“Sexually Explicit Performance”

Dear Friends,
Tonight I delve into prostitution and men (although women buy sex) who buy sex. The US State Department estimates that between 600,000- 800,000 people per year in the United States are trafficked for prostitution. Maryland law defines a sexually explicit performance as a live, photographed, recorded, or videotaped act (public or private), in which the performer is totally or partially nude, and that is intended to sexually arouse or appeal to the viewers’ prurient interest.The Oxford dictionary definition of prostitute is  “a person, typically a woman, who engages in sexual activity for payment”, or “to offer (someone) as a prostitute, or put to an unworthy or corrupt use for the sake of gain.”  Prostitution is described as “the art or practice of engaging in sexual intercourse for money.”  In terms of support services for people abused in prostitution, organisations tend to use a broader definition, for example,  “Engaging in sexual activity in exchange for some form of payment such as: money, drinks, drugs, consumer goods or  a bed or roof over their head for a night.” 90 percent of prostituted women have been physically abused as children, 74 percent have been sexually abused by a family member, 50 percent have been sexually abused by a non-family member, and 75 percent have drug problems, damaging factors that further remove the “choice” from the equation. Once involved in prostitution, women are very often abused or murdered by johns and by pimps. In surveys of prostituted women, consistently 89 to 96 percent said that they wanted to exit the prostitution system but could not due to a lack of healthcare, money, education, and other basic resources. Many believe that there is no real difference between prostitution and slavery. This is particularly true of young girls. Statistics indicate that in the United States the average age girls enter into prostitution are between the ages of 12-14!
Between 10-15% of American men buy sex. Johns buy sex because they are workaholics and think they don’t have time for a relationship; because they think their wives or girlfriends are boring in bed; because they’re shy or unattractive and find dating too painful; because they’re sex addicts who started buying in adolescence and can’t imagine stopping; because they want variety without commitment; because they’re tired of the dating scene; because they’re into fetishes they can’t share with their romantic partners; because they’re part of a macho culture (e.g. the military, a police department, a sports team, a high-stakes investment bank) and think buying sex is just what guys do to let off steam.
 In a 2011 study comparing sex-buyers to men who don’t buy sex, a group of U.S. researchers found that 100% of johns would stop buying if put in jail for one month, 84% if their names were publicized, 78% if their driver’s license was suspended, 74% if their car was impounded. John’s schools, too, are surprisingly effective at curbing recidivism, despite the skeptic’s charge that they are no better than driver’s ed. Because sex-buyers are ordinary men, not hardened criminals, real deterrence is possible. But to get there we need first become aware; re-educate ourselves and enact laws that divert the consumers, punish the traffickers and help the victims.
Signed,

The Addict Writes

To the Victor Go the Spoils

Dear Friends,
 I was walking the streets of Baltimore before the sun had risen to catch my train from Baltimore to Washington D.C. I traveled for almost an hour before the the light of dawn pierced the autumnal morning darkness. I returned home in the blackness of night. For the next 90 days this will be my schedule.
Like an athlete preparing to run a marathon, I prepare to close what has been one of the most eventful and successful years of my life:
A book, a blog, a boyfriend. Friends and family. Adventure and travel-San Destin Florida;  a luxury literary cruise along the coast of Alaska and then Paris.
Literally, the boyfriend came as a birthday gift when a platonic relationship turned romantic. My birthday  was 9 days after I returned from Paris-which happened to be my father’s 84th birthday. 12 days later,   my father died. Ten days after his passing, I won the biggest case of my legal career. And today I returned to D.C. to finish out my legal career.
What made today such a great day was the beautiful, well educated, kind and gracious lawyers with whom I work. Yes, I meant exactly that. My legal colleagues comprise a group which can rival any  television law show. This morning I entered a large hotel ballroom-because big hotel ballrooms are the only places to assemble hundreds of lawyers who have been hired to support law firms handling billion dollar deals. Halfway across the room, I spy  Thomas. He greeted me with “Hey, I have been reading your blog.” Wow, I couldn’t have scripted it any better, the best welcome back, that was totally an unexpected surprise. Thomas and I shared the morning sitting  and listening to other lawyers explain a case, which they had received just last week.  But what will stay in my heart is the warmth of Thomas’s greeting and his gentle smile and demeanor, and that we connect as humans in our losses of each of our brothers  and children who seem to be growing too fast, or in my case gone.
The next defining moment occurred after lunch. By sheer luck the lawyer which I will be working with for the next  3 months is a multi-millionaire with a twin brother! I already know that this winter will be filled with tales that even Shonda Rhimes, creator of Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, couldn’t have imagined. That’s because my colleagues are real in every sense of the word.
So ladies and gentlemen let’s lace up our boots, eat our spinach and run the race to the end of the year. Write down your dreams and take that first step. Make it happen. You’ve got today. Make it count. Then let’s wake up and do it again, I am after all an addict.
Signed,
The Addict Writes

