Monday, August 10, 2020

Step 12 - Carrying the message

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

My Step 12 experience is that in order for me to continue to live in this new life I've been given as the result of having worked the Steps and having had a spiritual awakening, I am going to continue to grow by trying to carry the message of recovery to other sexaholics (and to practice the principles of our program in all my affairs). Through this program, God saved me out of the mire in the pit of addiction to lust and sexual acting out that I had jumped into. My feet are now on solid bedrock, and I can continue to "trudge the road of happy destiny" as I continue to follow God. That is the message I can carry to other sexaholics. And it is a message that I must carry, must give away, if I want to continue to grow along spiritual lines.

That message is really not about me. It's about what happened to me as I simply continued to surrender to God and follow the direction of a sponsor to work the program. It's not about me and what I did right, because what got me into SA in the first place was doing everything wrong. It's a story about being saved by Someone else. Someone else is the Hero in my story.

A drowning person doesn't get saved by a lifeguard and then goes out telling the story about how they saved themself (unless they are a liar). Surrender is to stop fighting the Lifeguard and do what he tells me to do. God says to me, "Trust me, don't struggle, relax, I got this, give up, let go, and let me."  Before recovery, I wanted to do it myself (pride). But it was "myself" that got me into this mess in the first place. It was my core self-centeredness. Carrying the message is not self-centered. That message is God-centered and must be freely given to others as it was freely given to me. 

Monday, June 8, 2020

Going back to Step 1

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

I was listening to another sexaholic sharing about how he was "going back to Step 1" because of his recent relapse. I could relate. I did this many times in my early years of going to SA meetings. I had to do this because there was something still missing in my Step 1 experience (and experience is different from knowledge). 

As the Sexaholics Anonymous book reminds me, the truth is that I must be "taken by Step 1". For me that was at the point of complete despair, the "incomprehensible demoralization" the Alcoholics Anonymous book talks about. That was when I fully admitted and fully embraced the belief that I was powerless over lust and that in my own power I remain powerless over it for the rest of my life. I no longer had any delusion that I could work hard enough to gain power over lust. It is as if powerlessness had become part of my DNA, not something I could change by any effort of my own.

I have not  "gone back to Step 1" once I started really working the SA 12 Step program. I started working the program in earnest under the direction of a sponsor not long after I had been "taken by Step 1". Since then I have not relapsed. But I have not doubted for one minute that I am still powerless over lust. How can that be? The only wayt to explain it is to experience a Power greater than myself and greater than lust who is at work in me.  And if God were to withdraw his power, I would be lost. And that is where the rest of the Steps become so crucial as a path to a right relationship with God, a means by which I can stay "plugged into" God.

Here's that section from the AABB (p. 30) that reminds me of my ongoing powerlessness, edited to fit my particular "drug of choice":
"We sexaholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our lusting. We know that no real sexaholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced to a man that sexaholics of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better."

Thursday, April 16, 2020

An Easy Burden

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

There was a difference between what I thought I had to do and what I ended up doing to find sobriety, recovery, and freedom.

What I thought I had to do was to find a few key ideas that I could implement in my life to take care of this one problem that I had of sexual acting out. What I actually had to do was to give my life to God (surrender it) and allow him to change whatever he wanted to about it. That process is still ongoing and progressive.

I started out wanting to maintain my position as the lord of my own life, but I perceived that I had this one glaring problem, my sexual acting out, and to that I was seemed to be a slave. I wanted to become strong enough to master my own impulses, to be able to fight a battle and win it myself, to be able to lust without consequence.

What I had to do was to admit defeat, admit that I could never become strong enough to master myself. I had to find a true Lord of my life who was Master over all, a Power that could and would do for me what I could not do for myself. The program of the 12 Steps gave me a path to follow to connect rightly with that Lord and Master, to be open to the work of his Power in me to do the impossible in me.

What I had wanted was a few simple actions I could take that required no serious commitment on my part to real change. I feared real change, because I perceived it would require me to give up things I didn't want to let go of and to do other things I really didn't want to do. (About that I was correct.)  The program people said, "We beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start."  When someone starts with that as the intro, you might want to pay attention to what comes next!

What changed for me that finally pushed me off the top, that finally broke me and my will, that finally made the idea of Someone else running my life look truly appealing? For me it was the internal, spiritual pain of loneliness and self-loathing, the demoralization that the program people talk about. It was the recognition that I was completely in bondage to lust with no way out in my own strength.

It turned out to be a sweet defeat. That's where I found God waiting for me.

The path to defeat was easy. All I had to do was to run my own life, my way, do whatever I thought was right and best for me, and follow after the pleasures of lust. Easy; anyone can do that! But the consequences were devastating.

The path to recovery turned out to be far easier than I had feared it would be. Yes, it was hard work to be "fearless and thorough" from the very start. Yes, there were times of painful recognition of who I had become and what I had done. Yes, there was the admission of wrongs and the humbling of making amends. Yes, "clearing away the wreckage" of my past took effort. Yes, I no longer had an "easy" drug to temporarily dull the pain that reality brought to me when I stopped living in the illusion. But it has been far, far easier to live life this way than the constant pain and fear and harm that my old way of life was loading me down with, a burden I could never bear.

