We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.
“I know nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”
(Romans 7:18)

In today’s Castimonia meeting we reviewed Step 1 from the Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.

saa-green-bookIn understanding the first step, one must come to the understanding that surrendering is the only way to “win” this battle.  For most of us, this makes absolutely no strategic sense at all.  We have been taught to never give up, never surrender, that we are strong men and we don’t “give up” no matter what the cost!  Well this war is over, and we don’t have the strength to keep fighting it the way we have been. We need help, we need reinforcements, we need new, stronger, more powerful weapons to defeat this enemy.  We need the ultimate “weapon” in Jesus Christ!  Once we admit we cannot win this war on our own and surrender ourselves, not to the addiction, but to Him, a new war begins.

Furthermore, we come to an understanding that this is not a self control issue.  In our addiction, self control was no longer available to us, however, we can surrender to what I call “Christ-control.”  This is not saying that Jesus Christ controls my personal actions if I continue to act out, but that I must surrender my control to Jesus Christ.  Only with Him in control (and believing such) can I live my life according to His will, not mine.  We will review this concept when we work Step 3, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  A different sort of self control will begin to appear as we work our recovery program.

Part of understanding this first step is that we acknowledge that we have a disease.   This is not an excuse for what we have done in the past, or might continue to do.  We take personal responsibility for our actions and suffer the consequences.  However, in understanding it is a disease, we understand that only God can heal us and there is nothing we can do to heal ourselves:  The only cure is God!

So how does one get to the point where they understand the battle is over (and was unwinnable from the beginning) and that we truly have a disease?  We do so by “working” the first step.  We sit down, with the help of our sponsor, and write down as much of our history as possible, both sexual and non-sexual.  We begin by looking at our childhood and family of origin for the signs of dysfunction that may have been “hidden” but were ever present in our lives.  We even include multiple generations of dysfunction as far back as we can find or remember.  We include our first sexual experiences as early as we can remember and continue to write out our sexual history up until the present.  We are specific about our thoughts and feelings leading up to, during, and after the sexual experiences carefully looking at the patterns and behaviors around our sexual acting out.

In writing out our history, we include examples of when we realized our sexual activities were “wrong” but continued to repeat them and the times we said, “I won’t do this again.”  We include examples of when we made “deals” with ourselves, others, or even God after we had acted out.  We also include instances where we told ourselves we would not go back “to that place” and we did.  Finally, we include examples of all the times we tried to stop on our own and then continued with the insanity of the addiction.  All the preceding are examples of our powerlessness over the addiction.  We come to a true understanding that we are completely powerless over this addiction!

As we continue to examine our lives and write out our first step, we start to look at how our lives started spinning out of control.  We list specific examples of how our preoccupation of sex or our sexual acting out kept us from meeting work and home schedules.  We look at missed appointments or opportunities or even those to which we arrived late because of our extended time in preoccupation or in the addiction.  We look at how our addiction has affected our work life.  If we missed work because of the addiction or cost the company money around the addiction, then we list that.  We even include times where we rearranged work and/or travel schedules to fit into our sexual acting out.  At home, we list the times we were neglectful to our families.  We list times where we said we would be at a family function and either missed it or were running late.   We also include the great personal risks we took when we acted out.  We write about the times we compromised our safety or the safety of others.  If we engaged in unhealthy and unsafe sexual behaviors, we also include those examples.  Finally, we include the financial cost of our addiction.  We look at the money we spent on sexual acting out as well as the time we spent on our addiction.  With help from our sponsor we can calculate the total “financial cost” of our addiction based on actual money spent but also on the time spent pursuing sexual acting out.

One word of caution about writing this first step.  Because of our needing to recall these events, writing the first step can be emotionally or sexually triggering, or both.  It is important to not get lost in the writing of our first step.  Many of us have found it useful to write small parts of our first step prior to attending a meeting in order to burst out of the emotional and sexual bubble we might have inadvertently formed while writing.  It is important to reach out, not only if we are sexually triggered by our first step writing, but also if we are emotionally triggered by traumatic events that might have occurred in our lives.

Finally, with the help of our sponsor, we edit down our first step removing triggering language or events, names, locations, websites, or explicit examples in preparation to give our first step publicly at a meeting.  However, if there are things too personal to share with the group we instead share them directly with our sponsor.  Our sponsor will help guide us in editing our first step.  Giving our first step publicly gives us the opportunity to tell our story and remove the shackles of guilt and shame associated with our sexual acting out.  It allows us to experience God’s love for us through the love of other men in recovery with similar backgrounds.  It creates a bond between us that can never be created with another man whom with we have not shared our true life’s story.   The men in the room that hear our first step know us better than any other man on this planet, they know 100% of who we are, not just the 50% we tend to portray in public.  This is what is called true brotherhood, this is what is called real intimacy.  Being intimate with another man is a gift from God and leads to deeper relationships that we have ever experienced in our lives.

Take what you like and leave the rest!

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