As a culture, we are no strangers to addiction narratives. We can readily access stories about personal battles with drugs and alcohol, whether it be from an autobiography, the Internet, a magazine or even personal experience – we all understand, at least to some extent, the damage and pain inflicted by substance abuse.
And yet, there is little information or dialog about a different kind of addiction entirely – sex addiction. Save for Steve McQueen’s 2011 film, “Shame,” there are few accounts of the struggles faced by sex addicts. Therefore, A.D. Burks’ new memoir, “Sex and Surrender: An Addicts Journey” makes for compelling reading.
Born and raised in the socially conservative American south, Burks is a fledgling writer, and his memoir chronicles the pain and hardship induced by his addiction to sex, as well as his struggles with his homosexuality, and eventual recovery from addiction – a journey inspired by a devout faith grounded in the Christian church. Furthermore, Burks’ narrative functions as a self-help guide, in which he details a “four-step” journey towards recovery.
EDGE caught up with Burks to discuss his unique journey, inspiring recovery and future plans.
- EDGE: Let’s start with some background — can you talk a little bit about your life before your addiction, and what you think instigated your addiction?
- A.D. Burks: I am an only child, and I had a very strict and religious upbringing – my grandfather was a Baptist minister in Tennessee. My parents divorced when I was four years old, and my dad was in and out. Prior to the addiction, I was a model student. I was in the choir, played football, and I graduated in the top 5% of my class. In terms of sex, I had no knowledge — my background for sex came via neighborhood friends, and we would watch porn and stuff. The addiction began right after college, and I was still experimenting with men. And the girl I loved was bi-sexual, and we started going to gay clubs, etc., so I became involved that way.
- EDGE: Can you talk a little about what readers can expect from your memoir? What do you think sets it apart?
- A.D. Burks: Beyond just the details, I also discuss what was behind the addiction. My memoir goes to the root of the pain, for example, accepting my sexuality. I also give a four-step process of how to break the cycle of addiction.
- EDGE: What motivated you to write it?
- A.D. Burks: It was actually a dream. I had gone out with friends — one was an ex- and high school friend, and she didn’t know. And I dreamt after that I got caught having sex in my mom’s house, and I was put on trial — there were members of church and stuff. And when I woke up I realized that I needed to get it out.
- EDGE: What is the overarching message or theme that you want your readers to take away from this book?
- A.D. Burks: There are two things; addiction is equal to pain, and until they get to the root cause addiction will always be there. And also that sex isn’t equal to love.
- EDGE: Was it difficult being so candid about your sex life?
- A.D. Burks: It wasn’t initially, because I am very open and honest. But the backlash from people, including my mom, wasn’t great. They definitely found it difficult.
- EDGE: Can you talk more about your addiction and recovery process? Was there a moment when you knew that you had hit rock bottom?
- A.D. Burks: The thing that got me to go to therapy was friends in grad school, and the thing for me was that I always wanted to go to therapy, and I didn’t have a “rock bottom moment” — I was never arrested and I never caught an STD. I realized, however, that I wouldn’t have a family, and that was a scary realization. And death always brings thing into focus, and I was at my uncle’s funeral. And I realized that if I lost my mother, I’d be alone. And I wanted to build that family. Luckily right now I am in a good relationship. My partner is more private, but what is important is having God in my relationship.
- EDGE: Has the book changed your life? And in what ways?
- A.D. Burks: It has definitely freed me! I had kept my gay friends away from my straight friends, but now the worlds have merged. So it has definitely made my life better.
- EDGE: Can you talk more about your “four step process,” which you created to help people fight sex addiction?
- A.D. Burks: For me it goes back to establishing a relationship with God, and of course I can only speak in terms of Christianity, and spirituality is a personal thing. Once you do that, He will direct your path. The second thing is to abstain from sex until you are in a healthy place. The third step is walking away from triggers — watching porn is one. Step four is about creating a support network — so I had to be open and honest with certain people, and I’d lean on them for support. It is crucial, because you can’t do it alone.
- EDGE: What’s next for you? More writing?
- A.D. Burks: Oh yes, I am working on a book on the “four steps.” The purpose of the memoir is for other people to see themselves in the book. I am working on a self-help and recovery book.
- EDGE: Where can people purchase the book?
- A.D. Burks: You can get it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or on my website sexsurrender.com.
by Douglas Baulf. Contributor
Tuesday Feb 18, 2014