Thursday, December 31, 2009

As 2009 closes

When I came into recovery, I was completely empty, filled only with tears, hopelessness and stories that turn my stomach. I was so happy to have found other people who could help me understand what was happening to me. I still hated myself, but I knew I wasn't alone. That was in 2004.

Since then, one day at a time, recovery and relapse have taken me in many directions -- most of it is outlined in this blog. I've given lots of advice, most of which I didn't follow myself. I've had answers to other people's problems when I couldn't take care of my own. I've been emotionally, physically and spiritually sober and I've been completely high on the triggers of my addiction. I've done service in recovery and I've been unwilling to do a damn thing, including show up.

In recovery, I've thought I had to do things perfectly, or give up entirely. I've thought I was one of the "unfortunate" ones they talk about in "How It Works" who cannot recover because they lack the capacity to be honest. I thought I had to act on every desire to act out, and when I finally got it that I was powerless over the disease but not my own actions -- I thought that if I were truly recovering the desire to act out wouldn't come at all. All that was wrong.

What is true is that I am a sex and love addict of the real variety. I cannot break my bottom lines or it sets in motion a release of chemicals into my body that trigger an obsession of the mind that neither allows me to think or act in a sober or sane manner. I am not able to adhere to my bottom lines alone. I need the tools of the program, which includes the help of others. I need my sponsors and I need the literature we are given to learn how to work the program -- for me specifically I need the AA Big Book and the 12 and 12. I need to address the disease of addiction in all its manifestations in my life -- I can't be sober in one program and drunk in another and expect for sanity to be restored. And I have to live life on life's terms -- not as I would have it, but as my Higher Power would have it. Acceptance truly is the answer to all my problems today.

The SLAA Promises say they will be manifested in us -- "sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly." I've taken the slow route, but as 2009 closes -- five years and two months after I found recovery, I feel better about myself, my life and my future than I ever have. I have hope and proof that my Higher Power can and has used me to help others and has sent others to help me. I believe in love as a "thoughtful, committed decision." I no longer accept sex as a substitute for love and in my relationships I know that love is unconditional and involves nurturing, care and support that is not sexually based or manipulative. I do not feel deprived of anything. I "know a new freedom" and that is the freedom from endless, never ending desire for something "more." Most of all, I have humility, and I can tell you unequivocally that my life today, my hope today, is mine because I follow 12 simple divinely inspired rules which instruct me to turn my will and life over to a power greater than myself, to examine myself and ask for relief from my defects, to seek to the right the things I have wronged, to seek my Higher Power and to share my program with another suffering addict. I don't have to cry about yesterday, or worry about tomorrow. Those things are in the hands of my Higher Power. I just have to follow these 12 Steps today.

As 2009 closes, I give thanks to my Higher Power for my entire life, my sickness and my health, my despair and my elation, my friends and my enemies, and most of all the grace that allows me to be sober today, to be a part of a recovery community that loves me and to laugh instead of cry.

With loving and humble gratitude, I wish you all a very happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

For the first time

Last week, while traveling for the holidays, I returned to the place where the disease of sex and love addiction first began to rule my life. By the time I found my first SLAA meeting in October 2004, acting out was an obsession that had me so spellbound I wanted to die. Going back to that geographical location where every exit along an 80-mile stretch of highway held some memory of acting out, has always been acutely painful and extremely shameful.

However, I am grateful to say that I was able to return to that beautiful valley last week, and and for the first time feel none of those old painful attachments. I was able to call up an old friend who I knew from the meetings and ask him to go to a meeting with me, rather than spend weeks planning a tryst with an old lover and ruin my whole trip with a relapse. I was able to drive right past a particular no-tell hotel that was my 'home office' for acting out, and for the first time, never even notice it or recount the shameful memories. I was able to spend the night alone in a hotel not far away without obsessing over who or how I could act out.

These things may seem minor, but when I tell you they are monumental, I am not exaggerating. For the very first time, since I moved (aka ran kicking and screaming) from that area, I returned and felt peace and serenity and gratitude that it was where my healing began. I felt the miracle of recovery and I felt that the Promises really can and do come true. I felt the presence of my Higher Power with me and around me. I was safe, not just from others, but from my own self-hatred.

Before I went into the valley where I had lived, I visited for the first time since I had left the office building about 45 miles away where much of my online intrigue happened. As I walked through the doors of that building, I immediately began to feel all the feelings that I had numbed with my acting out -- the sadness, the dark depression and despair. It was not that I experienced the feelings again, but rather that I felt their heaviness. I walked into the restroom where I had "hid out" and cried and felt such utter despair, and could feel, as if for the first time, that I had lived a very, very painful experience in this building. When I left my job there in 2005, I was so numb I didn't feel a thing. But as I walked out last week, after having shared with a friend who still works there who is experiencing serious depression, just how difficult my days were there, I left it all behind. For the first time, I felt that all that sadness was a part of my past, and I could leave it where it was. I did not have to bring it with me. What an amazing blessing.

To add to the blessing, I remained abstinent in my OA program throughout my trip and the holiday gatherings. As I left that building where I had worked, I touched the vending machine that had served as a stand-in friend in times of need back when I worked there and simply said, "Thank you, God, that I don't need this today."

It is not enough for me to say that recovery through the 12 Steps has saved my life. It has made living possible for me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Putting Humpty Dumpty Back Together Again

I have been reading a book at the suggestion of my therapist on the link between sexual abuse and eating disorders. This is the first in a series of posts related to that reading.

As I have been abstinent from compulsive overeating for three weeks and five days, I have began to feel many, many feelings that have been masked behind the consumption of sugary foods for literally all of my life. I am realizing that I have not even been feeling the trauma of my sexual acting out, much less all the feelings associated with 10 years of childhood incest. During the short time that I have let go of sugar I have experienced flashbacks, body memories and sexualized dreams all related back to the childhood abuse.

While on one hand, the feelings are incredibly hard to take, I am almost celebrating their complete presence in my life. It is only by going through fear and pain, not avoiding or denying it, that I can truly recover. And I can only get through this and all phases by gentle living, one day at a time, in the hands of a power greater than me. That power has protected me through all the phases of my life, blessed me with coping mechanisms that saved me as a child and have almost ruined me as an adult and helped me grow to this point today where I CAN celebrate these feelings and endure them so that I can become whole. Fall these things I am immensely grateful.

In his book, "Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders," Mark Schwartz, PhD, writes on pg. 94, "Trauma-generated disassociation means the person is unintegrated. He or she may feel like an imposter. The person everyone knows is not consistent with the impulsive urges, behaviors or self-knowledge. Such people may forget years of their lives and function moment to moment without the benefit of previous models or experience. They experience constriction [slowing or stopping of the natural course or development] and isolation from others and an "empty hole" in their stomachs that is unfillable. ... Often they will continue as adults to disassociate or space out automatically and without control as a way of defending against shame or old memories."

I recognized very early in my recovery how much I compartmentalized my life and how no one really knew all of me. It wasn't until a little further in recovery that I realized that in fact there were parts of me that even I didn't know. Sometimes today when I talk to my sister or niece, who grew up with me, and they recall certain things about the "way I was" I simply don't remember being that way at all. It feels very disconcerting, and I sometime wonder -- especially with my sister if SHE's the one who doesn't remember properly or is making up stuff.

In this quote, Schwartz talks about the abuse survivor feeling like an imposter. "The person everyone knows is not consistent with the impulsive urges, behaviors or self-knowledge." I very often wonder who in the world people are talking about when they say things to me like, "Rae, you are always so calm and you just seem to be able to handle stress so well." What??? Are you talking to me? Even the woman who shows up here and writes about recovery and my connection to it, very, very often feels like a fraud, because I know lurking beneath is this darkness that I can neither describe nor escape. There is also the hollow feelings that long to be filled with acceptance.

So, how does this relate to my sex and love addiction? For me it relates because of the issues of disassociation and compartmentalization. Many times when I have acted out, it's been as if my real self were on the ceiling watching everything unfold. I was keenly aware that what was happening was not congruent with what my "real self" wanted. Yet, I was equally engaged in the act of "drunken" sexual activity. This is a symptom of what is called Atypical Dissociative Disorder or Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (DDNOS) -- which falls somewhere in the spectrum between PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder, otherwise known as multiple personalities.

In childhood, dissociation allowed me to depersonalize what was happening to me while I was being molested. As Schwartz describes, I could believe the abuse "did not happen to me, it happened to my body." As I have carried the coping mechanism of dissociation into adulthood, where it was no longer needed, it has allowed me to believe concurrently that I was in recovery, despite the fact I was acting out. It has allowed me to feel deep compassion and love for my husband, and sleep with a stranger an hour later without feeling any of the associated guilt.

So, where does 12-Step recovery come in? Everywhere. I am powerless over my past and the scars that it has left. I need a power greater than me to guide me through to the next right thing and grant me the courage to do it.

In Schwartz's writing he quotes a woman as saying, "While all this (abuse) happened, I was stone. I was dead. I was gone, yes gone far beyond imagination. I only hoped to come out and come out alive." This, by the way, is exactly the feelings that have been recreated in my acting out patterns. She goes on ... "But my question is, Am I alive? Am I living? I feel like I am not. But the truth is I live on other people. I live depending on other people to see me to the end. Where then does that leave me?"

