When There Seems Like No Way Out Of Our Addiction

In the last year, I’ve lost a friend to this heinous disease. He took his own life. It was a nightmare for him, his wife and 5 young children. He felt there was no way out. I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say the thought hadn’t crossed my mind a dozen or so times in my early years. However, there was feeling down deep in my heart that let me know that that way out was not the way I wanted to go. I wanted passionately to have a rich full life, full of love, laughter and joy. I wasn’t willing to let the disease zap all my faith in my God and the fact that every day that I followed His way of living brought me one step closer to the reality I so desperately seek.

Once I learned that I had a God given purpose and what that was all the world had changed in my views. The reality of doing the steps brought me closer to my God. I was no longer captive to my FEARS, RESENTMENTS or HARMS. I had God on my side and as long as I stuck close to Him, any and all dismay in my life had cease to control me. I had God I could turn over everything to. No matter what the issue He was there for me. He would show me other ways to think, live and help others and feel the joy of participating once again in life. So when there seems like there is no way out of our addiction, I always urge my sponsees to look to see where the relationship with the God of their own understanding is at. Are they near or far from, Him, Her, or It. The closer we are to that power the better our lives become. There is a way out of our disease. There is a solution. It’s in a power greater than ourselves as it states in the title of Chapter 2 in the AA Big Book. Know God, Know Peace – No God , No Peace. Choose wisely for God is free for all who seek Him, Her or It.

I Am Not My Addiction

I am an addict, specifically, I am a Sex Addict. That doesn’t mean I’m bad person or that I always do the wrong thing. It doesn’t mean I’m a Sex Offender or a Rapist. Being a sex addict only means I have a sexual addiction. I am not my addiction. My addiction does not identify me, I identify it as a disease of mine. I use to believe that I was a terrible person, who did terrible things and for that I was a very bad person. I use to believe that my addiction identified me… I was this overly sexual person who hid in the shadows, lied, cheated and hurt those closest to me.

What recovery has taught me, through God’s grace, is that I have a disease that has a life of it’s own. One friend of mine explained it like having a ”bad roommate in my head.” That basically describes how I view “my addict” like a roommate who rents space in my head… When I see a beautiful woman, it sees a play toy. That’s not right. But I acknowledge the addict thinking in my brain. It has a mind of it’s own. Thank goodness today I don’t have to listen the voice in my head. It’s just a thought that I hear. Like all thoughts I hear in my head. The difference is these thoughts that my addict in my head tells me are ALWAYS lies. They are never the truth. They tell me I’m a bad person, I have no self-worth, no energy to stay in recovery. These are lies my addict wants me to believe. Thankfully, God has the POWER to relieve me of my addict thinking. I lets me know I’m loved, have self worth and I’m a good person that just has a disease. Just like a diabetic…I use the drugs that the doctor’s give me to put my diabetes into remission. Just like God has the POWER to keep my addiction in remission as well as long as I stick close to him and do His work by helping other addict throughout the day. Therefore I’m not my addiction. I’m a good human with a disease.

“Recovery” Is A Verb, Not A Noun

The one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that the word, RECOVERY is not a NOUN, it’s a VERB. Recovery is an action word. It means action. The point from where you are to the point of where you want to be. Recovery takes effort, not a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday type of effort. Rather a 24 / 7 effort. If your awake. Effort is needed. If your asleep you only get a reprieve until you wake the next day. The truth is we addicts aren’t the same as common folk. We’re addicts, through and through. So effort is needed to do the work that is needed to keep our heads above water. Willingness is the next ingredient, without it, you’ll never go anywhere. Ask all the addicts that still are on the lamb. They’ll be the first to tell you they gave up and didn’t have the willingness to go forward to do the work necessary to reach their goals.

I like to say that the people I know with any time in sobriety had the ingredients to bake the cake of success. They were willing to go to any length for their recovery. Just like a wild cat in the woods will do anything to survive in the wild. So must I put my recovery first in all areas of my life. As it says in the AA Big Book in “How it Works”, we must follow these principles in all of our affairs.

Intimacy … The Communication Between People

In my addiction the language of communication was at best non-existent. I lost the ability to talk to those I was closest with. My wife had become a total stranger. My friends hadn’t heard from me in days or weeks. I had isolated myself into a “cage of hell.” I feigned illness to stay home from work to act out. I had lied to my friends and wife so often I couldn’t decipher the truth from the frauds. I was essentially “walking dead.”

