“Gentleness is a different way.”
Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 65
Before recovery, shame was a self-perpetuating way of life for me. For years I consciously and deliberately hated myself. I felt I had to hate myself just to keep a lid on my behavior. I feared that if I let up on myself, my life would crash. And I felt I deserved to hate myself. That was just the conscious layers of shame, the ones I was aware of. I was also desperately lonely and terrified of intimacy.
When I started SAA, I was stunned at the love and compassion I received. You told me I was not a bad person, but that I suffered from a disease. You suggested I be gentle with myself and leave my shame behind. As with so many things in recovery, the action comes first and the attitude follows. I started to practice gentleness as I saw it in these rooms, and what better place to start than facing my pain and taking responsibility for my life as I worked the Steps.
As gentleness became an integral part of my recovery process, it slowly entered the rest of my life. I’ve evolved from never doing housework, to doing it occasionally because it’s necessary, to doing it because it gives me a nice place to live. I don’t know when the ability to practice gentleness with myself happened, but it happened in SAA. It’s not perfect, but continues to evolve as I continue to work this program. Gentleness begets gentleness.
Today I will let go of shame and be gentle with myself.