For years I searched for ways to control and enjoy sexual behavior that I found increasingly shameful.
Beginning in my mid-teens, I lived in a world of sexual and romantic fantasy. All of my relationships with women, including in my family of origin, were forms of dependency relationships. My pursuit of pornography was secretive, obsessive, and progressive. Because sex was involved, I didn’t seek help. Indeed, the idea of stopping never entered my mind. When it came to sex, I only thought in terms of more, or different, or better.
When I first heard of Sexaholics Anonymous, I was sober in another 12-Step fellowship and didn’t consider myself addicted to sex. I was abetted in my blindness to the nature of my addiction by friends in other Twelve-Step fellowships and even some mental health professionals who didn’t understand the difference between healthy sexuality and sexaholism. A breakthrough for me came when I looked beyond the behavior to the drug that was causing the behavior – lust. In a moment of enlightened self-interest, I realized lust was a drug I had been using since childhood to escape. My acting out history told me I couldn’t lust “safely.” This brought me out of the shame of the past and fears for the future and into the present moment. Lust was a drug, like alcohol, and I was powerless over it.
As part of my Step Zero through Three surrender process in SA, I got rid of my porn, telephone numbers and other contact information of former girlfriends – my “stashed bottles” – and began to attend SA meetings. In SA I discovered I could stop masturbating, that not feeding the hunger through porn didn’t kill me, that sex was optional.
Today, by the grace of God, I have built up a good number of consecutive days of sexual sobriety, but only because I work this program one day at a time. Everything changes, our lives, our circumstances, our bodies and our minds, but what never changes for the sexaholic is our capacity to be tempted by lust in some form. This doesn’t frighten me today. On the contrary, I see it as my greatest strength. It keeps me near the program, in the fellowship, and close to the God who watches over SA. Putting first things first means I put sobriety first, that I have an SA sponsor and sponsor other sexaholics, and that I perform some form of service for the SA fellowship, beginning with my Home Group. This formula, passed on to me by others in SA, has been working for me for three decades now. It is primarily through interactions with my fellow sexaholics in recovery that I meet my Creator daily.