Saturday, November 2, 2019

Terminally unique

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

One of the problems I had early on when I started in Sexaholics Anonymous was that I thought I had to understand everything, figure everything out, and design something that was just for me in order to have a program that would work just for me. I suffered from a malady others have referred to as being "terminally unique". It was just another variation on being selfish, being prideful, having to be in control, and being fearful of actually having to change.

The solution turned out to be the same "boring" suggestions I hear from recovering s-aholics and alcoholics everywhere: go to meetings, get a sponsor, work the Steps. I had to stop wasting my time worrying about and planning for how I was going to solve all my problems. I simply had to start doing what the sober, recovering people had done and were doing. But as long as I tried to stay in control, figure it out and avoid change, I stayed wallowing in the problem.

Freedom is so much better.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

The delusion that I can fight

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

When I started in SA, I was still talking about the struggle and fight against lust. That made all the sense in the world to me at that time. I figured if I didn't struggle against lust and the desires, obsessions, and compulsions, there's no way I could ever stop my acting out. I was wrong.

Step One tells me that I have to admit powerlessness over lust. But my ongoing struggle against lust meant that I still believed that I had some power over lust. So I had never even gotten through Step One! My actions, my effort to fight lust, proved I had not yet admitted my powerlessness over lust.

SA actually offers a completely different solution. It never suggests fighting against lust. It would be a contradiction if it did so. The problem isn't what the SA program is telling me to do. The problem is me and what I am trying to do. I've not understood. I've got it wrong. I've done it wrong. I don't have the power to do it right. But God does.

The SA solution is to surrender to God, the One who has all power. Surrender is not fighting or struggling. When I surrender, I "simply give up, let go, and let God" (SAWB p. 81).  The 12 Steps are the path to get rightly connected with God, and those Steps do work if I work them. God can and will do for me what I cannot do for myself. But I had to stop fighting both lust and God in order to be set free from the tyranny of lust by living surrendered to God.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Maze of Addiction

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

Being an addict can feel like you are in a maze. And trying to start recovery can feel the same way, especially when you think you are headed in the right direction, but something's still wrong. The Sexaholics Anonymous book puts it this way:
All this was scary. We couldn't see the path ahead, except that others had gone that way before. Each new step of surrender felt it would be off the edge into oblivion, but we took it. And instead of killing us, surrender was killing the obsession! We had stepped into the light, into a whole new way of life. (p. 61)

When I started out in the SA program, it was like I was in the middle of a maze of really high bushes. I first started in SA by going to local face-to-face meetings. I didn't have a clue about what eventually was going to be needed to get out of the maze I had lost myself in. I needed help, because I "couldn't see the path ahead." That I thought I could see the path clearly enough to take it on my own was part of the insanity that kept me from taking the Steps in the right direction right from the beginning. So I wandered around in that maze, mostly taking one or two steps in some direction that looked good to me, but then returning to my starting point having made no real progress for all my effort.

There were people in the meetings who clearly had gotten out of the maze. They were at peace. They seemed to be somewhere above the maze, able to look down at it from some other vantage point, able to describe the path out that they had taken.

I wanted to be where they were, but I also wanted to find my own way out of the maze, to "self-help" my own path out. For me that mostly meant shuffling around a bit with the first Step or two of the program, doing little more than kicking up a little dust. I definitely wasn't ready or willing to take each Step in the same way that those others who had gone before me had taken them.

When I finally got sick enough of myself, I was ready to become just humble enough to take the Steps out of the maze as someone else suggested I take them. That "someone" was what our program calls a sponsor. And the Steps he led me through brought me into a right and growing relationship with God, the one Power that could and would keep me sober and restore me to sanity, one day at a time.

SA has a solution. We admit it's not for everyone, but it does work. It is summarized and introduced in the section from which I copied that one paragraph above. That section is called "The Solution", introduced on pages 61-62 of the SA book. As good as reading about it is, what really works is taking the 12 Steps under the direction of a sponsor and having a "spiritual awakening" to God, which really is the whole point of the program, even if I didn't understand that from the beginning, and even if I didn't believe it from the beginning.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Sponsorship and thinking I know better

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

When I first started going to SA meetings, I heard that I should get a sponsor. So I did, more than one. Long story short, sponsorship didn't work for me.

They typically didn't tell me things I wanted to hear when I asked them questions. They had suggestions and directions that I didn't think I needed to hear or do. I thought I was smart enough to figure out how to work the program myself. I "knew" what I needed better than they did, because I knew myself better than they did, or so I thought

Long story short, I didn't find lasting sobriety and real recovery. My ideas, plans, understanding, and efforts didn't work. My chronic relapsing was the proof that I actually didn't know what I thought I did, and I couldn't get sober and stay sober and find freedom my own. My brilliance wasn't working.

