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.
5 months ago