Thankfully, sobriety changed my life. Instead of being ashamed of my actions talking to either sex, I had turned a corner and was on a new path called recovery. No longer did I fear talking to people without the usual come-ons. God had saved me from the humiliation that I had ended up in on more than one occasion. I had learned that people were human beings to be respected and valued. They were no longer objects for my insane sexual appetite. Not only was I learning how to respect myself, I was learning to have respect for others as well.

In recovery I learned how to communicate with everyone, young, old, male or female, gay or straight, any culture and any race. By taking the time to listen to others and share my feelings I was creating meaningful relationships with people.  Once again I was sharing myself openly and honestly. Friends were calling me again and I them. My wife and I were speaking intimately more and more often. I liken this to being reborn into life, one moment and one day at a time. I was living the steps of recovery in my life and it showed.

Now fast forward to today, 8 years later recovery has brought me more meaningful relationships than I could have ever imagined. I’m so blessed that I sponsor others who share their intimate thoughts and feelings with me, which make me grow. What a gift. God bless you all. Thank you Papa.

Step 2 : Moving on With Hope

I’m in my eighth year of program and I marvel every day that this power, this great power surrounds me that I fondly call Papa. In the beginning of my journey my sponsor asked me to put aside what I was told about my religious upbringing and look at this Higher Power thing from a more spiritual angle. I’m glad he suggested that. I was a firm believer in this spiritual energy since I was sixteen and held it close to me through out my years. It wasn’t difficult for me to accept that this great power could restore me to sanity. That was how I began my journey of recovery.

With my Higher Power watching over me all my waking hours I know I’m not alone in the spiritual sense. “Papa” as I foundly call Him has shaped my life to the level it is at today. There have been tough times to go through when I refuse to listen to His suggestions and great times as He kept reassuring me that the path I was on was true and correct.

Thomas Edison once said, “If there’s a way to do it better…find it.” When I read that I heeded His message and worked at changing my life for the better. One hundred and eighty degrees in the opposite direction I was to go. I already knew the path I was on was not getting me any rewards I could be proud of and I knew that if I had the hope to rely on my HP, that He would and could change my life. Hence, my journey began.

In The Beginning…Understanding Step 1

When I first got into program, I was asked if I believed that my life was unmanageable and was I powerless over my disease. I thought about it a long time and reviewed my life…Well let’s see, I had gotten to watching porn every free moment I had, I was cross dressing and going to adult theaters to prostitute myself and I was doing dangerous drugs to intensify the high. Nah, I wasn’t powerless nor was my life unmanageable. Doesn’t every red blooded male act out this way? I couldn’t believe how far down the scale of sanity I had gone. I was totally insane. I truly thought that dressing up as a woman was my future. I thought that becoming a prostitute was my calling and having anonymous sex in the theater was to be my livelihood.

Where was my reality…? How rational was my thinking. My life had truly become unmanageable and I had no way of stopping myself from acting out. This was when I admitted that I powerless over my sex addiction and my life had become unmanageable. I had bills to pay, a room to clean, clients to do work for and all my mind could process was,”…where was my next high coming from? Fortunately for me, I hadn’t lost my job, I didn’t lose my marriage or contract any STD’s or worse yet, AIDS.

God had saw to it that I was to have a breakthrough emotionally, spiritually and psychologically and demanded that I start taking care of myself. Additionally, I was to spread the word of God and share with others the miracles that had kept me alive; all by His grace. Today, I understand that I’m only a second away from being brought back to the insanity if I’m not vigilant and keep my spiritual condition intact. My God, of my understanding, which has all power, wisdom and guidance to keep me free from my insanity, one blessed moment at a time. And for His grace I humbly pay for His love with actions that support the next addict, one addict at a time. Thank you Papa

The Two Things That Keep Me Sober

 

As I have kept myself sober there are two things that hold me together. Now, you’ve got to understand, I’m just another Bozo on the bus, cow in the herd, or more succinctly, another lemon on the tree of life. However, as I have walked this path of mine it is clear that two “its” are at cause. Just think of them like Dr. Seuss would have, as “It 1″ and “It 2″ , and it’s because of each of them that I am sober today. 