Beauty Stops the World on It’s Axis and Makes us Realize we are One.

Dear Friends,
Today I finished reading Janet Fitch’s book “Paint It Black.” The story takes place in Los Angeles in the 1980’s. If you had asked me what this book was about when I was half-way through it, I would have said suicide and it’s after math,but it’s not. The book is about childhood trauma running from one generation to the next. Fitch’s book is an interesting unveiling of trauma experienced by the child of  famous and wealthy parents. Despite his wealth and education the main character succumbs to his own wealthy version of trauma at the hands of  famous parents.
While  reading Fitch’s book  I asked myself, whether the story told through the eyes of  the poor white trailer trash girlfriend is really Fitch’s story.  I will perhaps never know, just as my future readers of my soon to be realeased book “cracked” will wonder if the heroine of my tale is really me.  “cracked” is a tale of  a character  named Lilly Marie St. Blanc and her spiral into crack cocaine addiction. The book takes the reader inside the glitzy  cocaine fueled life of the main character and her trust fund client who becomes her lover. Those of you who have read this blog know that I share a number of similarities with the character in my book, but I am not her and she is not me.
Lilly Marie St. Blanc, the character, is emotionally naive. She is still operating but not coping well as she achieves one of her major life goals. This character is  like many of us  still operating from survival, using the tools that we were forced to find in order to save ourselves.  Lilly Marie St. Blanc has not mastered, as I have, the skills of compartementalizing and isolation. These unbidden physical and psychological behaviors that allow me to make it through the day and appear as if I’m functioning at a high level are not even in this character’s arsenal. However, this character is honest and courageous and fights her way from the darkness of addiction, like I did. Unlike me, the character in my book had no tether strong enough to hold her to the earth. This character  only admires beauty, but in my life beauty saved me.
When I was a child  I searched for beauty anywhere that I could find it. Beauty in a flower, in a woman wearing a dress that I at that time could never imagine wearing. My world at 13 was one of urban decay.  Everywhere around me I could see nothing but squalor and abject neglect from people who did not care about beauty or order.  I searched for beauty and held on to it for dear life.  I knew even then that people who create beauty, who cared about beauty lived a life very different from the one I found myself.  So I held on, to the beauty of a warm April afternoon, a summer sky swollen with rain. I found the rose bush growing wildly against a fallen fence. Some how each petal was a talisman of hope for me.
When I was 15, I was sent to Mt. View California, where for the first time, I got to play in vast plum orchards and to swim in a pool shared by the people who lived in the complex where I lived. It was a vision of beauty. From that little town, now famous and wealthy because of the dot com industry, was where I began to gather the elements of  beauty from which I would create a haven. In that haven I began to create and to dream and to share those dreams.
Long ago, before I learned that it was dangerous to dream in a place where no beauty existed, I dreamed that I would someday become a writer.  I would write tales that would make my readers cry and  make them think.  In a few short months, my book “cracked” will become a reality. My friends, you will wonder as I wondered while reading Janet Fitch’s book  “Is this character really her?” And I can answer now “No, I am not the character in my book.”  That character has yet to master the ability to set aside the truths that negate each other. She can not comprehend that one person’s truth makes the the other a liar. This character can only see through eyes that make no distinction between what is real or what appears to be real and whether any of it makes a difference. The reader learns  along with this character how to find the light that calls her back from the dark to life- even if the world is uncertain and the journey ahead is uncharted.  Today, I hold tight  to what makes me wake up and take that first step. Hold on to the light of your life no matter how faint and far away it might appear. Hold on, dreams can become real.
Signed
The Addict Writes

