Friday, December 19, 2008

Ten years ago today

Ten years ago today in a little chapel in the country, my husband and I exchanged vows we'd written just for us. The chapel perfectly held our closest friends and family and I remember being fully present, fully surrounded by love and support. It was a beautiful day ... that will always be remembered.

Little did I know that marriage is about far more than that first day and those vows. As we smiled for the cameras, neither he nor I knew what would transpire in the years ahead, the people we both would discover as our marriage progressed. Back then I was still living in numbness and denial about so much of my past and present. I was a sex and love addict even then, having had at least two lovers during the time I had dated my betrothed. Still, something kept propelling me forward blindly and as a result all the things that have progressed -- cross country moves, the emergence of a raging addiction, an affair that almost ended my marriage, illness, depression -- have been a part of our still relatively story. In many ways, I finally feel our story has a chance to begin.

Things are not perfect and the good news is I no longer expect them to be. I simply express gratitude for one more day to learn the lessons of being a present partner in my relationship. I no longer take for granted my marriage. I know that if it is the will of my Higher Power for it to continue, it will, and I will have received a blessed gift. And if it is not, then I will be facing the consequences of my past actions, and surrendering to the will of a power greater than myself, but I still will have received a tremendous gift -- the gift of learning to appreciate something more than I disrespect it.

My marriage and my husband matter to me, today. That in itself is a miracle. For much of my marriage, I was willing to break our vows and I was glad to get him "out of the way" so that I could act out. What an uneven tradeoff that was. Today I am willing to do the footwork to make it work, to make it valuable for us both, and to leave the rest to God. I am thankful that my husband has begun to ask me questions like, "What is at the root of that feeling?" whereas before he pretended like feelings never existed and ignored utterly questionable behaviors that allowed me to stay stuck in my disease.

To say I am humbled that our marriage has lasted and survived the intensity of my acting out in both my sex and love addictions, to say that I am humbled that I have even survived my dangerous and outrageous behavior -- would be a great understatement. I am humbled beyond words and grateful beyond measure.

My thanks to all who have been a part of our story through your support of my recovery. Your contributions have been invaluable and I am deeply honored to give you thanks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking responsibility for the rage

I had an epiphany this week as I wrote the answer to one of my sponsor’s questions. The question came in response to me sharing some things I had read in Kelly McDaniel’s “Ready to Heal.” McDaniel states that a woman who is violated sexually carries the rage in her body, and that in the triangle of victim, perpetrator and rescuer – she can only be the victim for so long until she has to somehow reclaim some sense of power.

I shared with my sponsor:
All my acting out against men and women (by way of having sex with their husbands) is part of my rage. Yet, I've never been aware of the rage. All my anger has been sexualized or comforted with food (or in rescuing others)and it is so demoralizing to think that I have to deal with that original trauma of my incest before I can begin to stop this uncontrollable rage from killing me and damaging the lives of everyone around me too.

One of my sponsor’s responding questions was:
Does the compulsion to seduce the husband have anything to do with pulling a power play on the wife? Or is she merely the supplier of an object to seduce and act out the rage on?

My reply:
It's interesting that you ask this. One of the greatest blessings for me in recovery has been discovering the blogs of several women who are wives of sex addicts. As I read their pain, I identify so very much with them and also connect to the reality of what I have done in my active addiction. I've become friends with a couple of the women and I've found we have a lot in common. Even in acting out, I was always curious about the wives of the men I was sleeping with. Curious not in a comparison way, but in a way of thinking ... "What would they say if they knew what their husband really was?" Or sometimes I would feel sorry for them and think how lonely they must be living with men like these. It's almost humorous the way the addict mind works. At times I would convince myself that I was doing these women a favor -- because they didn't want to put up with their horny ass husband's constant demands for sex. And as I write now, I think of the conversation that I overheard one night when I was about 11 or 12 between my stepfather and my mother. He was trying to convince her to have sex with him, and she didn't want to. He was drinking a lot back then and he told her, "Well, if you don't give it to me, I'll go get in from Rae. I already did once today." For years, I tried to deny hearing this conversation, or rather disassociate from it. I would not allow myself to believe that my mother, who I loved more than anyone in the world, knew what was happening to me and did not protect me. But the truth is she did - and she was too weak, too scared to do anything. She needed my stepfather's financial support. She had already gone through raising three kids (my older siblings) on her own and it had worn her down. It had worn down her health, her spirit, and what facing life on her own with three kids hadn’t done, living with my stepfather’s controlling ways killed. The only thing that wasn’t dead was her ability to make each of us feel loved unconditionally. The problem was – there were conditions. In her own way, she said, “Keep your mouth shut,” too.

I know today that one of the things I was trying to do with my silence as a child was to hold my family together, and to protect my mother from further suffering. I hated my biological father for leaving her and causing her and my older siblings such a hard life, and for forcing us into this miserable life with the bastard stepfather. Like most child molesters my stepfather would tell me that if I told anyone what was happening "between us" my family would fall apart, that I would be taken away and that my mom would be left alone because he'd have to go to jail. Today, as I think of the curiosity I had about the wives of the men I acted out with, perhaps I still thought somehow I was protecting them from the pawing hands of their dreadfully horny and animalistic husbands. Maybe somehow I tried to take even their burden. I never connected those dots, so thanks for asking.


I think I'm still trying to figure out if this is a crock of shit my addict is telling me... blaming someone else, now my mother. I've blamed all the men in my life for everything so far -- so now am I going to start blaming the women? Perhaps it's called working through the resentments. I don't know.

I’ve shared before that I’ve always had trouble with relationships with women. I found them weak and whiny and superficial at some level. Either that, or I found them judgmental and bitchy. It’s not that I never admired women. I have admired many women. Being friends with them and loving them without judgment has been more difficult. It makes sense that if I felt somewhere in my subconscious that I had to protect them in order to maintain the relationship – my internal rage may have pushed them away and resisted that tendency to take on one more person’s responsibility. A therapist once told me that my added weight may have been a result of carrying such a heavy burden inside. "It takes a lot of strength to do that," she said. "You needed all that weight to carry the burden."

I welcome feedback on this, as I’m trying to process it all. I’ll be honest and say that I fear provoking the anger and rage of some of the women who have helped me so much here … my fellow bloggers, whose husbands, like me, are sex addicts. I would tell you that your anger and true feelings are justified, whatever they are, but it is not my place. I will only say that I take whatever responsibility I have in creating the rage that lives inside the women whose husbands have lived in the throes of their own disease, and me with them. We have all been victimized. And today I am willing to take responsibility for being a perpetrator as well as a victim. It is painful and shameful to admit these things, but I have to so that I can move on.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My recovery story

While this entire blog is in essence my true recovery story, I don't think I've ever encapsulated my story in a single post here. This summary was originally published on a website I recently discovered called In the Rooms.

Hi, I'm Rae, sex and love addict. I came into the rooms of a 12-step program for recovery from sex and love addiction in 2004 scared to death and ready to drive my life into the back of a semi-truck. My therapist had suggested a few months before that because I was seeking out one extramarital partner after another (using online chat to connect) that I might be a sex addict. I told her I wasn't addict to sex, I just liked the thrill of the chase (and the satisfaction of acceptance). But her "seed of suggestion" stuck in my mind, and a few months later I walked into the recovery rooms. Ceasing the chaotic, dangerous and very painful behavior was not easy. It took me a long time to get sober, and then even longer to stay that way. I am sure that I learned as much from my relapses as I learned from my recovery -- but learning in relapse was certainly a more difficult lesson. This is especially true of the relapse I suffered in 2006 when I "fell in love" with an extramarital partner, who turned out to be a verbally abusive, manipulative alcoholic who almost wrecked my marriage and me.

While I had a few sponsors along the way (most of them male due to the lack of female membership and sponsorship), I never really worked the steps with an SLAA sponsor until the last couple of years. Today I have a certified sex addiction therapist, a sponsor and I'm gratefully working on Step 6. For the most part, I find that the desire to act out has been lifted. But there are times of high stress, high opportunity when the addiction reminds me that "the wolf is always at the door," and that while I'm working my program the addict is doing pushups, growing and finding new and conniving ways to sabotage my attempts to regain a better life.

One day at a time, I give thanks to my Higher Power that I'm still alive, that there is a greater purpose for my life, and that I am learning to live life differently through the 12 Steps. I am grateful to be using the Internet today to connect to and gain the experience, strength and hope of a worldwide fellowship of men and women seeking recovery from the devastating personal and family effects of sex and love addiction. I do that in a variety of places -- an online Yahoo support group, Sex Addict Support community, a compulsive overeating group on The Junky's Wives Club and now In the Rooms.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are you a female sex addict?

If you are a female sex addict and are looking for support, I would like to invite you to join the Sex Addict Support community started by fellow blogger, Ken over at My Sex Addiction.

Within the Sex Addict Support community I have started a Sisters in Recovery group for women in recovery from sex addiction. I look forward to seeing you there!

