Don’t Think, Act!

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“You cannot think your way into right actions, you have to act your way into right thinking”  – Hazeldon

When I was acting out I tried thinking my way out of the addiction. “Today I’m not going to look a porn online, I swear I’m not going on that chat site ever again, I’m not going to contact that person anymore”, etc. etc. etc.

My thinking didn’t translate into action because I was too weak. I didn’t have a game plan or instructions on how to behave correctly, all I knew was that I wanted my next high. No amount of promising could overcome the warped rationalization and justification of addictive thinking in my head. The only solution was Action!

At the suggestion of my therapist, I attended an SAA Meeting and found that the members had a game plan, they had an instruction manual, The 12 Steps. I heard it was a simple program but that it was hard work. “If you want what we have and are willing to go to ANY length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps”. I didn’t know if I was ready, all I knew was that I was in agonizing pain and anything was better than what I had tried. This will require dedication and action, was what my Sponsor told me.

Dedication and Action. Progress not Perfection. Fake it till you make it. Act as if. Behave as if. I was hearing this at meetings all the time and had no clue what they meant. One day I asked, AS IF WHAT?!  The answer came back: As if you’re sober, as if you always tell the truth, as if you have integrity and honor, as if you are living without addiction, as if you have the life you always wanted.

So I started behaving AS IF. I took my sponsor’s suggestions and began working the steps, using the tools and attending as many meetings as I could. Slowly, behaving as-if, became reality. Being honest and truthful was easier to do, being honorable and integrous came more naturally, life was more serene and peaceful. Yet, as I progressed in my program, I began to recognize the danger signs especially when attending meetings and seeing friends picking up white chips after months of sobriety. “What happened?”, I would ask. “I got complacent, I thought I didn’t need to work as hard”, “I stopped going to meetings” or “I stopped calling my sponsor”, they answered.    Cunning-Baffling-Powerful

They started ‘thinking’ again. Telling themselves it’s ok to rest, relax, take it easy…. I’ve had those thoughts myself. I don’t want to justify or rationalize anymore, that’s my addict whispering in my head and he almost got me killed. ACTION is what this program demands if I want to be sober and healthy! Action is what has led me to right thinking.

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”  ―    C.G. Jung


The Two Things That Keep Me Sober


As I have kept myself sober there are two things that hold me together. Now, you’ve got to understand, I’m just another Bozo on the bus, cow in the herd, or more succinctly, another lemon on the tree of life. However, as I have walked this path of mine it is clear that two “its” are at cause. Just think of them like Dr. Seuss would have, as “It 1” and “It 2” , and it’s because of each of them that I am sober today. 


“It 1” we will say is because of my Higher Power. No, that’s not right. It is my HP. Without Him or my spiritual condition I most likely would have become a psychopath. By His grace I am not an insane person today. In my years I have felt His warm hands hold and nurture me, give me guidance, love and support. It is He who has the power to arrest my disease one day at a time. Trust me, left to my own devices there would be mayhem and possible murder. But I have a secret, not really. I have a gift of doing His will instead of my own… My will is what got me in the rooms in the beginning. Bad will, bad will. His will, being lived, is a life of fulfillment, love and fellowship. Sharing His will with others and supporting the addict who still suffers is the glue that holds me together. His will and spirit are clearly defined in the Big Book. So I have a game plan just like every winning SuperBowl team. I have a guide book that Bill W. wrote for all of us, about suffering from the disease of selfishness and self-centeredness. His gift to me is my bible that I look at on a daily basis to guide me on my journey. And it’s through my HP that the words have meaning. 

Now “It 2” is as important as my HP. “It 2” are the Steps that are contained in the Big Book. Step 1 thru Step 12. All of which support my God conscious mind. Now we all know that Bill W. was divinely inspired when he wrote the Big Book. The evidence is too strong not to believe that, and besides, where else could you find a formula so compelling that it shifts people’s lives on a daily basis. I’m not a hard sell, a little insane in the past, but not a hard sell. So I have journeyed down this path of the Twelve Steps and a true inspirational miracle occurred, I was relieved of my compulsion to act out. Yes sir… Up and gone. Today I live as a man changed in thinking, acting, speaking, seeing and hearing. A simple conversation, I was reborn. The steps, worked honestly, diligently and without remorse, have generated a psychic change in my life. These steps can change a man from acting and living as a selfish and self-centered juvenile to a man of character, heart and soul, evidenced by his actions to assist others of his kind on a daily basis. Away from delusion, dishonesty and chaos, this work has fulfilled my life with the spiritual energy to overcome things that used to baffle me. Today, because of “It1” & “It 2” I live a life happy, joyous and free of my disease. May God bless you on your journey as He has blessed me. Thank you Papa. 

