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?