As an update to my recent post noting some triggering feelings -- they come and go, and I'm grateful that doing the next right thing helps me to move past the triggers, to search for the lesson in each episode.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A blip on the radar

This is one of those thoughts that will pass, I feel pretty certain, but I wanted to write it down, just for the record. I'm feeling that sense of longing to be held and cuddled, to kiss and just feel good. It's not a sexual feeling. It's just a need for comfort.
The interesting thing is -- I've been having some of those very moments with my husband lately. Maybe they are triggering the dis-ease of "never enough." I'm not sure.
I don't feel like I am willing to act on these feelings by seeking some stranger out who would promise such kindness and then not give it.
Again, I'm just recording.


Update: These feelings have persisted throughout the day. They've shifted to more blatant ideations of acting out. Yet, each time they appear, I am simply saying to God -- take these, I don't want them. To be honest, at times it's pretty difficult not to just sit with the thoughts and let them linger long enough to give me a little buzz. But I know I can't afford that. I'm seeing this as an opportunity to practice turning over the urges to act out one at a time.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sixth Step musings

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Sixth Step Prayer: "God help me become willing to let go of all the things to which I still cling. Help me to be ready to let You remove all of these defects, that Your will and purpose may take their place."

I've been doing what I call a literature review on the Sixth Step this week. A literature review means I read from a variety of different texts the Sixth Step chapter. I am reading the step in the SLAA, SAA and SA texts, AA's Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions, and will search out a couple of daily reader readings on the step. I may even read from Paths to Recovery, an Al-Anon recovery book, and do some web searches for others who have written about the Sixth Step. As I read, I take notes on what stands out to me and write down any thoughts or questions I have.

This may seem a little excessive, but I find that my Higher Power has messages for me hidden everywhere, if I search for them.

What I find as I am reading through the literature is that my heart really is in Step 6. Occassionally, I've found myself working on one step in deed, while feeling my heart working on another (usually Step 3). I'm glad that my heart and mind are in sync now as I do the legwork toward completing this round of Step 6.

I've been pretty scared at the prospect of giving up dishonesty, and as I've shared before gluttony (by way of compulsive overeating). That seems ludicrous I know, to want to hold on to things that have hurt me. But as the SAA text says there's a big difference in wanting relief from the disease of addiction and wanting to let go of the old familiar ways of behavior. Both my overweight body and my lies have offered a veil of protection, at least to my addict's mind. They have both caused a lot of pain, as have the other character defects such as -- avoiding responsibility, living in fear -- which results in crippling perfectionism and isolation -- and ego-driven behaviors. (There's more, this is just where I'm focusing right now.)

So, for some time, after completing the Fifth Step, I have been praying around dishonesty, asking God for the willingness to have it removed from my character. I have seen my spirit shift from absolute fear at the prospect of being required to tell the truth as often as I can, to live an honest life, where there is no "alter ego," and abandoning my lies, to a willingness to let God do his work in my life. As far as I'm concerned, he's got a mighty big project turning me into a truthful, honest, whole person whose life is transparent, but I'll leave that up to him.

One of the things I read in the SAA text was that for every character defect, there is a character asset and that in order to prepare our hearts for the defect to be removed, we should begin to practice the character asset. That made a lot of sense to me. I am thankful this step calls on me to leave it up to my Higher Power to remove my defects. I am not able to remove them myself. But as the SLAA text says, "It was enough that we be willing to do the legwork, and be open-minded about what the end result would be. God's grace would give us freedom from the burden of our old self. In humility, we understood that we were only being asked to get out of God's way, so that, with our cooperation, God's work could be done in our lives."

Apart from that wonderful news that I just have to be willing to do the work, the most helpful message I've read thus far also came from the SLAA text, explaining that in working Steps 1-5 we addicts are walking away from the disease of sex and love addiction. Step 6, it says, is where the rebuilding of our lives begins. I felt such hope in reading that.

I also loved this passage from the SLAA text, "We came to understand that sex and love addiction appears to be a disease of actions when viewed from without, but is really a perversion of moral and ethical values as experienced from within. The spiritual dimensions of our dis-ease were now clear." As Don Henley says, "I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter." I think I've found it, here in Step Six.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Seeking recovery

When I first found SLAA I wanted to end the pain of my obsessional behavior, but I don't believe I honestly wanted recovery. I wanted to feel better about myself, but I kept turning to the disease in search of the only source of "feel good" I'd had in a long time. I had no foundation at that point to have faith in anything, even though the promises recovery offered sure sounded good.

I did come to believe, after the insanity continued, that it was going to take something bigger than me, bigger than any human power to save me. But, I wanted to be rescued from my insane behavior, not work for it. I had made a lot of half-hearted attempts at turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood God. But I was scared to death to surrender that illusion of control. I was seeking a self-made solution, but I had not been willing to follow the path to recovery as outlined in the AA Big Book and our SLAA text. I just wanted the source of that recovery to "appear" in my life and rescue me. I spent a lot of time in this particular phase -- thinking that if I just showed up that was going to be enough, that eventually the recovery would show up and I'd embrace it. And it's true that the fact that I just kept coming back did eventually get me to look around and say, "OK, all these other people are getting it ... what's going on with you?" And when I did that I began to truly seek recovery, rather than wait for it to find me.

The word seek means "To try to locate or discover; search for; To endeavor to obtain or reach; To go to or toward; To inquire for; request." The bottom line of all of those is some form of effort on my part. Seek doesn't mean to sit still and wait for it to land in my lap. One definition of recovery is "restoration from a condition of misfortune." Before I surrendered my will and my life absolutely, I wanted someone to just give me that restoration, so I could go on about my life. I was seeking serenity, a lifting of my desire to act out, great relationships and all the things that recovery offered, but I didn't have the willingness to work for them. After all, wasn't I entitled? I had been horribly victimized as a child, and my acting out was all about me trying to deal with that.

I heard something today that described my condition then: "Doing the right thing brought momentary happiness, but it was not enough to sustain me." I can stop acting out, but that's not enough. There's more. What?!? More. Isn't that enough? Withdrawal and avoiding relapses was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life! There's MORE???

Just as I have to eat three meals a day to keep up my energy; just as I can't exercise once a week and expect to lose two pounds; just as I can't read a single chapter of a book and expect to know its contents, seeking the path to recovery means working a diligent program of recovery throughout the day every day. It means building a foundation of faith by seeking a relationship and intimacy with myself and my Higher Power, not just once a week when I sit down to do step work, but through regular prayer and meditation -- improving my conscious contact. It means learning the tools that work for me and using them consistently, not just once but again and again and again, even if it makes me want to vomit.

Today I am seeking recovery not only because I want the restoration, the peace, joy and freedom it offers, but because I have surrendered my fallible ways and need to know what steps to take in an onward direction. It took every step I have taken to get here, and it will take one step at a time to go forward. I'm simply thankful that I can clearly see the direction is forward, because I am doing the work offered by my Higher Power to propel me ahead. The path is outlined in many texts including the AA Big Book, the SLAA Text and any number of religious and spiritual volumes. There are many people in my life and in the 12-step rooms who are willing to help direct and guide me and you. All we have to do is seek it.

Thanks for listening and being a part of my journey.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I just finished my semi-weekly session with my therapist. I'm beginning to wonder if I should just call each session the great enlightment.

Today we talked about this troublesome feeling I'm having regarding my difficulty balancing my need to do recovery work and my need to live my life by way of keeping up with day to day chores and responsibilities.

I described to her a conflict I had with the hubby this morning in which he criticized me for doing so much work on myself, trying to help others, but not being able to get three simple "responsible" tasks finished yesterday.

She reiterated the story to me in her own words, and in a flash I could see that this conflict is a misperception rather than a reality, and that the misperception is coming from my addictive black and white thinking. I have some idea that I have to do EVERYTHING in recovery and do it perfectly in order to get it to "work," even if that means setting aside my whole life.

She explained that recovery is a place of gray, where I learn to integrate the black and the white and do the next right thing. Shifting my responsibilities as a member of the human race -- things like housework, paying the bills, walking and feeding my dog, taking care of myself, in order to try to do every single thing that has ever been written in a recovery book perfectly is not recovering, it's obsessing and it's not healthy. Neither is incessantly ill-planned use of my indiscriminate time a wise recovery choice. Doing the next "right" thing means spending set amounts of time nurturing my relationship with myself and my Higher Power, then setting about the progress oof meeting my assigned responsibilities first, followed by doing the things that are required, but without a designated time. This last category of time -- non-designated, is the area where I feel I most need to set boundaries.

I was really reminded in my discussions with my therapist of the value of practicing mindfulness. Things like planning my day by setting goals and boundaries (a to do list with time boundaries), focusing on my recovery program before I ever leave the driveway or sit down at the computer, are great tools for having a more productive, less compulsive day.

All that said, I'm off to pick up my dog from the groomer and get busy with a number of chores around the house. I owe my new sponsor some answers to some questions she asked, and I'll designate an hour this afternoon to answering those, and another hour to doing recovery work via sponsorship and service to my recovery program.

I'm thankful today to have began the day by turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God, and for being willing to feel the feelings of frustration and disappointment with myself and my progress in recovery. It opened the door for some valuable lessons as I walked in to see my therapist this morning and as I take each step of this day.

Monday, November 24, 2008


As I was walking Saturday, I had a profound insight regarding the value of my feelings. My feelings, I realized, are merely glimpses that I am alive. They are not to be feared, or shunned, but rather to be cherished. Out of habit and disease, I have walked around so cut off from the vast majority of my feelings. Feeling is one of my most unique characteristics as a human being, a valued part of my human existence. Being able to recognize that is monumental.

