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Forgiveness? January 12, 2011

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Recently, I got into an argument with a friend and I did something that required me to ask for forgiveness.  Although, both sides were at fault and we both asked each other for forgiveness, this didn’t have the same meaning for both of us.

When I think of forgiveness, I ask for it whole heartedly, and give it freely.  When I forgive someone, especially a close friend, it is done for me, and if I am holding onto something I consciously try to let it go.  The issue becomes past and I move on.  I, in no way have perfected forgiveness, or am an expert at it.  But I think that it is a lot easier to forgive when you are in recovery, since you hope to be forgiven for your many transgressions in your addiction.  And I am always reminded of Matthew 18:21-22 where we learn that we should forgive everyone who sins against us, every time, and not just at our leisure.

My friend is new to Christ and this Christian community and he told me that, although he forgives me, that I need to give him his space.  This has been pretty tough on me, because I am so used to just squashing arguments and moving forward.  This person in the past has been like a brother to me, so it is even more difficult to let things be, but I have respected his wishes, and his boundaries.

The other day I was at church and my friend was there.  And I thought to myself, this is perfect, finally we will get to talk and squash these months of uneasiness and not talking.  To my dismay, he avoided me like the plague, but also at the same time made sure to invite everyone around me to dinner, without making eye contact with me.  It felt blatant, and intentional.

I was hoping that in a new year, and in church, that it would be over.  But I realized that I cannot choose how someone forgives me, or when.  And even though he has said the words, his heart has still not forgiven.  The more I thought about it, I knew that I wanted my timing, and not God’s timing.  So I stepped back, and prayed.

I asked God to give me the will to accept him for how he is dealing with this situation.  I told God about my frustrations with it, and gave it all to Him.  I felt at peace with it, and restored.  Even though I hoped for something better, I released the control I wanted over the situation.  And in the end, I left thinking that even if I am never close friends with this person again, that they continue their walk with God, and he finds peace in his heart.

Inspired January 8, 2011

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There is definitely something to be said about just showing up.  I was going to skip a dinner on Sunday, because I was starting my first week of work after a long vacation.  It was a discussion dinner, and the topic was creativity.  As a writer my first instinct should be to go to events like this, but lately I have wanted to seclude myself.   Somehow I went against my nature and attended the dinner.

It was slow going at first, not everyone is a verbal processor, and no one was volunteering answers to any of the topical questions.  Silence is excruciating for me in a group setting.  But a friend of mine was leading it, so I just jumped in to help him out.  I shared about writing and what it meant to me.  There were times where it was just crickets, but as people felt more comfortable they began to share about what they were passionate about it turned into something amazing.

I think that being present, as they say in 12 step speak, is probably the best lesson they teach in program.  I watched people’s demeanor change from shy to animated.  And I realized that as a society we are rarely asked to share about what we love to do.  We are rarely asked to talk about our art, and what it means to us; how it heals us, and fuels us.  And given that opportunity we shine.  We smile in the middle of explaining because we remember a moment when we were creating something that moved our soul, and we don’t necessarily share that moment, but we share why we love to do what we do.

A woman in the group who seamed to be shy was finally asked to share her gift.  None of us in the room really knew what to expect, since when we asked her what she loved, she answered, “playing 19th century piano music.”  I think most of us were not at all impressed, since most of us probably had the latest top 40 song in our head.  But as she began to play Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu, we were all taken to a different place.  She came alive as she played.  I took a moment to scan the room as I let myself be broken from the trance of her playing, everyone was mesmerized by her talent, and her passion.  No one moved, they were all transfixed on this woman, whose playing was shaking the piano, and our preconceived notions about 19th century music.

As she played I began to formulate a short story in my head.  I felt inspired.  I would have completely missed out on this experience had I let myself stay in seclusion.  I made excuse, after excuse as to why I shouldn’t go to dinner, but for some reason I went against everything that I felt and decided to show up.  There is growth in that.  I am starting to show up for my life again.  It’s strange to know where I was a year ago in my addiction and to see the person I am now, and I am glad that I don’t recognize myself.  The person I knew I didn’t like, and it is great to know that I ultimately had the power to change that person.  I know I am not finished, but seeing my own progress is inspiring, and I hang on to that and it keeps me moving forward. 

