Monday, December 31, 2007

My word for the new year

So, instead of making New Year's Resolutions this year, I was inspired by a post by MPJ over at A Room of Mama's Own to choose a word to focus on in the new year -- something of a mantra. (I see that she posted her own very inspiring word today!)

After careful consideration, introspection, and some fervent prayer, I have chosen the word "connect." In the new year, I want to connect to myself, my spiritual self, my body, my friends, my family, my husband, the people and the things in the world around me. Over the past few years, for a variety of reasons that honestly are unimportant, I have slowly disconnected myself from so many things and I have come to feel very alone and empty. This has fueled depression and unhappiness. However, at my core is much love, much happiness, a love to laugh and learn and be a part of the world. I want to reconnect to that part of me by focusing my attention and intentions on connecting to all that is within me and around me. I considered the word "kindness" and that may still be a secondary word (kindness to myself, my body, my spirit, to others), but connect seems to be the one that resonates as a "focus" word. This certainly feels more manageable and doable than a long list of things that I've tried over and over again to no avail.

I also heard something else that I hope I can call to memory many times in the new year this morning. It was a phrase I had heard a few times before, but it seemed to speak to me this morning. "Everything, absolutely everything, is subject to change, except God." Wow. My Higher Power, whom I call God but who "looks" nothing at all like the God of most of the religious and secular world "visualizes," it is a spiritual force that guides the universe of my life. To focus on the fact that absolutely EVERYTHING in my life, my addiction, my depression, even my marriage, my friendships, my health, my relationships with my family, EVERY single thing is subject to change, but the one thing that is not subject to change is that spirit of life that lives in me and connects me to every other living thing in the world ... I love that.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A state of wholeness

I sometimes get so discouraged with myself when I struggle with my addiction. I think I should be smarter, better, more dedicated. I forget that I am powerless and I gain a big ego ... thinking, "I can beat it this time!" It takes me and my HP and working the program to stay sober. The key is I'm sober today. In the beginning and even sometimes in the midst of recovery, it can be very hard just to make it through one single day.

In my experience, that is because all the focus of my thoughts remains on the other person or persons, or rather my "need" or desire for them. In other words, all the thought is on my disease, not on myself and my recovery. As I work my way through recovery I have begun to focus my thoughts on myself and to feel the emotions and feelings I've been masking by acting out.

It is not easy, but self-awareness and the ability to actually feel and be present in my life has been one of the greatest gifts of my program. Though I've had a hard time working through the self-hatred, I know am not a bad person for acting out. I was very, very sick. And as my addictions grew over the years (as I fed them by acting out), they become more of a way of life than my real life, until I reached the point where I no longer recognized this person who was doing things she could never imagine herself doing "in real life." I was living parallel lives, but more and more the sane, successful, vibrant part of me seemed to fade away.

When I walked into an SLAA recovery room and heard the SLAA promises, which say, among other things, "We will relate to others from a state of wholeness," I knew I was in the right place. My life has become so fragmented and empty and I have bene living so many lives even I didn't know which one is the real me at times. I still don't sometimes ... but that's why I keep coming back.

Friday, December 28, 2007

After Christmas check in

I've been welcoming a new dog into my family and my computer is on the blink ... so I haven't had much chance to write. But I wanted to check in and say ...I know why I keep coming back to recovery, why I keep working to learn about myself and learn how to deal with my feelings. It is because every now and then, I can see the light of day, I can feel hope and I know that it is only because I keep coming back.

The most recent example of hope I've found is in realizing that even though I've been at this for a long time, my journey toward recovery has only just began. One of the first things I learned in recovery was that I had to replace my old addictive behaviors with new behaviors that helped me fill the God-shaped hole that I had been filling with useless and demeaning extramarital relationships. Though I took this lesson into my head, it has been one of the hardest things to actually put to practice.

When I would give up one addiction, I always wanted to go to another -- no sex? OK love, no "love"? OK food, or codependency or any number of things. But .. it seems this lesson is getting closer to reality as my relationship grows closer with my husband, enjoying being present with him and in some ways getting to know him better. And now I am finding joy in getting to know our new dog and playing with her and opening my heart to her as well. I can tell already, she is going to be a great joy in my life and also fill my life with plenty of work as well! And if any "strange" man tries to cross her path ... they are going to face one ferocious bark!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas friends

I wish my friends who join me here at this confessional a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you all for being here and supporting my recovery -- my choice and my need to work my program.

I am thankful today to be happy about the holidays. My husband and I will open presents in the morning and then share a simple holiday lunch with some local friends. And for the first time in a long time ... I can't think of a thing in the world to complain about. That's a wonderful feeling. I have been whining for so long -- upset about my addiction, crying through the pain of a difficult childhood, mad at the world because I was sick of myself, but for today I am happy to be present, alive and aware. I'm happy that although I'm not perfect, by any means, I've made progress. I owe it all to my Higher Power and the fellowship of the 12-step recovery rooms, and I've drawn a lot from the wonderful people I've found here in our common home on the Internet. Without the opportunity to keep coming back ... I think I would have just simply quit life all together. I'm glad I didn't give up and that I still have the chance to keep coming back as long as God sees fit for me to live.

All my best to you on Christmas and in the new year to come.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Woman Within

There is within me a woman who loves the way she feels when her body is exerted and stretched to its limits by exercise. I can feel that woman.

There is a body surrounding that woman, a body built for protection, that prevents that woman within from living.

May 2008 be the year the woman within begins to live.

Friday, December 21, 2007


As I sat last night with my two recovery friends, talking and working together on an art project, it was telling them of how very horrible I have felt (emotionally) over the past few weeks that made me realize I have to seek professional help for mental disease. I've never tried to deny my addictions, my codependency, my PTSD. But at some level I have always taken the diseases of my mind lighter and more manageable than the idea that I have a very serious problem that without treatment could steal my life forever.

I've never been one to run to medication or doctors to fix my problems. For the most part I mistrust the medical field. But doctors certainly are more trained to assess and treat mental illness than I am.

God helped me to see the severity of my brokeness through my friends last night. Jumbled around in the isolated confines of my mind, I could only feel hopeless. Brought to the light of day, I can feel hope.

I went to get my blood work done this morning that will allow me to increase my dosage of Effexor. At the same time blood was drawn to test for HIV/AIDS and for sugar and cholesterol issues. I followed that up with an Al-Anon meeting, lunch with my husband and then a call about a prospective job in a new field.

Now I'm going to take a nap and rest.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A hurtful story

I dragged myself to my therapy appointment this morning, kicking and screaming. I tried to do everything I could to put it off. I don't think that it was just the therapy appointment ... it was just that feeling of isolation that made me not want to show up for life, much less the appointment today. But despite my best efforts, I went and I shared. I told her how horrible the past couple of days have been inside my head and how frustrating it is to want to curl up in a ball one minute and then excited about decorating my house for Christmas the next.

After I posted here yesterday, I went through the painful process of getting myself out of the house and to the store to buy the final part of my husband's anniversary gift. When I got to the store I found all the Christmas stuff on sale half off and started buying up stuff to decorate my house for our guests next week. These are the same guests that honestly I don't want to entertain at Christmas. But ... I will and I will do it graciously.

So, my therapist asked me a bunch of hard questions this morning, things I didn't want to answer and things I feel inept to answer about what it is that is holding me back, causing me to sabotage myself again and again. I don't know the answer. I don't connect to the emotions I am trying to avoid. It's hard to even find them. But then she started asking me about trauma and traumatic experiences. I repeated the story of how at age three my stepfather called me into the bathroom and asked me to touch his penis. That same year or maybe the next he locked me in the family's underground cellar and told me I was going to have to sleep there all night because I had been bad. He walked around outside making noises like a panther or an angry lion to terrorize me. My future sexual abuse all seemed pretty "routine" ... I don't really connect to the trauma, except for one incident. It is horrible to relive and when I told the story today I thought to myself, "I don't want to have to tell this story to another therapist ever again."

I told the therapist that I always knew when the molestation was coming. I never had to guess. I felt it coming. It was no different that day when I was 8 or 9 years old, my stepfather was doing some plumbing work underneath the house (there was no basement). He asked me to crawl under the house with him to help him. I knew immediately that was not what he had in mind. He told me that he was going to teach me something new. He then began to stroke himself and told me that when he told me to to put my mouth over him. He said some stuff was going to come out and that I was not to spit it out. He wanted me to learn how to swallow it. I remember being terrified of the whole thing, but followed what I was told. When he came in my mouth, the taste was bitter and I couldn't hold it. I spit it on the ground almost involuntarily. He told me, "I told you not to spit it out." He said it sort of angrily, but not with the same voice that I was usually spoken to "in the light of day." He didn't beat me or hurt me. I just felt his disappointment in me and I felt like such a failure.

I often wonder if the men I act out with knew what fuels my enthusiasm for giving oral sex ... would they still be willing to enjoy it as much?

No matter what was done to me, it does not give me the right to use other people, and other people's husbands to fix my stepfather's mistakes. I continue to build the shame and guilt.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What I'm supposed to say

What I'm supposed to say today is Happy Birthday to my marriage and happy birthday to my mom, who has been gone for far longer than I've been married.

