I grew up in violence, chaos, suspicion and obsession, in a family where no one could tell the true from the false. My earliest memories revolve around the feeling I didn’t belong, I was an outsider, I was worthless, unwanted, and unloved. My way of belonging was being a conduit, absorbing the problems and feelings of others. By the time I left home, at an early age, I was completely broken. I could not go on living with my circumstances, and saw only two choices. I was going to go insane, or I had to leave. It wasn’t self-worth that set me on my feet to run. I had located my anger, a sense of injustice, which I would carry with me. I became obsessed with three ideas. I was going to be normal. I was going to be happy. I was going to succeed. I would earn and prove my worth. Succeeding wasn’t enough. I needed more. I wanted someone to love me. I had never been in relationship, or dated before. I tried managing my image in front of men, and immediately failed. It was obvious there was something wrong, and I couldn’t cover. I was so humiliated and ashamed, I never wanted to expose how abnormal I was again, but my drive to get love was relentless. I continued to throw myself off cliffs, continued to fall further into shame. I wasn’t finding relationships or love. I repeatedly exposed myself to dangerous situations and sexually transmitted diseases. It never occurred to me to say no, or maybe, or yes. My only thought was, someone wanted me. I took my direction from others, and followed where they led. I stayed with men who treated me the way I thought about myself. If I stayed still, didn’t bother anyone, didn’t ask for anything, someone might let me stay forever. I repeated these patterns again, and again. I would resolve to do things differently, to treat myself better, to leave the past behind, to get love, and with each new hope, the fall was harder, and my hopelessness deepened. When I finally got what I wanted, a real relationship, my misery creeped back in. It wasn’t enough -- they didn’t love me the right way, didn’t see me, they didn’t care. I tried spiritual practices, but my anger seemed insurmountable. Some Guiding Force was at work, it was cruel, and wanted me to suffer. God loved others, and didn’t love me. I tried every form of self-help, and self-examination too. I met my husband and he proposed shortly after we met. I said yes. I never thought about what I was going to give, how I was going to show and bring love to my relationship. I said yes, because he wanted me, period. I discovered acting out behaviors early on and began a spiral into my own addiction. I believed if I could fix him, fix our sex life, I could get the love I wanted. I thought something was wrong with me, because of my past, which made him not want me, desire me, love me. I chose not to look at what was right in front of me, because I might lose him. I thought I would feel better if I knew what he was doing. I looked for clues everywhere, hunted, played detective. I would find something, and confront him, have a moment of relief, before I wanted to know the next thing, and the next. If I didn’t find anything, there was a moment of relief, until the need for more information came again. When I couldn’t control his behavior, I became obsessed with controlling anything and everything else. I had always been able to keep it together in the outside world, but I had lost control. My insides were on the outside. I was lashing out. I tried not caring anymore, and isolated. I had this image in my mind of an astronaut who lost their tether to the ship and was spinning off into space. I found comfort in giving up.
During this time, I also had a problem with someone else’s drinking, and tried every known method to control it. I started out in Al-Anon meetings, and for the first time, began to understand addiction. I didn’t take alcohol as personally, so I was able to listen, and began to see my own insanity. After years of living in “something is wrong with me,” or “something is wrong with him,” the thought was given to me “something’s wrong.” Compassion entered my heart. Al-Anon led me to S-Anon. During my first S-Anon meeting, I heard someone say “I had sex addiction in my family of origin.” It was as if grace handed me a pair of glasses and I could see my life clearly for the first time. I could see a precise mirror of my current situation and the behavior of my family of origin. I could see this connective thread of addiction and anon-ism in every relationship I had ever had. It wasn’t how I was being treated by other people, or God, or the Universe which was the pattern. Addiction and anon-ism was the story of my life. Addiction is a family disease. I had grown up in a family effected by sex addiction. I found a sponsor and she started to take me through the steps. I didn’t know what recovery was and when I read it was a spiritual program, my heart dropped. Anything but that. How can I best describe what brought me to my decision, was I willing to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity? There are no words I can find to describe it better than the founders did.
“Faced with alcoholic (s-anonic) destruction, we soon became as open minded on spiritual matters as we had tried to be on other questions. In this respect, alcohol was the great persuader. It finally beat us into a state of reasonableness” – BB. Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 48
Working the steps, the effect for me was immediate. The steps helped me to see we are all sick and suffering. We all feel the pain of separation, and reach for something to feel better. The program has given me the gift of seeing that my circumstances weren’t forced on me by a cruel and unloving Universe. My circumstances, and my suffering, were of my own making. I thought I was selfless and kind, and the program helped me see my dishonesty. My acts of kindness always came with a motive. To get love, approval, belonging. When I took the actions, followed the precise directions in the book, God showed up. This program has given me lightness of heart, joy in living in give, compassion, a purpose, a sense of usefulness, a toolkit which in every moment I use it, reliably connects me to love. Belonging isn’t something I seek from other people anymore. Belonging is something I can choose at any moment. It is something I bring. I no longer strive to be exceptional. Working the steps has given me humility, and the desire to be but a part of a great whole. Instead of spinning into space alone, I am in this beautiful ship. This beautiful, broken down, patched together old ship, holding hands with my fellows. We have no sail, we have no oars. We are trusting together a higher purpose is guiding our way. With each hand reaching out to help, our fellowship grows. As our fellowship grows, our boat grows. There is infinite room. There is infinite capacity. I love these people with all of my heart. They have all opened up rooms in my heart I never knew before arriving in recovery. This is my journey to a Higher Power. I have ceased fighting it. I don’t want a different ship. I am an S-Anon. That is who I am. Who I’ve always been.
I am overflowing with gratitude. I am finally home.