Regardless of this awakening, I can't suddenly "start feeling" just because I have accepted that feeling is OK. I have to work to change old habits, to continually become more mindful. I have been working recently on focusing on the present, of being aware that I have never lived this moment before and will never live it again. So many of the last years, and perhaps all my life, I have lived with my mind focused on the past or projecting into the future, saddened and scared, but reeling in the need to RUN! fast too escape any consequences. It takes practice to even bring myself to the present moment, to put away all those thoughts and the noise that runs like a soundtrack in my mind. However, when I am present, I am feeling the value of being still and being quiet. When I do this, I feel much closer to my Higher Power, much more in tune with the process of listening to the "still, quiet voice." This state of consciousness makes practicing the Third Step much easier.

Another realization I experienced as a result of opening my heart and mind to my Higher Power relates to the work I am doing on the Sixth Step. I had been sort of freaking out at the concept of being rid of all my character defects
and this morning it occurred to me the step says, "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." It doesn't say, "Get rid of all your character defects." I know from experience that the god of my understanding has his own timing. I have lessons yet to learn, work left to do, but all this step asks is that I be "entirely ready." It's most certainly true that I don't want to live with the defects of greed, fear, dishonesty and more. I see the destruction they have caused in my life and I'm willing to do the work of the Sixth Step to move from uncertainty to being "entirely ready" to have GOD, not me, remove my defects of character.

Both of these "awakenings" came during my morning walk with my dog. I have come to see this time as a great opportunity to connect to my inner being and Higher Power. In the process of breathing in deep breaths of the fresh morning air, feeling the sun rise above me or the cold wind on my face, I feel alive and open. One of my first sponsors in the SLAA program was a man of Cherokee heritage. He encouraged me to go outside to pray and I found his suggestion to be incredibly useful. It has helped me not only believe that there is a living energy that is a power greater than myself, but also to feel that energy within and surrounding me. The more connected I am to that power, the more safe I feel to experience and explore my feelings without searching for coping mechanisms.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In place

Every city has them, one of those suburbs where all the people look like they've stepped out of a prim and proper machine. You know, the kind where the most underdressed person is wearing designer jeans and suede flats, along with a blouse that looks as if it is fresh from dry cleaner after having been worn for the first time last week. The kind where women sit with their backs erect and place little pieces of lettuce into "on the side" dressing, then bring it to their perfectly pink lips. I'm sitting at a cafe in one such place. Needless to say, my brown sweat pants and thermal undershirt are a little out of place, as is my oversized body and face without makeup. But that's OK, because Esperanza is here, smiling at me, knowing that I'll talk to her a bit, even though we struggle to communicate in each of our native languages.

This particular suburb is knowing for its conservative attitudes and multitude of churches. It is filled with suburban mothers who carry their children to preppy cafes with WiFi access and force their equally preppy, glossy husbands with plenty of hair product to meet them for lunch, so that they can be gophers and bus boys and show their abilities as fathers.

Perhaps I'm judgmental of places like this because I secretly want to be one of these prissy people. Or perhaps I am observant because I'm thankful that I have no desire to be like them.

Either way, I identify more with Esperanza, who cleans the tables and smiles pleasantly, feeling different than the rest, but in some way happy to be here, watching.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving terror

As I stepped out into the cold, crisp midwestern air tonight, bound for a short evening walk with my dog, I heard a car engine start across the street, and as I walked forward I saw its lights come on. It was a white car, and the shape of the headlights looked familiar. Immediately I was struck with a flashback of terror, of the many days while living in another state -- literally and figuratively -- I walked outside my house feeling dread, fear and a state of panic. I would look around at every car, and wait for a figure to step out of the shadows, drunk and ready to fight, ready to reveal my secrets and ruin my life.

I have not felt that fear in a long time, but I cannot forget it. It was a fear that rose up in my chest on Thanksgiving morning two years ago when R. sent me a text message before 6 a.m., telling me if I didn't come and get my "shit" from his apartment, that he was going to bring it to my house and I could explain where it came from. I was terrified, knowing he was drunk and capable of anything. I was still living under the delusion that I loved him and that he loved me. In fact, I lived under the spell for four more months -- lay in his arms as my husband got the call that his mother was dead, made myself sick with worry that he would kill himself, lost myself in the insanity of fear that I might hurt him if I said goodbye.

Tonight's headlights were just the neighbor, but they were a grim reminder that lurking in the shadows are many hidden secrets that still could rise up to haunt me, to take away this marriage that is finally beginning to come together.

I heard someone say at a meeting earlier this evening that his sobriety was the most important thing in the world to him. It was the first time I actually nodded my head and agreed. Without my sobriety, I have nothing, I risk everything.

In the past few months a couple of newcomers to the program asked me if it couldn't be possible that in their own cases that the love between them and their qualifier was real. Who am I to judge? I don't know. I can only speak for myself, and what I know is that my "love" for R. felt like the most real thing I'd ever experienced. In hindsight, in sobriety, I can see it was the scariest, most terrifying experience of my life. I was willing to risk my marriage, my self-respect, and all my dignity, to please his never ending need for love and acceptance. More than all my dozens of careless sexcapades, losing myself in my cunning, baffling and powerful addiction to this man was the most dangerous risk I ever took. Walking away alive with my mind even slightly intact is a miracle I can only credit to my Higher Power.

Deeper and deeper

I went to see my therapist yesterday after a five-week hiatus. I needed some time to absorb all that's been coming at me. She is so on point with so many things Yesterday I mentioned something about my husband working 13 hours and all weekend last week, and she asked if that was seasonal or if it was common. I expressed that he does have a problem with giving excessive amounts of time and attention to work and her eyes lit up. She gave me a list of characteristics of partners of workaholics. So many of them were dead on. She said it is important as I recover from all my "sickness" that it's important to know what all of it is.

I also talked with her about my fears of giving up dishonesty and how dishonesty has played a role in setting boundaries. I explained that I can set boundaries, but then I have come to find that I just lie about whether I kept them or not so I don't really value the boundaries. For example, if I set a timer to regulate how long I'm at the computer, the timer goes off and I just ignore it. The nutritionist says write down all your food, but I leave off the candy bar I ate. My husband asks did you go to the gym, and I say yes, even though I didn't darken the door. All of this is to my detriment, but I seem to be programmed to try to get away with things. My sixth step is where I'm supposed to become "entirely ready" to let go of my defects of character. I'm not feeling half ready, much less entirely. And that frustrates me.

My therapist also had me read a passage on deprivation from one of Patrick Carnes' other workbooks called Facing the Shadow, and showed me the cycle between binging and purging, with not only food but behaviors as well. She said a workaholic who marries another workaholic (both hubby and I were workaholics when we were married -- then work didn't give me a high anymore so I switched to sex) might tend to go into the purge mode after some time, and that might be what's going on with my "inability" to stay focused professionally.

As I said to her ... the onion just keeps peeling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sharing my day to day

This time last year, one of the bloggers I miss so very much, Bella at Beyond the Map, committed to writing on her blog every day for a month. I've been lax in keeping up here, but am going to make a commitment to write more often.

Even though there's been a lot of growth going on in my recovery and my life, I have not been posting. I've written about that before -- that it seems I only want to come here when things are bad. However, I think it is important that I share in good times and bad.

I have been isolating a bit from everyone as I look inward, and I suppose not showing up here is a form or isolating as well. As I unravel the web of emotions and thoughts that race through my psyche these days it almost feels like I want to keep it all inside until I sort it out and THEN share.

Of course, just as I'm experiencing even at this very minute, I know that as I write things start to become more clear to me, less confusing and less chaotic.

So, as I said, I'm going to work on coming back here more often and writing.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Doing my part

Since sharing my 5th Step with a trusted friend, I have felt myself open a more clear channel to my Higher Power. In doing so, this week I recognized a need to more thoroughly study recovery literature. I followed that "still quiet voice" into my first AA meeting on Thursday. Including that meeting, I've been to four AA meetings in the past three days.

Mind you that the AA Fellowship Club where I attended three of these meetings is less than five minutes from my house. It's been there for the full year I've lived in this house, and long before. I've never even known it was there, nor thought to darken the door of an AA room until Thursday, when that still, quiet voice said "Find it." I'm thankful to have been open and listening.

Don't misunderstand. I'm thankfully not plagued with the disease of alcoholism, though for the sake of my SLAA sobriety and my health, I do have a desire to stop drinking -- which is enough to qualify me to attend these meetings, particularly open meetings. Right now I simply need to study the 12 steps and 12 traditions and recovery literature in great depth. I need to hear the stories of recovery that I heard in those rooms where men and women have gathered for years together to read the AA Big Book and the 12&12. I need to hear from people whose sponsors have sponsored sponsors say things like, "It doesn't matter how you work the steps, you just have to do them." and "The most important step you work is the First Step."

As a result of attending these AA meetings over the past three days, I've gained a lot of insight into working my Sixth Step -- just by keeping my mouth shut and listening and applying what I learned to my SLAA program. I also heard a lot about the 9th step, and heard ESH from those who have done it. It was valuable insight, and I'm so grateful to have had access to it, to have been willing to go to any lengths to get it.

