What Color is YOUR Pony?
When I woke up this morning I was exhausted. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to go to work. I just lay there and prayed.
I expend way too much energy trying to deal with difficult people or change things that cannot be changed or trying to meet expectations that have been put on me that sound good in theory, but aren’t really realistic. Trying to find the pony in that kind of hailstorm of hooey gets hard even when I’m trying to be optimistic. I am, by nature, pessimistic. Yet into my haze of stress, God spoke: Be still and know that I’m God.
I kept hearing that in my head yesterday , but completely ignored it to my own peril because I was so busy. The pile of crap that I had to wade through was so big that I even if I’d found the pony I would not have been able to dig it out. Eventually, I decided that being still and letting God do what he does best was my only option. What he said did not sit well with me.
In recent weeks I mentioned that I was working through some of the issues surrounding my sexual addiction. I also think I said that I wasn’t too keen to be digging through all of that stuff again and I’d really rather be done with it. Well, last night I hit a wall. I made it to “Principle Seven” (the sit in a circle and sing “Kumbaya” principle) only to be told that I could not proceed! The workbook said that if you hadn’t had six weeks of “sobriety” you needed to go back and do Principles One and Four! WHAT??!! Were they kidding?? I felt like I was playing “Chutes and Ladders!” The past six weeks have not been easy as I worked through the other six principles. It didn’t help that life got really stressful either. I have had some monumental slips. The more stressed out my life seems to be the more I seek to “self-medicate.” Only thing is, the “medication” is worse than the problem.
Being a Christian woman with a mental illness was hard enough. The church is only just beginning to understand mental illness, but it’s a lot more accepting than it used to be. Lots of Christians are admitting to having mental health issues and Christian therapists are springing up all over the place. It’s pretty safe to say in church that you have a mental illness. Being a Christian woman with a sexual addiction sucks. Nobody talks about that. Guys do… but women don’t. If I was a drunk there wouldn’t be much shame in recovering from that. I could bop on over to the local church and attend a Celebrate Recovery meeting and connect with other Christians who also have drinking problems. I know a number of Christians who are recovering drug addicts and alcoholics.
I do not know a single other female on this entire island with a sexual addiction. As my stress has gotten greater I have acted out more. I recently crossed a line that I hadn’t ever thought I’d cross. All of this has only added to my stress and I haven’t had a single soul that I felt like I could tell. Don’t get me wrong. I have wonderful women in my life who love me. They know all about my issues — mental and sexual. I have been able to turn to them for accountability and prayer in the past… but none of them actually struggle with a sexual addiction. I need to connect with somebody who’s been there so they might show me which way to go. I feel so isolated in this addiction. Sex is still such a touchy subject in the church. Besides, church has been stressing me out lately and I’m back to wanting to retreat into my bubble… but my bubble spells death to my spiritual growth.
God is telling me that if I want to be well, I must be willing to change. The accountability that I had in my life has not expanded to cover what I’m dealing with now. The workbook says I need a sponsor. I am resisting this. I’ve been resisting this ever since Principle Four. I made a half-hearted attempt to find a sponsor and then gave up when I couldn’t find one. And nothing changed. Actually, it did. My stress got worse and life pressed in on me and I began to isolate myself from pretty much everybody. I put on a mask and acted like I was ok. As the walls of my bubble began to contract the loneliness began to press in on me, suffocating me. My chest hurt. My mind hurt. My life hurt. I started to feel like there wasn’t a single place in this world where I belonged. There was nowhere that I fit in. So I did what I do when I’m in pain. I self-medicated.
Eventually, I cried out to God. That’s when he pulled out the “Chutes and Ladders” game and told me that I wasn’t ready for Principle Seven! I needed to go back to Principle Four. I needed to ask myself did I really want to get well? I had to face the sad truth that I didn’t. Not if “getting well” meant changing what I do to protect myself from outrageous people. Not if “getting well” meant surrendering my safety net or deflating the bubble. Shutting people out is what I do best. People at work pushing my buttons? Completely ignore ALL of them even the cool ones. People at church pushing my buttons? Don’t go to church! Stay in my little two room studio singing the Bipolar Girl Anthem.
Isolation, however, is not what God calls the Christian to do as a life-style. My life has become really unbalanced.Work and home. That’s it. I’ve backed off from pretty much everybody else.
I cannot control anything in my life right now. My sexual addiction is getting the worst of me. Admitting that is Principle One. I tried to do an online group to get support, but it fizzled out. Maybe I need to ask at church can I start a recovery group. Of course, that could backfire. I could put myself out there and NO other woman come forward to get help. Then I really would feel like a lone freak of nature. Of course, I could step out and try to start a group and one other woman could step forward because FINALLY somebody else was admitting to having a problem. The stats about Christian women struggling with porn and sexual addiction are growing, but evidently in Hawaii it’s in the “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell” category of sin. Alls I know is God is telling me that I have to step outside my isolation. I need to seek out real accountability. I need to also find a sponsor.
Not that I want to do this… but Saturday I’m going to get in my car and drive to the other side of the island. There’s a meeting at a church for sex addicts. I have NEVER attended a meeting for this (12 step or otherwise). I always did my recovery work by myself or with a therapist. The idea of opening up face-to-face in a group of total strangers and talking about sex weirds me out to no end… but the idea of staying like this the rest of my life weirds me out even more. I have been struggling with this addiction since I was eight years old. I have looked at the roots of my issues backwards and forwards. I’ve read books. I’ve watched ministry tapes. I’ve done workbooks and online courses. The one thing I have not ever done is actively sought out other people who struggle in a real time setting.
I can look for the positive in bad situations all that I want… but if I’m not willing to change, then no matter how many ponies I find, I am never going to be free. People equal stress and pain and more stress to me. I generally see them as threats to my mental health. Yet avoiding them has not helped. It might lessen the stress… but if I end up isolated and acting out, that’s not healthy. My life has got to change. God wants me to be healthy. I want me to be healthy. The one fault I have with the Ronald Reagan joke is that the optimistic kid is looking fanatically for something that’s not there. I don’t want to spend my life searching for something that’s not there. Maybe instead of obsessing about obtaining sexual purity I need to obsess about getting closer to God. Maybe as I do what he calls me to do (open up my life and love people), I will find that there is no need to self-medicate. As my life begins to be characterized by love of God and love of people… it will be so full of peace, joy, and all that other good stuff that I won’t have time to wallow in my addiction.
Of course, since I’ve put all of this out there, I now have to go to this meeting. People are going to ask me if I went or not. I could delete this post and nobody would be the wiser… but there’d be no growth or change in that and I need God to help me grow. I need God to change me. The only thing that’ll really mess with my head is if there are no women at this meeting. So if you’re reading this and you’re a praying person, pray that I go to the meeting and pray that there’s at least one other woman there. There may not be a pony in all this stuff that I’ve been dealing with, but if I follow God wherever he’s leading me, I’m bound to find something better.