“Hole vs Whole”…That is The Question

“Hole in the soul” heard it for a very long time but never really did grasp what it meant.  So I think I have an idea now what it means for me.  My soul is the truest purest essence of who I am as a human being.  It is that utter state of comfort, relaxation and contentness of exactly where I am.  As an addict, not only did I not welcome those feelings, I actively shunned them through my acting out behaviors.

My soul was like a strainer, all the good stuff was just pouring through and all the chunky, rough material you want to catch and throw away was left.  The more toxic thoughts, feelings and sentiments that covered my soul the more I would try to fill it up and more of the good stuff would just fall through and only the garbage would remain.

Without a doubt I can say recovery showed me that wholeness was possible.  Meetings to me are mirrors, looking glasses that I avoided my whole life.  I could not stand my own reflection, but once I entered the rooms I saw myself in every person that shared their story.  They told me I was not an awful person, I was not evil, and I was not unlovable.  I was told, “You are a sick person trying to get well, NOT a bad person trying to become good.”  I didn’t buy that for a long time but it did give me something to hold on to.

Wholeness is a process, I did not become fractured overnight, so putting “Humpty Dumpty all back together again….” was not going to happen overnight either.


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“In the place where repentant sinners stand, even the completely righteous cannot stand.”   – The Talmud, Berachot 34b

I was captivated by the profoundness of that quote. We know what a difficult journey our lives have been, but when we do recover, G-d, or our Higher Power, forgives us.

Why then shouldn’t we forgive ourselves?

When I first entered SAA, my shame and guilt was so overwhelming I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. The weight of the past was heavy on my heart, I had hurt and damaged the people I loved the most, including myself. I had gone against everything I believed in, morally and ethically, as I was taught as a child. My acting out had reached dangerous levels and the urges, compulsions and memories were eating away at me.

The Promises say that “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it”, but I was full of regret and couldn’t bring myself to face my past. All I wanted to do was to shut the door on it, after all, what would regurgitating my past achieve? Why go there, I’m in recovery now and there’s nothing I can do about the past.

Then, at one SAA meeting I decided to share about the agony I was going through. I had been beating myself up so bad I hadn’t slept for days and I was losing weight because I wasn’t eating either. Not until a fellow SAA member came up to me after the meeting did I have a breakthrough. He said “you have to forgive yourself; a life lived without forgiveness is a life of pain.” Everything I was hearing at the meetings about living in the present suddenly made sense; I was still living in the past!

It was a G-D SHOT. By acknowledging that I am not perfect and that the wounds inside me needed healing, I was able to see that who I had become (a sex addict) wasn’t who I truly am. The baggage of my past needed to be confronted and dealt with, and forgiveness was the key. I needed a Sponsor and I needed to start my Step work to face that baggage in a structured, healthy manner. I also had to deal with real feelings of anger and betrayal for all I had done. This was going to be a long process of change and making amends but I had to forgive myself if I was going to move forward. So I did just that, I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “I forgive you”. I cried and reached out to my brothers and sisters in program. They comforted me and reassured me that my life would get better.

It has gotten better. The Promises have come true by working the Steps and forgiving myself and today I have found who I truly am, a person of honor, integrity and trustworthiness.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” – Anonymous

The Illusion

I think it was Styx,the singing group from the 80’s who sang a song called, “The Grand Illusion”, I could be wrong…at least I’m not just making it up. The song reminded me of my addiction. How cunning, baffling and powerful it is and it truly is. This thought keeps running through my mind, that all that has ever been in my life, from the time I was molested until the time I got into program, for the most part, was an illusion. My life wasn’t real. It was held together with lies and deceit and the walls were paper thin. This was my “House of Cards” and it was about to come crumbling down.

