Category Archives: sex addiction

Journaling In Recovery

I’ve been journaling for going on sixty years, off and on. During that time I’ve filled up ledgers, spiral notebooks, diaries, the back pages of pilot logbooks, and several megabytes of disk space. My current drug of choice is the pocket-sized Moleskine notebook with the graph paper pages, or a similar one sold by Target for about half the price. Over the past few years I’ve started putting everything in it: shopping lists, notes to self, jotted addresses and phone numbers, the better to create a true daily record.

I say “drug of choice” because journaling has become an ingrained habit with me, if not actually an addiction. (Writing, on the other hand, qualifies fully, including withdrawal symptoms.) I’ve lost most of the journals I kept in my youth and through the years of my addiction; a shame, really, since if I had those I could actually write a book, although I can’t help thinking that the embarrassment factor might be seriously off-putting. Anyway, that doesn’t matter.

I do have my jottings for virtually all of the years I’ve been in recovery, and it has been highly instructive to go back and check out the cringe factor in those. When I read something and find it makes me squirm, I become aware of one more way that I’ve changed — or not changed — and it shows me a lot about my successes and also the areas where I need more work.

I consider my journals an integral and essential part of my recovery. For a couple of years I tried keyboarding, and it just wasn’t the same. I have to put pen to paper and actually write things down. My-wife-the-shrink informs me that physically writing things engages different parts of the brain, and the inability to make changes easily causes us to think more deeply and carefully about what we’re recording. I agree with that. I find that my handwritten musings have far more gut-level effect when I re-read them, so I have to assume that I’m digging deeper to begin with.

I require those I sponsor to journal, as well — those who know how to read and write. (The others go to literacy classes.) I give them each a notebook, so they’ll have no excuse for procrastinating. I don’t demand to read them, but when we meet I expect them to show me that they have been writing. Those who have remained sober and in contact often mention that they have continued to do so, and remark how much they get out of looking back at who they were early on. Some have remarked how much it helped them when they got serious about a 4th Step.

Try it. You may not like it, but you’ll benefit. The rules are simple: use the same book, use ink (no erasing), and write something every day — even if it’s just the date. No one but you will be reading it, so you have nothing to fear but fear itself.

Thought For The Day

“In recovery, the wish to keep indulging without consequences doesn’t vanish suddenly. How many of us hoard, ruminate, fidget or pump ourselves full of coffee or nicotine, or go the other way with exercise or rigid dieting? Old habits die hard, you say? Consider that quitting may not end our problems–some say quitting exposes our problems.”
~ Joe C., Beyond Belief — Agnostic Musings For 12 Step Life

 

Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out…

I’m still amazed – although, by now I guess I shouldn’t be – by the extraordinary ways that people in the fellowships step up and do what needs to be done in a crisis. I’ve seen that so many times: when arrangements need to be made for holiday meeting coverage; when members are going through devastating personal crises; when a new meeting site is suddenly needed, organizing picnics, bonfires and other get-togethers, and numerous other ways. For some odd reason, sobriety seems to bring out the best in folks.

Never has that willingness to be of service been more obvious than over the past month. As our options for mobility and meeting face-to-face have contracted to – finally – our own living rooms, members have, without being asked, set to work establishing online and phone options to continue the fellowships that keep us sober and relatively sane. Those who are able to host Skype and Zoom meetings have done so and spread the word. Phone meetings have been set up and information has gotten out with astounding speed. Websites have gotten extensive and prompt attention. The information has been spread by phone calls, text chains and probably smoke signals for all I know.

In short, the things that need doing to meet the Responsibility Statement of AA, which is generally adhered to in spirit by all the fellowships to which I belong and most others, are getting done. That is happening with a minimum of fuss and bother: just people helping others in the best ways they know of. The way it’s been for the several years I’ve been around the rooms, and for decades before that.

If you’re having trouble finding meetings, support or just folks to hang out with (electronically), check around. Call your local Intergroup office, or look on the website. If you haven’t explored those sources before, now is a great time – a critical time – to do so. The folks in the fellowships have been there and done that. Help and support are always available if you look for them, and that is even more true in the current test that the entire human race is undergoing. Anyone who has been around the rooms for a while has experienced the hollow feeling of arriving at a meeting and finding no one there, for whatever reason. In my case, at least, it seems like there was usually an oldtimer who showed up “just in case,” and who was up for a cup of coffee and a chat. I’ve been the newcomer and the oldtimer, both, and I guarantee that the feeling – for me – was the same in all cases: relief. Oldtimers need love too.

If you’re looking for support, reach out; it’s there. If you’re bored, reach out to another addict; the means are there. This pandemic is likely to change the world in ways we haven’t dreamed of yet. Perhaps that will be for the worse, perhaps not. We can dwell on the good versus bad question, or we can choose to move forward. One thing is for sure, in my not-so-humble opinion: the fellowships are going to change, expand, and become even better at achieving the intent of that Responsibility Statement.

Stick around. Be part of the change. Be part of the solution. You’ll be glad you did.

And please be safe! May whatever part of the universe you choose to think is watching keep you that way.