The place is jumping as he open the wooden door fashioned to look like something out of the OK Corral. Mark beelines for the back room, much seedier than the front. He knows the drill and is eager to get started.
Mark will act out in what are called "glory holes." These are holes drilled through walls that allow penetration by the erect penis. One can be either the receiver or the giver. One man sticks his erect penis through while the man on the other side fellates him. It is dangerous, anonymous sex because neither man knows what is waiting for him on the other side, in terms of both pain and disease.
"When you heard the the diagnosis, what happened for you?" I ask.
"I was humiliated."
"This has happened before?" I ask.
"Twice," Mark says, unable to make eye contact.
"Despite this humiliation, you have been unable to stop. Do you understand why?"
"Yes," he says, looking up. "It is the need to dump my anger at my drunk, perverted uncle," he says with force.
"But now you are the pervert?" I ask.
"Yes, I am the pervert," he says, letting out a long sigh.
Although Mark does not sexually assault young boys, his re-creation of the original trauma gives him the illusion of control. He is now the instigator, however, the high of becoming the perpetrator rather than the victim does something to heal the endemic sickness of the continual need for dysfunctional self-assertion.
Like many of the acting-out behaviors we will discuss, this type of acting-out carries with it a great deal of stigma. Often these individuals are seen, as Mark sees himself, as rejects, or as vile and dangerous characters. These stigmas only compound the addict's shame and confusion. "Why do I choose this kind of secret life? What is wrong with me that I have this kind of secret life? Why not affairs or prostitutes, like other guys? I could never tell anybody this stuff."
As we have explored, it is vital for addicts to understand there sexual templates. This part of the healing process is always fascinating. We locate and piece together the complete picture, like a puzzle needing assembly. When addicts can see the logic behind their choices of acting-out behaviors, their shameful feelings diminish. They no longer see themselves damaged products of childhood wounding. Now they will be able to walk through the shame and embrace the wounded part of the self, despite having been driven into shameful behavior, now can be restored to hope and self-esteem.