What changed? I became desperate enough through my failures to become humble just enough to ask for help and finally give up and do what I was told. I had the change of attitude our literature talks about forced on me. That didn't happen because I somehow made myself better and stronger so that I could somehow make this happen. No, I became weaker and more helpless to the point I was finally willing to admit I had been thoroughly beaten with no other hope than to ask for help and do what I was told. I was desperate and defeated, not hopeful and victorious. I finally gave up my way and surrendered to someone else's.

"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." (SAWB p.81)

That's what happened, and yes, it's what I needed to have happen. Good thing someone was still willing to sponsor me, and good thing "God could and would if he were sought."

Monday, April 15, 2019

Am I willing to go to any length?

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

I found myself fully confronted with this question back when I started working the Steps in earnest with a sponsor. Up until that time, I had been willing to settle for periodic "lengths" of sobriety. Because I'm an addict and quite insane when I'm lusting, I had figured that was good enough. Proving I could make progress in my fight against lust meant I would stay in the addiction a lot longer than I would have if I had just admitted from the start that I couldn't do this.

So having failed yet again after a really good stretch of sobriety, I was smacked in the face once again with the reality that I was truly hopeless if left to my own ideas and effort, and I didn't know what to do about that. It must be that enough "enlightened self-interest" kicked in, and I finally went looking for a sponsor who could tell me what to do. That was the first good choice I made in the process of becoming "willing to go to any length".

I remember upon receiving my sponsor's offer of sponsorship that I prayed to God and said, "I will do whatever he tells me, even if it kills me." Granted that I was pretty sure he wouldn't tell me to do something that actually killed me, but that was the second good choice I made in the process of becoming "willing to go to any length".

As my sponsor started directing me through working the Steps, he told me that when I was ready, I should write in the front of my AA book the date and the words, "I am willing to go to any length to stay sober." That was the third good choice I made.

When he led me through Step 3, he told me that Step 3 was a commitment to work the rest of the Steps. That was the fourth good choice I made along the path of being "willing to go to any length" to connect rightly with God and others, and to be given freedom from lust and the obsessions and compulsions.

So for me the SA program of going to any length to work the Steps as a path to connect rightly with God really has worked. And I'm very confident at this point that if I stay in that path and continue to grow along spiritual lines through a life that is progressively surrendered to God, I will continue to receive God's gracious gift of sobriety, recovery and freedom.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

It's Not Self-help

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

When I started out attending SA meetings, I was still thinking for myself and not ready to listen. I was looking for some ideas that I could pick from others to give me a set of tools that I could use to solve my own problem in my own way. I wanted to "help myself" to just as much of the program as I thought I wanted. I was still being my own god.

Sure, I've heard the 12 Step program (AA/SA) referred to as a "self-help" program plenty of times. It's not.

What the program is for me is a "God will" program. My part in this is to surrender to his will for me, moment by moment, and let him do whatever he wants with my life. Step 3 says that I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to care of God. The rest of the Steps are about keeping me in that attitude of surrender to God as a pattern for life. And as I've experienced how to stay connected rightly with God by working through all of those Steps, I know I can trust that "God will" continue to do for me what I cannot do, and to do with me whatever he thinks best.

The "self" in all of this is simply that which I must surrender to God. Sure, we will say it's "progress not perfection". But it's pretty hard to make good progress when you start out headed in the wrong direction. The 12 Steps, worked under the direction of a sponsor and not just my own sick thinking, are in the right direction.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A new life vs. substituting another problem

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

The reason why lust and sexual acting out are so attractive to me is because they are so very powerful at what they do in me. Initially they were my "solution" to other problems. Eventually I became addicted to them, and they failed to be solutions and became their own problems. But I didn't have an alternative "solution" that would work and not enslave me just as lust and sexual acting out had done.

The reason there is such a variety of 12 Step groups for a variety of addictions is because all of those "alternate solutions" are also addictive. I'm quite sure I would very quickly enslaved by anything I used to "substitute" for lust and sexual acting out. That of course is my natural tendency, so I have had to find a real solution instead of a substitute that would also become my next problem.

That real solution is the "spiritual awakening" that Step 12 refers to. It is the right connection with God and others. It is a new way of life. It is living life on life's terms. It is accepting reality that includes hardship and pain instead of always believing I should have a way of escape into a fantasy world of my own making. And the amazing thing about God is that he is a master that doesn't enslave me. He only accepts what I willingly give to him. I am free to take my will and life back at any time that I might foolishly decide to make that insane decision.

That new life was the result of surrendering to God and working the Steps under the direction of a sponsor. The program works when I work it. And I believe it will work for others as well.