As a result of my years of recovery work in SLAA, which has included a lot of focus on turning my will and my life over to God, I have come to realize that there are no coincidences or accidents, at least not in my life. Everything that seems to “happen” is actually guided by a Higher Power, in order to support me in becoming the best person I can be. I don’t always realize this at the time, particularly if I’m unhappy with the circumstances of my life at the moment. In retrospect, however, it all becomes clear. The sequence of events I’m going to share with you is an example of this process.
As I suppose is true for many of us, the aspects of my sexual addiction have been numerous over the years. One of the most consistent and persistent of these has been cross-dressing. As a mature man nearly six feet tall with a typically masculine body, I look nothing less than ridiculous in women’s clothing, yet in the eye of my addict I become a ravishingly beautiful woman. So much for reality!
On a hot August night some years ago, I found myself home alone, always a dangerously tempting situation for me. The rest of my family was spending the weekend at the shore and would not return for a few days. Perhaps my envy of the wife and kids frolicking at the shore while I sweated at home helped prompt me to do what I did. I changed clothes (and from my addict’s perspective, my gender) and went out for a drive in my feminine finery.
I drove quite a few miles into the countryside, enjoying the cool breeze coming through the car windows as I imagined myself as a woman. In my addictive bliss, It never occurred to me to think about what might happen if I had a flat tire, a collision with another car, or was stopped by a police officer for a routine traffic violation! After all, I had done this many times before and “gotten away with it,” why not this time? A person of more rational mind would probably question why, after previously having two unpleasant encounters with the police as a result of my sexual acting out, I would expose myself to such a risk. But not me.
After driving around aimlessly for a few hours under my addict’s hypnotic spell, I returned home late that evening. Humming to myself pleasureably as I approached the front door of my home, my joy turned instantly to panic as my fumbling fingers failed to locate my house key in the bottom of my purse! I grappled through it anxiously, finally emptying the contents onto the sidewalk, but the key was nowhere to be found. The perspiration that drenched my body at this point was more than that produced by the evening’s heat and humidity.
As best as I could in my petrified state, I thought about my options, which were few indeed. While I was on fairly good terms with my neighbors, I decided that showing up on their front doorstep dressed as I was to request their help might be pushing things a bit too far. With my heart pounding so loud I was sure it could be heard for miles, I walked around to the back of the house, hoping I had somehow left the back door unlocked. No such luck. I sat down on the bench of the picnic table and began to cry.
Perhaps God took pity on me at that point, for suddenly I had an idea. If I pushed the picnic table under a downstairs window, I could find out if the window was unlocked. Praying vigorously, I moved the table. First I had to tear the mesh of the screen with my car key to gain access to the window. How would I explain that to my wife, I wondered?
When I discovered that the window was indeed unlocked, I burst into tears again, this time tears of relief. Uttering a prayer of gratitude and feeling like a very unskilled burglar, I hoisted myself up on the window sill and began to crawl through. God truly has a sense of humor. Perhaps this is why, as I hung suspended halfway through the window with my skirt-clad posterior on display to the world, He/She chose to strike me with a lightning flash of realization.
In that instant I experienced an epiphany. I understood that had I not been able to gain entrance to my house, awkward as my method was, I would not only have caused myself much disgrace and humiliation, but almost certainly have destroyed my family life. This was the second marriage for me, and my sexual acting out had been largely responsible for ending the first one. If my teenaged stepchildren, or my own daughter, had found out about my embarrassing situation, the discovery would have had a very negative impact on their lives.
Tumbling the rest of the way through the window, I collapsed on the floor inside the house, releasing my tension, fear, and shock in loud sobs. As I wept, a quiet voice that at the same time seemed to come from within and outside me said, “You have no control over your behavior. Something has to change.” Although I didn’t yet understand that I was an addict, I soon learned that by admitting my powerlessness, I had begun the First Step toward recovery.
The counselor I was seeing at the time of this incident was a recovering alcoholic. At our next session, after sharing my near-disaster and the message I had received as I crawled through the window, I said wistfully, “I wish there was an organization like A.A. for people with problems like mine.” Without saying a word, he reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a pamphlet entitled 40 Questions for Self-Diagnosis, published by the Augustine Fellowship of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. After I recovered from my amazement, I quickly answered about 30 of the 40 questions affirmatively, acknowledging for the first time that I was addicted to compulsive sexual behavior. My therapist told me there was an SLAA meeting nearby, and suggested I attend a meeting to find out if it was the right place for me.
The rest is history. Sweating profusely and trembling in my shoes, I did attend my first meeting the following week although I nearly choked on the words…”My name is Bruce and I’m a sex and love addict.” During the next 90 minutes I learned that I was not alone, that recovery was possible by working the steps of the SLAA program, and that others were there to support my healing and recovery rather than point fingers of blame. After numerous years in and out of recovery, I still hold those understandings as I continue to put the pieces together. I offer thanks to God for placing along my path the people and experiences that would lead me to a better life.
A Member of
St. Barnabas Weds SLAA, Denver
Meeting-Approved 8/03. NOT SLAA Fellowship-Approved Literature