Through following the SA road to recovery, Someone lifted that unbearable burden from me. His "burden" of living rightly connected to God and others is light. I am never sufficiently grateful.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

"My" recovery plan

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

Something I heard recently at a meeting caught my attention. The person was talking about having a recovery plan. I got to thinking about all the recovery plans I had made for myself.

No, they didn't work. If I had to boil it down to the main reason, they didn't work because they didn't make the surrender of my will and life to the care of God the very most important decision that had to be made. Those plans were all designed by me to keep me in control of my own life. They were supposed to make me strong enough to stand up to lust, take control of lust, and use just as much lust as I wanted without things going too far.

Insanity! Lust is my drug. I am a sexaholic, someone addicted to lust. I can't plan on controlling it or controlling myself (managing the unmanageable) without another Power coming to bear on my  problem.

That Power is God.  Connecting with that Power is the purpose of the 12 Steps. The "recovery plan" has already been laid out in plain language for anyone who is ready to take direction from a sponsor and work the program as it is suggested by AA/SA. I didn't come up with it, but I worked it. And it works!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Surrendering to Reality

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

On page 81 of the Sexaholics Anonymous book is a paragraph which just happens to be my favorite quote from the book.
In summary, for us surrender is the change in attitude of the inner person that makes life possible. It is the great beginning, the insignia and watchword of our program. And no amount of knowledge about surrender can make it a fact until we simply give up, let go, and let God. When we surrender our "freedom," we become truly free. 
It seems that in the 12 Step program, "surrender" can be defined very well by those phrases, "give up, let go, and let God".

We were studying Step 3 in group the other night, and the idea of turning away from lust and turning toward God really fit well for me. There has been plenty of turning in my experience of recovery. But because the deepest core of my addiction is not my outward behaviors, but is my inner attitudes and character and beliefs, the crucial turning, the necessary attitude change of unconditional surrender, had to take place for lasting sobriety to take root in my life. Everything else I had done for decades before to try to gain freedom in my own was doomed to failure because I had never surrendered to God as a core change of attitude. Step 3 had never truly happened because I still thought I had some power over lust. And if I didn't have to surrender to God, why would I? (I am not a saint.)

I had to surrender my fantasy world that I had counted on to immediately give me everything I wanted with no negative consequences. That world was not reality. That is not how the real world works. Escaping from reality into my fantasy world was my drug to deal with everything that I found unpleasant in the real world. And I needed something other than just another drug to replace my fantasy as the "solution" to all my problems. The real world was not going to change; I had to change!

I "came to believe" in a Reality at the core of all that is real. I came to believe that Reality not only has the power to free me from my bondage to lust, but to free me from the bondage of myself, my selfishness and self-seeking, and a myriad of other character defects as well. And all I had to do was to surrender to that Reality. The reality is that I am not god. But the reality also is that a loving God is real and desires to free me from the bondage of self that I may better do his will.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

"Figure it out" is not one of our slogans

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

I don't know if my experience is like anyone else's or not. But not only did I never "figure it out", trying to figure it out became a roadblock to surrendering (give up, let go, and let God) and kept me from having the necessary change in attitude and taking the action Steps necessary to connect rightly with God and find sobriety and freedom from lust.

For me, "figuring it out" was my attempt to gain control over lust, over myself, and over the world around me. But I couldn't control any of those things; I was powerless. I needed power I didn't have. It had to come from somewhere else, from Someone else.

Trying to figure it out kept me distracted and kept me living deep in my illusions and delusions, instead of having to face the simple truth that I had been thoroughly defeated. Trying to figure it out kept me from abandoning myself to God's grace and power. It kept me from surrendering to God and working the Steps as my sponsors suggested I work them. It kept me wrapped up trying to do things my way. But doing things my way never gained me freedom.

Today I have sobriety, recovery, healing and freedom. I didn't need to "figure it out" to get here. But I did have to lose the fight, surrender to God, and work the Steps under someone else's direction in order to connect with the Power that would free me.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Fighting it alone

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

A thought rearranged itself in my brain. It was this: whenever I was fighting lust and my sexual obsessions and compulsions, I was alone.

I'm not saying that I was not in the physical presence of other people. But I can be in a crowd and still be alone. I can be alone in my own head, with my own thoughts, connected to no one, alone.

But when I am surrendering to God, surrendering my temptations and triggers and lust, I am not alone. I am talking to God. I am connecting with him. I am recognizing the reality that he is present with me (as he always is whether I recognize it or not).

When I was acting out with porn and sexually, I would lie to myself that I was alone, that God was not there. Then I began to believe that lie and act as if it were true. I was in my insanity tying to wish God out of existence so that I could be alone. The consequences of that delusion were devastating.

Then when I decided I'd had enough of being in bondage to lust and my sexual obsessions and compulsions, I still continued to act as if God was not there. I was powerless over lust, but couldn't see the obvious conclusion that if I was powerless, I could not fight against lust and win. Fighting lust was yet another way for me to be alone, to do it myself. So I fought that harder and harder. But that didn't work at all, and eventually led to that sweet despair that made me ready to have a change of attitude and belief.

I had felt like I was between a rock and a hard place. So instead of fighting both lust and God. I decided to surrender to the "Rock" and let him take care of my will and my life and lust as well. Ever since then, I purposefully and consciously "bring God into" my life, and my problems, and my temptations and my joys and my daily routine.

I no longer even try to fight lust. I surrender it to the One who can take care of it. I am never alone.