Because SLAA is a relatively new fellowship (founded in the 70s), I don't have access to multiple meetings with strong recovery, and in the SLAA meetings I do attend, the focus is often on the problem rather than the solution. I rarely even hear a person in an SLAA meeting who can say they've worked a 9th step, much less share their ESH on it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not running SLAA down, nor am I insinuiating that there aren't SLAA meetings all over the world where people are living in the solution rather than the problem. I am simply saying that those meetings are not, and have not been, in five years accessible to me. An online support group has been my lifeline to the SLAA program. I know that I am not alone. Thus I am committed to doing my part, with the strength and guidance of my Higher Power, to stay sober and continue to do service by serving as a sponsor and encourage others to join me in building a stronger culture of sobriety in our program.

Through this program, my life has been saved. I believe in it. I'll keep coming back and doing my part, because that's the only way it works for me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I am forgiven

After three long years of searching fearlessly inside myself, examining my motives, my behaviors, my resentments, my fears and my misconduct, I have completed my 4th Step, and shared it today with a trusted friend, in completion of my 5th Step.

When I finished reading the things I had written as part of my 4th Step inventory, my friend shared with me something a priest with whom he'd shared his 4th step with several years ago told him. "God is pleased that you have done this and you are forgiven."

Wow ... what powerful words. "You are forgiven."

Obviously, my friend, nor even the priest can speak for God, but the uplifting I felt in my heart told me that the words were true.

In John 1:9 of the Big Book of Christianity, it is written, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

There was so much pain, resentment, anger and misconduct, as well as recognition of the positive changes and attributes of my character in my inventory. I offered up my whole truth and took full responsibility for it.

Today is an important day. I feel the peace of forgiveness. I feel lighter and more open to be filled with the loving grace of a power greater than myself.

Thank you sweet Spirit of Life for the gift of your grace and forgiveness, and thank you dear friend for the kindness of your ear. I am truly blessed.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Women are sex addicts too

I found this article on the Fox News website, not a place I spend much time:

Sex addiction. The term conjures up visions of men addicted to pornography or unable to commit to one woman.

But the so-called disease isn't just for men. Women are sex addicts too and some experts say almost a third of people treated for sex addiction are females.

“In America, 30 percent of people coming in for treatment for sex addiction are female,” Don Serratt, director of Life Works, which offers sex-addiction treatment in the UK, told the Times of London. “They’ll come for help with alcoholism, drug addiction or depression and, in the course of treatment, the sex addiction — the root cause of the other addictions — will be uncovered."

Susan Cheever, a self-confessed sex addict and author of "Desire: Where Sex Meets Addiction," said it is common for women to blur the lines between the compulsions of love and sex. “If there is a difference between sex and love addiction, I don’t know what it is,” she said. “Sometimes people say they just fall in love too frequently. Are they saying they don’t want to have sex with those people? Love addict sounds nicer for sure.”

According to the National Association of Sexual Addiction Problems, about 14 million adults are sex addicts. That’s 1 out of 17 adult Americans. But FOXSexpert Yvonne Fulbright isn't sold on the concept of addiction to sex.

"An addiction, such as to alcohol or tobacco, is a physiological dependence," Fulbright wrote in a column. "Deprived of a fix, an addict has physiological reactions, like increased heart rate or the sweats. Physiological changes take place — changes that a "sex addict" does not experience when denied sex. Thus, the addiction label is quite deceptive."

To Ms. Fulbright I offer my congratulations that she is NOT a sex addict, otherwise she would know that her statements that "sex addiction is a crock," and the following quote from the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous' chapter on withdrawal. Anyone who has not gone through this process might find it impossible to comprehend the physiological, not to mention the gut-wrenching emotional, reactions. However, having been there myself, I attest that there is a very real emotional and physical process of withdrawal from a very real addiction that affects men and women, young and old, poor and rich, fat and skinny, powerful and powerless, gay and straight, and any other combination of humans.

This unraveling was wrenching. We found it necessary to live through withdrawal in day-at-a-time, twenty-four hour compartments. We would awaken in the morning, sometimes very early, and inwardly exclaim, "Oh God! Another day of THIS!" Sometimes we found ourselves wishing that we had died in our sleep. Regardless of how we felt, however, we asked in prayer for God's help in facing the day at hand. If we had any grievances with God, we threw those in, too. No one was trying to force us to trump up gratitude! We were striving to be "honest," not "good."

We would then embark on our day. Living alone, as many of us were at this time, even the daily rituals of bathing, clothing and feeding ourselves became very important. Just going through these ordinary tasks was an affirmation of our caring for ourselves.

We then surveyed the day. There probably were tasks we needed to attend to, whether paying the rent, doing the laundry, shopping, or going to work. Physical activity, even as basic as taking a long walk, could get us out into the day a bit. Some took up jogging, or other exercises that required greater physical effort. These helped to provide a physical sensation of tiredness which could fill the void left by the absence of sexual release, or even replace it. Contact with other S.L.A.A. members or trusted friends, perhaps members of other Twelve-Step fellowships, was helpful. Attending open A.A. or Al-Anon meetings was likely to be possible, or perhaps we were fortunate enough to have an S.L.A.A. meeting in our area. Maybe we were trying to start such a meeting, and had tasks to attend to there.

The purpose of all this was not to clutter our day with activity. Most of us needed rest and solitude just as much as we needed other tasks, personal contacts and responsibilities. We were, within ourselves, expending as much energy as most people do who hold full-time jobs and maintain active family lives. In fact, most of us were "working" far harder than we ever had before. After all, we were working at standing still, at freeing ourselves from the tentacled clasp of a frightful addiction which had driven us to such a pitch of self-destroying activity. Simply not doing it took tremendous effort. We were suspending, for the moment, our very real fears concerning the outcome of all this by attending to those tasks immediately at hand. We were living in the immediate present, and discovering that we could indeed make it through an hour, or a morning (mourning!), or a day. And we were discovering that there was a joy to be had in successfully negotiating our way through each twenty-four hour period.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Destined to numb

So I can't eat, can't have wild liasons real or imagined ... so I play Solitare to avoid, and occassionally read political blogs. I am working on finishing up some key step work. Maybe I needed to numb a bit today. Thank you God for the many ways I still have to avoid!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Today's reading in Answers in the Heart focused on my favorite topic -- honesty. One part that stood out to me was: "The more we grow, the more we develop our ability to make one choice at a time, to experience one feeling at a time, to tell the truth one situation at a time. We admit to ourselves when we feel guilty, angry, fearful, resentful -- the difficult feelings that are hard to face."

I certainly have recognized that it is important to "feel" rather than to continue to numb those feelings with sex and love addiction, but feelings do still scare me and I do find myself continuing to want to run away from them somehow, rather than get honest with myself about how I am feeling.

Most recently, I have began to face the "other place" I go to medicate when not using sex or love to avoid myself and my feelings -- that place is food. A little less than two years ago, I started working an addiction program around food and ended up relapsing in this program. Thank God I found my way back ONCE again to SLAA. But today I am doing my best to work both programs and have to admit that I'm scared. I feel lonely and empty and an overall feeling of sadness.

It seems so strange to me to mourn the loss of two things (the diseases of compulsive overeating and sex and love addiction) that I have used to hurt and injure myself in so many ways. Yet, just like surrendering dishonesty, being without these coping mechanisms that have served me for so long leaves me feeling very vulnerable and afraid.

Anyone who has known me at any level probably has understood that it is very, very difficult for me to feel vulnerable. Control and confidence feel much more comfortable to me. But those are no good if they are empty, if they are not based in reality, if they are fueled by acting out or eating to cover and soothe my feelings.

So, for today I will be honest and say that I don't feel good. I feel an emptiness in my stomach and in my heart. I want to isolate. I have no desires to act out, but I choose to be honest enough to say that I will continue to suffer until I turn to my Higher Power, not food or sex or love for comfort. I also am willing to admit that I feel scared to share these things. I am afraid of judgment and just as afraid of the intimacy required for someone to show me their genuine support. Just for today I'm facing those fears.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Some things don't make sense

I have began, once again, to face my love-hate relationship with food. It is an addiction, no doubt. I use food as a friend and isolate myself inside this body, at times treating myself to a slow, but certainly early death.

I have been willing over these years to come here to this confessional and write about the dozens of men I've met and bedded or played sex games with, about my struggles with romantic and sexual obsessions, yet somehow coming here to write about my lifelong, daily struggle with food, seems more shaming than anything I've written thus far.

I live in constant shame as my short, obese body moves about in the world. I walk into a room and search for the chair where I'll be least obtrusive, the seat where I'll fit in best. I walk into job interviews knowing that the very first thing anyone notices is my weight.

I am ashamed as I sit in restaurants, or even in my car, for other people to see me eat. I feel their eyes, filled with shame glaring with contempt, thinking things like, "Disgusting. Don't you care about yourself?"

One of my compulsions as it relates to food is drive-thrus. I literally drive down the road, after stopping at a drive-thru, hoping I don't have to stop at any traffic lights so that no one can watch me eating that burger.

Another compulsion is buying candy bars, cookies and cakes from convenience stores. Again, I eat these all in hiding. Ashamed, beyond words, buying more and and more to cover the shame, and building a larger and larger exterior that will never hide the hurt.

