Category Archives: sex addiction

Trust Your Gut

There is nothing mystical about hunches, intuition, and trusting your gut. We are all the sum total of millions–billions–of experiences, and we remember most of them on some level. We are well-equipped to let our subconscious minds help us out with problems, armed as they are with that wealth of experience.

But we often–if not usually–force ourselves to ignore those gut feelings, the feeling that something is just sort of “icky.” We want to do something, say something, buy something, to fill that empty place inside, and we think up all sorts of ways to justify our wants to ourselves and ignore the message that our subconscious mind is sending loud and clear, if we choose to hear it. Then we go on with the self-deception and make up ways to justify whatever it is to others–our partner, our business associates, our sponsors, our friends but, ultimately, to ourselves.

Good, healthy ideas seldom need justification. Feeling a need to explain, to justify, should tell us that something’s wrong somewhere. It may simply be a neurotic need on our part to assure ourselves and everyone else that we’re really OK, but there’s also an excellent possibility that we’re about to venture where we ought to fear to tread, guided by the child inside who is telling us it’s OK because I Want, I Want, I Want. In either case, there are two possible clues: the urge to hide whatever it is, or the urge to justify it. Both should set off our alarms.

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