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.

11 thoughts on “The Illusion

  1. I think I prefer delusion rather than illusion. To me illusion is smoke and mirrors while my lying was a ruse I believed my own lies…. delusion. I was delusional when I was in active addiction, I thought I could hide my secret life of acting out, my secret of such intense self hatred, my secret pains of childhood trauma. There were no secrets, I was just delusional…….. thinking I was hiding it, the only person I was hiding it from was myself.

    Recovery has brought me out of delusion and given me the wear-with-all to not need illusions to cope with my past. But more importantly instead of false illusions and the nightmare of existing, it has given me the ablity dream to know I am worth all my dreams coming true.

  2. Illusion, I believe is the core definition of addiction. Addiction, as my therapist describes it, is Escape from Reality. This I feel is so much the truth for my sex addiction that takes me away from the real world, real people, real connections and real problems and real solutions and makes me live in a world filled with illusions and fantasies, which gives me a pretext to feel good. But, guess what? I am able to now see through this cunning, baffling and at times patient disease and now know this addiction is the root of my problem. Recovery, the opposite of illusion or addiction is a refreshing revelation. It’s simple, not easy and at times very painful, but it’s worth it. I am worth it. Recovery not only takes me out of isolation and into reality, but has instilled in me a firm belief that I am not ALONE and I don’t need to be ALONE. God is with me. My friends in the program are with me. I just need to do my part and leave the rest up to GOD. One day, one task at a time. Thank you GOD and Thank you SAA.

  3. Interesting! I was the master of illusions, and disguise. What I thought was a healthy, productive, pleasurable, happy life was anything but an illusion, created by the pursuit of an addiction. My addict kept telling me “one day you will get there” just keep going deeper in your addiction. The problem is, I never got there. I only kept chasing this false reality and illusion that made me more miserable. A year ago my illusion became a reality when I got to the bottom of a dark narrow pit that nearly destroyed my marriage, life and values. It was then that I realized that what I thought was living was only existing, that 33 years of becoming a good addict was a make-belief coping illusion that my addict refused to tell me the truth about.

    The good news today is that I live in a present reality, not a make-believe illusion. The tools I continually learn and apply are keeping me safe, sober and healthy.

  4. The illusion was the reality I had created in my head. I rationalized and justified my acting out everytime I wanted to “get high”. I felt entitled, I felt I had the right, that I had the power to “take care of myself”, that lying and deceiving was normal. That was the illusion.

    My double life was very real, the damage I was causing to myself and others was very real, my failing health was very real, the possibility of death … was very real.
    I was a victim of my own making. All my life had been spent blaming others for everything I thought was wrong with my life. That is dillusional thinking! I am the only one that can take charge of my life, no one else can do it for me.
    Taking that first step of coming into the SAA rooms was the beginning of changing my life, of taking responsibility for my life and, of dealing with the demons I had in my life. The demons were the root of the addiction, what caused me to run away and escape to my fantasies and the illusory life. Facing them was scary, so much so that had it not been for the support of my Sponsor, SAA friends and my HP, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

    I am no longer a victim, I have taken responsibility for my life by working my program every day and staying sober. Now, Peace and Serenity reside in my head and forgiveness and love dwell in my heart.

    Go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps and put an end to the illusion by taking charge of your life.
    G-d bless SAA and all its members.

  5. There was a woman in the news recently, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to 26 years in prison. After appealing the conviction, and spending 4 years in a cell, the decision was overturned; she was set free and flown home. Those 4 years were spent in a cell that was only 100 square feet.

    There is a continuing debate about her guilt or innocence. In the midst of the trial, she was quoted as saying, “I am scared of being branded what I am not.” It may sound crazy, but boy do I know how she feels! As a woman in recovery, I struggle with a cultural double standard. Am I a sex addict or a whore? That is strong language, I know, but when I look at my past, I am disgusted.

    There is a toy called a shape sorter that I remember playing with when I was younger. It’s a cube with different shaped holes in it and corresponding pieces that fit in each hole. You fit each piece through the correct hole and fill up the cube.

    There is a cube in my soul; although, my cube has only one hole. I spent many years of my life trying to shove different shaped pieces into that hole. Shapes like money, clothes, intelligence, drugs, alcohol, adrenaline, hard work, good looks, etc. The one I tried repeatedly, over and over again, in every shape and size that I could find, was men. I was absolutely certain that I would find one somewhere, somehow that fit into that hole.

    The places that endeavor took me were horrendous. After each failed experience, I took a brick and began to build a wall in front of the hole in my cube. I was so tired of the pain. I thought that maybe if I just ignored the hole it would disappear. When I finished one wall, I began another. Each brick was labeled something like, “I hate myself,” “I will never be good enough,” “I deserve this pain,” “I deserve the abuse,” “There is something wrong with me,” “I will never be happy,” “I will never be loved,” or even, “I am a bad person, a slut, a whore.”

    Eventually, I walled myself into a prison cell with a little sign outside that said, “LESS THAN,” and a shelf full of memory DVD’s. Each was labeled with a reminder of why I lived in that cell. They cycled through a player over and over again. In fine print, on the “LESS THAN” sign, was the disclaimer, “Do not enter under penalty of me hurting you worse than I hurt in here.”

    The pain became so great that the only relief I could find was in the ritualization of sexually acting out. It was very brief, and in the end almost nonexistent. I began literally acting out against my will. I could not stop. The “LESS THAN” sign had been upgraded to large neon flashing letters, each funded by my repetitive inability to stop the cycle of insanity. Each new experience was filed away as a new reminder of why I lived in that prison cell. When the pain got great enough, I cried out for help.