In all of the years of addiction I lived an illusion that my world was happy, fun, secure, spiritual and, of all things, loving. These adjectives were filled with holes and the water was pouring out from all sides. Even if I had a momentary minute of clarity, it wasn’t long enough to get me to see that the disease was in control. I was king of my domain and I ran my kingdom with an iron fist. If I was happy, I’d act out. If I was frustrated, I’d act out. If I was angry, I’d act out. There were times when I wasn’t acting out… I was asleep. The illusion kept me safe, so I thought. Gee, it wasn’t like I frequented disease infested book stores every day or had unprotected sex because I was immune from aids. The illusion said I was bullet proof.

Then on Febuary 24, 2005 the earth shook violently and my house of cards came crumbling down. That moment of clarity that I needed to see I was in danger showed up. My addiction’s date with destiny had finally come. In my clarity on that day, I admitted I was a sex addict and I was in trouble. Big trouble. I called out for help. I made that first important step. This wasn’t a fleeting moment I was in. This was God’s hand guiding me to safety. I cried out that night and God had answered my prayers. The very next day at 7:00 AM I was at a therapist’s appointment to discuss my issue. The illusion ceased to exist. I was speaking honestly, encouraged by my words, I spoke about the horrors of the last thirty years. Fortunately for me the therapist I was speaking to was an expert in sex addiction and compulsive disorders. He pointed me in the direction I needed to go and that night I was at my first SAA meeting. The illusion I called my life had finally met with the reality I call life.

Seven years later, I stand tall and proud that the fruits of my labor have paid off in spades. No longer do I look over my shoulder afraid of my past. Today, I live in peace and harmony with joy and happiness and the promises of the promises keep coming true. I invite you to join me and walk this path that countless others have found serenity on so you can find your own piece of heaven here on earth. God bless you all on your journeys.

Consistency …The Flow of Recovery

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In recovery we adjust to a new way of being. We shift our thought processes and actions. We, in effect, are born anew. I know for me it was a daunting task to even look at the scope of things that needed to change in my world, but as stated in “How it Works” , I had to be willing to go to any length for this change to occur. I had to open myself up to a new way of thinking, Positive Thinking. I had to allow myself the opportunity to interact with people in a whole new light, Letting Others Help Me, and finally, I had to be in action with these new found ideas. No longer was I allowed to isolate, make stuff up in my head or shirk responsibilities.

I was now going to be coached to become the best “Me” I could be. True, I would stumble along this new path, however, through the guidance of my Higher Power I learned to stretch and grow even when it was uncomfortable. The one word I would come to learn was, CONSISTENCY. Putting actions into play on a daily basis, day after day. This consistency became the electrical flow that powered my tools of recovery. It was a feeling deep inside my bones that made me vibrate with energy. My mind began to look and feel differently.

For the first time in my life I was accomplishing tasks in a rhythmic fashion. At first it was simple tasks of just getting up from bed at a specific time each day. Next, I would add to that, making myself read “Answers in the Heart” once I was awake. Soon I added more responsibilities like feeding myself a good breakfast to nourish my body. From this little effort I was able to capitalize on the great feelings of accomplishment that I had rolled into a consistent rhythm. Days turned into weeks and then to months and I had found myself building up evidence that I was once again becoming a responsible, accountable adult. Consistency, I was guided to understand, was definitely the “Flow of Recovery.”

Today, nearly seven years later, I still use it in my daily life which has blossomed into this magnificent, amazing world of love and joy. Even though I started out small and gradually increased the number of tasks I eventually did, I did it all, one moment at a time. This turned into one day at a time. This is the rhythm of recovery. Thank you Papa.

The Gift of Recovery

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Recovery, it may not come in a pretty package with a sparkly bow but it sure is a gift.

Rigorously honest recovery is tough, it’s painful and it’s hard.  But it is still 100% better than active addiction. My recovery in SAA has not only shed light on sex addiction but it has given me a roadmap on a healthy way to lead my entire life.

