#3 Things I Wish I Knew Earlier: Regaining trust is incremental, losing trust is dynamic.

When I entered the program, I knew that I was serious about doing whatever it took to win the struggle over this addiction. The trouble is, I was serious about stopping when I got caught before. I bet if you put me up to a lie detector, I would have passed with flying colors.
This time was different though, because instead of doing it on my own, I found a group of people who were suffering the same way that I did, and I had a plan for success, other than adding filters and white knuckling it.
It was hard, and not without failure, but I grew stronger in recovery. Turning my addiction over to a Higher Power, having the help of many in my groups and having a great spiritual counselor have helped me to gain control over something which was formerly beyond my control.
I was confident, but my partner remained skeptical. I was resentful to the fact that with all the work I did in the program, that she could not see that I had made progress to the extent that I did.
Looking at this from her perspective, I can see how, after being lied to befor and greatly hurt, she deserved to be cautious of my recovery this time.
Over time, I saw things take a turn for the better, incrementally, as I was consistently able to prove myself, not in big things, but in little things, making dinner, being where I should be, and being honest.
On the other had, I learned that the level lost for a small failure is much more dynamic then the level of trust gained for a small success. Failing to live up to small things resulted in a much greater loss of trust.
I did find that this dynamism lessened over time, and I could have failures without losing all the trust I gained over months.
Keep the course, trust does grow over time.

Things I Wish I Knew Earlier: #2 Pain is not a good long term motivator.

Most fatal motorcycle accidents happen between 6 months to a year after the purchase of a motorcycle. Why? Because the healthy fear of the motorcycle’s power is gone, and the ability to handle the bike becomes greatly exaggerated. As a result, chances are taken, and lives are lost.

It’s the same with sex addiction. When many of us entered into a 12 step group, we entered when we had hit bottom, and the SAA was the only thing standing between us and the loss of our relationships, jobs, marriages, children, freedom, and yes, lives.

That pain that brought us in these rooms was so severe that we honestly told ourselves, the people around us, and our Higher Power, that we would never do anything again to return to our previous state. We had nothing to lose.
Unbelievably. (at least for us), working the program worked for many of us, and things started to get better.
As things got better, the pain went away, and our confidence grew. We began to feel normal, and the desperation that we felt when we entered the program was gone as well.
The seriousness in which we took working the program went away, and we started to feel like we could negotiate with our sobriety, maybe “sticking our toe in the water” of some of our bad habits. It was then that we relapsed.
It is important to understand that yes, pain is a great motivator to break down the mental doors it takes to deal with your addiction. But just as important is to know that the pain will go away if you work the program, and you’ll start hearing the lies that got you into trouble in the first place. If you want to succeed long term, you need to find motivators other than the pain that brought you to the dance.



Things I Wish I Knew Earlier – My mistakes, so you can avoid them. #1 You are not an addict. YOU ARE a person with an addiction.

I have been in the SAA program for over 3 1/2 years, and thanks to SAA, My Higher Power, and good counseling and hard work, have been able to keep my marriage, family and children. I am not perfect, but I am better, and I have been blessed with the opportunity to help others with this program

I’ve made a number of mistakes along the way. Some serious enough to really delay my recovery. It is with these things in mind that I write this series of blog posts. I hope that some of you will be able to have a faster change in your life, and understand recovery better,by reading about my mistakes, and avoiding learning them yourself.

Mistake #1: Hi My Name is Paul and I am NOT a sex addict. I AM a person with a sexual addiction, and I’m in recovery.

I have all the admiration for 12 step programs in the world, after all, I have been brought back from the brink with the help of one. But I have one major criticism of the program, and not realizing this issue hurt my recovery for quite some time.

One of the important things about 12 Step Programs is that  they arei a fellowship. You are in a room with people who are in different stages of fighting the same demons that you fight. With that in mind, the beginning of the meetings begin with each person saying their same, and they acknowledging that they are an addict. “Hi, my name is Paul, and I am a sex addict”

The Buddha said “You are what you think”, and for my first two years of the program, I thought about, and was, a sex addict. A sex addict to me was a person who should be ashamed and depressed, and who should not feel good about themselves. This negative perception of myself caused a great deal of stagnation with my recovery.

Contrary to what SAA or any 12 step program has you say, I’m here to tell you that.
YOU ARE NOT AN ADDICT. YOU ARE A PERSON, A GOOD PERSON, WHO HAS AN ADDICTION… and you, unlike many other people, are working to control this addiction. Do not be shamed about your addiction, be proud that you are dealing with your addiction.

I do not introduce myself as a sex addict at meetings. Instead I introduce myself as a recovering sex addict. It may not make a difference to you, but it makes all the difference in the world  to me.

I think Bill W,,  when he started AA, wanted everyone in the rooms to greet each other this way to show us that we all come to these rooms with the same problems, and that we are all fighting and struggling with it.  It was obviously with good intention.

But if you step into a 12 step program, you are already different than those outside of the rooms, because:

  • You know you have a problem
  • You are beginning the process of fighting it.

You are not the person who has not recognized or decided it wasn’t worth the effort to fight their addiction. You are someone who has stood up, and said “I am better than my addiction. I am asking my Higher Power to help me.”

The second part of that quote from Buddha, “You are what you think” is “and with your thoughts, you make the world”. Addicts don’t make the world, they destroy it. Recovering addicts try to repair their destruction, and help those around them conquer their demons.

Coming next “Pain is not a good long term motivator”