 

“It 1″ we will say is because of my Higher Power. No, that’s not right. It is my HP. Without Him or my spiritual condition I most likely would have become a psychopath. By His grace I am not an insane person today. In my years I have felt His warm hands hold and nurture me, give me guidance, love and support. It is He who has the power to arrest my disease one day at a time. Trust me, left to my own devices there would be mayhem and possible murder. But I have a secret, not really. I have a gift of doing His will instead of my own… My will is what got me in the rooms in the beginning. Bad will, bad will. His will, being lived, is a life of fulfillment, love and fellowship. Sharing His will with others and supporting the addict who still suffers is the glue that holds me together. His will and spirit are clearly defined in the Big Book. So I have a game plan just like every winning SuperBowl team. I have a guide book that Bill W. wrote for all of us, about suffering from the disease of selfishness and self-centeredness. His gift to me is my bible that I look at on a daily basis to guide me on my journey. And it’s through my HP that the words have meaning. 


Now “It 2″ is as important as my HP. “It 2″ are the Steps that are contained in the Big Book. Step 1 thru Step 12. All of which support my God conscious mind. Now we all know that Bill W. was divinely inspired when he wrote the Big Book. The evidence is too strong not to believe that, and besides, where else could you find a formula so compelling that it shifts people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m not a hard sell, a little insane in the past, but not a hard sell. So I have journeyed down this path of the Twelve Steps and a true inspirational miracle occurred, I was relieved of my compulsion to act out. Yes sir… Up and gone. Today I live as a man changed in thinking, acting, speaking, seeing and hearing. A simple conversation, I was reborn. The steps, worked honestly, diligently and without remorse, have generated a psychic change in my life. These steps can change a man from acting and living as a selfish and self-centered juvenile to a man of character, heart and soul, evidenced by his actions to assist others of his kind on a daily basis. Away from delusion, dishonesty and chaos, this work has fulfilled my life with the spiritual energy to overcome things that used to baffle me. Today, because of “It1″ & “It 2″ I live a life happy, joyous and free of my disease. May God bless you on your journey as He has blessed me. Thank you Papa. 

The Illusion

I think it was Styx,the singing group from the 80′s who sang a song called, “The Grand Illusion”, I could be wrong…at least I’m not just making it up. The song reminded me of my addiction. How cunning, baffling and powerful it is and it truly is. This thought keeps running through my mind, that all that has ever been in my life, from the time I was molested until the time I got into program, for the most part, was an illusion. My life wasn’t real. It was held together with lies and deceit and the walls were paper thin. This was my “House of Cards” and it was about to come crumbling down.

In all of the years of addiction I lived an illusion that my world was happy, fun, secure, spiritual and, of all things, loving. These adjectives were filled with holes and the water was pouring out from all sides. Even if I had a momentary minute of clarity, it wasn’t long enough to get me to see that the disease was in control. I was king of my domain and I ran my kingdom with an iron fist. If I was happy, I’d act out. If I was frustrated, I’d act out. If I was angry, I’d act out. There were times when I wasn’t acting out… I was asleep. The illusion kept me safe, so I thought. Gee, it wasn’t like I frequented disease infested book stores every day or had unprotected sex because I was immune from aids. The illusion said I was bullet proof.

Then on Febuary 24, 2005 the earth shook violently and my house of cards came crumbling down. That moment of clarity that I needed to see I was in danger showed up. My addiction’s date with destiny had finally come. In my clarity on that day, I admitted I was a sex addict and I was in trouble. Big trouble. I called out for help. I made that first important step. This wasn’t a fleeting moment I was in. This was God’s hand guiding me to safety. I cried out that night and God had answered my prayers. The very next day at 7:00 AM I was at a therapist’s appointment to discuss my issue. The illusion ceased to exist. I was speaking honestly, encouraged by my words, I spoke about the horrors of the last thirty years. Fortunately for me the therapist I was speaking to was an expert in sex addiction and compulsive disorders. He pointed me in the direction I needed to go and that night I was at my first SAA meeting. The illusion I called my life had finally met with the reality I call life.

Seven years later, I stand tall and proud that the fruits of my labor have paid off in spades. No longer do I look over my shoulder afraid of my past. Today, I live in peace and harmony with joy and happiness and the promises of the promises keep coming true. I invite you to join me and walk this path that countless others have found serenity on so you can find your own piece of heaven here on earth. God bless you all on your journeys.

