Finding A Moment Of Gratitude As You Take A Brief Walk In My Pain-Filled Shoes Of Life…

It’s 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, as I walk in the doors of a Bob Evans where I quickly greet my fellow group members who are already there for our monthly social get-together. My body is hurting pretty bad today and the last thing I feel capable of doing is being social with anyone. Yet I say hello and push on through with a few casual hugs and then immediately head to the bathroom for what seems like the millionth time to relieve myself. I stare at a cold wall in front of me once there and glance around to see if anyone else is around. Thankfully no one is so I cry out aloud and ask God to help me get through this. You see I do this often in places just like this, ones where I find myself alone, even though I feel pretty much alone everywhere I go these days.

When I emerge from the bathroom, the hostess asks us to follow her to our table. I promptly take my seat in the middle of it, but regret not sitting at the end where I could withdraw from conversation if I needed to. Oh well, I say in my head, as I proceed to look down at the menu. Trying to make a choice from one of its four pages seems next to impossible when a body is screaming in agony like mine is at the moment.

Should I get breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Do I want a big meal or a small one? Maybe I should just eat nothing and starve myself out of self-pity. No, that’s ridiculous! I need to eat something as those two pieces of bacon and that banana I ate earlier were long gone from my stomach. I ultimately settle on the large grilled chicken salad, as maybe eating healthier might make me feel slightly better.

Suddenly, I hear at the table that our lead speaker for our meeting that night is a former sponsee who I abruptly parted ways with three years ago and not under the best circumstances. But instead of remaining silent about it, my pain overtakes me and I become negative with the words I start speaking.

That happens a lot when my pain levels get high, as trying to find words of positivity are often downright difficult when I hurt as bad as this. I begin breaking every one of my spiritual rules for the next ten minutes at the table, as I talk about this former sponsee, none of which comes out in any of Christ’s light. And by the end of it, I feel spiritually unclean and find my pain is hurting even more now. My words were more like gossip and I wasn’t 100% truthful in all that I said. My soul is sad now because of it and I decide its best I remain more silent than not from this point forward.

As I sit there and watch people smiling, chatting, and enjoying each other’s company, I begin to squirm in my chair, wishing I could just die right there in that moment, and be taken to some place like Heaven, or somewhere else that doesn’t involve living with this painful flesh and body I’m stuck in. Life doesn’t seem fair and I feel even worse now, because deep down I think about that former sponsee I just put down, as they too have a piece of God in them, like I do as well. I make a promise to myself that later at our meeting, I’m going to make an amends to all those who listened to my negative comments, especially the ones who had done their best to turn each of them around to something more positive, the very thing I normally would have done if I hadn’t felt so much pain within.

The food arrives as I silently ask God for forgiveness and it’s then I notice my large salad doesn’t appear to be very large at all. In fact, it’s about the same size as the one my friend got across from me, yet she had ordered the smaller version. Unfortunately, that’s another thing my pain often does to me. It makes me feel dissatisfied with the littlest of things, things that never seem to bother me one bit when their level is far more manageable.

“I can get you some more salad if you want…” the waitress says after hearing my not-so-quiet displeasure of the salad now sitting in front of me. I feel slightly guilty after letting her know I’ll take her up on her offer, because when she returns with another whole salad, free of charge shortly thereafter I still feel dissatisfied. Because none of this was about my salad in the first place. I’m just unhappy with my life’s circumstances and sadly, there’s nothing more I can do about it other than what I’m already doing in life. Believe me I’ve tried. And as I stare down at my now double portion of salad, I realize it doesn’t change a gosh darn thing.

I eat my salad in silence and occasionally put a smile on my face, chiming in a conversation here and there, just so no one asks me what’s wrong. That never does go over too well when they do. Because it always ends with me receiving unsolicited advice, mostly things I’ve already tried before, when all I really want is a reassuring touch or hug.

The next thirty minutes is filled with more trips to the bathroom, more squirming in my chair, and thoughts of me ordering a dessert hoping it might somehow bring me a little comfort and joy. Watching everyone else seem to have that a lot more than I, is probably the most challenging thing I face in life these days. I don’t have much fun in life anymore and I silently wonder if any of these people around me truly understand how I feel.

I ultimately decide to skip my comfort-seeking dessert, because I had just tried that the prior two nights unsuccessfully. As I stare down in defeat at the placemat before me, I see there’s a contest to win free dinner for a year at Bob Evans and smile sarcastically to the realization that even if I won that, it wouldn’t make me any happier in life. Not even a million dollars could do that, because none of it is able to take this pain away. Believe me if it could, I would already have found a way long ago to make that happen.

Finally, our get-together ends and we all head to the cash register to pay our bills. I ponder our next gathering as the woman takes my credit card and painfully hope that I feel far better by then. After saying goodbye and letting everyone know I’ll see them in a bit at our meeting, I drive away and head towards a quiet parking lot, the only thing I really have been looking forward to today. As when I arrive, I blast my heater in the car and find my eyes quickly getting very heavy.

