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 www.silkworth.net) 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.


vicariousrising said...

However you continue to grow and make your life better is a positive thing. We've been shattered and need to figure out how to get whole again. There's more than one path to that state of being for each of us. The important thing is to keep moving forward no matter how we stumble. I think if we keep trying, it does continue to get better.

The Traveler said...

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 the relapses will continue until this developmental sequence is finally satisfied.

It isn't a wish for revenge; it's a complete grieving, not skipping any aspects of the grief.

When we mount rage at something that has threatened us, it speaks to our own self-worth -- that we have inwardly decided we are worth defending and are mounting a defensive response.

Anger and rage are negative emotions, but they have their purpose. They can't just be ignored and swept up under the carpet. They exist for a purpose.

Sending encouragement,