But what I feel today is the ultimate escape would be to go completely insane, to curl up in a ball, and just be there, closing out the world and absolving myself of all responsibility to it. I have no idea why I feel this way, except that while I walk around as a "functioning" ... even a "high functioning" addict at times... the inside feels at its best crazy and at its worst like it is dead.

I have been trying to force myself for the past three hours to go out the door to buy the finishing touches for the gift I have have chosen for my husband, when in reality what I really, really wish I could give him is the opportunity to come home to a smiling, energetic and joyful wife who loves him more than she wants to escape.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How stubborn?

I've been thinking for some time of writing a letter to God. It would start something like, "Dear Lord, my life is an absolute mess. I have no idea who I am or how I got here, all I know is it sure doesn't feel like the me I want to be or even the me I know. I don't feel like I can go on like this ..." It's when I get to this point that I start that old familiar mantra, "I know, I know, I HAVE to turn my will and my life over to God. I have to give in to God's will for my life and be sober enough to listen for it." And the old Southern gospel hymn of my childhood begins playing in my head, "I surrender all ... I surrender all, all to you my precious Savior, I surrender all."

But then that little voice .. the scared one, the one that thinks it can fix anything ... the one that just will not give up, kicks in and says "Yes, but ... " and "What about?"

The "what about" today is a man I've had an ongoing relationship with since summer. He was the one holdout in that series of five letters I wrote a few weeks ago saying, "I'm done for good, I'm focused on my marriage." He is the one I left the door open to and the one who walked back through it last week. As Gomer Pyle says, "Sooprize, Sooprize, Sooprize."

If anyone wants to believe that addiction, sex and love addiction is not a disease of the mind, tell me this: what good is a limp-dicked (literally) man, who can only describe love as "the L word" and has far more attraction to transgendered men than to women themselves to a female sex & love addict 16 years his junior? Yet, somehow, for this person and my obessive thoughts about how I can make him love me enough, I can't give up my stubborn will. Insane much??

So, I prayed this morning for the willingness to be willing to turn my life over, shed a few tears and prepared for a job interview I have later today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Who are they?

Codependence is at the root of all my addictions, and it is what so often keeps me cut off from my HP. Because I want to please and control and manipulate everyone around me, I am not true to myself or with anyone else. Eventually this leads me into the arms of some stranger or into the cookie jar. I want everyone to like me, I want to make them love me. I want to make sure they don't get angry or upset, that I don't disappoint or discourage them. I give myself an enormous amount of ego-driven power, which makes it very hard to submit to my powerlessness and turn my will and life over to a power greater than myelf. What??? A power greater than me? Are you kidding? Haha.

I almost drive myself bonkers every year writing a Christmas letter to our friends and family painting the perfect written picture of the perfect year filled with traveling and work accomplishments (or our latest move). But as I write about travels, I spend time thinking -- "Oh no, this person will get upset because we didn't see them while we were in the area!" "Oh no, that person doesn't like that person and we can't let them know we associated with them!" It just goes on and on, when the fact of the matter is that people may not really give two hoots about where we went or what we did ... and the whole sum of the letter doesn't add up to one thing truly important. But EVERYONE (my ego again) expects our letter every year and we just HAVE to send one.

During a meeting yesterday, members, including myself, spent some time in discussion about how we fear judgment, how we always have to live up to what "they" might think? But when I stop to think who is this mysterious "they" and "everyone" and how truly important are they really ... compared to my recovery, compared to the things I actually struggle with each day, to the true achievements in my life (which sometimes just include making it through the day sober or even alive) ... "they" are not really that important.

What is important is that I can keep the focus on myself -- not on changing others, saving them, controlling them, manipulating their thoughts. I can examine my life daily and learn to recognize and examine my feelings, be true to myself, and do my very best. Improving my concious contact with God is critical to my recovery and to hope in my life. I cannot connect to the higher power I call God if I am always putting someone or something else before him in my mind.

In the struggle to live with the disease of addiction (whether to people or food), God is my only hope. The "theys" that I put in the way are my path to continued destruction.

One day at a time.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Progress not perfection

I lead the Al-Anon meeting this morning on the topic of perfectionism. I began believing in the early days of my life if I would just be a little bit better, if I would just be closer to perfect, if I got everything right then MAYBE, just maybe I would be good enough. Likewise, making everyone happy meant that I didn't have to deal with anger and criticism and judgment -- all things that scare the living daylights out of me -- and that they would love me. These thoughts are flawed and have been replaced with the very useful Al-Anon reminder that when I desparately want to be in control of everything and for everything I do, everything everyone else does, and everything I see to be absolutely perfect, that I have to ask myself "How important is it?"

I was thankful to God this morning that while I was bemoaning feeling down and isolated, there were some really important things going on in the lives of the people in the room. Just this week one person had lost a parent, another a close friend and still another was going through Christmas for the first time without her husband as they are in the midst of a divorce. It helped me to realize that when I sit in the quietness of my own mind, my own problems seem immense. However, when I force myself, however hard, to be in the presence of others, I learn that the world is much bigger than me and has much to offer.

One thing I didn't touch on in the meeting this morning was that I certainly don't pursue perfection in every facet of my life. There are some areas of my life where I, frankly, do a half-ass job and just hope it is good enough that no one notices -- or at least calls me on it. I've done it that way to make time for my acting out. I've needed all the time and all the space in my head I could muster to be with my disease (either in thought or deed). It's been like a child that I made time for and pampered and helped to grow. Someone told me when I first came in to recovery that I had to put just as much effort into recovery as I had put into acting out. Whew! That's an awful lot of time, work and effort. But the rewards -- being present with those around me, regaining a sense that my life belongs to me, being responsible for myself, and developing feelings of self-worth and dignity -- are far greater. So I keep working towards progress, not perfection, one day at a time.

From "Hope for Today"

This is today's reading from "Hope for Today." I thought it would be a good thing to read often. It also gives me an excuse to post, even though I just haven't felt like writing lately. I'm not in a bad place, other than I just want to be by myself, within myself. And I'm thankful not to feel lonely there.

When I feel my serenity being crowded out by fear and anxiety, I break down the Serenity Prayer in a clear and precise way that cuts through the deluge of my shortcomings. First, I broaden my acceptance to include EVERYTHING exactly as it is, not only the things I cannot change. I look at my entire life through the lens of gratitude, trusting that everything is unfolding exactly as it should. As my sponsor reminds me, God's planning and timing are perfect. I ask my Higher Power to help me accept things exactly as they are and to see the opportunities in the circumstances.

Asking God for "courage to change the things I can" is dangerous for me at times. If I'm not careful, I overwhelm myself with all the various things I COULD change and I become paralyzed by inaction. It helps to pray for knowledge of exactly what God wants me to change at any given moment. I think of the "things I can change" as the things God WANTS me to change.

Asking for "wisdom to know the difference" can provoke my perfectionism. I yearn to know exactly what God wants me to change. I don't want to make any mistakes. To regain perspective, I remind myself that everything is already in God's hands and that decision making is a self-correcting process. Wisdom is something I sense in my gut. If I change something and still don't feel right, I go through the process again until God's will becomes clear to me.

Thought for the Day:
How deeply and broadly do I apply the Serenity Prayer to my life?
"I ask God for direction and wait, placing the problem in His hands. I ask for clarity in what I must do. He gives me clear direction." Having Had a Spiritual Awakening, pg. 40

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I'm not much in the mood to write or talk or interact with people. It's part of who I am lately -- an isolator. God sends me people to connect with, to talk with, but I have a hard time wanting to connect back. The psychologists would say that this is a product of my shame, and I suppose it is, though I don't connect with that thought right now. I just want to be quiet and uninterrupted.

Despite this, I took a call today from a woman in recovery and had a decent conversation with her, and also called my sponsor back to say I would take her place in leading an Al-Anon meeting on Friday. I still have other calls to return and make, but they are calls to OA friends about meetings and retreats and, you know, I'd rather just make my rum balls and feel connected to Christmas in some small way. It's hard to keep all these recovery balls in the air at once, especially when I really want to reject the most critical tool of all -- phone calls and reaching out to others.

Oh hell, I'm writing all this for someone else. I'm in a bad mood, feel like isolating and that's the bottom line of it all. It won't last forever, it's just for right now.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Relationship issues

Few people believe that I have a very hard time building close relationships. I had the fortune this afternoon of meeting with a fellow female sex addict in recovery for coffee. I had made the effort to reach out to some recovery women in the greater region for support and since this woman lived nearby we agreed to meet. In the course of our discussion we both lamented how difficult it is for us to build close friendships with women.

I recognize this as a sense of insecurity in myself. I tend to prefer to isolate and in relationships with women to compare and contrast or simply judge. There is a part of me, the authentic part that truly wants to feel a sense of belonging and safety and happiness with other people -- there was actually a point in my life when I enjoyed and thrived on being around others. I see close women friends who tell each other everything and love to be in one another's presence and I either am amazed or think they are putting on a show.

As a result of living in the disease of sex and love addiction, I have built up fear and isolation and insecurity that blocks me from my desire to interact with other people. I feel "less than" or extremely uncomfortable. Tomorrow night I have to go to my husband's Christmas party for work. I am ready to come unglued. I don't want to go. It seems I can no longer have that "chit chat" conversation that makes people enjoy themselves at these events. I feel highly insecure. But I won't tell him that ... and I'll go and I'll smile and I'll hide in the bathroom when I'm at the point of insanity and then we'll go and I'll be testy and cranky.

