I am a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with being honest in my close relationships. My name is Richard.
Have you ever wondered why relationships do not seem to have any depth? Before working my recovery, most of my relationships with my closest family members were just below the surface. All other relationships were definitely superficial.
Once I started my journey in Celebrate Recovery®, things began to change. I’d kept so many secrets to myself. This prevented me from going deeper because of my fear of being hurt—and the fear that people would discover those secrets were always on my mind. The last thing I wanted to tell my wife was about my struggle with lust, which was impacted by inappropriate behaviors in my past.
Because I had buried these things, I discovered I was holding my heart hostage from my wife and everyone else in my life. As I began to open up about these secrets—first with my sponsor, then with my CR group of men—I felt the warmth and love of God sweep over me. It was hard, while at the same time it was so good to get this burden off my heart.
As a youth, my sexual curiosity and overconfidence dominated my mind and were my greatest struggles. All of my close relationships took a significant shift when I was 12 years old. My best friend and I had an inappropriate same-sex experience. The shame from that moment overwhelmed me. I never told anyone about what happened. Instead, I placed the blame on others and developed hatred, mostly toward myself. I began sabotaging all my relationships. It seemed easier than having people find out what I had done. I camouflaged my feelings of self-hate and worked tirelessly to fit in as a teenager, while drugs and alcohol became my hiding place. I carried this secret until I was 50 years old.
I am so grateful to God, who began healing me from this awful condition of shame, guilt, and worry. He has renewed my spirit and allowed me to love unconditionally. I am grateful for Celebrate Recovery providing me the small group I need to learn how to have healthy relationships. When the shame began to heal, I became honest with the people closest to me. No more hiding. No more condemnation. No more guilt. Finally, I was free and felt safe to express myself more openly and honestly.
For me, it really is about becoming vulnerable and embracing my relationships. I’ve learned it’s okay to allow myself to say out loud that I’ve been hurt. After all, our Lord Jesus Christ was hurt much worse than I ever will be.
We have a saying in CR: “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” It’s true. As long as I kept my past hidden, I was not allowing God to heal me. The healthy changes I desperately wanted in my relationships are now a reality. And it’s not because the people around me changed, but because I changed. God doesn’t get glory if no one knows what he brought me through. However, when I talk about my past today, people receive hope that they, too, can experience freedom—especially my family and close friends whom I love so much.
Today I continue working my own recovery while sharing my story and fully devoting myself to my family. I allow those close to me to do the same without me trying to fix them or change them. That is God’s job. By working my recovery honestly, I get to serve in a capacity I only thought someone else would do. I am an encourager to my group and to others. I have accountability partners who help me continue to move forward. The meetings I attend give me a safe place to talk about my issues with like-minded people who never judge me or talk about what I share. It is a wonderful thing to love and be loved without all the baggage.