Back in 2007, during my first day of treatment, I was in a therapy group and I had to introduce myself and share what brought me to my knees in hopeless despair. I shared a bit of my story and was interrupted – ‘you’re a sex addict’ I heard from the facilitator.
Horrified and shocked that this stranger targeted me with such an assault, I treaded carefully about the sordid affairs of my life.
Victimization of sex assaults, drugs, prostitution and the porn industry were all just the tip of the iceberg of my experiences, and it didn’t stop there. Abandonment and trauma just riddled my hedonistic take on life – it’s no wonder I never had a sober day for almost 40 years.
After three and a half years of recovery from substance abuse I had moved into my own place. I had discovered a new and improved self and I thought it appropriate to share myself with another. But who would that be?
As ‘normies’ went home to loved ones and recovering addicts returned to their families, I sat alone in pity and hurt and felt so all alone in my newly developed sobriety. I did not want to be alone…
I searched online for someone who could ease my discomfort and I thought to pay for sex… An encounter with someone new that would appreciate me even if for a moment. This was the best mistake I could have ever made…
Within 24 hours I was hopping around, escalating this new experience from person to person; gender to gender. Substances manifested in every experience and I lost my sobriety – the new self stared to fade like a new moon behind oncoming storm-clouds. I could see what was happening but I could not stop.
Within days I stopped eating and then stopped sleeping – and that was all I could stop. Men to women, singles to couples, peep shows to bathhouses – then days in the park… Omg what the hell happened? The newfound man was gone and within weeks I was not seen anywhere unless I was engaging in some inappropriate behaviour…
but this was just my healthy drive, wasn’t it???
I contacted my sponsor from another program. He knew my story and he never judged. I asked him what the hell had happened? How could this process of recovery turned into the seething activities of debauchery that had now consumed my life, and my newly discovered self? I was now experiencing a product relapse, now unfolding into its 3rd week.
He asked me to account for the day as it unfolded; asking which activity showed up first – the intimate encounter or the substance abuse. I thought very slowly on this as I wanted to make certain I spoke the truth. I did and I was ashamed. “It was the encounter that showed up first” I replied. It was then he mentioned that it was quite probable I was a sex addict.
I slammed down the phone, picked up the product and rekindled the activity – an automatic prowl, a blind search, for anyone or anything that could prove him wrong.
6 weeks passed, no appearance in school, at work or at meetings. Pawning things to pay for sex trade workers and the drugs pretty much confirmed I had more issues than sheer substance abuse.
It was then I contacted the SAA head office in Texas and asked for help. They referred me to a local Vancouver SAA group.
I planned to attend, but could not stop using. Off to parks, the strip and now online activity was changing from popping onto various websites to spending 36 plus hours just fixated on profiles, pictures and now porn. To snap out of that I would frequent public restrooms, darting from the city centre to the farthest suburbs, just to find someone to feed my obsessions.
At 5 months into the relapse my searching was halted, even if for a moment, by friends who became concerned – they encouraged me to attend the Bute street meeting. I did so; reluctantly (even though I was still quite altered and scattered.)
A kindly gentleman welcomed me and invited me to sit next to him. As members appeared he made sure to introduce me to them, explaining I was quite unsettled. The meeting got under way and as the check in went around the room – had each Member state their inner circle issues and i was being triggered by what was said; the unity, the self awareness; but what stood out was the grace. Everyone was so gentle and genuine in their welcome.
It was almost time for the meeting to end and right around the room, members spoke and as it came to me I sat in fear. I had most of the issues each of these members shared. Not just one or two but most. I realized how mis-wired I truly was.
It was then that I shared after introducing myself and I started to cry – I recall thinking there was no hope for recovery… I was doomed; I felt ashamed and sick to my stomach – I was appalled at who I had become.
The meeting ended and as I sat, every member came to welcome me HOME; again I started to cry again.
This was the turning point for my view of myself and the world. A complete reworking of how I did things and how I related to others. Slowly but surly with the love and respect of the group I started to discover wellness and a sense of contentment I never thought possible.
Using the literature, the steps and a sponsor or 2, I ripped out the wiring of how I was operating, gently and patiently rewiring my processes by using the steps and staying as transparent as I could. Integrity was employed as I set my circles and worked for change. I have reduced my behaviours to less than ten percent of what they were and that is phenomenal – something I never thought these eyes would see. I move along spiritual lines and stay open to change being mindful of the triggers that can take me out.
I still attend meetings in the fellowships that deal with substances, but it is the SAA program that holds my heart. The Grace the members achieve has been bestowed to me and although I am (and never will be) perfect, I am ok in my own skin as I move to develop healthy relationships, including the one with myself.
Forever in loving gratitude
JRO of Vancouver BC