Sunday, 27 November 2022

J Journey from Addiction

I Am An Addict

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships, or health. People who have developed an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. - Psychology Today (

What is your immediate thought when you hear the word “addiction”? If you are like me, I visualized images of a junkie strung out on meth or heroin, doing anything to just get another fix. Or of an alcoholic unable to hold a job or keep a marriage together because of that unending craving for alcohol. Addiction is so much more. I discovered that I was an addict. I don’t use drugs. I don’t drink alcohol to excess. I don’t crave any substances to the point of them interfering with my life. Make no mistake, though. I am most definitely an addict.

I fall into that hidden second category, behavioral addictions. The only problem was, like many in that category, I had no idea that I was an addict. I just thought I was bad. I thought my sexual sin was so great that God couldn’t forgive me or I wouldn’t still be doing the things I was doing. Behavioral addictions, gambling or sex or shopping or eating, are every bit as compulsive and destructive as substance addictions. For me and for many that I know personally, immensely destructive. My history of lying and manipulation and

My name is Keith, I am a believer in Christ, and I am in recovery from compulsive behavior. That is how I introduce myself in my 12 step meetings. You could classify me as a sex addict, relationship addict, or just compulsive behavior addict. I think the most accurate way to describe me and so many others is…I am an addict. Thankfully I am an addict in recovery.

Every addict I have ever met has struggled with two specific things: isolation and shame. The ground-breaking author Brene’ Brown has done so much amazing work with characterizing and understanding the basis of shame in addiction and in our daily lives. What resonates with me the most is her very simplistic explanation of the difference in shame and guilt. Shame is when I characterize myself as bad. Guilt is when I have done bad things. As an addict, I was so deep in my shame. I had incorporated my shame in to my character. I did not think I could step out of my behavior because I didn’t think God would heal me because I had asked so many times for him to do so. I had almost given up on ever being able to step out of lies, manipulation, and double life that I had lived for most of my existence.

I wish I could say I one day had a Damascus Road experience, saw the light, and changed my ways. I prayed for that. For most of my life, I prayed for God to heal me and change me. It didn’t happen that way. I entered recovery by force through what we addicts call “discovery,” meaning I was found out. That’s how I entered recovery. I had two choices, enter a program of recovery or lose my marriage and my wife and kids. Many in recovery had the same experience I did. They were discovered. They entered recovery kicking and screaming and fighting their shame and lies. I did. I thought I would take my history to my grave.

Thanks for joining me in this Journal Through Recovery. Here I will talk about addiction and how it impacts so many, not just the addict. I will talk about the struggle to make good decisions and rewire my thinking and behavior that has been so distorted from a lifetime of destructive thoughts and behaviors. I will talk about the impact of my addiction on the people around me who love me and our struggles to find safe places to live out our recovery together. I will be rigorously honest with you. I will answer any questions you have and share my hope, experiences and faith.

This column is part of my plan of recovery. A very important part. God has given me a purpose in my writing, though not one I ever expected. Thanks for reading my original column and for joining me on this journey.

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