Popcorn popped on the Stove

Dear Friends,

Last night’s blog topic, compartmentalization, was difficult for me to write. This was partially because I couldn’t wrap my head around this automatic behavior,  of which I had a dim awareness  and apparently little control over. I realized that in order not to feel, I sometimes just “do”. I dart around from place to place completing my goals and mentally congratulating myself for getting one step closer to whatever that day’s goal happened to be. Often in the process of doing I  sometimes forget the goal behind the action. Today I did none of that. I did not have a productive day today.
 I did nothing that I didn’t want to do. I woke up when I wanted. I ate chocolate and popped pop  corn on the stove. I  watched “How to get away with Murder”  and was glad to be me rather than the black female lawyer  named Annalise Keating who is far more complex  than I. This character played by Viola Davis has the ability to compartmentalize like no one I have ever seen.  I thank God I cannot compartmentalize as well as this character who commits murder. I thank God I don’t even come close.

Today  I took the road less traveled, the one where I sit and watch the ships in the harbor and watch the traffic crawling down the freeway, all from my apartment in the sky. I walked around my home enjoying it.  I crawled under the covers to read a book of fiction.  I drank lots of coffee and tea and washed it all down with loads of filtered water and felt grateful to have this day and to be able to  share it with you.

Signed,

The Addict Writes            

In A Box

Dear Friends,

Today I heard a word that I have heard many times in the past  I thought I knew what it meant, but 
after researching the subject I realize that I was not aware how this behavior operated in my life. Compartmentalization is a coping strategy. It is sudden and is triggered in the subconscious mind. This biophysical reaction prevents the individual from experiencing excessive mental and physical stress.  Environmental stress plays a big part in triggering such an action of defense.The behavior is triggered when an individual must act against their own beliefs, perspectives and values. The clearest example of this separation of one’s acts from one’s beliefs is when a soldier goes to war and kills. In his heart and mind killing another human being is against his or her beliefs, yet the soldier must do so to survive.

Compartmentalization allows conflicting ideas to co-exist. .An Example of this was when in the past couple of weeks when my father died, I did not have the “luxury” to fall apart.  I used compartmentalization  to allow me to pull myself mentally and physically together. Much of the emotional stress related to my father’s death was whether or not I would attend the funeral services. He was a man who had  harmed me severely both mentally and physically.  I was emotionally torn. I wanted to honor the nice things about my father, but my past history with him created an emotional tension that I could only relieve by separating myself from the negative feelings I had about him and the social appropriateness of attending his funeral.  Compartmentalization
allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit
acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self states.” In short, you
shift all of your focus onto the situation at hand and suppress any feelings
that normally accompany it – like grief. 
Compartmentalization allows me to complete my work. I can separate my personal or emotional life from my work life.  This week, I tried the biggest legal case of my  20 year career as a lawyer.(Yes, I do practice law to pay the bills.) I prepared and disciplined myself to meet all of my legal and personal commitments in a timely fashion. I give myself kudos on my ability to produce despite what’s happening in my life. So the tears don’t fall; I don’t punch the pillow in frustration, I don’t reach out to hug someone. Instead over time I appear  more like a “human doing” and I don’t feel particularly present even as I appear quite competent in the particular function called work or just anything that takes action.  However, I’m not sure whether this ability to meet the demands of an already demanding life under times of extraordinary conditions is such a good thing. 
When people compartmentalize  they are not really fully present, as compared to people whose personalities are integrated.  Integrated
personalities  appear to be more “present” as “human beings” and better able to
relate to other people as people instead of as function. Integrated
personalities often have an easier time at empathizing with others than
compartmentalized personalities. Therefore, I just don’t get it when people share that an emotional event in their lives prevented them from completing some task. This inability to emphasize is not a good thing. With out this kind of empathy  for others there is absent one of the main deterrents to committing violence
against people.  A compartmentalized person like myself might commit verbal violence because I lack empathy. When you are sensing another person’s feelings
and caring about them, it is difficult to act angrily at them as that is a
motor function.
I confess that I do not fully understand how this coping mechanism of compartmentalization works in my life or when or how it is triggered. I will however, continue to reflect on how compartmentalization functions in my life. Hopefully, this complex blog may have helped someone understand themselves or understand  a friend, spouse or parent who appears to be a robot because he or she has separated themselves from the expected emotions that occur during the darkest and most intense moments of stress in our lives. 
Signed,
The Addict Writes

