Monday, February 5, 2024

The Solution

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

Recently our local group read "The Solution" on pages 204-205 in the Sexaholics Anonymous book. Those two pages are a great summary of the process of working the 12 Steps.

I noticed that the first sentence starts with "We saw that our problem...." Yes, we certainly have a problem, a seemingly impossible problem, a problem of being powerless over lust with no way to escape. That was my problem, and my problem brought me to SA.

Fortunately it doesn't stop there, mired in the problem forever. As we read on, my mind drifted to a short paragraph in the first section of the SA book titled "To the Newcomer". Here is that paragraph from page 2: 

"We have a solution. We don't claim that it's for everybody, but for us, it works. If you identify with us and think you may share our problem, we'd like to share our solution with you."

I am so grateful that the SA solution was available to me when I was completely demoralized and without hope of ever being free of my slavery to lust and sexual acting out. As one of our members likes to summarize it, the SA program is to work the 12 Steps as directed by a sponsor within the fellowship of the group. And that worked for me, thank God!

The final paragraph in "The Solution" summary section shows me what we can look forward to when we've have had the promised "spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps" mentioned in Step 12.

"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."

It feels great to be at home, living in a right connection with God and others. Yes, I did have to walk the Steps to get there, and those Steps were hard work and sometimes painful to take. But it certainly was worth it to find freedom by surrendering to God. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

How fortunate we sexaholics are!

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

"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." (Sexaholics Anonymous p. 136)

I was shocked the first time I read the line "how fortunate we are, then, to be so needy that we have to find what our lust was really looking for." I saw in this statement that I should consider myself to be fortunate to be a lust addict, and that was not something I was ready to accept. I wished I had never become a sexaholic, and being "so needy" was definitely a blow to my ego. I wanted to solve my problem myself. 

At the beginning, I was not striving after God. I was striving to gain control over something that had me completely under its control, and I saw that as my sexual acting out. But after many years of relapses and of going in and out of SA, I finally reached my own "bottom", my unequivocal admission of total powerlessness over lust. At that moment, I did not feel "fortunate" at all!

But then something surprising happened. By fully accepting and embracing my powerlessness, I found that God had been there all that time, patiently waiting for me to move toward him instead of running from him, always willing to fill that "great void" in my life and give me freedom from lust. 

As the Alcoholics Anonymous book puts it, "God could and would, if he were sought." I doubt I would have ever developed a growing relationship with God if I had not been a sexaholic. And now I can agree that I am indeed fortunate to be so needy that I had to find that kind of God. 

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Dealing with Resentments

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

Before I started working the SA program, I didn't know I was a very resentful person. The program Steps as directed by my sponsor ruined that delusion for me. 😆

I agree with the saying that "resentment is the poison I drink hoping the other person will die." That really is my experience with my resentment. It does nothing to harm the other person, but is certainly harms me! It is as much a part of my insanity as lust and sexual acting out ever were. And by comparison, I'm really slow to recognize resentment for what it is when compared to how quickly I can recognize lust showing up. 

My resentment responds to the same surrender process that my lust does. When I recognize what it is, I can surrender it. It becomes easier to surrender it when I have recognized "my part" in the resentment. Things like my selfishness, self-seeking, being inconsiderate, having unrealistic expectations. demandingness, making excuses for myself, holding others to my standards for them (and thus I make myself god), and other character defects all feed into my resentments. By doing an inventory on my resentment, I can see those things in me, and it helps me be willing to surrender the resentment to God when I recognize just how flawed I am, instead of keeping on looking at the other person. And then God can set me free from the burden of myself. 

And as I'm saying all of that, I also recognize and fully admit that there is definitely no "perfection" in my practice when it comes to surrendering resentment. But I am also reminded by our literature that "we claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection." Thank God that's true!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Moral Decline

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

I remember very well the progressive nature of my addiction to lust and the increasingly deviant thoughts and behavior that were part of that disheartening moral decline. I crossed many lines and violated personal boundaries that I had claimed I believed for myself. It did me no good to later try to justify and rationalize my character defects. Eventually being overwhelmed by the evidence that I was never going to be free from my slavery to lust and my sexual acting out was what it took to reach the point of despair in which I became willing to go to any length, to do whatever it takes to be set free. I couldn't do that, but God could and would.

The SA book says this stuff better than I can. The whole chapter on "The Spiritual Basis of Addiction" is amazing in its ability to cut through my denial about who and what I had become. Step 4 took me through a "moral inventory" that laid bare the wrongs I had done to myself and others. I had to fearlessly face the person I had become, accept the truth about who I really was, and that process was painful.

From the book: 

"God has apparently not chosen to eradicate my defective self so that I am no longer capable of lust, resentment, fear, and the rest. If he ever did that, I'd have no need of Him; I'd be an automaton. It's progressive victory over my defects that's the name of the game. I myself am what could be called a "sinner." But I take from God the power I do not have in myself to transcend my sins. Victory through powerlessness by the grace of God!

"That's the beautiful paradox of this program: In and through my powerlessness, I receive the power—and love— that come from above.

"And that's the difference between self-denial and surrender. Self-denial—white-knuckling it—brought misery and failure. Acknowledging what I am, surrendering, and relying on God's power bring release, freedom, and joy." (p. 168)

Surrender was the key that I had always been missing. I think that I could not see it because my pride said that I had to take care of this mess myself, that I had to fix myself. But I could not. I was powerless. But thank God that it is "victory through powerlessness by the grace of God!".

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.