What my spiritual awakenings looked like

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to s3xaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Step 12

I was atheist in my 20s, distaining what I saw as "silly religious people fooling themselves with their fantasies".  In my late 20s, a series of emotional experiences turned that around and I came to believe in a God.  I spent quite a bit of time studying scripture and I learned a great deal about the scriptual concept of God.  But I never really relinquished any of my own control, and the next 20 years were a clear example of progressive and destructive behavior.  By the time I came to SA, I hated the concept of God and wanted nothing to do with Him.  If He existed the way He was described in those scriptures, then He must have been essentially cruel, to create me with distorted sexual desires and then put me into a world where these were not okay.

But working the Steps changed my concept of a Higher Power as I understand Him, whom I choose to call "God."  

Appendix II of Alcoholics Anonymous states that the necessary spiritual experience consists of "...a personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from [sexaholism]."  It also makes clear that the experience may be sudden and spectacular, or it may develop slowly over time.  Most people in recovery seem to have the latter.  I have had both.

It started for me with Step Three.  One night about four days into SA, I lay in bed with my sexual energy charged to the extreme.  I had stopped masturbating and I was in withdrawal from this powerful drug.  I was desperate to find recovery.  SA had told me not to have sex with self.  But in that moment, I had no idea how not to give in to the urges of my body.  I remember calling out in anguish (maybe to that God I hated), "I can't do this and I can't not do this!  Oh, God, help me!!"  (The Third Option from the SAWB p.84.)  And somehow, amazingly, I got through the next five minutes without acting out.  The urge eased a bit.  I was astonished.  Fifty-one years of life told me that I literally could not have done that, and I could only attribute those five minutes to something outside myself that supported me in my weakness.  I began to realize that night, that my concept of God from 20 years of intellectual study had been flawed and ineffective - and that there might be another concept, based on surrender, that would work.  This started my slow development of a spiritual awakening, that continues to this day.

But there was also a sudden and spectacular event.  Two weeks later, I was driving for four hours to meet with my daughter.  On a fairly empty highway, I was reading a few lines at a time of the SA White Book - Roy K's story on page 149.  I'd read a line or two, then ponder it as I drove.  (Not exactly a safe thing to do, and definitely not recommended as a recovery tool...)  By now, the sexual withdrawal was fading and in some sanity I was facing the enormity of what I had destroyed in my life.  As I read Roy's story, the damage I had done echoed in my soul.  I was in tears and my heart ached in my chest so much that it felt it would burst.  I spoke out quietly to the empty car, vocalizing my anguish, "Oh my God, this is absolutely awful.  How can I ever make this right again?!"

And a voice answered from the back seat of my car, as clearly as any spoken word I have ever heard.  It said, "It'll be all right, Eric.  It'll be okay."  

I was so astonished I almost lost control of the car.  I swerved on the highway as I whipped my head around to physically look into that back seats. They were still empty.  I was convinced then, and am still convinced today, that what I heard was the voice of God.  It was filled with compassion and caring and peace.  It was gentle and yet powerful.  It was as clear as a morning sky following a rain.  It was telling me things that I did not know and could not imagine.

I regained control and continued driving, tears still in my eyes, and I responded out loud, "How can it possibly be okay, God?  My wife is gone.  My kids know how depraved I am.  I have no income.  How can this be okay?"  And the Voice answered again, "You'll see, Eric.  It'll be just fine.  Trust me."

That conversation went on for the entirety of that four-hour drive.  Everything I heard from that voice was encouraging, calming, peaceful, predictive of good for me and for those around me.  I was an emotional wreck by the time I met with my daughter, but she understood as I told her the story.  I was probably an unsafe driver for most of that time.  But after that day, I have had no doubt as to my place in God's life.  And I have had no doubt as to His existence, or as to His immense caring for me.  It still fills me with awe.

I have spent the last 15 years constantly working Step 11 to learn more about that God, to know how to surrender myself to Him so that I might know recovery better each day.  I have lapsed in spiritual growth at times. Every time I do, it leads to disaster for me.  Thankfully, none of those disasters have been anywhere near as bad as my entire life was back then.

I am one of those recovering sexaholics who, when reading Step 12 in meeting, places an emphasis on the word "the" in this first phrase.  My experience is that the spiritual awakening truly is THE reason for and result of the Steps, that it is this daily spiritual experience that keeps me sober.  This matches what Alcoholics Anonymous says on p.25 is the solution.  I could never do it for myself, but God as I understand Him does it for me, contingent on the daily maintenance of my spiritual condition.  Every one of my infrequent sobriety resets through the years has been a direct result of my starting once again to take charge of my own life.  Only by my staying out of my own way can God keep me sober.