What have I learned? One Day, Honesty and Surrender…again.

My morning devotional recently spoke to perfectionism…and failure. It talked about how in our failures are the greatest learning and growth — if we seek out the lessons amidst the disappointment.

I slipped up recently and ending up acting out and using. I’m avoiding labels like “lapse” or “relapse” because I choose to focus on the lessons amidst the disappointment. The question I find myself asking and answering at Day 11 is why? and what have I learned? Cautious to not over analyze nor become overconfident (at Day 11), I’ve reached the following conclusions.

Why? (Once again) I took on too much emotional work without reaching for support. Granted, I have a therapist now helping me in addition to my twelve-step recovery and my sponsor. Granted, I told everyone from my pastor, to friends, to fellow recovering addicts that I was “doing some good work — hard work — emotionally deep — but necessary.” But, then I fell back into my old patterns: I grabbed my journals, isolated and dove in head first, playing the patient and the therapist. And, though I uncovered some new insights to patterns I’ve developed over the years and honed in on losses I’ve failed to fully grieve that lurk beneath the surface of my addictive cycles…I got overwhelmed and surprise, fell back into my old pattern of escape. I used. I ran. I numbed.

Can’t do that. Need to reach out — talk to others and allow myself to be the “patient” — and need to take it easy, small bites…not make up for “lost time” and cram 30 years of healing into a weekend.

And what have I learned? What am I doing differently now – at Day 11 even – to honor my recovery?

I really feel like I’m approaching this phase one day at a time. In the past, I was always focused on getting to 30 days…60 days…with the ultimate goal of beating my longest amount of clean time. So though I mouthed the words one day at a time – I was really looking ahead too far. Doesn’t work – for me.

I’ve learned the need for honesty – for transparency. Without being cliche, it starts with me and those closest around me. I’ve become so used to telling lies, white lies, stretching the truth that even before the relapse, I was holding back — keeping up the facade. As one friend told me, “T, you seem like the sort of person who needs to look like you’ve got it all under control even when you are falling apart inside.” Oh Kim, your insights are so powerful. Thank you. I need to be willing and able to share where I’m at even when things aren’t going smoothly. Yes, I can be hopeful, joyous and optimistic – but that doesn’t mean things aren’t hard, scary and sometimes overwhelming. That’s when I need to reach out, ask for help and talk about how I’m feeling — even in the midst of it, even without the answers. Yes, T — I can be the patient…and be real, honest and transparent…and accepted.

Lastly, I’ve learned the meaning and need for surrender on another level. I say another level, because I am beginning to realize that in the same way my self-discovery is like an onion, peeling away layers with time and experience — so is my understanding of and ability to surrender.

I’ve reinvigorated my daily routine. Again, they told me keep it simple and stick to the basics. I pray in the morning — admit I’m powerless over my chemical and sexual addictions, surrendering my will and ability to my Higher Power. I ask for His help to stay clean and sober just for today — and for now, sexually abstinent (for 90 days!) I read my morning devotionals. I call others in recovery or my sponsor every day. I am doing another “90 in 90” (90 meetings in 90 days). I’m doing a 90 day plan of total abstinence from all sexual behavior. And at the end of the day, I lay my head on the pillow and thank my Higher Power for keeping my clean, sober and abstinent. Just for Today.

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I see life as full of possibilities and the world full of beautiful people possessing unique and often untapped talents. I’m a learner and connector, seeking ways to leverage the abundance in this world through strong community.

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