“Going to school without your pants on is a common dream of vulnerability for a lot of people. Telling someone you are a sex addict is getting emotionally naked for real. Vulnerability ain’t no dream for a sex addict”— Ken Wells
I’ve been in recovery for 30 years now. I don’t mind telling you I feel vulnerable. Not to just about addiction but too many things. For example, I feel vulnerable to old age. My hands are wrinkled. I have to work out just to get going every day. I look at the calendar in my head and I think 20 years from now I will be 88 and I can remember 20 years ago as if it were yesterday. Getting old makes me feel vulnerable and it sucks.
Thinking about the prospects of our world’s future makes me feel vulnerable. I grew up in the sixties as a teenager. My generation included hippies and a strong determination to be antiestablishment. Eventually, we caved and became the establishment that in so many ways resembled what we rebelled against. We hand off to the next generation a future so pockmarked with our greed that has fueled global warming issues that promise to make today’s immigration crisis child’s play around the world. Thinking about the future for my grandkids makes me feel so vulnerable.
Waking up to the reality that as an addict – today could be the day that I give up my hard earned sobriety for a cheap trick or a quick escape from stress, anxiety and a host of other unwanted feelings, makes me feel vulnerable. People respond to addiction recovery in so many different ways. Yet, the reality is that hiding somewhere in the back of an addict’s mind is the truth that when I get honest, I know I could act out today because somewhere in the near or distant past I did act out. If I did it once, I can do it again. That truth is embedded no matter what I tell myself about whether I’ll ever do it again. That’s vulnerability.
If I stare at it in my face and let it dominate it will push me to act out again. If I push it to the back of my mind and pretend that I don’t have that challenge any more— and think I’m cured, it is likely that I will act out again as well. To be vulnerable, is to sit with the reality of possible addictive act out as if it were in my peripheral vision in the everyday on goings of common living. I smile, think positive, kiss my grand babies, work, write, love my wife and family, go to church and go to all sorts of meetings including recovery. Yet, at the end of the day, I know I am vulnerable to act out and I am wise to never forget it. I am also wise to know that when I embrace and share the vulnerability of this unspeakable possibility, I become real. For the last 30 years of my life, my addiction has become an invitation to be real each day. When I make that choice to face my addiction, it opens the curtains to the sunshine of intimacy. When I don’t, I close the curtains and re-experience the darkness and isolation that addiction breeds addiction. Getting emotionally naked isn’t no dream for a recovering sex addict. It’s the only way to sustain sobriety and know serenity. It’s the everyday vulnerable experience in the life of a sex addict.
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