Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, in exchange for an honest review. All ideas in this review are my own. This review contains affiliate links; learn more here.
Getting Off: One Woman’s Journey Through Sex and Porn Addiction, the well-written memoir by first time book author Erica Garza, addressed a topic I would not typically read; my instinct isn’t to reach for addiction stories. However, when I was approached to review the book here on Red Shutters, I agreed because I’ve been challenging myself this year to read stories and authors outside of my comfort zone. Hence, my openness in reading Getting Off. And, I’m glad I said yes.
In Getting Off, Garza recounts decades of casual sex, an unrelenting need to masturbate, and obsessive porn watching. Her telling is not salacious, though; rather, it’s lonely and heartbreaking. She is a young woman in pain. A deep sense of worthlessness pervades her life, and she seeks out desperate physical connections for validation and meaning. At the same time, though, Garza is unabashed in her desire for pleasure, a confession you don’t always see women admitting to in mainstream memoirs, literature, or pop culture.
As a parent, I was most fascinated by the fact Garza grows up in a caring, stable family. What begins a person on a journey of self-hatred and risky behavior? What makes someone believe she is not worthy of love when she is loved? Could her addiction have been prevented? As Garza explains, growing up, she didn’t want for food or shelter, she isn’t abused or abandoned, and she is loved by her parents and even financially supported well into her twenties. She traces her sex addiction back to when she was 12 years old, at a time when she was emotionally fragile adjusting to the birth of a new sibling, her older brothers’ growing distance and independence, and a diagnosis of scoliosis that puts her in a awkward back brace. Physical pleasure, at first, becomes a way to deal with life changes and her discomfort with her body; soon, though, it becomes an obsession Garza cannot control.
Getting Off is a brave book. Garza is unflinching in recounting her need for sex and the shame that clouded her life for years. She doesn’t promise easy answers about managing an addiction, reminding her readers that, no matter what you struggle with in life, each day is a choice with the possibility to embrace your flaws and turn them into strengths. By the end of the book, after therapy and after finding a stable relationship, Garza establishes a kind of equilibrium in her life; she has found a way to be a sexual being in a healthy way. It’s an inspiring outcome and one that I found myself hoping for throughout Getting Off.
Recommendation: I’d read Getting Off if the topic is of interest, if you’re looking for an example of a memoir that fairly and candidly deals with a difficult subject, and if you want to read a new voice in non-fiction writing. I also think it’s an important story for parents to be aware of, so we can be mindful of the ways our children can be in pain without us even knowing.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars