Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Growing some values

I've been alone at home since Sunday and have not felt the slightest urge to act out. I still don't. I am so thankful. I am also feeling a bit lost. It's not that I don't have things to do. There's a cluttered house to clean, a room I've been wanting to organize for months and reading that I want to do. There's even step work and real work to do. In fact, I just got some new "real" work today. My interest in writing has resurfaced. But my mind won't settle down. It's not racing, it's not focused on anything in particular. It's just unsettled and unfocused. When I was acting out, my mind had full focus every day, and I just had to work the rest of the stuff in between. Now, with no distractions it's difficult to navigate. I'm not complaining per se -- I'm just telling my truth.

I keep being drawn to the recovery literature -- more so than I ever was when I wasn't acting out. This verifies the theory that we stop acting out so we can work our program. Anyway, this afternoon I started reading a chapter in the SLAA text called "Living with a Sex and Love Addict." It is somewhat similar to "Lois' Story" in the AA Big Book -- written by and for those who love the addict. I had never read this chapter before and couldn't help but think of my blogging buddies who are the wives of sex addicts as I started the chapter. As I read through it though, I felt an even broader sense of pain -- one that transcended people whose stories I knew -- to the overall pain and horror of living in a desparate world trying desparately to be "enough."

"Many of us had the feeling of 'needing to be needed' that left us clinging to the addict, certain if we made ourselves necessary or indispensable to the addict we would be 'safe.' We, too, had sacrificed our personal dignity and hidden behind self-deception in order to make the relationship work, no matter what the cost." It goes on to talk about how partners want desparately to believe the remorse and the excuses and take on the responsibility -- thinking if they were only more sexy or wouldn't have made their partner angry -- it would have been different. "We were too afraid of losing the one we loved."

Whether as a codependent in my marriage and in my friendships, or as a co-addict with my acting out partners -- I have lowered myself, rationalized, and hidden feelings just in order to feel loved, in order to feel enough. I can even relate this to my stepfather -- whose love and acceptance I wanted so badly, and truthfully still want, that I carried the shame and guilt of his disease for all these years.

The things the chapter goes on to talk about makes me hurt for others -- for the wives of the men I know in fellowship, for women who have so kindly accepted me here in the blogosphere, despite what I represent. It talks of the addicts demands for sexual satisfaction and a feeling in the partner that they must meet it or risk the partner going elsewhere.

"We envy those in relationships who do not have to bear the painful intimacy of knowing about all the former lovers and each day's temptations. ... The need to be honest about how we really feel -- and to be willing to accept the same honesty -- demands trust and self-confidence that are often hard to summon, much less deliver. ...

"Even the addict's necessary involvement in SLAA has been a source of real discomfort for us at times. So much of our security has been based on being needed. Now it seemed the addict could and would go it alone, and if he/she needed anyone, it was the Fellowship, not us. It was painfully apparent that if we demanded that our partners choose between us and SLAA, we would be the losers. And yet the needs of every other SLAA member at times seemed to take precedence over ours."

This last sentence causes me to feel for my husband, who has to set back, put aside his own needs while I have taken calls, made calls, answered e-mails, gone to meetings and after-fellowships and done service work. I was thankful for the reminder that even though he doesn't have to live with all the details of my acting out, he does pay the price of my time in recovery -- time, if not spent, would likely mean, time acting out.

Reading on ... "Then, too, our privacy was always on the line it seemed. We cringed inwardly as we imagined these strangers hearing the most intimate details of our lives, of our sex lives being discussed at meetings."

I've never really thought of this much -- all the privacy boundaries that are broken in meetings and individual discussions between recovering sex and love addicts. I know that my husband is incredibly private and it is one of the hardest things for him even regarding me being in recovery. Without even knowing how very much I share with others in recovery, I know that it is uncomfortable for him. Likewise, I hear the stories, one by one of other women's homes -- the deep and intimate details. This must be very, very difficult to be on the other side of. I am thankful to have read this -- as I think it will make me more reverent and honoring to the stories I hear. There is great sacrifice in those stories being shared.

I found it interesting that the chapter said the thing that differentiates the addict from the co-addict is a sense of values. I have mourned my own loss of a sense of values, and even see that as I've laid out my story here on these pages for the past four years, I've had very little sense that doing so was invading my own space and privacy. Readers have commended me for the bravery to tell my story -- and I've not felt brave at all ... I felt I was doing what I had to do -- to get my truth out, to help myself. I guess I did have the sense to know that sharing it anonymously with an unknown audience was better than writing it in a journal that could be found at home and cause lots and lots of damage and hurt. And day by day I do feel a growing sense of values returning -- I can't say that feels better or worse. It just is. Life is slowly getting evened out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Taking liberties

MPJ over at A Room of Mama's Own was tagged for a reading meme that works like this:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages)
2. Open the book to page 123
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag 5 people

Now, MPJ didn't tag me, or anyone else, and that's just fine, because I'm not going to tag anyone either. However, I did like the concept of this meme and happen to be in love with books.

Of course, I'm sitting next to four bookshelves and there is not one book closer to me than the others ... and selecting one of these now becomes very difficult, so I'm going to go over and the first book I put my finger on, I'll pull it down and do the meme.

Here I go ...

Ahh, good, it was one I was hoping for -- as if they all weren't in the running:

The book: "Living to Tell the Tale," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It is the first installation of what is to be a trilogy of his autobiography. This particulra volume was published first in Spanish in 2002, and then in translation in 2003.

Pg. 123, sentences 6,7 & 8

"I felt very uneasy about this change in my life. I had been to Barranquilla several times to visit my parents, as a boy and always in passing, and my memories of that times are very fragmentary. The first visit took place when I was three and had been brought there for the birth of my sister Margot."

Marquez wrote the book on which the recently acclaimed movie "Love in the Time of Cholera" was based. However, I most love his book "One Hundred Years of Solitude." In fact, many of my favorite writings bring to mind solitude. Thoreau's "Walden" comes to mind.

And just since I am making up my own rules here, I'll do one other "reading" from Pg. 123 of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, a book that I always keep close.

Sentences 6,7 & 8 from this book happen to be the 7th, 8th, and 9th traditions of the program:

"7. Every SLAA group ought to be fully self supporting, decling outside contributions.
8.SLAA should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
9. SLAA as such ought never to be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What does it feel like?

When I use another person to get the euphoria of my sex and love addiction, I am also allowing myself to be used in return. And there is no high so high in using that it can balance out the pain and humiliation of being used.

I want to write today what it feels like to be used. I do it because I want to get it out of my head and truly look at it.

I must write by example ...

First example, there's a man in recovery who was such a close friend to me in my early days in the program. When I needed to cry, I called him. When he needed to cry, he called me. We could be honest with each other and we could share at a level only two people could who had known the demonic feelings of having had our childhoods stolen. But we were not ready for that kind of intimacy with a member of the opposite sex, and what was a friendship turned into a love addiction, for a short while a sex addiction, and then into only pain, then resentment, then a note:
"Rae, I'm not sure what's happened between us, all I know is that without it, I am incomplete. I am sorry if offended you in any way. I love you very much."
And thus started my flurry of responding, waiting for his response, texting, waiting for his response ... needing even a crumb, hearing nothing, feeling sad, even more resentful. I know him well enough to know that on his end, he couldn't handle a friendship that did not give him the choice of isolation. And I had not, still have not, let go of the resentment that prevents me from having a friendship with him that does not involve enmeshment and a "savior" mentality. The last conversation we had ... all I could do was try to solve his problems, as if he weren't a full grown man, with as much recovery as me.

Next example:

I used my last acting out partner to help me feel adored and special and I also used him to help recreate the idea that I would never be quite special enough. He was truly more interested in transexual males than women -- but he couldn't admit that completely, and he used me to remind him that he really did like women. After all he was married and very "devoted" to his wife. We both used each other to pass the time and enjoy doing fun things together like see movies, go to plays and have dinner.

Next example:

I guess one has to expect when they keep a public blog about their recovery from sexual addiction, that there will be unrecovering sex addicts who will find it and want to engage in conversation about what sex addiction has meant in one's life. This happened to me recently, and while the intial contact gave me no reason not to respond to the reader, by the second e-mail my response was against my better judgment. I felt my temperature rising, my desire to engage in discussion fervent, and thus flew a string of e-mails that while tempered, grew gradually more sexual in nature. By three or four e-mails I knew I was dealing with a regular old addict, just like me with the same justifications for his behavior and mine as well. I began to feel uncomfortable but said "Keep the questions coming." That's that part of me that sits in one seat and lets the addict take charge while I watch, my hands tucked under my legs and my lips persed together. In the end I was able to stand up and say ... "Enough!" and walk away. I was using him for a hit, he was using me. We were both anxious to know where it would lead ... but for me, I was hoping that this was a test of my sobriety, and as it turns out, the part of me that wants to stay sober was stronger than the part that wanted to act out. I was thankful, grateful actually, and humbled.

So, what does it feel like to be used? For certain, it feels familiar. At some level, I suspect it even feels justified. After all, I do believe at a deep level that I am a bad person. Being used hurts, it makes me cry and feel unimportant. It contributes to the thoughts that I'm not really worth being treated with respect. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, for me to trust anyone who says they care. I feel very alone, because after all, didn't I bring this on myself by using them in the isolation of my disease? It makes me feel angry because some part of me knows I DON'T deserve this. And it makes me even angrier that I have nothing to justify my anger with, because I was an equal partner in the using. Those who reject me, at whatever level, make me feel as if I'm not enough. I take it personally, which means my ego is in the way. The healthy truth is ... their disease is no more about me than mine is about them. But it is not easy to see that when the disease has a face and a voice (or at least an e-mail address and a name).

I don't guess I was looking for answers here ... just the opportunity to own my feelings. More will come, I have no doubt. Getting them out of my head and out in front of me helps me to sort them out.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An answer to my letter

I was lying in bed yesterday afternoon next to my husband who is sick with the flu, thankfully present and feeling the comfort of being next to him. My SLAA text was next to the bed and I opened it up to start reading. No surprise, it opened to the chapter on withdrawal, which I have been reading like a fiend lately. And, in answer to my letter to my HP yesterday morning, my eyes fell onto these words:

And now you are there, and withdrawal is upon you. What are some of the dangers involved in going through it? What is the experience likely to bring you? How can you survive the inevitable temptations to slide back into old patterns?

The dangers can be described as being of two types. The first type involves the dangers inherent in the inner process itself. The second involves dangers stemming from outside yourself which can make it seem impossible for you to go through withdrawal, and can influence you to abort it.

Perhaps the greatest inner danger comes from finding yourself face-to-face with the unknown. It is one thing to make a decision to withdraw when the painful stimulus of a recent addictive episode is still fresh. It is quite another thing to be open to withdrawal, not as a reaction to a specific addictive situation, but as a response to a recognizable life-pattern of addiction. Yet this larger perspective on the withdrawal experience is crucial if it is to be endured. What we have found is that once we have recognized certain bottom-line behavior which we know is addictive for us, and refrain from acting out in these "bottom- line" ways on a daily basis, we then discover numerous habits and traits of behavior and personality that have been addiction-related.

The chapter goes on to talk about how in withdrawal we discovered many behaviors that surrounded and promoted our addictions, but had been covered by the intensity of acting out. It also talks about the ways we dealt with this new life -- doing the simple things like paying the bills and taking a shower, going to work. Then it says:

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.

We found that the most healing antidote to the gnawing pain of our struggles and doubts was to turn over any questions concerning the outcome of our withdrawal to God, or to whatever Power we felt was helping us to abstain from our old patterns.

Through all of this we became, one day at a time, available to ourselves. By the simple act of "standing still," we inaugurated a relationship with ourselves based on growing self-honesty, trust, and intimacy. Now we knew that our goal in withdrawal was to lay the foundation for personal wholeness. How this would translate into personal relationships or careers, we did not know. But what we did know was that the externals would eventually develop around this inner foundation of wholeness, and come to reflect our inner state. We were able to embrace this feeling of our growing capacity for wholeness, and leave specific outcomes to God. This shift in our attitude eased the sense of existential crisis.

As I have mentioned in recent writings -- in my early days of recovery, throughout my countless relapses, I have read these words in the Withdrawal Chapter again and again. But now, at this phase of my recovery, they sing to me like a song and I can hear them. I can hear them, because I am not drunk, because I am not absent. I am right here ... open to the process of true withdrawal from this disease, willing to endure every uncomfortable feeling and thought that arises, willing to sit in the quietness of this vast hole and trust.

Thanks for being here to listen as I have walked through every stage of this process one day at a time for four years to get to this point today. It’s by no means the end, only finally, a beginning.

It was easy in the beginning to wonder why it was important to read literature and go to meetings and make phone calls. These days the answer seems so simple. These are the ways that my HP speaks to me.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A letter to God

Dear God,

Thank you for today, whatever it may bring. As is the case every day, I need your help. Today I need your help because I don't know what to do. I have lived so long - even when I wasn't physically acting out - waking up, thinking about one person or another, checking e-mail and messages for what might be there, just hoping for a little something. But thanks to your grace, I no longer feel compelled to do those things. I feel freed from the obsessions and I am so thankful.

Today I feel the vast emptiness of that hole my addiction was seeking to fill. I see myself in the bottom of that pit, looking up and out, feeling the wind and the rain, and feeling alone, and uncertain of what to do. I know that there is something more, another step, but maybe that's not today. Maybe what you are asking is for me to just sit here, faithful, and breathe in my presence in the quietness of my mind. I have heard before that doing nothing is doing something.

I guess that it is just different than I expected (there's a red flag word -- expected). I thought once I was no longer acting out, that the obsessions had been lifted, that I would be living fully engaged in my life -- full of energy and presence. But that is not today. Help me to recognize, Lord, that this disease and my absorption in it, has been a terrorizing trauma. I need to be gentle and let your healing powers work in me. Help me to feel that it is OK to be still and to still have a little trouble moving quickly or making decisions. It's just for today. I can deal with tomorrow as it comes. Give me the knowledge of your will, Lord, and the strength and courage to carry that out.

In your name I pray,


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Adjusting to the feelings

I find myself feeling something that reminds me of the way it felt to begin to walk again after my leg was crushed in a car accident in the early 90s. For weeks, I walked with a "boot" and then one day the doctor put a little brace around my ankle and told me to get up and walk. I was terrified and uncertain that I would be able to take those first steps. I took them, but with great trepidation.

I sometimes visualize the feelings I am having by seeing myself standing sideways on a road, looking back to where I had come from and a bit uncertain of what to do next. Clearly there is a road in front of me, but I am just standing, still shell shocked from the experiences of what has passed.

My sex and love addiction has been terrorizing. It has stolen my feelings, my values, my friends, my sense of self, I could go on and on. Living through it has been like living through a tornado, pieces of my life strewn about and hardly anything recognizeable left behind.

I "let go" last week of someone who has served as a "stash" for my disease as a relationship ended that kept my toe or maybe my whole foot in my addiction. When I did I felt the earth move, my soul shake and I knew for the first time in years I was honestly sober -- not just in word, but completely. It has been difficult to let go completely.

Yesterday I took my husband to work and as I drove away it felt odd not to have a "secret partner" to think about, no one to consider calling just to talk, to simply drive home, present as myself. I had the same feeling as I left this morning to pick up a prescription. Also yesterday, I had a new reader to the blog who wrote me an e-mail, and then responded to my response and so on ... until I told him "I have to be honest and say that there are a number of men who have found my blog and engaged me in conversation for the purpose of acting out. ... I hope that is not your purpose and I apologize in advance for even having to say that if it is, I am not willing to engage. I am working on my recovery." I didn't hear a word from him after that e-mail ... so either I offended him, or I caught him red-handed. To be completely honest, there was a part of me that simply wanted to continue the e-mails, to draw him in, to get a hit, to start something new with someone new. I was flattered that he had spent almost four hours reading my blog, and was intrigued by the fact that he was within driving distance away. But the bigger part of me knew I had to take care of myself. I feel better that I did. Each "pass" builds strength and helps me reach my goals.

As an aside, it's interesting when I look at my stats to see how people find my blog. Though few people stay long enough to read, they find me by doing Google searches like "Husband, orgasm", "my beautiful body", "confession sex with stepfather", "confession secret sex with dog", "I have sexual feelings for my father" and "divine rae." Divine huh? Divine intervention maybe.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Breathing deeply inward

There has been a monumental shift inside me. I am sorting it all out, trying to sit with it, soak it in and not escape it. Prayers have been answered, things have clicked. I can feel it. I can't describe it, nor am I trying to "overreact" to it. No one is ever "cured," in my opinion of the disease of addiction. However, as it has manifested itself in me, Sex and Love Addiction seems to have surrendered to the will of my Higher Power. For the first time in years, I feel as if that ever present threat and ever present fear have been lifted. Yes, occassionally, I'll see remnants of it, but nothing a little "This too shall pass" or a "God, this one is yours," prayer doesn't help.

But that's not even the most monumental part. I feel. I feel pain, sadness, loneliness, nervousness, excitement, frustration, hope and more.


I know that pride and ego cometh before the fall, so again I am very cautious to recognize this all as a gigantic, perfect gift from God, and to recognize that the solution still rests in living life ONE DAY AT A TIME. I am thankful for these days of reprieve, for this glimpse into the world of sanity and feeling, for the sobbing tears that have flowed, for the understanding that has settled in, for the desire to absorb my recovery literature and talk with other addicts and to do service ... all to hold on to these moments.

Not long ago, maybe a couple of weeks ago, I kept coming across readings that alluded to the fact that too often we are not thankful enough for our sobriety. They struck me and resonated with me. Had I focused on my slips, on my temptations, on the little thoughts that slipped inside my head a couple of times a day? Or had I focused on the miracle that today was a sober day, thank you, God? In a recent telemeeting someone shared about how his therapist had picked up a blank sheet of paper and put one little black dot in the middle. He asked the patient, "What do you see?" The guy said, "A little black dot." The therapist said ... "What about everything around that dot, all this white space?" Clearly the message was, there is more to life than the things we focus on and I do have a choose on where I choose to put my focus. And today I choose to focus my attention on gratitude for my Higher Power, and everyone who has been a part of my recovery -- both in and out of progam -- who serve as angels who have brought me to this place of sobriety.

Living one day at a time, in gratitude.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In mysterious ways

A tearful night here as I told the man I was with last night that I cannot see him anymore, just as he was trying to tell me that he had met someone else for whom he had strong emotional feelings and had agreed with her not to see anyone else.

I'm too tired to recap it all ... and it doesn't matter. It's just the reassurance that God is working in my life, helping me to close this door that I've been trying to close for several months.

I wrote this today ... it's sort of an extension of what I wrote here earlier:

I shared with a recovery friend today that I think that Valentine's Day is a time when most love addicts at some level feel a sense of dis-ease. I certainly am feeling that today.

Waxing philosophical -- It is hard to give up that deep down magical thinking that is reinforced by the media, books, movies and fairy tales that every day should be Valentine's Day and that this powerful, intoxicating, all encompassing thing called "love" should trump everything and that it should be ours.

After recovery, it's easier to see why we were never able to get enough love -- mainly because the love we were looking for doesn't exist at a core level. Love is a part of life, an important life, and something that most addicts didn't get enough of during their formative years. Then they spend the rest of their lives trying to find something they can't recognize because they've never seen in or realized it properly.

Speaking from the heart -- My disease doesn't work for me any more. What was once a refuge, a place to escape into countless hours of searching out anonymous sex partners, plotting to meet them, and spending the short time it took to act out -- or lost in the obessions of the mind over someone "who swept me off my feet" and made me feel "love" more deeply than I ever realized it -- it's all gone. All that is left is the pain and the wreckage and I am grieving the loss.

Don't get me wrong... Yes, this is what I wanted, for the temptations, the ever present desires, the constant obsessions to be lifted. I am thankful for the answered prayers. But as part of my recovery, I must also acknowledge that I feel a deep and grieving sense of loss. This too shall pass.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Feeling sad and looking back

A year ago today I wrote this: My State of Mind

A few days later I wrote Emotions vs. Thinking, which I consider to be a reflection of the beginning of my deepest level of understanding of myself to date.

It is interesting that I had forgotten what my therapist had said when I told her I felt insane. What I wrote in My State of Mind is almost identical to how I feel today. I have had such difficulty after returning to work. I have trouble concentrating, I can't focus and I wonder how in the world I'll ever hold down a full-time job. It is not that nothing has changed within me in a year, I can look back to where I was a year ago and realize that at many levels, I'm not nearly as "insane" as I was then -- stuck in the middle of an affair that was driving me crazy and moving to a new place, not knowing what it was I wanted or needed to do, trying to please too many people and having no clue how to please or take care of myself. I know there has been growth, and I know that for some reason that growth has had to be very, very slow.

I dropped my husband off at the airport last night for him to go on a three day business trip and drove back to lay in the arms of another man. I was exhausted from the drive through the snowy conditions, but I had already told this man, who travels to our area once a month, that I would see him. My codependency far outweighed my sexual addiction in this scenario, though I would say my love addiction was in full-swing. I couldn't seem to bring myself to have conversation with him, though he's a great conversationalist. Instead, I simply engaged him sexually -- honestly deep down wanting to be finished and to go home. It is not that I dislike this person nor is it that he gives me a high. I was just there ... going through the motions, not uncomfortably, but without feeling. I ultimately faked an orgasm so that he would stop his efforts to bring me there, and two silent tears fell from my eyes, as I pulled him to me and asked him to hold me. I felt comforted there in his arms, as he slowly drifted off to sleep and I got up, kissed him goodnight, and went home, feeling empty and uncovered.

Today, I have chosen not to beat myself up over the events of last night. They serve as a reminder that this addiction is no longer serving me. Yes, I am still drawn to it -- because it has become a way of life, but it has no return. Or I should say, the only return is emptiness and pain, a far cry from elation and euphoria. In AA,they say recovery messes up a good drink. That's for sure.

Happy to be on the journey.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Really? This was part of a plan?

I had the opportunity this morning to read the chapter on withdrawal as part of the work I am doing with a sponsee this morning, and it felt like it was something I had never read before. Sure, a couple of the phrases were familiar -- but it seems like today I was reading it for the first time with an open and sane mind.

It was very helpful for me to read that withdrawal comes to different people in different ways. I have struggled and exposed myself to a lot of self-hatred because it seems that it took me so long to "get it" in this program. Other people set their bottom lines and stuck to them, while I set them and broke them again and again. Even though I "kept coming back" to the program ... I also kept going back to my addiction. At times I thought "What's the use?"

The chapter on withdrawal says that some people come to withdrawal by exposing their addict behaviors to their friends and family (or being exposed), while others quit cold turkey. Still others -- including myself -- come to withdrawal -- in a gradual process. As the book describes it ... " Some of us approached withdrawal gradually, chipping away at obvious problem areas. Even marginal success in doing so increased our awareness of other aspects of the addictive pattern that we really hadn't known were there. This process of increasing awareness led inevitably to a final surrender of the whole addictive pattern, and thus we were launched into withdrawal, and sexual emotional sobriety ...

"... by the time we let the concept of withdrawal into our thinking, the addiction was not reliably delivering the oblivion or pleasure we sought so ardently. More and more energy had to be poured into the emotional and sexual activities just to break even, let alone "go to the moon." It was as though an inner voice was saying, as we embarked on each new sexual or romantic episode, "Wherever I'm 'going' with this new face, or body, or mind, I've already 'been there' a thousand times before!"

What? I could never have accepted this in early recovery -- that even though I wasn't completely sober right away ... I was still working toward recovery. Instead, I just kept beating myself up, searching for more ways to cause myself pain so that I could soothe that pain by acting out ... and the cycle goes.

But, the SLAA text says, "Of course, to speak of "ways" of entering withdrawal from active sex and love addiction is a bit misleading, because we are not really the conscious architects of how we get there."

Oh? You mean I was powerless over how this whole thing progressed? I'm aghast!

Again, it's not as if I haven't read these words dozens of times -- every time I would relapse and go back into my disease (a path I would never advocate if I WERE the architect of this plan) I read them again, praying for the pain and hurt and obession to just PLEASE go away. But I think I was so "drunk" during those times that I couldn't find that stillness I needed to really hear what was being said. My life is progressing exactly as it needs to.

I think the words that stood out most to me in the reading were these: "You have been hiding or postponing this pain for a long time now, yet you have never been able to lastingly outrun it. You need to go through withdrawal in order to become a whole person. You need to meet yourself."

Well, I'll be darned, if that isn't exactly what I've been trying to do ... become a whole person ... to relate to myself from a state of wholeness.

Thanks be to God for all these spiritual awakenings I've been having lately.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In my thoughts today ...

Today my thoughts are with:

Jen at The Comfy Place -- who asks her readers to reflect on what they would do if they only had 12 months to live. She asks because that's how much time the doctors have told her she has left before the cancer that has moved into her body takes her life. I found Jen through Bella at Beyond the Map, who wrote a very moving answer to Jen's question.


The Junky's Wife, whose blog I have read for some time now and whose recovery and honesty inspires me. She's married to a heroin addict, and this past week she had to ask him to leave. She loves him. It's a hard struggle.


Vicarious Rising who is scrambling to put together some writing after being nominated for a scholarship for a summer writing program!


Sawyer at Sawyer's Walk, a sex addict who on Friday night completed his Ninth Step with his wife, expressing his apologies and then handing over $1,300 made from selling the hand-painted models he had spent two years and hundreds of hours creating. He said he wanted to pay back some of the money that he had spent on his addiction and show her how serious he was about making amends. "I wanted it to be a starting point," he wrote. This is so inspiring to me, as I face my own issue with getting honest about the money I have spent in my addiction.


LostBoy60645 at Living Sobriety who has the courage to tell his story of addiction and recovery and whose meaningful revisit of his first step was very touching to me. He writes:
But unfortunately for me and all other addicts, I've come to realize that our disease is a progressive one, and no matter how far down the road we are in our journey, the gutter is still right next to us.

and thus ...

I send my thoughts, prayers and love today to the addict who still suffers, especially as we approach this week of Valentine's Day, which is so very difficult for those in and out of recovery who suffer from obsessive compulsions and addiction to love.


Last but not least, to my friend EC -- Thank you so much for being there for me over this past year as I've worked through some heavy-duty stuff. I look forward to finding your writing in print soon.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Burden of extremes

I had a bit of an Aha! moment, as Oprah calls them, yesterday during an Al-Anon meeting. I had just come from a session at which my therapist told me for the first time, "Self-esteem is a choice." I was still deciding if I believed that, when someone read this reading from "Hope for Today."

"Before (getting into recovery), I always compared myself to others, particularly my family members, and vowed to be better than them. I sought the elation of winning and wanted to be praised. My constant comparing and competing gradually edged most people out of my life. Ultimately I was not even good enough for myself, an attitude that led me to harsh self-abuse.
As I attended meetings, I gradually learned about the concepts of balance and perspective. I listened as other members shared about their mistakes and character defects. Their reactions to them -- self-acceptance, making amends, and patience -- showed me there are different ways to behave in the world. ...
In studying the steps with my sponsor, especially the 4th and 5th steps, I realized that beneath my extreme competitiveness lurks the true nature of the problem -- pride and fear along with a sense of inadequacy. I'm afraid of not being liked, of making mistakes in front of others, of being vulnerable. In short, I'm afraid of being human.
Today I know that in trying to be "better than," I am actually diminishing my opportunities for fun and spontaneity. I'm isolating myself from those very people I wish to invite closer to my heart. I'm putting myself in competition with my Higher Power. In battling God's will for me, I risk losing the thing I really want to win -- personal recovery."

Wowza, wowza, wowza! So many times I have shared my feelings of being "less than" in almost every situation in life. Yesterday I realized that one of the reasons I feel that way is because I have had the idea that if I am not "better than" someone else, I must be less than. I have constantly been "battling" not only all these people around me, but also my Higher Power to be "right" and to be "good" and "best." And having fallen short of those unattainable goals, I have participated in all forms of self-hatred and abuse, operating with no sense of equality and acceptance -- either of myself or others.

This is powerful stuff for me and I am thankful to God that I was able to be at that meeting and that my heart was ready to hear this message. Truth be told, I didn't catch all of the reading in the meeting ... but I caught enough that I knew I needed to go back and read it again, and enough to write in my notebook -- "All this time I've been feeling less than, while trying to be "better than" others. I have no sense of equality." I look forward to having a different perspective and moving forward as I pray for this burden of extremes to be lifted.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Out of sorts

I'm having a tough day today. I can't concentrate on work, despite the fact that I really have some serious deadlines I have to meet. It's snowing outside like crazy and my husband took the car so I can't really go somewhere very easily. This all is stemming from the pressures of working again when my mind won't let me concentrate, feeling like I will never "fit in" in a workplace again, and on top of all of this worrying about how to handle paying off a significant debt I generated during my affair with R.