I have lived this way since I was a child. I am not sure I would know how to act if I weren't fat. I grew up the fat kid in school -- a compulsive overeater, my love affair with food going back as far as I can remember.

I had some fat friends for a while who I could laugh with about it. We made jokes about all the things we couldn't do. But behind those laughs was a deep pain in our hearts that each of us understood without speaking. Two of my "fat friends" have recently lost their weight. When they talk about how freeing it is to go into a "regular" store at the mall and have something fit, I yearn for that feeling. It's only plus-size shops for me, for as long as I can remember.

It is very, very painful to live like this, and when I think about powerlessness ... it's almost unimaginable how powerless I feel over the disease of compulsive overeating.

So, here I go again, joining a program at my gym with other overweight women, thrilled that mine is not the highest weight in the room, seeking to move forward in becoming wholly healthy through better food choices and regular exercise. I realize that because of my shame, I have a lot self-will. Thus, unlike times in the past, I am very aware of my need to surrender my will and my life over to a power greater than myself. And that power mustn't be the food.

I have a lot fear (which is the absence of faith), because the last time I tried to tackle my compulsive overeating issues, I had a serious relapse in my sex addiction program. This all goes back to that constant need for some form of escape. I think for a long time I used work as my escape. I don't have work to turn to now.

I know, without a doubt, that it is my Higher Power that I must turn to. God please help me. I cannot do this alone.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Making note

I'm not sure if I'm looking for someone to blame or just revealing those deeper truths I wrote about in my last post, but I've realized something I think I should make note of and explore further.

After my husband and I moved from my home state to the northeast, I developed a strong friendship with one of his friends. We became very close. Slowly I began to see my husband become more and more resentful of the friendship and eventually he told me that if I continued to talk to this person he was going to continue to be angry and irritable. I cried a lot of tears over this, but I followed my husband's lead and stopped talking to his friend. One weekend when my husband went out of town, I called the friend and told him what had happened -- crying all through the conversation. Since that time, I never initiate conversations with that friend or talk to him very long or in depth, when we do speak. There is a wall of silence and understanding.

Knowing what I know now, I realize in many ways I was intriguing with this friend, I was obsessed with him at some level. I simply appreciated the fact that he would talk to me, and laugh with me, and was not so self-absorbed in his work that he didn't have time for me. I don't believe I was sexually attracted to him, but I do see signs of my sex and love addiction -- as I'm sure my husband did, without understanding what it was all about.

My realization today is that it was just a few months after I ended this friendship at my husband's insistence, that I began to seek out other men via the Internet, and eventually began to meet them for offline affairs.

The layers of truth keep coming.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where am I?

In response to my sister's question, "How are you doing today?" I responded:
"I'm doing fine."

In response to a blog reader who wrote to check in and note my absent silence, I wrote:

"I'm not sure where I am to be honest -- somewhere between here and there, feeling shifts, as I have been for years, but uncertain at times if I'm capable of dealing with them. Like you, I've uncovered new things ... they relate to ... my own fundamental fears and faulty thinking. The truth is deeper than I realized.

The fear of what lies beneath these shifts takes me back to a familiar place ... a place where I feel pleasure and pain, freedom and imprisonment."

In response to EC about why I was not writing to him, I wrote:

"I really just feel like I've backed myself in a corner in every relationship I have. I've done it to myself, I'm not whining, nor seeking reassurance -- I just feel that there is no where to turn anymore. There's no where to turn, because my need to be perfect blocks my willingness to be honest. My need to be perfect is based on a fear of judgement, thus rejection. It's flawed thinking. I know. I can hardly even write these words because this fear grips me so completely. The irony is, that in the process of running away from rejection, I have closed myself off completely from acceptance.

I sat in (my therapist's) office yesterday and started crying at the thought of how very scared I am to be an honest human being, to give up that alter ego of disease, to not have dishonesty to hide behind. The idea of being whole, though I want it -know that it is God's will for me, scares me to death. I fear I cannot function. Is that a cop-out? Maybe. I don't know. I just know I felt that fear completely sitting there with her."

Where am I? That's a deep, dark secret that even I don't know.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Just before going to bed tonight, my husband told me he had been approached about an opportunity to return to our home state again. I felt the heaviness settle in immediately. Already today I've been troubled at a core level by the current state of affairs in our country -- economically, politically, socially. And this just added to the pile of unsettled feelings.

The depth of my despair, the affair with R., the isolation and loneliness I felt when we returned "home" last time all came to mind, as did the possibilities of how I would want to do things differently this time if we did return. All of these worries are a million miles from premature, but they are with me. Thoughts of my family, of the strained relations, of the opportunities to spend time with old friends, of the lack of support systems in terms of recovery resources, of the lower cost of living, of hubby's leveraging power and long-term feelings of job security -- they all are swimming in my head. Nothing is concrete within me ... just restless feelings.

God knows what God has in store ... I guess the best I can do for tonight is turn it over to him and know that I will not be given more than I can endure.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A book review

It’s been a long time since I read an entire book within three days, but Kerry Cohen’s “Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity,” kept calling me back until I devoured every word. In the end, I felt something more than understood, more than kinship. What I felt was connected … to myself.

As the book closed, I sobbed with a hurting heart, but I sobbed for me.

There are few parallels between the writer and myself except for the overriding theme of the book – sexual addiction, and perhaps her love of writing, although even that is different than my own love for the craft. So unlike me, Cohen grew up in a rich family in the Northeast, used drugs, was Jewish, and most of all she was unmarried. Her awareness of her behavior and her battle with it began when she was young. I was middle aged.

Still, it is not the differences that kept me turning page after page of this relatively short work. It is our commonalities and finding myself hidden in the pages, in her words.

She writes about relationships with specific boys, Eli, Leif, Zachary, Toby and others, and then she will have sections like, “Inevitably though, I get distracted. This time the distraction’s name is Matthew …. Next is Kyle … Then Miles. Then Jack. Then Randy. Each one I hope will be something more than sex …” Like me, she sometimes even forgets the names of the men she sleeps with.

Of all the men Cohen writes about sleeping with in this autobiographical piece, only one was married. Very few, if any of the men I have encountered along my journey of addiction have been single. But just like the author, I was selfishly driven by acceptance, the need for one person to want me (my substitute for love) more than he wanted his wife. I craved love and acceptance, was obsessed with getting it. Some days I still am.

Regarding the married man she meets at an artists’ colony, Cohen writes, “I want to be saved from myself, from my hurting. I want a boy like Frank to lift me up like a dead thing and breathe me into life.”

“I lie on my bed … and feel how badly I want Frank with me. How I want his interest in me to mean something, to mean I’m worth something as big as ending his marriage. It’s so selfish, I know. Some time later when I’m married myself, I’ll know just how selfish. After years of tangling your lives, making compromises and concessions, of building a shared life, it’s appalling to imagine someone else, some outside person, dismissing all of this for her own gain. But I don’t think of any of that now. I feel the wanting in my bone marrow. It’s like a nasty virus that won’t die.”

As she wrote of those moments when the addiction takes over, she described herself as being “all body and desperation.” Those moments, for her and for me, are void of any sane thought.

By the way, Cohen never uses the word addiction nor does she ever talk about recovery. This is definitely not a story of how SLAA or some other recovery program saved her life. This is simply the story of Cohen’s journey through years of longing, craving and sacrificing everything good and real in her life for that one little taste of acceptance that could never be found.

After a particularly revealing and rare conversation with her mother, Cohen lays in bed and thinks of her mom. I cry with connection to her words, “I think about her – how, like me, she doesn’t know how to keep love in her life. It pains me to think of her like this, lost and wanting, desperate for love. … I’m like that too, aren’t I? That little girl inside, clawing her way through life, wanting, always wanting, never, ever getting enough to feel filled. It’s so ugly. So profoundly sad and ugly. I don’t want to be like this anymore.”

I also cry when she writes about a particular moment when she realizes with clarity that no matter what she thinks of him, her drug addicted, love avoidant father who had no idea how to parent her other than to buy her things, really just didn’t want her to turn out to be like him.

But it is in the end, when after she has married Michael, and sits through her fears that he will reject her when he knows the truth of her behavior, or worse that she “will do something stupid” that I find the real connection to my own recovery.

One night not long after her wedding she is sitting in a bar watching a band with her friends, when a man in a booth across the bar catches her eye. “I’m back there, the yearning, the hoping,” she writes. But as they reach the door to leave, he makes his move and she has the courage to tell him, “I’m sorry. I’m married.”

As she curls up next to Michael that night, “he slips an arm around my middle and nuzzles his face into my neck. I close my eyes and listen to him breathing. How lovely that sound is. Maybe, I think, I don’t have to be great at this; maybe I just have to be good enough.”

Perfectionism has at times eroded all hopes of my recovery. Cohen’s final sentence was a beautiful example of self-acceptance. Just as I am, the best that I can be, that is enough.

Laying in bed, my body curled against my husband, the longing subsides, the void is filled. I am alive. I am at peace. Even if it’s just for tonight.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Practicing self care

The first question my therapist asked me yesterday morning was "Give me an example of how you have practiced self care since I've last seen you." It often takes me some time to pull up examples from the long ago past so I shared with her how I had returned a phone call that morning that I really wanted to ignore in favor of isolation. It was a small victory -- but a victory nonetheless.