It is those same feelings of fear and isolation and insecurity that cause me to want to act out in my disease. Go figure, I don't want to see or talk to people who genuinely care for me, or understand me or even people who are just doing the harmless act of celebrating the holidays ... but I want to talk and interact with men who I can manipulate, control and hurt myself more with. Feeling insecure this afternoon about this meeting with this woman and being fearful that I'll always lack the skills to make genuine and meaningful friendships, I began to think about a man I acted out with recently who lives nearby, whose car I started looking for on the road. I thought how it was really only right that I contact him and see how he was doing, it wasn't fair that I just dumped him. That's the cunning thought pattern of my addiction. Luckily, I was able to set aside those vulnerable feelings and make a healthy phone call.

So what to do about this fear of relationships and insecurity and judgment in friendships? I do have to accept that this is where I am today. I can be thankful that I had the chance to practice reaching out. I can pray for the willingness to turn those fears and insecurities that lead me to isolation over to God. And I can continue to work my program -- which goes one step at a time through the process of recovery. I tend to want to solve all problems in one fell swoop. But I have to take these issues one day at a time and recognize that there is a time and a purpose for all things.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

In pursuit of power

I went back to the therapist who doesn't know shit about sex addiction today, full of myself that this would be the last appointment and that she was of no use to me. I forgot that God sometimes has lessons for us in places we think we'll never find them.

In the early parts of her conversations she asked me what I got from my compulsive overeating and what I would gain from letting it go. I told her that letting it go would help me to regain my health and self-esteem and that what I gained from it was protection and comfort. In regard to protection, she responded, "But that's a lie, you don't get protection." Her response (considering my already pissed off state of mind) made me even more pissed off. Of course, I don't actually get protection from all this extra weight, but that is the lie that I began to believe deep down inside. Anyway, I stood my ground on that and realizing my anger wasn't going to get me anywhere I said a short prayer, "God, please let me hear what I need to hear and give me the peace to hear it."

Almost immediately the defensiveness of sitting there with a thin, tall blonde woman disappeared as we began to talk about my sexual addiction. To the question of what I gain from recovering from the addiction, I answered that I would be able to regain my life, that it has become unrecognizable, that very few things or people actually interest me anymore, I am filled with shame and guilt. As for what I gain from the addiction -- she began to ask questions that again made me feel like she didn't understand, but as we talked I began to express that in the beginning of my acting out I told the anonymous sex partners I sought out over the Internet that I was looking for an intimacy that didn't exist in my marriage -- one that transcended just a physical act and was more emotional in nature. However, my actions were just the opposite of that. I went from one man to another, sometimes a different one every day, sometimes more than one a day, seeking a feeling of worthiness and value from them. If I could make them feel good, the best they'd ever felt, then I had some value and worth. I had no concern about whether I felt good. Their praise and acceptance was enough. But as my disease progressed, so did my motives and the needs of my addict. I began to actually need to be something to these men more than just a free whore, more than good sex.

While this was not cognizant behavior, looking back at it now, I know that I began luring men (usually men with some form of power -- whether it be physical strength, intelligence or business success) into emotional situations, giving them things (attention, acceptance, understanding, a willingness to explore) that they could not get otherwise and truly trying to "hook" them. I was like a spider, weaving a web, exploring and extracting every part of these men's psyches, while keeping my own self at bay, never letting them in, or at least only enough to manipulate them. I remember literally thinking about one acting out partner who I actually cared for very much, "You may think you can deny me, but I know how to bring you to your knees in a second."

What then? Nothing. I didn't seek this power in order to blackmail or get my way with them. I never accepted gifts from them. I simply relished the power. That was the high that fed my addiction. Even worse, was that in luring these men in ... I knew that at any minute I could drop them, leave them, as I had so many others, and never care at all. That is the coldness that is addiction.

In most people, addiction feeds a need that was never met, or addresses a matter never resolved. For me, wielding this power was a way of reliving my childhood sexual abuse in two ways, well really three, if you consider that it was all done in secret. First, it was revenge. I wasn't the one who was powerless and vulnerable any longer. I wasn't the child who couldn't say no. In fact, I could (at least in my addict's mind) say no at any time and never think twice. That was the power trip. But what corroded my system was the fact that in pursuing power in this way, I was reiterating the message that the only value and worth that I have to others, especially men of power, is of a sexual nature. I could not deny that I could never have lured these men into any situation without the promise of sex. And after all, I was keeping my emotional self completely separated from them, which was my own way of reaffirming that my feelings and needs were irrelevant.

From my early adulthood, I always knew that knowledge is power. It's probably why I pursued a career in journalism. I loved knowing things that other people didn't know, and telling people the parts that I wanted to share, then using the inside information to essentially manipulate others to like me or give me more information. I remember when I was promoted from reporter to editor and it was part of my duty to write a weekly column, I hated it. I didn't want to share my thoughts and opinions with others. I wanted to keep those to myself. I felt vulnerable putting myself out there like that. I preferred it that everyone around me tell me everything that they thought and did, so that I could tell others and use it for my advantage, for my career success, for my feeling of power.

All of this is so ugly and arrogant and quite sickening to look at ... but wow, is it good to get in there and really see the truth. I have to drain these sickening truths from me in order to make room for what's to come. That, as I discussed with my therapist, is the hard part. When we take something away, we have to replace it with something equally meaningful. We can't just leave a gaping hole. That's why change is so hard. Until recovery, and even pretty far into recovery, this pursuit of power, denial of my emotional self, was the only way I knew how to live. Finding a new way to live and being courageous enough to accept it requires a decision -- the decision that comes in the second step.

It is no wonder that I have had difficulty succeeding in a program where the very first step, "admitted we were powerless," strips away the very thing that has been the mainstay of my inner child's (my addict's) existence. Thank God the rest of the steps follow.

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.”

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Their side of the story

I have began over the past couple of months to read the blogs of women whose lives have been horrendously affected by their husband's sexual addiction. As I read how hard it is to rebuild trust, to not feel inferior, to go through divorce or try to rebuild the marriage, my whole body aches, but my heart truly hurts.

I could stop reading and avoid the pain, but at some level it is a part of the truth I really need to see. I seek it out not as self-punishment, but as a way of seeing what is real and what is a lie.

In my addiction, I have closed myself off from the feelings of the women who wash the dirty underwear, raise the kids, and put up with the egos of the men I took to bed. It's not that I never thought of the wives of the men I slept with. In fact, I often did. But I never allowed myself to think I was hurting them. It makes me think of the lies my stepfather must have believed while he was molesting me -- Everything's fine as long as no one finds out. Those are the same lies all sex addicts believe until they realize their soul has been stolen, and their life is no longer recognizable.

There is a usually unspoken lie that is perceived as the truth among people like me and the men I have slept with -- it is that our affairs have nothing to do with our partners. We are motivated, rather, by the screaming lie that we cannot go on, that life is incomplete and impossible, that we are nothing without that "zing" we get from acting out. We express our love and care for our families to one another and in the latter stages of the disease wish desparately that we could just stop and get back to our real lives. Thankfully it is when we get sick and desparate enough that we hit bottom and it is what brings the worst of us into recovery.

Even that doesn't stop the bleeding pain ... not for either side, not for a long, long time. What it does do, is give us hope where there was none.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Up and then down

That's the way the mood cycles seem to be going lately. It is hard sometimes not to want that reassurance of worthiness from someone else -- and to want to reach out in the wrong direction. But, I'll post some recovery writing I did this morning, while I was on one of the Ups of the cycle and then go get what I need to get done out in the world.


Just about a month ago, at almost 40 years old, I met my biological father for the first time. He had left my mother almost 10 years before I was born, came back for a weekend reconciliation and I was conceived, though he never acknowledged the conception. (It took two people to make that mistake, by the way. I now know not to blame it all on him.) I actually was raised by another man, my stepfather, who in addition to molesting me, was extremely emotionally abusive and sometimes mildly physically abusive.

As I look back on my life, I see so many ways I have understandably tried to fill the need and want for a "real" father in my life. Every little girl wants a Daddy to be her hero and protector, right? I see how that child's search has played into my sex and love addiction. I have insisted on acting out with men at least a few years older than me and in some instances, old enough to be my father. I have sought out powerful, protective men (who also usually turned out to be controlling, but that's beside the point). All I ever wanted was a man to say he loved me and truly mean it -- for love not to mean sexual favors or submission to control, but to mean that I was cared for and that I mattered. (I bet you'd never guess that I never found that in any of my acting out partners.) And in all of this I have been scared to death of abandonment -- scared to the point that it has been very easy to push people away.

Looking at this through the eyes of an adult in recovery, not a helpless child, I know that all of the stuff in the first paragraph is on the men who brought me into the world and raised me. Everything in the second paragraph is on me. Although those men were woefully inadequate as parents and even spouses, in my estimation; they never had the benefit of recovery, they didn't have the best of upbringings themselves, and their judgments were impaired with addiction and ignorance. That doesn't excuse them and it doesn't excuse me. I was lead to recovery through my despair in acting out, and have the opportunity to end the cycle of addiction and ignorance in my own life.

