My family went out of town for a couple weeks in late July while I stayed home to work. It will come as no surprise to that being away from spouse and kids can be a huge recipe for trouble for a sex and pornography addict. Without a clear recovery plan, the addict is left alone with his own crazy thinking and that’s not a good thing.
Staying sexually sober is the most important focus of my life these days. Without sexual sobriety, I won’t have a family or a job or even my sanity. In fact, without sexual sobriety, I’ll be dead. That’s how seriously I take addiction recovery.
I know that addiction insists on secrecy and isolation and that my brain often tries to accommodate addiction by thinking that I can deal with it on my own. I also know that the antidote to secrecy and isolation is (a) frequent association with addicts who are further along in recovery than I am, as well as (b) spending time with those addicts who are new to the realization that they’re addicts. Sharing the hope of recovery is probably the best way to assure continuing sobriety for all addicts.
The problem I have however is that my schedule only allows me to attend two of the local weekly meetings of my program of choice, Sexaholics Anonymous, one on Monday morning and the other on Saturday morning. Sometimes, I need more than two meetings each week–like when my family is out of town. So what’s the solution?
It turns out that a very active fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous meets several times each day just down the street from my office. During the two weeks that my family was gone, I attended the 5:30 p.m. meeting nearly every day, including Saturday and Sunday. I also attended my two regular Sexaholics Anonymous meetings, and for good measure, I went to a few meetings of the LDS Church’s Addiction Recovery Program (ARP).
The AA meetings I attended are considered “open.” This means that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to attend. I may be many things, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not an alcoholic. Nevertheless, I listened a lot and even shared my experience, strength and hope about addiction recovery generally at some of these AA meetings, introducing myself with my first name and simply saying I was an “addict.” People in recovery from other addictions regularly attend open AA meetings so no one gives it a second thought. Even if they did, I wouldn’t care. My sobriety is more important than what other people think about me.
It never ceases to amaze me how I relate almost across the board with alcoholics. Just replace the booze with lust and their story is my story. They have pretty much all gone to great lengths to hide their drinking from others, just as I hid my behavior. Like my drug, their drug of choice had damaged their health and their relationships with spouses, offspring, employers, friends and God.
Their lives were spiraling into the blackest abyss and then they started associating with other alcoholics who were further along in recovery. They all got sponsors and started working the 12 Steps. They changed their lives and then Heavenly Father changed their souls. They found sobriety and recovery and peace. And then they found usefulness. Recovering alcoholics are a big reminder to me of the great promises the Lord holds out for addicts who become willing to do whatever it takes to find recovery.
But the meetings were only part of the recovery equation. During my time on my own, I regularly called my sponsor and several other guys from my program, making an effort to stay in daily contact with and accountable to men who know my story. I also read my copy of Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book) from front to back. (I’ll have more to say about that in a future post.)
In short, I refused to isolate and keep secrets. I repeatedly acknowledged my powerlessness over lust to myself, to Heavenly Father and to others. I didn’t pretend that I was stronger than my addiction, because I know I’m not. In a miraculous way perhaps not unlike the experience of Alma and his people at the hands of Amulon, I felt the Lord lighten my burden as I turned to Him by also turning to others. And I stayed sober.