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.
My next post will be about losing my religion
2 months ago