Her question -- as it was intended to -- has prompted me to look at self-care and think about how I practiced it since our session. One way I did so was by going immediately to the library and journaling about what we had discussed during the sesson, writing out the thoughts while they were fresh in my mind. A second way was that during the session I asked her to help me process my anxiety surrounding taking a couple of classes this semester to explore the possibility of a second career. I also got honest with her, and then later at a telemeeting and then an evening face to face meeting about how these anxieties had caused me last week to become "emotionally needy" with a male friend to a point of distraction for me and irritation for the both of us.

Another form of self-care that I have practiced over the past couple of days has been to allow myself to feel the feelings from a terse but honest e-mail from that same male friend and to ask myself what the lessons are to be learned -- there are multitues. During that same period I have responded only briefly to say thank you and that I would let things settle in and then write back later. I found myself practicing this same sort of self-care last night when just at bedtime my husband decided to get in a huff over something that hadn't been done and get all irritable and snappy. I don't feel good going to bed like that. So rather than engage him in a fight, or try to change his behavior, I prayed and asked God to release me from my need to control the situation and to have his will not mine. As a result I began to rub and scratch my husband's back, as I do most nights before we sleep, and just show him love. It released the tension for both of us and I woke up in the middle of the night to feel him closely snuggled against me, something that always feels like a sign of sweet intimacy and love.

I woke up with another thought of self care on my mind. I have a pattern, even a disease, of wanting to constantly care for others. The truth, however, is I'm operating without a net. I provide a network of support through service in the SLAA fellowship, sponsorship, starting meetings, leading meetings -- all the while operating without a truly active sponsor myself. Yes, I have a sponsor in another fellowship, but honestly she does not provide me the wisdom of the steps or even regular fellowship. I have come to depend on my Higher Power, my therapist, and the fellowship itself as my sponsor. Those are places I can go to seek feedback and guidance. Still, I am there on a daily basis for my sponsees, for others who seek my counsel, without thought that no one is really there for me on a daily or weekly basis. This makes me susceptible to feeling alone, which can in turn lead to a desire to act out. I think another area of self care I can exercise is reaching out for the supportive fellowship of a sponsor.

On a similar note, I woke up thinking, I have started a telemeeting, a step meeting, a face to face meeting in this fellowship, but I need to practice simply being a member in recovery. As the leader I get great satisfaction out of helping others, but I don't get the humility of simply "being." Being a leader puts me in a position of feeling "better than", which keeps me from feeling "less than," all the while opening the door for me to be less than willing to share honestly in meetings about my own vulnerabilities -- which is a great detriment to my recovery. I see this lack of humility as a character defect that is standing in my way of progress. I see recognition of this character defect and the willingness to get honest and examine it as a form of self care.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A quiet day for reading

I'm thankful to have had some time yesterday to catch up on reading blogs. I was reminded today how helpful it is to my sobriety to read the blogs of the wives and ex-wives of male sex addicts. Reading about the pain they have been through reminds me that sexual addiction has many victims, and also renews my committment to do as little additional harm in my life as possible. The unfortunate thing is that reading those blogs and making a heartfelt committment to never hurt a woman like that again does not erase the fact that I am an addict. Sex and love addicts, according to their very characteristics, "sexualize stress, guilt, loneliness, anger, shame, fear and envy. We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support." My committment has to be more than not hurting other people -- because that binds me to the shame of all the people I have hurt in the past, which I will without fail attempt to cover with the insanity of taking a sexual or romantic holiday from my emotions. If I truly had to bear all the guilt I "should" feel at once ... it would be equivalent to plugging the entire electrical system of New York City into the outlet that runs this computer. Everything inside me would be fried. So my commitment has to be learning healthy ways of relating to others and taking care of myself, joining with these women who have been hurt in the process of healing.

I am also reading, at the suggestion of my new therapist, a book by Kelly McDaniel called "Ready to Heal," written specifically for female sex, love and relationship addicts. The reading has raised a number of questions about the messages society sends to women about sex -- and the ones I have picked up on. McDaniel asserts that women hold one or more of four cultural beliefs that cause them conflict with sexuality and relationships. The four beliefs are: 1. I must be good to be worthy of love. 2. If I am sexual, I am bad. 3. I am not really a woman unless someone desires me sexually or romantically and 4. I must be sexual to be lovable. McDaniel contends, and it makes sense to me that holding two or more of these beliefs puts a woman in a double bind -- If she sexual to be lovable, then she believes she is bad. And if she is bad, then she is not worthy of love, and if she is not worthy of love, then she must not be a real woman. There is very likely a corresponding theory for men -- as men are often raised to think that they must be good too be loved and if they are not sexual then they certainly are not REAL men. Likewise there are cultural messages that say men are nothing more to women than sperm and cash donors. Reading this book is causing me to really look closely at the subliminal messages I have picked up on regarding sex and love. One more layer of the onion being peeled away.

I should also note that I'm getting a lot of what can only amount to Higher Power messages that are opening my heart more about more honest disclosure about my addiction to my husband. I am willing to wait and listen and continue to be open to God's will for our lives.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A day's difference

Two days ago I was feeling so sad, crying, hurting. I had picked up the bottle of love addiction I leave sitting on the table and taken a drink. That was supposedly easier than dealing with my feelings of self-doubt, fear and frustration surrounding continued struggles with concentration and self-discipline. Rather than accept my lack of perfection and give thanks for my assets and opportunities, I allowed myself to be pulled into a self-created, self-absorbed drama so that I could escape feelings of inadequacy.

Today, after proving to myself that while I might not be perfect, I am functional, worthwhile and loved. I am grateful this morning for some quiet time to read, to get some extra rest and to enjoy the gentle flow of life. I'm thankful that my life feels lighter and that I don't have to worry about getting what I need. I know my Higher Power will provide it to me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One by one

I've written before that I probably never should listen to country music. Of course, I keep going back and listening to it and thinking about things that end up in euphoric recall.

I've already had my share of struggles today with feeling sort of triggered, and listening to some music about romantic love and sad goodbyes just doesn't help. If I'm honest, the underlying "jonesing" for a "fix" has been going on for a few days. When I ask what I'm needing to medicate it's probably a feeling that I'm just not capable of discipline, responsibility, and success. I know at some intellectual level that is not true, but when my behavior seems to indicate otherwise the floor slowly falls out from under me one little twig at a time. I've had some reading to do to keep up with a class I'm taking -- I'm way behind, I just don't seem to be doing "perfectly," and I'm having trouble accepting that.

For the longer term, my struggles have been for a desire for someone to be madly in love with me -- even though such episodes have proven to be very painful in the past. When these desires go unmet then my addict mind begins to believe that if I can't have someone love me, at least I can get them to treat me like they love me for a while, and give me a bit of an emotional holiday, with a round of intrigue and sex.

This afternoon as I was walking the dog, listening to this country music I spoke of earlier, I thought how one by one I have resolved the "issues" with the men in my life and have finally started to make female friends. I have always had a man to blame for something -- my biological father, my stepfather, my husband, E., J., R., M. others ... but as I said, one by one, I've resolved my feelings/resentments about them. But every time I pick up a "new man"... there's a whole other cycle of emotions to deal with that are so hard to put down. Today I recognize that emotions surrounding the friend who I went through a period of longing and loving with back in March -- I just went back to reread some e-mails to check the date and now I'm crying -- seem to still hover in my heart, demanding to be dealt with. Over time, due to solid friendship with this man, we have worked through our emotions, guilt and recognized that the loving and longing was more about our addictive qualities than a true committment to one another romantically or sexually. We both agreed that our marriages were important to us, and we have done our best to continue our friendship, sans sexual and romantic intrigue. Yet for the past couple of weeks I have felt the longing creep in again. I listened to the songs this afternoon and longed to hold him and hear him say that he was longing too. It hurts. And I suppose these tears are an indication that I haven't properly grieved what was lost. I don't know. I just know I needed to write about it. Thanks for listening.

I see some new readers commenting -- thank you for your notes and for being here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Perceptive discomfort

Being an addict my antennae are tuned to what might otherwise pass under the radar of a non-perceptive observer.
The man who scans the entire body of a waitress in tight jeans; the thin woman whose teeth have rotted, whose skin is colorless and who tugs at her hair as her fingers quiver; the obese woman who looks around to see who's watching as she nearly inhales the chocolate pie for dessert -- these are just a few signs of an addict walking around among the "normies."
Likewise I can spot an abuse victim in most any crowd. Just this afternoon, my heart ached for a little Asian girl in the grocery store whose face was bruised in all the wrong places. An overly obese female most always has a story of sexual abuse. A bodybuilder and an overachiever, almost always have some wounds of powerlessness they are trying to overcome.
In program we have a saying, "If you spot it, you got it." My beloved grandmother, who found no greater amusement than bodily function, had her own hillbilly version of the saying, "The smeller's the feller." It's almost easy for me to spot addicts and abuse victims in a crowd.
But occassionally I have a perception that I relate to addiction, that really is a sign of an increasingly difficult society to accept.
A few days ago, one of my anti-depressant meds rolled out of my hand and down the drain. It occurred to me that my insurance company will not pay for that lost pill. It's gone. If I want to replace it, the cost is pretty high.
My first thought was an addict's thought ... I need that pill to survive. Obviously, that's not true, and it wasn't a thought that lingered.
I'm in a position to pay for that capsule that rolled into the sewer, or at least smart enough to work the system so that one lost pill is not going to send me back to the treatment center. There are millions of Americans, however, who are not in such a position. Their health and their lives are being dictated and governed by some asshole in a cubicle at an insurance company whose main objective is to make sure the numbers line up at the end of the day.
As I look out at a world that has turned to addiction to numb the realities they can't accept, and men, women and children who not only are abused by others, but who can't stop hurting themselves, I pause to reflect on the emotional abuse and harassment, even sometimes the physical abuse, inflicted by a health care system dictated by money crunchers and legal eagles. I am angry and I am sad -- not so much for me, but for those who are losing their lives, their homes, their hope, while profits are rising among those who crunch the numbers.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Gratefully human

I felt an incredible sense of sadness last night and found myself asking God to show me the lessons he had for me. I'm thankful that this request for "the lesson" is becoming a more automatic response. Rather than wallowing in the self-pity, I go to the lessons. I believe I was sent here on earth to learn, that we all were.

