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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

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.

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.