Coming Down from the Top of the Mountain
May 31, 2011
I attended a sex addiction conference which was impressively comprised of about four hundred men and women all working to gain new tools for their sobriety and soak in one another’s experience, strength, and hope. The time spent there strongly reaffirmed the sense of spirituality the program confers on those who really work it.
The conference’s sheer size never ceased to amaze me. It was fellowship writ large. The positive-minded energy found there was impressive because it was ten-fold what I experience in my week-to-week meetings. It was concentrated recovery.
There was a hazard in reentry, however. Once I left the safety and trust of the convention — just like the safety felt in a meeting — I had to reenter the “real” world. Reentry provided a great opportunity for me to be especially vigilant about my sobriety. Like a meeting with strong shares or a First Step, a convention can be especially provocative. When I returned, there were several emotions in play all at once — the fear that I’m headed back to the stressors of work, bills, parenting, money, school, etc. I had to take special care of myself when I came home.
Since my very first convention two and a half years ago, I’ve learned to make a reentry plan. The first days back, while my emotions were so near the surface, I did a hyper-vigilant version of my program. I ate well, slept well, made regular contact with my sponsor, and acknowledged over and over that it’d take a little time to grasp my usual routine again. I reminded myself, too, to be grateful for the good things I came back to — my ex and my kids, a job and a home, and a strong recovery fellowship.
I also reveled in the fact that I even had the emotions I was in touch with, because for so long, I amputated those feelings; avoided experiencing them at all cost. Sure, it took time to normalize; but at least the emotions were there and I let them be, and talked out or prayed or meditated my way through them.
That’s the gift of this program and of sobriety: I’m no longer an emotional zombie. Conventions reaffirm that on a really big scale. Meetings reaffirm that. My sponsor reaffirms that. And each individual I call, or who calls me, reaffirms that. We share emotions now; we share our experience, strength, and hope.