A client recently developed a new gratitude list now that he has just over 100 days of sobriety working my program. When we started working together his comment was “I hate the word addict. I am not one of those guys you see sitting next to a dumpster with a needle in his hand.” This is a common reaction when someone first enters sex addiction recovery. The sex addict has to understand and accept the fact that they have an addiction, that it is progressive, destructive and can be life threatening. But there is a cure!
Feeling hopeless and depressed is also common. So when the newcomer drags themselves into an SA, SAA or SLAA meeting and is immediately confronted with the fact that they are an addict with a life long disease it can be hard to take. Newcomers are encouraged to keep coming back until the miracle happens. In my experience a sex addict that has hit an emotional bottom is able to accept the fact that surrendering to the process of recovery is the only way they can get their life back. As they continue to attend meetings, learn about the addiction and recovery (ideally with the help of a qualified recovery coach) they will experience a positive transformation in the way they think and behave. When these things happen an addict can transform crushing shame into a life of joy and love.
I am happy to report another successful client story in this blog post and give you the feedback I received. I asked him to create a new gratitude list and to consider the fact that everything sick they had done will have value if they reach a point where being a sex addict is something to be grateful for. Newcomers may find this concept hard to believe so without varnish I present my clients comments.
“I am grateful I am a sex addict because today I have a new life and new understanding. These are the ways I feel grateful today:”
- My relationship with my wife is the best it has ever been. I have empathy for her feelings and I validate them. I have become emotionally transparent and we have a deep spiritual connection. I feel real intimacy with her and sex is now a byproduct of our connection to each other.
- My relationship with my children is fantastic. I am no longer a selfish, angry, demanding father. I listen to them, seek to understand how they feel and accept them for who they are not who I want them to be.
- I no longer hold onto resentments that used to drive me to acting out. My delusional thinking made me think I deserved everything I wanted and I resented anyone that failed to meet my self-centered demands. Today I look at my motives, wants and needs and see when I am being selfish. I also realize I play a part in every resentment I create and take responsibility for my part.
- I no longer fight a battle with myself. I have found contentment with decisions that provide healthy nurturing. I feel good about myself psychically, emotionally and spiritually. I have defenses against intrusive thoughts and my habits lead me towards maturity and growth. I feel I am growing up emotionally and have a healthy inner parent that loves and cares for the wounded little me that used to scream out for attention. Masturbation and sex felt like the only thing that would satisfy my hunger for emotional comfort, love and acceptance. I believe that this unmet need for comfort and nurturing was the core of my sex addiction.
- I have a higher power which I call God that I pray to. I believe that this higher power will provide me with what I need if I do the next right thing. If I live my life in small chunks, sometimes ten minutes at a time, and rely on my higher power to help me I can stay sober one day at a time. This new awareness gives me the ability to accept the things in life that used to anger and confuse me.
- I have an SAA group I attend that accepts and supports me. We are all sex addicts that want to recover and we need each others support. I am no longer alone or unique. If I need support I can call anyone on the phone list and find help. I never thought I would share my feelings with another man but when I do I get the support I need to stay sober.
- I have learned that I am not a bad person becoming good but a sick man becoming well. I don’t blame anyone or anything for becoming a sex addict. I just didn’t know how to get my needs met in healthy ways.
- Today I am a better father, husband, son, brother, friend and employee. I enjoy my life and give and accept love. But I had to learn how to do these things. And because I am a sex addict I found recovery and a way to live that is better than I thought it could be. I am grateful I am a sex addict.