Victory and Defeat

Tonight at my Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting, we read the daily meditation which had a line that got me thinking. The meditation mentioned that sometimes, the smallest things can either have a positive or negative impact on our lives. In sex addiction, this is more true than anyone could possibly imagine.

A few years ago when I was living in Lawrence (KS), a good buddy of mine went with me to Kansas City for the evening to see my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, play against the Royals at Kaufman Stadium. I decked myself out in Red Sox garb and went to cheer for my team. The game was a blast and the Sox won (of course) so after the game, my buddy and I stopped at my favorite bar in Lawrence for a few postgame beverages. While we were there, a stunningly-beautiful college student from KU began to talk to me. She thought it was novel that I was dressed in all Red Sox clothes and thought I might be from Boston. After we talked for a while, she began to inch closer and closer to me, and the conversation turned to light flirting, which turned to deliberate flirting.

As the conversation progressed, I had my hands in my pockets. I’d mastered the ability to slip my wedding ring off in my pocket with one hand.

My buddy stood by watching, partaking lightly in our conversation, but continually slipping me subtle looks of disapproval. See, he knew my struggles. He knew that the reason I was living in Lawrence was because my wife and I had decided to move away from Wichita to get away from all of the affairs I was having with other women. His sideways glances spoke to me as a whispering voice of reason. And as the college girl and I continued to flirt, I — in a brief moment of clarity — decided that we should pay our tabs and leave. And that is exactly what we did. We paid, I politely thanked the college girl (whose name was Rachel, if I remember correctly), and left. When we got in the car, my buddy said to me, “Well, that was interesting.” He was right. “Indeed,” I replied. And we never spoke of that night again.

However, what I did do was go straight home, wake my wife up, and tell her exactly what happened. And we both — nearly tearfully — celebrated my victory over my addiction. Granted, at that point in my life, I didn’t realize I was an addict. But in retrospect, we had every right to celebrate.

As addicts, we have a tendency to wallow in the sorrow and despair of our failures. But shouldn’t we celebrate our victories over our addiction with just as much — if not more passion and vigor? Why does it seem like a relapse is the only thing that will motivate the addict to change?  What we must do is learn to appreciate the small victories — not lusting, not cheating, not tempting, not fantasizing.

For example, instead of only wallowing in the guilt of lusting for a woman I see in public, I am going to start celebrating the times when I can look away and move on with life. And eventually, my subconscious will learn that a happier life is a life filled with celebration, not regret — victory, not defeat.