Our host church, The Fellowship will be closed in observance of Independence Day Holiday on Monday, July 3rd so we are canceling the Castimonia Monday night meeting at this church. Also, due to VBS, the Monday, July 10th meeting will be canceled as well. The meeting will resume the following Monday night, July 17th, at its regular time and location.
Monday Night Meeting Topics
A Declaration of Independence
Originally posted on July 4, 2012
Today, we celebrate Independence Day in the United States of America. I am grateful for the freedoms we have been given in this country. Some of the freedoms I had, however, were very harmful to me. These freedoms included the freedom to view and use pornography, the freedom to pursue happiness in legal forms of sexual acting out, and the freedom to worship my own god; sex addiction. I have also been given new freedoms, the freedom choose a recovery program that satisfies my needs, the freedom to say “no” to sexual acting out, and the freedom to call Jesus Christ my higher power, and worship Him fully without fear of persecution or harm against me or my family.
Independence means a lot of things to different people. The definition is written below:
in·de·pend·ence /ˌɪndɪˈpɛndəns/ [in-di-pen-duhns] noun 1. Also, independency. the state or quality of being independent. 2. freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
In my case, it is freedom from the control of my sexual addiction and the behaviors associated with that addiction. Every July 4th, I not only celebrate the independence of these United States of America, but I also make the following declaration written below, as edited from the original Declaration of Independence.
I, Jorge S., a recovering sex addict, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intention, do, in the Name, and by Authority of Jesus Christ and my healthy being, solemnly publish and declare, That I am, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent of sexual compulsive behaviors, that I am Absolved from all Allegiance to demoralizing and incomprehensible compulsive sexual behaviors, and that all connection between me and my addiction, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a Free and Independent man, I have full Power to levy War against my addiction, conclude Peace of mind, contract Alliances in my recovery, establish psychological therapy as needed to do all other Acts and Things which a healthy, sexually pure man may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Jesus Christ, I mutually pledge to my Life, my Fortunes, and my sacred Honor.
My declaration is short and to the point, definitely not as elegant as the one written by our Country’s founders. Also, I wish it was as simple as making the declaration! The United States had to fight a war, and subsequent wars against the British to gain their independence. Furthermore, the United States had to continue to battle against other foreign nations in order to gain full independence. And later, it had to fight a Civil War (a war against oneself) in order to maintain its independence! Even today, the United States continues to fight to maintain its independence, this fight may be against terrorists, against energy monopolies, against corruption, etc… The point is, the United States of American has continued to fight to maintain its independence and must continue to fight.
In this same way, I need to continue to fight against my sexual addiction. I can’t let my guard down. If I do, then I will have allowed my addiction a foothold into my life and that makes the fall easier! I must be always vigilant in my struggle to maintain sexual purity. Sexual Purity is not a right, it is a privilege given to me, by God, on a daily basis, and I must always be grateful for that privilege and do whatever I can to maintain it. I have not been and am not perfect, however, I will continue to strive for progress, not perfection in my recovery.
So I not only declare indepenendce from my sexual addiction but also that I will do whatever it takes to maintain my sobriety. One moment at a time, one second at a time, one minute at a time, one hour at a time, one day at a time!
Take what you like and leave the rest.
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.”
In today’s Castimonia meeting we reviewed Step 1 from the Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.
In 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!
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
“Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
In today’s Castimonia meeting we reviewed Step 12 from the Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.
A man falls in a hole. The sides are steep and he can’t climb out. He looks up and sees a doctor walking by. He asks the doctor for help. The doctor writes out a prescription, throws it down the hole, and keeps walking. The man in the hole thinks, “how is this supposed to help me?” He looks up again and sees a priest walk by. He asks the priest for help. The priest writes down a prayer and throws it down the hole. Again, the guy wonders how that is supposed to help. Finally, he sees his friend from the program walking by. He asks his friend for help and his friend climbs down in to the hole. The man says, “hey, what did you do that for? Now we’re both in the hole!” His friend says, “Yes, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”
Only an addict can help an addict. Having had that spiritual awakening that comes from working the preceding 11 steps, my life turned from being completely dependent on the help of others to wanting to help others, wanting them to feel the freedom I have felt, a freedom that came from being helped by others and surrendering to Jesus Christ. Since I had been down in the hole before, I am now able to help others out through a proper recovery program. I desire to help others out!
The scripture that goes along with this step is a very important part of the 12th Step. I am to comfort those in trouble with the comfort I myself received from God. My comfort came through working the 12 steps and learning a new way of life that placed God, not me, at the center of it. Therefore, I have chosen to help others come to a spiritual awakening in Christ Jesus, just as my sponsor (and others in the program) helped me. The comfort I received from God was a knowledgeable and caring sponsor, friends in the program, and men (and pastors) from my church that helped me along the way. God purposely placed those men in my life! I choose to allow God to use me, as He will, to help other men coming into the program recovery from sexual impurity or compulsive sexual behaviors.
One of the biggest benefits I experienced from working a secular 12-step program in SAA was that it allowed me the choice of who or what my higher power would be. It allowed me to choose Jesus Christ, not just have it placed in front of me. It then allowed me to learn more about Jesus, to read the Bible, to learn all I could, to attempt to understand all I could. This process continues today!
With the spiritual awakening also comes an attitude of gratitude. We are grateful for what God and others have done in our lives. We are grateful for all the good things that have been given to us, and we are grateful for the freedom we experience one day at a time. We stop living a “white knuckling” life and start living a life full of gratitude that revolves around our all-powerful God. With this newfound gratitude, we begin to have a heart of giving, wanting to help others, desiring to help others out of their hole. We learn to do this with our higher power at the helm of our own recovery and allowing those new to recovery the opportunity and adventure of discovering the “highest power,” Jesus Christ! We take the message of recovery to others and continue to practice it in our own lives.
Step 9: We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:10,18)
Today’s meeting is the first meeting of the month which is typically a “Step Study” of the corresponding month. Since September is the 9th month, we reviewed Step 9 in both The Twelve Steps for Christians and the SAA Green Book.
I believe the most important reason to make amends is to clean up “our side of the street.” When we make amends to others, we are not asking for their forgiveness, we are simply taking ownership of what we did to wrong them and offering to “pay” for the damage we caused. This “payment” can be done in terms of actual money or other non-financial reparations that need to be made in order to offset the damage we have done, such as being emotionally present if we were emotionally absent in our addiction.
In making amends, we do not concern ourselves with the out come of the amends or the other person’s reaction. Their reaction is not a reflection on how well or poorly we made amends, that is their business and none of ours. Our only task in making amends is to take ownership for what we did wrong and make amends as previously mentioned.
Some of the best amends we can make to others are what are called “living amends” or basically a change in lifestyle. When our friends, family, etc… see that we are now living a different lifestyle filled with gratitude and thanksgiving, then our amends become living. The change that began in the first few steps is now seen as evident when we make amends to others. This change continues as we grow in maturity and in connection with God.
Finally, we must understand the second part of step 9 – except when to do those would injure them or others. This is extremely important if our amends to certain individuals will harm them more than do good. Perhaps they no long wish to have any contact with us, therefore, we respect their decisions and make amends privately, written in a letter form, to our Sponsor. This is also true for those of us who are married and wish to make amends to old acting-out partners. Amends to these past partners should only be done if our spouse approves of the amends and method, and maybe tags along too! Many spouses do not want the addict to make contact with old acting-out partners, which is a completely acceptable request from the spouse. In these cases, we also write letters to our old acting out partners and read those amends letters to our sponsor.