Select stories from recovering sex addicts

Welcome to the Members Share section of our website.

Here members of Sexaholics Anonymous share their experience, strength and hope. There are stories for everyone, from all walks of life. We hope that you can find inspiration from these shares.

Please always remember that the Member Shares are not official literature of Sexaholics Anonymous, they remain the personal opinions of their respective authors.

Sexually Sober Today

The Sexaholics Anonymous literature reminds me that it is not enough to be sexually sober.

"If we are content with ourselves, simply minus the compulsion, there can be no recovery. Recovery is more than mere sobriety" (Sexaholics Anonymous--also known as “the White Book”--page 87).

But I must be sexually sober or I won't have recovery from lust, pornography and other compulsive behaviours.

this serene scene reminds me how good it is to be sexually sober

However, as the White Book says,

"Everything begins with sobriety. Without sobriety, there is no program of recovery. But without reversing the deadly traits that underlie our addiction, there is no positive and lasting sobriety” (SA, page 77).

This would seem to be a paradox, but is there no way to get either sobriety or recovery if I don't have them already? And is it particularly true of me, because I already have come to believe and have admitted that I am powerless over lust? I can't do this program alone, but that formula has left out the most important intervening factor: God. My responsibility in the formula is not so much working hard to not give in to my obsessions and compulsions so that I can stay sober and then progress in recovery. My responsibility is to connect with my Higher Power, Who can and will keep me sober, as I turn my will and life over to Him.

God Can Keep Me Sexually Sober If I am Rightly Related to Him

Surrendering to God is a decision that I am capable of making in the heat of the moment--right when I am looking for some way to turn off my brain, which is desperately trying to find some form of the lust drug to get me high once again. I might not be able to turn off my brain, but I can go to God in conscious contact (that is, in prayer), and humbly ask Him to receive from me the temptations and obsessions that I cannot handle. I can then ask Him what His will is for me in the moment, and then I do that instead of facing the temptation on my own.

In the book “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,” there is a great paragraph at the end of Step Three:

"Our whole trouble had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into agreement with God’s intention for us. To make this increasingly possible is the purpose of AA‘s Twelve Steps, and Step Three opens the door” (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 40).

Working the Steps gets me rightly related with God, and then God can and will keep me sexually sober. At least that's what has been working for me.

--Sober since 2009

Difficult to Overcome Sexaholism

Sexaholism Is Difficult To Overcome

Evening reflection - For HP, lust is not difficult to overcomeAs I have heard from other Sexaholics Anonymous members, the disease of sexaholism is overwhelmingly difficult to overcome. But that is good for me in a way, because the difficulty leads me to the conclusion that I'm powerless over my lust. And when things sometimes seem to be too difficult, it's a good reminder for me to know that I am powerless, and that I can't win unless I let my Higher Power win for me, by me working the programme of Sexaholics Anonymous. For my Higher Power, lust is not difficult to overcome.

How I overcame

I can also identify that lust temptations sometimes last really long or return often. The chapter “How I Overcame My Obsession with Lust” (in Sexaholics Anonymous, p. 158-167) mentions praying and admitting powerlessness sometimes “a hundred times a day” (p. 159, “Admit Powerlessness”). That's my experience also. And it seems that sometimes the next right thing for me to do might be just a recovery action (do some Step work, call another SA member, read the literature, attend a meeting, etc.), even though my mind tells me that I have some “real work” to do, and that I am too busy to just “waste all day” taking the actions that are needed in order for me to stay sober. I must remember that as long as I go to sleep sober tonight, I'm a winner. That's the most important thing, even if my productivity in other areas was low that day. 

Step Ten and Step Eleven

Working Step Ten and Step Eleven Has Strengthened My Sexual Sobriety

For me, a review of the day is a definite part of my daily Step Ten and Step Eleven work, as suggested in the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous. The AA Big Book (page 84) describes Step Ten as follows:

This thought brings us to Step Ten, which suggests we continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understand­ing and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.

So, in working Step Ten in my daily life, I watch for those four unhealthy attitudes:  selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.  I once heard this described (by a Sexaholics Anonymous old timer) as a hawk flying above me at all times, with a God’s-eye view of my life.  So when I start to fall into wrong attitudes, my Higher Power shrieks at me to remind me to return to my SA recovery.  If I have harmed someone by allowing those attitudes into my life, then I make amends as quickly as I can.  The Big Book also acknowledges that it is easy for me to let up on my spiritual program of action, and rest on my laurels--and this is dangerous place to be. It has led to my handful of slips, even after years of sobriety.

Then, the Big Book describes Step Eleven on page 86:

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept some­ thing to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse, or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our useful­ness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.

This tells me to look back on each day as it is closing.  That post-review will often show me things that I missed during the day, and will help me plan corrections and possible amends for tomorrow.

And then Step Eleven goes on:

On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Be­fore we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these condi­tions we can employ our mental faculties with as­surance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.

So even my plans for each day are directed toward following God, as I understand Him (as in Step Three). These bookend prayers are a very important part of my SA recovery.  They are so important that I start my newcomer sponsees practicing those two prayers even before they start really working the Steps. And for me, If I am doing the Step Ten and Step Eleven daily prayers, I rarely get into trouble in my Sexaholics Anonymous program, either during  the day or during the night.

(sober since 2014)

Check out the rest of the Steps

Relapse

Relapse taught me self-honesty

Relapse has helped me to get honest with myself. Not long ago was a Jewish holiday, when, among other things, we wear costumes and get drunk. It is also a holiday with lots of recovery miracles. And it is a special day and a special time for me in my SA recovery. Five years ago, I first came into SA. On this day three years ago, I had a drastic relapse in my disease, which helped me to hit my bottom. In the past I would blame my wife for all of my slips and falls. And I always thought that if others had a wife like mine, they would act out like me too.

