Tuesday, April 19, 2005

My first appointment with Carol

I made it to my first appt. with the psychotherapist today and I feel pretty good. We covered a lot of bases in the first appt. and I managed to convince her to take me on as a client. I felt like she "got" all the right things, and asked some good questions. We set up another appointment to talk further, but really didn't get into when and how we would do the diagnostic tests that I told her I was interested in.

She basically went over my most current history, as well as stuff about my sexual abuse. She got it that I was involved in very risky behavior as an addict, and she got it that my getting "caught" could have been a very devastating thing beyond just my marriage -- but also the reputation of my university and the longstanding effects of such a scandalous "outing" on my career. Although she was skeptical of my reasons for wanting to leave my current therapist, after I shared with her that my therapist had made me feel uncomfortable by continuously sharing about her own feelings about her own sexual abuse knowing I was a codependent, she said, "I had doubts you should leave her. Now I have no doubt that's not a good place for you to be." But before we got to that point, she asked me a very valid question ... "Is this just another way for you to run away?" I appreciated that.

I quizzed her on her experience working with sex addicts, sexual abuse victims, people in 12-step programs. I was satisfied with her answers to all of those. When I asked her if she believed in the effectiveness of 12-step programs she said that she certainly did, up to the point that the program becomes an addiction or an escape itself. Because I can sometimes see myself doing exactly that, I appreciated her answer.

So, let's see how it goes. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My dirty mind

I have spent the better part of the morning either sleeping or in pretty deep despair. The cloud is slowly beginning to lift and I'm beginning to feel like more of a part of the universe.

When I start to try to think of explaining how I feel, what is in my mind, it makes me feel insane (uhh... that could be the first sign), it's just so jumbled. I think over time I have "stuffed" so much, given up so much of myself to one addiction or the other -- be it sex, food or codependence -- that my mind and soul have become like a dilapidated house filled with old, musty, filthy remnants; clothes and linens piled up in an corner, covered in cobwebs and dirt and dust, floorboards rotted, broken appliances and fixtures, dead rotted mice lying about and roaches sneaking out in the dark.

The image reminds me of the house my older sister and her family moved into after their house was destroyed by a tornado. Her husband was a drunk at the time and barely did anything to fix it ... but there were a few rooms that my niece fixed up, made pretty, the best she could. Still, it was barely held together. The inside of my head is like that house. I remember that my niece, who is four years younger than me and as close as a sister and a best friend rolled into one, felt "less than" living there. She was ashamed when the school bus stopped there. She felt she couldn't have certain friends because she could never invite them to her house to spend the night. She gave up a lot of her life because of her shame -- of her stepfather's drunken antics, a house that neither lived up to her potential or over which she had any control to fix.

For me, the shame of what's inside my head is covered up in my "parallel life" -- the life where I am the cheery, supportive, loving, hard working, good-hearted person that most people see. Inside I am empty. All this other "good" stuff is just a fresh coat of beautiful shiny paint, glistening in the sunshine. It's what I want to be and it's what I want others to see. But I feel rotten to the core, afraid to let anyone walk in the door. There are a few people who have made it into the living room, which has been made presentable, but no one, absolutely no one would ever make it into the attic (interestingly, I just wrote that as "addict" before I realized my mistake). My niece and I used to go into the attic of that old house when we wanted to get away from everyone. It was filled with other people's junk, left over from years and years ago, all dirty and nasty. It was scary. It felt haunted with "old spirits." I was afraid to go there alone. But with her, it was fine, we were OK and we had good talks or laughs or even fun.

There are a lot of parallels here ... and I'm glad I started to write. I know I can take my trusted recovery friends with me into the scary, ugly places and not feel ashamed, because it is the love and fellowship that is between us that matters. And with support, slowly I can begin to rebuild -- making clean, clear and beautiful all the areas of my life that have been lost to shame and self-rejection.

It's interesting that I was talking recently with a recovery friend about the gender of my addict, when I realized that the luring male personification of my addict is actually the face, smile, laugh, and feelings associated with my last lover, the guy I slipped with in Feb. and the man who I have been mentally planning to slip with again. I think the somehow the process of going through the decision to not act out is what lead me to these feelings of despair this morning. My spoiled addict was throwing its hissy fit, and in rejection, the addict has no personification at all ... it is simply what it is ... an "it." One day I hope it will become a part of the accepted whole of me, recognized for its contributions and kept in check when it tries to make the rest of me feel 'less than."