I fall asleep and for those few short minutes I do, I experience the only peace I’ll probably have the entire day, peace that comes from not having to feel this awful pain, even if it is for such a brief moment. And that alone becomes the very thing I find I can be grateful to God for and something I vow to write about later that night, so that each of you might understand me a little better as you take a brief walk in my pain-filled shoes of life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Thought For The Day

“Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sex and love addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual and love-based behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.” (Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D)

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Harvey Weinstein and Sex And Love Addiction

It’s been a few weeks since the whole Harvey Weinstein sexual scandal arose in the news and if by some chance you aren’t aware of who he is and what happened, he’s a Hollywood mogul who was the head of the major film producing firm named “The Weinstein Company (TWC)” that totally took advantage of his power and weight in Tinsel Town by coercing dozens of actresses, models, and various other women into having sexual encounters with him over the course of several decades.

Since the New York Times broke this scandal wide open back in the beginning of October, Harvey has been ousted from his own company, from the Academy of Motion Pictures, and is facing other major repercussions throughout his life. His name has now become disgraced in Hollywood and his wife has chosen to leave him as well. In response to all this, Harvey opted to enter treatment for sex addiction, which seems to be enraging a good number of people around the world who say that’s just an excuse.

While I can understand how people might think it’s an excuse, I’m not sure it is, as being someone who once suffered at the hands of a terrible sex and love addiction and having met countless people along the way who too have suffered at the hands of this disease, it may indeed be what Harvey has been battling with all along.

Sadly, sex and love addiction is something that really hasn’t been accepted yet both in society, as well as in the medical realm. While alcohol, drugs, gambling, cigarettes, and a number of other addictions are currently listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), sex and love addiction continues to be rejected from inclusion, even while many well-known doctors have provided plenty of evidence that says otherwise.

The three components to this addiction that these doctors have provided in their evidence are sexual obsession, loss of control, and negative consequences, of which each I’ve dealt with when my own disease was once active. The obsessional part was in how I felt constantly compelled to watch pornographic material or chase after people who were unavailable, pledging my undying love towards them in the process. The loss of control was how I couldn’t limit the time I spent with either, as eventually it consumed my entire life, from morning to night. And the negative consequences I amassed during the active years of this addiction were seen in with the loss of jobs, friends, money, and even my health.

In Harvey Weinstein’s case, the real question is whether an underlying addiction was driving all his sexual behaviors or was it someone who was just taking advantage of their power and position to get what they want. Many are vying for the latter, while I am leaning towards the former in that he truly might have this addiction. But with it not even being an accepted addiction in the medical realm, that’s going to be a tough case to prove.

Regardless, what saddens me the most with this whole case is how so many out there who may be suffering at the hands of this addiction, will never even know it’s an addiction in the first place with everyone claiming that sex and love addiction doesn’t exist, not for Harvey and not for anyone.

I beg to differ only in that I have watched the massive destruction this addiction has caused not only for me, but for so many others as well. Destruction that’s come because of individuals who can’t stop hiring prostitute’s due to their overwhelming obsession. Destruction that’s come to those who can’t stop going to anonymous places and hooking up with random stranger’s due to their overwhelming obsession. Destruction that’s come to those who feel powerless to watching porn for hours on end, day after day, due to their overwhelming obsession. Destruction that’s come to those who give up everything in life over an individual they feel an overwhelming obsession towards. And destruction that’s come to the many others who have done other sexual behaviors, some even predatory, that they too also felt an overwhelming obsession they couldn’t stop.

While none of this excuses Harvey’s behavior or anyone else’s who has ever engaged in this addiction, the point of me writing this is at least to educate the world that this addiction is indeed real and potentially the very thing that drove Harvey into doing what he did for years. And if indeed it truly is his dark addiction, he does still deserve to deal with the repercussions of all his terrible actions that hurt so many innocent women.

Thankfully, I’ve worked through all those repercussion to my former addiction and have been in recovery now from it for over 5 ½ years. I currently co-run a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) meeting in Toledo, Ohio, where I do my best to not only continue recovering from a disease that almost destroyed my life, but also to help the many others who walk in the door feeling powerless over their sexual behaviors that self-will was never able to help them with.

In the end, I can’t say whether Harvey Weinstein is truly one of those who is feeling powerless over their sexual behaviors and honestly seeking help for it or if he’s just someone who was finally caught in the act and is now simply trying to find a quick escape route. Regardless of whichever one it is, he faces an uphill battle to heal from all the damage he’s caused, not just to all the women he hurt, but also himself. Recovery and healing can happen though for all involved, as God helped me to see that come to fruition through the SLAA program. What happens from here on out with Harvey Weinstein I don’t know. What I do know is that sex and love addiction is a real thing and that there is help out there for those who are suffering from its deadly grips. And hopefully one day, the medical world will recognize this disease in the DSM, instead of choosing to label it as anything but…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson