“Life is a process. We are a process. The universe is a process.” -Anne Wilson Schaef
Journal Entry: January 16, 2015
A couple months ago I asked my husband to write something about his first step that I could post on my blog. He hemmed and hawed and procrastinated and eventually wrote something, and then I posted it. I looked at it briefly before posting, then read it again after posting. Then I needed to look back at it a couple times more in response to comments. I am not going to lie, what he wrote was disappointing to me. It’s pretty obvious that I cannot control what my husband does or says. I don’t want to, of course, but he does still cause me great pain, and I really wish he could fix that. He is not trying to hurt me with his words and actions, but he does.
Technically he did what I asked him to do in his post about his first step. He wrote down his feelings about it. He spent nine months preparing for that step presentation, that’s how difficult it was for him. It took a toll. The process of him “working” his first step was torture on me as well. The reality of his mobile phone bill and the text and phone call habits between him and Camilla slapped me in the face, and were a byproduct of Blue Eyes preparing for his first step. The horrifying fourth acting out partner disclosure was prompted by his first step disclosures. Throughout the entire process of preparation, there were bits of him that resented the process, I could see it, feel it, and the frustration was palpable. Sex addicts do not just wake up one day and say, oh hey, geez, what have I been doing all these years that makes me feel like shit? Well, I don’t want to do that anymore. How can I help myself? How can I get better? They don’t. Diligently working each of the 12 steps is crucial to their success.
I found this really great guide regarding the SA first step on a local SA chapter website:
First Step Written Guide
- I am a Sexaholic. In this section I do a sexual inventory. This means I write down all the things I have done sexually that I wish I hadn’t. I may organize it any way I wish, from my earliest remembrances to the most recent, or by subject, or in whatever order comes to mind. I put down all the details I need to put down in private. I explore how I feel about each of them now. Some questions for reflection are:
- What is my earliest recollection of sex? Was there anything unusual about it?
- Did I have any unusual pre-puberty experiences with sexual curiosity?
- At the outset of puberty, did I discover masturbation? Did it become compulsive and frequent? If so, has that practice continued?
- What about pornography? At what age, if any, did I start reading or viewing such materials? Has that practice continued?
- What about visualization and fantasy? Have I spent much time in this practice?
- What about relations with women (men)? Have I used them for self-gratification: If so, how exactly have I used them? How compulsively?
Am I aware of feelings I might have been trying to cover up by masking them with sexual highs? What were my payoffs for these actions?
- My life is unmanageable –I am powerless over lust. In this section I recognize my powerlessness and how my life has become unmanageable from my sexaholism, how I have tried to control lust but have been unsuccessful, and now my life is out of control. Some questions to guide my reflections are:
- What has it cost me to obsess sexually? A spouse(s)? A family? A girlfriend or boyfriend? A job? A promotion? Money? Reputation?
- What have I done that I didn’t want to do? Whom have I associated with that I wouldn’t have associated with? Where have I gone that I never would have gone? Is something other than me running my life?
- How has my illness affected my home life? My spouse? My children?
- How has my illness affected my work? My employment? My career?
- How has my illness affected my finances? Have I lost income over it? Incurred significant costs?
- How has my illness affected me legally? Have I been arrested? Could I have been arrested for what I have done? Could I have been sued?
- How many times have I tried unsuccessfully to quit? What promises did I make myself? Did I keep them? What happened when I failed?
- What finally brought me to SA? What were the final incidents?
(Note: Try not to dwell on whose fault it is. So your parents didn’t raise you right. Neither did their parents. We got like we are as a part of the human process.)
The only real essential of Step One is stated on the first page of Alcoholics Anonymous: “WE learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics.” No book, no guide, no other person or group, no God is necessary, just the addict admitting to his innermost self that he is out of control and helpless and that lust is ruining his life. But the rest of these may help him reach that point.
First Step Guide
“We admitted that we were powerless over lust – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, adapted by Sexaholics Anonymous, are the greatest force yet found in battling addictions of any kind. They are a path to sobriety that can bring relief to me, this suffering addict, like nothing else can.
I am a sexaholic and my life is unmanageable. The purpose of Step One is for me to become crystal clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am really a sexaholic who is powerless over lust and that my life is really unmanageable. If I become uncertain at any future time, or start to think I am cured or fully recovered, or that I no longer need the program, then I need to get out my First Step, see what I wrote, and re-convince myself.
Step One consists of two distinct parts: 1.) the admission that we have a mental obsession to lust uncontrollably and that this could lead us to the brink of death or insanity, and 2) the admission that our lives have been, are now, and will remain unmanageable by us alone.
The first half of the first step – we admitted we were powerless over lust – is the beginning of the SA program which we strive to perfect on a daily basis. Since lust is but a symptom of our disease, we must realize that the thinking mind with its acquired traits, habits, and character defects allowed itself to develop this obsession of the mind – to lust. “By going back over our drinking (sexual) histories, we could show that years before we realized it, we were out of control, that our drinking or acting out was no mere habit that it was indeed the beginning of a fatal progression” (Twelve & Twelve)
This idea of personal powerlessness goes against what our thinking mind is telling us. Only through utter defeat (having hit our own bottom) are we then able to take the first step toward liberation and strength. This utter defeat is necessary so we can become convinced, beyond any doubt, that we are powerless and our life is unmanageable by us alone. Until we so humble ourselves (accept the devastating weakness and all its consequences), our sobriety – if any – will be precarious.
The fact that our lives were unmanageable is apparent, or else why would we be involved in SA? However, it is not readily apparent to most of us that, even now, our lives are still unmanageable by us alone. This fact must be driven home. This realization that we cannot manage our own lives forms the basis for taking each of the Twelve Steps of SA in sequence.
In the process of accepting our powerlessness and unmanageability, we must be willing to put aside false pride, the pride which nearly killed us. Although the doing of Step One can be painful to the thinking mind, the road to recover begins with surrender.
The facts of your life are just that – facts. It is not the purpose of this Step to judge where you have been right or wrong. Therefore, the purpose of writing the First Step is to admit to yourself honestly that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable by your thinking alone.
I am not sure if my husband used a guide like this. I do not know what he used, but I do know that he did try to blame his parents until his sponsor and therapist guided him away from that, and guidance is what they are there for. Obviously, in reading this material, it is like drinking the ____ (fill in the blank: i.e., Gambling, Sexaholic, Alcoholic, Narcotics… ) Anonymous Kool-aid. But that is what is necessary in order to combat an addiction. It works for a lot of people. The program is ritualistic and monotonous (in my mind) and it seems obvious to those of us not addicted, but to the addict, it is a lifeline. A way to define an illness that they suffer from, and that many others like them suffer from, that is not necessarily accepted by mainstream society, or the press, or your family, or whatever. They desperately need that lifeline.
So what my husband wrote for my blog, to me, seemed cold. The process of doing the step ripped his insides out. He had to make an accounting of all the horrible things he did. But, HE did them, all by himself. He participated, he instigated, and as one commenter has said… addicts get pleasure from their drug. They may be tortured by an illness they cannot define, but they are self medicating with a drug that makes them feel better and at the same time, is hurting other people. Since this is my blog, I am focused on me. Even though I write a lot about my husband, the only reason I do is because he, exclusively, is what is causing me the pain that prompted the blog in the first place. I am trying to talk things out. I am trying to figure things out. My journaling and my blog help me with that. So when I asked my husband to write a post on MY blog, I sorta did think he would focus on me, and my pain, a little more. Not focus on the things he must do to now salvage a marriage he blew up, but to focus on the things he did to me in the name of sex addiction. I wanted him to own it, to own the pain of that. To acknowledge that he did exactly the same thing his parents did to him, he abused people. I wanted him to fling open his cupboard of lies and shame and toss everything out on the floor in front of us and tell us how it felt to do all those things, and how it felt to watch his best friend die a little bit each day in front of him as he slowly, ever so slowly leaked out the details of what HE had been doing to me for years, to be accountable. But he didn’t. My expectations were high, I know. I have thought about that post almost daily. I have tempered my disappointment. I am not judging him for all the things he did that destroyed me, and my world, I am merely asking him to really own it. Sure, admitting to yourself that you have an addiction, and you did shitty things, and you cannot change without help is great, but admitting that you fucking tore someone else’s life apart, tore their heart out in the process, well that is the hard part and that is what he needs to do.
I guess I can’t expect miracles from the first step of a twelve-step process. I will keep dreaming.
Sometimes part of my grammar review process includes reading my journal entry out loud to my husband. I read this entry to Blue Eyes five minutes ago and he is currently bear hugging me and weeping and I am attempting to post this one handed. I know he wants to help me heal. I know he wants to own his illness. I know I need to be patient. I am not such a patient person. I wish this process didn’t take so fucking long.