*If you would like to hear Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu please see the attached link.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K4-r5V3cVw&feature=related

You are my Everest! January 2, 2011

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If you have never done a fourth step in a 12 step program, you will have no idea what it is like.  For you that have, you can commiserate.  I have known so many people that gave up on their 4th step the first, and some even said they tried three times and had given up.  I now understand why.

The 4th Step is to “make a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves.”  The first thing that stands out to me is the “fearless” part.  We are asked to go into the dark recesses of our past, and shed light on what we have forgotten, and what we wished we had.  To see our part in everything that has happened to us in our lives, and make peace with it, and move into a new direction.  Sound easy?  I think not.

I have faced so many things head on, I have run 3 marathons, even faced my rapists, but this is something I run from.  I think that what keeps us from healing from our addiction, is our fear of what we will see in the mirror.  The part we have taken in the direction of our lives.  If we stay oblivious and we can continue to blame someone else, be it a relationship, a screwed up family, or being a rape survivor.  These things though tragic and heart breaking are not the end of us.  We are still here, still fighting.  We are in program because we have hope, that we can achieve something better.  We trust God, that “this” is not it, but whatever “it” is, it resides on the other side of the fourth step.

I have to admit, it has been a month and a half since I have looked at my fourth step.  I am in the first stages of it.  I have written out my resentments.  I started out on my moral high horse, and thought that because I had such a great relationship with God, I resented nothing; cut to, 2 hours later and I have 187 resentments, and still counting.  I got out of my own way and was completely honest.  It wasn’t about what looked good, but what was right to say.  It is for no one to see except my sponsor.  It is safe.  But I am at a road block.

Writing out your resentments flows like water, when you open that flood gate.  You add resentment on top of resentment.  You remember hatreds, and past wrongs like they happened yesterday.  You feel justified, you write down things that are petty.  But after all that fun, the hard part begins.  For every resentment you have, you have to write out your part in the situation.  What YOU did in the situation, where you were selfish, or self-centered, and how your actions added to the situation you resented.  Fun, right?

This is where I am at.  The 3rd column of my 4th step spread sheet.  This third column is my Everest.  I am going to be fearless this week and tackle some of it, I don’t know how much, but little by little I am going to climb this mountain.  I can’t stay on this side forever.  I want to see what hope looks like, I want to see what healing looks like on the other side of Everest.

1/1/11 January 1, 2011

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Day ??????

I obviously did what I always do and leave a project when it gets too hard or demanding.  So I have decided to change the way I view this blog.  Before I would vow to write in it every day, and when I wouldn’t it would make it extremely hard for me to get back up and write again.  Today I vow to make no vows.  This is for my healing and not another thing that can be the source of feelings of failure.  I started this blog for me, because I had something to say, and because I thought it would help others in my situation.  Today I write because I need to, and more importantly because I want to.

So to catch you all up on me:

  1. On November 21st I got baptized in the freezing cold ocean.  It was amazing and an inexplicable feeling of peace, and joy.
  2. I finished a program with my foundation where we were able to help a lot of kids on a path to healing.
  3. My mother and I have grown so close, it scares me a bit.  I still have to work on my “waiting for the other shoe to drop” mentality.  But I am enjoying the time.
  4. I learned that even with my strong faith, there was still an area of my life where I didn’t trust God.
  5. But more importantly I am still sober.  It is interesting how that one fact can lead to a drama free update.

So that has been happening, and although I am making no vows or resolutions today I want to share with you my hopes and dreams for the coming year.

  1. I hope that I can expand my foundation so that we can help more kids in need.
  2. I hope that this year my family and friends experience as many, if not more blessings than I did in the past year.
  3. I hope that I continue on my path of recovery with the diligence that I have been seeking it throughout the year.
  4. I hope to strive to grow my relationship with God so that I truly trust Him in all aspects of my life.

