Healing in the Family—The Miracle I Did Not Expect image

Healing in the Family—The Miracle I Did Not Expect

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“Slowly but surely, some wisdom and humility began to creep in. I became more teachable. I found God working all around me where previously I was sure I had been alone. When I opened my eyes enough to see the miracle, it was right in front of my face. I was growing in God’s love” (AA 430).

When I arrived in SA in June 2017, I could not recognize a greater miracle than being able to stop acting out. It was a genuine and sudden spiritual experience. As happened to Bill W., that last night of May 2017, something happened in my spirit that allowed me to see the world completely differently when I awoke the next day.

However, that was only the beginning of my development.

After enjoying a pink cloud for two months, there was a dramatic landing on the ground of reality. Despite concerns about detox, I realized that the consistency and security that I had faked to the world and to myself for more than 40 years was slowly falling apart.

My character defects had been my accustomed defense, coming from the basic instincts of self-preservation, social identity, and sexuality. Although I came into this world endowed with these instincts, I distorted them to protect myself from an atrocious fear of the reality that I lived at home, including guilt at being born, and the shame of having parents who hated each other. Love at home had had no meaning.

From my disclosure, my wife knew that I had been unfaithful through pornography and compulsive masturbation. It was a hard blow, which affected the values of our marriage and the trust that she had innocently placed in me for years.

The fact that she accepted my surrender and my desire to get rid of that obsession was a boost to my recovery. She became a constant support I turned to when facing difficulties or uncomfortable walks in places and where my triggers were on display.

On our wedding anniversary, we took a trip to another city in Spain where we met a fellow and his wife, who coincidentally had also revealed his sexual addiction and was going through tough times. The other man and I had very similar acting out patterns. For our wives, to speak of the disappointment and hurt we had caused them was very painful.

When we returned home that same day, my wife angrily sat me down on the couch and asked me emphatically: “How many women have you slept with?” I could not avoid her incisive look. She did not let me get up. “How many?” I hesitantly said that there had been no women at all (and my calculated statement was true).

The days went by, and she got used to unexpected calls, to weekly meetings, to see literature about addictions on shelves, to know that the husband who slept next to her had led a double life. Anguish and mistrust began to undermine her physical and emotional health.

Meanwhile I had been sober for several months. The Step work with my sponsors (my first sponsor relapsed repeatedly before I could finish the Fourth Step) made me understand in a meticulous and profound way that hardly anyone had hurt me in life, that I had used God and the closest people around me like a boomerang to hurt others, and therefore harm myself with the misunderstanding and isolation that my illness needed to thrive.

After a year and a half, I was able to take Step 5 with my sponsor and another fellow. Now was the time to acknowledge the unspeakable list of flaws that I had accumulated over years to survive. I was waiting for delivery from those shortcomings, but I wrote the questions and inventories that Steps 6 and 7 required in a hurry. As if it were a school exam, I tried to get the highest mark. Despite my intellectual efforts, my relationships at home and with local fellows were stagnating. With sadness I found out that those defects on my list were now rubble. They hindered my connection to my wife and sons.

My wife was putting together the puzzle of our coexistence, and many lost or misplaced pieces fell into place. Tension was growing between us. Clinical tests confirmed that I was clean of STDs. With joy, I dared to comment that 15 years ago, the sexual abstinence that I had proposed, was caused by an infection that took more than a year to be neutralized. What was a spontaneous sharing turned into a huge wound.

That same week we attended a healing retreat for married couples. We went to it without any hope, feeling that our marriage had been destroyed, yet the light of God’s mercy arose, and, in that retreat, we recognized that we both have a mission to help each other in sanctification for Heaven.

Steps 8 and 9 followed closely. Through some tutors that we chose at the retreat, we found support to repair the enormous destruction that lust had caused in our lives. These tutors were God’s messengers. Accepting their suggestions, we built bridges that spanned a humanly insurmountable distance.

The amends began, the first being to my first girlfriend, whom I manipulated and seduced for four years, only to break up suddenly and then fully sink into the hell of lust-driven casual relationships. Nothing in this world could stop my insatiable mind for sex, which led me more and more to same-sex relationships.

Unexpectedly, in a subsequent healing retreat which my wife and I attended as guests, I dared to write my wife a letter of repentance in which I admitted that I had acted out with other people, and that those people were men.

The shock of this new revelation was too deep to heal. My wife went into an acute depression. There was only room for crying and lamentation. With anger and anguish, I could see the consequences that so much debauchery had created in married life. Only the mercy and charity of a loving God could bring our two exploded personalities back together.

Learning that sobriety was my only asset, I continued to work the Steps, surrendering the clumsiness and harshness of my heart. My children also knew that their father was a sex addict, but now wanted to be a new dad for them. Their affirmative, welcoming response endorsed my daily recovery work.

Since then, five years and eight months have passed in sobriety. Our marriage continues. We pray together daily and attend Mass in our parish. We both volunteer and help people. I have worked as a volunteer psychologist at the Red Cross, serving addicts in general. Last year, I stopped volunteering there because it was not the kind of spirituality that sustains my recovery. Now I volunteer weekly to care for HIV patients and homeless people in a religious center.

Together with my wife, we have participated in other couples’ retreats, welcoming couples who come to ask for help. Our marital bond is more alive than ever and despite the slight intimacy that we maintain, we progress in our new, mutual knowledge.

Many days she asks me, “Who are you today?” because I have returned to my emotional childhood when I disconnected from the world and from people. I have childish behaviors and reactions that I try to understand and rectify with love and acceptance.

I have discovered that the “God” who judged and criticized my behavior was the fruit of my deceit and of humanizing Him against His Divinity. Now I know that God is Love. Only Forgiveness, Mercy, and Affection come from Him. If I am His creature, I have His same traits imprinted on my spirit. Therefore, it is possible to get rid of my negative tendencies, to get rid of the defects that are useless to loving and being loved.

God is the Lord of Life. Everything changes as I reflect on His light. I want to continue to the end, no matter what. I have no other goal than happiness.

Juan Carlos L., Madrid, Spain

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