Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Secret Shame - Part 1

I have shared a host of addictions in my past. These would include alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addiction, codependent relationships, love addiction, tobacco addiction, compulsive shopping, workaholism, caffeine addiction, sugar addiction. The list could probably go on. That's enough for now!

Gratefully, some of these addictions such as alcohol and drug abuse are no longer issues within my life. From some others, I am seeking recovery. I may never recover from some. Fortunately there are only a few that are truly life-threatening. I keep my focus on recovery from the greater of “the evils.”

What I've come to learn is that I cannot work on all of them at once. That is what the perfectionist who lurks in my brain would like me to do. It's also a recipe for failure. I am like everyone else. I'm not perfect; I am only human.

I have once heard it said that to be human is to be addicted. I believe this to be true. It seems that it's the human condition to expect something or someone to make us happy rather than to look for happiness within ourselves. That only works for awhile until we feel the aching longing within ourselves once again. As for me, only spirit can fill that gaping hole of need.

It seems to me that so much of our unfulfilled needs come from the materially-driven society in which we live. What happened to me in my past was that I became so consumed by my wants instead of focused upon my needs. I certainly have had a tendency to try to fill myself up with things outside of myself in order to make me feel better. That's only worked for the time I had been engaged in those addictions, attachments, or compulsive behaviors. After the thrills wore off, I was just as lonely and needy as before.

It was my first and primary addiction that fueled something even more toxic. That was my secret shame which would ultimately lead me back into this addiction following more shame, emptiness, apathy, or despair. For many years I fooled myself by justifying my sexual behaviors. So many gay men were leading promiscuous lives in the 1970's and 80's. For many that ended with the fear of illness and death connected to AIDS. For many of those who survived, AIDS had become the wake up call for them to have made changes in their sexual behavior. Unfortunately that didn't work for me. I was addicted to sex.

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