"I checked it out with her, and she came clean about how she was feeling left out, jealous. So it was cool."
As the weeks passed, Hank's relationship progressed into a deeper connection.
"I think I need to tell her about my past -- you know, all the sex stuff," he said. "but I am not sure how to do it."
Fear was written all over Hank's body as he made this suggestion. The idea of being vulnerable and risking rejection is one of the most difficult challenges that recovering sex addicts face. The concept of being accepted and valued despite their past behaviors is so foreign and unimaginable that they can barely visualize it, much less believe they deserve it.
When Hank told Sara about himself, he began by explaining his sex abuse history, laying the foundation as to why his life had taken its particular course.
Hank began by explaining that his father, an ex-amateur wrestler, beat him, especially when he was drunk. His mother left when Hank was three, never to be seen again. He later found out she had been killed in a car accident when he was seven. His father regularly took him to bars, where Hank was exposed to his father's drunken stupors and carousing.
"I hated those times," Hank explained to Sara.
"My dad was so loud and obnoxious. Even though the place was a dump, I got embarrassed. He'd pick up women, often more than one a night, and either had sex right in front of my brother and me," Hank said, pausing to collect his thoughts.
"My sex education started early..."
In the middle of Hank's sentence, and much to his surprise, Sara reached out to touch his hand.
"I really admire you, Hank," she said with tenderness. I know this is hard for you, and I feel really special that you are willing to share this with me."
Hank now shakes his head as he relays the story: "It's a freaking miracle."
Hank had been willing to be vulnerable, and the results were an even deeper connection to Sara. He had picked someone who was willing to accept his past and believe in his future.
Hank was able to experience a common occurrence for sex addicts in recovery. When we are on the healing path and doing our work, we tend to attract people who match our healthy energy. It is a simple equation, like energies attracting. Hand was doing his work and reaping the benefits. He began to realize he was not the navigator of his life, able to chart his course. He was making choices and decision that allowed him to experience true intimacy and relational connection.