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Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Good News

It is paramount in recovery to accept your own process. We all do it differently. I witness over and over how sex addicts tend to compare their progress in recovery to others. This born out of the shame of their wounding at the core of their addiction. It is vital that they become aware of this propensity to judge and measure and then learn to intervene on this self-destructive pattern. This intervention is vital to the early stages of the recovery process because, if we continue to "beat ourselves up," we fuel the shame that drives the addict. If we continue to engage in self-destructive and judgmental thoughts, we are in jeopardy of relapse.

It is fundamental to understand that your healing process is as unique as your fingerprint. It is yours to honor. I support my clients in reciting and internalizing the affirmations and slogans from Alcoholics Anonymous: "Progress, not perfection," and "Easy does it." These simple messages tend to have a soothing effect shame, like a cooling balm on an infected wound. The simple and humble truths of these statements provide a refuge from the barrage of habitual, self-demeaning, destructive judgments with which our addict has attacked us for so long.

We tend to heal as we are wounded. The earlier, more pervasive, intense, and repetitive the abuse, the longer it can take to heal. The more intrusive the wounding, the tighter the recoil. The challenge in early recovery lies in the ability to allow internal, healing vitality to take over. We were born with the storehouse of good health and joy, but we have been out of contact wit it for so long. This is a huge challenge for most addicts because it requires us to let go and trust. Letting go can cause overwhelming feelings of anxiety: "If I let go, I will get hurt. I might die."

It is important to acknowledge these old beliefs and to challenge their treachery. When anxiety attacks us, there are practical things we can do: prayer, self-affirmation, exercise, controlled breathing, a telephone call to our sponsor. These things work.

I often share with my clients that like love, (added by me), recovery is a "process, not an event." This process requires patience and acceptance. It is vital to celebrate and honor all accomplishments, great and small. Your recovery is unique and precious. The gifts of this are reflected in the promise of all Twelve Step work:

"If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. You will know a new freedom and a new happiness. You will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend and the word 'serenity,' and we will know peace."

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