Two years ago today, in a moment of clarity, I was given this message. Up to that point, I thought lust served me. I decided the fantasy and pleasure I wanted, and lust gave it to me where and when I asked. But like the boys on Pleasure Island in Pinocchio, I was betrayed by pleasure into serving a master.
I'd always held out hope that I'd give up lust one day. But on this day two years ago, I knew that day would never come. I'd been in SA for a year, and I met people in their 60's and 70's still acting out, and I knew that was my destiny.
And I knew that even if I could get sober, life without lust was horrible. My longest sobriety up to that point, like Bill W. when he tried self-knowledge, was "three or four months" (AA 5). And during these sober times the days would go by like miles in a barren desert. No Lust - No pleasure. Every minute of every God-forsaken day. I looked at the years and years of this sort of life ahead. How long could I keep this up???
When I'd dive back into lust shortly after, it felt like diving into a cool pool of water. Thank God! No more burden of being Mr Self-Denial.
If someone were to ask me what is the one thing that helped me more than anything else in my current (and, God willing, lifelong) sobriety, I'd have to point to a White Book passage that made a radical difference to me: "I became as a child, teachable" (SA 23). When I became as a little child, everything changed.
In regards to sobriety, this meant being teachable by my sponsor first. I'd had sponsors before who I'd "kinda" listened to. This time I listened like my life depended on it (it did).
I don't know where I got this idea that doing things independently, with my own ideas and alone, was being "a man."
The samurai were no wimps, ready at all times to thrust a knife into themselves for the sake of honour. And to them, to serve a master was to be a true samurai. To be a "ronin," a knight without a master, was dishonourable.
Raphael, Michelangelo, and da Vinci all served as apprentices to master craftsmen. Legendary boxers and ballplayers have always followed the directions of trainers and coaches. Elite military forces have their egos broken down by sergeants and that's where they find real strength (maybe it's no surprise that many sober men I've met are former military).
All my life I've put this net around my mind to protect all my ideas and opinions and to filter new ones to make sure they fit. (Maybe that's why small axioms my sponsor gave me like "Don't act out" and "Keep it simple" became the foundation of my program. It was the only advice small enough to make it through the mesh.)
Being teachable today means I frequently ask for advice and help on my problems and in every important decision. I run things by at least one or more of the persons of my sponsor, my counselor, good friends in and out of SA, coworkers, family... anyone but just my own mind by itself. I also encounter new ideas in the literature and speaker tapes of SA and AA, and for me other spiritual literature.
I take the net from my mind and let all of my current ideas fly away. I try to keep a quiet, receptive mind. Openmindedness is called one of the "essentials of recovery" and "indispensable" (AA 568) and this image of a clean, white slate is sometimes how I picture that.
I try to shut down the critical part of my mind that is suspicious of ideas that appear to run contrary to mine. Not everything I hear seems usable - but almost always it adds something to my approach to a situation. Bill W said that when listening to advice, "Use what you can and 'can' the rest" (the image being canning fruit to put away on a shelf for possible later use).
A quote from an SA speaker Jess was also big in my recovery: "Opinions of my own are stupid. When I am simple I am never stupid. I discern all the time." It may be that my ideas are like daily bread. Each day they are rebaked or they grow stale.
I have not been a perfectly teachable person, but only by trying to remain teachable do I believe I have a shot at long-term sobriety.