I am thankful to have rediscovered my conscience, realizing that I don't feel right about "sneaking" money from my current earnings to pay on the debt, but I also don't want to hurt my husband by telling him the whole truth about the debt either. Anyway, it's another opportunity to grow and I'm doing my best to be thankful, but it's through some major gritted teeth. It's bringing up a lot of shame, guilt and pain ... and in fact, extreme anger at myself for being so fucking wrapped up in my disease with R. back then that not only could I not be there for my husband when his mother died, but also giving him oodles of money that he will NEVER pay back, all so he could marry someone else and ruin her financial future. Thank God I didn't ruin mine.

I can't imagine that I gave him the money to help him get into an apartment that he stayed in ONE FUCKING NIGHT. The rest of the time, he stayed with her until he married her two months after I left. After terrorizing me, threatening me that he was going to expose me to my husband, scaring the shit out of me over and over saying he was going to kill himself. God I was so stupid.

All this is in the past and I know I'm hysterical now because I don't know what to do and I am afraid. I have prayed and tried to turn this over ... but I keep getting in my own way. I need to be present and know that God will take care of me.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Promises kept

Day after day, the Promises of this program are being revealed to me and I am so grateful. I would say, “About damn time,” but I know it has taken all these days and will take all the days of my life for the miracle of recovery to show its full glory in my life. My impatience with “When am I going to get well!” passed some time ago and I learned to live one day at a time, realizing that I am on a journey, not running a race.

Today’s reminder of my disease was a rough one, but worth every anxious moment. It came when I opened up my e-mail and found a note from E. -- the very first person I acted out with in my marriage. If you want to read more about him -- you can click here or here. There were many more extramarital affairs and anonymous sex partners that followed E., but he holds particularly painful memories of how desperate and dark my life became just before the disease of sexual addiction knocked me into recovery and my journey upward from the bottom of hell began.

My immediate reaction to seeing the e-mail was terror and physical illness. My head was spinning and I was uncertain of what to do this surprise “innocuous” note, when I looked at the clock and saw that it was time for me to leave for a noon meeting. Once I got on the train to go to the meeting, I said the Serenity Prayer and then a prayer thanking God for reminding me of just how excruciatingly painful my addiction can be and for giving me the opportunity to go to a recovery meeting.

At the meeting, we read about the slogans, “One Day at a Time,” “Easy Does It,” “This Too Shall Pass,” and others that were very helpful to me. I came back to the office, deleted the e-mail and all those feelings of anxiety and sickness and worry are now gone.

It’s not one of the recovery slogans, but Dr. King’s words … “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.” come to mind. I will never be “cured” from this disease, but it feels monumental to no longer be a slave to it. I can remember just four years ago that despite his abusive nature and the horrible way I would feel after seeing or even talking to the man who wrote me this morning, I would still get in my car and drive myself kicking and screaming to see him again. Today, thanks to my recovery program and my Higher Power, I had control of my life (Promise #1), felt dignity and respect for myself (Promise #2) and expressed thanks for what has been given to me, what has been taken away and what has been left behind (Promise #12).

Friday, February 01, 2008

The love we give away

I have been giving some thought about how difficult it is for we sex and love addicts, and co-dependents as well, to be alone with ourselves. As I shared yesterday, it's very painful for me to be present and alone with myself. I always try to find something outside myself to focus my attention on -- whether it is television, the computer or a book ... or in my disease fantasies or phone calls.

But this morning I had a thought ... one of those that comes to me in the way that God speaks to me rather "out of the blue." That thought was that maybe all this love that I've tried to "give away" in order to get someone to "make" me feel loved is really the love I'm trying to give to myself, but I simply don't know how.

The awareness of knowing that I am giving away something that I really need for myself is enough to help me begin to at least TRY to understand how I can give that love back to me. I know this may seem elementary ... but I think many of you can relate that it really is difficult to let go of the shame and guilt and learn to not only love who I am, but to give myself love.