I remember sitting outside in the dark on September 19th 2010, waiting for my first meeting to start. I wasn’t sure if I was at the right place. The only thing I knew was the desperation for help. I also remembered the frantic call to my therapist and the feeling of isolation and loneliness.
I have been in and out of therapy since I was 18 and all the therapists I met told me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me. The gut feeling within me told me otherwise. How could there be nothing wrong with me when I am crying for help all the time and each time I am in a relationship, I would pray to God so hard to give me the guts to come out of these unhappy relationships each time. I was tormented by everything that was going around me.
On April 27th 2010, I finally hit rock bottom. A relationship with a man I was staying at ended and it was nowhere close to a happy ending. I remembered the physical trauma of that night and the desperate plea for him not to leave me. I was willing to do anything even if it meant that I would have to end up being his mistress when he got married. I was willing to do anything just to have him in my life even if he was not good for me. I had hit a point of desperation.
Today, on hindsight that day was the greatest gift for me. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to divulge all the sick secrets of the past. I have been repressing them all my life because of the shame and guilt they carried. Repressing the times I would have a fight with a partner and I would subsequently seek solace in the arms of another man. Or, all the times where my mind would wonder to sexual fantasy to ease the unbearable pain that resided within me. How could I possibly forget the nights when I had to resort to masturbation just so I could stop the wondering thoughts in my mind and allow myself to fall asleep.
So after many years of sessions with a therapist, I finally told him my deepest and darkest secrets. I had nothing to be shameful about. In my mind, I have lost everything. Little did I realise that it was that day that I was beginning to gain something. This is the paradox of recovery – one has to lose something before gaining something.
There I was sitting in the first meeting in a roomful of me, at that time being the only female. I remembered the addict in me saying, “What could be more perfect than this? I lost a man and I have many now to choose from.” But somehow, my Higher Power had better plans for me. In the fellowship, I learnt that the safest place for me was this lions’ den. For the first time in my life, these men that I sat in meetings with week after week showed me what it meant to respect a woman. It is the most beautiful place for me. The sanctity of the room, where I feel heard, loved and accepted is the greatest gift of all. It was and is the only place that I could be me, flaws and all and still be accepted.
That is the first step to my recovery. From the fellowship I learnt how it feels like to be accepted and slowly but surely, I am learning to accept myself. These changes don’t happen overnight and it takes time. It’s not an easy journey and I still have days where I struggle with my recovery. Despite all the pain and the confusion that I go through in recovery, I can say with all my heart that it still beats the desperation of those addiction years.
The glimpses of serenity that I caught at times, give me the motivation to keep coming back for meetings and stay in recovery. And there is also another thing that I learnt – No one can force me into recovery. No loved one and no family members have the power to do that. The requirement of SLAA membership is our own desire to stop living out a pattern of sex and love addiction. Not others but ours. Then recovery belongs to you.
S.L.A.A. Singapore female member