Thank you for listening to my ramblings and have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

dancing on the ceiling July 3, 2010

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Day 68 of Sobriety – Written June 25 2010

There are so many things that you think you “love” when you are a SLA (sex and love addict).  A lot of it had to do with melding into the person I thought the person I loved would love.  And as I look back  at a lot ofmy interests, they were attached to some guy, that I was dating.  I “loved” college basketball, when my boyfriend was a basketball coach.  I “loved” speed metal when my boyfriend was a speed metal drummer.  Doesn’t every girl wake up to Pantera in the morning? I “loved” obscure writers when my boyfriend was an english major, when in reality I thought they were awful, and wanted to gouge my eyes out reading their 700 page tirades.  Although as a writer this was closer to the me I really was, but feigning love for certain books was excrutiating.  A few things have stood the test of time.  Jiu jitsu being one of them, but there is a part of me that still wants to take a step back from that, because there was a guy that really helped me see this sport, and love it.  Even though, that guy is long gone, I still love martial arts.

Recently I was on a quest to find something that I have loved even before my first crush, and that was dancing.  I remember being a little girl and seeing boy bands of the past and memorizing their dance moves.  I have seen videos of me doing dances with my little cousin.  So I decided to explore my old love.

Surprisingly enough, true love does exist.  I have been taking classes 4 days a week and sometimes twice a day (such an addict).  But I remembered why I loved it so much.  I feel so free when I dance, and although I look like a dork since I have never really done choreography before, I don’t stop doing it.  I think that I have been so focused on perfectionism, that I never let myself suck at anything.  I never let myself stay in the moment of being a student.  I have abandoned so many things because I couldn’t get it the first time, or be successful enough in my first attempt to be impressive.  I am humbled by this new experience, and grateful for this feeling of knowing that I don’t need to do something perfectly the first time.

So I show up to class, and before I walk in I pray that I have the courage to be free, to laugh at myself, and to let myself feel joy and not be embarrassed by my imperfections.

mirror, mirror on the wall… June 9, 2010

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Day 60 of Sobriety – Written June 6, 2010

I can’t believe I made it to day 60.  When people say that it gets easier not to act out when you have had more sobriety, THAT IS NOT A LIE.  The night before I was going to get my 30 days, I was white knuckling it on day 29.  Part of me thinks it was like that because deep inside I thought if I failed that meant this program doesn’t work and I could go back to acting out. But I succeeded and only by the grace of God, did I do it that day.  I literally had to clutch my hands together in prayer all night to keep myself from acting out.  It is hard to act out when you are praying, so AMEN for prayer.

Today was different, if it wasn’t for the fact that I have it marked on my calendar, it wasn’t that bad.  No white knuckling involved.  I think that the main challenge I face is not letting other people’s actions trigger me.  I work in entertainment with a lot of artistic types.  Sex and love addicts run rampant in this industry.  But at the same time I am also a devout Christian, and have an amazing group of friends from church.  Yesterday, I had a BBQ with everyone and there was an intermingling of my work life and my church life.  And I was definitely triggered.

I was triggered by this woman Angie*, a co worker.  Angie is beautiful and petite, wears all the right kind of make-up, and shows all kinds of skin.  She was flirting left and right with a lot of men that are from my church, and it was excruciating to watch, because in a different time and a different place I would be hitting on the same men.  But I refrained from debasing myself and competing with her.  I hated her for that moment in time because she was getting to do all of the things that I wish I could do.  But at the end of the day when all is said and done, I was the woman of integrity that I wanted to be, and I no longer envied her.  I accepted her for whom she was, I accepted where I was at in my life and also my place with the men in my life.  And that, for me, is progress. 

Being truly beautiful is not about how much make-up you have on, or how big your boobs are, or what you can give sexually or allude to intentionally; being truly beautiful is tied to the glow you emit spiritually, and the contribution you make globally.  I commit to you today, that that is the kind of beauty I am going to strive for everyday.

*All names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.

the chase is on June 9, 2010

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Day 57 of sobriety – Written June 3, 2010

“If you chase God the way you chase a man/woman or your career, the life you REALLY want will start chasing you.” – Anonymous

The rate of recovery ebbs and flows.  I don’t feel particularly strong in my recovery right now.  I haven’t acted out, or feel like acting out, but I am exhausted, and emotionally drained.  I am uncovering this black haze that has spread all over my life, and it is frightening, and beautiful at the same time.