On the day before the holiday, a fight occurred between my wife and I, which ended with an act of insanity, which I had never done with anyone: I was violent towards her.  As a result, she threatened to file a complaint to the police. I lived in terror throughout the entire holiday. In addition to fears about what my wife might do, I was afraid that the police could arrive any minute and take me handcuffed to jail. These fears made me want to run away from my family, myself, and my life. The next day I was alone.  I thought of going with someone in SA to get drunk, so I could have total oblivion even without lust. But no one was available, so I stayed home.

Seeking oblivion 

I was alone at home and I ran away to sleep. I only acted out to achieve complete oblivion, but still did not want to relapse. I went to the edge...touching but not touching...hoping to achieve oblivion but not to suffer the consequences. At the time, I did not have much personal honesty, and, as I stopped at some point, I did not call it a loss of sobriety. But a year later, after hearing an old timer say that what kept him from recovery was lack of self-honesty, I decided to be honest with myself. A week before the holiday, around the time I would have celebrated three years of sobriety, I decided to ask my sponsor if I should call it a relapse and change my sobriety date.

Getting honest

Eventually, after consultation with some old-timers I decided to not count it a relapse. This conversation with my sponsor took place before a weekend away with my wife. We had decided to go north for the weekend in an attempt to deal with our relationship, which had recently reached a new bottom.

During the weekend, for the first time, I received a lot of power and wisdom from my Higher Power. On the one hand, the option of divorce was on the table, and the other the option of restarting our journey of marital recovery. We agreed to the latter. That weekend, we began our common journey and today we are reaching new heights at the top of our marital recovery.

But something was bound to happen (according to the plan of my Higher Power), because  a month after that I had another relapse. This time I had self honesty, and I immediately admitted it to myself and to the group that I had relapsed after three years and a month.  And why did this have to happen? Because when I relapsed, my relationship with my wife was excellent, and for the first time in nine years of our marriage I did not relapse because of her. The first time I realized that it is not her,, but it's just ME!

Getting sober

After that I started re-working the Twelve Steps; this time with more seriousness, openness, and honesty--and I have changed. I became a totally different person; I was reborn. Hopelessness, despair, and doom are no longer part of my personal life or my special relationship with my wife. I have recovered and my relationship with her, and she has recovered also. And all of my special journey to recovery began two years ago on this holiday. For that I'm grateful.

Sober Since 2015

Rigorous Honesty

Living the Solution

Wanting to "Live the Solution” of Sexaholics Anonymous

Am I living the solution? Sometimes I wonder whether I am honestly looking for a recovery solution--or is it just that I’m bothered that I'm not getting my way?  I came from a very rigid religious background.  Every time the church doors opened we were there.  At times my heart was moved, but very little change happened in me.  But now, in Sexaholics Anonymous, I'm learning to look for solutions. I'm practicing living the solution. And I have learned that the solution is NEVER the other person!  When bothered by something or someone today, I am quicker than before to put pen to paper to see where I was wrong in my thinking.

Living the Solution is Action not Knowledge

There are no program slogans in recovery that say,  "I must understand," or " I must figure it out first!”  How can I?  My thinking is my problem.  When I’m disturbed, I need to take action to get out of myself.  I can walk a lady across the street, or give a homeless a dollar, or invite someone who is struggling to a meal or a beverage after the meeting. This is all part of my program.                        

One time a Sexaholics Anonymous sponsor had me to go to a parking lot and pick up paper.  That snapped at my insanity.   I can get so obsessed with sobriety that my thinking gets in the way!

Picking Up Litter Snapped My Insanity

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells me that the Twelve Steps are not just about not drinking alcohol.  The Steps are about learning how to live sober. by living in the solution  I can't have sexual sobriety by myself.  I need God's help because I am insane, and I’m powerless sex addiction. I also need God with skin on (the members of Sexaholics Anonymous) to help me stay sober.                        

When I'm hurting, instead of asking someone to call me, I pick up the phone and call--because I might act out by the time someone else decides to call me.  I must take the initiative, as it says on Page 74 in Sexaholics Anonymous (the “White book”): “The one who needs help does the calling; we give up the old idea of being catered to.” Is it wrong to ask someone to call me? No.  But it’s a matter of what is healthiest.  I can call others, and even if there is no answer,  just calling and leaving a message often snaps my insanity                                      

I don't have all the answers, but I have been privileged to know some Sexaholics Anonymous old timers, and they have taught me a lot. One thing I notice is that they they confess their wrongs or mistakes and move on to living in the solution.  And I want to live like them: soberly and in the solution, today         

 

Television First Porn Next

Don’t get me started on Television! 

Television is something I simply cannot watch. I discovered this very early in lust recovery in Sexaholics Anonymous. Even if my motives were good--and even if the shows I wanted to watch were of good quality--there were just too many sick images (for me) in television commercials.  

My Gaping Brain Lapping Up Lust

Sitting in front of the television in my big soft chair with my brain wide open, I found myself ready to receive whatever illness was pumped into it.  And it was putting me into voyeurism mode. Ack!!!

News Is Stimulation I Don’t Need

And television news is worse!  Good heavens! The news is always overloaded with way too many triggering thoughts and images--and these images get my blood pressure up, and then I feel my disease in full force.  Step Two applies: I needed a Power Greater than myself to restore me to sanity. And the, Step Three: I needed to turn my will and my life over to the God of as I understand Him--and I cannot imagine that God would want me to waste hours watching those images.

Abstinence Today

So today I just don’t watch television.  I haven’t watched it for years now, not since my early recovery.  And NOT watching TV gives me a lot of time to do other things (such as doing service), which are more beneficial to my SA recovery.  

Sexually Sober since 2014

Why I chose Sexaholics Anonymous

Sexaholics Anonymous Has Given Me A Second Chance at Life

My journey to Sexaholics Anonymous began eight years ago, in a 12 Step fellowship for food addiction. I thought that I only had one problem: I could not lose weight. I thought that if I could only lose weight, everything would be fine. I was convinced of that, until I attended my first meeting.  There I heard the word  “addiction”-- but that did not mean anything to me. Then I learned that I have a three-fold illness: physical, emotional, and spiritual. But I also had no idea of what that meant. So I found a sponsor and I started losing weight. At the time, I was in a “committed relationship.” My boyfriend and I had been living together for four years, and we were not married.

