Disclosure

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:4-5 ESV

http://bible.com/59/jhn.1.4-5.esv

For 50 years I have fearfully walked in the shadows. I have accepted and known Jesus as Lord and savior. But I have continued to walk in the flesh. I have lived according to the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit has always been available to me but I have not received it. Instead, I let the desires of the flesh slowly consume me. I was extinguishing Jesus’ light in my life, one candle at a time. Oh, in Jesus, there are a lot of candles, but my darkness was none-the -less consuming the light.

I want to live by the Spirit. I want to keep step with the Spirit on the path of life that God makes known to me. His Spirit is a willing leader on that path. I desire to be a willing follower. It takes the work of my will to follow. It is not an automatic response, a reflex like jerking my hand back from a hot stove. It takes a combination of surrendering my will and God’s mercy and grace in my life. My only way out is surrender; I cannot do anything on my own.

Today, I disclose to my wife my sin from the last 50 years. I must do so humbly, without honor. There is absolutely no honor in what I have done. But I also must stand erect in my sorrow , my pain, my loneliness, my fear and in my experience of being rejected. It is my calling today, to acknowledge the many ways I have been unfaithful to my wife and to God. I am called to acknowledge them and feel them while remaining on my feet.

Today I am a whole person, an honest person. Passing the polygraph on Saturday doesn’t make me an honest person. God’s moment by moment grace and mercy in my life to live by and to practice the truth make me an honest person. This is the highest form of integrity to have what is on the inside match up with who I am on the outside and this only by receiving grace upon grace from the fullness of Christ.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

John 1:14, 16 ESV

http://bible.com/59/jhn.1.14,16.esv

Hope

Stay with it. Stay with the pain, stay with the community of believers that is helping me as I suffer on the journey of recovery, and stay with Jesus, the author and perfector of faith.

Yesterday I learned that the pain I was feeling was based on feeling rejected, silenced, unmarried. My resentment grew into anger and the old coping mechanisms crept in. I wanted to withdraw, to isolate, to run from the pain. On one hand I do need the time and space to meet with God, to discover again and more deeply who I am in His image, and to accept that same sex attraction and addiction recovery are his gifts to me. On the other hand I need to remember I am a part of a larger body, one that cares for me and one that is changing along with me. I must keep communicating and confessing with my SA fellows. I am a grateful, recovering sex addict.

More importantly, yesterday I learned that the pain of rejection I was experiencing these past few days was the same pain of rejection that my wife of forty years is experiencing after learning about my unfaithfulness. During the week of first disclosure she wrote to me a short note, “Your faithlessness is breathtaking.” These past days my breathing has been through the heartache of a slow realization that the rejection I was experiencing was minuscule compared to the rejection my wife is experiencing because of my betrayal.

I am grateful for therapists who help me to begin to understand the gravity of my past actions while also helping me to remain in the pain long enough to learn from it. The new learning is the substance of the hope of recovery and the hope of better relationships. I am grateful for a wife who has chosen to remain with me in the pain, in her own pain. I am grateful she is seeing in me a new person with new abilities that come from stepping out of the shadow and into the full light of Christ and turning from deceit toward honesty and truth, and stepping into a single-minded faith without any doubting. Doubting that inevitably leads to double-minded thinking and instability.

I am a grateful, recovering sex addict.

Reset

Hi, I’m Henry a recovering sex addict. I have fucking zero days of sobriety.

I can’t believe I slipped back into the old pattern this morning. I had such an awesome weekend on a church men’s retreat. The speakers were great; I participated in the small group discussions from my heart without fear; I had several great one-on-one conversations. I was appropriately high on the experience with a group of amazing men.

I got home and my wife and I did our check-in as we’ve been doing weekly since I disclosed my addiction to her back in September. In the back of my mind was the fact that we had gone out to dinner and to a concert on Thursday. A few months earlier, I received notice that a favorite jazz musician was in town and I asked her if she wanted to go. She replied, “of course,” so I got tickets. I had a great time. It reminded me of other evenings like this in the past. I posted a check-in on FB and tagged my wife. At the end of the concert she saw my post and did her own but didn’t mention or tag that I was there. That stung a little.

Sunday afternoon at our checkin she mentioned that she really wanted to go see Hamilton so she contacted our friends who have the kinds of contacts that can make stuff like that happen even when the show is sold out for the full run in Seattle. I mentioned that I’d like to go and asked if she thought of me in the process. She said, “I don’t feel married.” That really hurt. I understand in my head that I have hurt her deeply through my infidelity. I get why she would no longer feels married to me. But it feels like I went to the hardware store, found the stiffest, coarsest sand paper I could buy, and started to sand the rough edges off my heart. It began to hurt so bad I couldn’t even cry. It was a dry, parched pain.

After the checkin, I tried riding it off on my bike but the resentment grew, the pain intensified. I stayed downstairs watching TV for the evening. This morning I got up and still felt real bad. I tried praying, sitting in my “emotion” chair but neither made the pain stop. I decided to go on a walk and went to change my clothes and then . . . after 135 days of being sexually sober, it was over, reset to zero. Shame rushed over me like an ocean wave.