For me, the true gift of recovery lies in unveiling the truth. My recovery is about me, no one else. The 4th step has been paramount in helping me unveil the ways I have kept myself tied to the people who hurt me through resentments, and how I have lived my life in fear (fear of failure, abandonment, and inadequacy -- messages I received as a child) and how that all has fed my need to run and hide in sex, love, food, codependence or any other thing I can find. Equipped with the truth, I have a whole lot less to turn over to my HP every day -- I'm turning over what is mine, and leaving what belongs to others to them. With faith in my Higher Power and a willingness to be honest and responsible, I can begin to clean up my side of the fence and healing and positive change continue to come one day at a time. Dishonesty, resentment and fear only stall me, and I'm not delusional enough to think I'll never get stalled. But I'm thankful that recovery is helping me see the
truth, which for me has become a guiding light.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The good stuff

This morning as we began our slow process of awakening for the day, my husband lifted the covers he had wrapped around him and moved his body against mine. Our legs and feet touched, he wrapped his body around my bottom and back and it felt perfect. Yesterday, in the middle of the day, on a mere whim, we took a break from doing Christmas cards and paying bills and all on his own -- no prompts from me -- he gave me a wonderful oil massage with a very happy and intimate ending.

It seems that little white lie I told to those acting out partners worked. :)

As I lay there this morning, enjoying his body against mine, I thought of two things. First, I remembered the times that R. would wrap his long body against mine in the bed, and make sure that every inch of him was against me, including his feet against mine. I loved that, found it so loving and enduring, it made all the other drama in our lives disappear. And I remember thinking then that I could never have such tender moments with my husband. That was a lie, a lie of my addiction. I also thought of the lies I felt last week as I lay in bed in withdrawal, thinking my life would be sexless for its remaining days, or at least there would be no pleasure and fun in it. That, too, was a lie of my addiction. My addiction wants to own me. I'm glad I have a choice to turn my will and life over to the care of a Higher Power than that stinking, rotten disease.

The second thing I thought was how I wanted to bound out of the bed and write about this moment, about how good it felt, about my thoughts on how most of the lies of my life live within my addiction. But I stopped myself, and I said, "Lay right here and enjoy this moment. It is a gift." It caused me to think of how I always, always want to give everything away. I wanted to write about that moment to give it away. Sure, I kept the treasure of it, but I needed to get it out of me and share it with someone else. When I read a good book, I can't wait to tell someone else. When I read or see something inspiring, I immediately want to tell or show someone else. But when I hurt, at least to the world outside this little confessional, I'm not so eager to share. It's food for thought, without judgment, just something to think about for me. What do I keep for myself?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Here I go

I'm still having trouble today focusing on things, getting things done. Every little project is such an extreme effort. But, I am doing some things anyway. It feels like I'm forcing them through, but I'm getting them done.

I did outreach yesterday to some women in the nearby SLAA fellowships, but as it is for so many people in recovery, it's very hard to pick up the phone. I've done some e-mail outreach, so I suppose that's progress.

The weather is turning cold and I don't want to go outside at all. I hate being cold and now I've waited so late to go out that it's dark outside, I hate that just as bad. But I have some things on my list that I have to do outside ... so here I go.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The other side of the pillow

This morning I wrote of crawling into the bed yesterday afternoon feeling giddy. This afternoon I can barely pry myself from the bed and feel as if I'll throw up and freeze to death all at once.

No, I haven't caught some mysterious illness, I am going through the very agonizing physical symptoms of withdrawal from addiction.

My mind is going wild with very specific thoughts of the things I'll never feel again and my body is grieving. I'm shivering and every nerve is on end.

I went to the bookstore this afternoon in hopes that some time away from home would maybe alleviate my suffering. But once I got there I felt as if my head were spinning out of control. Even trying to concentrate on a few words on the flap of a book, and especially scanning my eyes across a row of books, made me feel as if I would pass out. I quickly bought the book for my book club meeting next week and left, then wild to get back home and to crawl into bed and escape. But in this phase of withdrawal there is no escape. Even the dreams are haunting. I am angry at everything and I feel like I'll crawl out of my skin.

I write all this down as a reminder. I hope it is enough of a reminder.

I pick up my husband in another couple of hours at the airport. Having him here will help. It's hard that he doesn't know what is going on ... but just feeling him close may help.

Some days are diamonds ...

Some days are diamonds... Some days are stone.
Sometimes the hard times won't leave me alone.

It's an old John Denver tune that rambles through my mind on days that don't feel so good. Nothing particularly wrong today. I'm just going through withdrawal, feeling antsy, obsessing over an e-mail I got yesterday.

I laid down in my bed yesterday afternoon and literally giggled with delight over what a good day it had been and how good it felt to have the time and freedom to curl up for a nap.

Today, just ticking through that to do list that keeps getting longer has been like slogging through thick molasses. I've been angry and upset at little things that are none of my business. I could have gone to an Al-Anon meeting, but skipped it then got mad at someone else who isn't working her program properly.

I did reach out to some women in the SLAA program and even had the courage to ask one woman to sponsor me. But I've been afraid to pick up the phone and call her to see what her answer might be.

I did talk with my Al-Anon sponsor today though to schedule a meeting on Monday. Right after I get my yearly probing! Won't that be wonderful? Guess I better do some more 4th step work before I meet with her on Monday huh?

I also signed up for a new book group today that will meet next week to discuss Eat, Love and Pray. So, I'm looking forward to that.

I guess some days are mixed with diamonds and stones, huh?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And the last one is sent

Tonight I wrote the final letter of farewell.

God help me never to have to write another one again.

What a blessing

I had the wonderful privilege and honor to work with God today to keep myself sober. My husband went out of town today and I spent a little time earlier in the week worrying how difficult it was going to be to keep myself from getting it that old circle of stinkin' thinkin' that leads to acting out. Today is the birthday of one of my most recent acting out partners and we had previously planned to "celebrate" today together. I was worried that I would at least want to contact him for an "innocent" Happy Birthday message.

But instead I turned things over to God and guess what? Just as promised, he handled them.

Upon picking up my things to take with me while driving hubby to the airport, I picked up a list of sex addiction recovery meetings in the area. I normally don't make the meetings an hour or so away in downtown -- as they are most often in the evening, and parking is a major issue. But since I was taking hubby halfway to downtown, I thought I might try to catch a noon meeting today. (Meetings are often called insurance policies by those of us in recovery.) It worked out that I was finished dropping hubby off at 9 a.m. and I was thinking, "It will only be another half hour into the city, this seems like it is not going to work out. I don't want to sit around waiting til noon." But ... God had other plans. I decided that I did have time and interest to take an internal route home rather than the crowded interstates and that just happened to lead me past the road that I needed to be on for the meeting. So ... what the heck, I turned east and started driving. A friend called and that helped to pass the time as I drove from stop light to stop light some 40 plus blocks east. Then there was the big McDonald's where I could sit and have my breakfast and write a fourth step inventory that I needed to work on, before getting back in the car at 11:30 and driving up the road a few more blocks, finding a perfect parking place and going to a meeting that really, really warmed my heart.

As was the case the last time I went to this meeting, it was me and one other woman in the room with a group of about seven guys. But today the woman gave her first step lead. She told her story and there was so much in it, I could feel so much pain and so much familiarity with her words ... as did the men apparently, who shared their experience, strength and hope after her lead. It was such a true blessing to be there among these people who understand so completely the pain and emptiness of the disease of sexual addiction/compulsion. There is so much shame in this disease. Most of the time I feel like something that lives off the rot in the bottom of the sewer. But somehow among others who have felt the same pain, had the same obsessions, I feel like I belong and it is a blessing.

At one point the woman shared that she hit rock bottom when she found herself in a sexual relationship with her sister's husband. "That was a high that would last a week," she said ... not proudly, but with tears, true heartfelt pain. Everyone in the room nodded ... we all knew what she meant. Every step along the way of this disease, the need for something just a little "stronger" ... a little more taboo, a little more extreme has shown me the greed of the never-ending hunger of sex addiction. Eventually that high began to wear off for her, her world started to fall apart, she began to feel used (as we all do), and she made it to a meeting that eventually lead to her sobriety.

God bless that woman for sharing her story today, for telling it to a group of nodding heads and for giving me the opportunity to hear it.

This was such a stark contrast to something that happened yesterday. I had my first session with my new doctor-recommended therapist who's on the insurance plan and who I only have to pay a $20 co-pay to see each week. As I told her of my sexual addiction and the way it manifested itself in my life, she said, "So, when you want to get this high, you can always find someone?" I nodded yes to her naive question, and she said "Wow, you must be good." My heart sank; she was obviously clueless, maybe more so than the five other therapists I have seen in the past. It always seems like I end up teaching them more about sex addiction than they help me in getting past my issues. But I'll go again before I give up completely. God has lead me to her for a reason, even if it is only for me to learn that I can make decisions for myself.

Well for tonight I'm off to a book club meeting with one of my friends I met in OA and share the Al-Anon experience with. She shared with me last night that she is beginning to have concerns about her sexual behavior as well and I told her I am here to listen if she wants to talk. Thank you God for putting the people in my life who I need there and for taking the reigns today. One day at a time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Again and again

I was looking back at some earlier posts and discovered this Farewell to a Potential Lover. It's not unlike letters I've written again and again over the past few years. It's not much different than the letters I wrote this week.
I have absolutely no idea to whom this letter was written. I don't recall any of the cirumstances of our discussions. I don't even know if I cut him off because I lost interest and gave him a line of crap to get rid of him or if I was really in one of those phases of trying to "break free." But I do remember that I simply was obsessed with writing this letter. I couldn't go on until it was written. And so here it is three years later, a reminder that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When they say addiction is "cunning, baffling and powerful," they sure aren't kidding.

