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.

Voices…Which One to Listen to

I  had a companion inside me that was so powerful that I believed in him and did just about anything he told me.   What he told me was different from everything else I was taught at home growing up or at church or school.

He told me I was special and that meant I could do whatever I wanted to do without consequences because of that. Others had to follow the rules, but not me. But I had to keep it a secret because all those other people out there would hurt me if they knew what I w as up to.

And what I wanted was SEX!  Any way, any time, with whoever I could take advantage of, whatever I had to say or do.  He told me it would be fun, that I was “entitled”, that why not – it wasn’t going to hurt me or anyone else – just a little fun!  All guys were doing it!

And for the next 40 years, I did it.  How could I not notice the pain I put myself and others through?  Relationships one after another ending in disaster, incredible misery, night after night of one night stands. And still I believed!  There was no doubt I was out of my mind, insane. Everyone saw it, knew – only I didn’t catch on.

Until the last catastrophe, pain I never felt before, threatening my life, my career, my guilt and shame exploding out of me. And another voice talked to me – a different, softer voice…”omigod! I am a sex addict! And the voice kept talking to me – thru all the pain and seemingly endless suffering. That voice gently guided me to a therapist, to 12 Steps, to a sponsor.

It’s been over 3 1/2 years of sobriety now, the salvation of a wonderful relationship, a new joy in working and living. When that voice speaks, no matter what other voices are screaming at you – listen to it. That’s your Higher Power, saving you, saving me, from ourselves. And a different life of wonder, clarity and joy will open to you.

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

Don’t Think, Act!

“You cannot think your way into right actions, you have to act your way into right thinking”  – Hazeldon

When I was acting out I tried thinking my way out of the addiction. “Today I’m not going to look a porn online, I swear I’m not going on that chat site ever again, I’m not going to contact that person anymore”, etc. etc. etc.

My thinking didn’t translate into action because I was too weak. I didn’t have a game plan or instructions on how to behave correctly, all I knew was that I wanted my next high. No amount of promising could overcome the warped rationalization and justification of addictive thinking in my head. The only solution was Action!

At the suggestion of my therapist, I attended an SAA Meeting and found that the members had a game plan, they had an instruction manual, The 12 Steps. I heard it was a simple program but that it was hard work. “If you want what we have and are willing to go to ANY length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps”. I didn’t know if I was ready, all I knew was that I was in agonizing pain and anything was better than what I had tried. This will require dedication and action, was what my Sponsor told me.

Dedication and Action. Progress not Perfection. Fake it till you make it. Act as if. Behave as if. I was hearing this at meetings all the time and had no clue what they meant. One day I asked, AS IF WHAT?!  The answer came back: As if you’re sober, as if you always tell the truth, as if you have integrity and honor, as if you are living without addiction, as if you have the life you always wanted.

So I started behaving AS IF. I took my sponsor’s suggestions and began working the steps, using the tools and attending as many meetings as I could. Slowly, behaving as-if, became reality. Being honest and truthful was easier to do, being honorable and integrous came more naturally, life was more serene and peaceful. Yet, as I progressed in my program, I began to recognize the danger signs especially when attending meetings and seeing friends picking up white chips after months of sobriety. “What happened?”, I would ask. “I got complacent, I thought I didn’t need to work as hard”, “I stopped going to meetings” or “I stopped calling my sponsor”, they answered.    Cunning-Baffling-Powerful

They started ‘thinking’ again. Telling themselves it’s ok to rest, relax, take it easy…. I’ve had those thoughts myself. I don’t want to justify or rationalize anymore, that’s my addict whispering in my head and he almost got me killed. ACTION is what this program demands if I want to be sober and healthy! Action is what has led me to right thinking.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”  ―    C.G. Jung

 

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. 

“Hole vs Whole”…That is The Question

“Hole in the soul” heard it for a very long time but never really did grasp what it meant.  So I think I have an idea now what it means for me.  My soul is the truest purest essence of who I am as a human being.  It is that utter state of comfort, relaxation and contentness of exactly where I am.  As an addict, not only did I not welcome those feelings, I actively shunned them through my acting out behaviors.

My soul was like a strainer, all the good stuff was just pouring through and all the chunky, rough material you want to catch and throw away was left.  The more toxic thoughts, feelings and sentiments that covered my soul the more I would try to fill it up and more of the good stuff would just fall through and only the garbage would remain.

Without a doubt I can say recovery showed me that wholeness was possible.  Meetings to me are mirrors, looking glasses that I avoided my whole life.  I could not stand my own reflection, but once I entered the rooms I saw myself in every person that shared their story.  They told me I was not an awful person, I was not evil, and I was not unlovable.  I was told, “You are a sick person trying to get well, NOT a bad person trying to become good.”  I didn’t buy that for a long time but it did give me something to hold on to.

Wholeness is a process, I did not become fractured overnight, so putting “Humpty Dumpty all back together again….” was not going to happen overnight either.