Yesterday in a therapy session, out of no where, I uttered words that I have never said out loud to anyone, regardless of how true it may be.  I said, “There is part of me that really hates myself.”  I said those words…I hate myself.  I couldn’t believe it.  I have been so amazing at faking confidence, and high self-esteem, but in the end you cannot run from yourself, or continue to lie to yourself in recovery.

It was painful to realize, but necessary to move on.  I trust God, that these truths needed to be revealed, so that I can fully invest in my recovery.  And I know in time this will change.  I feel it changing already.  Once I said it, a feeling of release passed over me that I will never be able to explain.  And even now, it’s easier.

My life is changing already.  The more I look to God for answers, the more He reveals the beauty of the world to me, for which I am eternally grateful.  Opportunities are opening all around me, and I this is because I am finally seeing the world.  Before I could only chase the objects of my disease.  I am excited to finally be chased by the life I want.

party like it’s 1999…hmm maybe not May 28, 2010

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Day 50/51 of sobriety

I just bought a plane ticket to go to my good friend Tommy’s* engagement party.  Tommy is a good friend from college who has always been there for me.  Another thing about Tommy is that his personality in college was akin to James Belushi’s character in Animal House and so were all of our other roommates.  So his  engagement party may not be the best place for a recovering sex and love addict. 

In recovery everything feels like it’s happening for the first time, because when you are sober you interact with the world in a completely new way.  I am constantly trying to make sure that I am doing “contrary action.”  If you are not familiar with 12 step speak, that means I am constantly going against what has been my addict nature to do.  For example, if I am in a group of men at a party, I have to go against my nature and NOT make an off-color joke that draws attention to me in a sexual way.  This can be exhausting, and frustrating, and a daily staple of recovery.  But a necessity if I want to change patterns of behavior that have been in place for decades.  And the prospect of going this on a trip with old college friends is frightening!

There is an inevitable regression when you hang out with people from your past, especially under the guise of a party.  You want to relive all of the fun memories, and go through all of your exploits together.  And if you are in controlled setting, you let loose, and act as if you are 21 again.  This is an easy task for my friends and I, partially because I think all of my friends are addicts NOT in recovery. 

This trip is going to be my greatest challenge thus far.  But I don’t want to live my life in a recovery bubble.  Life does not exist in my strict program schedule, it exists in using the tools I learn to live the life that I want, and that means seeing where old people fit into my new life.  I know that some people will be lost, but those losses are part of the process.  The relationships that you lose are toxic in some way, and I have realized it is okay to say goodbye to those people.  I am not saying that I am going to sever ties, but I am considering this a reconnaissance mission and a test.  Tommy has a cousin, Jason, who is someone I have acted out with on several occasions.  And he is still unattached.  He pursues anything that moves, and I have been on the other end of his scope many a time.  I have resisted him before, and I have also succumbed.  He has beautiful blue eyes, dark hair, he can make you laugh so hard you cry, and can charm the pants off of you – he at times was my kryptonite.  And he is why I am having reservations about this trip.  But I don’t want my disease to affect me being there to celebrate a new chapter in Tommy’s life.  I want to be there and be a part of that.

After a great trip to my parent’s house, and not having acted-out even when triggered, I know I am stronger in my recovery than I give myself credit for, but I am not stupid.  I have already set up allies on my trip to Tommy’s.  I have clued in a few of my friends that I am no longer drinking, and not to give me a hard time about it.  I have also made sure that I have access to meetings via phone or online when I am traveling.  And although I bought my ticket already, I am going to let myself have the option of not going if I really feel that I am not ready, rather than feel obligated.  So AMEN for travelers insurance!  And for me this is growth, because the addict still lies within, and I have no preconceived notions that I am healed because of my little victories here and there.  They just let me know that I am on the right path. 

Partying like it’s 1999 is no longer an option, but enjoying the party in 2010 is still a possibility.  There is no drinking or acting out, but there is real joy, and that is more appealing to me than getting drunk and making bad decisions.  And thank God for that.

