My day starts the night before—I’ve come to realize that if I go to bed too late, feeling anxious or triggered, I will wake up the following day already moving down the FASTER scale. So, I take 30 minutes before bed to do some deep breathing, run through my personal promises, leave my technology in the living room, stretch, and go to sleep.
The alarm goes off and I get up, even though I’m not excited about it and would rather stay in bed. I know that if I hit snooze or stay in bed, I’m procrastinating on starting the day. In the past, this would have been a prime time to act out. I take a shower and run through my personal promises. Breakfast, coffee, and devotions. (Today is Tuesday and I do my devotions every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings.)
I leave for work. On my way out, I shoot a quick text to one of the people in my group, letting them know that I’m heading out. The morning commute can be a dangerous place for me. I can easily get stuck in my head thinking about how I feel inadequate at work. So, the text reminds me that I don’t have to believe those lies.
Arriving at work, I park in a far away spot. I've been trying to walk as much as possible since really getting into recovery. Before, I would regularly look for the easy, convenient way to do things. I'm trying to change this even though it isn't, well, convenient. But, I've lost 15 pounds since starting my recovery journey. Only 15 more pounds to go.
I shoot another text to the same person I texted earlier to let them know I made it to work. I also let them know the double bind I am facing today and what my plan is to resolve it.
I get up from my desk to walk around and stretch my legs. I used to turn left when leaving my office—I went that way because I knew I could get a little extra attention from a flirty coworker. Now, I turn right when I leave my office and head for the stairs. For each flight of stairs that I walk, I have to come up with something I am grateful for. Work is such a challenging place for me: I can become consumed with bitterness and quickly feel like the victim. So gratitude is the way I combat these feelings. Since I started doing this, I’ve realized that there are a lot of great things about my job and coworkers.
Lunch time! I meet up with one of my coworkers who happens to be in recovery as well. Recently, he asked me what I did over the weekend and I shared about the recovery conference I went to. Well, it turns out that he tried to get sexually healthy 10 years ago (by himself) and didn't have much success. After his marriage failed because of affairs he didn’t see much point in pursuing health. Ten years later, he experienced enough pain that he was willing to do whatever it took to get healthy. Now, we meet every weekday during lunch and run through our FASTER scale.
My boss comes in and asks me about a project I was working on. He’s not happy: the timeline is majorly delayed because of a mistake I made in some calculations. He reminds me of my step-dad. This is a tough one for me because he rarely asks me how I’m doing. It’s always just about work and typically what I’m not doing right. Though my blood starts to boil and my vision gets blurry, I’m able to stop and take a couple deep breaths while he rambles on about his new boat. As he leaves my office, I remind myself that I’m the right person for this time and place. Even here, there are opportunities for me to use my passions and talents. God sees my value and I need to be present if I want to participate in what He has for me here.
I’m still feeling a little triggered from the conversation with my boss. Something he said sounded a little too familiar. I take the stairs again down to the ground floor so that I can squeeze in some more gratitude. I run into my boss on the way down and I feel compelled to thank him for his attention to detail and that I appreciate the work he puts in as my boss. (It was difficult to say because I also wanted to push him down the stairs.) To my surprise he said he was sorry for coming down so hard on me today. “We all make mistakes,” he said. Followed with, “You’re great at what you do and the staff has a lot of respect for your integrity. You didn’t need to own your mistake but you did.” It feels good to hear him say that. A few years ago, I would have lied about the mistake and passed it off on an intern.
I arrive home and hop on my bike to get in some miles on my way to group. I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to love the people in my recovery group. At first it was tough. I didn’t want to open up or listen to them talk about how messed up their lives are. Now, I realize that I can’t be healed apart from this incredible collection of people. Their stories meet with my story. It feels like, when we do the work for our group, we end up with all of this raw material. But something happens when we bring that raw material together once a week. When God has access to it, He really does something incredible. All along, my pain and coping had been blocking His access.
Getting home feels great! I used to have a lot of anxiety about walking through that door. I was reminded of everything I hadn’t done and the goals I failed at or never even started. Now, my home is a place of rest and peace. Even when it’s full of people, it feels different. Sitting down at the dinner table is now about community. I share about my day and the anxiety I felt when my boss came in, but I also share about my gratitude for what he said.
I get a call from a group member letting me know that he lied during group tonight—he isn’t doing as well as he said. I listen and let him know that I’m proud of him for calling and telling me the truth. Participating in an economy of grace is so fulfilling. I get to give others grace because it’s already theirs. I’m simply the person, at this moment, that gets to dispense it.
Heading back to the living room I make a conscious effort to be present. I put my phone on the counter; where it goes each night at 8:00 p.m. Otherwise, I’ll end up down a path of mindless checking out. This leads nowhere good. I do, however, catch a rerun of Deadliest Catch. Man, there is a lot of brokenness on that show. I don’t think I could handle being on a fishing boat and belittled like that!
Deep breathing, personal promises, stretching, and reflecting on Pure Desire’s latest blog is how I end my day. This and going to sleep.
Robert is the Associate Pastor at The Oregon Community and one of our Pastoral Sex Addictions Specialists at Pure Desire. He is on our speaking team and is also one of the founders of the Oregon Public House. Robert and his wife, Rebecca, are the owners of Woodlawn Swap-n-Play.