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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.

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.