The word freedom appears in my mind when I think of the title to this entry. In my addiction I was liken to a slave and enslaved to a life of demoralization, shame and constant grief. I could not see the hideous nature of this beast. Denial worship me and kept me starved for affection. It wasn’t until I had my epiphany and realized I was a sex addict that my actions and behaviors came to light. By shining light on my disease I could begin to see just how my delusional thinking got me to the level of depravity I had attained. Fortunately, I found the rooms of SAA and my recovery began. Through guidance and suggestions from a sponsor and my fellows I came to understand the solution was upon me. As it states in the promises, I began to know a new freedom and new happiness. I wasn’t waking up in fear of the last lie that I told. I wasn’t fearful that I was going to go to jail or that I was loosing my sanity. That feeling of uselessness and self pity started to disappear. I was on a journey, not in survival mode. Friends began to trickle back into my life. I was gaining self esteem. I know today my recovery is my salvation and holds the keys to the freedom I so deeply wanted, but never knew how to obtain. Forever free from the monster who lives in the shadows and yearns to have my soul. Grateful for my Higher Power for the gifts that I have received, one day at a time.
When I hear the word God…a lot of thoughts go through my head. In this program I’ve come to believe in a Higher Power or God of my own understanding. I have no religious connection to this God or Higher Power. What I have is a spiritual connection with this essence. I fondly call my God or Higher Power “Papa”. When I think of him in a visual sense I think of Morgan Freedman in the movie, “Bruce Almighty.” It works for me and we’ve had long conversations to back this up. It says in the SAA program that our recovery is directly related to our spiritual connection. I know this spiritual connection is what drives me on a daily basis. There are tools that I use on a regular basis that deepen my connection, one is by praying and reflection. Each night I recite the ten most important things I am grateful for as I lie in bed. The second process is that I journal. Journaling creates a direct connection to my Higher Power. Its He that I speak to in my journal. I can tell Him anything and if I listen closely He puts answers I need to hear all around me. They could take the form of someone else speaking to me or seeing an article in a magazine that applies to what I was troubled over. It makes me feel warm inside that I know that my Higher Power loves me unconditionally and does not judge me. That He is accepting and available when I need to talk to Him. Most importantly is the fact that He is with me 24/7/365, day or night. Thank you Papa.
There is a quote that floats around the rooms that goes like this; “The past is history, the future is a mystery and present is a gift.” Truer words could not have been spoken. When I got into recovery I had a hard time living in the moment and being present. I was so consumed with reliving the past over and over in my mind. I was in pain. And to make matters worse I would have anxiety over projecting what might happen in the future, when in fact it is a mystery. Thankfully, my sponsor was watching me torture myself and suggested that I live in the present, moment by moment that’s why they call it a “gift.” As I started to realize that the present represented that I live life on life’s terms. I was apprehensive at first, then learned to just relax and accept that my higher power was there to assist me through whatever showed up. Today, I have the fortune to living mainly in the present. When I start to think about what the future holds for me I look at as an opportunity for future growth as opposed to anxiety. Additionally, I learned that the past is what it is and I need to hold it dear to my heart as to remember where I’ve been so I can appreciate where I am today, in the present. Recovery lives in the present and holds the promises as a gift for the future. As it says in the promises, …”we will be amazed before we are half way through.” Living in the present allows for the possibility of intimacy to take hold and flourish. Truly a gift of the present.
Working the steps…the backbone of our recovery. I call them the “perfect parent.” I call them that because if we had ideal parents they would have taught all these steps for learning to deal with life. Unfortunately, my parents rarely took the time to interact with me. So learning about integrity, spirituality and “living life on life’s’ terms” I only learned after I came into recovery. The steps were my “teacher” and as I humblely became the student. My education started February 2005 with step one which took me a year to complete. I was not a dutiful student until my first year was finished and I got a new sponsor. Then I was guided weekly through the last eleven. I thank my sponsor for his guidance and support. His experience proved over and over again to be an invaluable resource. Going through step two and three got me on my way deep into my spirituality.