    God stepped in. He began with one brick, the one labeled, “there is something wrong with you.” I had found SA. The first thing recovery taught me was I am not alone. I am not bad, just sick. I don’t need to be sent to hell, only to a hospital. Each meeting I attend is like a check-up, a reminder that I am getting better. Each phone call I make to another addict is like a dose of an antibiotic for a disease. While this may be a lifetime of check-ups and pills, it beats the death sentence I used to have. I quite enjoy visiting my family of physicians, and the pills taste pretty good. They are kind of like skittles, different flavors, same rainbow, never gets old. It is a disease though, and I dare not miss a dose or the wall begins to rebuild itself. I dare not miss a check-up or I might not catch any new developments in my disease.

    The next thing I learned was that I was trying to shove guy shapes into a God-shaped hole. They just don’t fit and the void remains. The woman released from prison was also quoted as saying, “I believe in my family. They keep me calm.” The act of bulldozing my prison walls is quite uncomfortable. I’d built them very sturdily, lots of mortar. God has worked His way in there and is wooing me to come out. He has slid nicely into the hole of my soul and has begun to fill my void. When I try to sit stubbornly in my cell, my recovery family reminds me to calmly walk out again. I’m not required to live there anymore. I had sentenced myself to a lifetime of pain and misery, but a jury of my peers overturned the decision and set me free.

    I still struggle with the lies, and sometimes I like to plug that neon sign back in, but as an active participant in the twelve steps, I get farther away and return less frequently. That woman still struggles today with the destruction of her identity, but she is no longer in prison. Freedom has come for the both of us. While it is not yet completely understood, it is available. God tells me I deserve it, my sponsor tells me I am worth it, and I have started to believe it.

    Freedom for me is better spelled with four letters. L-O-V-E. The more I love myself, the more I can accept love from others. Vulnerability and living out in the open is scary, even gut wrenching sometimes, but the reward is a high much greater than any shapes I’ve tried before. Freedom in three letters is G-O-D. God’s love for me when I couldn’t even fathom loving myself is what set me free. As long as I try to put God first every day, I experience what freedom feels like. Thank God that I am not the judge or the jury. Life sentence… for what? The charges were fabricated and false. I am not that woman anymore. I am loved, and I am free.

      • It is so refreshing to truly be “out of bondage” my addiction had me by the throat for so long. Thanks to recovery and loving brothers and sisters in this program I can use them as a mirror and not the illusion that my addict showed me. Today I have such clear vision for the first time in my life. I am grateful everyday to finally truly be out of that cell. Thank you Laura!

  6. Just 8 years ago I stood in front of an altar, adorned in priest robes whose colors matched the season of the church calendar year. At various time throughout the worship service liturgy I turned to the people sitting in the pews and proclaimed things to them about God and, supposedly, from God.

    Earlier that week, however, I had spent hours watching porn and acting out to medicate the anxiety that plagued me every moment of every day – anxiety over not being a good enough Christian; anxiety over whether my sermon would be good and well-received; anxiety over the fact that I was living a secret life of sexual addiction and was not the person I was presenting myself to be to my family, the church and the world; anxiety that something was really wrong and I was unable to pin down exactly what it was or do anything about it.

    I was a sex addict drowning in a sea of illusion, delusion, denial and escape. Not only was I drowning in this sea, I came to realize I had been adrift in it for most of my life if not all of it. I was not only living a lie in front of others, I was lying to myself everyday because reality was to difficult and terrifying to face alone.

    From this period in my life going forward my sexual addiction accelerated at uncontrollable speed and along with it the ongoing illusion that my life was ok or would magically become ok sometime in the future. The next few years were years of such profound loneliness and loss, isolating myself from the world, alienated from family, friends and anyone who offered to help. The illusion that my life would get better at any moment was the lie that kept me going day in and day out.

    Then, the day came when the illusion, delusion, denial and escape stopped working altogether. Reality…hard, cold, unfeeling reality began to overwhelm me. I was forced by the addiction and life to face the reality that I was beaten, there was no getting better and working things out on my own power. The illusion was over, the lie now turned against me as truth. I either had to admit defeat and find an answer for my broken, chaotic life or simply give myself over completely to the addiction and have it lead me to a bitter, loveless, lonely, sexaholic death.

    I can look back now and see how my Higher Power allowed the consequences of my years of medicating life rather than living it to remove the illusion I based my life upon and woke me from a nightmare that had gone on for 30+ years. Today, instead of fearing reality I take joy in living right in the middle of it. Today, I know what the tree and eagle know – what it is to live in the present and live life on life’s terms, rather than living in the past or the future (Ekhart Tolle). Today, through working the steps I have been set free of the obsession to medicate my pain, loneliness, fear, etc by sexually acting out. Today, I have a groups of friends in my SAA program who love me and freely give me encouragement, accountability and support.

    Today, the “Grand Illusion” had become the “simple reality”. Blessings

  7. I like this. Denial kept me enslaved to my disease my whole life. Recovery is helping tear down these walls of denial so that I may get a more accurate depiction of my life today. The first step towards change is awareness!

  8. illusion is a good word to describe what my addiction sells my inner self. It tells me that i can’t survive without acting out. And it tells me that i need my addiction. The last time i acted out (almost 60 days ago) i literally said i needed this aloud while i was acting out physically. THAT WAS A HUGE.LIE! I did not need the pain and humiliation and risk that came with it. Illusions can be so powerful that they possess and blind us from the truth, that we are stronger than our addiction and with work through our higher powe we can achicve what we desire. In my case i desire contentment and spiritual wholeness.

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