The source of my sadness was an incident that occurred on an online forum which I have participated in since early recovery. There is a person there, I'll call him GF, who is filled with wisdom, a constant presence, always sharing all sorts of good stuff with the group. Despite his sarcastic tone and occassional gruffness, he's adored by many. Well yesterday this "godfather" of the forum, posted a very tasteless and potentially triggering joke to the list. Many people were offended, but those of us who've been around for a while were truly shocked. Then when he apologized and said he'd been dealing with some mental health issues -- the weakness of this man, who (like me) tries desparately to portray an air of confidence, strength and recovery, just caused me to feel so sad and such a sense of hopelessness that I began to cry. I reached out to my support and also to God and asked, what's going on inside me? What's the lesson here?

The response (inside me) seemed to be that we are all human and I can find reason to put others above me and below me -- in order to feed my ego and my diseased need to continue that feeling of being less than. God's truth is we are all capable of fallacy and weakness, just as we are capable of wisdom, leadership and greatness. No matter how we "act" -- we are all human, we all need prayers, support, humility. On a simpler note, the incident reminded me that I often times put expectations and "assign magical qualities to others" without even realizing it. I have given GF some of those magical qualities just because other people look up to him. This was a good reminder to examine my relationships and attitudes for this very thing, protecting myself and others from future harm. I'm so good at making "gods" out of other people while ignoring the still, quiet voice inside me.

One of my friends reminded me: "I think as addicts online we can hide things that are going on inside of us. It's easy to come across as all healthy, all-knowing and shit but the truth is we are all just addicts. GF is no different. In my opinion, addiction IS a mental illness, so I think we are all nuts. Some of us just hide it better than others." That is ME in a nutshell. When I share with anyone that I had to go into treatment for depression they are stunned. I am able to hide behind this computer and be the queen of all knowledge. Like GF, I want to appear all knowing. But I'm just as terrified and fucked up as the next guy. Why do I try so hard to show only the positives? I grew up believing and being reminded with the straps of a switch or the slash of the tongue that weakness was not allowed, that it was despicable. In response, I learned to hide my weakness and beg for attention and acceptance with my positives.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

God granted me some serenity

I have been struggling lately with feeling irritable, controlling, and just not very serene. That has shown up in my life in a desire to want to "save other people," including a couple of sponsees who are going through some rough times. Now, intellectually I know very well that I can't save anyone's ass but my own, and I have to depend upon Higher Power to do that. So, I've known all along that Higher Power was trying to teach me something and I was just waiting for the lesson to be revealed -- driving a few people bonkers in the meantime, not the least of which was myself.

As I was walking this morning, I prayed the Prayer of St. Francis -- asking to be used as an instrument of my Higher Power -- and the Serenity Prayer -- as I was going over the Serenity Prayer in my head ... I had an epiphany -- I cannot change my sponsees, their behavior, the outcome of their behaviors, their thoughts, committment to recovery -- NOTHING. The worrying I do is fruitless. Higher Power has a plan and I can accept it and embrace it. If Higher Power chooses and finds it fitting I will be used as an instrument of peace and understanding in these women's lives. I just have to show up and work with them through the steps, and get out of Higher Power's way. That's all.

So, as I began to give thanks for that revelation and other blessings in my life, I began to recognize the presence of gratitude in my life is a form of a power greater than myself. Living in gratitude, expressing fervent and sincere gratitude -- these things lift me up, elevate my mood, give me a new outlook on life, empower me, cause me to walk tall (or as tall as I can at 5'1) and with a smile on my face. That is a great power with which I have to face the day!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Prayers for all on the coast

My fervent prayers go up today for all the men, women and families whose lives are being turned upside down today in light of the threats posed by the fast-moving Hurricane Gustav.

A special prayer for my friend, EC and his family, as they make their way northward and out of harm's way.

God, please bless them all.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's 4 p.m. ...

... and I haven't been out of the house all day.

But guess what? I am happy about that. It's the first time since I went into the treatment center that I've allowed myself to really just take a quiet day at home. Catch up on e-mails, read a few blogs (still a long way to go on that one), and take a long nap.

There's a huge difference in choosing to waste an entire day doing close to nothing HUGELY productive and feeling as if there is no choice at all.

Do I wish I had accomplished a bit more today? Sure. It's great to get things done and my hair needs cut in the worst way. I also have some work to do for a class tomorrow. But it can all wait for me to have this day ... where I'm still in the same t-shirt I slept in and about to watch something good on television.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Playing catch up

It seems as if it has been ages since I posted here. In actuality it's only been 15 days, but hey ... that's half a month.

I guess you could say I have just been trying to settle into my new life, filled with new coping skills, starting back to school in hopes of pursuing a new career, and learning what it is like to live life without a constant sense of frustration.

I still struggle at times with unscheduled time ... not knowing exactly what to do with myself, or not being able to keep my focus on the priorities. At the same time, it feels like I am staying very busy.

I have been blessed to go to two SLAA meetings in two days this week and I'm feeling good about that. I even exchanged phone numbers with a fellow female sex addict tonight and even put her phone number in my cell phone. That's progress.

My husband's out of town til tomorrow and I'm thankful that I was far more interested in going to meetings than even letting ideas form in my mind that I might "take advantage" of that opportunity to act out.

Also, one other new thing that's going on is that I've started seeing a therapist who specializes in sex addiction. I can tell she's going to push a few buttons and maybe help me to see just how far my comfort zone will stretch. But I'm keeping an open mind. I'm accustomed to teaching my therapists about sex addiction. Now I get the impression that I may learn a few things.

I'm sure there is a lot I haven't covered ... but I wanted to at least post a brief update regarding what is going on in my world. I'm hoping to get caught up on blog reading soon as well.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Grieving the loss of a past self

I wrote to one of my SLAA friends today:

One HUGE thing I am realizing is that I have to grieve the loss of my former self, and accept who I am today. The old Rae was a successful (professional), respected in her community and by her peers, constantly engaged with others, always full of energy and ideas, at the top of her game. The new me is not all that, in fact she bears little resemblance to that -- but I am alive, I have plenty to offer to others in clear, quiet tones, I am fully focused on awareness of myself, equipped with tools that I never dreamed of having, and have people in my life who I love and care for deeply. I must grieve the loss of that past person and embrace the person I am today ... otherwise I will never be happy, never be free from living in the past. Acceptance of who I am now is the answer. There is a lot of me I've never discovered because I was going at lightning speed, never slowing down, and never realizing that I was living life barely on the surface of my potential.

It's interesting as I read that again, that I realize that there is still a lot of that former Rae in me, I simply have a different set of peers.

I "graduate" tomorrow from the outpatient treatment program for depression. I have been a patient for four weeks and have learned a great deal about myself and about managing my mental health. It all supported my need to continue to work a program of recovery and develop a deepening relationship with a power greater than myself. It was interesting today as I spoke with my therapist about our "decades of life." She is in her 50s and I just turned 40 this year. (I finally feel like my chronological and emotional ages are synchronized.) I shared with her that if you had asked me in my 20s if I would have ever, ever experienced what I did in my 30's I would have likely laughed in your face. Yet, I did experience the loss of my career, full-blown sex and love addiction, the near loss of my marriage and my sanity. I am a different person today because of it all. And one day at a time, I am learning, and I'm always amazed at how much more there is to learn.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The tides

I just finished watching "Prince of Tides" for at least the 20th time. I've read the book and watched the movie and can never get enough. And whenever I need to feel, a deep, real feeling, I know I can count on this movie to connect me.

The problem is, when it is done, I feel hollowed out, empty and left on with tears and all the thoughts it brings to me.

It's a love addict's movie to some degree. I remember I was involved with someone very seriously the first time I saw it. I related so much to the line, "Before I met you, I was in a deep. deep sleep." It was true, I had been. I had never opened myself to love before that relationship and when it ended I was devastated and torn.

I remember too that I watched the movie -- or at least part of it -- with R. I couldn't bear to watch it to the end and made an excuse to get up and leave before it ended. Because even then, I knew that like Nick Nolte's character Tom, I would return to my home, to my husband, and I couldn't bear to let R. see my face and the tears that came as the movie ended and Tom drove across the bridge whispering "Lowenstein, Lowenstein."