Step four allowed me to give up the shame I was so entrenched in, while step five allowed me to be courageous. Step six taught me about my underlying causes, while step seven taught me how to ask for support. Step eight helped to see the effect I had on others, while step nine showed me how be very humble. Step ten showed me I wasn’t perfect, didn’t need to be perfect, but allowed me to take responsibility for my actions. Step eleven brought me closer to my higher power and step twelve taught me the word “fellowship.” All in all I become a different man because of the steps and believe in the them wholeheartly. I know they are the reason I lead such a blessed life and encourage everyone to follow through on your journey.
How committed do I really have to be to my recovery in order to have the promises fulfilled in my life. Well let’s see…I know for me it’s all or nothing. As it says in “How It Works” …half measures availed us nothing. And well they should. I found out when I slipped just how true the comment was. In the beginning of my recovery I listened to my sponsor and took his suggestions. I called every day and to at least three people in program. I journaled went to meetings and made it a point to change people, places and things. I did great and the promises of “The Promises” start to permeate into my life. Five months later I had a slip, I took control of my life back in my hands. What a brutal mistake. I stopped listening to my sponsors suggestions, I didn’t call regularly like I was supposed to, I began isolating really badly and I missed meetings. I thought that I had a better way and I was going to prove it to the world. My sponsor wanted to fire me and I deserved that. Two months of half measures and I hit my bottom. I came into a meeting and begged for God’s mercy. What I realized was my sponsor, with all his experience, knew better than I did. What I learned was that the program works. I turned my will over to my higher power and began living, 100% committed to my recovery. I’m an addict. Left to my own devices I will fall on my face over and over again. Putting my recovery first above everything keeps me in sobriety, one day at a time.
As I listen & look at my brothers and sisters in recovery one common theme comes to mind…The gratitude that recovery brings with it. “Why now?” might be a question that some people ask themselves as they start their journey. The answer to this question comes in as many varied answers as colors of the rainbow. I know for me the message was extremely clear. If not now then I would have lost my life. That was a critical turning point and the reason for my decision. I knew as clearly as my front hand follows the back that I was on collision course with death. I was going to lose my family, my career, my freedom, my sanity and most importantly, my life. Today I look at this question of “Why now?” and say to myself, “now” is because I am worth it. I have value. Also because I care about my family, career, my freedoms and my sanity. Recovery has been the ultimate teacher in the ways of daily living and living the principles of the 12 steps in all my affairs. Today is the present, the gift I reward myself with as each new day that blossoms. Sure, I still have thoughts of acting out, euphoric recall and triggers; however I know that today I also have my recovery and the tools to lead me on the path of sobriety. Most importantly, “now” I have my higher power who loves and support me and as long as my spiritual connection is running on high then my gratitude for this program and all its gifts is forefront in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still an addict and always will be, but I remember, “Why now?” and smile as my HP leads me on my way.
One of the toughest areas to wade through is the internet. While it is truly one of mankind’s greatest gifts, it has had negative consequences for many. I think it is so amazing that we could build such an educational tool. I also know the harsh reality of its dark sides. I too, was caught up in its pornographic waters. Thankfully, I have learned that while I have a strong spiritual connection I can swim with its sharks. I do not have to choose such sites that can erode my inner soul. This is the greatest tool given to mankind since the invention of the light bulb. Some people get caught up in the bubble of their disease and end up browsing aimlessly through a sea of perversion. Not because they wanted too, but rather because this disease is so cunning and powerful that they felt unable to stop their desires to view pornography or chat. At times like this the tool becomes a weapon and can rip the very fiber of integrity right from its foundation. Once bitten by the internet bug, most fall prey to its dark sides very quickly whether they are spending time on chat sites or personal ads. Its appeal to allow us to remain anonymous has most sex addicts addicted after just a few sessions. The allure of its images cast a spell over our ability to rationalize between fantasy and reality. Therefore this great tool can never fulfill its truest potential. However, there is one power that can assist us as we chart out our course, that one power is God, may you find God now and have Him surf along side of you to keep your journey safe. It’s up to each of us to choose our existence with the internet, for surely the internet is here to stay.