Friday, April 15, 2005

Reading some of the posts on my support board about resentment recently, made me think of this thing that Maya Angelou said:

“History, despite its horror, cannot be undone. But when faced with courage it need not be lived again.”

There are a lot of things I don't want to live through again. I got what I needed the first time, thank you. Like many of the rest of my fellow addicts, I have resentment not just against my FOO, but against a whole host of other things. I won't even begin to post them here ... but I can tell you that I resent being an addict. I resent it with a passion. And there's a lot of blame associated with that. I have to let go of both the resentment and the blame in order not to relive the feelings and continue to feed my addict exactly what it wants. Because if I'm honest, realizing I'm an addict is an amazing miracle.

I went to an SA meeting yesterday morning, and in there they read the AA big book. I noticed that in a description of the 4th step in the "How it Works" chapter they actually used resentments as the guide to get started working on the 4th step. I'm edging toward working on the 4th step, and I was glad to see this suggestion for working through the step. It called for the addict to list the person or situation, the cause of the resentment, and I believe the third column was the behaviors which that resentment evoked. (Someone who has the book or who has done this exercise, please correct me if I am wrong.) Slowly bit by bit, I have been edging toward this step (Step 4) that scares me, but then last night in my f2f meeting we focused on Step 6. We read it aloud from the SLAA text and it scared me too. Reading the words about rebuilding, about true spiritual connection -- those sounded wonderful. Reading the words about letting go of all my defects of character, turning over and letting loose these tools that have helped me survive my life. Oh wow. I want that, but I feel inadequate to handle it. I don't feel like I can live without them. I am scared at the thought.

I know I have to work through steps 4 and 5, and really finish up Step 3, although I believe that I have reached some grounding there, before I get there. And that by taking my time, working through those steps, I will be ready when I am ready to move into this very powerful step -- Step 6. That feels encouraging. Although my impatience sometimes makes me want to rush ... to become discouraged with myself, I am thankful that through each step, I am able to work at my own pace, truly absorb the meanings and the feelings, and have hope that I will be ready, truly ready for the next step that lies ahead. There is new hope for my life in each step.

I thank God every day for this program and for the people who have I have joined in this journey. We are walking an amazing walk. One day at a time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A note to my recovery group

S. wrote:
But then, deep down I also know that when this crisis is over & if I come out of it unscathed, it would be so easy to slip back into my Addict skin & mode of thinking," I'm bored with this, I need more than this".

Dear S. and Group --

Boy, did S. ever catch my mind ... er my addict mind ... at work. I woke up Sunday morning with an image of me my face beaten and bloody covered in bruises -- a reminder of how lucky I was when I was meeting men I didn't know at all, some I had barely talked to, for sexual encounters. I could have been beaten, killed, God knows what, and I'm only lucky that didn't happen. During that time I liked to believe my instincts were good, that I could tell when something was a little "off" about someone. As it turns out, I was right. I encountered a bunch of lonely souls like me ... who were just as risky and desparate as I was.

So then my husband never found out, I didn't get beaten, I didn't lose my job, I didn't get arrested, I'm in recovery, I'm improving my life. I am so freakin' lucky, so blessed by the gifts and the protection provided by my HP. Yet, what does my addict tempt me with ... "It's so easy. You can do it without getting caught, without any consequences at all." Even writing that is triggering to me. When I get in that mode I start thinking ... like the rest of the world, ahhh, it's alright, it's just a little sex. What a powerful, cunning and baffling disease we are up against, my friends.

We are to be commended for taking on this fight. There are plenty of sex addicts walking the streets today who will never admit their problem. We've at least made it to step 1.

So, cheers to you all! And thanks S. ... for singing my song. I needed to hear it today, to bring it out in the light.


My daily meditation in my Letting Go book this morning was about what else ... "letting go." But it gave a scenario that I thought made sense. Sometimes when we are in the water, swimming and we get out over our heads or feel overwhelmed by the water, we panic. But then suddenly we realize we don't need to do all this struggling to stay above water, just calm down, be still, doggie paddle a bit, or even just lie back ... and the water will carry us. Struggling and fighting against the water is counterproductive and could cost you your life. The same is true with our addictions and obsessions.

On Saturday morning , when I was hell bent on acting out again, I opted not to fight against anything ... I simply thought, if it's going to happen, it's going to happen. If it's not meant to happen, it won't. I just took it that simply. And, as it turned out, I got sick, and it didn't happen.

