My counselor just let me know that he thought my First Step was ready. There were parts I wanted to leave out. Disclosing was hard enough. Looking at my wife and telling her all of my sins, my deep rooted sexual sins…that was excruciating. Now, I get to do it again, this time with other men in recovery.
Step One: “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.”
I know that 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)
Powerless is the appropriate word. I am powerless. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know I was powerless. I thought the opposite. I thought I was in control. I thought I could “manage” my life and had managed it quite well. I feel powerless as I read over my First Step, my description of how and why I ended up here in recovery, powerless.
Of all the options, I had to pick Castimonia for a recovery group. First steps are detailed, thorough, written and read out loud…at a group meeting. Other recovery groups make them short and private. Not Castimonia. Nice. (Sex Addicts Anonymous also practices giving a complete public First Step).
I let the leaders of Castimonia know that I was ready to do my First Step. I expected to wait a week or two before it could be scheduled. That turned out to be wishful thinking on my part. My date was the next day.
The room was full. It kept filling up. I hadn’t been in a meeting this large. Maybe it was me just thinking that …nope, its full! We opened the meeting, read through all the readings, finished up, and the leader stated that today would be a First Step, unlike any other meetings. One of my accountability partners introduced my First Step. I could breathe a little seeing my friend there, the one I had read it to already. Maybe I wouldn’t hyperventilate before I started.
So now its my turn…“Hi, I am a believer in Christ and a recovering sex addict and this is my First Step…”
I couldn’t look up. The leader told me not to get too deep in my shame, to focus on the guilt for my actions but not allow myself to be identified by them. I tried hard. I kept repeating the Serenity Prayer in my head the entire time.
Reading those words, my life story, my sexual sin, the damage I caused, how I tried to minimize them in the past and how I try not to think about all of them even now. It’s so much. I spoke out loud the unmanageable parts of my life, the insanity, the costs. And then I finished.
The feedback started…guys identifying with different aspects of my story. I told one guy that I had heard his testimony and it gave me courage to speak out loud an early part of my story that caused me the most shame. He told me that I would get to a point where I wasn’t ashamed to tell my story. I would know that God wants me to use it to show others that He can work in all areas, even the darkest.
I wrote this in my journal after I finished:
“God help me let go of my shame. Help me to not be ashamed of my story. Help me to know you can and will use my story for your glory and to impact others. Give me strength and guidance in how to share and use my story to impact my family.”