*All names and places have been changed to maintain anonymity, but it’s annoying to me to have just letters for people’s names, so I assign people names I think they should have 🙂

paging dr. feelgood May 25, 2010

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Day 47/48 of sobriety

Being sick sucks.  I feel awful.  After coming back from a very successful visit with the family, I can’t even enjoy my victory.  I was not triggered at all, when I was at home.  I didn’t let myself get dragged into family drama.  I didn’t break my bottom lines.  I didn’t drink, even when tempted.  I felt joy when my cousin got married.  I was happy for him, even though there was a part of me that was envious of his marriage.  I laughed and cried, in happiness, and in fear.  The fear of maybe never experiencing that beautiful event, was sad, but at the same time I was happy for someone I loved.  I let myself be in THAT moment without escaping, and it was amazing.

But now in THIS moment I am sick, and can’t enjoy anything.  I hate being alone when I feel sick.  No one to take care of me.  Not that I ever had anyone to baby me when I was growing up, but for some reason I always feel more alone when I am sick.   I want someone to bring me juice and make my tea.  But as I type this I realize that I don’t NEED someone to take care of me.  The addict in me NEEDS someone to be here.  So I choose to be still, and not reach out to a to anyone, and take care of myself.  I will find strength in that today.

I will remind myself of the victory over this weekend.  And the amazing gift of my mother’s understanding and support.  This weekend for the first time in my life, I felt protected and cherished by her.  When I had my phone meeting* and people kept trying to interrupt me, she told them I was on an “important conference call.”  She has changed, and her support makes me feel strong in my recovery, because I am learning to trust her like I have never let myself do in the past.  Learning vulnerability is a gift of this program, and I am thankful to receive it.  If nothing else, that is making me feel better.

*SLAA has phone meetings you can call into to, when you are too far from a live meeting.

the mile high club May 22, 2010

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Day 44 of sobriety

I am posting from 35,000 feet in the air.  The marvels of modern technology can be dumbfounding.  WiFi in flight is amazing.  Although I have been getting strange looks from a man two seats away as he saw the words “Diary of a Sex and Love Addict” flash across my computer screen.  I wonder if he has finally looked away because he sees that I am writing about him.

Regardless if he sees my face or sees what I am typing, I am still Anonymous Smith sitting next to him.  It is astonishing to me that our society has led us to isolate in a crowd of people.  I used to love meeting people on the plane, but I have noticed in the past few years that people are less willing to make small talk with strangers inflight.  I don’t know if it is fear of terrorists or fear of H1N1 that has led us to be comfortable living parallel lives with people near us without intersection.

But at the same time I am at fault because I am isolating into my computer, so I guess I am as much to blame as they are.

I am on my way “home” for the first time since I have started recovery.  Home being my parents house.  My therapist says that I shouldn’t call it “home” anymore, because it isn’t, and when I identify it as such there is a sense of regression that I attach to being there.  I think she is right.  I am definitely afraid to go back, since my family is the most triggering thing in my life.  The drama that they bring can always set me off.  I am not concerned about acting out sexually, but I am scared that I will not be strong enough to abstain from drinking.  Because if anything can drive me to drink it is my family.  But even with all their faults, they can be such the source of so much joy and laughter.

I am praying that this weekend will be a testament to the latter.  I am trying to go into this experience without expectations.  I am not going to expect them to be drama.  I am not going to expect them to be the perfect shiny happy family either.  I am bringing my program with me.  And for this day I am not going to act out no matter what my family may throw my way.  I am choosing to live differently and I hope that through interacting with me, they will see that, and act accordingly.

I am not without allies when I go home.  I have told my mother about my program, and everything that recovery entails for me.  And for the first time in 30 years she has actually shown up for me.  She is being the mother that I have always wanted and I am eternally grateful to God for that.  Because I have been praying for this so wholeheartedly that it can be nothing else.  In past every time I have gone to her, I have been rejected over and over again.  Ten years ago when I told her that I was raped when I was in highschool and I needed help, the first thing she told me was that it was my fault that I was depressed because I didn’t ask for help sooner.  Not exactly what you want to hear, but we move on.  I am letting that go because the person that is before me now is completely changed.

And if I believe that an addict can change, so can my mother.