Those Cheating Eyes…

Dear Friends,

The worst thing about being unfaithful to your partner or your spouse is that you believe that everyone is like you- a cheater. I fit into the usual parameters of a lonely woman who in this case was caring for a dying husband. I know, it sounds awful. I had held out for more than two years. I was tired, tired of being a care-giiver, tired of being our sole support, tired of a husband who appreciated me for the good wife I was being, but who had not touched me in years.
The man with whom, I cheated was lonely and grieving as well. We started out just having coffee after work. His career is solitary, so he enjoyed the company and I needed to talk to someone who didn’t see me as his pill giver and over all nurse.  This man and I drank a boat load of coffee before we did the “dirty deed”.
My story is right in line with the reasons why women cheat. Rutger’s biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher has this to say about infidelity:  Every affair is different, and so are every
woman’s reasons for her involvement. Fisher says  men
are more likely to cite sexual motivations for infidelity and
are less likely to fall in love with an extramarital partner. Women, she says,
tend to have an emotional connection with their lover and are more likely to
have an affair because of loneliness. 
What Fisher was saying made sense, but there were a series of statistics that I found confusing. Particuarly confusing and scary,  was the fact that there are people who say that they are happy in thier relationships, but they still cheat. Fisher says 34% of the women in her study who cheated said that they were happy in thier marriages, while 56 % of the men said they were happy in thier marriages.  Fisher adds that men can be a lot happier in their primary
relationship and also cheat. Women are more interested in supplementing their
marriage or jumping ship than men are — for men, it is a secondary strategy as
opposed to an alternate. I was glad to hear that men cheat as a secondary strategy and sad to hear that for women cheating is a strategy. But for the “other woman” or the “side piece” 68% of the men who cheated said they would not marry the woman with whom they cheated. I was also glad to hear that 66% of cheating men report feeling guilt
during the affair.Interestingly 48% of men rated emotional dissatisfaction as
the primary reason they cheated. Emotional dissfaction meaning  relationships where they did not feel appreciated. And guess what? Cheaters hang out with cheaters at least that’s the way with men and I assume with women as well. 77% of cheating men have a good friend who
cheated. And in line with the fact that many of men who cheated did not feel appreciated 73 percent of men got to know the other woman for more than a month before they cheated. So ladies, that means we have not been paying attention, if your guy has taken a month before he has an extra-martial affair. And right along with the idea that its not just the sex, only 12% of cheating men said their mistress was more physically attractive than their wife. 
Finally, if you think that your spouse or partner is finding people to cheat with at bars, you are probably right, but here’s a scary statistic, 40 % of cheaters  both men and women meet the people they cheat with-  at
work.
Signed,
The Addict Writes