Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Checking in after a brief hiatus

Wow! It felt good to come back from my trip and find some comments. It's nice to be read and to get your feedback.

So... a few things going on here, but mostly good. I just returned from a weekend trip to visit some friends in PA ... the state where my sex addiction first started to go haywire. I had my first extramarital affair there in 2003 (read all about it right here at Rae's Confessions) and what a crazed and blessed life I have lived since. It was the onset (or resurfacing) of my disease in my marriage that led me to seek counseling and begin dealing at a professional level with not only my latest "symptom" (my SLA issues) but also the grueling effects of my childhood sexual abuse. And I can see how my recovery program in SLAA has lead me to the work I'm now doing in OA. I can look back now and see the ways addictions and compulsions have been a gift to me. But, damn, it's been a tough road to get here. Still I am thankful for the awareness, the healing and the friendships I have made along this path. And I am also glad that there is more to come. -- Remind me of that, will you?

While I was visiting this "old stomping grounds," it was impossible to avoid reminders of my sexual escapades, and some diseased temptations to reconnect with some of those old acting out partners. I remember that it was one of the hardest things about continuing to live in that area after I got into recovery. On every corner, every exit, every street there was a reminder of one of the countless men I met on the Internet and acted out with. Some of them were "regulars" -- regular enough that I could have gotten their phone numbers this weekend and contacted them and gone right back to where I was years ago -- used and disrespected, using and disrespecting.

However, I've learned this little prayer that is so helpful to me. It goes "Please give me the willingness ..." I was thankful that I didn't have to use that tool a lot because I spent a lot of time with an old SLAA buddy and it was as if we had a 24 hour meeting, sharing experience, strength and hope with one another, reading to each other, and living life on life's terms. Likewise, I spent some time fully present with all the friends I was able to see on this short trip, and was amazed at how good it felt to be present and truly enjoy the company of others.

While I was in Pennsylvania, R married S. He had called me about two or three weeks ago to tell me that he was getting married. At the time I was sad and angry because I couldn't believe I had gone through such emotional turmoil over the past year and put myself in so many compromising situations, almost left my marriage, only to be hit head on with the reality that he is a love addict too and I was never really the point in his diseased mind. Finding someone who was willing to say yes, was the point. Anyway, I spent a few days after his call really struggling ... thinking "Oh God, just wait til the day he gets married. I'll be miserable."

Hell no, I wasn't miserable at all ... I spent the whole day laughing and talking with "real" friends and strengthening real friendships. I even had the chance to share some 12-step stuff with a friend who is dealing with an alcoholic spouse. And when there was no one around and I might have had the chance to wallow around in self pity that day, my brother (who is recovering from triple bypass surgery) called and we had a great long conversation. After we hung up there was another chance to get down in the dumps ... but the phone rang again and an old college friend called to catch up. All of this is to the credit of my Higher Power. I asked for him to help me and he did. Pretty simple stuff, but it took me a long time to ask, a long time to trust and a long time to be aware of all the ways God was helping me when I could not help myself.

Likewise, I was not very trusting that I would be able to make it through those five days out of town, away from the hawk eyes of my husband and not eat like a pig. BUT ... I didn't. I stuck to my food plan of three meals a day. I didn't eat exactly as the doctor had told me to last week in terms of eating on a palm size portion of meat and the rest fruits and veggies, with a limited amount of carbs. I ate pasta and pizza and rice and I didn't eat enough vegetables and I did eat dessert (which keeps me from claiming pure abstinence), but I am thrilled that I passed by literally dozens of opportunities to gorge myself with food. I think I was so happy to actually have the feeling of being "present" in the world that I didn't want to mess that up.

I got to share about OA with a couple of my younger friends who have both gained a whole lot of weight since I last saw them. At 23 and 25, they are both significantly obese, and one of them is considering surgical options of weight loss. I just told them how I was feeling about my program. If they go, they go. If they don't, they don't. I doubt i would have gone at their age. But in retrospect, I sure wish I had.

There were some other profound truths that were revealed to me while I was away as well -- including eliminating some denial in my life surrounding my close friendship with M -- my former sponsor, longtime recovery friend, who I had a phone sex relationship with and then became close friends with again. We talked on Saturday and he told me he had a date. Without any warning, tears began streaming down my face and after we hung up they turned in to sobs. Those first tears confirmed something I had been trying to deny for so long -- maybe as long as I had known him -- I have been using M. as a object of my love addiction. I am thankful for all the feelings I was able to feel surrounding that revelation, and thankful for the betraying tears that lead me to say to myself, "You cannot deny this any longer." I wrote a letter to him this morning and am doing my best not to obsessively check my e-mail to see if he responded. Even if he doesn't say a word ... I felt it was important for me to come clean and let him know what was going on in my mind. He's not always so good about being that honest.

Last night at home was also a little rough ... sometimes it is so hard to make a decision to stay in a marriage and not expect it to be perfect. Well ... mine is far from perfect and I sometimes feel inadequate to even get started on fixing it. I think for now, I'll just work on fixing me.

Oh ... and today R. sent me a text to say that the wedding went well ... just in case you all wanted to know. (Hear the gagging reflex in the background?)


Recovering Wino said...

Far be it from me to give advice, and I am so sorry about your pain...

However, can you go get yourself a female sponsor? You know that is what is necessary, and you know that we addicts cannot work with men.


Rae said...

M hasn't been my sponsor since we first fell into the trap of engaging one another in our sexual addiction. We have remained friends though ... and I am guessing that's going to have to go as well. At least until I get more recovery under my belt and know how to have a true friendship.

Female sponsors are NOT easy to come by in sex addiction recovery programs. However, I have three great female sponsors in other programs. I am thankful for their role in my life. I also want to contine my sex addiction recovery so it won't be so hard for the next female sex addict to find the help she needs.