And that's where recovery really comes to a head for me. If I do as Step 2 suggests, I believe that a power greater than me can restore me to sanity. And for me that means that I can be restored to wholeness, to an integrated, complete human being who no longer has to depend on my own unsteady willpower and hopeless attachments to other people to feel alive. When I turn my will and my life, my thoughts and my actions over to a power greater than myself, I use each of the 12 Steps to put the Humpty Dumpty of a life I've lived thus far, back together again. I meet myself and I become one in body, mind and spirit.

I am so grateful for the gift of recovery and that there has been enough of my core self left to keep me coming back and seeking the wholeness of life that I earnestly desire.

If you have read this far, thank you for listening. Not just today, but all these days as I have stumbled to find my way.

For anyone interested and willing to wade through the academic nature of most of the writing in Schwartz's book, the book can be found on

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dreams and visions

WARNING - Possible triggers for sex addicts and incest survivors in this post.

Over the three and a half weeks since I have given up sugar as part of my abstinence from compulsive overeating, I have become aware of many things that I have been numbing for years. I am beginning to feel feelings that I never really knew first hand. Among those feelings are disappointment, loneliness, hollowness, and fear.

I have also been experiencing some very troubling flashbacks to the trauma of my childhood sexual abuse. The first came in the form of a "daydream" in which I felt I was being forced to do something I didn't want to do. The second, which was by far the most scary, came Friday, while on the brink of orgasm I began to scream "Don't make me do this, Please, don't make me do this." I could not quiet the screams for some time and sobbed uncontrollably in shame and fear. I was absolutely confused as to what had happened and just felt completely hollowed out once it was over.

The most recent incident happened this morning as I slept. Like all people, I'm sure I dream, but I almost never remember a dream. The fact that I did remember this dream is a sign of its significance according to my therapist. She asked me to write down as much as I remember of the dream.

In the dream, my mom and stepfather are younger and it began with my stepfather being angry because he could not concentrate on the book he was reading and my mother trying to get him to come to bed because he had to work the next morning. He yelled at her and she and I went off to bed. He continued reading the book and eventually left to mail it somewhere once he was finished reading the last chapter. While he was reading and after he left, my mother and I lay in bed together and we began fondling one another. She initiated the touch, but both of us were involved. She was also using brown and yellow markers to draw circles on my stomach, circles that I eventually realized were supposed to be images of my nipples. She was painstaking in this process and it seemed we both were having fun. Then she handed me the phone and told me to dial #PROMISES. I remember being confused about the phone number, but on the other end was a man who began talking to me in a sexy voice and engaging in phone sex with me. I was thinking that my mother wanted to hear, but I became so aroused and wrapped up in my own arousal that I didn't pay much attention to her. Then my stepfather came home and came to crawl into bed with us and he started to climb on top of me. I remember being torn, because I was so aroused that I wanted the touch, but also I knew that he should not be doing what he was doing to me. I can't remember if it was me or my mom who said to him, "Your wife is on the other side." I woke up with him crawling off of me and toward my mother, and with me feeling disappointed and relieved at the same time.

Just writing these words makes me want to vomit. I'm holding all sorts of pain in the center of my back. Still, I do not want this exorcism of all this stuff to stop. I want it out of me. I fear I may lose my mind as it emerges, but I know I will lose my mind if it stays buried.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Living in the light

Yesterday I faced a very scary and confusing flashback to my childhood abuse. For the first time I felt what it felt like to be crying out, begging my stepfather to stop
using my body for his pleasure. I never muttered a word as a child, I just did my best to endure what was happening. But yesterday, as I neared the brink of orgasm, I was able to cry out in fear, and sob through the confusion. Yes, it was scary. Yes, I felt hollow and confused afterward. But I didn't have to f*ck some stranger and I didn't have to eat a bag of Oreos to make the pain go away. In fact, I was grateful to be able to feel the feelings. For so much of my life I have numbed anything that didn't feel comfortable. I thought life was supposed to be different than it is. Today I am grateful to accept it AS it is, and allow my Higher Power to help me heal my wounds and recover from my obsessions and compulsions. I'm living in the light because I choose to accept life on life's terms.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Avoidance through suffering

I have really given a lot of thought to this idea that I get something out of suffering. For one, if I am a victim and have suffered, there's less chance that I'll be held accountable for my actions. (Character defect number 1 is dishonesty, number 2 - avoiding responsibility for myself and my actions.) Also, if I am suffering, people feel sorry for me and give me attention, which in my twisted mind means they love me.

There is no serenity in living in that manipulative, maladjusted mindset. I have been blessed, beyond my wildest dreams. Yet, I am without a doubt stuck in my own suffering mindset.

I was listening to an OA speaker tape this morning and a woman was sharing about how she believed in a Higher Power who could and would do great things for other people, and maybe even a few good things for her. However, when it came to the big stuff, the removal of her compulsions, she simply didn't believe she was worth her Higher's Power's time and love. She had lost her virginity as a young teenager and felt it was unforgivable. Her shame and guilt blocked her from her Higher Power. It really resonated with me. I see my Higher Power doing amazing things in my life, but there is still that weak, scolded child, who grew up to do countless unspeakable acts of adultery and didn't even feel guilty while doing them, who thinks she's really not worthy of the grace of recovery. Opening myself to true acceptance of God's grace means letting go of that victimhood, that suffering. I admit that I honestly am not sure where to start. It's yet another layer of the onion.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Remember R?

Yesterday I went to an all day retreat sponsored by Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA) and for the duration of what was a very excellent keynote address, a man whose back (not his front) looked exactly like R sat in front of me. The image from my angle was an exact duplication of the man I spent a year in a torrid affair with, whose memory reminds me of just how painful and scary this disease can be. The man who sat in front of me yesterday even wore a shirt that was identical to my favorite shirt that R. had. Occasionally he would raise his arms up and they didn't look like R.'s. I could not stop looking at the man. I tried to assess what I was feeling. Even now I am not sure, though I know it was neither longing nor rage. I honestly had very few thoughts. I just sat there and looked. At times, I thought of what it felt like to touch R., but not in a sexual way. I contemplated asking the man if he would sit in front of me for a while after the retreat so I could have a cathartic conversation with R. I could not, however, think of anything I would want to say. I wondered if this was my Higher Power's way of saying, "The storm has passed." I resist that notion, though I'm not sure why. Perhaps it is because of one of the core addictions the speaker said all addicts possess.

The four core addictions behind the perception problems of all addicts, according to our speaker Lilliane D. are:

1. Security (the feeling that nothing is enough, we are not enough, we can't get enough of anything)
2. Power and control
3. Sensation (the need to always be "high" on something, to be stimulated in some way)
4. Suffering (the state of being victimized, abandoned, hurt, used or otherwise in pain)

It is number four I was thinking of when I said perhaps it is one of these that prevents me from believing that the storm has passed. Perhaps I was trying to get high on the euphoria of looking at that man who had the physical characteristics of my former lover. I didn't get high. I didn't get low. I just sat there looking. I can see I'm still trying to sort out my feelings about it all. For now, I accept it just is.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I Want

Some people have a Bucket List. I decided today to make a list of things I want.

I want to:

Comfortably tie my shoes while standing up
Not be the exception
Laugh like there is nothing to fear
Cry because I know what I am feeling
Be paid for my true talents and passions
Accept people as they are, and me as I am
Feel confident and at ease in social situations
Hike in the mountains
Visit South America
Enjoy shopping in clothing stores
Remarry my husband on our 20 year anniversary
Fall in love with reading all over again
Be drug free
Write a book
Be a vessel of love, hope and peace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

About this time

About this time every month I go crazy. I get obssessive, I get irritable, sometimes I get seriously inclined to act out. It's called PMS. The fact that I've rejoined OA and am not medicating with food at the moment is making PMS all the more gingerly wonderful. I hung up on my husband today. I'm isolating. I don't want to go to my meeting, I want to tell people to fuck off. Other than that ... I'm doing pretty good.

Seriously, I'm grateful to have an OA sponsor, to be abstinent from compulsive overeating, and to see God's hand at work in my life.

How about some recovery talk you say? OK ... I'm doing what I don't want to do. I'm not trying to be perfect. I'm showing up. I am working on striking a balance in life today -- and not doing so well, but not beating myself up over it.

I'm also grateful to be sleeping better. In fact, I think I'll sleep right now.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another one of us joins the blogosphere

I write this blog for the reason I express right on my banner -- it's my own brand of therapy. Rae's Confessions is the place I have come to tell the truths I've been too scared to share elsewhere, or the things that I simply cannot sort out. For a woman who has a difficult time finding safe places, it's amazing that out here in the middle of nowhere, amongst strangers, I find my peace.

I'm always grateful when something I write touches someone else, and was especially thankful to have recently gotten a note from fellow sex addict John F. saying he had been inspired to start blogging after spending time reading what I have shared here.

I'm even more grateful, having seen in just his first few posts the experience, strength and hope John has to share with those of us in recovery from sexual addiction.

So, without further adieu, I invite my readers to take a peak at John's blog "My Outer Circle." I promise you will not be disappointed. I should note that I was having difficulty with opening the blog using Internet Explorer -- but it worked well with Firefox, and showed up fine in my Google Reader.

Godspeed, John! Welcome to our world.