I remember a time in my active addiction when I was set to meet up with a guy that I saw pretty regularly, it turned out that he (in addition to being as big an addict as me) had a pretty bad cold. I struggled pretty seriously I remember, thinking "I'm going to get sick if I meet this guy and not only am I going to get sick, I'm going to take my sickness home. " I remember driving to meet the guy, yelling at myself, "What are you doing? Do you not have any more self control than this?" I remember that the struggle was intense in my mind, not only because the guy was sick, but because he had already proven himself to be a tremendous con artist and user. And I STILL acted out with the guy that day (and others to follow). My husband ended up being sick for close to a month ... not to mention me. It was miserable. I wonder what would have happened if I had just become calm and let go of the struggle?

During the times that I think of how powerful my addiction is, and especially how powerful it was when I let it run free, my mind always goes back to this incident. I can still feel the sickness. It was miserable, and miserable to see my husband suffering through it and to know that it came into our house because I was willing to use and be used by a man who didn't give a shit about either of us.

For those of you who have not subscribed to the Hazelden "Gift of the Day" list, this one was perfect for me. To read, "Would you put a friend through that?" That was perfect.

Today's thought is:
Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.--Eleanor Roosevelt
In recovery, perhaps first we make peace with ourselves, and not until later do we become our own friends. We have been at war with ourselves and in turmoil with our families, even while feeling like victims. This program lays out Twelve Steps we can follow to become friends with ourselves. In recovery we may still feel self-hate when we constantly monitor our every action, when we react to our mistakes by berating ourselves, and when we dwell on past offenses. Would we put a friend through that?
True friends will accept you as you are.They don't put you down or call you derogatory names. They'll give you honest feedback and won't put on a false front. They'll support you when you're in trouble. Being our own friend means doing these things for ourselves. Perhaps we can even embrace and be kind to the part of ourselves that is addicted and codependent.
Today, I will be a friend to my whole self -- even the parts of me I have rejected.

Monday, April 11, 2005

If there were no fear

Caroline Myss, a holistic teacher and an expert in self-esteem issues said this during her keynote address:
There’s a difference in living your fate and living your destiny. On the train of life, destiny is the engine and fate is the caboose that is dragged along. One leads, one follows. Destiny is what happens when you follow your instincts. Fate is what happens when you have to live with the question of what would have happened if I had listened to my inner voice? Walk on this Earth with courage, because if you don’t, someone will have to lead you.

So, the first question is ... are you living your fate or your destiny at this point?
I think because I am early in recovery and still trying to find my way that I may still be living my fate. My goal is to live my destiny. I think I do my best to listen to my inner voice, it's just that sometimes the voices are too intertwined. The other day I had to pray ... "God, I can't hear what you are saying here. You're going to have to straighten this out." Then only one voice came through.

Second, Myss says, "One of our greatest fears may be the reality of being empowered."
What would empowerment look like in your life, and what about that empowerment scares you most?
Empowerment in my life would be a self-assured person, clear on the direction I am going, fully present in my life. I would be able to live my life based on my principles, and be clear on what my principles and values were. Basically, empowerment would be living my life for me and by me.
What scares me most? That's a lot of responsibility. It is hard work living like that, without an escape, being held accountable. It's easier to just run away and hide. But that has gotten me no where.

Third, how does fear feed your addict?
Fear of being alone feeds my addict in a significant way. Fear of accepting myself as I am may mean that others don't accept me and I'm still afraid of that.

Lastly, what would you do if there were no fear?

Fear is both good and bad. If there were no fear I might get pretty cocky, release my need for others and for my HP. That would be detrimental. However, fear also stops me from making the needed choices in my life. If I were dreaming ... and there were no fear, I'd quit my job, go to Arkansas for a few months, do research for the book I want to write based on the mountain people there, then go and live in India for a few more months and write the book, as well as write a few short stories from there. I'd have complete faith that when I finished that project I would have a meaningful job when I returned to the U.S.
If there was no fear, I'd tell my husband everything and say I need you to be as honest with me about how you feel about staying in this marriage. Then I would have the courage to accept his answers and make the right choice.
If there was no fear, I'd take on the cause of mental health and the issue of sexual addiction in a grand scale way as a lobbyist and activist.
The truth is ... there is fear, but I don't have to let it rule my life. I just have to make the right choices, knowing that the wrong ones can have lifelong consequences.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


A recovery friend said something to me yesterday that made so much sense ... it was so true for me. She said when she married her first husband, it was to bring an unmanageable life under control. As soon as she said those words, I knew that she had spoken my truth.

