“I want what you have.” She said.
I laughed and replied a bit embarrassed, “That’s sweet of you to say.”
She took my hands in hers, looked in my eyes seriously and said, “I mean it, and I want what you have. I want what you and your husband have and one day I will.”
I nodded with understanding, gave her a hug and listened as she began to tell me the story of her own Disclosure Day.
Doing outreach work for my S-Anon group has been painfully rewarding. I am filled with fear each time I reveal myself to the public by hanging a poster or meeting someone new face to face to let him or her know we are out there. My heart races just a bit as I take a chance and give someone my phone number and let them know where we hold our meetings. We are a vulnerable bunch, many of us scared, lost, traumatized and I feel a dire need to protect every single one of us from any hint of harm or exposure.
The reward comes from seeing a person walk through the door fearing they are alone in the world of sex addiction and watching them settle in as the meeting takes place, knowing they are among people who understand what they have been through and what they are about to experience. Knowing they are no longer alone.
This outreach has also caused me to reflect back on some painful memories. Memories I need to share in order to help others and the more I talk about them the less power they will hold, the less painful they will become, but it’s caused me to feel both vulnerable and grateful – a strange set of feelings to have at the same time.
I feel vulnerable because of I have awakened old feelings of the past; things I had thought settled and set aside. Wounds that were almost healed, scabs that had almost fallen away. I am aware this is a temporary feeling. The longer I am surrounded by new people, revealing my once hidden self to them, exposing the festering secrets to the sunlight, the less power the emotion will have. It will once again become settled.
At the same time, I am grateful for how far I have come in the last two years since my first Disclosure Day. It was a long, tough road and I have learned much about myself. I am still traveling this road and have a long way to go but I truly believe the worst is behind me now.
I am grateful how far my husband has come since his Disclosure Week to me. He continues to be my rock when I have a trigger pop up out of nowhere, understanding when I can’t talk about it, knowing I just need him to be present emotionally and physically when I can’t verbalize how I feel. Continuing to tell me everyday how much he loves and appreciates our kids, and me while working diligently on himself.
It is because of many different things we have each done alone in our recovery and together as a couple we have survived through the turmoil after disclosure, the roller coaster of relapses and now we continue to thrive as a couple to face his addiction together side by side.
This gives me the strength I need to continue my outreach while I work through the difficult emotions it’s awakened in me.