I took the "Days Sober" widget off my blog. I'm sick of it, and it's become an impediment to writing. In church-ese we say "We count people because people count," and it's the same thing here: While the focus should be on *quality* ("progress not perfection"?), you eventually have to measure some kind of *quantity*. In church-land, that's the size of your congregation compared to last year. In recovery it's how long you've been sober.
A year and a half ago, after everything crashed and burned, I found a counselor who specializes in treating sex addiction. It's been a quite a ride - illuminating and excruciating and encouraging. I feel like I've made progress for the first time in a decade, which isn't true, because that invalidates all the work I did before, which was also exhausting, but not very encouraging. After truly addressing my sex addiction in a structured program with a trained therapist, I made it to fourteen months. In my world, that's relatively awesome.
After a year of working part time, I became over-employed last September. Who complains about having too many opportunities to work? I guess I shifted from a life of recovery (with work on the side) to a life of work (with recovery on the side) and I just can't do that. I relapsed in November, and again last week. This looks depressingly like my old cycle.
That's okay. I have hope. Maybe for the first time in a while. When I would relapse before, people would always say Get a sponsor and work the steps. Get a sponsor and work the steps. Get a sponsor and work the steps. Get a sponsor and blahblahblahBLAHBLAHBLAH
There, I said it. I just lost every single one of my faithful AA readers. (Funny fact: I don't have any more faithful readers!) I know that's blasphemy, and I have the deepest respect for AA. Really - I'm not just saying that. I once read that AA was the most important invention of the 20th century, and I often bring this up to people. For how long have alcoholics faced jails, institutions and death, with no hope at all? Forever, that's how long. 1935 was the first time in history that alcoholics had hope. Ever.
But I kept doing those things and doing those things and I learned incredible things about addiction and recovery, and I still believe that if I'd kept at it I could have found some sobriety in AA - but what an incredible difference to be working with a counselor who truly understands the agony and darkness of my world as a sex addict, and even more so as a sexual anorexic.
But as I was saying earlier I have hope. I'm not going back to the same thing I've done for years, but back to something that really began to change my life in September of 2011. I guess it sounds like I'm proselytizing, but the material put together by Patrick Carnes is the thing I need to get back to. If you happen to be a sex addict who's not sure where to start, www.sexhelp.com is the best place.
Tonight I had another talk with my son James about his success in staying away from internet porn. Not because of some program I installed on his computer - though these can be helpful - or because he's afraid of punishment - though he should be afraid of consequences - but because he's spent the last year learning with me about addiction and healthy sexuality, about managing feelings and urges, about self-care and asking for help, and accountability and "checking in" with other guys. I'm glad that the things I'm learning aren't just for me.
I wish I only had to introduce you to ME: dad, husband, songwriter, pastor. That’s the guy I see in the mirror. I love my kids, I’m good at fixing things, I love to read or chase my dogs around the house. But I lose track of myself sometimes when I’m hurting. That’s when my addict comes around, the bastard who would throw it all away for a moment alone with his drugs and his porn. He cuts me with a razor and he steals things just for the rush. He’s even tried to kill me. But there’s a huge difference between us, and I’ll tell you what it is: He’s a coward. And I’m not. I won’t let him have my kids, my beautiful wife, my job or my home. And since he hates exposure, I’m going to tell you all about him. I’m Eli, and I’m an addict.