DON’T Say What You CAN’T Say
Rehearsing the line in my head did not help.
I tried to say it at home by myself and it felt awkward. Like wearing somebody else’s underwear. I mean you could wear somebody else’s underwear… but why?
I could say the sentence to myself all I wanted to, but I kept wondering why I even had to say it. And the very idea of saying the words aloud in a group of total strangers filled my heart with dread unimaginable.When you see people say it on tv it sounds kinda cheesy. It’s as if there is a faintly artificial cheese aroma wafting in the air when people utter the words:
“Hi. I’m Bob and I’m an alcoholic.”
To which everybody in the room says, “Hi Bob.”
I don’t mean to offend the thousands of people who have said this. I’m just saying that it sound weird to me. Hundreds of thousands of Bobs and Tims and Susans and Helens have been saying those words ever since the Recovery Movement took the first of those now famous 12 Steps. I’m all for moving forward…but this was one step I did not want to take.
I still think it’s easier and more acceptable to say that you have an alcohol or drug addiction than it is to admit to having problems with sex or porn. I’ve blogged the words. I even printed them in big letters on a piece of cardboard and walked on the stage at church holding the sign. I’ve said them to a few select “safe” people… but it is still hard for me to say the words out loud.
Saying that I had a sexual addiction cost me my family. With Mother’s Day just around the corner it smarts that my own mother chose to discard me like so much rubbish when I told her about my addiction. It still hurts that she called me a liar and does not believe my allegations that my older brother molested me as a child. So much of my life has been destroyed by an addiction that was thrust upon me when I was too young to know that most little girls didn’t know the things I knew. I’m not saying this to get pity or advice. Both of those things tend to make me mad. This is just the path that I’ve traveled and I share it because I know that I am not the only one.
Yet I felt like the only one when I drove to the church where the anonymous meeting of sex addicts was to be held. I didn’t want to go. I figured it’d be a bunch of old white men sitting in a circle. Being the lone black woman would make me feel like a freak of nature. I was praying that at least one woman would be there. And I contemplated not saying anything at all because those words still wouldn’t come out of my mouth. They conjure up images of skanky crack hoes or women who went out trolling for different sexual partners every night of the week. Even at my very worst, I never did that. And I didn’t want people thinking that I did.
Yet, I couldn’t even use the out of saying that I’m a Porn Addict because my life-long addiction to porn is essentially gone now. If I stumble upon it, I can still be tempted… but I don’t seek it out and don’t want to. But explaining my sexual addiction is complicated and I don’t like going into embarrassing details about it. So I’m stuck with a label that makes me cringe.
When I got to the church I was still cringing. It wasn’t my church. It wasn’t even on my side of the island. I didn’t expect to know anybody. When I got there there the room was full of people and the meeting was already in full swing. This older white guy with shocking white hair was doing all the talking. I noticed a few women sprinkled around the room… but there was no way that I was going to walk into a room full of older white people and announce to God and man that I, Lori, was a sex addict. I hung outside the door hoping beyond hope that it was the wrong room, the wrong meeting, and the wrong alternate universe. Turns out it was the wrong room and the wrong meeting. I was directed to the right room where I sat and waited.
I kept waiting. I knew I was in the right place because the calendar on the door had the meeting time on it. I kept waiting trying not to look like a sex pervert to the people in that packed meeting room. I got out my bible hoping that God would say something to me. Everything in me wanted to leave. It was already 15 minutes into the 1 hour meeting and nobody was there. Tears started to well up in my eyes. I’d felt like a lone freak of nature before I got there… this seemed to confirm it. I prayed and read my bible hoping that one person would show up… even if it was an old guy. I felt embarrassed and stupid and alone. I couldn’t believe God would make me go to this meeting knowing how I felt about being alone in this only to show me how alone I truly was. I gave up after waiting for a half an hour. Nobody was coming. What was more cheesy: practicing saying the words or having nobody to say them to?