Monday, October 12, 2009

One pound and some notes

I have began to slowly try to care for my body with more exercise and one day at a time am trying to make better choices around food. I'm no where near perfect with either effort, but I'm doing my best to simply notice my feelings and accept my efforts.

Today was weigh in day at the gym. If I go by the "official" weigh in, I lost two-tenths of one pound. If I go by the locker room weigh in, I lost 1.4 lbs. So, essentially, we'll even it out and say that in one week, I lost one pound.

Sure, I should celebrate ... I lost 1 pound! Whoopee!

Yet my feelings and self-loathing messages are hard at work with really demeaning reminders of how many weeks it's going to take me to lose just back to where I was six months ago, and lashing me for every "bad" food choice I made last week, and for the wimpiness of my exercise routine -- even though, for the first time in months I went to the gym four days last week.

The laws of nature go like this -- you get out what you put in. I needed some warm up and build up time for my exercise, and food is still a great soother and satisfier for me. If these things change gradually, they will change for good. Of course, that screaming little child in me wants all this excess fat and flesh gone today and if it is not gone, she's decided we'll hate ourselves.

I'm doing my best not to soothe the uncomfortable feelings with food. I did take a nap, which is another sometimes unhealthy soother, but tonight I'll go to a meeting and be aware of my feelings and offer some love to the screaming, disappointed little girl.


I'm reading Melody Beattie's new book, called "The New Codependency" and finding some rare gems there. It can stir some feelings that are hard to deal with, but it also has some great exercises for moving through those feelings and on to healing.


I received an e-mail last week from a fellow sex addict who had discovered my blog and took the time to read through it from beginning to end. I was touched that someone would spend the time to read my words and I took some time myself to go back and read some of my earlier writings. It was a welcome reminder that while I still struggle, I have come a long, long way. My God, I was crazy before I got into recovery and even a few times since. I am grateful.


Step 1 says I am powerless and that my life is unmanageable. Thankfully there is a spiritual solution. Today, I sought it. I stood looking out my back door and asked God to please give me the willingness to feel my feelings and to surrender my life to his will.


I am resisting the urge to want to run away from my therapist, who wants me to do things differently than I am willing to do them. I am going to show up to this week's appointment and leave it in God's hands.


I continue to feel like the life I am living and the one I am sharing with my husband is quite a mess. It seems so different than what I expected life to be. Again, I'm just going to keep trying and asking for the sincerity I need to travel on this path.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Accepting me, accepting life

Just for today, I've given up hating myself. I am giving up, in this moment, what others think of me, or what I worry they might think of me, and I am accepting myself as a perfectly flawed human being, experiencing life as it is presented.

This decision didn't come to me from reading a book or going to a meeting or attending a workshop. It came from within me.

Within me is a capable, intelligent, loving person, who has been masked in a world of self-hatred, sadness and pain. That person, upon not accepting her imperfections as well as her perfections, her lack of control along with her exceptional skills and talents, delved deep into a sea of self-help books, programs, workshops, searching desparately for that perfect self again, hating herself more for not doing things perfectly in the "new" life.

But I feel myself, my whole self, at last emerging, accepting, and after feeling absolutely hopeless that life could ever be worth living, more than hopeful that I still have what it takes to live and breathe and love and embrace the ebb and flow of life.

I am not bursting from the earth, emerging with grand proclamations, shouting from the rooftops or putting on a fireworks show. I am quietly accepting life as it is, accepting me as I am, listening to the voice inside me, and to the voices that lift me up.

I was given a life, and just for today, I choose to live it, the best I can. Problems, fears and doubts will arise, I am sure. So, will inspiration, love, and support. I welcome them all as a part of my life.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Honesty is the only way out"

These are the words my therapist said to me this morning, and they sit on my heart like a steel beam.

Tears rose in the absence of words to describe the gravity of what I felt as she said them. Inside I thought, "He is all I have and I'm all he's got. We are everything to each other. What a mess."

The "he" I was referring to was my husband, whose work is his "exit" from our intimacy and commitment to one another. My exit is sex and love with men who are married. In this way, we co-exist, quite painfully, but somewhat comfortably. Harville Hendrix, developer of IMAGO therapy, says until we both close up our exits, our relationship will always be damaged and never intimate.

My therapist says until I fully disclose to my husband the truths of my acting out, I will continue to use sex and love as a way of survival -- a way to avoid feelings that I now compartmentalize, feelings like guilt.

I had told her again, with tearful regret, that the reason I don't want to tell him that I have been beyond unfaithful in our marriage, is simply I don't want to ruin his life. I don't want to crush him with the truth. The truth seems so dangerous, so painful to me. It seems easier to carry it on my own, rather than think of shattering the spirit of yet another innocent victim of a horrible disease.

Still, she says, "Honesty is the only way out."

I am not hurting enough yet to be honest, she said. I can act out and say that it felt good and let the addiction wash away the painful truths of my deception.

She asks me how guilty I would feel if my husband had walked into the room the last time I acted out. I couldn't even bring the image into my mind. When I think about the reality of actually experiencing all the guilt that I have not felt while engaging in sexual and love relationships with other men, I honestly think I could not endure it. She says that enduring the guilt will set me free.

"So, what," I ask her, "I self-inflict the pain of the guilt by disclosure in order to heal myself, while I ruin his life?"

"Yes," was her response, adding that the truth comes out one way or another, whether we reveal it or not.

I argued with her ... people are and have been having affairs for centuries and taking the truth to their graves.

Yes, but to what cost? Living in painful marriages without the freedom of true intimacy, she responded.

I told her I heard what she was saying and even believed it to be true, but I know that I am not willing to be honest with my husband about how many horrible deeds of transgression I have done in our marriage without his knowledge. I simply am not willing to hurt him that way.

Pray for the willingness, she said.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to pray for the willingness to pray for the willingness.

It is not for selfish reasons that I don't want to disclose, I told her. But she challenged me. You don't want to feel the guilt.

When I think of that guilt and what it would be like to feel it, she's right. I don't want to feel it, and I feel certain it would destroy me.

As I drove to her office, I had a moment of consciousness, a brief second when I connected to that part of me that still feels alive. As I was turning the corner from one street to the next, I realized that at some point in my life, I learned to drive. It wasn't inherent knowledge. Someone taught me. And I practiced, and I learned to feel comfortable driving, even in major cities.

She encouraged me to remember I can take the wheel with this addiction also.

"Honesty is the only way out."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The way is dark

In this world I walk alone
With no place to call my home
But there's one who holds my hand
The rugged road through barren lands
The way is dark, the road is steep
But He's become my eyes to see
The strength to climb, my griefs to bear
The Savior lives inside me there

In Your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

In these trials of life I find
Another voice inside my mind
He comforts me and bids me live
Inside the love the Father gives

In Your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

Monday, September 21, 2009

Random Thoughts

* At a recent meeting, someone broke down Step 1 into two parts: First, I am powerless over my addiction and second, my life is unmanageable. My life is unmanageable whether I am acting out or not. The rest of the 12 Steps are an invitation to regain some manageability in life.

* Step 2 says, "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." Lately, I find I am faltering in the belief that anything can restore me to sanity. I feel as if I am my own worst enemy and have doubt that anything can save me.

* The dreary weather has started and so has my depression.

* The longer I live the more I recognize that life is just one big cycle of attempts to manage our emotions. I just wonder what makes emotions so destructive and hard to handle? I read a book recently about a group of women who healed from various trauma by knitting. By sitting quietly together and telling their stories, and by sitting alone and mentally counting "Knit 1, Pearl 3, Knit 1, Pearl 3" they learned to sit with their emotions and to survive them. In 12 Step Rooms, by using standard formats, prayers, slogans and by sitting around and telling our stories, we learn to survive the emotions that feel as if they will kill us. Some people go to church, some people exercise, some people paint, some people meditate or sit next to the water ... but it's all a way of keeping the emotions in proper perspective. We let go of the all or nothing thinking.

* I haven't let go of all or nothing thinking. I don't want to feel anything, yet I long to feel everything.

* I am willing to believe there is a bigger purpose and that my life is a part of it.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Pain as the Pathway to Peace

As I continue on my journey to healing and recovery, I recognize more clearly than ever that it is the core underlying issues of self-esteem, insecurity and much more that is actually being addressed as I learn to care for myself, refrain from using old, ineffective coping mechanisms and keep my side of the street clean while giving others room to grow. This does not mean that I never want to act out. In fact, the desire to seek comfort (what food, sex and love are for me) can be far greater when I'm doing work on resolving the trauma of my childhood, which I have been doing lately.

This weekend I was preparing for a few trauma healing exercises and my body began to ache with physical pain, stiffness and discomfort just reading about the various stages of healing we go through when recovering from childhood sexual abuse. The pain, which has been carried in my body since childhood, deserves a chance to be felt and experienced, and released. No one wants to hurt unmercifully. Still I know that if I can endure the pain while it is here -- being experienced in its fullness -- rather than eating it away or losing it in the numbness of sexual/romantic intrigue and pursuit, I will be releasing it and making room in my body for comfort and growth. I pray for the strength to feel the pain and to face the future with a new perspective.

I thought this reading was perfect for me today. I share it in hopes that it helps someone else.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
From the book The Language of Letting Go

Stopping Our Pain

Some of my feelings have been stored so long they have freezer burn.
—Beyond Codependency

There are many sources of pain in our life. Those of us recovering from adult children and codependency issues frequently have a cesspool of unresolved pain from the past. We have feelings, sometimes from early childhood to the present, that either hurt too much to feel or that we had no support and permission to deal with.

