“A moment comes for every addict when the consequences are so great or the pain is so bad that the addict admits life is out of control because of his or her sexual behavior.” -Dr. Patrick Carnes
My Life Was Unmanageable
October 2010 was when I finally admitted that my life was out of control due to my sexual behavior.
I was labeled a “sex addict” in 2008 and I believed that by disclosing my past behaviors to my former spouse, it would alleviate the guilt and shame I had carried for years. Instead, I took my guilt and shame and dumped it on her to carry. I gave her my burden.
Then I did what most addicts do when they’re still in denial; I figured I could recover on my own. I purchased the SAA Green Book and started reading. I didn’t get very far until that book started to collect dust and I returned to the only behaviors I knew to help me medicate my feelings.
Two years later, when my world was crumbling beneath me, I checked myself into an in-treatment center that specialized in addiction. What I thought would be five weeks turned into thirteen.
And of course, I came out believing I “knew it all.”
My former spouse separated from me four years into recovery, asked for a divorce the following year, and just prior to six years in recovery, I moved out of our home.
I may have had only one slip in almost seven years, however, it has taken this long to finally reach some semblance of calm.
I have never worked so hard for anything in my life. And yes, I will admit, I put all my energy into my relationship. That was my major driving force. It was an obsession I would not let go of. I made it about me trying to prove my love by the work I did in recovery instead of listening and helping my former spouse heal from the immense pain I had caused. Like trying to hold a baby humming bird gently in my hands, I instead, crushed the life out of my marriage.
Through all this pain, I would not change how my life has turned out. I still pray for reconciliation. I still pray for our family. However, I have finally found the peace and serenity that the 12 steps promise. I have been reborn.
My Personal Advice:
- Every time you tell your story, you cut your shame in half.
- Don’t ever think you’ve “got it”. That’s when you’ll fall on your ass!
- Recovery is a new way of life. It’s beautiful and glorious. But we must work our program daily. The minute we start to slack off, we run the risk of falling back into old habits.
- Speaking of habits, it will take time to change. Don’t expect that tomorrow will happen immediately. As my therapist has always said, “it’s not the destination, but the journey.”
- Recovery doesn’t mean that you won’t feel emotions. Recovery means you will always feel them, however, you now have the tools you need to manage them. Emotions no longer become overwhelming and the gift you receive is you become present in the world.
- Surround yourself with fellowship. This is key. I have found that sex addicts are the most open people I have ever been around. They work together discussing their fears, emotions, and character flaws. Sex addiction is a spiritual disease and those in recovery are working towards reclaiming their spirituality, that connection with themselves. As much as we try, we can’t do this on our own.
- Recovery is different for different people. Some do well with only the 12 steps and others need more therapy. Do what you need to do to heal. Don’t compare your recovery with someone else.
For Your Partner
If you have a partner, it is imperative that you take the time to look at the For the Partner section of this website. It may be hard to battle the shame and guilt that comes up, but if you want to reconcile your relationship, you NEED to understand what your addiction did to your partner. Brain science and therapy has shown that sexual betrayal towards a partner creates PTSD symptoms. Relationships can be healed, but it takes time, commitment, and intense work from both partners to make it happen.
As hard as recovery gets, remember, we made the choice to turn to sex to medicate our emotions. Yes, it may have been due to childhood trauma or a multitude of other factors, but just like you are here now choosing to change your life, we chose our past. Our partners need to make the choice if they can continue to live with someone who has betrayed them. Give them the space to figure that out.
Like the analogy above, hold your partner in your hand as you would a baby hummingbird, gently and lovingly.
Turn to your fellowship when you are struggling, not your partner. Please, don’t make the same mistakes I did and make it all about you. We all need the Rafiki’s in our lives to knock some sense into us. They are our recovery peers.
Remember, “you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time.” You are now in a position to increase that knowledge. Use the information here and what you learn from fellowship so you, too, can change.
My wish is that my Fledglings can find the help you need. That the resources here will help you heal your past wounds and allow you to grow through the pain. You, like myself, can be reborn!
I know it sounds preachy and it took me way too long to figure this out myself; the goal of recovery is to LOVE YOURSELF!
- You cannot parent your children until you learn to parent your inner child.
- You cannot learn to truly love another until you learn to love yourself.
- And you won’t be able to receive love when you continue to believe you aren’t worthy of it.
Find your authentic self and love who you truly are.
This song started playing on Pandora as I was finishing this page. When you listen to the lyrics, imagine that “we” refers to your adult and your inner child. “We” refers to all of us.
Together We Can Heal!
“Take these broken wings, and learn to fly again and learn to live so free.”
My heart goes out to all my Fledglings on your destiny of recovery. May you rise up from the ashes so we all can soar together.
July 17, 2017