After two months in the food program, and ten kilograms less in my body (but still obese), I asked my food program sponsor about dating a married work colleague. She told me about Sexaholics Anonymous, and about lust. I laughed. I stopped consuming pornograghy, but I continued to have sexual relations with my committed partner, and I continued with masturbation and seduction. But because my food program sponsor was also an SA member, she told me that I had to be married to have sex. She said it was a spiritual thing, not moral--but I could not understand. I thought that my committed relationship was the same thing as being married. It took me several years to understand that sexual relationships outside of marriage will not work for me, because I am a sexaholic.

I Was Practicing Sexaholic Behavior By the Time I Was Twelve

I began consuming lust as a child. Magazines with naked women in them were in my house, and by the time I was 12, I  started consuming the pornography that my father and brother had in our house.  I started having sexual relations with boys who were my brother’s age.

Before that, I had been sexually abused twice as child, once when I was eight and again when I was 11. I also suffered physical violence from my father.

I wanted revenge against men, and lust gave me that power. I started seducing, conquering and despising men. I found that I had power over men. But the solution became a new problem. As Sexaholics Anonymous (the “White Book”) says, I became “addicted to the chemistry.”  By the time I was was 22, I lived constantly with promiscuity and masturbation. I thought this might ease my chronic depression. I moved to another country, but the problem got worse. I became crazy about seducing men.

At one point one of these men decided he wanted to be my boyfriend. I never wanted any commitment, only sexual intimacy. But he was very persistent, he was handsome and very intelligent, and he seemed to adore me. Still, I continued being promiscuous until I returned to my home country. This man knew about my sexual affairs but he wanted to be with me anyway. But in secret, he started hating me.

During this time I used food as a protection against promiscuity.  At one point I became extremely obese and didn't feel like seducing men anymore. For eight years I was totally drugged with food, pornography, masturbation, and emotional dependency. Then I joined the food fellowship, and I had some victory over food addiction. But after that I started feeling guilty because I treated my partner very badly.

I Tried Following the Sexaholics Anonymous Definition of Sexual Sobriety

My relationship with my boyfriend had been based on violence, verbal and physical abuse, depression, hate, emotional dependency, and sex. I wanted our relationship to work, so I tried a new thing: to follow the Sexaholics Anonymous definition of sobriety, which includes no sex outside of marriage. But my partner and I were not married, and he did not agree with the SA sobriety definition. I needed to know if there was anything beyond fighting, depression, and hatred in a relationship.

One day my partner hurt me physically, and I promised myself to not put up with this behavior anymore. I asked him to leave our house. Three months later,  we were together again, and we had wedding plans. And I was not sober according to SA definition.

After a month, there was another emotional disaster. I became the tiny child and he became the abusing father I used to have. I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to die. Then one day he tried to run me over with his car, and then I knew for sure that the party was over. I knew that he was not the problem--I was. Lust  and emotional dependency destroyed our relationship. We had no solution.

I Have Experienced Miracles through Sexaholics Anonymous

The first miracle was that I was able to end the relationship still loving him and wishing him happiness--even with another woman. I could not have done that before. That was in July of 2015, and I have had zero contact with him since then. I came back to SA and learned for the first time to really practice Step Three. I felt that I was falling off a cliff. I needed a lot of help--daily meetings, phone calls, sponsoring others, and working the Steps--because I had never felt so bad in all my life. I also realized that I had lost the opportunity to become a mother, and this was quite painful. I had to face my worst enemy: Fear. Fear of being alive and of not having another human being to take care of me. But In the last few months, I have experienced some external and internal miracles in my life: living with my spiritual community, finding a new job, and--most importantly--loving myself.

Through Sexaholics Anonymous I have recovered hope. I no longer want to kill myself every day. I have started loving others, I feel grateful, and I have peace of mind. I have found that I am a very sensitive person, and I need to set some limits in order to not be emotionally overwhelmed. I still have emotional problems, fears, and feelings of unworthiness, but with the help of my brothers and sisters in Sexaholics Anonymous, I can handle these things.

Sexaholics Anonymous Has Given Me a Second Chance at Life

Most important, in the past few weeks my father has been diagnosed with cancer, and I have been able to start forgiving my parents in my heart (not just in my mind, as I had always done before). I ask my Higher Power to give me the strength to tell them that I am grateful for all the things they have given me. Most of all, I am grateful to the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous for giving me a second chance in life.

What is Sexual Sobriety in SA?

Porn Free

Celebrating One Year Porn Free Through Sexahlics Anonymous

I am grateful today for Sexaholics Anonymous, and for my one year porn free. That is a miracle! I attended my first SA meeting in June 2011, but this is the first time I have celebrated one year. God willing I will stay sober and porn free for the rest of my life.

I think that what is different today is that I now understand that I am addicted to lust, and if I want to continue to be porn free, I must surrender every lust temptation, of whatever kind, the moment it appears. I learned this from listening to the tapes of a long-term SA member. Some days I do this diligently, and other days I don’t. I am far from perfect. So it's only by God's grace that I am sober today.

At times I still find myself enjoying a second look or going briefly into the porn store in my head. But now when this happens, I immediately call one of my Sexaholics Anonymous friends to surrender my lust. I also have morning and evening check-in/accountability partners, so it is never long before I surrender any lust incidents. If I indulge in a prolonged fantasy or recalling of pornography in my head, for me that would be a form of sex with self, and I would have to reset my sobriety date.

Reading the article “What is Sex With Self” on page 13 of the book “Practical Recovery Tools” has helped me to understand this.

