Coasting…And Its Consequences

“It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcoholism (sexual addiction) is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism (sexual addiction). What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”    AA Big Book, pg. 85

This is my third time in sexual addiction recovery. The first two times I came into the rooms I worked the steps and acheived around 1 year of sobriety and recovery before once again giving into the insanity of using sex, in some form or another, to medicate feelings of fear, resentment and abandonment. At the time I was confused and befuddled as to how I could’ve ended up “going back out” when I had made such a good start. Looking back now, it’s not hard at all for me to see what brought on both of my relapses…it’s what my sponsor likes to call “COASTING”. Coasting in recovery is when one stops working the Steps and, instead, uses the tools of the program (meetings, phone calls, etc.)  to keep themselves sober. For me, this happened at two very common places in the Steps..step 4 and step 9. Upon arriving at these two steps I paused rather than courageously moving forward and doing the work assigned in them. I was terrified of taking a “…fearless and moral inventory” of myself, and I was even more terrified at the idea of facing those I had harmed in the past and taking responsibility for my actions. The problem with coasting is it’s a subtle lie from a cunning, baffling and powerful addiction. At some point in my program I was willing to believe that I could take a rest from working the steps and not lose ground or relapse. I had all kinds of wonderful rationalizations for this belief…”I’ve worked very hard, I deserve a good rest from all this recovery work”; “It’s no problem, I’ll just attend a few more meetings and make more phone calls over the next few weeks”; or, my favorite, “I feel so much better, I’m definitely strong enough to handle a break from the work”. I can attest from my own bitter experience that the relapse the AA Big Book assures us will occur is more terrible, more debilitating, more heartbreaking than anything we can imagine. Boundaries I never thought I’d cross, acting out behaviors I never thought I would participate in quickly took hold, crushing my spirit spirit and stealing anything and everything good about my life. It is said that working the program of recovery is like walking up a down escalator…you have to keep a certain pace just to stay where you are and have to exert some effort to actually move forward. When we coast the escalator actually propels us backwards whether we notice or not. Soon we find ourselves in trouble and wonder what happened. Usually it’s that we fell victim to the belief that we can ever rest on our laurels and be safe…i.e., coasting.

Step 5…The Truth

“Each step of the program is a leap of faith” so it says in our big book. So true are these words. First we had to write down our moral inventory in step four, then we take another leap of faith and tell someone else about our wrongs while God listens in. Step five helps us relieve ourselves of our secrets and come into the light of God. We have unburdened ourselves of our wrong doings and finally become free from our isolation, our hiding out. We’ve outted ourselves. This proved to be a very powerful step for me. I no longer was hiding from the world. I had taken another leap of faith and brought God into my inner sanctum. I was allowing God’s will to work His magic on my now unburdened life. Not only did the fifth step acknowledge my wrong doings it also sheds light on the positive aspects of my character as well. Thus creating a balance in my world. I found out that doing my fifth step while not only being very rewarding also showed me my shortcomings as noted in step six. I really enjoyed the cleansed feeling after doing my fifth step and thank my sponsor for continuing to show me the path of sobriety. This step was a turning point in my recovery. I began the next day invigorated for life and a real sense of peace came over me. It was as if I was reborn anew, fresh to tackle life on life’s terms. It’s like I was taking back my life, but from a new beginning. A beginning with respect, honor and joy leading my day.

A Journey

The one tool that has helped throughout my recovery has been an undying perseverance to stick to my goal of “going to any length,” and as a fellow addict once said, “no matter what.” This commitment to myself is as real as the skin on my body. I can’t separate the two. Recovery is an action, a process that takes uncommon will power to master. What I get in return is my life. Alive and kicking so grateful for just the beautiful sunrise I capture on a morning drive home from work. It’s coming upon my anniversary of my sobriety date which has caused me to reflect on the last year pasted. What went well, what I still have to learn about, but mostly what shows up for me is the incredible love that I get from the rooms. It is shared unburdened and unselfishly each and every week. I love the rooms and can’t thank God enough for putting them in my life. My brothers and sisters who persevere each for a new day, just for this day, these twenty four hours. The strength that brims over the edges with each share that passes by my ears. The stories that shape the day when I reflect upon their origins. The ideals that have helped me change my life for God’s good. I’m not the same person I was a year ago, I’ve grown. My recovery has grown. The path I follow is not of my own doing, but a greater good for my fellows. I can’t thank God enough for the support and love I have shared that has made me a better man. To all of you on your own journey with God’s love and grace I wish you all safe passage to your new life.

Step Four…The Courage

Step four was a very taxing step for me to go through. What I was being asked to do as not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination. I was told to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. Wow! I said you want me to do what? Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. Oh, you mean be honest about everything I’ve done that was underhanded, anger related, or fear based in my life and making a list.   Well I was hard pressed to want to be that honest, but I knew I had to be rigorously honest for program to work. I tell you it takes courage to be that honest. I wasn’t scared to do this step, I was shameful of most of my activities that I did and regretted. My sponsor put it best when he told me to pray to God and ask for the willingness to do this step. I saw the light. It was about the willingness, to have the courage, to dig that deep into my past, to pull out the events that shaped my current condition. As I knew from the first three steps I had to be willing to go to any length to get my sobriety. This was just a continuation of the first three steps. Building blocks for the rest of my life. I declared myself worthy of the task and dived head first into the pool of reflections. I can say after doing my fifth step that the forth step gave me a sense of healing that I had never known before and am so grateful to have done. Sure it took time; it took looking deep inside myself to pull out the “stuff” I was made up of. What a sense of wellness when I was through. God bless you all who do your forth step, a rigorously honest forth step cause you’re worth it.