You know how they say that your past will become your greatest asset?
Or that you will no longer fear the past nor wish to shut the door on it?
Those promises have come true for me, but vestiges of the past continue
to have power over me in unpredictable ways. As a result of my
childhood, I have painful, immature beliefs about myself and the world
that I am still in the process of redesigning, relearning, and reintegrating-
so that I can appropriately welcome the happiness and peace that is
available to me. While I’ve cleaned up my part in my wrongdoings and
even the wrongs done to me, I still feel guarded and jaded in some
areas. Sometimes I feel withdrawn: unable to give or receive love. Other
times, I feel like I don’t know the first thing about love. While I’ve been
successful in rewiring a lot of my thinking and I often experience
prolonged periods of serenity and joy, the wounds of my childhood have
colored my perception in ways that cause me to miss out on a lot of the
beauty going on around me.
So, I’m newly married. I’m grappling with my competing roles of wife,
lover (because wife and lover are not the same), homemaker, career
professional, enthusiastic expat, long-distance daughter and auntie,
writer, conscious and sober human… It’s a lot to juggle. And with few
role models in my formative years and even today, the task of being a
successful woman in the 21st century is arduous. A sober, ambitious
person, I have accepted the challenge of being an adult in today’s day
and age; but my maturity as a lover is still in its adolescent stage.
Throughout my years in recovery, I’ve learned that I’m a doer. I like
assignments, I enjoy running errands and playing house, I work well with
structure; I’m good at doing stuff. So, why do I have such a hard time
doing my husband?
In Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, I discovered that busying oneself
is just another way of checking out. Maybe you’re guilty of this too? Have
you ever put off your morning meditation until after you’ve had that cup of
coffee or let the dog out or sent that email? If you’re like me, meditation
falls by the wayside as I continue my intellectual stream of endless
things to do. If I do find the space to squeeze in some quiet time with my
Higher Power, I am usually fighting the perpetual banter of all of the other
things I’d rather be doing. It is the same with sex. How did intimacy-
intimacy with myself, with God, and with others- the very core of my
happiness- become such a chore?
During my active sex and love addiction, I chased my limited ideas of
intimacy in the pursuit of love, validation, and acceptance. Your approval, your interest, your come-hither eyes, your reliance on me- was
the end-all-be-all for me. I didn’t bother with an identity unless it suited
my attainment of you. Gaining your esteem was all the status I needed in the world.
Enter: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous.
It was in SLAA where I really learned that I had no self-esteem. There, I
realized that I had no hobbies, no appropriate relationships with
members of the opposite sex, no goals outside my agenda of acquiring
you, no understanding of self-care, no boundaries, and no peace from
the hustling psychology I assumed was a part of my make-up. It was
there that I began the intensive work of unraveling, developing, and
finally- pursuing myself.
I got really good at taking care of me. I discovered things I like, realized
the surprising satisfaction that comes with self-care, carried out long-
forgotten goals, and became the best version of myself. What resulted
was an incredibly full life. Today, I am a college graduate, employed in
the field I am passionate about, living on the opposite side of the world,
married to a wonderful man, healthy, and financially independent, with
talent and worth! But how I manage all those gifts is the real barometer
In AA, we learn to prioritize recovery above all else. There is a common
saying that goes, “whatever you put before your sobriety, you shall surely
lose.” For this recovering alcoholic and sex & love addict, my ability to be
present is a critical extension of my sobriety. When I obsessively clean
my house, inflate my calendar, become affixed to my iPhone, or even
fanatically tweeze my eyebrows, I am busying myself rather than being
present. When I am preoccupied, I am at increased risk of losing all of
the things I hold so dear.
So today, I am practicing the loving mindfulness of just being. No to-do
lists, no chores, no Facebook. Today, I will be present for the natural
rhythm of things, perhaps even for boredom. I will retrain my brain to
here, instead of there. I will be available for intimacy- with myself and
with my husband. I give myself permission to be lazy, spontaneous, and
How are you going to show up today?