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July 09 • Happy Failure Day

Day 365

Today is the anniversary of my last acting out, or at least the last massage parlor visit where I put myself in a position of having some form of sex with another person outside of my marriage. That’s the event that I’ve chosen to mark my ‘official’ rebirth, making today my first birthday according to my 12 Step program.

Don’t get me wrong, I will claim my coin and accept the hugs and applause of my fellow recovering sex addicts, but rigorous honesty requires me to admit that this is somewhat of an arbitrary date to celebrate. My recovery started months before this, with decisions and courage that far outshines the events remembered on this birthday. But this is the day I toast to my success.

Actually, I just realized that recognizing today as my coin date, is just memorializing my last physical, unfaithful failure. And it isn’t even that. For several more weeks I shopped in bars and pleased myself in the shower. It was even more weeks before I stopped drinking and playing isolating video games. And even more months before completing my disclosures to my wife, and truly committing to undefended honesty.

There have also been plenty of ‘little’ failures, so being reminded today that the smallest of lies takes a chink out of my recovery and out of my armor against relapsing, is important. I have not yet reached the levels of truth-telling that I want — that I need — to strengthen my recovery, but I’m getting better.

Expressing my feelings in the moment is still extremely hard for me, but it’s better than it’s ever been. Talking about my hurts before they become pains that need relieving is a big deal, and any improvement in that is huge. Recognizing this creates one of those the-closer-I-get-the-further-away-I-realize-I-am paradoxes that has an incredibly humbling effect.

Through my step work, I realize that I still do not trust the truth, even though I believe in it completely. It still represents pain (compared to a conflict-avoiding fib), but the more experience I get with it over time, the more it will surely become second-nature to me.

So... Happy Failure Day to me. Now that I’ve made it this far, I’ll begin thinking more about the times I managed to do something right, instead of celebrating not doing something stupid. Please, God, hear my prayer.

And I think I'll skip the toast.




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