There are other inevitable sources of pain in our life too. There is the sadness and grief that comes when we experience change, even good change, as we let go of one part of our life, and begin our journey into the new.

There is pain in recovery, as we begin allowing ourselves to feel while dropping our protective shield of denial.

There is the pain that leads and guides us into better choices for our future.

We have many choices about how to stop this pain. We may have experimented with different options. Compulsive and addictive behaviors stop pain - temporarily. We may have used alcohol, other drugs, relationships, or sex to stop our pain.

We may talk compulsively or compulsively focus on other people and their needs as a way to avoid or stop our pain.

We may use religion to avoid our feelings.

We may resort to denial of how we are feeling to stop our pain.

We may stay so busy that we don't have time to feel. We may use money, exercise, or food to stop our pain.

We have many choices. To survive, we may have used some of these options, only to find that these were Band Aids - temporary pain relievers that did not solve the problem. They did not really stop our pain; they postponed it.

In recovery, there is a better choice about how we may stop pain. We can face it and feel it. When we are ready, with our Higher Power's help, we can summon the courage to feel the pain, let it go, and let the pain move forward - into a new decision, a better life.

We can stop the behaviors we are doing that cause pain, if that's appropriate. We can make a decision to remove ourselves from situations that cause repeated, similar pain. We can learn the lesson our pain is trying to teach us.

If we are being pelted by pain, there is a lesson. Trust that idea. Something is being worked out in us. The answer will not come from addictive or other compulsive behaviors; we will receive the answer when we feel our feelings.

It takes courage to be willing to stand still and feel what we must feel. Sometimes, we have what seems like endless layers of pain inside us. Pain hurts. Grief hurts. Sadness hurts. It does not feel good. But neither does denying what is already there; neither does living a lifetime with old and new pockets of pain packed, stored, and stacked within.

It will only hurt for a while, no longer than necessary, to heal us. We can trust that if we must feel pain, it is part of healing, and it is good. We can become willing to surrender to and accept the inevitable painful feelings that are a good part of recovery.

Go with the flow, even when the flow takes us through uncomfortable feelings. Release, freedom, healing, and good feelings are on the other side.

Today, I am open and willing to feel what I need to feel. I am willing to stop my compulsive behaviors. I am willing to let go of my denial. I am willing to feel what I need to feel to be healed, healthy, and whole.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Upon seeing what others see

Today a friend of mine sent some photos taken of me and her together this summer. I was appalled at how fat I have become. I do not have full length mirrors in my house and even when I'm looking in them at the gym or at a restaurant -- I'm standing up, have my shirt carefully pulled down to hide the width and breadth of my stomach and simply am not able or willing to focus on the "whole" picture. These images captured with the lens of a camera on warm summer days, however, don't hide a thing. I can see the swollen face, the stomach bulging out on all sides, the rolls of fat that form my short legs. I am thoroughly disgusted and ashamed and repulsed. I am cringing at the thought of the person other people see me to be, their comments whispered in their minds or aloud.

I began carrying this weight to protect myself. It increased as I held in the emotions and feelings. I used my girth for the strength to carry the responsibility of my mother, my sister, and for my badness. I have eaten and avoided taking care of myself as a form of self-hatred and self-abuse. Compulsive eating and living life as an obese woman is a slow form of suicide. All of these things are things that therapists, former fatties and books have told me. I haven't connected a single bit of it to my soul. I believe it ... but I don't feel it. Why? Because if the feelings come -- I stuff them inside with cookies, cakes, candy, hamburgers, ice cream, anything my body craves. I consume mounds of rich, sweet, fatty foods -- almost always in solitude, and almost never walked, ran or swam off. It has all just gathered on the bones and around the organs and muscles of my body, enveloping me, hiding me, protecting me, strengthening me. Those last three things are a lie that my inner child believes.

I remember in her book, "Make the Connection," Oprah Winfrey talks about hitting rock bottom when she was accepting an Emmy nomination and was embarrassed to go on stage. She recently talked about another bottom, where she began again to feel embarrassed to live in her own skin, despite her magnanimous success. I watched the preliminaries of the show "Dance Your Ass Off" earlier this week. Men and women shared how they wanted for the person who lived behind the fat to be revealed. The Battle of the Bulge it's called -- this war humans fight to reclaim the person who lives behind the blubber.

TT commented on a previous post, "I just can't help but wonder, Rae, whether you first need to find your rage toward those who damaged you, and go through it, THEN find forgiveness, then move on. It seems to me you have skipped a critical step, never having experienced that rage."

I can't help but wonder if all that rage is wrapped around my midsection, under my chin, and across my ass. I feel as though waging war against the fat is waging war against myself ... and maybe I'm right. I feel weak to wage a war.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage and Strength to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference. I surely cannot do this on my own. God, help me. I've failed so many times, I am afraid to even say I'll try again. I feel the resistance even as I fall at your feet in total surrender -- searching for a way to hold on to my way of living, hoping by some miracle that I will not have to go through the pain of taking off all this armour I've put on.

Help me to be humble, help me to be strong, help me to let this matter when darkness breaks into dawn.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Reconciling the feelings within

I just read JBR's blog entry about the deep emotional pain she is experiencing. Like me, she lived through the pain of childhood sexual abuse. I really identified with her statement, "I just feel no one understands the ferocity of my emotional pain." Adding to this truth for me, I am not even sure I understand the ferocity of my pain. I'm not always sure if I am experiencing my feelings or if they are swallowed up in a chocolate brownie or in codependent conversations with others. If someone were to ask me to sort out my feelings into tiny piles, I'm not sure I could even find them all, much less identify them.

Right now, at this very minute and for what has felt like several months, I have felt very disconnected from myself. In psychological terms this is known as disassociation. The problem is -- I'm not sure how to reassociate.

Recently I was talking with someone else who is in recovery from sexual addiction and he was sharing about the decisions he and his current girlfriend are making about their physical intimacy based on the Christian values to which they both subscribe. Again, I feel so disassociated from any sense of moral values.

I know that I have feelings. A personal incident over the weekend left me feeling extreme nauseau-inducing anxiety. I stood in the middle of an office and cried like a child. I have felt fear, shame, guilt, anger, regret, love and gratitude in the past few days. So, I know there are feelings that exist within me and I even experience them at times. But most of the time I feel a sense of numbness and wonder where the feelings that are making me feel uncomfortable are hiding. Is God protecting me from them?

Lately I have these long, lingering feelings and cravings to be held and comforted. I can lay in bed at night and simply ache for someone's body to spoon up against mine, to feel the skin of another person against mine. I'm not talking sex here -- I'm talking physical comfort. Are those cravings suppressing the real feelings that I'm having? I don't know. They feel as real as anything else and I have no idea if they are healthy or not.

They physical feelings seem to be seeking to calm the emotions that I don't even know how to express. I loved Practical Addict's post from this weekend about emotional sobriety. It seems to capture a bit of what I am trying to say here ... that I may be outwardly avoiding the actions of acting out, but inside I feel like a jumbled mess. I also found myself in the final paragraph of Enigma's post today as she described the need to find herself in the midst of all this recovering. It sometimes feels as if I've lost all sense of myself, my hopes, my dreams, my values somewhere between living in my addiction and trying to recover from it. I stopped seeing my therapist for seven weeks because I wanted some time to think for myself. In that seven weeks all I accomplished was another dance back into the malady and melody of my addiction.

I read this post at Being Made New and could really connect to his feelings of being a part of rather than a part from the people around him. Yet, those feelings seldom come across my path. I always feel as if I'm sitting somewhere just outside the circle.

I'm praying for reconciliation tonight. I know it won't come tonight. But I have faith that it will come. One day at a time.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who knows?

After that last trumpeteering post about the spiritual experience in the 12 Steps and turning my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand God ... I need to say that this is still hard.

It's difficult to let go of the stash after a relapse into sexual addiction. Yes, in some ways relapse into love addiction is even worse. Neither is a cup of tea.

Like a heroin addict who longs for that first push of the needle, women like me crave that first kiss, we remember the contours of our lover's bodies, and we yearn for the physical touch that is meant to be shared between two people who have committed themselves to one another and share far more than the cost of a hotel room and a few laughs about their physical escapades.

I know that the current loneliness that comes from my husband's extraordinary work committments is contributing to the difficulty of getting through the withdrawal. I am working to occupy my time with and energy with other things, healthy people, and examining my own life through a renewed 4th Step inventory. It helps most of the time. But some of the time ... not so much.

As I'm writing here I'm thinking of the many wonderful and wounded women whose blogs I read. Their husbands or ex-husbands are sex addicts. I often think of them and wonder if they know what a large role they have played in my recovery. How many times has it been their words that come to mind when I think of acting out? I wonder too how painful it must be for them to read my words and not want to slap the living shit out of me. After all, it could have been their man I was craving tonight.

But as the Big Book says ... "probably no human power could or would have relieved" my desire to get that sexual high. If it could ... I would have been "saved" by now from these relentless urges and compulsions.

I've given some thought as I dissect my cravings and hand them over to God to the question of why it is I seek and desire other women's husbands.

I guess the easy answer is because I'm an addict and I seek people who are emotionally unavailable, but for today that's a cop-out. I want to own this truth, and I want to have a bigger answer than that. I want to know how I got from the lie of trying to find something to "supplement" a marriage that "left me feeling empty in some ways" to desiring the attention of men who not only had wives, but also lovers. How did I become obsessed with being the one they told all their secrets to?

A part of the equation I know is that my sick self needs some external force to reaffirm that I have value. For me, being the kind of woman that anyone -- male or female -- can share their deepest secrets with, has meant that I am valued. But my addictive mind has turned even this basic gift of friendship into a tool of my disease.

What am I recreating? I'm regaining that child's sense of power that comes from being the person who keeps information that could tear apart families. Not only could I use it against someone, I can use it to protect myself too. Secrets keep us safe, keep families together, and keep people out of trouble -- that's what I learned as a child. As an adult, I've learned that they are poison. Yet, my addict self wants them, desires them and does not know how to live without them.

One day at a time, I'm learning to live in the light of truth. It's not easy. But it's worth it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A spiritual solution

As I continue to try to recover from this last relapse, I have been working on reviewing Steps 1-7 for my sponsor. As I consider the power of the Twelve Steps as a means of recovery from my sex and love addiction, as well as my compulsive overeating and codependency, and overall addictive personality something is becoming more and more clear to me.

What I have learned in therapy can help me understand my behaviors and thinking patterns better. Drugs can help with chemical imbalances that have occurred from the rush of my own natural hormones in the extremeness of my acting out. But the only place I find hope of truly overcoming the damage that has been done to me and for having a life that is worth living is in working the Steps that were first established by Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is true that those of us who were victimized sexually as children have been biologically and psychologically damaged by our abuse. But the SLAA program (which is based on the tenants of AA) gives me hope that there is a solution if I work for it. The solution is one that can not be experienced in my body or in my mind -- it is a spiritual experience. My spirit transcends my body and mind. Doctors and therapists can treat my body and my mind, but it takes a power greater than myself, and greater than any human power to give me hope that I will be free of the obsessions of my mind and the allergy of my own natural pleasure hormones.

I was listening to some of the AA Big Book lessons of Joe and Charlie yesterday (you can find the free downloads at and they were talking about how alcoholics are very proud of their Steps, but that it is important to remember where they came from. The First Step "We admitted we were powerless over (our addiction), that our lives had become unmanageable," came from Dr. William Silkworth, a neurologist, whose opinions on alcoholism can be found in The Doctor's Opinion of the AA Big Book. The Second and Third Steps came from Dr. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and brilliant thinker, who said that a "spiritual experience" was the only effective cure he had seen for the disease of alcoholism. The remainder of the Steps are based on some basic tenants set forth by an organization called the Oxford Group.

My point in repeating this is to emphasize that two medical doctors, both of whom worked with issues of brain function and performance, were a part of establishing the root program that has helped millions and millions of people find a better way of life.

Please understand -- I believe there is absolutely NO replacement for talk therapy for a person who has been abused as a child. But I also believe that the only hope of truly living a life that feels worth living to me is to become a whole person connected in body, mind and spirit. For me, that requires a spiritual experience that I believe I can find in working the Steps.

All this may sound empty coming from a woman who just had her umpteenth relapse after being in program for six years. However, please note that despite my relapses, I always have had the willingness to keep coming back, because I have seen the progress that I have made, and I have seen the progress of my disease. And I find that it is when I stop actively working on the Steps and practicing their principles in all areas of my life, those are the times the disease wins a foot race and gets the better of me. But in the journey of recovery, the progress I feel within myself is always moving forward and stays ahead of the disease and I don't give up, I keep coming back, because I want to experience the Promises and the Blessings. They are the things I cannot get in a therapist's chair or a psychiatrist's office. I can only get them in the rooms and fellowship of people recovering through the 12 Steps.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Honesty's role in the Steps

During my prayer and meditation this morning I realized that when I finally reached the point that I was willing to get honest about my recent slip, I had become willing to work the Steps again. Being honest that I had broken my bottom lines, rather than continuing hide the truth meant that I was admitting my powerlessness (Step 1), that I recognize my only hope to avoid full blown relapse into very dangerous behavior was to turn back to the program and its work (Step 2), and that I had made a decision to surrender my will and life over to a power greater than me and greater than my addiction (Step 3).

It felt fantastic for me to associate honesty with these three steps and I immediately felt prepared to do an inventory of my resentments and fears, and to better define the defects of my character that continue to lead me down that road.

I feel more humbled and more willing that I have felt yet, but my faith in myself is shaken. In saying this truth, I am invited to put my faith in God, and remember that I am not at the center of my recovery -- my Higher Power is. It is only those of us who have a spiritual awakening who do recover. And even then ... one day at a time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spinach & Eggplant Parmesan

It hasn't been that long ago that one of the women I sponsor said to me, "Rae, I'm going to remember how bad I feel right now so that I won't go back and make these mistakes again." I cautioned her that past pain, no matter how acute, no matter how scary, had never stopped me from acting out.

I guess this latest trip down acting out lane is proof positive that I wasn't lying to her. And today as I jitter around, frustrated, irritable and discontent -- unable to settle down to save my life (unless it is to sleep because I'm so damn tired) -- I am asking myself, "Did you think you were just going to feel like roses and sunshine when the withdrawal set in?"

I don't want to act out. There is no pull toward that. I've been focusing on recovery as best I can -- reaching out to others, listening to speaker tapes and I'm planning to go to an open AA meeting tonight. But there's not a single cell in my body that feels willing to vacuum the floor, clean the bathroom or wash the dishes. I tried going to see a movie, but drove off once I got to the theater, knowing there was no way I could sit in one spot for two hours, no matter how interesting the show was. I wanted to go to a coffee shop and read for a while. I have a new book I'm really excited to read. But my racing mind would have none of that, nor would it allow me to sit still long enough to truly (or maybe I should say 'perfectly' work on my steps).

The symptoms of withdrawal -- the racing thoughts and the acute feelings of depression -- remind me of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is nauseating and unsettling.

One of the speaker tapes I was listening to today encouraged addicts to write down a comprehensive list of the pros and cons of actively living in addiction. I've heard before and this speaker reiterated -- when we continue to act out, we are getting SOMETHING out of it. Off the top of my head, I know that I'm relieving a sense of loneliness, getting some positive affirmation (both of which are quickly deflated), reinforcing the lie that I cannot live without this behavior and the lie that I am fundamentally a bad person, so that I can continue to avoid responsibility for myself. I even get some sympathy from others. The cons are, of course, that I become detached from everything and everyone around me and feel more isolated and alone than when I started. I don't feel connected to my Higher Power, or to my husband or to my friends and loved ones. Instead, my connections are to the people I am acting out with. Then when I withdraw from them ... I'm left with nothing but emptiness.

One step at a time, one moment at a time ... I just have to remember this phase will pass, that it is a natural physical and emotional reaction to what my body and mind have been through. Withdrawal and abstinence are required to be able to move forward with my recovery from here.

By the way, in case you are wondering, this post got its title as a result of my effort today to stay in the moment. As I sat down to write, I was eating my dinner -- some delicious spinach/eggplant parmesan from Whole Foods -- on a paper plate, with a side of Gatorade. Cheers!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thinking Aloud at 4 a.m.

I rarely sleep through the night and I often awake with thoughts I think it is important to write down. Occassionally they will be things I want to say to others - perhaps in an e-mail, and sometimes they are things I need to say to no one in particular.

What I need to say this morning may need to be said to someone specific in the future, but for now, I'll just put my thoughts down to words here.

Last night I shared with my sponsor and with my face to face group about my slip. I cried in the meeting and I felt like an idiot, but was thankful for the support I got. My sponsor was also supportive and offered some good suggestions. But it is a statement by my certified sex addiction therapist way back in July 2008 that keeps coming to my mind.

When I told her that my husband knew of my sexual addiction, but not the specifics of my acting out, she said, "Until there is full disclosure, you have a sense that you can get away with something. There is no accountability." As I look at other people try to control the information their spouses get about their acting out and how closely they protect that information, I see myself in them. I also see how their sharing has opened the doors for more intimate and loving partnerships with their spouses. These people have found they don't have to face their demons alone. Not only do they have the support of their group, and sponsors, they also have the support of their spouses.

I certainly have the support of my husband. He supports my recovery, and he knows that I am a sex and love addict, but he has no idea the extent and content of my triggers and behavior. And I wonder how I could tell him -- "Hey honey, while you were away, working 12-15 hours a day, I felt lonely, vulnerable and afraid and had sex with a few other guys to numb the feelings. And, while I'm at it, I might as well tell you that I've been numbing every uncomfortable feeling I've had the same way for about six years."

Have I even tried to change, he might ask. To which I could respond that Yes, I had. In fact, I had made some great progress. At least I hadn't used the same hotel key more than once in at least five years. Oh yes, and did I mention that what was once a rabid sex addiction seems to be more of a search for the allusion of love these days? And isn't it true sweetheart, that our own relationship has changed, I might ask.

The AA Big Book says we must be willing to go to any lengths to get sober. We must take off the masks. So the question becomes how willing am I to destroy someone else's life in order to save my own? How long can I stay sober when the voice in the back of my head says ... "What he doesn't know isn't hurting him." When will the "next time" be the time that all this luck -- no STDs, no pregnancy, no fatal attacks or obsessive stalkers -- runs out?

