I believe we are in the early stages of understanding sex addiction in our culture. In one television studio audience where I was a guest, when asked if they had heard of sex addiction, 25 percent of the people raised their hands. At a speaking engagement in a major university, I asked how many had heard of sex addiction. Again, I received a 25 percent show of hands. So I believe we are making a lot of progress in sex addiction awareness.
Because I believe sex addiction transcends cultures, I want to broaden the concept of sex addiction as being merely an American phenomenon to being known as a worldwide reality. Years ago, I placed a home page on the Internet. I offered information about sex addiction and ways to obtain books and additional material. The response was incredible! And still is. I receive tens of thousands of visitors every month from almost every nation in the world.
There are sex addicts in almost every country. This is not an American problem but a worldwide problem. Fortunately, just like alcoholism, it can be treated, and people can be restored to sanity no matter what language they speak or in what culture they live. We live in an exciting time when people are seeking help for their addiction–and for the first time, help is available.
When you go to a Twelve Step Meeting for sexual addiction in a large town and see only six people there, you don’t have to be concerned. In the 1930s Alcoholics Anonymous began exactly the same way. Things changed then, and they are changing now. The groups may be small now, but they won’t stay that way.
Many who start this journey toward sex addiction recovery are pioneers. As pioneers, we are the first to taste the fruit of recovery from sex addiction, before the rest of the culture does. And we get to pave the way for others in how to deal with those who don’t understand. Because as a pioneer, you may often be misunderstood by others who have not yet come to understand the plight and the prevalence of sex addiction, and the devastation it can cause.
As I see it, you are starting to move toward–a pioneer along on your journey toward freedom from sexual addiction. Few have gone before you, but many will come after you. As a pioneer, you are the future leader of this movement. As you get thirty or ninety days of recovery behind you, and then eventually years of recovery, you will have gained experience and understanding of a disease that very few understand including those in the professional field. Many, I believe, who are starting their recovery from sex addiction today will be tomorrow’s future experiential experts in this freedom movement. The current possible misunderstandings of what you are doing today will make sense to others years from now–and the journey will have been worth it for your sake and countless others.
I personally started my journey twenty-one years ago, and I am thankful that I did. I not only have been given the gift of many years of sobriety without relapse, but I, by grace, have been able to expose the topic of sex addiction and freedom from it to millions of people. I didn’t know this was my future when I was working on my early recovery and healing from past sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment issues.
Was being misunderstood and having to feel the pain worth it? YES! Today I have the opportunity to see others reach final freedom as they hear this message and respond to the healing process from sex addiction. Their choice to go the journey makes my recovery and the boundaries I must keep to maintain my sobriety very worthwhile. One life like yours or mine can help many people begin and maintain recovery from sex addiction.
Guilt and shame are common feelings in early recovery, but as you move forward and begin to get first thirty and then ninety days of sobriety behind you, and actively pursue the steps, I find that most people begin to see and feel the guilt and shame break away. This is especially true after completing Step Five.
There is no shame in being a recovering sex addict just like there is no shame being a recovering “anything.” Of all the people who could have taken responsibility for their lives and behaviors, you have. I used to ask God, “Why me? Why am I an addict?” Now I ask Him, “Why did You choose me, out of the millions who suffer and die from this disease, to get freedom?”
I have no shame about being a recovering sex addict. My father didn’t know he had this disease and neither did anyone else in my family. I am the first one who had a chance at recovering and helping stop this disease from moving down my family tree any further. You may be the first in your entire lineage to acknowledge this disease. Recovering from sex addiction may be one of the largest contributions you will leave your future generations. I am proud of your efforts in considering this journey. There is more and more hope for you in each step that you take.
Realizing you are a sex addict is only the beginning of the long journey. This journey will definitely be adventurous as you discover how to live a life of sobriety with intimacy, trust, fun and healthy relationships. This is just the beginning–and as you see others take the same journey toward wholeness, you also will be changed for a lifetime. The world needs brave pioneers in sexual addiction recovery to go through to the final freedom. Welcome to the journey.