I dreamt of my father

Yesterday morning I woke up dreaming of my biological father. It is the first time I remember dreaming of him in my life.

I don't remember all of the dream but if I'm not mistaken, I was busy doing things with my family, laughing and enjoying myself. I have the idea though that it was older family members, not my siblings, that I was dreaming of, not that it matters. What I do remember is that I was talking to my biological father on the phone, I had apparently sent a message to him -- either directly or maybe through the grapevine that is my family.

In the dream, he called me and said, "I hear that you need some tender, loving care, that you are feeling down." He said he had been out working on the place and just came in to call me, he was a bit short of breath. I remember that I was visualizing him standing in his barn (he has a barn, but I've never seen it), he wasn't wearing a shirt, and he was standing behind some sort of a wooden gate or barrier talking on one of those old black phones.

While I remember that his words were comforting and that I felt close to and touched by him as he spoke, I don't remember anything about what he said. This is ironic considering that this is a person who I've felt so ill at ease about for so long, and uncomfortable even when his name comes up. The only conversation we've ever had, which occurred just two months ago at my brother's funeral was not uncomfortable, but it also didn't make me "yearn" for a relationship with this person whose sperm caused me to come to be.

One sort of "weird" thing that was not an overwhelming part of the dream but that was present was a overhanging sexual feeling. No, no ... not that I felt sexually attracted to him, but maybe that "awareness" I get when I am around men and there is an air of sexuality. It's hard to explain, since I am even confused about what role it had in this dreamt conversation. I know that with most men, all men really, I am always "on guard" for that hint of sexual intrigue or intent. That might have been it.

This leads me to write about a question my husband asked me a couple of days ago, which is Why did I call my stepfather on Thanksgiving?

I called because I felt like it was the right thing to do. My husband said he thought I did it because I'm still trying to please my dad (I call him my dad because he raised me). The truth is I've called him a couple of times over this time since my brother died because I am trying to save myself. I feel like my resentments are keeping me tied to him and I have to "act normal" RED FLAG in order for my overall state of mind not to be so messed up. I get so confused even writing about this.

I think I have to look at what I feel -- not what others think I feel or should feel. The program tells me that I need to rid myself of resentments (and honestly, I do think I have to do that, but I don't do that by "acting normal"). My husband says my need to please him keeps me coming back to hurting myself again.

What I feel is a lifelong need for a father's love, and a longing for the closeness of a family. (As an aside, I think that has been why I have wanted to get a pet so much lately.) I suppose I also believe that if he (my stepfather) is a monster, the one I paint him to be, then I with all my sexual obsessions, am a monster too.

I have never preyed on young people, thank God. That what separates us. Otherwise, he had his parallel lives too. I just happened to be one of the victims of his "dark side" and the result is today I live in misery, depression and an inability to get on with my life."

In a way, I suppose that my call on Thanksgiving was an attempt to get on with my life or at least act normal. Normal people call their parents on Thanksgiving, right? Good girls call their parents on the holidays, right? (Flawed thinking there.)

Maybe both me and my husband are right -- I was trying to feel a sense of normalcy and family and I was trying to make sure my stepfather didn't feel bad on Thanksgiving.

As I've been writing, I was thinking of how I had not told my older sister I was traveling on Thanksgiving because she worries SO much, she would have ruined her own holiday wondering if we reached S.C. safely. I was thinking of how complicated it gets, trying to make everyone happy and OK, trying to keep the lies straight to make sure everyone is at peace. I've been doing it all my life. And the sad thing is ... I am the one who is never at peace. But I was taught by my mother that I was to sacrifice all peace for myself for other people's happiness.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lies, another look

I remember when I was in college I had friends who would tell their professors that they didn't finish an assignment because their grandmother had died or was in the hospital or some other big story like that. I would never tell those lies because I was always afraid that whatever I lied about might come true.

Also while I was in college, a few of my friends and I were sitting around, it was quiet and I decided to be "funny." I started acting as if something terrible was happening to me, like I was having a seizure. Who would have ever dreamed that 11 years later, I'd find myself on a stretcher being taken to the hospital after having a seizure at work?

That seizure reaffirmed my belief that playing around with the truth can affect your karma.

Over the past couple of days though I've had a different way of looking at it. I was listening to Joe and Charlie talk about the AA Big Book on my Thanksgiving trip and one of the many things they said that struck me was that alcoholics will let people see them falling down drunk, hugging the porcelain throne and puking their guts out, but when they get into recovery they are often afraid to let other people see them pray. This related to my current situation, as I was thinking of what it was I was going to tell these men with whom I needed to sever ties. Somehow I always seem to feel the need to be comletely honest with the men I act out with, despite all the lies I've told my husband and every other person around me.

So, keeping in mind that there's a chance that telling a lie can make the thing we lie about happen ... I told these men in my letters today that my husband had expressed his concern about the state of our relationship and his heartfelt interest in making things right with us again. I said that he acknowledged the pain he had caused and that he had sensed our distance. My husband and I never had such a conversation, but I'm hoping that maybe one day this is one of those lies that will come back to me. And in the meantime, I'm going to live today as if that conversation really did happen, that we are both equal partners in working on this relationship of ours and that as old wounds are healing, new feelings are developing.

I made it through three and a half

Thank God, I sent three letters cutting off ties with men who have fed my sexual addiction. I didn't have to tell them anything, but I felt that cutting them off automatically, rather than enduring phone calls and such for weeks to come would be easier. I also was able to write a fourth letter with someone who has fed both my sex and love addiction -- I told him I would be out of touch for awhile. It's all I could do today. But it's enough.

Thank you, Lord, for the strength and the courage to do this much.

One day at a time, by God's grace, I have been physically sober since Nov. 14.

I start with a new therapist in the morning. I also managed to apply for three jobs today and write to R. to ask him to begin paying me back (as he promised he would) the money I used to help him buy a car before I moved here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Back to here

My husband and I arrived back home from our trip to South Carolina around noon today. We arrived back to the gloomy flatness of the Midwest, after having spent time driving through the beautiful Smoky Mountains through Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina. It was 29 degrees and snowing here, after we had enjoyed 75 degree weather in S.C. It was a bit depressing.

On the long drive, I spent some time listening to Joe and Charlie talk about the AA Big Book and developed some renewed committment to getting life back on track. I have about five men in my life that I need to cut complete ties with. I have prayed the prayers of surrender and pray that I have the strength to do it one day at a time. I can feel when I am "away" from the temptation, it's easy to want to give it up. When I return to the temptations -- the computer, the time alone, however, the thoughts of "Well, I can just keep them as friends," come to mind. But so far today, every time a thought like that has come to mind, I've said a prayer and said, "God let me surrender these thoughts to you." Believe it or not, that prayer was answered.

My husband goes out of town again this week, just for one day, but it happens to be the birthday of one of those men who I need to cut ties with, who also happens to have the day off. In the past, when I've decided to cut ties, I've been able to do it. However, I often go back and reconnect them. But I'm going to continue to pray.

As of now, 6 p.m., I still haven't contacted any of these guys. I don't have the desire to. Seems like prayer is working pretty well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm about to embark on a long journey for the holidays and just wanted to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who make such a wonderful difference in my life.

I want to take time to express my gratitude today for my parents (all of them) for giving me life ... this life, my life, and all its intricasies and flowing patterns.

Likewise, I want to thank God for being ever present in my life, even during the times that I set him aside. He has been there from the beginning, guiding the way, and will be there to the end ... understanding far more than I ever can, or ever need to.

May God bless you all with a spirit of gratitude this holiday season.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Back from the doctor

I went to the doctor this afternoon to discuss the feelings of severe depression I've been facing lately. It's been so hard for me to focus or even function at times.

It was amazing to me the shame I felt going there, having the nurse say "So, you're here to see the doctor about depression?" I just felt all coiled up inside.

But my doctor is a really good guy, someone who it is easy to work with and talk with. He was very encouraging and thankfully is willing to pursue a little more aggressive regime of meds than previous doctors who were afraid of potential drug interactions with some other meds I take. He also gave me the name of a therapist and asked me to make sure I walk every day. I walked out of there feeling just a little glimmer of hope and a willingness to try again. I haven't felt much like trying lately.

As he asked me the questions required to make a diagnosis, I began to cry. I haven't cried in a long, long time ... not that kind of cry at least. I used to cry a lot ... all the time ... at everything. And tears do still fall down my cheeks now and then, from words that sting or things that make me sad. But crying to feel the pain inside ... it hasn't happened in a long time. I think I felt most relieved that I could still feel something, that I wasn't completely dead inside.


Withdrawal in the disease of sex and love addiction can be very paralyzing, almost as paralyzing as the disease itself.

I've sat here, laid here all morning needing to do so much work ... vacillating between a call to act out and a stronger desire to work toward recovery.