Tools That Have Helped Me Become Porn Free

The tools that have been the most useful for me are:

  • Praying “God help me,” when I ever I am tempted to look at a woman
  • Taking the 12 Steps
  • Calling my sponsor regularly, especially when triggered or emotionally disturbed
  • Calling others if I don't get hold of my sponsor
  • Asking my sponsor for suggestions and trying to follow them
  • Working my AA and Al-Anon programmes as well as SA
  • Attending meetings regularly and punctually, and taking a service position
  • Volunteering for other small service tasks in SA and in other areas of my life
  • Calling fellows to see how they are doing and to get to know them better
  • Practicing Step Eleven prayer and meditation
  • Trying to stick to regular daily calls with my morning and evening check-in partners and sharing honestly with them
  • Remembering to lighten up, to not take myself or my life too seriously, and to laugh whenever possible!
  • Accepting my physical, mental, and emotional limits
  • Reading approved literature
  • Writing gratitude lists
  • Engaging in a dialogue throughout the day with my Higher Power, and getting to know and trust Him. Praying for faith, trust, willingness. and guidance.
  • Seeking and accepting outside help (doctor, psychiatrist, medication, psychotherapist) for my anxiety. I have talked with educated and experienced members in this area during this process.

Thank you to the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous for my one year porn free!

More Porn Recovery Tools Here

Love Based Sexual Sobriety

White Knuckle Beginnings

For me sexual sobriety must be love based. Since I began my Sexaholics Anonymous recovery in April 2012, my sobriety has gone through a transformation from fear based to love based. At the very beginning, I was white knuckling; that is, my sobriety was based on fear and simply avoiding people, places, and things. But, bit by bit, my recovery has begun to accent the positive.

Love Based Transformation

I don’t think this transformation would have been possible without a change of mind in my relationship with my Higher Power. Through SA, my hatred of others has been shaped into a sense of being loved with no strings attached. Since I have reached 9 years of sexual sobriety, I have lived with awareness that my drunk father had been sentenced because he beaten up one guy senseless. My relationship with my father for the last 30 years has been rather fear based than love based. My goal is to be able to see my alcoholic father with the eyes of my Higher Power, and that my support for him will be fueled by respect and love.

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Mixed Meetings

The White Book Says..

In our book Sexaholics Anonymous (also known as The White Book), there is an entire section on Mixed Meetings, which discusses who should be allowed into our meetings. This section is appropriately titled "Mixed Meetings" [see The White Book, pages 178-179--quoted below, for those who’d like to read it].  

Our small local group started out with only men, and we met for a long time without anyone bringing up the issue of welcoming women. It seemed to me there would be no issue, however, because our literature says "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober," and that SA "is a fellowship of men and women...." But when we had our first woman contact our group, it immediately became a concern for some in the group, so we had a group conscience meeting about it.

We reviewed all the SA approved literature that we could find, particularly the section on “Mixed Meetings” mentioned above, and we simply reached the conclusion that others before us had already discovered that mixed meetings are a good thing. We agreed to accept that collective wisdom, and the woman was welcomed to come to our meetings. Since then, we have been joined by only one other woman, who was traveling through our area. But we are now always open to any and all who "desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober."

Tradition 4

SA and AA also tell me this in Tradition Four: "Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or Sexaholics Anonymous as a whole." So I'm not here to tell other groups what conclusion they should reach. But I would suggest that accepting the collective wisdom of those who came before us is likely to be a very good basis for making tough decisions for any SA group.

Grateful Recovering Lust Addict, sober since 2009

P.S. Something I really appreciate about Sexaholics Anonymous is that we have a collection of approved literature that includes an amazing wealth of AA literature as well. Our approved literature was agreed upon by recovering Sexaholics long before I showed up, but I have learned over the years that those who came before me in sobriety and recovery actually knew what they were doing. I'm grateful for their collective wisdom.

Following is quoted from “Mixed Meetings” in the SA White Book:

MIXED MEETINGS

In new groups, the question sometimes arises as to whether meetings should be mixed, with both women and men. Less frequently, questions arise about mixing those from different lifestyles or mixing singles and marrieds. It is understandable that some of us experience initial discomfort at attending mixed meetings; sexaholism is the misconnection with other bodies and spirits. For some, the objects of our lust or resentment are sitting right there next to us, and we can imbibe and get drunk without so much as batting an eyelash! (That's why we avoid inappropriate attire in meetings, out of consideration for others.)

What we tend to forget is that our drug is not really "out there" in another person, but within our own hearts and minds. It is this fact that makes our program so all-encompassing, regardless of whether we're in a meeting, outside on the street, or in a closet praying. Our problems are lust, misplaced dependency, and defective attitudes. What better place to work on overcoming temptation than the sanctuary of a meeting where temptations may be present? This is where we can bring temptation to the light, talk about it, and work through it without having to lust, sexualize, or go into dependency, anger, or rebellion. The meeting is the crucible in which our recovery can be safely tested and purified.

Considering what we are, reason might seem to indicate that we segregate to "protect" ourselves or so that we might have greater freedom "expressing our unique problems and concerns." We have found the very opposite to be true: In the long run, it has proven better for us to be together. The only exception to this seems to be with those who have not surrendered lust and are still acting out in some manner. Having such persons present in meetings where they make sexual or other improper moves on members is a threat to individual recovery and group unity. If such cases arise—and there have been very few—the group should discuss the matter in a business meeting and deal with it at the group conscience level. The group learns from such experiences.

We benefit from seeing reflections of the problem and recovery from other points of view. For example, after the initial fear of having a woman member come into an all-male group, men typically have testified to its value, saying they would not have it otherwise. Likewise, when women work through their fear of such a situation, they too recognize the value of meeting together. We all have the same problem. When we disclose the thoughts and intents of our hearts in surrender, we identify with one another at depth. Our common problem is not sexual at all; it is spiritual. We identify at the level of feelings: guilt, shame, remorse, loneliness, resentment, anger, rage, fear.... On the other hand, we are careful not to be a temptation to others in the way we talk about our sexual acting-out. As susceptible as we are to suggestion, our lust can get carried away into realms never before imagined. This is why we can quietly raise our hands if descriptions are getting too graphic or suggestive. The meeting should not be a place where our lust horizons are being broadened.

