I thought I’d write down my share from this evenings SAA meeting. Our topic for the evening was about ‘progression’.
My initial reaction was ‘WFT am I going to talk about..?’ But as the others started sharing my own thoughts started to come together.
It’s truly amazing the power that I experience in those rooms. It’s why I know that I just need to keep going back, even when I’m feeling good, because there is such courage and honesty each and every time that it helps keep me real and grounded.
I was going to talk about my progress over the last 3 weeks as I’m now 3 weeks and 1 day clean (SAA) and 3 weeks sober (AA). The more people spoke, the more I realised that I needed to share my understanding of these illnesses as progressive.
I’ve never done hard drugs in my life. I think part of the reason for this is that I’m too afraid of losing my mind whilst under the influence. I also think that deep down part of me has always truly and honestly known I’m an addict. It is said that one shot of heroin is enough to get you hooked for life and whilst I’ve always believed people are weak and stupid for taking hard drugs, I think part of me knows that if I ever did, then it’s, game over. I’m no different from the heroin addict, the coke addict or the gambler.
I have been very weak and I have been very stupid.
I am an addict.
I will always be an addict.
But rather than seeing part of me as an addict, I’ve chosen to embrace my addict. I accept my addict. I love my addict. At the end of the day the addict isn’t someone or something else. It’s me. I am all of me and to separate myself is to create conflict. I am whole and when I am whole I am at peace.
The real &%*er about sex addiction and to some degree alcohol addiction (and definitely depression) is that they are progressive illnesses. You don’t realise that what you are doing is harmful until your perspective on reality is so warped that you end up lying to yourself about who you really are.
My sex addiction probably started at the age of about 6 when I found a single page of hard core pornography. From that point on the addiction progressed slowly over decades. I would have periods of sobriety, or at least I thought they were. The problem was I was still objectifying and fantasising over women, even though I wasn’t looking at porn or masturbating compulsively. My mind was slowly conditioning itself, but I told myself I was normal, that my thoughts and behaviour were just normal male thoughts and behaviour.
I would then have periods or really bad sex addiction, where I would become obsessed with pornography, masturbating and sex.
The same thing happened with alcohol. I started drinking at about 14 and it wasn’t a problem. By the age of 15-16 I was getting blind drunk every Friday and Saturday, but again this was normal. All my friends did it. Heck my parents liked a drink. Drinking is normal. It’s only after years of conditioning that I now realise how dependent I had become on both alcohol and sex as coping mechanisms for my underlying fear, anxiety and depression.
Because the illness progresses so slowly you don’t see it coming. It was only when I met my last girlfriend that I began to realised how messed up I really was. She actually knew me better than I knew myself for just about all of our relationship.
I had been lying to myself for so long that I had truly forgotten who I was. Because she was so kind and tried to help me, I began to admit that I had a problem. I was so lost that I didn’t know what was wrong with me. The doctor told me I had serve depression. That was as good a place as any to start with.
I have often wondered why we met. What was the point? What was the meaning behind our chance encounter?
Writing this just now it has come to me. If I had not met her, I would not be where I am today. I don’t want to take any of the credit away from all the hard work that I have done on my own this last year, but I know now that if I had never met her, I would still be suffering.
She could see what I could not. She did enough to make me realise that I had bigger problems than I was willing to admit. She also made me want to get better. I wanted to get better so that I could prove that I really am a great guy, without having to lie, manipulate or control anyone any more.
I used to be a great guy, many years ago, but this %&$*ing progressive illness takes a hold of you and slowly drains you of all your self esteem and confidence until you are just a hollow shell of a person.
My lesson for today is a reminder that this is a progressive illness. Like that one cigarette that eventually leads to a daily habit, objectification and fantasy will lead to sexy images, which will lead to pornography, which will lead to masturbation and eventually pain and suffering.
The same is to be said for drink. One drink won’t kill me, but it will open the door to me drinking more and more until I’m acting out and drinking to feel good about myself.
For today I am grateful that I am safe, clean and sober.
One step at a time, one day at a time.