Many of us have several characteristics in common when we first came into NMS. We felt isolated, less than, cautious and skeptical. Our insides forced us to be emotionally distant, verbally withholding and extremely guarded with others. We hid behind our armor of normalcy. Our shame prevented us from being honest. Not being able to be honest about behavior forced us to conceal our thoughts and feelings with others. We were driven ever inwards, lost inside ourselves.

Early on we observed many of the men of NMS who have gone before us as now honest, open and willing to be vulnerable with everyone in their life. This degree of transparency left us perplexed, challenged and wanting. The thought of pursuing this path left some of us in fear and needing to hide. In early recovery, we often fell back into our addictive patterns even more. Our addict did not want to die, it was not about to go quietly into the night. We realized that this was going to be the hardest thing we ever did. Recovery is an inside job.

Without the promiscuity, adultery, dependency, pornography and toxic relationships we really did not know how to live. Our behavior had kept us numb for years.  Now we cried with outstretched arms, can I really live without my addiction? Seeing others who are now living healthy lives after decades of addiction gave us the hope we needed to just be willing to be willing. The gift of desperation gave us a place to start. We all recover only at the speed of pain.

We had to find a way back from the darkness and into the light, back from those feelings of incomprehensible demoralization, back from the guilt, self-hatred, emptiness and pain that came with our behaviors.  Only by letting go of our addiction absolutely could we ever fine true intimacy with another. We started to comprehend that the only way to make the journey from our head to our heart was to start to trust. We had to heal in the company of men.

Sitting in my office, being in a men’s group where the mantra is “What don’t you want to talk about”, going to SLAA meetings, having a sponsor, using the 12 steps and grasping  and developing a manner of living that demands rigorous honesty led us to accept the self we were running from, and the healing begins.