After any initial discomfort from mixed meetings, members come to see their benefit. Most people come into SA to stop lusting and become s-ually sober. When we are united by this common commitment to sobriety and recovery, any uneasiness that may arise can be worked out. Such a process seems to be a necessary part, of our recovery, freedom, and growth.

Click here to purchase a copy of The SA White Book

Explicit Sharing

Explicit sharing is something I seldom do in Sexaholics Anonymous; in fact I don't always share lust with others at all. Most often, I first surrender my lust to God and then, if I don’t feel free from lust, I'll make a call to a program friend. However, I am often able to let go of the explicit part after I surrender my lust to God. Then I don’t need to burden another with my explicit sharing.

Overcoming Lust Addiction By Surrendering to God

My SA sponsor has taught me that I should go to God before surrendering lust to another human being. He has also taught me that lust is not my problem, resentment and fear are the roots of my lusting and acting out. So if I feel lustful, then I need to take inventory and see what I'm hiding from, because when I'm connected to God--without harboring resentments or fears blocking the connection--I often find that I’m not interested in lust at all.

Explicit Sharing v Explicit Praying

So quite often I just say the Third Step Prayer (from page 63 in the Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”), making a complete surrender of my will and my life to God (including my thoughts and actions), and then I try to write out how I'm feeling. Usually I find a few resentments that I was unwilling to look at earlier, so then I call my sponsor or or another Sexaholics Anonymous member, and I share my inventory. After that I do Steps Six and Seven, asking God to remove my shortcomings, and after that I usually I feel clean again.

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Overcoming Selfishness

"Selfishness--self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.  Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter 5

Selfishness remains a serious character defect for me. I have never had a pure motive in my life, never a 100% unselfish motive. There is always something in it for me, and to think otherwise is evidence of my self-delusion.

But it doesn't have to be that way. I can make progress toward an alternate way of dealing with the world around me and the people in it. It's just that I also can't seem to do that in my own power. Once again I need a Power greater than myself. I need God.

Overcoming Selfishness Through Recovery in Sexaholics Anonymous

So is Sexaholics Anonymous recovery really supposed to be selfish, or is it to be focused elsewhere? For me, at least sometimes in actual practice, my recovery is not focused on myself. Sometimes it is Godward instead of self-centered. And when I have really surrendered both the good and the bad in me--both my addiction and recovery--to God, then I'm more likely to be able to have a recovery that doesn’t need to be selfish or self-centered, because it is other-centered

Without working the Twelve Steps of Sexaholics Anonymous--and without working the SA program of recovery under the direction of a sponsor--I would not have made any real progress toward the goal of sexual sobriety. How could I have that if I had not yet had a spiritual awakening, if I had not yet made a right connection with God and others? For me, the  SA program is the working of the Steps, and anything short of that was to remain in that fantasy world of self-delusion, including the insidious delusion that I was actually getting better.    (Sober since  2009)

The Sexaholics Anonymous Solution for Selfishness

 

Overcoming Lust Addiction

He died a sober lust addiction sufferer

A very well-known, long-time sufferer from lust addiction and old timer in Sexaholics Anonymous was very sick. He was huffing oxygen to stay alive. He called his sponsor to tell him how sick he felt. His sponsor suggested that he reach out to a newcomer. So this man called a newcomer, shared some experience, strength, and hope with him for a few minutes, and then put the phone down. He died a few moments later.

Grateful to be sober from lust addiction

Like this man, I hope to die of service like this, and not of rust.  I am grateful to be overcoming lust addiction by being of service to others in Sexaholics Anonymous.

Staying Sexually Sober

I’m wallowing in self pity, but I’m staying sexually sober by the grace of God one moment at a time.

Lately, my wife has been disconnecting herself from me but I am staying sexually sober.  During the past couple of weeks, it's gotten to the point where my wife is telling me that she's given up on marriage, trust, and relationships. I feel like I'm fading away.

I like to wallow in self pity, so I decided to do the opposite action and share my experience, strength, and hope with my fellow Sexaholics Anonymous members. In the past, in a situation like this, I would be using tens of hours of pornography and on my way to a prostitute or thinking of suicide. But today I am staying sexually sober by taking actions made possible *only* by God’s grace and my willingness to work the Sexaholics Anonymous program.

So here is what I did:

1) I suspect that my wife might be going thru depression after birth (she gave birth 3 weeks ago). She has gone thru this before and I reacted by using. This time, however, I called up a hotline for women going thru this, in order to get instructions on how to be helpful to my wife. I got instructions and--as difficult as they were (agreeing with her when she complains, accepting her as she is, telling her I love her even when she is not at her best, and being on her side regardless of how I feel)--I am doing them to the best of my ability, one day at a time. And I'm already seeing a slight improvement opening with my wife, even though my sickness would have me believe that there is no hope and that I might as well go into oblivion. And I'm staying sexually sober.

2) During this period I’ve experienced extremely strong flashbacks and crazy obsessions so strong sometimes that I sometimes let them in and suffer a physical craving, taking over my body. So I'm sharing what's in my head (although I don't want to) in order to let the inside out. And I'm staying sexually sober.

3) I’m strengthening my program.  I'm taking the actions of Step Nine (making amends), which have been waiting for 4.5 years. So now I’ve been trying to do an amends every day. And I'm staying sexually sober.

4) I’m sharing what's going on in my life with my fellow Sexaholics Anonymous members. Because of SA, I am not alone. And I'm staying sexually sober.

Just writing this out has helped me! Because of SA, I can pick up the phone and, make calls to my fellows, and I can feel God’s grace, today.  I am grateful to you all.

Willing to Overcome Sex Addiction

How I Became Willing to Go to Any Lengths to Overcome My Lust and Sex Addiction

On pages 206-207 in the “White Book” of Sexaholics Anonymous, there is a lengthy quote from the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book,”  titled "From Chapter Five Of Alcoholics Anonymous." Those pages end with a listing of the Twelve Steps. But in introducing the reader to the Steps, the book first says this:

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas, and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

 

There is an important "if... then" statement in that first paragraph that jumps out at me every time I read it.

