Sunday, April 9, 2023

Third Step Prayer

(The following is a personal post from one of our members.)

At our local face-to-face meeting we are reading through the Alcoholics Anonymous book (AABB). In our last meeting, we read through the first half of Chapter 5, How It Works. That section contains the "Third Step Prayer". Here it is from page 63:

"God, I offer myself to Thee--to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always."

Our local group prays this prayer together almost every week, and that's great. But one of the downsides of repeating something so often can be a tendency to not really think about what we are saying to God about. 

The phrase that stood out to me the most as we read it this time was this: "Take away my difficulties,...." I am asking God to do something for me that seems to me to be something almost everyone would desire if they really believed there was a God who "could and would" do this for them. 

Asking for God to do this for me is an admission of my powerlessness. If I could do it myself, why would I be asking God to do it for me? And when I approach my difficulties with this acceptance that I need God to do this for me, then I can "bear witness" not to what I have done, but for what God has done for me that I could not do myself.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

"The Steps never freed anyone...."

 (The following is a personal post from one our our group members.)

I was attending a conference of another Step program recently. Since I had been hosting the keynote speaker in my home, I had a lot of time to talk with him about the freedom we experience as we connect to the Power that frees us from the bondage of our past. It was truly exciting to see how each of us had come to the same place in our journeys even though we had started from two very different perspectives.

He shared a statement in one of his talks that I fully agree with because it has been my experience as well. He said, "The steps have never freed anyone from their bondage; only God can do that." That happened for me as I began to truly experience my own surrender to God and as I continue to grow in that surrender.

When I first started to attend SA meetings a very long time ago, I was not truly ready to surrender to God. What I wanted to do was run my own life my own way and have God boost me up just enough to get over this obsession and compulsion in which I felt so completely bound. I wanted freedom without having to actually surrender anything. But apparently for this addict, and many others I know, this is not possible. I had to surrender to God, and I had to have his power in order to find real freedom. 

I had seen this happening in the lives of some of the members of the SA groups I attended, so I figured they had figured out how to control lust themselves. But when I tried that, it didn't work. The truth is it doesn't work. That's not what they did. What they did was to truly surrender their lust and their will and their life to God. It wasn't the Steps that gave them power, it was God. The Steps showed them a path to connect rightly with God in order to have his power at work in their lives.

And now I can say that I have had that experience as well. God can and will continue to do for me what I can not do for myself as I surrender to and connect with the Power that frees me.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Substitution was no solution

 (The following is a post from one of our group members.)

The first time it occurred to me to substitute some other form of sex to satisfy my lust was when I was approaching marriage. I was already getting sick of all of the porn and sex with self. I hated that I had begun feeling like I was out of control, powerless and in bondage to sex and porn. I figured that if I was having sex with this "real" person (that I was also lusting after), that would certainly satisfy me, and I would be free from looking elsewhere. 

That didn't work. 

It didn't matter what my wife did or didn't do, she was no match for my lust. Lust was insatiable. Lust was the fantasy world as shown to me in the magazines and on the screen and conjured up in my own twisted mind. That was the un-real, as our literature reminds me, and it could not be real no matter how much I wanted it and tried to make it happen. 

I was left with two realistic options: continue to surrender to the overwhelming power of lust, or begin to be freed from lust by surrendering to a Power greater than me and my lust. Yes, I had tried a third option, but now I can see that was never a realistic possibility. I tried to struggle against lust and become powerful enough to win that fight. That was nothing more than continued insanity. 

So after many years of bondage and pain, I finally surrendered to God, got a sponsor, and followed his instructions on how to work all the way through the 12 Steps. And that connected me with God, the Power that could and would free me from my slavery to lust. I had to find what none of the substitutes had ever supplied. I had to find a loving God.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid

(The following is a personal post from one of our group members.)

"Many of us felt inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid. Our insides never matched what we saw on the outsides of others." (Sexaholics Anonymous, page 203)

I definitely felt "inadequate, unworthy, alone, and afraid" for as long as I can remember. My sexual addiction made all of those feelings far worse. 

When I stopped long enough to look inside, I hated what I saw. And given that self-hatred was not a particularly pleasant feeling, lust and sexual acting out was a quick "pill" for those horrible feelings I had about myself. But then I'd "wake up" out of my latest lust/sex binge and hate myself all the more. Repeat, repeat, repeat ....

My "horribleness" was what drove me away from God and others. I was unacceptable to myself, so how could anyone else accept me, truly love me, if they knew what was really going on inside me and through my acting our behaviors? 

Turns out that my first step in the right direction was to admit that I had completely lost the fight and was completely hopeless if left to myself (powerlessness). Then I dared to consider that if I was to have any hope at all, it would have to come from a God who not only already knew everything about my horrid state of affairs, but who loved me anyway. I had to "come to believe" that God was not as I had imagined him to be. And with that as my confirmed hope, I could turn my will and life over to God who could and would do for me what I could not do myself.