When I walked back to my car I was ready to fall apart. What happened to the big change?? The big step forward?? Going to that meeting was supposed to be one giant step for Bipolar kind. This meeting was supposed to be the next step in my journey to wellness. The LIFE guide (Living In Freedom Everyday) that I’ve been working through insisted that I attend meetings. It insisted that I find a sponsor. I hadn’t done those things, so when I got to Principle Seven I got the Chutes and Ladder Expressway back to Principle Four (the accountability step). They also wanted me to call my sponsor daily and keep in regular phone contact with my support group. I’d rather wax off my eyebrows than use the phone daily. But sitting there in my car, not knowing where to go or what do t do… I did what I don’t generally do when I’m in crisis: I called somebody.
Unfortunately, I got her voicemail. In the past this would have daunted me. I would have gotten mad at God. Why tell me to call somebody if they aren’t there when I call?? I called another friend and left a message for her. Two calls with no answer?? Normally, I would have given up after the first failed attempt. Being alone and upset, however, was not an option. I called somebody who I totally did not think would be home… and she picked up.
This woman is like a mother to me. I went over her house only planning to stay for 20 minutes. I figure 20 minutes of me whining and crying is more than any one person should have to put up with on a Saturday. What happened there surprised even me. By the time I got to her house I was not upset. God must have worked some kind of mojo in the car because by the time I got to her house I wanted to fill her in on all that God has been doing in the last few months! Sure, there have been some difficulties… but all of it has served to make my faith in him stronger. It has also gotten me to step outside the Bipolar Bubble and start serving him in the places where he has me. The more I talked to her the more I had reason to praise God. By giving testimony to what I have seen him do where I live and where I work, I was remembering how far God has brought me. I was excited and glowing.
No longer was I upset that there was no meeting. God had sent me to the other side of the island to be with a woman who loves me like a mother. She knows all about my sexual addiction and my mental illness… and has never judged me or thought less of me because of it. She would also never leave me or forsake me the way my biological mother did. I left her house and went to the aquarium. I love that place. Seeing God’s creation up close and personal always humbles me.
I think God asked me to go to that meeting to see if I would. He knew I’d go… but I didn’t. I think God regularly tests my obedience for my sake not his own. If he asks me to try again next week, I’d do it although I’m seriously hoping that he doesn’t. He also showed me that if I had to choose between waxing my eyebrows off and calling people who care about me… I’d actually opt for the phone call. My first response to stress this past month has been to isolate myself even though I know that there is danger in isolation. The LIFE guide says that I need to attend meetings and get a sponsor and do a bunch of other stuff that just is not going to work for Bipolar Girl. God is showing me that I don’t have to follow some book or steps to the letter. They are merely tools. He wants to heal me of this addictive behavior more than I want to be healed… and he will do so in his time.
I’m going to skip Principle Seven. I’m not going to accept the Chutes and Ladders trip back to Principle Four. The way the program is set up, it recycles back to Principle One/Assignment Two anyways. I am moving forward. When God wants to send me a sponsor, he will. And if he wants me to find a support group on the island it’s going to be Christian based. Maybe I might just start my own support group using the workbook. If only one other woman showed up that’d be enough of a group for me anyway.
“Hi. I’m L-“
I didn’t say it on Saturday because I couldn’t and God didn’t make me. He will never push me or force me to do something I cannot do. He will send challenges and trials my way to strengthen me enough so that, in him, I can.
Another good thing to come out of all of this? I spoke to another woman on the phone the other night. I’m trying to call somebody each night just to connect with another person. I chose to call this woman because she is also like a mother to me. There I was whining and moping about how my mom doesn’t love me and how I’m boycotting Mother’s Day when God reminded me of this woman and how much she loves me. She, too, knows about my addiction and loves me anyway. Since I became a Christian I don’t just have my biological mom. I have had different women over the years come alongside of me to mentor me and care about me and love me more than my birth mother ever could.
So while it felt like I took one step forward and two giant steps backwards… I know that no matter what the dance looks like, as long as Jesus is leading, it’s all going to end beautifully.
- Fruit of a Poisonous Tree (theadventuresofbipolargirl.wordpress.com)