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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 🙂

Another day another dollar May 21, 2010

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Day 43/44 of sobriety

Sometimes it is so hard coming to work.  Sitting in an office, smiling politely to co-workers, going about my business as if nothing is different about my day,  this can be excruciating to a recovering addict.  No one knowing the internal struggles going on inside my head.  I feel isolated, and completely alone, especially working in a corporate office, where propriety and decorum are paramount.  In the past this disease has caused me to break down at my desk, sobbing in despair.  Thankfully I work for two amazing bosses, who do not pry, but will give me amazing support regardless of what I am going through.  They take the time to check in with me, as they run a multi-million dollar company.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

I can not share this part with everyone.  When people hear the words “sex and love addict” there is this deviant connotation to the addiction.  The other spectrum of people find it intriguing and would love to find out about the freak that lies within and entice me to act out.  And as I learn more of my addiction I see that for most of my life I have been public about everything, too public.  I relished the scores of hot guys that I associated with, and everything that went along with them.  Now I have to learn how to be private, not secretive, which is completely foreign to me.  Private meaning, I don’t have to invite everyone into my recovery.  Part of me always wants to tell everyone, to prove to myself that the people in my life will reject me.  But for now, privacy is key.  God is teaching me patience, and to be still to take the power away from the self-defeating addict that lies within me.

In the beginning… May 19, 2010

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Day 42 of sobriety

So not REALLY the beginning.  I still can’t believe that I have been able to stay sober for that long.  In sex and love addiction, sobriety is the length of time that you are not participating in your self-assigned bottom line behaviors.  (These are all subject to change as you grow in the program)

My bottom lines are:

  1. No sex until I am married
  2. No masturbation
  3. For the first 90 days of sobriety I am not allowed to go to bars or parties where the primary activity is drinking
  4. No drinking for the first 90 days
  5. If I catch myself fantasizing about a guy I have to redirect my thoughts instead of letting myself get lost in the fantasy.
  6. No intriguing with men that can be potential enablers to my addiction.

These are strict by the program standards, but they are necessary for me to stay clean.  I am also in the process of doing 90 meetings in 90 days, which has been my saving grace for the last forty-two days.  Forcing myself daily to examine my life under a magnifying glass, but also doing it with the support of people suffering from the same affliction.

Many people have a misconception about S programs.  People think that they are filled with sexual deviants and disgusting people, grouped in a room so that they can meet and cavort with each other.  The complete opposite of that is true.  Everyone that I have encountered in the rooms is truly seeking sobriety.   They are mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, brothers, and sisters, who are meeting in secret to recover from an addiction that has ruined their life in so many ways.  And I can honestly say that as a group they genuinely want to heal from this disease, and care enough about people to go through this rigorous painful process of recovery so that they can live in truth.

I know that is true for me.  I have this amazing life that I have not been able to enjoy because I am haunted by my past,  the person I have become in my addiction, and the perfectionist in me that sees myself as not worthy.  Thankfully I have been blessed by a supportive group of friends that have encouraged me in my recovery.  I refuse to give up on my life.  I want to live in my present, instead of my past.  And with each day of sobriety, I will remind myself that life is long, and most of my story has not yet been written.