And what about my insides that didn't match what I saw on the outsides of others? I no longer care much about what I see on the outsides of others. I figure that generally they are either faking it just like I was, or they are already growing along spiritual lines and will welcome me to join them. This way of life is so much better!

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Acceptance and Step 11

(The following is a personal post from one of our members.)

 "Until I could accept my [sexaholism], I could not stay sober." (AABB p.417) This specific acceptance was absolutely necessary and foundational to all that has followed. Fighting my lust and my addiction was not only impossible, it made sobriety and the resulting recovery impossible as well. I often share in meetings that I "embraced" my sexaholism. I am a sexaholic; I accept that without reservation; I embrace that reality; I do not attempt to change that truth about myself. And by doing so, I accepted that I had no other option but to work the Steps of SA under the direction of a sponsor in order to become rightly connected with God and others and to live a changed life based on the 12 Step principles. 

One of the ways I continue to do that is to continue a practice that I began more than 12 years ago. Whenever I am triggered from without and tempted from within, I "turn away", take a deep breath and exhale a prayer in conscious contact with God. I say, "God, I surrender this to you, because I can not handle it." I consciously bring God into this moment, this thought, this feeling. Although the God of my understanding is always present with me, I need to consciously bring him into my mind and heart, or I remain alone. This remains a consistent part of my working of Step 11. It is the way in which each trigger and temptation is "redeemed", turned into something positive in my life and recovery. 

By embracing my sexaholism and consciously surrendering every lust temptation, I am set free from lust's power and my fear of it, and instead connected with my loving God. 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Practicing a positive sobriety

 (The following is a personal post from one of our members.)

"The Solution" is a common reading at many local SA groups (SAWB p. 61-62). I really like how the SA program is summed up so well in just two pages. (Of course the book then goes on to walk us through the 12 Steps of the program in the following 93 pages, all worthy of being read and reread many times over.)

We began practicing a positive sobriety, taking the actions of love to improve our relations with others. We were learning how to give; and the measure we gave was the measure we got back. We were finding what none of the substitutes had ever supplied. We were making the real Connection. We were home.

When I first started in the SA program, I was pretty much focused in on myself. In a number of ways, that was what I needed to do. Much of what I was doing was reacting to lust and temptation and doing inventory work on the "wreckage of my past",  I couldn't "give away what I didn't have", and true love for others was not something that I had to give. 

But then again, I could choose to "take the actions of love" regardless of whether or not my motive was right or whether or not I really meant it or whether or not I was having a very negative emotion at the moment. All of those things were just excuses I gave myself for not being a loving person. But choosing to act in what I know would be for the best benefit of the other person, that is something I can do regardless of what else is going on inside of me. 

One tiny example of "taking the actions" for me is when I wash the dishes. My hatred of washing dishes started when I was a teenager both in my parents home and in my first real paying job as a dishwasher in a diner. From that point on, it didn't matter where or when, I did not ever want to wash dishes or help with dish cleanup. And then a "miraculous" thing happened; I developed an allergic reaction to dish soap. ;-)  I now have the perfect excuse for never washing dishes again! 

But the dishes need to be washed, and there are ways to deal with my skin problems. So instead of making excuses for not doing what I don't want to do, I use that as an opportunity to show love to my spouse. I take the action of love, and sometimes even with the right motive, because I now do have something I can give away. And that came as I worked through the Steps under the direction of a sponsor and found that God was doing for me what I could not do for myself. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Fortunate to be a sexaholic

 (The following is a personal post from one of our group members.)

The Step 11 section in the Sexaholics Anonymous book says this about "prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God":

"Improve our contact with God? When did we ever have any real contact? Along our journey through Steps One through Ten, unless we were fooling ourselves. Our admission of powerlessness should have been surrender to God. Our change of attitude resulted in commitment of our lives to God. The moral inventory was our admission of what we really were to God. Those thousands of "telegrams" for help—getting moment-by-moment relief from our obsession and defects—was resorting to God instead of to self. And atonement with those we had hurt and estranged marvelously opened the way for restored union with God. 

"Little did we realize that in taking all these actions for survival, sobriety, and serenity, we were finding our God! So long as we held on to our lusts, He was lost to us. But now, with our having torn down the wall of our wrongs, with nothing between, there He was, within. ...

"How fortunate we are, then, to be so needy that we have to find what our lust was really looking for—the loving God who is our refuge and our strength."

Along with being a sexaholic, I have a number of character defects that require the work of the Steps to recover and find freedom from. One of those is an extreme case of "I'll-do-it-myself" (with chin up), even though the evidence of my life shows that when I try to do it myself, I often make a worse mess of whatever it is. It took years of being beaten into having to surrender lust, to finally find freedom, and that would never have happened if I never became a sexaholic. 

So today I no longer regret it when I say, "I am a sexaholic." I embrace the reality that I am so needy and powerless that I have to find God and surrender to his will for my life.