This time as I watched the movie, I paid particular attention to the way Nolte fabulously acted the part of an abused child living as a grown adult carrying the immense burden of deep and horrifying secrets never told. "The southern way" was the way in my family too, so ingrained that the warnings never had to be whispered. I grew up, like my neighbors, my cousins, my siblings, my friends ... knowing that there are some things you simply never tell. Those things may kill you, make you want to kill yourself ... but never tell.

I was thinking this week that I am thankful to be an adult now who has the choice to tell.

Friday, August 01, 2008

A gratitude twist

We learn the magical lesson that making the most of what we have turns it into more.
--Codependent No More

Say thank you, until we mean it.

Thank God, life, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Gratitude makes things right.

Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude's power. We can start with whom we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.

Say thank you, until you mean it. if you say it long enough, you will believe it.

Today, I will shine the transforming light of gratitude on all the circumstances of my life.

From The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie ©1990, Hazelden Foundation.

My therapist asked me yesterday to begin expressing gratitude for myself. What? You mean I can't thank God for the sound of the birds, the warmth of the sun, fun times with my husband? I have to be grateful for me? Oh boy? I am a firm believer in the power of gratitude. I think it is a fantastic tool of recovery and life. But this is a real twist.

Gratitude for myself is supposed to be an exercise in building self-esteem. It makes sense, but I have to admit to being a bit lost. I think if I were sharing this exercise with someone else, it might be easy for me to make suggestions about what they can be grateful for in themselves. But I'm not always so good at practicing what I preach.

Let's see:

1. I am grateful for the gift of compassion I have.
2. I am thankful for the talents God has blessed me with.
3. I am thankful for my body for carrying around my soul and for giving me a life form so that I might interact with others.
4. I am thankful for my intellect.
5. I am grateful for my perserverance.
6. I am grateful for the way I love and embrace nature and the peace that gives me.
7. I am grateful for all the changes that I have worked hard to bring to my life over the past few years.
8. I am thankful that today I realize that I am an adult who has the right of choosing what I want to do with my body and my time.
9. I am grateful for the ability to make decisions.
10. I am thankful for my open heart to others.

What do you appreciate most about yourself? Does anyone else find this difficult?

Friday, July 25, 2008

How do you feel?

I have been practicing what I've been learning in my outpatient treatment program for depression, by trying to be mindful of my present feelings and circumstances. The program is teaching me how to live in the present in a way I've never learned before. I am asked on a consistent basis, "What is your mood today?" "What are you feeling?"

Being a person who has spent her life trying to avoid feelings and my mood depended on what was happening around me, these things are new. But I'm realizing that living one day at a time, really means taking stock of my life right this very moment, being grateful for what I have right now, avoiding things like fortune telling, all or nothing thinking, and being mindful of the fact that my thoughts are often distored and can cause disturbing feelings and initiate inappropriate behavior.

One thing I am very grateful for is that I am coming into this program with four years of SLAA recovery under my belt, as well as several years of therapy. SLAA has taught me that "acceptance is the answer to all my problems today" ... and that if I keep an open mind there is no problem too great to be lessened. As uncomfortable feelings surface during my treatment, I am able to embrace them as learning opportunities -- to separate what is still useful to me and what is no longer useful, and to reframe my thoughts using the tools provided to me by my therapists and doctors.

To be honest, I was very saddened by the idea that my depression had gotten the best of me and I needed serious treatment. I'm kind of a stubborn goat when it comes to things like surrender. I don't like to admit my weaknesses. I don't like for things to be beyond my control. But I'm thankful that to have learned there are things I can change and things I can't, and I'm thankful to a wonderful and loving Higher Power, ever present, who has stuck with me through my stubborness and has given me the wisdom to know the difference.

Depression is an illness that runs rampant in my family. Years of silence about my abuse (PTSD), and years of living in the throes of my addiction, not to mention the effects of medication I take for another illness, and relocating three times in six years, have only served to escalate the severity of my depression. I'm thankful today that I have had the opportunity to address this with medication, professional treatment and today -- a positive attitude.

I feel very blessed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A night off

It's a rare night off around home. Hubby is out of town for work and I came home just to enjoy the silence. I thought of watching television -- you know actually having control of the remote -- but it's no fun without someone to argue about the volume control. So, I thought I'd do a quick check in here.

My partial-patient treatment for depression is going well, though I have to admit that I have trouble staying there all day. I just want to get up and run out and start living at times. But I'm so tired by the time I get out, that I don't have much energy to do anything at the end of the day.

It has been good to learn more about mental disease, the psychological world's perspective of it, and the medications that are used to treat it. I've met a lot of interesting and inspiring people. I'm feeling less irritated by the idea that I am in treatment for a mental disease as I see others struggling with issues far greater or equally frustrating as mine. There are people of all ages and diagnoses, and I know that I've gained greater empathy for those people who suffer from bi-polar disorder.

It's funny the words that trigger some of us ... one woman said she became offended these days when people would jokingly say, "You're crazy," and another woman became irate when someone suggested she was a "victim." I remember years ago walking into NP's office -- she was my first therapist -- and saying "I am not a victim." I have gone through the roller coaster of living as a victim and then a survivor, and know that being a victim is a self-defeating attitude. Nonetheless, I think taking the victim's stance, rather than the survivor's stance, in my recovery has been one of my biggest issues. Using statements such as "I can't ..." rather than "I am determined," has been detrimental. But it took those I can't statements to help me to surrender to my powerlessness over my addiction.

Another thing I'm hearing a lot about is anger. We've all heard the adage that "Depression is anger turned inward." I know I have a lot of anger issues to deal with, but am not really able to identify what they are right now. Slowly it's all being revealed and I'm doing my best to understand it.

My one prayer after all of this treatment is over is that I have the willingness to move forward, to move past this point of being stuck in depression. If I don't though, I'm going to keep chugging along, working hard until my life does move from dead center. I'm not happy and I intend to do something about it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It's OK to be OK

It's OK to be OK ... that's what my therapist at the hospital told me yesterday. That seems pretty simple, huh? But it's not a concept I've grasped very easily.

I talked to my younger sister this morning. I sometimes think I call her as punishment. She is a constant state of "not OK," and in my opinion that's the only way she knows how to live. I was thinking of how I have tried to protect her from the reality that her father was a child molester so that she could have a better life. The truth is ... she wants her life to be just as it is -- a little too dramatic to be enjoyed. What I regret more than anything is that she is raising three children to think just like she does. All that said ... I realize that she's doing the best she can with what she's got. A single mom of three, working the night shift so she can be with her kids in the daytime ... that's no easy life. She is primarily responsible for her father (my stepfather) now, as all the rest of us have pretty much abandoned him.

Sometimes I feel guilty that she is in the position she is in, but then we all make choices. I've made mine and I respect hers.

I recognized while walking the dog yesterday that when I think about some members of my family, I consider their cases hopeless. I don't think they will ever change. Like I have no real hope that my sister will ever live life differently -- even though she is living much differently than she was when she was an active drug addict. I have a nephew whose abilities were severely minimized by his parents while he was growing up -- and I have the idea that he won't likely live much better than he does now. I think of my sister's kids -- each with different fathers and a whole screwed up idea of what makes up a family -- and I just have no hope that they won't grow up with little hope for a brighter future. It caused me to ponder if I think I am hopeless too, that I'm just reaching the point of life where I was always intended to be -- wrapped up in drama, hopeless and just getting by. Many people would call it white trash.

I made a determination many years ago I was not going to live like that ... and I don't intend to. I just need to take one day at a time and look upward rather than downward and realize that we all have our own journey. The journey of my family doesn't determine my journey.

Instead, the genetic mental disorders of my mother's side of the family have me off for another day of a treatment. I'm thankful to be willing to get the help I need.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I am currently undergoing treatment for chronic depression in an outpatient program. IDespite what it may look like on the outside, I have struggled immensely with depression and isolation (and some major withdrawal from my relapses) over the past 18 months and these have kept me unemployed, and in a regular state of misery. When my therapist called me a couple of days ago to ask me to give the hospital a call and set up an appointment, I felt enormous sadness. I could not stop crying. For so long, I have felt desparate for someone else to acknowledge the extent of my struggles. Finally somone had, and now it was my turn to acknowledge the truth I had wanted others to validate. I was sad.

But today, I am willing and ready -- whatever treatment options are available, I am willing to explore. I prayed yesterday asking my Higher Power to guide me to a message in Answers in the Heart, and opened to a page in Sept. where the reading was about asking for help when we need it. I've not been so good at that, but yesterday I reached out to my Higher Power, and I felt an unfamiliar willingness to reach out to my husband, and to talk to others in recovery about how I was feeling. I also felt the willingness to seek the help I need from professionals who have tools, to supplement the tools of this program, to help me move forward.

Likewise, I am opening my heart to the idea that no gain comes without some level of self sacrifice and change. My depression might never have escalated thus far if I had been taking the measures necessary over the years to maintain proper health. But those things are in the past and all I can do is work on today.

Today I am grateful to be alive. Since I was born, I've had all kinds of chances to simply die. I've thought a few times I was going to die when I was no where close, and contemplated doing the deed myself in the midst of despair -- but here I am fully alive and seeking help and surrender, one day at at time.