The Mirror In My Face

(For anonymity purposes, all names in this posting have been changed.)

In my previous posting I mentioned someone, named John, who had been in my life in the past. I thought it might be noteworthy to expand more him as it truly was a great learning lesson that I went through from November of 2007 to January of 2012 when he was a part of my life.

There is that old adage that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. John came into my life for a reason and several seasons although he believed it was supposed to before a lifetime if not all future lifetimes.

Something about myself that I never faced was my own codependency and addiction/obsession issues. I truly believe that God answers our prayers to grow spiritually by allowing people to come into our lives that will help teach us the lessons we so desperately want to learn.

One night in November of 2007 when my former home group in AA was not meeting due to scheduling issues with the church it resided in on a Friday night, I went with my friend Devon to an AA meeting neither of us had gone to. It was an AA meeting that was listed in the book as gay/lesbian. Rarely if ever did I got to meetings with this type of listing because I found myself at the meetings not focusing on why I was there (recovery) and more on what was there (options, i.e. my addictions).

On that night, I spoke in that AA meeting when it became open discussion and told people I was new to the area and was looking for friends. Looking back at that night all those years ago, I realized that my speaking up was not spiritual based and was self-seeking based. There were a few people in the room I was attracted to and was hoping they would give me their numbers.

When the meeting ended, a few people did approach me and give me their numbers, one of which was someone named John who I thought was slightly my type as based upon the addiction based life I normally sought. Today I know so much more about these patterns and have not lived in them but back then I sought after people that kept reliving the same drama I continued to put in my life.

The only number that night that I placed emphasis in calling was John’s. There were many days in the past that I wished I could go back and change that night and not even show up at that meeting. Today, I am grateful I did because I learned lessons through my connection with John that I might have never learned if I hadn’t shown up there and connected with him.

Within a week, I had met up with John at a restaurant for a meal and realized that night he wasn’t someone that I wanted to pursue out of my addiction/obsessions. Something I learned in recent months is that the trauma I suffered as a child with the mental and emotional abuse at home along with being molested at 12, were catalysts to me living in unhealthy addiction based relationships for most of my life. After I had come to acceptance of my sexuality, the type of man that I sought was abusive, emotionally despondent, and selfish. All of those traits led right back to my childhood.

John didn’t fit those traits. John was just like me. He was insecure, codependent, and just wanting to be loved as he hadn’t been truly loved in his life ever. Sadly, when you put two people together that have the same issues, it generally leads to nothing positive and a lot of finger pointing.

Initially from around November of 2007 to maybe the beginning of the summer of 2008, I developed a friendship with John. Sadly, my motives for developing the friendship were selfish based. John was just like me in that he never felt like people would want to be in his life unless he went above and beyond the call of duty with gifts, money, etc to those people. Because I was a spiritually sick individual that was self-centered at that time in my life, I thought I would allow myself to take advantage of those things from someone else since my whole life had been doing those same behaviors to friends.

In the first month of knowing John he had bought me many dinners out, a new Braun shaver system, and other miscellaneous gifts that I don’t remember anymore. I also thought that I could fix John. The one difference between him and I was that I was outgoing and social and he was introverted and withdrawn. At that time he had no friends to spend time with outside of work. It gave me a purpose back then. Maybe I could change him and make him what I thought was cool and popular.

It didn’t work. As time went on, he became more and more enamored with me. Friends began to tell me they were seeing this and that I should back off. I didn’t see it. Maybe I did but I was so focused on what I needed. John was a good guy. He would listen to hours and hours of me complaining about the people in my life that I was doing those same behaviors to that he had been doing to me. John was a great consoler. What I didn’t know was that John was becoming addicted to having me in his life. He was building up an obsession to me and he was falling in love with me on top of all that.

It started to become clear just how much this was happening when I went away with my closest friend Devon, as well as John on a roller-coaster trip in June of 2008. We made a stop through in John’s hometown on the way to Kings Island in Ohio. On the first night away, we went to a gay bar where I met someone I felt was more my type. I was single and my focus back then when I was single was always on what I thought I needed. When one is codependent and suffering from addiction properties, they usually don’t feel complete unless they have someone in their lives as a relationship. That’s how I was for most of my life. What I didn’t know is that is how John was becoming too.

So on that night, at this random gay bar, I was dancing. I used to like to dance to house music. And I met this guy who I thought seemed genuinely nice. When the guy asked if we could spend more time talking after we left the bar, I said sure but that I was staying at my friend’s house and that he’d have to follow us back to the house and then I’d go talk to him from there.

As we left the bar when I was driving John and Devon in my car back to John’s mother’s home which we were visiting, this man followed us. In the back seat sat John who was extremely silent. Devon and I were talking about how much fun the bar was and suddenly there was deep sighing with a sense of anger in the sighing in the back seat. After about three of these, John exploded and started screaming at how wrong it was for me to be doing what I was doing. I felt so bad for Devon who was just on the beginning of being in the middle of the drama that truly had begun between John and I. I spent a few hours that night talking to this guy and that was it. Nothing else. I never have been the type of person that sleeps around for fun. I have always been more of a passion based person. When I had come home to the house where I was staying, it must have been after 2 or 3am. John was sitting in the house by the front door with his arms crossed looking very angry. I didn’t want to deal with it, and I just went to bed.

The next morning I had assumed the whole thing had blown over and I went to talk to John. I was wrong. Very wrong. John exploded on me again. That was one thing I never enjoyed AT ALL with him. He had a rage about him that was so bad, it was seriously unattractive on any level. That was one trait that I rarely, if ever, showed. I have always been more of a pacifist.

In between John’s rasps, he said that I was supposed to be his partner. That the love he had for me was true and genuine. That God told him we were supposed to be together and that we were twin flames reincarnating life after life to be together with each other.

I was stunned. The truth was finally out that John had some type of love towards me. He stated he had fallen for me while from the outside to others, it appeared he was addicted and obsessed with me and had love in between all that. That was my pattern with others. I wished I had been able to see the mirror when it all started.

It took another 3 1/2 years of craziness with John and I for me to finally see it within myself.

A few months after that initially outburst, the drama had gotten so bad between him and I. Friends had walked away from wanting to be around me and my sponsor had told me the friendship wasn’t healthy for me. I didn’t listen and I kept hanging around taking what I could from the friendship that was still serving me. I had only me to blame. I gave John false hope. I told him what he wanted to hear. I told him that I didn’t feel the way he did but maybe one day I might. I told him we were best friends but I never felt that way.

And one day in the fall of 2008, when the arguing which had been happening daily got too much, John went and got a tattoo of me super imposed on his chest. He had taken a photo of me and him and had an artist place the picture of me above his heart.

When he told me and further showed me it, I was stunned. He told me that he felt that if I ever walked away from him that at least I would always be close to his heart. I have never thought my actions of keeping him around would lead to this kind of behavior. My friends were all freaked out and in turn I was as well.

I did what I thought was healthiest at that time and I told him I couldn’t be his friend anymore and moved on with my life. Sadly, I became more sick after that. I did most of those same behaviors with others with the exception of getting a tattoo.

And one day in 2009 the sick spiritual life I was living began to catch up with me. My health was deteriorating and I was dealing with chronic pain issues. Instead of seeking healthy help to deal with where I was at, like a therapist and most importantly, God, I chose to believe that John was better. He had been communicating still with Devon and my sister and they led me to believe he was better.

What I didn’t realize then is another trait that someone who has an addiction and obsession does, they present to the people closest to you a very wonderful picture of how good their life is so that it will hopefully lead to getting back what they so want. That’s what I would do when I was faced with a similar situation and that’s exactly what happened with John.

So on an exceptionally pain riddled day John had made an attempt to contact me and reach out. He had attempted to do that on and off throughout the time we hadn’t been talking. And on that day, in that moment, I responded and Round 2 of our connection began.

From the spring of 2009 to around the mid winter of 2010, John and I became friends again. My reason for brining John back in my life was purely selfish. I missed one thing about him. The health and healing side of John that came to my rescue when I was down and out. John was into a lot of the holistic healing that I was in. And I rather than me going out and paying for help, I went to him, for everything. All my drama, all my pain, all of my misery, I went to John.

This is what makes an addiction and obsession based relationship so alluring. This is what makes a codependent relationship so sick. John got what he wanted, which was someone who needed him. I got what I wanted, which was someone to tell me I would be ok.

It doesn’t work.

Both people grow more sick and dependent on each other. Both people blame their misery on each other. Both people fall further away from God.

That’s what happened to me.

And that’s what happened to John.

John became jealous of those people I continued to chase after and get addicted to myself. I became angry at John’s jealousy and guilt based comments. And the two of us began to go to both Devon and my sister as intermediaries causing them unrest and frustration.

John threatened suicide and generally told me that he would never love again. That God wronged him. That love sucked. And constantly asked God why God would give him the feelings that he had for me if I wasn’t going to return them.

And eventually the whole friendship went down for the count and Round 2 ended.

I wished I could say that was the end of the mess.

It wasn’t.

The next round happened because my sickness continued. I was involved with this guy named Ralph who was married and an active alcoholic. I was living my life so spiritually sick. I mentioned some of this in my previous posting yesterday. John had been out of my life for a bunch of months and that dreaded day happened on April 27, 2010 when the pain struck me like fire in my left leg.

I had been praying for God to help me heal and truly end this long saga of sickness that I had been living in. The answer came in the most unexpected way. It came through great physical pain.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the most healthiest actions at that point when the pain started. I picked up the phone and called John and sought his help and did what I always did when I needed something. I apologized for all my previous stuff that I had said and done. I made John believe that I was wrong for most of what had happened in Round 2. And, worst of all, I gave John hope again and Round 3 was upon us.

Round 3 should have been the end. It really should have been. I spent from April 27th of 2010 until around January of 2011 having John in my life again. I never felt good about any of this. I caused a lot of pain both for myself and for him. I made John believe that maybe one day I might feel the way he did. I only did that because I was afraid to go through all the pain I was going through alone. I didn’t really have any friends left. My addiction and obsession based life had pushed most people away. Devon and I barely hung out anymore because of how sick I had become.

And that’s when I met Mike. Mike was brand new in AA and trying to recover from an opiates addiction. He was a former Marine and a rough and tough Harley biker type of guy. As Mike came into my life, I forced John out. The more that I chased after someone I was attracted to, the more that John’s anger and jealousy increased. I was the same way towards the people I chased after when they didn’t want to be with me.

It’s amazing just how long we will put ourselves through unhealthy behaviors and just how blind we are to the mirrors in front of us that are there to help us heal. So as I got closer to Mike, I ended Round 3 with John.

Over the course of the next four months, my pain levels increased, drastically….everywhere. I lost my faith in God. I lost my faith in holistic medicine. I lost my faith in my own healing’s abilities. I landed at the doctor’s office. The one place that I hadn’t been to in more than a decade. I had been healing holistically for so long. Mike was the opposite of me in so many ways. He didn’t really believe that God can heal. He believed that medicines and drugs were the answers to every ache and pain.

And what I didn’t know is that when you spend most of your time around someone with strong beliefs like that, especially when you have an addiction or obsession towards then, you begin to become like them. And I did. I started like Harley’s, I started going to the doctor’s for every problem I had, I started acting tough and badass in the best way I thought I could. And ironically, I started dating women thinking I could get closer to Mike by being that way.

That’s how sick I had become. I had truly lost sight of God and myself in every way possible.

And guess where I landed? I landed in the mental hospital for about 5 days. I had become so depressed and was living with so much anxiety. I was put on anti-depressants and started having a cupboard of medications I was on. I found myself becoming lower and lower even on the medications because I knew inside how sick I was but yet I wasn’t stopping any of my behaviors.

And then I did the unthinkable. As if the pain hadn’t been great enough. As if the drama in my life had not been great enough. I brought John back in shortly after getting out of the mental hospital. I told myself that I needed someone to tell me everything was going to be ok. I needed someone to console me through the drama I was creating with Mike. John was the only one who I thought could do that. And I convinced myself that it would be different this time. That is how crazy things get when someone is spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically sick. Their brain tells me things that aren’t true. All of those bad times that happened with John and I were just shoved under the rug and I picked up the phone and called him beginning Round 4.

Round 4 lasted until January of 2012. It was the worst of all of them. In any sick relationship that God is not at the center of it, it will only continue to get worse. In AA they say that the untreated alcoholic will continue to get worse even after periods of sobriety as when they relapse, they go right back to where they left off. That’s how it was with John and I. The drama would always pick back up within a matter of days.

And the sad thing is that we both allowed it. I would blame him for my problems. He would blame me for his problems. Both of us blamed God for our problems. It was awful.

And I did the unthinkable. John told me that he believed I wouldn’t heal unless I allowed his love in. Where my brain and thinking was at in that sick state of my life, I believed that I had to be with him more than a friendship. So I allowed myself to live in a sexual connection with him, somewhat of a friendship with benefits, for a few months. I can’t tell you how awful this made me feel every time I did something.

I felt repulsed every time I connected sexually with him. I knew it was sick and not what God wanted of me. And in the meantime, it was feeding John’s addiction/obsession/love of me. And I was still focused on wanting that with someone else.

I lost my mind, and everything around me.

I attempted to kill myself and that’s when the pain was at its greatest for me.

The next few months is where the greatest shift in my life began to happen. I realized that I was never going to heal doing any of what I was doing. I realized that I had to go through this pain without a codependent friendship or relationship. I had to remove all the toxicity in my life.

And I did.

I parted ways with John in January of 2012 after he hung up the phone on me and said he was done with me. Shortly thereafter, I walked out of Mike’s life in April. I stopped dating the woman I was dating because I had been giving her false hope. And I did what I should have started back in June of 1995 when I had first gotten sober. I started working on me and my relationship with God. That became my top priority.

I have been free from all of that drama and toxic behaviors for about 9 months now.

It’s been a year now that I haven’t had John in my life. I have been through some exceptionally difficult pain filled days. But I haven’t gone back to John. And I never plan to. 4 rounds was enough. I can’t imagine I would survive a Round 5.

I have removed all the traces of John that I’m capable of removing from my life. All the pictures, gifts, and remnants of him being in my life are gone. The same holds true from all people that caused me to live in greater drama and toxicity in my life.

Sadly, I continue to catch wind that John hasn’t let me go. His best friend is now considered to be my best friend Devon. And he still keeps contact with my sister and her family. I have been told of things he still does that were things we did together like going to some of my favorite restaurants or playing mini-golf at some of my favorite courses. This past Christmas he gave each of my sister’s family a $50 American Express gift card including my sister’s newborn baby. He has meals occasionally with them without me present. And even more difficult for me, my sister is moving to Nashville in February and John told her he’d like to go visit people he knows there and see her family while he’s there. What’s ironic is that other than traveling to his hometown when his mother passed away, John has never travelled anywhere. And what he didn’t realize is that the gifts he’s giving my family are making them uncomfortable but they won’t say anything to him in the fear of hurting him. What angered me the most in it was that I gave each of my nephews a $50 bill for Christmas that was immediately overshadowed with them showing me John’s $50 American Express gift card.

I have only myself to blame for continuing to bring him closer to my life with my family and time spent with them. My sister deals with her own codependency and I know she worries about John being hurt if she was to put distance between her family and him. I know her husband has issues with me to start with and has had anger and resentments fueling his actions with me for a long time as based upon things I did in the past that caused pain and hardship to him and his family. I’m still working on healing in that area with them. He continues to maintain contact with John as well and sometimes I wonder if he does it because he knows it angers me.

Either way, it’s out of my control and I practice every day trying to work though any anger or rage that surfaces in dealing with John. His presence in my life indirectly is still causing me mental duress and I have informed both Devon and my sister that it does.

I sent John a letter back in the spring of 2012 making a formal amends for all the pain I was responsible for with him, taking ownership of my parts in the drama, and asking him to please stay out of my family’s life and that I wouldn’t be coming back again in his life.

Unfortunately, he emailed my sister and her husband back then and told them what I was asking. John expressed his sorrow and sadness to my sister which played off of her codependency from our childhood with our mother, and it fueled her husband’s anger with me. Since then, he maintains contact with them and occasionally spends time with them by going out for a meal. I have consistently asked my sister to break off contact with him as it’s causing me greater pain knowing he’s still around in some way in my life.

Every time I try to put it to rest, it comes up somehow that he’s still around in my life. Part of it I can blame on myself because I have asked at times to both my sister as well as Devon about it. I keep hoping that they will tell me they aren’t spending time with him. I’ve realized I have to just let it go. What they don’t realize, that I do today is that they are perpetuating his addiction and obsessions issues by spending time with him.

I think today Devon genuinely has a casual friendship with John and I can see the healthier side of that. I know John feels that Devon is one of his best friends. I’m not sure if the reverse is true. I have more acceptance that the two of them will probably remain friends. I am still working on my acceptance of his presence in my sister and her family’s life.

John many times told me when we were friends that he was closer to my sister and her family and thought of them as his family more so than his own sister and her kids. That really bothered me because I know his sister would welcome a deeper friendship with John. John chose not to deepen it.

Although I don’t know the deepest truth to John’s motivation to being around my sister and her family, I do know that if I look at the mirror and ask myself what would be my motivation to keep any part of people connected to those that I had been addicted, obsessed, or loved to in my life, that I was still holding onto them somehow.

I have learned through my spiritual work that I can only focus on my healing, on my journey with God, and let all of what’s happening around me go. I have done my part to remove John out of my life and have had to leave the rest of it in God’s hands.

I have prayed my sister will finally honor my request to remove him from their life.

I have prayed that John will meet someone else to become connected to like he was with me that might help him see these patterns.

But most recently, I have prayed just to let go of trying to control the situation and I removed all the things that I still had buried in different places of him like the photos and trinkets and such as that is all I had in my control to start with.

So the greatest lesson that John taught me was that John was me. I was John. We were the same sick individuals. The anger I felt towards John in response to all the things he did towards me was truly all the things I did to others and wasn’t even aware of. All the things I did to him that made John angry, were all the things he was doing himself and wasn’t aware of.

I’m grateful to God for learning this lesson. I believe John is no longer a part of my life and that I haven’t had ANY desire to bring him back, because I settled my karma on this and learned the lessons that brought him into my life in the first place.

I’m not sure if John still believes that God wants him and I together. I’m not sure if John still feels that we are these “twin flames” destined to be together. I’m not sure if John still hopes deep down that one day we’ll be in each other’s lives again.

What I do know is that I don’t wish for that to ever happen again. I have wished him well and prayed for his own healing. I pray for him to move on and fully let me go both directly and indirectly like I continue to do with him.

I feel that John was a huge shift in my consciousness to see the codependency and addiction issues in my life. I thank God for brining John in my life again and again to teach me that.

I’m just glad I am almost totally free from the pain that friendship and relationship caused me and that I continued to endure every day. Whether my sister and her family keep him in their lives or not and whether Devon continues to or not as well doesn’t matter anymore. I know that I have to move on and not focus on what they are doing. That is their lives and the more I try to focus on them and change their actions, the more it brings up the anger and keeps some of that old drama still alive.

I end with this.

Thank you God for teaching me about my own sickness through my relationship with John. May You bless John and send him on his way releasing him from any bondage he may still have or feel with me, helping him to cut any cords or attachments he may still have to me. I know you have done the same for me and I thank you for that. And may all people involved that may have endured the drama he and I shared, also be released of any residual pain created by either one of us. Amen.

Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson