“Middle Line” And “Middle Circle” Behaviors And Social Media

I often find myself in a dilemma with why I remain on social media, especially Facebook, and ironically it has nothing to do with privacy issues. Rather, it has all to do with the temptation it creates for me to engage in former addiction-based behaviors.

I am still using social media for one reason and one reason only these days and that’s to reach a greater audience for my blog. While one can easily subscribe to my blog that allows them to receive a daily email with the first few lines of every article and a link to the rest of it on my site, I’ve discovered most don’t like this, as people are tired of cluttered inboxes. Instead, I’ve found that the majority of people who read my blog like to scan the re-postings I place on social media, which essentially are the URL links to each of my daily entries and a short snippet of their content. This is why I continue to faithfully repost each and every blog article on social media, including Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter. Yet, the downside to this is the accessibility I gain to other things on social media that can trigger me, chiefly with my former sex and love addiction that I’ve been clean from for almost 6 years now.

In the recovery world for sex and love addiction, triggers are also referred to as “Middle Line” or “Middle Circle” behaviors. They essentially are any action a person may do that can lead to breaking their sobriety. In my case, many of those middle line/middle circle behaviors have often arisen due to my access to social media. Take Facebook for example. There, one can find an endless stream of pictures to look at, some of which I’ve occasionally questioned whether they even adhere to Facebook’s content standards of acceptability. In the past, the longer I’ve looked at pictures, the more it led me to wanting to cross the line and start looking elsewhere for more explicit content. Then, there’s Messenger, which is the chat tool for Facebook. Many eons ago, I used to utilize Messenger to have late night chats with various people that eventually turned sexual the later it got and the longer those conversations went on. And lastly, Facebook easily provides countless ways to connect to new people through “Suggested Friends”, which at times has led to me scanning those lists for only those I find attractive. And the more I friend any of those I find attractive, the greater number of potential “hooks” it creates for acting out in this addiction.

Thus, this is why I struggle at times remaining on social media because of all the temptation that exists to engage in this prior addiction that once held me in its deadly grips. For now, I’m simply sharing about this in my writing, in my 12 Step recovery meetings, and with my partner, to ensure it’s not something that’s kept hidden, as the more any middle line/middle circle behaviors are kept hidden, the easier it becomes to relapse back into a sex and love addiction.

But like I’ve learned in my recovery for alcohol where I can now be around people who drink and can even attend an event at a bar if need be, I’m attempting to learn how to do the same in my recovery for sex and love addiction by remaining on things like social media. It’s tough though, especially when the witching hour comes upon me every night, which is generally during the 11pm to 3am time frame. So, I always try to keep myself as busy as possible during this period every evening, doing healthy things like working on a puzzle or composing a new blog article like I am right now. As usually by the time I’m done, I have no desire to engage in any middle line/middle circle behaviors whatsoever.

Nevertheless, middle line/middle circle behaviors are nothing more than triggers for a sex and love addiction and social media definitely presents some of them for many of us recovering individuals. But with a strong program, healthy support, a Higher Power, and an honest life, I believe any of us, especially myself, can successfully remain on things like social media for healthy purposes and healthy purposes only…

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

A Common Misconception That’s Often Made In Attending 12 Step Recovery Meetings…

A common misconception that people in 12 Step recovery programs often tend to make is that when they attend a meeting, it’s for their benefit. While that indeed is partially true, the other truth is that attending a 12 Step recovery meeting benefits everyone else present there as well.

Before entering a 12 Step recovery program, an addict’s mentality is typically one that focuses on all about themselves. Essentially, it’s an “I’ and “Me” type of selfish existence. But in the 12 Step recovery realm, it’s far more about the “We”, the “Us” and the “Our”. In other words, it’s more about the togetherness and not the separateness.

Why I bring this subject up is simply because I continue to see the negative impact that’s created when someone in the recovery world chooses to skip a meeting they normally attend, opting to do something else instead, just because they want to.

Case in point, for each and every person who attends the SLAA meeting I go to every Thursday night, I gain a tremendous amount of benefit from them just being there. I ultimately learn from each and every one of them and also don’t feel so alone with an addiction that once made me feel so incredibly alone. But on several of those meeting nights over the past year, the majority of those who regularly attended it, opted to do other things, leaving only a couple of us there to make the best of it, which unfortunately led to a far less satisfying gathering.

While it may be true that it only takes two people to have a 12 Step recovery meeting, I’ve personally found that when there’s a variety of people showing up, sharing a variety of addiction and recovery experiences, that it creates a far more satisfying gathering for all in attendance. So, in light of that, know that when more and more people begin to choose to skip a meeting they regularly attend, the health of the meeting suffers because of it and can often lead to its demise in the long run.

Nevertheless, this is why I find it so critical to always show up at a group I’ve committed myself to, because I know my presence there not only helps my own recovery, but another’s recovery as well. What I might share there may be crucial for someone else to hear for their own sober journey and what my presence there does is create a unity that can prevent someone from feeling that aloneness that once came from acting out in their addiction.

Of course, I do know that there are always legitimate circumstances that arise from time to time that can prevent a person from attending a meeting they’ve committed themselves to like family emergencies or work obligations or sickness or even a yearly vacation. But when people choose to start skipping a meeting they normally attend because they’re bored or because a better opportunity arises to occupy that time slot, it not only has the potential to hurt that person’s recovery, it can hurt the health of the meeting as a whole too.

Regardless, I have to thank my very first sponsor in the 12 Step recovery realm for initially teaching me this common misconception that’s often made in attending 12 Step recovery meetings. It was because of her valuable insight that I learned that as soon as begin choosing to skip meetings I regularly attend, I’m falling right back onto an addiction-laden path where life becomes all about the “I” and “Me”, instead of remaining on the recovery-laden one where life is far more about the “We”, the “Us”, and the “Our”…

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

What Is “Accidental Ingestion”?

A long time ago, in my 2nd year of sobriety from alcohol and drugs (circa 1996), I found myself walking into a bar for an event I was attending. The temptation to drink wasn’t present anymore within me by that point in time, but the urge to have a glass of something constantly in hand still was. That’s why my drink of choice at bars had become Diet Coke, which is precisely what I ordered from the bartender when he asked what I wanted. I never thought to pay attention to him as he filled my order. Instead, I scanned the surroundings around me until I noticed the soda was placed in front of me. I was quite thirsty that night, so I immediately took a huge gulp. As soon as it went down my throat, I knew it was a lot more than just a Diet Coke, as indeed it also had a lot of rum in it. That’s when I instantly told the bartender he had made a mistake, which he profusely apologized for mishearing me and swiftly re-poured me the correct drink.

For someone in sobriety that truly wanted to remain clean and sober and had done so for a good while, I was totally freaked out once this happened. My heart raced as I wondered if it meant I had now broken my sobriety and had to start all over again. Thankfully, it wasn’t long after that where I learned from sober friends I didn’t have to and was told that what I experienced was something called “accidental ingestion”, which is simply when one accidentally consumes alcohol or drugs that was not by choice, which was so very true in this case.

Something else I learned from those sober friends was that accidental ingestion is something that tends to happen in sobriety the longer one remains clean and sober. I wasn’t sure if I should be grateful to have experienced something so unpleasant as early on in sobriety as I did that night, yet I had been more than thankful to learn it wasn’t a relapse. What was interesting though, was learning that if I had continued to consume that spiked beverage after discovering its true contents, it would have then been considered a full relapse.

For someone who’s not a recovering alcohol or drug addict, this type of thing may seem rather cut and dry and not a big deal. But for someone who hadn’t tasted alcohol on their lips or in their throat or consumed any type of mind-altering substance for a considerable amount of time because of what it once did to them, it actually was a very scary thing to experience. And ironically, it wouldn’t be the last time I experienced accidental ingestion either.

The next time it happened was when I was visiting a friend overseas in Manchester, England back in 2007 for the Christmas holidays. It was specifically Christmas Eve and my friend had bought a wide variety of beverages for his guests to drink that night, one being a non-alcohol-based orange soda for me to consume. What I didn’t know was that my friend had also bought a similar beverage from this company that was alcohol-based, where the only real difference between the two was a note at the bottom indicating its alcohol content. So, when I was brought my drink, I had no idea that my friend had mistakenly poured it from the wrong bottle. Thus, after swiftly guzzling about half of my glass’s contents in one fell swoop, that same look of horror was once again on my face, as I realized I had just consumed alcohol again. That’s when I immediately dumped it out and poured the correct one for myself. But thankfully, this time I felt no guilt, solely because I was well aware of what accidental ingestion meant by that point in my sobriety.

I’m happy to report that I haven’t experienced this ever since and pay a lot more attention now when a drink is poured for me. I sincerely hope I never find myself going through this unpleasant experience again in this life, but if by some unfortunate chance I do, I’m at least thankful to know it will just be another example of “accidental ingestion”, so long as I don’t continue to ingest it…

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