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain Steps."

For me, there was no positive virtue within myself that brought me to the point that I really wanted what sober Sexaholics Anonymous members had, and that I was ready to go to any length to get it.  I reached that conclusion because constantly living in the lie of my lust, sexual addiction and sexual acting out had become too painful for me to bear.  I had reached the tipping point where the lust drug was causing more pain than pleasure.  I wanted out of the mess I had made, but I had clearly proven that I could not do it on my own, or do it my own way.

I could not stand being me anymore

I needed what someone else had. I needed freedom, but I couldn't break free. What I wanted was what my sponsor and other recovering sexaholics had, and I was finally willing to go to any lengths to get it. I was finally ready to trust a sponsor and take those Twelve Steps just as he had. I let go of my old ideas, and--as fearlessly and thoroughly as I could--I worked those "certain Steps." And by doing that I was brought into a right relationship with God, Who can and who will keep me sober. And today I have been sexually sober since 2009.

Fellow Sexaholics Give Me Hope

When a sober Sexaholics Anonymous member shares the good, the bad, and the ugly--in other words when he becomes gut honest--I sharpen my ears, and my thirsty soul drinks what it was always looking for: the human connection. I don’t need to feel subhuman or superhuman, but just one amidst the others.

I can relate to a sexaholics who shares honestly

When I hear a Sexaholic share about the most difficult struggles in his life--which are inevitably inherent of life (if you don't agree, you might be still too young or not long sober enough to relate)--then I can identify, I can relate. I understand what he is talking about. And the fact that he stays sober amidst these difficulties proves to me that the Sexaholics Anonymous program really works, and that gives me hope. In fact that gives me more hope than any happy news show or program quotes can ever provide.

Sexual Sobriety - A Gift

Sexual Sobriety is the greatest gift

I’m grateful today to have received the gift of sexual sobriety through Sexaholics Anonymous. I needed to travel to a large city where I lived in the past. I went to university there, and I had a lot of mixed feelings about being there--some good, and some not so good. But I found that the SA “Solution” works in this town too. While I was there, I prayed the Serenity Prayer, met with others, and spent some time building positive relationships from the past.

Surrendering Fear

I did have some fear that I would bump into a person who I had wronged in my addiction. And then I thought "Well, I'm not on Step Nine yet. If I find that I need to address this person, I will just have to come back to town and do it” (with God’s help of course). And it felt really good to have the Solution of the Twelve Steps concerning this. I feel good to have a plan of action now--orderly direction for my life that I can trust will work if I am willing to do my part. And that gave me peace today--just for today, one day at a time. I am very grateful to be a part of the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous. Experience  shared is such a great help on this path, especially when I am traveling! I am extremely grateful for the fellowship of SA.

Working the Twelve Steps in Sexaholics Anonymous

When I was working Step Four with my sponsor, he suggested that I pick one particular person, institution, or principle at a time and write up an inventory to share with him specifically about that one person. This was a lot of hard but very good work that resulted in a significant change in how I see myself in relation to others and God.

One of the biggest changes for me was to learn how to practice real honesty with myself and others. Previously, I had a very narrow definition of honesty. As long as I didn't tell an outright lie to someone else, I thought I was being honest. But by working Step Four-- using a far more honest definition of dishonesty (given to me by my sponsor)--I was able to see for the first time how many lies I told others as well as myself. I found that I justified and rationalized pretty much all the time. I would lie to myself so that I could excuse my faults and harms to others and especially my resentments.

Eventually, I learned through that process that any resentment I held onto was a major trigger for my lust, and then the acting out behaviors that followed. Resentment is toxic for me, and I must surrender resentment if I wish to stay free from the bondage it brings. I don't believe I would have learned that truth and made the necessary changes in my life had I not worked the Steps under the direction of my sponsor--because without that work,  I would not have experienced a spiritual awakening into right relationship with God and others. Working Step Four made major changes in my life.

Being of Service to Others Helps My Sexual Sobriety

Today, thanks to SA, my sponsees, my sponsor  and my Higher Power, I ran from lust temptations as from fire. OK, this was 30 seconds later than I should have, so I'm extra sensitive to lust today. I'm still powerless over lust, the Internet, my thinking, my emotions, and life itself.

But I'm grateful to still be able to be of service. I stopped at a small kiosk today to buy something, and I saw another SA member who hadn’t returned my calls for over a week. He was down and depressed, and said that he was planning suicide. I tried to encourage him. I gave him a long warm hug, and I told him: "I think you're too sick. I think the SA fellowship is not enough for your case. You need the SA Program."  He laughed. I also mentioned that for me, recovery is a way of life that is full of joy and happiness. It is not a cripple's club. I encouraged him to call someone in the program, and to find someone who might be able to sponsor him

Let's all pray for this guy. And for me. And for all of the sexaholics out there, especially those who haven't heard about the SA solution just yet.

Overcoming Selfishness in SA Recovery

One of the things I love about SA recovery is that it is a program designed by addicts for addicts that really works. So, for instance, a selfish, self-centred person like I am can come into the program of Sexaholics Anonymous and put my recovery ahead of every other person or consideration and find--wonder of wonders--that I am becoming less and less inclined to selfishness in every other aspect of life. Everything I put before my SA recovery I will lose. Everything I put into my SA recovery in front of will flourish.

Thank You God for Sexaholics Anonymous!

Twenty One Years of Porn Addiction Recovery

I wept nearly every day for a year in my early Sexaholics Anonymous recovery.  I had a lot of sadness in my heart, which lust had kept hidden from me all my life.  I had to overcome my old thinking that "men don't cry," because crying is God's way of relieving the pain of loss, and I had suffered many losses in my sexaholic life.  I lost my innocence, my youth, my honour, my reputation, my marriage, my family, my career, my friends, my house, my business, my hard-earned fortune, and my happiness.  But I never relieved the pain of any of those things by crying, until I got into SA.  Then there was buckets-full of catching up to do.  After awhile the flood subsided.  Turning to God and others in unselfish constructive action is the Sexaholics Anonymous solution.  Nowadays, I seldom cry--not because I can't cry, but because I have received so much more than I have lost in the last 21 years of sobriety.

