All of this—the compulsive sex, the emotional longing, the relationship struggles—is about the same thing: love. That feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection. Intimacy and love are clearly different from the intense, adrenaline-seeking behaviors and relationships you engaged in before, and so your greatest challenge is to lean into the warm, fuzzy feelings with your loved ones.
We all want to be deeply understood, accepted fully, and to feel close to others. Now you have the means to deepen these possibilities. As you reveal more of yourself to others, they get the opportunity to love the real you. Otherwise, the status quo of loneliness will continue.
Relying on the Reliable
There are your people, and then there’s the rest of the world, and it’s your job in life to find your people. As you gradually enter the intimacy and love pool, recognize that your people are out there. Consider it a lifelong research project. In what relationships do you feel most like yourself today? Who do you most trust? In which relationships do you feel relaxed? Rely on the reliable and stick with these healing relationships. Whenever I think of unconditional positive regard and unconditional love, I think of my coach Sam and her consistent, reliable presence. She is an endless source of collaboration, perspective, and inspiration. Her presence and ability to believe in me even at times when I couldn’t believe in myself has left me feeling less alone and more hopeful in the many challenges I’ve faced.
How can you be unconditionally loving to others? How can you be of service to someone who needs a shoulder to lean on? Try to accept others for exactly who they are at any given moment. Don’t get caught up in the fantasy that they’ll suddenly change to fit your needs. Keep in mind that your physical distance from a person isn’t a measure of your loving feelings for them. You may want physical or emotional distance from certain individuals from time to time. But it’s how you hold the relationship in your heart that counts. You can love an old friend even while he is trapped in addiction. He is simply being himself. Being a giver of love is often a bold internal shift for recovering sex addicts. As I stated before, addiction is narcissistic, whereas giving of yourself is an act of generosity. Altruism opens your heart, freeing you to move toward gratitude, humility, and openheartedness. The irony is that when you learn to give more, you also receive more. For example, if you sponsor someone in the program, you automatically stay in contact with the fellowship, which in turn bolsters your recovery.