Life was so serious when I was wrapped up in my addiction. I was able to turn most things into “life and death” it seemed. I heard a term for this recently: “Awfulizing” – although made up, I like it! I’d have every life event figured out and of course I’d write the worst possible outcome in my head regardless of what the bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 8:7 (NIV) “Since no one knows the future, who can tell someone else what is to come?” Of course I knew what the future held right?!? If my boss was upset with me, I’d turn that into me losing my job. If my daughter was dating a guy that I didn’t care for, I’d assume that she was making a bad decision, would end up in an unhealthy relationship and repeat all of my mistakes! Really?!? The story rarely, if ever turned out the way I had imagined. But that didn’t stop me from repeating this negative thought process time and time again. Of course it didn’t help that I had this idea of perfection in my head – one that I could and would never meet. And when I proved (yet again) that I wasn’t perfect , thoughts of failure, disappointment, self-loathing and insignificance soon took over. Looking back I don’t know how I survived from one day to the next. Everything was negative, negative negative!! Of course, other people didn’t see me that way because I was really good at hiding it – but these were the conversations and thoughts that rattled around my head – this is what I lived with every day. If this sounds vaguely familiar, then congratulations you are in the right place!
Every day I am grateful for my sobriety. Not that life is perfect or that I will never slip up again, but as long as I work at it every day, I have the tools to help me make good healthy decisions. So sobriety brings me more sustained happiness and peace. It brings me closer to those around me. It brings me a realistic view of the future and it certainly brings me laughter; laughter at myself, with those around me and at the challenges that life continually places in front of me. So with that I give to you my Top 10 list of what Sobriety has given me……….ok, so a “Top Ten List” sounded good but as you can see sobriety has been really good to me!!
Sobriety has given me (in no particular order):
- Hope (not despair)
- Gratitude (not jealousy or resentment)
- A Vision of the Future (not a black hole – really! – I used to see my future as “black”……nothing more)
- Empathy (not selfishness)
- A Humble Attitude (not pride)
- Compassion (not lack of caring)
- Vulnerability (not isolation)
- Awareness (not disassociation)
- Reliance on God (not reliance on me!)
- Peace (not chaos)
- Love (not self pity or hatred)
- Progress (not perfection)
- Service to Others (not service to myself)
- Presence (not trying to rewrite the past or control the future)
- Community (not isolation and loneliness)
Is life perfect? Am I always in perfect connection and alignment with sobriety? Not even close! I still have moments in the day where my mind wanders and thinks negative or inappropriate thoughts. But all I can do is ask God for forgiveness as is stated in Isaiah 55:7 (NIV), “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Amen!
So am I cured? No! I am healthy for today and in this moment but I am also aware that this can change at any time should I stop working my sobriety program.
Will I every slip again? Probably. While I am not “ok” with this all I can control is my progress today. I certainly can’t fear slipping again because the future is out of my control (see Ecclesiastes above). However I do know that if I slip I have the tools and the support around me to right the ship and do the best I can in that moment to do better going forward.
So I am very grateful for my sobriety. It truly has given me the ability to laugh, love and live in freedom from sexual addiction every day! How I keep that going is up to me but it is certainly within my reach!