The Tools That Helped Me Stay Sober

My name is Claire, I was created in the image of God and I am a grateful recovering sexaholic. My sobriety date is July 3, 2002. I need to remind myself that I am an addict because I can easily forget.

In early recovery I spoke with my sponsor very often. I knew that I couldn’t think straight and I needed someone to think for me. In recovery I saw that I was able to think more clearly. I would think about things before talking to my sponsor and in time the answer that I thought was a good answer turned out to be the same answer my sponsor provided. Today my brain is usually clear and I can tell when it’s not. Even so, if it’s something big I talk it over, if not with my sponsor then with some other trusted friend. That came with a lot of recovery and I’m very grateful for it.

I have a sponsor I trust. Find someone who has what you want and learn how they got it. The more my sponsor knows about what my challenges are and what my difficulties are in dealing with those challenges, the better equipped my sponsor is going to be to help me and guide me in ways that work for me. Don’t be afraid to share whatever is going on with you. There was a time when I remember being so glad my sponsor wasn’t there to see or hear something. That was my flag to call my sponsor and repeat whatever had just happened because we’re all as sick as our secrets.

When I came into program 18 years ago I was in tears and my life was unmanageable. I started acting out by myself as a very young child. By the time I got to college I was only interested in planning on acting out or thinking about what I did acting out.

I’m 67 years old. I always thought that by the time I was 67 I wouldn’t be dealing with issues of lust anymore, but that’s not true. I still have issues and I’m grateful that I have the program to help me. Getting back to my history, along the way I became religious and religious girls don’t randomly act out with men, so I got married. My addict unfortunately picked out my first husband. That marriage lasted 15 years. I’m very grateful that I got into the program about a year before I got divorced. After being alone for just a couple of years, I married a wonderful man. I am so grateful to my Higher Power for giving me a second chance to have a normal life.

People talked about how important it was to make phone calls. I was often the only woman at a meeting and, as a religious woman, wouldn’t normally talk to men and certainly not one-on-one. In frustration and anger I asked who I was supposed to call. One of the guys quickly took out his notebook an d scribbled his name and phone number on a piece of paper, rolled it up, threw it at me and said, “You can call me.” Then a few other guys gave me their number. It made me feel so welcome and wanted. I hear a lot of women have had trouble coming into meetings that are mostly men. Maybe it’s good that I was older even eighteen years ago. Today I call many people and many people call me. We care about each other and we accept each other. We’re not judging each other and it’s wonderful. For many years I felt that I was a bad girl. I’m not bad, just sick.

In early recovery a person doesn’t have a lot of tools. Whatever I could use, I did. I went to meetings, made phone calls, did some writing/ journaling, and talked to my sponsor often. I have a reputation for being a positive recovery lady. “I can’t do this,” and “this isn’t good,” are ideas that I didn’t find to be particularly helpful. I’d be so upset about things that I just wanted to act out. Instead, I focus on what I want. I want to be relaxed, to have a clear head, to be a good wife and a good mother. I want to have a good relationship with the people around me and be able to function. About eight years ago I went back to school and now I have a new occupation. I get very good feedback from clients and I’m very happy with my work.

A great tool for me has been “acting as if.” There is a difference between “acting as if” and being a hypocrite. Being a hypocrite is doing something that you think the other person wants you to do but you don’t really want to. “Acting as if,” is doing what the person you would like to become would do. I have found that certain things that I have learned to do have come to replace my knee-jerk unhealthy reactions.

I often think, “What would my Higher Power want me to do in this situation?” Sometimes that’s too hard. Instead I have certain people in my life who I admire and I’ll think to myself, “What would this person do in this situation?” Then I’ll go and do that. I was talking to my daughter-in-law and said that I didn’t really want to do something, but it seemed like the right thing to do, so I did it. She told me that she hears me say that often, that I don’t want to do something but I do it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I hadn’t even realized that I mentioned it to her more than once or twice but it made an impression on her. I stopped and thought about it and realized that I really do try to do the right thing to the best of my ability.

Step 10 is a part of my life. I don’t usually sit down and write a long Step 10 anymore. I stop and think about any interaction that I’ve had, not just the ones that I think were negative, any serious or lengthy interaction and obviously anything that bothers me. I run it through my head at a quiet time. Sometimes I’ll wonder if what I said was appropriate. Then I’ll go back to the person and I’ll tell them that I was thinking about our conversation and I realized I said such and such and I’m hoping that it wasn’t misunderstood. If I need to apologize I do, without going overboard. Sometimes I realize that I’m upset about something. Then I’ll go back and mention that the last time we talked they mentioned such and such and I was wondering what they meant. I’m not accusing them of anything, I’m just asking for clarification and usually it’s fine because I’m not going in there attacking them.

My sobriety keeps getting stronger. I’m very grateful that I have not acted out in over 18 years but my sobriety is very different than it was 17 years ago, even five years ago. I see the depth of things. I see how it’s affecting me. I see how my life keeps getting better. In early recovery I had a discussion with my sponsor about sobriety. I was sober, but I still had many character defects and I didn’t feel good. My sponsor said I was talking about serenity, not sobriety; just stay sober and serenity will come. My sponsor was right. I thought that I wouldn’t have any more problems once I was working the program, but nowhere in our literature does it say that. I have people to talk to and tools to use. I have much less fear and a relationship with my Higher Power. I am not alone anymore.

Claire Z., Israel

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