Consistency …The Flow of Recovery

In recovery we adjust to a new way of being. We shift our thought processes and actions. We, in effect, are born anew. I know for me it was a daunting task to even look at the scope of things that needed to change in my world, but as stated in “How it Works” , I had to be willing to go to any length for this change to occur. I had to open myself up to a new way of thinking, Positive Thinking. I had to allow myself the opportunity to interact with people in a whole new light, Letting Others Help Me, and finally, I had to be in action with these new found ideas. No longer was I allowed to isolate, make stuff up in my head or shirk responsibilities.

I was now going to be coached to become the best “Me” I could be. True, I would stumble along this new path, however, through the guidance of my Higher Power I learned to stretch and grow even when it was uncomfortable. The one word I would come to learn was, CONSISTENCY. Putting actions into play on a daily basis, day after day. This consistency became the electrical flow that powered my tools of recovery. It was a feeling deep inside my bones that made me vibrate with energy. My mind began to look and feel differently.

For the first time in my life I was accomplishing tasks in a rhythmic fashion. At first it was simple tasks of just getting up from bed at a specific time each day. Next, I would add to that, making myself read “Answers in the Heart” once I was awake. Soon I added more responsibilities like feeding myself a good breakfast to nourish my body. From this little effort I was able to capitalize on the great feelings of accomplishment that I had rolled into a consistent rhythm. Days turned into weeks and then to months and I had found myself building up evidence that I was once again becoming a responsible, accountable adult. Consistency, I was guided to understand, was definitely the “Flow of Recovery.”

Today, nearly seven years later, I still use it in my daily life which has blossomed into this magnificent, amazing world of love and joy. Even though I started out small and gradually increased the number of tasks I eventually did, I did it all, one moment at a time. This turned into one day at a time. This is the rhythm of recovery. Thank you Papa.

Meetings…Why do I need to go ?

Meetings. Meetings. Meetings That’s all I hear about. Meetings, meetings, meetings. In the beginning of my recovery I was a scared rabbit just to attend. Who were these people. They’ve got to be psychos, why else would they be here??? Well, I know right off the bat I’m not like them. I just like sex. So what, I can’t enjoy masturbating in public if I feel like it. I don’t understand what the hoopla is all about. I’m in a booth all alone. No one will recognize me. Just because I have a specialty license plate doesn’t mean people pay attention to the cars in the parking lots. Boy was I delusional. So there I was at my first meeting. Listening like I was told to by my therapist. As I sat there, I felt uncomfortable being there, then the people started to share. At first, I was comparing myself to them as they spoke and I found that I related to what was being shared. I started listening with both ears and I heard bits and pieces of my life being shared right in front of me. I started to feel less of an outsider and more and more like I had found a home. How could that be…I thought I was terminally unique. I genuinely felt better after being at that first meeting.

Afterwards, the members introduced themselves to me and suggested that if I was serious about wanting recovery and changing my life, then I better commit to coming to at least a meeting a week. Then someone chimed in and suggested that I go to as many meetings as I could, 90 meetings in 90 days. I swallowed hard when that was said and asked what was the big deal about meetings. One old timer shared that if you attend one meeting a week all you’ll do is survive. If I went to two meetings a week then I would grow and if I attended three or more meetings a week then I would thrive. I chose the thrive concept and never looked back. I was looking at my life at that point and all I had was chaos and pain, however, if I wanted to have the happiness and joy that I saw in those people then I needed to make some drastic changes.

Meetings are the energy I need each week to recharge my life batteries. I’ve learned so much about myself, my disease, about people and relationships that I never knew existed while I was in my addiction. I learned to trust others, find joy in others and how to relate to others who suffered from the same disease as I had. These are people I’ve come to love, appreciate, support and just have fun with. The meetings became my focal point for healthy living. I learned to really listen to others and pull out the needed energy to recharge my batteries and leave the rest that I didn’t need. I learned how not to be judgemental and to relate to the topics at hand that we would discuss. Basically I learned how to live a joyful, wondrous, amazing life, all from going to meetings.

To date, I don’t know how many I’ve attended, but I can say, “I’ve never left a meeting feeling worse than when I arrived.” I encourage all my fellows to attend as many meetings as is necessary to keep a healthy, functional recovery intact and then attend one more for good measure. Be brave, be strong and keep coming back.