Sexaholics Anonymous Helps Me Face My Fears

I’ve been going through some fears around leaving work, and I wanted to share them with my Sexaholics Anonymous community. So I wrote a letter to God, to read to you all:

Dear Loving Father, Remove my selfish, self-centered, and dishonest thinking. Fill me with Your love, and help me to be your servant in all aspects of my life. Allow me to see Your will for me in my work situation. Give me discernment and strength to endure, to be resilient, and to receive humility. Enable me to demonstrate tolerance, forgiveness, and love toward all whom I work with. Thank you God for this difficult lesson in learning to love all of Your creatures alike, whether friends or enemies.

Sexaholics Anonymous Teaches Me To Be Humble

I want to surrender my right to be right and remember to be humble instead. I'm in Europe now, having flown here for two days, and then I will turn around and travel back to the US with my wife and daughter--from whom I've been separated for over a year. They are coming for a month, and this is beyond a miracle.  I need to remember that and not jump ahead to complacency, or believe that "It's all okay and back to normal now."

I also need to avoid the temptation to think that I deserve some kind of medal for flying here-- and actually that sort of attitude has upset my wife a bit. She seems to see my travel  as a bit of my old controlling ways. I need to surrender the right to be self-righteous about anything and just learn to  be humble. And of course--no matter what--I must NOT give myself permission to take that drink of lust that can be so easy to reach for. Today I need to build trust with my wife, and I ask my Higher Power to help me do so.  I am grateful for all of my fellows in Sexaholics Anonymous who have taught me these things.

Disclosing my Sexual Behaviors to Others in Sexholics Anonymous

I would like to share my experience, strength, and hope related to disclosure (that is, letting others know about my past sexual addictive behaviors), from the basis of having much practice over the last twelve years of recovery and relapse, in disclosing both in the big and the small things. After practicing too much disclosure and then too little disclosure, I seem to be coming to what seems for me a comfortable middle ground. I like lists, so here is mine.

  1. For me, disclosure starts with intimacy. I yearn for the “real connection,” not the one that bypasses intimacy. First with the God, then with my wife, and then with Sexaholics Anonymous fellowship and others. Unfortunately, I cannot have a real, deep, joyful, abundant connection with others without revealing myself and taking the risk of rejection. Intimacy means letting others see me as I am.
  2. For me, disclosure starts with being rigorously and comprehensively honest with myself and with the God of my Step Two. This applies to both daily Ten Step work as well as the “big disclosures” that are rightfully part of Step Nine Work.
  3. For me, disclosure is the means of letting God and others see into me.  The first disclosure I make is to myself. I need to be true to myself in order to recover.
  4. In recovery, most of the disclosures I make now are about defects of character and what I desire from others. I have spent a lifetime learning to cope, survive, and go along in order to get along by suppressing what I need or desire from others. In SA recovery, one point of embarrassment and growth for me was discovering that I did not have a clue of what I really wanted. I think I learned this from my family.
  5. My wife has yearned for years to know what she does that makes me happy. I have come to the conclusion that, after nearly 22 years of marriage, she probably can’t read my mind. Probably. Maybe this time she will…! But seriously, I need to tell her. I need to figure it out and tell her.
  6. Then there are the BIG DISCLOSURES. I hope no one has to do this very often. Once is fine for me, thank you. I had a serious relapse after seven years, and if I thought the first disclosure was painful, explaining why I had a relapse after seven years was truly excruciating. I had not let go of my old idea that my main value in life was taking care of women.
  7. The purpose of a big disclosure is the same as an ordinary disclosure: to be accountable and make amends. If I’m not doing both, I should not disclose. My sponsors have a big help in me getting this one right.
  8. For me, what gets in the way of disclosing at any level is my fear of rejection and abandonment, and beneath that the fear that I will not be cared for and will be alone forever.
  9. For me, prayer and practice are what helps. I ask God to show me how to disclose.  I get into the space of remembering that the God of my Second Step will care for me even if my marriage fails, even if I lose my job, even if I lose my family, even if I go to jail. I get into the space of abandoning myself to God. This is hard and takes work, but it is the most empowering and abundant work in the program. I have learned that my Higher Power loves me and cares for me no matter what.
  10. When I made my first Big Disclosure in 2004, my wife had discovered part of my sexual acting out, and she set an immediate appointment with our marriage therapist. I disclosed with the support and guidance of this man before I got into (or even knew about) SA.  When I made my second (hopefully last) Big Disclosure in 2012, I wrote about it for a couple of months, consulted closely with my sponsor, and not only disclosed acting out activities, but offered the root cause and plan to prevent a recurrence. This helped, because the work I did to earnestly make things right gave me a sense of self-esteem and connection with my Higher Power to be present, vulnerable, and open with my broken wife.
  11. In any disclosure, big or small, what seems to work for me is to offer a full accounting of  the harm I caused, to a level of detail that I determine in prayer and consultation with my sponsor, therapist, and others. (Remember, we are urged in the Alcoholics Anonymous “Big Book”  to make use of professionals also, because we don’t claim to offer everything.)
  12. After I disclose, I answer every question my wife (or other person) asks until they are finished asking. The rule that seems to work is, “If they want to know the answer enough to ask, they can manage the truth.” If I am concerned that answering a question for my wife may cause harm, I might check in and ask her about it or maybe ask for 24 hours to think about how to answer. I think this is okay and is not refusing to answer, it’s refusing to answer foolishly.
  13. I have found that it’s a leap of faith to put myself out there without support and without knowing what might happen. God has always rewarded me for doing this the right way. Not necessarily with my wife, at least in the short-term, but always with my Higher Power. And the crazy thing is that my wife and I are still married, and we have a better marriage than we ever have – significantly as a result of disclosure.

