the neighborhood gossip. I was appalled. I wanted to get out of that fucking house so bad at that moment. I called Kenny and told him what went down. He claimed he had no idea what Mama Sara was talking about concerning a fight. From that day forward, everything at my great-grandmother’s house got worse.
Finally, it got to the point where I started lying about going to the library, so I could see Kenny. I thought my family was trying to take me away from the one that I loved so much. I had fallen hard for this man in just a month’s time. I wrote countless poems that expressed my undying love for Kenny. Here is a sample of one of the poems I wrote to him:
Piece of My Heart
Like a ray of light, you shined into my life.
You took my hand and held it tight.
I looked at you, very sweet, indeed.
You touched my soul and, like a thief in the night, you stole my heart.
I wasn’t willing to, give at first, but with your honesty and trust, I must.
Forever in a day, every second of every hour, every day of every month, I will always
Know you have a piece of my heart.
You cherish me, as I do you.
I may not be yours in the fullest extent, but in our hearts we’ll always be.
I love you with every inch of my heart, but remember only one piece is given when
I became even more isolated from my family that summer. Kenny had come into my life and became everything I thought I was missing. Every chance I could take to see him, I did. He told me he needed me. He told me he loved me. I was convinced that I was in love too. It wasn’t clear at the time, but I now know that my child molester had the ultimate grip on my reality.
It was as if I were under a spell. Never had I disobeyed my family like this and lied to so many people. I was different now; I was not myself. I became obsessed with Kenny. But, he knew I was only staying with Mama Sara for the summer, so he slowly tried to push me away. He finally succeeded when he asked me if I thought he would ever leave his family for me. I said I hoped that he would. He said there was no way he would.
And so, there it was. In a single instant, Kenny went from this caring, loving friend and lover to this evil user. But, I still couldn’t hate him. Before I left, he said he would always love me and cherish everything I had ever given to him. All of these moments ignited my addictions, but the stage was set much earlier in my childhood.
Link to book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StcE3wRUo28
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About The Author
Darrett “D.J.” Burr is a licensed mental health counselor in the Washington State; national certified counselor and a specialist in problematic sexual behavior. He has been in private practice in Seattle, WA for five years. D.J. is the co-founder, owner, and Executive Director of A.B.L.E. Counseling Services, LLC.
D.J. is the creator of ABLE Affirmations, ABLE Life Recovery, and the ABLE Care Clinic. D.J. published Unfinished: A GLBT Domestic Violence Workbook while completing his Masters in Community Counseling at Argosy University-Atlanta in 2009.
Born in raised in Marietta, GA, D.J. has been known to many as a survivor. His childhood was less-than-nurturing. D.J. spent the majority of his early years tending to other’s needs and wants; not knowing what his were. He kept fighting for more–more understanding of himself.
Unfortunately, D.J. lost focus after being targeted by a sexual predator. D.J. lapsed into addiction to numb the pain of the molestation, broken relationships, dysfunctional family of origin, and loss of his childhood. However, the addiction did not stop him.
Over 15 years later, D.J. has learned to live life instead of surviving life. D.J. found answers to his long unanswered questions, primarily, who loves me? Twelve Step recovery and rigorous honesty saved D.J. from a life of addiction. He can now say, “I love myself.” Loving himself allowed D.J. to stop chasing unavailable people, places, and things. He now focuses on his recovery, which impacts every facet of his life.
D.J. enjoys writing, watching movies, especially horror/suspense. His favorite band is Nickelback. His favorite R&B group is Destiny’s Child. D.J. is also a huge fan of old 80s-90s cartoons like Transformers.
You can visit D.J. Burr’s website at www.ijustwantedlove.com
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Author Website: www.ijustwantedlove.com
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