Sobering thoughts at 4 a.m.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Appreciating another's honesty

Eli Hornby over at Eli's Addict told a very powerful truth to his wife early Monday morning. Then he told it to his readers. His honesty is helping to keep him sober. I want to commend him for doing the next right thing.

I've not been nearly as honest with my husband, my sponsor or my readers. I've slipped a few times over the past few months, given in to those lower urges, lived to regret it, walked away, went back again, walked away. Through it all, I haven't told anyone, until a month or so ago when I said I had to walk away from a friendship that had become addictive. The truth is that relationship had become sexual.

The cycle of dishonesty and secrets is ugly. It's painful. It truly is painful to act out now. I know there's a better way, a clearer path, but I have to stay on it long enough to find my way. I know that honesty is the friend of my recovery, and the enemy of the addict.

Thank you, Eli, for helping me find the courage to tell the truth. Thank you, God, for planting that courage inside.

I heard recently:
Step 1 tells me there's a power that wants to destroy me.
Step 2 tells me there's a power that wants to save me.
Step 3 tells me I get to choose which power wins.

I've been allowing self-will to seek the power that wants to destroy me. God, I've made the biggest mess of my life, please grant me the willingness to turn it over to you. Just for today, I'll settle for the courage to hit "Publish."

Not so funny

*warning - potential triggers for sex addicts*

The other day I picked up Chelsea Handler's autobiography, "My Horizontal Life, A Collection of One Night Stands." As I skimmed through a few of the colorful stories, I thought of how much money she was making writing about the men she had bedded over the years. This queen of late night talk -- who has written about her love for vodka as well as sex -- is not wallowing in self pity or despair. She's just laughing and causing others to laugh with her.

As I flipped through her book, I thought of the funny facts I could share with others about my own set of one-time encounters, and even what others might write about their escapades with me. Sex addicts do gain a lot of insight about the underbrush of people's lives. We share fantasies, and discover kinks. Sometimes we tell one another secrets that we've never told to others. A lot of times we lie -- for stupid reasons and legitimate ones. There is no bar to our age, race, size, socioeconomic, religious, political or marital status.

In my active addiction I've learned that certain professions attract a higher percentage of sex addicts, and that certain body types yield smaller penises. I've learned that true addicts rarely think of their spouses while engaged in addictive behaviors, but as soon as the passionate shudders end, there is a sense of loss, and a desire to move on.

Today as I was driving I saw a quote from Edward Abbey and it made me think of R. He was obsessed with Abbey and his writing, and was a political pacifist of his own sort. I've slept with others who were activists, others who were trusted public servants with buildings named after them. I've had sex with men who've been to prison and men who have put them there, with dominants and submissives, with immigrants and natives, impotents and long lasters. They each have their own story -- some they've shared with me, others I've found out on my own.

So, is there a book in my escapades?

Not a funny one I'm afraid.

Mine are stories that weren't meant to be told. They are dirty secrets that silently bond two people together. Chelsea can drink and fuck all night, and laugh about it in the morning. I won't try to judge whether she laughs to keep from crying. I won't even judge whether I should laugh more and cry less. All I will say is that my liasons have been mid-day steal aways with other women's husbands, who were stealing a few moments or hours with someone else's wife. I have used them like Chelsea uses vodka. And they have used me like cocaine. In addition to their stories ... they have been fathers, brothers, sons, and even human, but that rarely mattered. In fact, many times our names didn't even matter.

An act held so sacred within the covenants of a marriage, is nothing more than a drink of whiskey to a sex addict.

There's nothing funny about that. Nothing at all.

Monday, August 17, 2009

What I fear most

My message from God today from Facebook:

God wants you to know that what you are most afraid of is where your greatest rewards are.

If all you had to do was wish for something and you would have it, life would be pretty boring, wouldn't it? God placed barriers between us and what we want, so we can enjoy interesting and satisfying lives. God hid our biggest rewards behind the highest barriers - our deepest fears. God wants us to face our fears, and hold ground in their presence, and let them go, and that's how we get out biggest rewards. What are you most afraid of? Say it, just start by saying it.

OK, I'll say it.

The three things I fear most:

1. That I am on the wrong path and that I have no idea how to get straight again.
2. That I will spend the rest of my life knowing that I am wasting my God-given resources and talents, but feeling powerless to engage them.
3. That I will become so self-absorbed that there will be no concious left.

How about you? What do you fear most?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stuck in a Moment

I had never really "heard" this song before. One of my friends posted it on her Facebook page last night and it spoke to me in many ways.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hate-filled and thankful

This morning I read a story from Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul, and as it ended, something inside me cried out "God, I need your help. At my core, I hate myself. I hate who and how I am, the way I look, the way I feel. I hate what I've become and that I can't seem to move past it on to something more. I hate that I wake up every morning and life seems to have no purpose at all. I hate that following three simple daily rules - take a shower, exercise, and make a list - seem to be too much for me. I simply hate my life."

I knew I needed to come here to write. But as I stepped out of the room where I had been reading and into the hallway, there was my dog, sleeping peacefully, not yet fed. I said, "Thank you God, for this one daily reason to live."

I looked at my house ... it needs to be dusted, decluttered, vacuumed, there's dishes that need to be washed. I remembered that my husband will be home this weekend, and I said, "Thank you God for the incentive to clean, something to look forward to."

I came to the computer and began to hate myself again as I checked five e-mail accounts -- three of them legitimate, two used for the purpose of medicating my pain. But when I opened up my "official" e-mail, I was thankful for the reminder that tomorrow I'll have my weekly meeting with a group of wonderful women who make me laugh and smile and feel loved and nurtured and appreciated. And I was thankful that as their "organizer," I had a task to complete before tomorrow's meeting. Thank you, God, for giving me a reason to take one more step toward one more day.

And now, here I am finally writing, and willing to say, God I do need your help. I know I cannot live with this self-loathing. I know that even in itself it is a defect of character. But, God, I also want to thank you for your help, for carrying me through these rough times, for helping me to see today that you are with me, that there are reasons to live. I can only trust that there is a reason for where I am today, for the emotional pain that I feel, for the call of my sexual addiction, for the absolute shame I feel about my body and the way I've used it. Please help me have faith that in your time, I will find the strength and courage to move past this point. I want to serve you and to serve others. If that is your will, please give me the faith and the courage to go on, not in self-hatred, but in self-love, so that I might share your love with others.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A risky path

Yesterday, I ran into an old acting out partner. I'd love to tell you that it was by accident, but I walked right up to him and said hello in a restaurant. He was alone and I was alone, and he asked if I'd like to join him. Like an alcoholic who slips when one day someone asks, "Would you like a glass of wine with your meal, sir?" without hesitation, I said yes.

This man is one of the few acting out partners that I told about my addiction when I walked away. I told him back then because we were together three times and each time he shared with me how much he struggled with himself, with his God, how much self-hatred was created inside him. He shared with me about his trips to massage parlors, strip clubs and such and it was clear that he was an addict. I didn't try to save him -- I just told him of my disease and of the concept of the 12 steps.

So as we sat across from each other yesterday and I looked into the most gorgeous set of eyes ever given to a man, my addict was buzzing. That buzz only got stronger when he told me that like my husband, his wife was out of town. The battle was on within me. But we both acknowledged that we were experiencing those feelings, and we talked about them and what we weren't willing to give up, what we weren't willing to experience for the hit. We talked about what clarity had been with us, the struggles that exist from day to day, he shared his religious approach to his disease, and I shared the 12 steps -- which interestingly mirrored one another.

Both of us battled interally the entire conversation -- "do it" vs. "don't do it." Only by the grace of my Higher Power, and frankly his too, were we able to walk away. Things could have gone the other way in a split second ... if one of us had made the move toward "yes," there is no doubt the other would have followed.

I would never "recommend" doing what I did yesterday -- walking up to an old acting out partner alone in a restaurant -- to a newcomer in recovery. It simply could be suicide for recovery efforts. However, somehow I can accept today that there was a reason I went up to him, a reason why my Higher Power helped me to say, "It's best for both of us to just go on our way," rather than "Let me show you the way to my house." I can humbly give my Higher Power the credit for that strength and ask that the lesson of the day be revealed to me.

I was vulnerable yesterday. I have been vulnerable for a few weeks to acting out. I even toyed with it last night. That usually means my spiritual condition is suffering. It doesn't mean I have to act out. It means I have the opportunity to improve my faith and my partnership with my Higher Power. However, it may also mean that I took a bite into the diseased apple and tomorrow I'll be on a downward spiral. My life didn't begin or end yesterday. Lessons aren't always revealed right away. Six months or a year from now, I may be writing here and saying -- my spiral downward, back into relapse, all started with that innocent little hello in a restaurant. I can only deal with what's right in front of me and do the next right thing.

My sponsor is reminding me that while I often label myself an addict, my addiction is only a part of me. I am much more. And while I cannot expect "normal" responses to situations like yesterday. I can be thankful that five years in the program, many, many mistakes and lessons hard won, make it easier to choose the path of recovery, rather than the path of my disease. But my disease does not go away. It just sits, waiting and hungry.

I may face another trigger today. Today I will call on my Higher Power, not to save my ass, but to help me remember that I am more than an addict. I am a human being with values and a desire to live a better life. I have no chance at a better life if I don't make better choices.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Just beneath the surface

Do you ever have those days when you know you're feeling angry just because of the thoughts that come to mind?