Before I met my husband 10 years ago, I was living very much the life that I have lived over the past year in my active addiction -- unaware that it was an addiction to sex and love at work. Being with him and married to him has kept my addict at bay for a few years ... and then suddenly he wasn't enough, and there was a fear that our marriage would be lost to his inability to be present with me and provide me with the love and affection I needed. Whether I realized it or not ... my codependence on him coaxed my addiction to the surface, giving me an "out," an escape. I said to myself ... you can make it work if you are not too needy, you can make it work if you get your needs met elsewhere and just bring what you have to offer home. You can have everything you need. But then what I found was ... where I was searching, in empty sexual relationships with men who cared nothing about me was that I got nothing close to what I needed. I was torn further apart. Filled with less and needing more.

I have a chance to live a more clear life because of the me that recovery is revealing. I never again want to make my decisions based on fear of being alone, weak and unprepared, but rather with complete consciousness and assurance that I took advantage of every opportunity there was to receive the blessings of love and hope that have been waiting for me all along. The day will come when I can actually ask for what I need and not feel selfish. That is the healthy life I desire.


Well, I got sick with a flu and what seemed like inevitable didn't happen ... I didn't call this guy to go meet up at some flea bag motel for four hours of sex, which is what you can get for $30 these days.
I also realized there are people in the world who are suffering through REAL problems -- bankruptcy, divorce, problems with their kids. I got it easy. It should be easy for me to forego a horny urge to get laid.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Still sober ...

... and barely hanging on today.

For those of you who think I'm a drunk ... no ... I'm a sex and love addict and sobriety means I'm not fucking around with some guy who I'm not married to -- read all my early posts if you really want to know more.

The weather was so beautiful yesterday and rather than enjoy the gift of the beauty of spring, my addict came into full swing, sabotaging any thought of that. I was already feeling very "vulnerable" -- doesn't seem like the right word considering my state of mind -- and then I got an e-mail invite from a former DOC to hook up Friday night and if not then Sunday. That didn't help much, but I managed to hit delete. But the joys of spring must have had him by the .. ahem .. oh sorry .. I meant, heart as well. Because on my drive home, the phone rang ... the number showing up "unavailable." Because I get work related calls all the time that show up that way, I answered ... to a bright, cheery, fully engaged voice on the other end ... and man, did it feel good. I'm not going to lie for a second. There's no reason to lie. I can pretend and say phrases and tell myself you're worth more than this and all kinds of stuff, but guys none of it matters to me right now. Long story short about the phone call ... I talked, but didn't make any plans, although I didn't stick to any hard line like "I'm in recovery and I won't see you," either. He was clear that if I were not driving to meet my husband to go to dinner with friends there would have been nothing to stop me.

Making plans is on my bottom lines ... once I tell someone, yeah, I'll see you on such and such day, there's no going back. And even though I have made no verbal commitment in my mind, I know that in my heart I have already made a commitment to be open to the idea of making something happen on Sunday. I'm already making plans to "prepare" for something tomorrow. All of these things are dangerous, very dangerous for me. I'm less than a breath of throwing everything away ...

For a long time I have not "wanted" to do this ... I have just resisted little temptations. Now there's nothing I want more. I want that buzz, that high, that thrill. I can visualize and feel the smile on my face. It's not about the sex for me ... it's about the moment ... living in that fun, carefree moment, where nothing else in the world matters.

I've written to my support group, begrudgingly. I don't want anyone to talk me out of this. And frankly, I don't think anyone can talk me out of it. But, what I am doing is having faith that despite my best and worst efforts, God will handle this for me -- someway, somehow. As the song goes ... sex is natural, sex is good ... I know feeling sexual is not wrong. So, I'm going to let those feelings go ... knowing I am powerless over them, and trust God to take care of the rest. He's got the road map and the more I try to control, the more I'm going to mess it up.

Sometimes I feel awkward because none of the men I want to sleep with really mean much to me. It's not that they are worthless creatures, it's just that it's understood that we are using one another. None of us are looking for love. That's so different than many of you here ... who got tied up in addictive relationships with people who you care about. Perhaps I'm more of a sexual compulsive than a sex and love addict. What do you think?