It’s a shame that last weekend happened, but it happened, and I have to deal with it. In the end I slipped on one of my bottom lines, using pornography to fill the hole in the soul. I couldn’t have slept on Sunday night otherwise. The eleven days of true sobriety that I had built up were gone in an instant, and I was forced to go back to day one. I was upset enough about this to act out again on Monday night; since then I’ve been able to stay strong and get back five days of clean time. I’m counting the days because this is now quite important to me. I have to leave porn behind – I can’t use it any more because it doesn’t work. I’m sure that the God shaped hole will return to haunt me at some point, and I’ll be without defence against the temptation which hits me every now and then, when the thought to act out just suddenly jumps into my mind and I won’t be able to fight it. I hope that next time I will have some sense to do what is suggested, which includes picking up the phone, praying, meditating, going to a meeting. I can’t predict or plan for what’s going to happen, I simply have to take each day as it comes. This is the true essence of recovery: forgetting the future and dealing entirely with the present. At the moment the temptation, when it hits me, tends to become intense very quickly, and if I try to ignore it it can become painful, like an itch that you’re refusing to scratch. From experience I know that such feelings always fade eventually, it’s just this one which can be more powerful than the others.
Work this week has been good, again. I’ve been on top of things, and I’ve even been given new powers, so that I’m making more decisions about the customer complaints that come in. It’s nice to be trusted with such power: when Jan suggested to the directors that I be given the extra responsibility they seemed to agree instantly, with hardly any thought. I’m a bigger cog in the wheel than I was a few months ago; still just a cog, but an important one without which the company probably couldn’t do now. I’m not being deliberately big-headed about it, I just appreciate the trust and the support that has been given to me. If I wanted to I could do some quite naughty things, with the access and permissions that I have in the system back end; I could defraud the company, but I won’t because I truly like working there now. They’ve done me a massive favour by giving me this job and this responsibility. It has changed my life, and it has above all changed me. You can’t last in a job such as mine for a whole year without changing somehow.
Today I went to Soho, where I was due to meet my sponsor for some step five work. I recently wrote a step four based on my relationship history: today was the only day that he could meet to begin the process of the next step. We sat in Starbucks on New Oxford Street – the very place where I met Eddie three and a half years ago, just before my first AA meeting – I got out the eight pages that I’d written with all the details of every fling, shag, relationship and affair I’ve ever had. Rather than just listening, my sponsor initiated a discussion about every name on the list, and it turned into a very insightful, enlightening process. He shared some of his own relationship history and I found that we have a lot in common. I saw the patterns in my past: the neediness, the self-pity, all the people-pleasing, self-victimization, blah blah blah. I saw the patterns when I first did step five three years ago, but this time I actually talked with my sponsor about it in depth, we didn’t just use it as an opportunity to punitively list my character defects, we talked about it all like two adults. There was honesty, empathy, reality-checking, as well as some laughter. I felt the sadness come back as we went over the more disastrous of my dating rock bottoms; more than anything I felt relief about the fact that I never have to repeat those mistakes again.
We didn’t finish it all today, as we had so much to discuss it wouldn’t have been possible, even though there were only eight pages. Hopefully we’ll cover the rest next week. Doing it in Starbucks may not be the ideal location for most alcoholics on step five for the first time. Having spent half my sobriety in coffee shops, I guess I feel quite comfortable with the noisy environment. I’ve shared stuff in coffee shops before – it was fine. Afterwards I felt the exhilaration that people talk about when they’ve done a really good step five. I hadn’t just repeated stuff that was already established before, I managed to look at the bigger picture and compare the past to the present. Though my sex life is hardly what could be called healthy at the moment, it’s far better than it was, the main difference being that I tend to keep my side of the street clean these days. Can’t ask for more than that, really.