Intimacy? (In-To-Me-See?)

This has been the topic as of late for me. I saw this word once in an AA conference broken down like this and it got me to thinking about my life. Intimacy is a funny thing in that many people, including myself for a very long time, when hearing the word, think sex.

Ironically what I have learned over time is that intimacy is something altogether different and is present in not only romantic relationships, but also friendships too. And something that has surfaced recently with me is the fear and trust issues that arise when someone is “in to me see”.

From the time that I was very young and dealt with my alcoholic and mentally ill parents, there wasn’t intimacy between us. The intimacy I envision might be present in a healthy family with parents and their children is sitting down with them and showing them interest in their homework, their personal lives, loving them even when they fail, and lifting them up when they are down, and most importantly, just letting them know in general that they are proud of them just as they are.

That doesn’t happen in an alcoholic family. Sadly the children of alcoholics often are abused and made to feel they aren’t worthy of love and that they aren’t good enough. My sister and I experienced just that.

So I never experienced intimacy with my Mom or Dad and had to find someone else to have that connection with.

Who I found was the diving coach on my swim team. He liked me a lot. He showed me a lot of interest. He praised me. He told me lots of nice things……and…..he molested me after all that. That was at 12 years old, with a 40’s something year old man.

In the first 17 years of my life that’s all I was to experience was not feeling good enough in my own family, and being sexually molested by someone I thought was a friend. And because I did not get therapy and counseling around any of this, I went into my adulthood finding friends and partners who repeated this cycle.

I didn’t know what intimacy was. I didn’t know I deserved love for who I was not for what I could offer or do. With my parents I had conditional based love. I had to do many things to even get them to praise me and even then, it never felt satisfactory to them. And with that diving coach who I thought was my friend, I gave up a part of my physical self.

Until just last year, I lived year after year with friendships and romantic relationships with people that used me, abused me, took advantage of me, dominated me sexually, and commented on how many things I still had to change to be “normal”.

Rarely if ever did I hear the words that I was good enough for any of them. Rarely did I ever hear that someone liked me just because I seemed like I had a good heart. And when I did hear those words from someone, guess what I did? I ran the other way. Why? Because I spent more than 20 years of my life not believing that I was worth anything to anyone unless I gave a part of myself away. When someone truly liked me for me and wanted to be with me just because of my heart and soul, I didn’t trust it genuinely. I was so used to being used and taken advantage of that I thought there had to be angle. There had to be something that someone wanted from me.

John (from The Mirror In My Face posting) was a perfect example of that. He told me he just liked me for me, that he loved me for me. And I’d try to work through those old tapes and those old fears, and walk through that uncomfortability and open a part of me up that I hadn’t and what I got was guilt trips, and sexual advances, and how he wanted this or that with me on a romantic level. All I was wanting was a friend to like me for me and not want a single thing more from me. He was just one of so many that I allowed to continue to come into my life and reaffirm what I had gone through as a child.

In the past 9 months I have removed all of those people that bring me back to my childhood. I have removed all of those toxic, unloving, self-seeking, conditional based love people. I don’t need them. I never did. God has blessed my life with a wonderful partner today who loves me for me. I use the saying “warts and all” even though at the present moment of me writing this, I don’t have any warts. I’m not sexual right now in my life and my partner doesn’t mind. He loves my heart and my soul. He loves our friendship. And he’s ok with what I offer. I also have a true friend that has been in my life for over 15 years. Over the years he has truly shown his unconditional love for me as a friend. I’m grateful for that.

As I continue to walk through the fear and let people get closer to me today, I have more of a sixth sense now to those that have a hidden agenda. I have more of a knowing of those who aren’t healthy for me. Being around my partner or my best friend and a few others in my life who have God at the center of their lives and are not living for what they can get from others has helped me go down a better path.

It’s definitely scary for me today being close to my partner or my best friend. They are “in to me see”?! And they aren’t into me for my body, for money, for possessions, or for a relationship that they think they deserve or have to have. They are in my life because they genuinely love my soul and can be near me without needing anything more. They appreciate the time I spend with them even if its just for a few moments here and there. And they love me even when I let them down or do something that may not be in the best that I could be.

Intimacy is so much more than sex. Intimacy is so much more than what happens in a bedroom. Intimacy is loving someone without conditions. Intimacy is accepting someone just as they are. Intimacy is appreciating someone just because they exist.

It has always been foreign to me to be close to anyone. With no knowledge of someone liking me just because and with having always had people telling me I wasn’t good enough or self-seeking something off of me, intimacy and intimate based connections scared me.

The more that I walk through that fear, the more I stay away from those people that reaffirmed the old tapes, and the more that I spend time with those that love me just as I am, I find that I can be intimate and receive intimacy. I’m happy to say that God truly has helped me in developing this belief.

Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Progression of Addictions

I was listening last night to a speaker at my AA home group and heard him mention something that I’ve heard many times before. He made mention to how there is “us”, meaning alcoholics and addicts, and “them”, meaning all others.

My experience is drastically different from that viewpoint. For most of my life I have been more of an extrovert and have chosen to not be so “anonymous” about my addictions. In the midst of being so vocal about them, I have talked to many people who weren’t addicted to alcohol or drugs, but the majority of them were battling with some other dependency. I found too that most people didn’t like to label themselves as addicted to anything.

In my spiritual journey to get closer to God, I have come to realize that anything I found solace in and built a dependency around was simply because I was covering up an emptiness inside. In AA meetings this is often referred to as the “hole in the soul”. People share quite often about how alcohol or drugs filled that hole and numbed that emptiness. I can attest.

My emptiness began a young kid. I lived with an alcoholic mother and father who chose to point out flaws and imperfections instead of loving unconditionally. Pointing the finger was commonplace. And more than often, the blame for my parents problems was placed on either myself or my sister. When my mother died in 2005, I had to clean out my childhood home with my sister and we found many letters that we had written as young kids to our parents. Each of these said in some way that we were sorry for being bad kids, for their fighting, and for any pain we caused them. Yet my sister and I were not bad kids. We tried out best to show them how good we were. We both excelled in school, sports, after school activities, and even in the thoroughness of the chores that we were assigned to do.

In the eyes of an alcoholic or an addict, it’s never good enough. Something is always wrong. And I grew up with a very strong message that I wasn’t good enough.

To make matters worse, in trying to excel in my sport of choice, swimming, I ended up being molested by the diving coach. I was 12, he was in his 40’s. I had known from a very young age that I was attracted to men, prior to being molested. The molestation was my first sexual experience in my life sadly. I was never given a birds and the bees talk prior to that or after. Left to my own thinking, I found fantasy and self-gratification through which I relived being molested again and again. I thought it was normal what I had experienced and it had for a moment, made me feel good on some level as compared to the hole I normally felt inside.

Until the age of 17, I lived in my fantasy world alone. If I felt down I would go back to the fantasy world. If I felt up, I would go back to the fantasy world to try to feel even better. And then I discovered alcohol.

I had never had a drink before because I didn’t want to be like my parents. After a pivotal junior year in high school where I went from being an outcast and a loaner, to merging into the “in crowd”, I was invited to a party. After lying to my mother to get to that party, I was handed my first cup of beer. When I finished the first cup, the effect was amazing, even more so than the fantasy world I lived in on most days. So I had a second cup and then I blacked out and passed out and began a five year long run of alcohol and drug exploration.

Combine that deadly combination with picking up cigarettes during those years and I found myself smoking a pack of Newports while I drank or took some type of drug every day.

For awhile, it did was it was meant to do. It numbed me. It hid down all those years of loneliness. It hid down that “hole in the soul”. It quieted down the demons from being molested, abused, and picked on for most of my life. It covered up the fact that I was attracted more to men versus women. And it made me feel like I just didn’t care about anything that I would classify as painful. With any addiction or dependency though, eventually consumption grows more and more to get the same effect. Those terrible voices from deep down inside me were getting louder and louder no matter how much I was consuming of any of them. And one day I found myself not being able to quiet them down anymore and my life started to spiral out of control.

I hit my first major bottom on June 10th, 1995, the day before my 23rd birthday. I was sitting with my closest friend from college, Rob, at my apartment in Fairfax, VA watching TV. I had developed feelings for him and was using all those substances to cover that up. I had acted only a few times during my college years on my attraction to men, each of which was when I was in a complete state of inebriation of which I passed it off onto as the cause.

On this moment in my apartment, I was attempting to get closer to Rob while he attempted to move farther away. It spurred on an argument which led to me feeling that I was going to throw up. I went into the bathroom and got down on my knees and instead of hurling, I prayed. I had never really prayed before selflessly. God was always a genie type of God to me. God, I wish for this please. God, I wish for that please. In this moment, it was different.

“God, I can’t handle my life like this. I can’t handle all these feelings. I don’t want to be addicted to any of these things anymore. Please help me. Help me get beyond this. Help me become a better person.”

That was as close to the prayer as I remember. And God answered. I can only describe it as a spiritual awakening, but instantaneously, the desire to drink, do any type of drug, or smoke cigarettes went away. My sobriety date for all three is June 11th, 1995, my first full day without any of them.

I wish I could say this was the end of my life as an addict. I titled this blog entry as “The Progression of Addictions” because that is what happened to me after this day. The alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes, were not my problem. My problem was all that pain inside. My childhood was filled with a ton of it and on top of that, I was not sure if I was bi-sexual or gay. Without those things to “calm me down” and “cope with my life”, I had two choices. I could bring it all to the surface and seek help through counseling and recovery support through 12 step meetings, or I could keep numbing myself through other dependencies. I chose the path that was easier for me back then. I found other dependencies. I wasn’t ready to face all that pain.

Over the next 16 years, while I never did pick up a drink or a drug again. And while I never went back to smoking a cigarette. I found that there were many other things I could do that would make me feel good for a moment and I chased them.

I got addicted to sex instantly and joined groups that made that seem acceptable.

I jumped into long term relationships to hide from the random sex and became codependent on each one of them until they no longer made me feel good and I would move on to the next.

I got addicted to seeking better jobs that might “fix me” and “make me happier” so I quit job after job citing something was wrong with each of them, and got subsequently re-hired at a higher paying one each time.

I found that caffeine gave me a buzz when I drank it and also enhanced my euphoria that went hand in hand with my sexual prowess. My consumption of high caffeinated coffees and sodas became astronomical.

As the money I earned increased with the higher paying jobs, so did my purchases. I bought every techno gadget that came out. I had to be the first to have it. I bought multiple cars, houses, designer clothes, shoes, and so much more.

I found gambling and grew dependent on buying lotto tickets, scratch tickets, and playing slot machines.

The internet rolled around, and I discovered free porn and online chatting. I would spend hours and hours until dawn rolled around engaging in it.

I made tons of friends and then tons of enemies and got addicted to geographical cures. I moved from place to place thinking I could hide from the past and just recreated the past wherever I went.

I travelled outside the country when the money came in greater to afford that and went from country to country, cruise to cruise, destination to destination, seeing some of the greatest things this world has to offer and yet I was miserable.

I bought a business, investing money in someone else’s dreams, and lost that business.

I chased after heterosexual men who were active in their own addictions and tried to fix them while I grew addicted to being around them.

I overate filling myself with so much food (especially desserts) and then went and worked out for hours on end to burn it off.

And eventually the spiritual pain I originally started with as a young child became mental pain as I chased addiction after addiction,which then became emotional pain as the abuse to myself from all the addictions and obsessions I had got worse, and one day as I mentioned in my last blog, it all cumulated into massive physical pain.

That is the progression of addictions. There was nothing that I could consume or do without becoming addicted to it. Each of those things I mentioned was a numbing agent to me. Something to cover up that emptiness within. Something that would hide the fact that I had done nothing important in my life. Something that would shadow over the truth that I was so selfish and self-centered and rarely helped another with any type of unconditional love.

I had no God at the center of my life. I was the center of my own life. And I acted accordingly as I saw fit and was destroying my life and this vessel my soul lives within as such. It was the physical pain that manifested that made me hit the worst bottom that I’ve ever hit in my life. And it made me slow down and look at what I did to myself. And that’s when I took action. When the pain was great enough to face all those demons that were there prior to me ever doing any type of dependency on anything in this life.

Over the past 9 months, by placing God first in my life, I have successfully stayed away from caffeine and any other stimulants, gambling, all toxic friendships that were surrounding my sex/love addictions and codependency, started eating much healthier and in much healthier portions, focused on healing as the only job to pursue, and learned how to like being with me alone.

My conclusion in all this is that with me being at the center of my own world, trying to find my own happiness, I found nothing but consumption of things that there never was enough of. Placing God first in my life on everything has led me down a path where I don’t want to be quickly stimulated by anything or anyone. For as high of highs that I’ve experienced in this life with so many different things, I too have experienced the worst low of lows. The rollercoaster hills were great in my life without God at the center. Today, it’s more like I’m on a kiddie coaster as my life smooths itself out and I continue to heal from all those wounds I endured since a child.

If you find yourself needing anything to “quiet the nerves” or “enhance your mood” on any given day whether it’s a drink, drug, sex, gambling, caffeine, chocolate, food in general, material good, trip away, or whatever it may be that you find a drive towards, you may want to look within and ask what you are covering up. I covered up my wounds for way too long and at 40 years old, I’m finally facing all of it and having God direct me from here on out.

Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

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