Promises Promises

“The physics of building – or rebuilding – trust is simple: Trust grows as we generate data that demonstrates trustworthiness. Trust will never exceed the cumulative data to date.”
- Joseph Grenny

How often have we made a promise to ourselves saying, “this is the last time! I’m never going to do this again”, only to be acting out the very next day?

After years of telling myself not to to on Internet Porn sites my disease had progressed to the depths of despair and my life was completely unmanageable. I was acting out during all hour of the day, including working hours, and all hours of the night. I neglected my job and almost lost my business, I neglected my wife and kids and almost lost them, and I neglected myself and almost lost my life.
Every time I descended into a darker place in my addiction, I made another promise I couldn’t keep. This disease is cunning, baffling and powerful.

After getting caught, I found SAA and started the process of rebuilding. Integrity could only be attained by my actions. Apologies and promises were empty, hollow words. ONLY by working the program could I show that there was substance to my words. Slowly I made progress.
The key was rigorous honesty, using as many tools and putting as many boundaries in place as necessary to stay sober. It was hard, emotional and sometimes painful work.

To put it simply, ACTIONS speak louder than words.

Because of SAA, the support of its members and my Higher Power, today I am a person of integrity and I am trustworthy once again.

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7 thoughts on “Promises Promises

  1. When I read the title of this post I was expecting to read about “The Promises”…. having forgotten all the empty promises I gave before recovery. What this made me think of was the differences between those two sets of promises. Mine were hollow and false and manipulative to continue getting what I wanted. The promises of the program are steadfast, faithful and true. Does that mean they are easy to attain? No way…. but if we work for them, if we work for sobriety we will let go of our hollow empty past promises and cling to the gifts of the new promises from the program…..

    • I love this. Yes…that sums it up. My promises before my recovery work were empty and essentially meaningless. Initially, I fully intended to keep them, but eventually, did the very thing I had promised i would never do again. After several times of making these promises, I stopped believing them. I remember saying – swearing – it will never happen again. No way. But in my heart thinking, I’m not going to be able to deliver on this. I don’t know if I really want to deliver on this. My wife is going through another cycle of pain and anger now. She found an old email and is doubting me -feeling like she doesn’t know who I am. I know that I can again promise that she does know me, and that I meant what I said in my latest Valentines Day card, and that I’m doing this and that. But bottom line, from outward appearances, its no different than before. Its just words. And because she’s 11 hours away, that’s all they are. I know what my actions are. I have to trust that she’ll pull through this and give me enough time to be able to collect some real “data”. Data gathered from my actions over a long period of time. That is really hard. While she’s collecting this data, I’m lonely, and frustrated, and sad, and filled with guilt and regret. But what is the choice. I have to get well. I’m committed to getting well. I have to perservere through this. And that’s the one thing that I never did. I was good for a while. I stayed the course for periods of time in my marriage – but I never stayed the course permanantly. Getting up every single day, and no matter how crappy I feel that day, doing my recovery work, and staying the course. No matter how things are going for us, no matter how bad or good the day was. No matter how tired and frustrated I am. Stay the course. Because that’s the promise I made to myself, to my wife, and to my higher power. So I take things one day at a time. One day at a time, I keep this promise. And hopefully – these days will add up to many more and then to months, etc. And then I hope, my word will actually mean something.

  2. I really like this post. When I think of all the times I made empty promises, to myself, to others, I remember how empty I felt as a man. I knew that I was lying as I was uttering the words. It didn’t matter. The BS just seemed to have a mind of it’s own. My addiction is ruthless and still to this day I have to be careful not to let the BS get ahead of my words.

    Today I’m very focused not to let that happen. It wasn’t an easy chore to make a habit. The habit of being truthful did come and integrity showed up as well. I feel so blessed that I speak differently today then I did in my past. The past with a forked tongue that slithered out words to satisfy my addiction. I am so grateful for the program and what living a rigorously honest life has done for me. I know it didn’t come overnight. I was gentle with myself. I listened, I learned. That is the greatest gift to me today. My Higher Power’s gifts of guidance that have taught me well. Thank you Papa for all your gifts and the promise of the promises that I live for. God bless you all on your journeys.

  3. That is the 2nd time today I have seen Actions Speak Louder than Words…. Well said. I am always saying I am going to do something and I never do it, like going back to the doctor to get back on my meds. Well I finally did it and I am really glad. It has been a struggle these first few days because I feel groggy and sick, but I also feel the effect of the new med and I like it. I guess the promise is that as long as I do what others that know better than me suggest, I will be ok. Which leads me to my next issue with my budget. I need to reach out to my brother for advice and I am scared, but I know he will help me because he cares I am just afraid to disappoint or have anyone think I am not perfect. But I am not and I need help and guidance there as much as in all areas of my life so I am going to do it. Thank you Rec Mon… for being here to help give me strength……

  4. This is an important post. I always considered myself a person of integrity. After I discovered I was a sex addict, I realized that my integrity lasted only as long as my memory – and that wasn’t long. As an addict, I avoided honesty and conflict as long as possible – I would promise anything not to be caught for what I was really doing, or lie about my true life. With my partners, my motto was “what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them”. How sad and impaired THAT thought was. The pain and misery of discovery hurt a thousand times more than truth would have at the beginning. So I admit now that integrity requires honesty, courage, and spiritual commitment. If I make a promise now, I must mean it with all my heart, not put it out of mind, and admit it if I no longer can keep it. Promises for me as an addict were lies. Asking my H.P. to take charge of my Life and Will means I am being held to a rigorous, truthful standard. And H.P. will let me know if I am failing, clearly and strongly. My life is getting better because of surrendering myself to H.P.’s truth. And thanks to our program too, for putting me back on the right path.

  5. For me, it’s time to discuss where spirituality fits in with the 12 steps. I believed before I started the steps, that spirituality was not for me, that it was just a bunch of wishful thinking and I was too realistic for that! I believed that spirituality was really “impaired thinking”, “unscientific”. That it fooled us into believing that we were safe because a H.P. was looking out for us, and that made us falsely “feel better”. That we alone are responsible for our actions in life.

    I’ve come to realize that the “impaired thinking” was on MY part. That none of us have much control over our own lives, that we are driven by false beliefs and emotions. That the belief that we can go through life without guidance or help is a foolish arrogance. As an addict, I had no control over my life and actions. I thought I was in charge, but something else completely governed me – my addiction. And my addict hid the real “me”, that is something more than a few dollars worth of skin and bones. The addict didn’t want me to know the real spirit under the material veil. It wanted to destroy, not find love or peace or respect in the world. The belief that all I was animal body, not soul, kept me from knowing that I was an important piece of all life, and that I wasn’t just limited, evil, craving and entitled to grasp for pleasure no matter who it hurt, including myself.

    Steps 2 & 3 helped me to glimpse the true self that is really who I am, not just the powerless and temporary form that I thought I was. I am thankful for our program, and to the Higher Power that cared enough for me, to show me the truth of my higher self, regardless of impaired thinking and false beliefs. For me, that’s the deeper meaning of the 12 steps to sanity.

  6. My constant and utter failure to keep any of the promises I made to God, myself and others about stopping my sexual acting out ultimately led to the awareness of my complete powerlessness to stop on my own. As they say in AA, I stopped thousands of times, but I was powerless to stay stopped. No matter how resolute my promise to stop was, no matter how impassioned, I did not have the power to not act out sexually again and again and again. Without the power of a Higher Power to break the cycle of addiction, obsession and the “phenomenon of craving”, I was easily overcome by the simplest issues of life and turned to my drug of choice to medicate rather than face them.
    The 2nd Step brought the hope that there may be a God, a Power that could indeed break the cycle of my addiction, to whom the addiction had no power over whatsoever. It also brought the difficult realization that the God I had grown up believing either didn’t have that power or was unwilling to use it to help me. Either way, I knew I needed to believe in a God that both had such power and loved and cared so completely about me that it was that God’s joy to intervene in my life and use it on my behalf. Only then could I “completely give myself to this program of recovery”, only to that God’s care could I truly and fully turn over my will and my life.
    I am still learning how to trust the promises of our recovery program. I am still learning how to trust my Higher Power with my will and life. I still have trouble believing in a God who will keep it’s promises. I so often want to take back control of my life, want to believe that I can sufficiently control and manage it, my addiction included.
    The trail of broken promises stretching over the years behind me serve as a constant reminder of my complete inability to do so.

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