Today, actually for a couple of days, I've thought the words "I hate your f*cking guts!" Now, I don't typically hate people, but just those words seem to be filled with rage about something and someone.

Then tonight I was going through Facebook, looking at old classmates and ran across someone who used to be my neighbor. I immediately thought "I bet you'd love knowing I f*cked your father." I saw another classmates' photo and thought he'd be devastated to know that one of his other classmates, who I met during my acting out spree when I moved back to my home state in 2005, had ratted him out about being a swinger.

Maybe it's me I'm angry with. Maybe I'm mad that everywhere I look, I'm reminded of my addiction. I'm cleaning house for guests who are coming next week and I have to make sure all my recovery literature is hidden away. Maybe I'm mad at my husband because he's looking at changing jobs again. Maybe I'm mad at him because his work is causing a lot of tension. I'm not sure.

I certainly am not walking around actually feeling overtly angry. There's no one at home today other than the dog and I seem to be treating her OK. But somewhere beneath the surface, I clearly am angry about something. Guess I better work some of that anger off by doing the next right thing ... feeding and walking the dog and finishing with the housework.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nurturing, care and support

The sixth characteristic of Sex and Love Addiction says, "We use sex or emotional dependence as substitutes for nurturing, care, and support."

I've been to three 12-step meetings today looking for nurturing, care and support. I'm not sure if it's emotional dependence or not ... but I was really feeling the need for some comfort.

Thoughts of the friend who I had to bid adieu this week kept creeping in, and I kept praying, "God help me find in you, what I was seeking in him."

I don't know ... even after going to all those meetings and feeling good about hearing others share about improving their concious contact with God, and relating to the shares in tonight's SLAA meeting, I still don't feel replenished. I'm grateful to be sitting with the feeling. I'm thankful that I know the feelings are exaggerated and exacerbated because I'm going through withdrawal and that they will pass.

I know that everything happens in God's time, in God's way. It doesn't stop the little spoiled addict brat inside me from fidgeting and whining and refusing to give me any peace.

I have been praying for "thy will, not mine be done" all day and am praying tonight for the courage and strength to accept my Higher Power's will in my life and to learn the lessons.

Man, this sober thing sucks sometimes.

But the truth is, acting out is not any better. Sure, there was a time that there was good sexual returns, or when the "pursuit" brought on a feeling of euphoria. There is nothing strong enough now to raise the "kick" high enough to truly get the addictive hit anymore. I've worn out this drug of choice, and all that is left is the craving for the high. The emptiness has become too vast to even attempt to fill.

Only God can fill the God-shaped hole inside me. And I must be patient and diligent as this spiritual transformation takes place. In God's time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The loss of the soul

The reading below from today's entry in the Answers in the Heart meditation book, reminds me of this line from Step 1 of the SLAA Text:
"This loss of one's soul could only be all the more poignant if the body in which it lived continued to exist, unanimated spiritually from within, and monstrously driven by imperious instinctual drives which would now have become its masters."

July 15 - Answers in the Heart

"The spiritual life springs forth in the pastures of the heart, in its free spaces, as soon as these two mysterious beings -- God and man -- meet there" - Paul Evdokimov

Sex addiction is a spiritual disease. Living as a practicing addict strips us of our spirituality. We lose our connection with reality, giving more and more of ourselves to try to fill the emptiness within. Unfortunately, we often don't discover that the addiction cannot deliver what it promised until we've paid the high price of spiritual atrophy.

We once made compulsive sexual behavior our Higher Power, but it is only our real Higher Power who can remove our obsessesive attitudes and behaviors and make us sane. Seeking this Higher Power means changing directions completely. Step Two helps us find hope, without which none of us can live. We come to this step as people emerging from a long, life-threatening journey through a wasteland. It is then, as beings of spirit as well as of flesh, that we start another journey to a Higher Power of light, joy and unconditional love.


Step Two is a process, and I get all the time I need.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

And so it is

I feel sad today. The addiction has cost me another important friendship, one that has been valuable. I must accept that the friendship was God's gift to begin with, and the ending, God's will.

I became friends with a person in a 12-step fellowship, and in sharing with one another in the way that only 12-step friends do, we had become close ... and over the past few weeks, I have had to accept that the friendship had all the measures of an addictive charge. I looked for his e-mails endlessly. I got a charge when one arrived. I could not wait to see him and wanted to talk to him about everything.

In order to continue this journey toward wholeness, I had to be first honest with myself, then honest with others, including the person whose life I did not want to harm.

I was also honest with my therapist, who reminded me how important it is to make self-affirming statements. Playing the "poor me" game of deprivation, will only cause me to act out in one of my addictions, she said. "It's OK to be sad," she said. But it's not OK to eat it."

So, I affirm today that by setting healthy boundaries within this friendship, I am choosing to seek the best life available to me. I affirm my desire to live in accordance with the will of my Higher Power and I thank my Higher Power for the gift of a beautiful friendship that lasted only for a season and for the guidance that the season had ended and that new opportunities await.

One day at a time, I make progress. Just for today, I choose recovery.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Land of the Lost

I feel lost. That's the best way to describe it. I feel caught somewhere between here and there and simply don't know what to do with myself.

Yes, life is good. I feel at peace after writing the letters to my stepfather. I had a great weekend with my husband and am looking forward to another one this weekend.

I have some good people in my life, but I am not certain I feel comfortable reaching out to more than one person at a time. I know that sounds odd, but it's the way I seem to act. It feels like more than one person to think about at one time is just too much for me.

This is odd behavior for a woman who as a professional, juggled numerous ongoing relationships and as an addict kept relationships with multiple men all the time.

But that's not even what I set out to write about. It just seems that I'm going through life these last couple of days with absolutely no direction. I know that I have not used the tool of making a list, and I guess that's what I am going to have to do, although whatever I put on the list will just be "stuff," and that still feels useless.

Someone suggested that I may be going through a hangover -- after the intensity of what I went through with my trip to visit my family and friends, I may just not be settled down again. That seems plausible, but I just want to say for the record -- I don't like it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

July is a hot month

I had the idea that I would post something here every day in July. Well, like most of my ideas, this one clearly has not come to fruition. I admire those people who write on their blogs daily and really keep things up to date. It just doesn't happen for me.

I do have a desire to write every day however. The tag line for this blog is "My own brand of therapy." Writing is cathartic for me. I think in the beginning, when I started this blog, I felt I was writing to a bunch of people who didn't know anything about me. Somehow that felt easier to do than to share things about myself with people who know my story and some parts of it that no one else knows. I guess in a way it all goes back to that fundamental fear of intimacy.

I can remember crying about two years into recovery, asking God, myself, and anyone who would listen, "What is so wrong with me that I don't want to know myself?" Now I guess I'm asking myself, "What is so wrong with me, that I'm so afraid of letting others "into me see?"

People seem to like me, and even if they don't, I've become much less concerned with what others think and more focused on getting to know myself better and be at peace with who I am. So, what's the big deal?

I guess I still have some work to do in setting boundaries and accepting honesty as the solution for breaking down the barriers that keep me tied into my character defects.

I suppose one reason I'm having trouble writing here is because the focus of my convictions toward recovery seem to be shifting from my sex addiction -- no, I'm not cured -- to my compulsive overeating. I've shared before here that while it seems almost easy to talk about my sexual past, talking about my weight and my food seems nearly impossible.

Just as opening up about my sexual addiction helped me to overcome it, I know that opening up about my food addiction will also help me to cut the ties that bind. I continue to pray for the willingness to work a program of recovery around my food, but I find the minute I get close to making a committment I really, really pig out.

In "How it Works" in the 12-step programs, we read, "Remember, we deal with (compulsive overeating), cunning, baffling and powerful." I can surely say that my food addiction is all three -- cunning, baffling and incredibly powerful. I can also say that I am truly powerless over it.

I welcome comments and prayers in this hot month of July when eating ice cream, birthday cake, and watermelon by the patch full is my favorite thing to do.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I feel good

At the end of a four-hour visit with my stepfather on Father's Day, as I was leaving, I hugged the man who raised me, told him Happy Father's Day, that I loved him, and handed him a Father's Day card with the two letters I had written addressing the abuse I endured, the results that abuse had on my adult life and the things I am doing to take my life back. It was a relief to hand over the Father's Day card with the letters inside, but I have to admit that it was writing the letters that was the most meaningful part of the healing process for me.

I also, for the first time in my life, sent a Father's Day card to my biological father on Father's Day. He was never a part of my life, and for the first time ever, I didn't resent that in the least. I also found during the visit with my stepfather that I didn't have to be hateful or rude to him either. As I expected, he did and said some things that caused my blood pressure to begin to rise. But I was able to stay present and protect myself when the conversation started to go in directions that made me feel uncomfortable. I said the Serenity Prayer when faced with observing things that were none of my business, but nonetheless uncomfortable, and changed the subject without yelling or screaming or even getting angry.

The program worked for me -- I was able to ask for prayers before that big day came and I felt the thoughts and prayers of the people who were supporting me. I was able to get away some time in the morning before I met my stepfather and spend time in quietness and prayer. I used the phone to connect to program friends and support, both before and after.