My final thought is this: In recovery, I have learned that it’s a lot easier to disclose if I stay clean and sober. Funny, that. It only took me 12 years to figure this out.

No More Juggling My Problems

In early recovery, I tried to be successful academically, to stay clean and sober (or at least not let others know that I wasn't clean and sober), to keep my family and friends satisfied, to....and so on.

I felt like a juggler who was juggling too many problems!  Actually I was just powerless over lust (addiction) and my life had become unmanageable. And I tried so hard to ignore that reality too.

Then the Program found me and I started working the 12 Steps of Sexahilics Anonymous with a sponsor and attended meetings. As a result I became able to  "let go and let God" and just "do the next right thing".

Thank God for Keeping me Sexually Sober Through Sexaholics Anonymous

Last week I had a couple of really bad days in my marriage, and I was amazed by how strongly the flashbacks and crazy obsessions came back! I felt I was in real danger of sexually acting-out.  I have heard from old timers that:

"When you think lust is gone and everything is quiet, lust is doing push-ups just outside the door," and "The most dangerous sentence for me is this: I can handle it."

Fortunately, when I was in the midst of this mental and emotional storm, I was able to take the right actions:

  • I called my Sexaholics Anonymous sponsor four days in a row (normally I call him once a week nowadays)
  • I followed my sponsor’s instructions as if my life depended on it
  • I called another trusted SA oldtimer
  • I called other married fellows in SA, leading with my weaknesses
  • I prayed the Resentment Prayers from the 7th Step Prayer  (in the book Alcoholics Anonymous), asking my Higher Power to take my character defects away
  • I had an extra call with our Couple Sponsors (we are sponsored by another couple in S-Anon Couples in Recovery)

Thank God these actions worked! Thank God for keeping me sober. And thank God for SA.

Grateful for Sexual Sobriety Through Sexaholics Anonymous

I want to share my gratitude to God for answering my prayers and helping me to be productive at work today and not surf the web--and thus for helping me to stay sexually sober today. As I work the programme of Sexaholics Anonymous, including working the Twelve Steps, I am actually starting to accept life on life's terms--and even enjoying life again and not being so hard on myself. I’m grateful to feel hope again!  And I’m grateful to be sexually sober since since March 2016, thanks to God and the fellowship of SA.

Grateful for the Fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous

Last week I had a couple of really bad days in my marriage, and I was amazed by how extremely strongly the flashbacks and crazy sexual obsessions came on! I felt that I was getting into danger of sexually acting out. As I have heard many times from Sexaholics Anonymous oldtimers:

"When you think lust is gone and everything is quiet, lust is doing push-ups just outside the door."

"The most dangerous sentence for us is: I can handle it."

Fortunately, in the midst of my mental and emotional storm, I was able to take the right actions:

  • I called my sponsor four days in a row (normally only once a week nowadays)
  • I followed my sponsor’s instructions as if my life depended on it (which it did)
  • I called another trusted oldtimer
  • I called other married fellows, leading with my weaknesses
  • I prayed the Resentment Prayers out of the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous
  • I prayed the Seventh Step Prayer, asking God to take away my character defects
  • My wife and I had an extra call with our couples sponsors (my wife and I are sponsored by another couple in the program of Couples in Recovery)

Thank God, these actions worked! Thank God for keeping me sober. And thank you God for leading me to the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous.

Withdrawal from Sexual Acting Out Through Sexaholics Anonymous

At my first SA meeting, the man who became my first sponsor told me that I needed to stop masturbating. I was shocked!  In my view, masturbation was the only thing that kept me from doing the really dangerous things that I might otherwise have done.  My habit kept me sane, I thought.  It relieved the urges that would otherwise eat me alive, I thought.  It made me feel a bit better in times when I was dangerously depressed, I thought.

But my sponsor paused, then told me more.  He said that masturbation was actually feeding my problems.  Every time I acted out, he said, I was activating the lust drugs within my own body--the adrenalin and endorphins--and my body had become addicted to those drugs.  So long as I continued to masturbate, those drugs could be in my body at a high enough level to keep me satisfied.  When I stopped masturbating, my physiology *craved* those drugs in the same way a heroin addict craves his drug.  But also just like that heroin addict, the constant level of those internal drugs kept my mind fuzzed and unable to process the world properly.  I felt sane, he said, but those drugs kept me at a level of insanity.

So I tested his theory.  I stopped.

And I went through three weeks of withdrawal that was as bad as anything I’ve heard about  from a heroin addict. But after those three weeks, my mind cleared and I was astonished to feel a renewed clarity of thought that I hadn’t known for years.

Apparently, he was right, and I’ve been sober since February of 2014

Living One Day at a Time in Sexaholics Anonymous

One of the greatest gifts of the Sexaholics Anonymous program is that I’ve learned I can take life one day at a time. I don't need to be sexually sober forever; I just need to be sober today. My Higher Power, Who has protected me from the full consequences of my lust in the past, also watches the future for me, one day at a time--just for today. As I’ve heard in SA meetings:

"Yesterday is history; Tomorrow is a mystery; But today is a gift. That's why they call it......the present."

Being sexually sober today, there are still calamities, triggers, defects of character, and all sorts of things that I need to work through.  But my Higher Power provides me with the tools I need to handle these things. Most important, my Higher Power seems to delight in working through my brothers and sisters in SA as I work the program, just for today.

For the record, early sexual sobriety was horrible for me. I would not recommend going through that more than once--although, being a slow learner, I've had the pleasure of repeating the experience. But it doesn't take so awfully long to get through the worst of withdrawal from lust, and in a few weeks, things get easier. Not easy, but easier.

Over time, as I have done the work, I have discovered deeper, richer joys that I could not have imagined in my active disease. And it gets better.

So to those who say, “This is a tall order, who can do it?," I would say that each of us can--with the power and the help we receive from God of our understanding, and the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous.

--Grateful recovering sexaholic, sexually sober since 1/31/14

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