Personal Reflections on Recovery

As you may know, I’ve been in recovery for over 30 years through a somewhat active involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous.

I began my clinical career in 1989 working as an intern in a chemical dependency drug and alcohol detox and rehab.  I was then hired as an outpatient counselor at the same organization and then moved on to working in a day-treatment program for adolescent and adult drug/alcohol unit of a hospital.  In between, I worked on an hourly basis at a number of outpatient clinics, seeing people one-on-one and in groups.

I started working in sex addiction in 1999.

Suffice it to say, most of my adult life has been spent recovering from my own addiction and talking in great depth to others who were seeking recovery.  Most succeeded, many did not.

Certainly, over the years, I’ve formulated some thoughts about what the recovery process actually is and what skills and attitudes it takes to get you there.

I can’t stress the importance of group participation and individual therapy enough.  People grow and thrive in the context of caring communities.  While I don’t mandate that my clients attend 12-step meetings, I think they are enormously beneficial in a number of ways.

Addiction thrives in isolation — especially porn addiction.  The first step in recovery is to brake that isolation by being willing to recover with people who are caring and supportive of your efforts.  For myself, I needed an ARMY of people to get me sober.  The group provided a measure of comfort and security that I was seeking in the bottle.  The structure and routing of going to meetings broke my obsessive negative self-ruminations and filled in my unstructured time, which had always been a trigger.

What’s the purpose of listening people tell their dreary stories again and again?

It provides for the process of identification.  When I listen to a person tell my story, or worse, and I see that they have the courage to tell it in front of a group of people, having achieved some level of freedom from active mind and a measure of peace of mind, I gradually begin to believe that I can acquire what others have achieved.

Through identification, I gradually began to feel like a participating member of the human race.  I had a place in the world.  People began recognizing me and saying “Hello, Dorothy”.  It had a palliative effect on my soul.  I belonged somewhere.

As for the attitudes I had to acquire for the process to take hold, I gradually developed a willingness to put my personal view of myself, others and the world aside to open myself to a new way of being.  Self-will was not a luxury I could afford.  Judgements of others in the rooms, while inevitable, needed to be tempered.  I began to strive for an attitude of unconditional acceptance of myself and others.  Only then could the peace of mind begin to enter my beleagured spirit.

The act of surrender with regards to using was key.  Although we get sober a day-at-a-time, I knew in my heart that I could never drink safely again.  That fact became the pivotal truth around which I lived my life for a very long time. I would have to survive, somehow, with the magic elixir that was alcohol.  The feel-good trance that drinking provided me would have to be relinguished.

With time, I learned other ways to manage my intense feelings.  I acquired better coping skills for dealing with life and the people in it.  I started having fun and being interested in various activities and endeavors.  I fell in love and got married.

After four years of recovery, I had enough self-confidence to get a “real” job in the “real” world.  I started out as an administrative assistant.  The department was run my women who had all received MBA’s in Marketing.  I wanted what they had and somehow tapped into enough self-confidence to register for a course in Finance.  I did it once class at a time, one course at a time, and six years later, was awarded an MBA.  I never for a moment thought I could follow through with the program, but AA had taught me some things.  “Act as If”; Just Move the Body”; One Day at A Time”; Just Keep Doing the Next Right Thing”.

I moved along in my marketing career, getting and suceeding at increasingly responsible jobs.  My sense of competency, mastery and self-esteem grew with each.

I worked in business for only about five years before I had a sort of “spiritual awakening” and decided to follow my heart’s path to become a psychotherapist.  I had developed a gnawing intellectual curiosity about how the mind worked.  I received another Master’s degree and then attended a few psychoanalytic training institutes.  I was in my glory!  I was devouring information and knowledge while at the same time using my energies and talents to be of service to others.

I think it’s tougher to beat porn addiction than it is to lick alcohol.  With porn addiction, you carry the source of your own supply in your mind which you can never get away from.  It takes, on average, about two months of abstinence from any artificial sexual stimulation and your brain goes back to being where it was when it came out of the factory.

I often hear clients tell me, with glee, about how much better they fee — emotionally, spiritually and physically.

They’re than ready to move on to Stage Two Recovery.

More on that later.

http://www.sextreatment.com

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