I am most pleased that for the week before Father's Day, the focus of my vacation was not on delivering those letters -- but on having a good time and enjoying the friends I was with. By staying present with them, I understood that I have no secrets from the people who I care for most. They know me and I don't have to hide anything. I can be me, without shame. And because of that, I had a lot of good laughs. Likewise, I have learned who I can trust with the most private details of my life and who I cannot. Not trusting someone with private details doesn't mean I can't care for them or love them. I am just setting boundaries that help me to feel safe. It feels good. I feel good.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The hungry wolf

My sexual addiction became like an old comfortable friend over the past few years. It was the first place I would go to seek escape and comfort from any emotion -- good or bad. I didn't know how to feel my feelings. As I entered recovery, because seeking this escape was driving me to the point of complete insanity, I found that the more I tried to push away the addiction, white knuckle it and deny it access, the more difficult it made it to let go and co-exist. My addiction is a strong fighter. It was only when I accepted that I was powerless over my addiction's presence in my life, that I began to have any sense of peace.

I used to think that sobriety meant never having any desire to act out, or not automatically going back to the old standby (my addiction) when things got too rough to handle in my real life. Gratefully, today I accept that it's pretty natural that my still wounded spirit would go back to a place it found comfort and familiarity. Thanks to the gifts of the 12 Steps and SLAA, today I can make different, responsible, healthy choices that promote the healing rather than add to the pain. This realization was a hard one to internalize and I still get irritated sometimes and want to throw up my hands and say "Not again!" when I face a tempation or a trigger. But things are so much better now that I have accepted my "shadow friend," as a part of me.

I was reminded of this struggle recently as I finished up a two-week vacation back to my home state. On the last night of the trip, I opted to get a hotel closer to the airport where I could take a nice long shower and wake up refreshed and get off to the airport without all the hassle of being at someone else's house. Leave it to me to pick a hotel just next to an adult book store. I was just doing a "normal" thing -- renting a hotel, people do it all the time. But I forgot about my disease. I didnt keep it in mind. And in the midst of the emotional and physical exhaustion of my trip, I was very triggered to pay a visit to the adult bookstore and possibly bring someone back to the room to share the empty room with me. After driving around the store three times and finally locking myself in the room, praying, taking a shower and making a call, I fell into a restless sleep. I woke up sober and went to the airport, even though I'd thought of having breakfast at a nearby restaurant before I left town. Instead, I got beyond the security gates at the airport and was safe from the disease for another few hours.

The wolf is always at the door, as my old sponsor used to say. I have to be hypervigilant. I can't forget that it is there. I am powerless over its existence in my life. But I don't have to let it be my life or run my life. Just for today, I am grateful for a repreive.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Unscrupulous disease

The letters I have written to my stepfather are on my mind from time to time these days ... the words that are written there and the memories that are caught up in them. I wrote the letters to unleash the hooks of those memories, and have hopes that once he reads the words of the second letter, which ends with "These are my truths. Now we both know them." the betrayal bond will be broken. Of course, these are only my wishes -- my Higher Power may have other plans. We shall see.

This afternoon, however, I did have a bit of an epiphany as I thought of the words that I overheard my stepfather tell my mother one night when I was about 10 years old. He wanted her to have sex with him and she was resistant. He said, "You know if you don't give it to me, I'll go and get it from Rae. I already did once today." I heard those words in my mind many times until a couple of years ago I was forced to accept them as proof that my mother did know what was happening to me, but felt as powerless as I did to stop it.

As the words ran through my head this afternoon ... "If you don't give it to me ... I'll go and get it from Rae." I realized that this was just the mentality that kept me tied into the compulsive cycle of my addiction. I would seek a man's attention, acceptance and affection and take absolutely all that man had to give, and when he couldn't give any more, when he couldn't possibly fill the endless gaping hole inside me, I'd go after someone else. I kept multiple partners so that I never had to be without my "drug." When I would go from one man to another, driven by my own selfish cravings, I was essentially saying, "If you don't give me what I want ... I'll go and get it from some other source." Like my stepfather, I was saying ... "Do what you will, but I will not go without."

I've said it before ... the disease of sex and love addiction has no boundaries, has no scruples. It is willing to hurt and devastate anyone in its path -- whether my friend or a stranger -- in order to be fed and nurtured. It is selfish and without a conscience. Without my program, it runs my life and ruins the lives of the people around me.

For these reasons, I will keep coming back, seeking recovery and a daily reprieve from the unending need of my addict self.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Two letters

It's sometimes amazing how long it takes me to make it back here to write about what's going on in my world.

There has been a lot going on actually -- but I wanted to write today of some resolution to the "black cloud" that has been hanging over my head regarding whether to see my stepfather on Father's Day. We have not been communicating for some time and my life is pretty much more sane when it is that way. However, I also know that underneath I have a feeling of something unresolved between us and I have a fear that if I don't resolve it before he dies (which he's likely to do soon), I might be stuck in this limbo for the rest of my life. (As I write that I realize that there's an underlying need for surrender there.)

Anyway, in reaction to all this I have talked with my therapist and shared with program support people, and have been blessed with something beautiful. I was to have a letter to my stepfather drafted by last Wednesday outlining what happened to me as a child, the results of what happened, and what I was doing about it. I did everything under the sun to put it off, not necessarily conciously, but at least subconciously. Then when Tuesday came and I knew I had to write the letter, I started writing everything I remembered about my abuse in detail, but as I moved on to 'the results' portion of the letter, I kept zoning out and almost dozing off. (Traits of trying to slip away from reality for me.) I was so frustrated and I felt like I was babbling in my writing. Later that day, after sharing my frustrations over the letter with a friend in another fellowship, I got an e-mail from him with the outline of a letter that was the perfect precipice for writing all the words I needed to say. It was very simple, yet exactly what I wanted to say and couldn't find the words for. I was so grateful.

The next day when I met with the therapist, I read her both letters. When I read back the words of the letter I was so frustrated with, I saw that it made perfect sense and was filled with all the truths of what I had been through. Then when I read the more general letter that came as a result of my friend's assistance, it just seemed to bring everything together. My therapist suggested that if I do choose to see my stepfather on Father's Day -- which was a perfect reminder that the choice is mine and that it's OK to see him if I want to -- to give him both the letters as I leave and ask him to read them after I'm gone. Alternately, she said mailing the letters on Saturday, to arrive on Monday would be another option. She thought both letters were appropriate, because one was filled with the truths of what happened to me, and she thought that was important for him to read.

What I felt after finishing the letters was that what my stepfather needed and felt was irrelevant. These letters were for me. As I wrote to him, " It is not that I don’t care for you, but now I must care for myself. When I was small, I was powerless, but now I am taking back my power. I am working to heal my wounds through the help of a therapist and a network of support friends. I no longer keep what happened to me as a child a secret. The secret was the harm. And the truth has set me free. It has allowed me to recognize that forgiveness is not a gift I can give away. However, it is a gift I can give to myself, so that we both can be free. I pray for peace and love in both our hearts."

I do have some sense that he will get some closure as well from reading these letters. I know I certainly have felt a weight lifted in writing them. Once they are delivered, I hope that all fears of obligation to "act as if" nothing happened and everything is OK will be gone. If those fears do not disappear ... then I know I have more work to do.

For today, I'm grateful for the work that has been done.

Thanks for listening and being with me on this journey.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

FOG = Fear, Obligation and Guilt

The 12-Step Programs have a lot of great acronyms that help to keep us all sober and focused on recovery. Today I was grateful to read this one: "FOG stands for FEAR, OBLIGATION and GUILT. When we work on these three issues the FOG begins to clear."

These three emotions are exactly what I am feeling as I consider the fact that I'll be back in my home state where my stepfather lives during the Father's Day weekend. I just told my therapist yesterday that my FOO (family of origin) has a real committment to obligation. With the obligation comes guilt.

The truth for me today is that no one can MAKE me feel any emotions I don't choose to feel. However, I can make a decision to turn my sense of fear, obligation and guilt over to my Higher Power and ask for guidance in my thoughts and actions. I can ask for healing and acceptance in my heart and in the heart of my abusive stepfather who I truly want to forgive, not for him, but for me. I have realized I cannot give away forgiveness. It is a gift I give myself. But I cannot do it alone. I need others to help me learn to love myself enough to let go absolutely.

People have told me for years ... "You don't owe him anything." I KNOW I don't, but knowledge carried in the head, doesn't always make it to the wounded spirit that still wishes for those beautiful father/daughter relationships you read about on Hallmark cards. There's still that feeling of being unsettled, knowing that my stepfather could die at any time, and I might feel as if I never took the chance to release my pain face to face. I chose to stop talking with him about three years ago, because I was tired of "putting on a happy face" and pretending that I was not hurting, but unwilling to scream and rage at him either. At times my silence has been punishment, and at times it has been necessity. But because of it, I've been able to heal without continuing to live the lie.

I'm grateful today to be able to speak these truths, to have this wisdom and to desire healing that will come in God's time, not in mine. I'm grateful for the willingness to pray for God's guidance and to be quiet and listen for it. My therapist and a recovery friend have both recommended writing a letter to my stepfather (not necessarily to be mailed) which outlines what happened, what the results were and what I am doing about it. Both have said that unless I can own my own power, that going to see my stepfather during this trip was not a healthy move, but one based in classic codependence. Just for today, I can accept their guidance as gifts from my Higher Power.