My husband came home unexpectedly ... and saw me here. He knew everything I had to get accomplished. I lied and told him that I had already taken a shower, been out to look for (but not find) the turkey for Thanksgiving and been to the gym. I haven't stepped foot outside the house. Why is it soooo hard to tell the truth?

I want to write him a note and tell him I lied ... but I don't know if it's wise. So, I'll pray about it and think about it and maybe talk to him about it tonight. I want so badly for him to think I'm OK ... why?? I'm not OK. That I'm perfect. I'm not perfect ... for goodness' sake that's the last thing I am.

The woman who was going to come to the SLAA meeting tonight e-mailed to say she is sick and won't be coming to the meeting tonight. My first reaction is ... that's good, I can isolate.

I am going to the doctor now to talk to him about depression. I wonder if I will lie to him too. God help me.


As I spent a few quiet moments with God this morning, I read from one of my books of daily inspiration and recovery. In this morning’s reading, the topic was smugness and self-righteousness and their effects on recovery. The woman said she used to pass the blame for her inappropriate responses to others and her behavior off, saying “I learned these things growing up with alcoholics.” She ended by saying that while she might have learned the wrong things from her parents, the behavior was now hers, and it was her responsibility to “unlearn” the things she had been taught by working her program of recovery. “My parents cannot do the recovering for me,” she wrote. “No more blaming. It’s time to get on with my life.”

How many people have I blamed for my behaviors? How many ways has this kept me stuck in my recovery? My family members focus their lives on food, so why shouldn’t I? My stepfather yelled and berated me, so I cringe every time I hear a harsh tone from my husband, blaming both of them for my insecurities. My stepfather sexually abused me and taught me that I wasn’t worth anything but sex, so that’s why I seek my “worth” in sexual liaisons. My husband is not meeting my needs … so I am justified in searching out men who can fill in the gaps. Every man I’ve ever known has abandoned me in one way or another … God knows how I use that one. The list of “blaming” could go on an on. But “when the roll is called up yonder,” I’ll be the one accountable.

Like I wrote yesterday, I can have a thought, without letting it overwhelm and take me in its grips, and direct my life. My thinker’s broken. But it is my responsibility to get it back on track. Like I heard recently in a meeting, “No one is coming” to fix it for me. And because I have no idea how to begin to fix all the mess that I’ve made of my life, the 12 Steps of recovery walk me through, and assure me right off the bat that I’m not alone, that God is with me.

Even in writing those words “the mess that I’ve made of my life,” I feel resistant … I want to whine, “I didn’t do it, someone else did.” No, it was me who ate myself to this weight, who lied about exercising, who didn’t exercise, who went on the Internet in search of men, who met them and had sex with them and repeated it over and over and over again. Further than that, it was me who quit the job I loved, it was me who was too “drunk” in my disease to help my husband make better decisions about our future, again, the list could go on.

I can wallow in self-pity and blame the reasons I act out in my food, sex, love, people pleasing, meddling addictions on anything I want, but if I don’t take responsibility for doing something about it, the fault is all mine. What I can do today is reach down in my core and pray, “God, I am powerless over the disease of addiction, but I have been given the tools to take back my life, to stop giving it away to others. Please help me today to begin to take responsibility for my life and my recovery and to dwell with you, so that I know I am not alone.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A picture of disease

Anyone who is lucky enough to have no idea what sex and love addiction looks like, but for some sick reason wants to know ... go see the movie, "Love in the Time of Cholera." The book is actually better ... but the disease just ooozes out of this motion picture. It's the story of a man who at a very young age falls madly in love with a woman whose father has other plans for his daughter and she marries someone else. And while the man never gives up his undying love sickness for this woman, he goes about keeping a diary of all the women he sleeps with while he waits for her husband to die. At last count, the number was up to something like 621.

At one point in the movie, the man's uncle sums up sex and love addiction very well, when he says that the man's father on his deathbed said his only regret was that he could not die for love. But, the uncle says, "That didn't stop him from fucking every one in sight."

A fresh start

I am thankful that after writing here yesterday and sharing in an online meeting about my latest round of obsessions, I woke up this morning with the realization that ... It is OK if I get anxious and triggered over certain thoughts, obsessed about how to handle things. It is part of being an addict. I don't have to give in to them. I wasted a lot of time over the past few days worrying about whether I should respond to a posting from my former sponsor on an online group and also getting all wrapped up in my other recovery friends' need to be honest -- thinking it was all about me. In a serene moment, I could have very truthfully said ... "Thank you for being honest. I understand and relate to your feelings." But I was too enmeshed and frankly "too drunk" to do the right thing. So I handled it differently and learned the lesson ... for now at least.

I'm a little like Pavlov's dog I suppose. I don't ever learn things the easy way. I think if I read back just a few posts I'll find that I "discovered" a month or so ago that I can have feelings and urges, but I don't have to act on them. Hmmm.. that's didn't last long did it?

Oh well, I'm living life on planet Earth today ... going to exercise with my husband and seeing a movie (Love in the Time of Cholera) in the afternoon. This morning we spent time making plans for traveling on Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Another reminder ...

This is my place, my safe haven, and I need to share.

First of all, to be completely honest ... I was not physically sober this last week, and truly I haven't been sober for a while. It's hard to admit ... this people-pleasing person inside me has even become codependent with the people who read this blog. I want to lie to everyone and show them my pretty recovering face, when underneath is a world of disease and growing despair. It's not dishonest to say that I continue to live parallel lives ... that recovering woman exists, she's just not the only one who lives in my body and mind.

I had a good reminder this morning, and I'm reminded tonight as I "come clean" that I am not the center of the universe ... everyone has their own life, their own history, their problems and their solutions didn't just begin the day they met me. I'm not responsible for their reactions to me, and trying to manipulate and control their opinions and actions is not only horrifyingly arrogant, it is a waste of time and another form of escape. As I said in a post a week or so ago, I have used dishonesty to manipulate and control what people think of me for so long that it seems second nature. Honesty is the only thing that is going to get me well. And I have to allow other people to be honest with me, without "assuming" that all their problems were caused by me. I made this mistake in a conversation with a friend lately and I deeply regret it.

Unrelated to the men I acted out with this past week, my mind has been heavy the past few days with regard to relationships I developed with two different males in recovery -- one my former sponsor who I engaged in intrigue with and the other a friend I met one night in an online meeting. Both have been very instrumental parts of my recovery, but I've had to face the very painful truth that in my disease, I used them both to feel that "high" of being loved.

Different than the sexual and romantic liasions I had with "earthlings, " the relationships I developed with men in recovery were focused on supporting healthy behavior and recovering from the effects of painful childhoods. These relationships seemed "safe" and the "right thing to do." However, the more I grow in my recovery, work through my Fourth Step, and get truly honest with myself, the more I realize how little of my own shit I even recognize ... the more I am reminded that I'm an addict ... period. There is no escape.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I received an award

It was nice to scroll through one of my favorite recovery blogs, A Room of Mama's Own, and find out that I had received an award, just for being me.

Thanks, MPJ, for all your kindness and for everything you do to teach us all how to keep moving forward. I love it that you have helped connect so many people all to one another!

If you haven't visited A Room of Mama's Own, I encourage you to go there and spend some quality time.

An informative link

After years of struggling with the disease of sexual addiction and sexual compulsiveness, it seems I should know everything. After all, I've read the books, seen the counselors (most of whom were ill informed) and gone to the meetings.

But I found this link from the CNN Health Library (sourced by the Mayo Clinic) to be a very concise explanation of what the disease is, its possible treatments and causes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm tired

It's often said in recovery that we keep acting out until we get sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Today I'm tired. I'm tired of thinking about sex. I'm tired of sex ruling my life. I'm tired of seeing every free moment of my time as an opportunity to pursue something sexual.

I don't even go to the place in my mind anymore where I blame the horny men who beg not for me, but for whatever sexual favor I've given them in the past. They are just sex addicts too. They beg because their minds won't set them free. They beg because I've been a source. Now and then I've begged them too.

It's all so ugly.

I looked at a series of photos at The Junky's Wife yesterday that made me sad. The images are of the progressive disease of a heroin addict. I thought how the images of sex addicts might look the same. Sadness and despair, and a worn out need to just get a tingle from their "drug." The images of our disease would be of broken wedding pictures, ratty hotel rooms, children left alone or worse set aside while mommy or daddy acted out, injured children, streetwalkers, public parks, genitals raw and sore from hours of masturbation, tired, worn out bodies.

God help us all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Answered prayers

I went to an An Al-Anon meeting tonight. I might have needed an SLAA meeting more ... but I went to a meeting nonetheless. At first I was just sitting there thinking this is so much bullshit, people talking about being mad because their mothers had destroyed something left behind by a grandmother and boyfriends losing gifts they had been given, daughters in law telling husbands what to do.

I recognized my resentments and I prayed a prayer ... "God let me hear what I need to hear." And within a few minutes a young lady who has been coming to these meetings for more than three months, who smiled a lot, but never said a word, said ... "I want to say something." We all cheered. We were happy to hear her speak and share how the program had helped her.

I do believe even the simplest of prayers are answered. And I do pray even though I feel like I live in the constant crutches of my disease.

I was reading the steps on the wall tonight ... and I realized that the first three are there in my life ... even though I don't really know how to do Step 3 ... but it is Step 4 that has been holding me up for a long, long time. I'm glad I'm working on it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Do unto others ...

