By Jim J., NYC
I’ve been in SCA for over a year. I’m counting days again after having a
slip at seven months on my plan. Like many of us I grew up in a severely
dysfunctional home with a lot of emotional pain, melodrama, anger, some
physical violence and a great deal of neglect. My earliest memories are of
feeling a very heavy sense of despair and isolation. That’s not to say
that there was no love or affection or happy times; but the pain and fear
greatly outweighed any joy or confidence or inherent sense that life was
okay. Somehow my child’s mind turned it all into shame and a completely
unrealistic sense of responsibility.
My two sisters were older and out of the house as I grew up, so our
household was me, my mother and my father. A typical scene would include:
my parents arguing for hours; me, being forced to watch and listen; some
light violence; my father going to bed; and then, me, the ten year old
being left to baby-sit my mother, who would threaten to leave or commit
suicide. She would do things like open the car door as we drove along,
saying that she was going to jump. All of this left me with a dangerous
knowledge that I had to dig in and somehow get everyone through these
episodes; and worse that no matter how awful things got I could handle it
by sheer will and inner strength and determination. I grew up believing
that ultimately no one would ever be there for me. I was on my own.
I developed a great confidence in my ability to endure any situation.
This idea has not been a great help to my recovery. I am gay. This caused
me a lot of shame and heartache as an adolescent. When I discovered
masturbation, I was compulsive about it. Even then, sex was out of
control. I felt that I shouldn’t be masturbating, but of course I couldn’t
stop. I internalized all the worry and shame behind it, thinking I was a
pervert or queer. Because I was so screwed up, I would have no chance for
a fulfilling life. I didn’t begin having sex with other people until
college. For a few years after college, sex and relationships were fairly
normal for me. I was monogamous in relationships. I used sex, however, as
a barometer of how the relationship was going. If my partner didn’t want
a great deal of sex, I felt unloved and unwanted.
After one of these relationships ended, I found out about a couple of
cruising places in parks and at my gym. My compulsive behavior took off.
Soon I was having sex most days. I was troubled by my inability to stop
when I wanted to. I found out about two outdoor acting-out places and
began to go there almost every night. I would go to a bar and if I
couldn’t find anyone there I would go to these parks. That led me to
using sex phonelines and meeting people that way. Already I knew that
something was wrong. I was looking for sex when I didn’t want to and I was
out of control. I remember once while shopping with my sisters in a mall,
I kept finding excuses to slip away to cruise the restrooms.
Then I moved from Minnesota to New York to move in with a lover. When we
subsequently broke up, my addiction really accelerated.
On a daily basis, I was cruising and having compulsive sex at the gym, in
parks, and tea-rooms. I was unable to stop for more than a few days. I
found myself stuck in acting-out places, unable to leave without having
sex which sometimes took hours. I was depressed. My life wasn’t working.
I felt as if my life was at a dead-end. I had been in therapy for some
time and it helped, but it wasn’t until I was able to admit my sex life
was out of control and go to an SCA meeting that things began to get
better. At my first meeting I knew SCA was right for me and I’ve been
here ever since.
Shortly after arriving in SCA, I had a slip in which I found myself
running, in a blind panic, along a busy expressway because the police has
discovered me acting-out. I really experienced “unmanageability” that
night! After I knew I had gotten away from the police, I immediately
felt calm and was ready to continue acting out. When I think about it
now, it astounds me that one minute I could be in blind panic, feeling as
if my life was falling apart completely, and moments later wanted to act
even more in the same place! After that, I was able to get some time
together on my sexual recovery plan. I had a relapse recently but I’m back
on my plan again. The slip helped me to see that I lose my peace of mind
when I act out.
Recovery has been a great gift. Slowly sobriety is giving me the gift of
participating in life again. It’s a huge blessing not to be as isolated
as I was. The courage that I hear and see in the rooms has given me the
strength to ask for help and allow people into my life. And even more
miraculous, I am beginning to really feel what it is to be love and cared
for. I have a sponsor who has shown me more compassion and grace than I’ve
ever known. My relationship with him and others in the program is healing
those old wounds that in the past have kept me paralysed in hopelessness.
Today I can say that most of the time I feel a security and foundation I
can trust in.
I feel a sense of lightness and the presence of my life-force now. Being
in the program has shown me that if I can be willing to choose a spiritual
path for my life I’ll be free to live my life and really experience it as
my higher power intends me to. I am still frightened when I face the fact
that I really am an addict and it’s hard to keep stepping up to the plate
with willingness and rigorous honesty. But it’s an infinitely richer life
than I had in my active addiction.
My apartment is turning into a home rather than being just a roof over my
head. I just bought my first sofa which was a big step. I have always had
a fear of settling in, but now I can give myself the gift of a sanctuary.
After fifteen years I’ve been able to quit smoking, which is a huge
grace. Cigarettes drained me of energy and so many other things for so
long. The greatest gift has been a new relationship with my higher power.
The knowledge and awareness of the creator’s presence in my life has meant
everything. For the first time I truly believe that I can be restored to
the life God wants for me. Life can be fulfilling and joyful and rich. I
am so grateful to everyone in SCA for giving me the second chance I so
desperately needed. I will keep coming back because I know it works.
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