Addict: Everyone’s addicted to something in some shape or form. What are things you can’t go without?
Going more than two days without having sex triggered a physical response in her, more like a mark of distress. She would start itching down there, having to move in the weirdest ways to manage some scratching without being noticed. It could happen anywhere, at work, at a friend’s house, when she was out on the beach. It was uncomfortable, and she knew exactly what she needed to do to take care of it. It was the day that she’d had sex with a random stranger at a beach public bathroom, sandy, sticky, and unprotected, that she was willing to accept that she had a problem.
It wasn’t the fact that she was—happily—engaged, or the fact that she had just chosen the first person that had literally looked at her “funny,” it was the fact that she was less and less able to control her impulses. Sex had always been a must for her, and she had thought it was normal, but only recently had she started noticing how much she actually needed it to function properly. It was the first thing she’d think about waking up, the last thing she’d do before going to sleep, and up to that moment, in that dirty bathroom, as she welcomed a complete stranger inside her, she told herself it was only normal. Everybody probably felt like that.
She blamed on her strict Catholic education the lack of words she had for it, the discomfort it brought just mentioning something related to sex. And because of that, she’d gone through life assuming that what she was experiencing was normal. Insatiable libido, wasn’t that what men always dreamt of, anyway? When her brother had invited some of his med school buddies to a BBQ in their beach house, she had caught two of them in a conversation by the pool, where she was dipping her feet in the water thinking maybe that way her discomfort would subside.
“I really like OB/GYN rotations,” one of them said. “Although I think I failed the last question about PCOS.”
“Oh, yeah,” the other one replied. “PCOS can bring on enhanced libido, but it can be easily treated with hormonal contraceptives.”
“But who would want to treat that anyway?”
He said, and they both laughed, and it was then that she understood that she had become a punchline. The always-horny woman, the one that never got enough, every guy’s dream come true. And that idea, too, resulted harmful to her.
That afternoon, after showering herself for the third time since coming from the beach, she did the only thing she could think of. She called Diego, a guy she had met while volunteering in the afternoons at a migrant shelter, and asked him to meet her for coffee. Sad as it was, she couldn’t imagine confiding in anyone else. Not at that point at least. Jack was out of town for business, but even if he weren’t, there was no way she could tell her fiancé she’d just reached the lowest point by bumping into a guy whose name she hadn’t even bothered to ask. Then there were her friends, of course, whether from work or from college, but there was no way she felt that close to any of them as to unveil what had just happened. Diego was a safe bet, older than her by a couple of months only and new to the city. Besides work, he didn’t have a lot of stuff going on; he seemed like a person who would understand what she was going through.
“I needed to talk to someone,” she told him as soon as they sat down, at a small table at the very back of the café.
“What’s up, you’ve got me worried.”
She wanted to tell him how thankful she was that he’d come on such short notice but decided not to.
“I did something wrong,” she said instead, “but I don’t know who I can talk to about it.”
“Well, I’m here, so get started.”
She took a deep breath, trying to find the right words to summarize her pain without it making her look too bad. It was too late for that, and she knew it, but she still wanted to do some preemptive damage control.
“I did something I wasn’t supposed to do.”
“You slept with someone, didn’t you?”
She was shocked at how straightforward he was, which could only mean one of two things. Either she was bad at hiding things, or he was very good at reading her. For a second, both thoughts scared her a little.
“It’s not the way you think, though, it didn’t mean anything.”
“It rarely does,” he said, taking a slow sip of his coffee. “Why are you so tormented anyway? You love Jack, Jack loves you. You just had a hookup.” A beat, then he added, “hookup hiccup. It’s gonna be okay.”
“I didn’t use protection,” she said, looking away, and he turned silent.
“Oh, I see. Now I get it.”
“What am I gonna do?”
“Did you ask him if he was clean?” He said, once again straightforwardly.
“Yeah, because he was gonna tell me, ‘no I have HIV, we shouldn’t have sex.’ Don’t be silly, Diego.”
“Did he ask you?”
She rolled her eyes and hoped he’d understand without her having to say it. But even then, it helped her getting it off her chest, telling someone about it. He was the first person, and probably the only person, she’d ever admitted it to.
“I don’t know what to do,” she kept on. “This is getting out of control. I have urges that are getting the best of me. And when Jack’s around is fine. But when he’s not, well, it becomes tricky.”
“Tricky as in what?”
“Tricky as in I find the first person I can to have sex with.”
“Well, you know what you can do?” he said, then when she didn’t reply, he added, “whenever you get that urge, instead of going to random people, just give me a call and I’ll help you take care of it.”
She was confused but was afraid to ask. What could he possibly mean? She just stared at him, disconcerted.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t sleep with random people, sleep with me.”