From Hazelden's Promise for a New Day:
Is there any stab as deep as wondering where and how much you failed those you loved--Florida Scott Maxwell

Treating our loved ones as we hope to be treated is our assurance against failing them. And if we listen to our inner voice, we'll never falter in our actions toward others. There is always a right behavior, a thoughtful response, and a respectful posture.

Let us be mindful that we're sharing our experiences with others who need the talents we have to offer. It's not by coincidence but by design that we're given opportunities to treat those close at hand in some manner. We'd do well to let the choice be loving.

How we treat another invites like treatment. Actions from our heart will soften our own struggles. Also, spiteful, critical treatment of others will hamper our steps. We teach others how to treat us by our gestures and words.

The inner voice can be heard if I choose to listen. It will never guide me wrongly.


This reading speaks to me in so many ways. In my disease I have hurt so many people in so many different ways -- but all in ways that would devastate me if I had endured them directly. In working my 4th step, one of my resentments against my abusive stepfather was that he "expected to get away with all his despicable behavior." Recognizing this resentment, I uncovered one of my own character defects. As a selfish addict, I have acted in any manner I deemed enjoyable, pursued every whim, and never expected be held accountable for it. Maybe this too is the reason I continue to protect him by keeping silent within my family about the reasons I no longer associate with him -- if the truth of his transgessions are revealed, so mine may be too. I am ever surprised as I work this 4th step at the revelation of the many ways I have used "controlling the truth" to "empower" myself over the years. Even my chosen profession has been influenced by this need to control and manipulate information.

I read a great qualification from a fellow blogger and a member of COSA (co-sex addicts anonymous) yesterday. In it the writer talks about how she spent a year focused on great achievements her role as a member of Junior League, "all the while ignoring my own family." It reminded me of the consideration I have given my acting out partners (once I told them "yes" I could never think of telling them "no," I drove miles and miles to meet them, I worked around their schedules, spent money on them, lost myself in their presence), while I played my husband for a fool, ignoring the basic, not to mention moral, requirements of being a spouse, a friend and a partner in a wide variety of ways. (And these are just the ways I have hurt him. It doesn't take into consideration all the friends and co-workers I have ignored and cheated of my time, presence and talent.)

Over the years, I have resented my husband for choosing work over time with me, yet, as the reading says, we were both inviting a "non-presence" from one another. In recovery, I can let go of those resentments and invite him to be present for me, to have someone to be present with, and I can respect myself and invite him to do the same. Recovery -- working the steps -- allows me to see these truths, to be completely honest with myself, and with you -- and to recognize that life can be different. And as I change, the hopeless, futureless life I have been living can also begin to take shape, filled with truths I don't have to keep secret. And although it goes against everything an addict "wants," I can be accountable to myself, my family and my Higher Power.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's an R

OK ... I know it's silly, but I liked this "R" I found as I was searching through clip art today.

I don't have many images on my site, so I thought since I'm committed to posting more regularly, I might as well add something fun.

I am proud of myself for two things today ... let me rephrase that, I am thankful to God for two things today:

1. I asked for prayers even though I didn't want them after my husband told me last night that he'd be gone out of town all next week. My addict wants to play and celebrate. But I'm thankful to be feeling my authentic self deep inside that says this is an opportunity to show yourself that you can live without giving into that damn addiction every time it starts dancing.

2. That I could be honest with a male friend and say ... "I would never hurt you, but my disease wouldn't mind a bit."

Hope all is well in your world today. I'll be going out to visit the blogosphere and see what everyone is up to, as I finish up some real life work here on this end.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Since a couple of you said you like the movies as well ... I wanted to share that I saw "Dan in Real Life" last night and it was a really funny and uplifting story. If you get a chance, it's something I have no doubt you'll like.

One big step

In doing my fourth step work surrounding resentments against my stepfather (my abuser) I was able to admit to myself that being abused and told that "if you tell" made me feel powerful, as if I weilded a whole lot of power in my family. One of the reasons I've held on to the secret (subconciously, if not conciously) within my family is because it gives me power over my abuser. At any given time I can bring him to his knees like the helpless little child I was when he violated me. And while I rarely "feel" my anger at him, I can sense it in this truth. The selfishness and manipulation I find in myself in this context is ugly to look at, but I'm thankful to see them. Serenity cannot be found until I uncover these character defects, accept them for what that were and are and pray for their removal, as the steps teach me. It is my resentment and anger that keeps me tied to these defects, and my fourth step is helping me to uncover these things and to get real with myself.

It took me a long time to get the courage to do the fourth step. From the beginning it seemed so scary and even still today it seems gigantic. I've only truly just began. But I've always known it holds the key for me. I just had to let go of my self will, pray for the courage even when I didnt' want it, and wait one day at a time until I was ready to begin to open the doors where all the sick secrets lie. I had a whole lot of acting out to do, a few more resentments to build, and a lot of fear to work through before I could get started. But because I kept coming back, knowing that inside me is a survivor powered by the grace of my Higher Power, I knew I would get there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The exact nature of our wrongs

I spent about two hours this morning writing on my Fourth Step, examining resentments, their causes, their effects and my part. When contemplating the questions about my part ... How am I selfish? How am I dishonest? ... the answer seems to be a resounding ... in every way.

On the surface, people see me as a very giving person. I really do try to do a whole lot of people pleasing and I do enjoy doing things for others. But at my core, when it comes to my disease ... I'm as selfish as they come. I want .. I go after ... to hell with the rest. Likewise, most people who know me would say I'm a straight shooter. Boy, do I have them fooled. By telling them what I think about their situation, or even taking my own public inventory, it looks like I'm a pretty honest person. But I learned a long time ago that in order to protect myself, I needed to hide the truth and replace it with a smile and a lie. Dishonesty seems almost automatic in me at times.

The Way it Works in the AA Big Book says that honesty is the key to success in recovery. I wrote a prayer today asking God to help me have the courage and the strength to let go of dishonesty as a means for survival. It is a tool that served me once, but I don't need it anymore. I know that this won't be the only time I'll have to pray for that courage and strength. Something that deep rooted doesn't go away so easily.

I was reminded of the ironies of human behavior last night while watching "American Gangster." Russell Crowe plays a straight-laced New Jersey cop who, in a world of corrupt colleagues, stands out as one of the good guys -- honest to a fault. But when his wife takes him to divorce court she points out that while he looks like the most honest guy on earth to those around him, he had repeatedly lied to her, cheated on her multiple times (seemed like he was a sex addict too - a common affliction for those on the police force) and chose work and friends over his son all the time. It was a good movie ... I recommend it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A more regular poster

I was inspired by Bella's participation in a challenge to blog every day for 30 days. Sometimes I go months without posting here and don't share some of the everyday things in life. I think doing so might help me develop a greater sense of normalcy. Who knows? Worth a shot.

I spoke with my niece by phone today. Even though we are so close, and she knows more about me than most anyone, I think she sometimes wonders what in the world she is going to do with me. I told her today that I'm about to give up on this job search ... that I have the overall feeling that once I get a job, I'll just be told my Mr. Wonderful Husband here that we're moving again. And to be honest, I'd be ready to go. She did help me understand one thing that I was able to articulate to Mr Wonderful Husband ... my profession is based on building relationships, and it's hard to build relationships when you have to move around all the time. Managers look at the resume and say ... "Job Hopper" and keep on looking. From the look on his face, I think he got it for once.

So ... we're off to the movies, into my favorite healthy "escape."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In God's order

I had a meeting with my program sponsor yesterday to discuss my Step 4 (moral inventory) and our discussions caused me think of what life would have been like had I "told" (about my abuse) back then ... what if no one believed me, what if things went into chaos and my family was torn apart, even now I can't think of doing that to my mother and I can't imagine the effects it would have had on me.

I recalled with my sponsor that I did tell one of my cousins once while she was visiting at our house. And while no one ever said anything to me about it, my stepfather asked me a few days later, "You told Chrish what I was doing to you didn't you?" I lied and said I hadn't ... I was always taught to lie to stay out of trouble. I don't remember what he said exactly, but I know it was a rehash of the "you can't tell anyone, it will be bad, you'll be taken away from your family, we dont have to do this if you don't want to" speech.

I have a greater feeling than ever that life happens in the order it's supposed to for a reason. The abuse was one trauma, the deep-rooted effects and recovery from them is another. I don't think I could have began that second round any earlier than I did and lived to tell about it. Thank God for the passage of time, and love in my life that I don't have to question at all.

Robbed - The consequence

The three months I remained in my home state, before coming here to live with my husband again, I practically lived with R. I never felt at home in his place though. I felt held captive much of the time -- captive in the world of a man who was trying to change my mind. I awakened at 3 this morning remembering a time during that period when I really felt that I just wanted to be at my house alone. R. pitched a fit, declaring in the most disgusted and angry voice, coming from the depths of his insecurity, "When two people want to be together, they don't want to 'be alone.' They want to be together." I only had a twin bed in my house at the time, but somehow I acquiesced and said he could stay at my house with me. So he came and tried to lay with me in my twin bed. Feeling crowded and uncomfortable, neither of us could sleep. Eventually he went to the couch to sleep. I remember feeling so glad he left and at the same time thinking he was a hypocrite.

