It's been a life-changing few months. I often want to post about the trees, but I don't think they'll make sense without the forest – so here it goes...
When I woke my parents up and told them I was using in their home, I think the seriousness of my addictions really sank in. We talked the next day about what to do next. First came the difficult acknowledgement that I am, first and foremost, a sex addict. Chemicals are just icing on my porn cake. At this point, they happen to be willing and financially able to help, so we looked into inpatient sex addiction clinics. When we saw how much they cost, paying for a therapist who is specifically trained in sex addiction didn't look so bad, so that's where we started. After some research, I really clicked with a guy in Carlsbad, which is about an hour from my home. We jumped right into Patrick Carnes material, and I knew I was in the right place. So far it's been excruciatingly painful at times, and probably more helpful than anything else I've done.
I stayed with my parents until the middle of September and went home a couple of weeks before I wrapped things up at the church. The time away from my wife was amazingly helpful. Being there of my own initiative (instead of being “kicked out”) allowed me to grow instead of sulk. I don't think I ever realized how codependent I am with my wife. Even with the lost job and being separated from my family, I felt positive most of the time. Somewhere along the line, I had learned that I wasn't allowed to be happy unless Linsey was happy, which frankly isn't very often. This has been a huge change.
What a complicated, confusing mess. Sometimes in life you have to look a list of truths and let them sit, side by side, even if they seem to conflict with each other. Here are a few of them:
-My (former) pastor (and boss) had encouraged me to ask for more help if I needed it. When I did, he fired me.
-My using had not really affected my job (in any tangible way) but at a church, it seriously affected my integrity.
-Many church members (who knew the whole story, without edits) were crazy mad that I was fired and were ready to fight the decision.
-Whether or not the pastor made the right decision is not what matters. That I lost my job to my addiction is what matters. Let me say it again, in the interest of thoroughly hitting bottom: I lost my job to my addiction.
-My wife told church members not to fight the pastor – that it was time for us to move on and that I needed to feel a consequence. She was right.
-I have been increasingly unhappy with the pastor's leadership decisions in the last few years. He's made some seriously destructive mistakes, become more and more dictatorial, and is showing significant signs of memory loss. He is unwilling to retire. That's not sour grapes, it's just what is.
-I've been in conversation with a few potential employers, but was too afraid of change to leave my position. If I'd been healthier, I would have left years ago. Instead I chose to do it the stupid way.
-Leaving my position in that church has been one of the best things that's ever happened to me and my family.
-Getting fired from my position in that church has been one of the most painful and difficult things that's ever happened to me and my family.
Two weeks at Kaiser's Chemical Dependency Rehabilitation Program. Very helpful – lots of good tools and connections. Good use of time in my first two weeks of being unemployed. As the name implies, it's a chemical dependency program, not a sex addiction clinic. But it's all good.
>>>Grief and Divorce Recovery
My aunt happens to run an amazing Grief and Divorce Recovery group. You don't have to be going through a divorce to attend, just grieving something. She told me I would be grieving the loss of my church, and that I should attend. Honestly, I think I've been grieving the healthy church I used to work at for the last three or four years. What I have never dealt with, however, is the gut-wrenching pain in my marriage. I carry debilitating anger and resentment for the first twelve years of our marriage, during which Linsey repeatedly explained to me that we didn't need outside help because there were no problems to work on. I've committed to doing whatever uncomfortable “grief work” this workshop tells me to do – drawing pictures, writing “unsent” letters, and other such things.
And letting go of old marriage-hurts is the right thing to do at this point. Because it's not about Linsey right now, or my marriage, or my career, or anything else. It's about me, a recovering sex addict. And I have hope right now. It feels nice.