I Saw The Drawing Slowly Appear On The Page

I had a pretty normal childhood and, thankfully, I experienced no sexual traumas. Looking back, I notice that I had an unusually strong interest in women, even as a child. Still, I don’t believe I experienced genuine addiction until decades later.

At age 35, I lost a very prestigious and challenging job. By chance, I stumbled upon online porn as I was trying to regroup from that career setback. What I found seemed odd and even creepy, but it soon interested me. I found it had a strange, painkilling effect on me. Online images and chat became daily habits which quickly replaced my normal interests in work and family. I spent my days and nights looking at porn, sometimes for 10 hours straight. Days stretched into weeks, then into months, then into years.

My wife knew what I was doing because I told her. Her therapist suggested I was merely going through a phase and that I would eventually grow tired of it. That was probably valid advice for some people. However, I had literally become addicted by that time and an addict never tires of their addiction. When my wife’s patience was exhausted, she filed for divorce. My addiction accelerated and I soon hit rock bottom.

For some, rock bottom arrives as an arrest or other major breakdown. For me, it came when I realized that the family that I cherished had fallen apart. I lost the respect of everyone I loved most. I realized my addiction had taken away everyone and everything I cared about.

I attended a local SA meeting. The people there seemed surprisingly similar to me, with one difference; they were completely honest about their addictions. Despite feeling desperate for sobriety, I did not really work the Steps and experienced no success. I was reading and rereading the SA book (the workbooks had not been published at that time) but that alone was not working. I lost all hope of becoming sober.

Then a relative recommended I listen to the Joe & Charlie “Big Book Comes Alive” recordings. I worked the steps the way they described. I soon found I was sober, and I remained sober for 2+ years. When I stopped working the steps, I lost my sobriety again. That scared me because I thought I had been permanently “cured.” I pocketed my pride and picked up a white chip for restarting the program. This time, I realized that only my Higher Power could keep me sober, one day at a time.

I feel peaceful on most days and am no longer insane with addiction. I work to keep a close relationship to my Higher Power. If a very religious person gave me a test, they would probably say I’m not very religious. That’s okay. Recovery is for those who wish to stop … not those who pass religious tests. I now pay very close attention when I feel disturbances (resentment, fear, regrets over harms to others) and I work the Steps on them immediately. I have stayed sober one day at a time … never more … just one single Today at a time since Valentine’s Day, 2007. I thank God as I understand God. I thank the Steps for helping me seek His help. I thank the other addicts who always inspire me to keep coming back.

My message to the one who is still sick: The Steps worked for me. But only when I worked them. And only when I remain ready to work them every single day … and minute.

I was born with the ability to draw, but for twenty years, my pen produced only idle doodles. One day, I looked down and saw the “Serenity” drawing slowly appear on the page. It startled me—as if our family dog suddenly stood on its hind legs and began calmly reciting Shakespeare. At that time, I had been in recovery for perhaps a year. I was surprised when more and more drawings sprang forth. Where were they coming from and where were they going? Then, I recalled that people in Twelve Step meetings often give “personal shares” and I realized that my drawings were merely my own personal share. They were not special; they were simply just different.

I created drawings like this one in sets of twelve, never knowing when or if another one would be forthcoming. The sets emerged in this order: The Steps, The Traditions, The Serenity Prayer, The Promises, The Insanities, The Metaphors, and a final one I call “Religious or Not?” Four of the above sets are included in my website www.twelvedrawings.com.

Ideas for my drawings formed after simple prayer and meditation. Sometimes, the emerging illustrations startled me. Certain drawings (like “Courage”) still make my eyes brim with emotions every time I see them. My hair stands up as if God was pressing nearer to see. I hope you enjoy looking at the drawings. I hope they may make some small contribution to your living better Today. I hope you will keep coming back.

John I., TN, USA

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