It's both difficult and reassuring to think back to that time in life. Difficult now to consider how I ever got myself so enmeshed with a raging, insecure man who screamed at me as he declared his love and reassuring that there was some semblance of sanity left in me ... enough to get out. I don't know how it feels to realize that I lived my overwhelming life with him, not just in those three months, but in the nine months preceding, while carrying on a whole other life ... or at least attempting to. I suppose it is the same as living with my active addiction and even recovery all these years. Yes, it's true, I do sometimes think that living in recovery is simply switching one parallel life for another. It's just that presumably with recovery I'll be able to become "whole." That is my goal because it sounds so close to "normal."

My abnormal life has robbed me of so much. I wasn't here with my husband during the time his mother passed away, because I was with R. It will take me a long time to forgive myself for that. The isolation of and obsession of my disease has kept me separated from friends and family for so long that relationships that once existed have died for lack of watering, or at best have faded away to nothing. I have replaced some friendships with recovery friends ... but that is a constant reminder of my situation. The colleagues at my jobs have suffered greatly at the expense of my disease and for the most part, lacks the scope of my "normal" friendships. Because I have been unable to remain present, apply myself, for at least four years, and it seems like much longer, I have been robbed of the benefit of a fulfilling work experience. But it's the little things -- the little conversations I could have had with my husband, the time I could have spent with a friend or family member ... especially during that brief time mentioned above, when I was in the south, and my husband was in the midwest. I think of a time when one of my dearest friends in the world was coming to the town where I lived, and he asked me to stay with him, and because R. pitched another of his fits, I declined. This was just after this friend had lost his mother and was going through a very emotional time. He not only needed me, I needed him. Another huge regret for me.

There have been therapists and others who say that I have "repressed anger" toward my stepfather for abusing me. The anger that I feel is that I ended up with this disease. I will be glad when the day comes when I reach the point to tell this disease to go fuck off, just like I did him when he came into my bedroom for the last time when I was 13. I lived the first hell of being molested for 10 years, and now I am reliving it. I pray it won't take 10 years to figure out I don't have to.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday morning reflections

This morning I was trying to remember something from the time in my life just before I discovered the Internet and uncovered my sexual addiction. It was the time right after my mother died, and I made the decision to move out on my own, separate from my roommates, who happened to be my niece and her husband. I remember almost every nook and cranny of the house I moved into -- the smells, the feel, the sounds, everything. I remember different acting out partners who I brought there, the first time I invited the man who is now my husband there and I remember how good it felt just to live alone there. But interestingly, I can't remember a thing about how I got my stuff there, or even how I got some of the stuff that went in there. I simply remember that I had to work hard to fight off depression when I first moved in and it wasn't long until sexual addiction became my way to do that. I was already escaping through work, spending more than I earned and eating, but that was no longer enough.

My mind is a parallel universe, that part of me that "disappears" when things get too difficult has saved my life. As an abused child, dissassociation took me away from the emotional and physical pain that my young body was not able to endure. Long term, however, that thing that helped me, has also has made wholeness feel nearly impossible. Isolation and fear are two of my biggest character defects ... one sends me running into that "other world" and the other keeps me there, nursing me like a comforting mother in ways I can neither remember nor forget. Duality is a life that recovery can repair. Thus, even though it is sometimes very hard for me to avoid slipping into that "invisible world," I keep coming back to grow, working the steps, working through resentments, discovering character defects, forgiving myself and others. I am one of the ones whose recovery is coming slowly. But it is coming, one day at a time. I can see it and I walk toward it ... even on the days when I veer off the path. I pray for courage to do the will of my Higher Power today.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wednesday check in

Thanks to all of you for your condolences regarding the loss of my brother and for your encouragement as I continue to work toward recovery.

Someone posted on an old post that it didn't seem like I was really in recovery and at times I think that's pretty accurate. They call it in the program, "playing around in recovery" and it seems to fit me at times. The honest truth is there is a part of me that wants to recover and another part that feels stuck in the idea that I don't know any other way to live.

A recovery friend noted the other day that it is very hard for her to handle emotions in their raw form. Having numbed them out with years of addiction to food and sex and love and codependency, the idea that I could take any of these emotions related to my brother's death, dealing with my family, meeting my father, being compassionate with my stepfather at a level in which I am really feeling the full effect of the emotions seems totally foreign to me.

I went to my SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) meeting on Monday and I was the only one there, so I sat there and read from Answers from the Heart (the meditation book) and I read a story from my SLAA book. The story touched me as it was about the reconciliation of abuse and love. The woman who wrote it felt the most loved when she was in an abusive relationship. She had grown up in a home filled with abuse of all kinds and filled her adult life with the same kind of relationships. It was only after she entered recovery and began to eliminate abuse from her life. "SLAA and God can save me if I put them first before my sex drive and my need for love," she wrote. This has been my problem ... when my desire to have sex comes along, when my need to feel loved feels like it is ripping my heart out, I feel that I have no choice, but to act on it and seek to fill that which I need. It's not true, what recovery gives me is a choice, but I have make it.

I was particulary touched by these words in that story (pg 260 SLAA text), "I believe there exists a parallel world of the spirit, which contains all the experiences of my childhood and the active phase of my sex and love addiction. When I stay sober and fully experience the pain and joy of the present, I claim those experiences and grow towards becoming a whole person again. As I call upon God and SLAA for help, the power of the disease lessens and the reconciliation of love and abuse can take place. It takes place within me as I learn to accept and love myself."

It is my prayer that I be given the courage to make these transitions.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unclouded sky

"Oh they tell me of a home where no storm clouds rise. Oh, they tell me of an unclouded day."

This song is in my head tonight as I think of how I have slipped into the darkness of my disease yet again. I saw the clouds coming ... and I'm not sure I did anything to stop them. Sometimes after all these times of failing, it feels almost useless to try again. When the cloud comes, just let it rain and let the cycle go, it all will pass just as it came.

My interview went well on Friday ... as well as it could for someone who wasted so much time focused on illness rather than success. I tried to focus on preparation ... and I did do some prepatory work, but not nearly as much as I might have. I would pray and ask God to please help me set aside my obsessions and focus on the work I needed to do, but I think the prayers never reached him. Because when I'm acting out, I can't reach my Higher Power. I know this ... But I'm still an addict.

I know I am subconciously trying to numb feelings, or rather do something to harm myself because I don't feel much of what I feel I should be feeling. Sexual highs make me "feel." This may all be psychobabble. I don't know. I don't really feel anything, so I don't know what to believe.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Try, then try again

I'm so thankful to the people who visit my blog and offer their support. They help me to realize there is hope. I always go and read their blogs and get some insight into what others are dealing with.

Sometimes when I think of myself as a recovering sex addict I wonder if I really am recovering. Some days it feels like the only way I can survive, the only way I can escape, the only way I can feel anything is to live in my addiction. I make progress in my recovery, but I never trust myself enough to believe that I really will ever be the sober person that I see so many recovering addicts become.

My brother in law, who was a raging alcoholic and smoker for years, once told me, "You can't just try to quit. You just have to quit." It seems so easy when said that way. Giving yourself no option.

As I have tried to prepare for an interview on Friday, I have needed to use the computer a lot. And when I am at the computer I feel the need to reach out to someone, to not be here alone. I know it is all my insecurities and fears that take me to that place. Yet, I can't seem to break free from my need to just connect to something that will give me that little kick. That's why I am thankful when I come and find nice comments on my blog. It reminds me that there are people out there who can give me positive reinforcement, help me feel better about myself, without me giving myself up sexually, and degrading myself in ways that most "normal" people would find unimaginable.

I spent all of last week with my family. I rarely had the chance to be on the computer. I fought off the compulsion to run away from all I was feeling, even though I didn't understand most of it. I still feel very overwhelmed with my feelings and unable to process them. I know that is why my disease is playing with me.

I think about my brother ... what a good person he was, what demons he faced. Yet he survived it all. I wonder how much he buried, what all he must have dealt with or never dealt with, that none of us ever saw. My family doesn't see the demons I battle. They just never hear from me and when they do I focus the entire conversation on them, pausing only to talk of me if I am forced and then only at the surface.

I want to spend some time here telling you about my brother. He went to work at 13 to help my mother pay the bills, because my biological father -- the man I met for the first time last week -- left behind his wife and three kids, only to come back one weekend and give her a fourth, me. My brother was too young to take on those responsibilities, but he did. He never finished high school, likely not even 10th grade. He drove a truck for most of his life and befriended every person he met and brought them home if he needed to. My sister in law told us that of the 23 years they were married, they had spent one night alone. Otherwise the house was filled with kids or family or some of the "strays" that he brought in to his house because there was no place else for them to live. I even lived with them for a while, which helped me get my feet on the ground, and gave me a sense of family when I moved away from my college friends who had been my only source of family for so long. And when my husband and I moved back to my home state in 2005, I began meeting my brother for breakfast every Thursday morning. We never talked about much of importance, but we sat down and had a meal together and enjoyed each other's company. I will always be thankful for that time. I'm thankful too for the time I got to spend with him just two weeks before he died, sitting by his side, nursing his wounds, and teasing him about the silly things he was saying as he got to point where he was "talking out of his head." And I'm thankful that he waited until I got there last Saturday to take his final breath. Rest in peace, my brother. You will always be loved.