I decided to talk about something that is near and dear to me, living. As each new day passes I thank my higher power for another day free from my addiction because I know that that’s all I have. One day at a time. This then gets me to think about being alive. I do a reality check. I remember that today I’m alive. By the grace of God I’m alive. If I had stayed in my addiction three and a half years ago today I would have joined others as a statistic, another dead addict. I know my addiction wants to kill me, wants to suck the spiritual life right out of me. That’s the reality I live with each day. I’ve come to respect my addiction because I know its power. I know what drives it. This is why I do a reality check each and every day, just to remind me where I stand. I’m an addict, my thinking is not normal. Sure my obsessions have lessened as the years have gone by, but I’m still on my toes watching each and every minute carefully because I don’t know when my addict may rear its ugly head. I’ve already been blindsided in the past. That proved to be a very valuable lesson. So just for today, for this moment I enjoy my reprieve from my addiction, diligently watching ever so carefully for what the next moment offers. You might say I’m a little rigid, but I know from experience and from the experience of my fellows that reality is that this disease really does want to kill me. So be careful and watch your footing as you walk your paths and be alert to the pebbles in the path, it could be your addiction playing a trick on you.
When we feel bad physically we go to the doctor for a checkup. When our recovery is a little lax is good to do a check up from the neck up. Going back to the basics is what has worked for me in jump starting a relaxed recovery. Sometimes I feel blue. Sometimes I feel disconnected from my program and sometimes I feel that I’ve spiritually lost my connection. I’ve learned there are tools I have that assist me in getting back on course. Getting back to the basics is what keeps me in sobriety, one day at a time. If I feel blue I turn to my gratitude list and remember the ten most important things for me. When I feel disconnected from my program I get on the phone and make as many calls as I can in order to speak to three people. It has been suggested in the “Tools of Recovery” text to make at least 3 calls a day. I highly recommend this. The good conversations can really get you out of your head and stop those disconnected feelings. And when I’m feeling a little out of sorts spiritually, I spark up a good conversation with my higher power. One of the best things I know is He’s always there to listen. Afterwards I feel His guidance, love and light. A very fulfilling experience and one that makes me smile. Now I know you might say, “That’s great, it works for you.” Well, these basics tools do work for me. That’s why I suggest them to all my sponsees when they are feeling out of sorts with their program. Who knows it could work for you. Give it a try and I meet you in sobriety. TyF.
Willingness and Desire, it sounds like a good name for a romance novel. Truth be told it’s the two most important qualities as addicts we can have in order to seek sobriety, one day at a time. I remember when I first came to the rooms, I didn’t have the willingness nor the desire for sobriety. I felt that I didn’t have any problems. I guess if I could have listened to my shares from those early days they probably didn’t have much substance to them. Then a funny thing happened, I actually admitted I was a sex addict years later and ended up coming back to the rooms out of desperation. Desperation to stop the pain I was in. The second time around I had realized I actually had a problem and it was effecting my life. Thank GOD! I finally had the willingness needed to seach for the solution. I even had the desire to stop acting out. This is all thats needed in order to stop the insanity, willingness and desire. For me, I applaud those who keep coming back to the rooms and haven’t put together long sobriety. I understand their plight, just as they understand mine. They keep coming back because they have a desire to stop acting out and a willingness to show up to meetings. The “crutial two.” Even with my three and a half years these two words are paramount in my struggle to stay sober, one day at a time and I applaud anyone who finds their way to these rooms with their own willingness and desire. God bless you all. TyF