There is so much shit behind my feelings – resentment, anger, lack of self love, the idea that I deserve to be punished, I’m not worth it, etc. I thankfully was able to go to a noon meeting and talk about what transpired over the last 24 hours. I also talked to a friend about it. Slowly, I’m feeling more normal. I realize my feelings aren’t good or bad, they just are. This morning when I wrote and prayed about all of this, the words were hard to get down. Now, it’s different, the words are running across the page, and it seems like minutes though I’ve been writing this for almost half an hour.

I realize that negative sobriety is short lived. I have to move to a more positive sobriety. A sobriety based on healthy self-love in service of others. Love thy neighbor as thy self. I’ve read that somewhere. Haha

I apologize that this is a bit of a rambling post. I needed to get my feelings out, down on paper. With each word that spills across the page, I’m recovering and I’m feeling more certain about the recovery process. My sobriety is at zero but over these past three months I’ve learned so much that I know I’m not starting over from scratch.

I’m a grateful, recovering sex addict,

– Henry

Dare to stay in your pain – Nouwen.

Dare to stay in your pain. Nouwen’s words ring true. Leaning into pain in the moment does not cause relief, but it does make your heart more supple and better able to handle life’s shit without breaking apart. The heart breaks open so that the things that we have placed on it are able to fall inside. Only God can put things in our hearts through the path of life he makes known to us throughout the day. As we traverse the path and the rough, tough parts break the heart open, truths fall inside and God keeps them hidden there.

What Matters Most

I am often distracted by my own self interest. Instead of living into the image which God has created in me, I manipulate my image to become important to others. I even consider my image to be of some import on its own. Masking my emotions is one way I try to manage my image, and this feeds my addiction.

On the other hand, I can also be absorbed by another’s presence. In a group I can fade into the background, become invisible. God does not want this either. With God’s help, when I am in touch with my centered, image-bearing self, I operate from a solid inner base from which I can speak and act without apologies – humbly and convincingly. When this paradigm is operating freely in me, I don’t even notice it.

So when I accept myself as image deo, that is fully an image bearer of the Almighty, then I am free to be me. Then I am completely me, no strings attached. Of course, this matters to God because he wants me to operate from this solid inner base that he has created in me. It matters to other people because when I am totally myself in relationships, I am differentiated from others and thereby act in a caring and a challenging way at the same time. God’s love in us is not anemic. It is robust. As a result I become more confident and that is why it also matters to me.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, my Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

“Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

Psalms 19:12-14 ESV

http://bible.com/59/psa.19.12-14.esv

Without Restraint

Lord, I pray that my spirit might be in step with your Spirit.

“The years that lie behind you, will be remembered only as the way that led to your new life.” – Nouwen

The sordid details of my story still scourge my heart. I long for the time when they will not haunt me. I want to tell my story freely but not compulsively. I want others to see that when I am powerless to control my addiction and when I fully surrender to Christ, then the grip of my lust loosens and I regain my footing to walk in step with God’s Spirit.

This is the season for the full disclosure to my wife. The video of euphoric recall presses upon my chest. Breathing is compressed and shallow. My heart gallops as if running from the pain. I hope and pray that she will not be crushed by the iniquity of my actions. I do not want to see the pain re-enter her eyes. My soul weeps as the day of disclosure draws near.

When I return to my story urgently, it enlivens my current suffering in light of past experiences. I long to speak of my past from the place where it no longer dominates me, and I can talk about it slowly with a sense of distance and of freedom. As I live forward, my past will not loom over me. It will lose its weight. When I am free to speak and live and have my being as a servant of Christ, I remember that my past was God’s way of making me more compassionate and understanding towards others.

Two Roads Diverge, Part 3

At His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I am a person that looks for his own pleasure and usually in all the wrong places. It is very easy to find someone to bring me pleasure, but it is always only temporary. However, the pleasures available to us from God are always available. I think it is a matter of knowing when and where and how to open ourselves to those pleasures.

I think of a sunset. Most people turn their head to watch a sunset. It is unlikely you’ll find a sunset to which you respond, “humph.” Even the worst sunset brings shalom to a hectic day. Yet, the sunset doesn’t last forever. It’s gone before long, and that is what gives it so much pleasure power. If we were bathed in a lifetime of the sun setting, perhaps following the turning earth in a super fast airplane just above the ground to have a continuous look, the gasping pleasure would become, “ho hum.” It would be the same if we stood at a great waterfall, forever, or walked the ocean beach, forever, or stood at the top of a high mountain, forever. The reason we experience such intensity is because, whatever the pleasure, it is fleeting. So the pleasures from God are not unending, but their availability is forever.

One more thought, or actually a question, “Is pain a pleasure intensifier?” It seems to be so for me. The emotional pain I have caused in myself and others seems to make my sense of joy deeper and wider and higher. Sometimes when the pain is raw and intense, each long and yawning breath is a gift that brings life and peace and hope. Each and every breath is itself a joie de vivre. Lots of pleasures at God’s right hand are as simple as a breath if we know when and where and how to look.

Pleasures are shafts of God’s glory touching our sensibilities. – C S Lewis