I have the gift/terror of feeling feelings again.  For the most part it has been incredible to thaw out and feel emotions again, especially love, joy, fellowship, self-pride and gratitude. The terror comes in when I feel vulnerable, scared, angry, sad and disappointed. Those feelings were so overpowering in active addiction that I went straight to my “drug of choice”.  Are those feelings any less painful these days in recovery, not really but through the honest shares of my brothers and sisters in SAA I have learned two key things, “Feelings are not facts.” and “I am not a bad person trying to become good, I am a sick person working to become well.”

One of the gifts recovery has given me is the ability to choose.  After my brain calmed down and I had a little bit of time away from active addiction, the obsessions and compulsions were less, they were less not gone mind you.  After they were less, I was able to have a split second to use my tools and reach for help before I acted on whatever obsession or compulsion I was feeling.  And, if for whatever reason I chose to relapse, I have the amazing gift of knowing that in the rooms of SAA I am unconditionally loved and I am welcomed back as long as I simply have the desire to work on sexual sobriety.

Coasting…And Its Consequences

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“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.


“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” Japanese Proverb

During addiction my biggest fear was getting caught. Secrecy and lying was paramount to keeping my addict alive so I could get to my next high. The stresses and fears of my double life were brought to the surface and manifested themselves in many ways: health issues, nightmares, escapist behaviours such as procrastination, indecision or the tendency to leap into or out of situations without a plan just to get the whole thing over with.

After hitting bottom and coming into recovery, I soon began facing all the fears I had suppressed and medicated through acting out. My Addict’s survival skills  were now becoming core survival fears.

What if I continue to hurt myself or the people I love?

How will I live with myself if I make the wrong choices and relapse?

Where do I get the skills to deal with the confusion and seemingly overwhelming process of recovery?

Will I make it through today?

These and other questions could have paralyzed me and kept me lingering in a stagnant situation or painful condition. I learned that change is scary, but necessary. If I wanted to be healthy I had to embrace the transformation from addictive, compulsive, obsessive behavior to a manner of living filled with honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. But how?

The biggest fear I had to face was myself. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t come to terms with who I had become. I couldn’t accept the damage I had done to others and myself. I couldn’t forgive myself. I was afraid of pain and feared the unknown. I feared change.

The answer was SAA of course. Under the guidance of my Sponsor I have slowly faced my fears one day or one moment at a time. Sometimes with some hand-holding and often with tears but always with gentleness and compassion. That’s how the 12 Steps work.

Fear is still present in my life, but as I develop my self-esteem and put more trust in my Higher Power it becomes more apparent that I truly have nothing to fear. I’m only limited by my willingness to change.

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

Meetings…Why do I need to go ?

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Meetings. Meetings. Meetings That’s all I hear about. Meetings, meetings, meetings. In the beginning of my recovery I was a scared rabbit just to attend. Who were these people. They’ve got to be psychos, why else would they be here??? Well, I know right off the bat I’m not like them. I just like sex. So what, I can’t enjoy masturbating in public if I feel like it. I don’t understand what the hoopla is all about. I’m in a booth all alone. No one will recognize me. Just because I have a specialty license plate doesn’t mean people pay attention to the cars in the parking lots. Boy was I delusional. So there I was at my first meeting. Listening like I was told to by my therapist. As I sat there, I felt uncomfortable being there, then the people started to share. At first, I was comparing myself to them as they spoke and I found that I related to what was being shared. I started listening with both ears and I heard bits and pieces of my life being shared right in front of me. I started to feel less of an outsider and more and more like I had found a home. How could that be…I thought I was terminally unique. I genuinely felt better after being at that first meeting.

Afterwards, the members introduced themselves to me and suggested that if I was serious about wanting recovery and changing my life, then I better commit to coming to at least a meeting a week. Then someone chimed in and suggested that I go to as many meetings as I could, 90 meetings in 90 days. I swallowed hard when that was said and asked what was the big deal about meetings. One old timer shared that if you attend one meeting a week all you’ll do is survive. If I went to two meetings a week then I would grow and if I attended three or more meetings a week then I would thrive. I chose the thrive concept and never looked back. I was looking at my life at that point and all I had was chaos and pain, however, if I wanted to have the happiness and joy that I saw in those people then I needed to make some drastic changes.

Meetings are the energy I need each week to recharge my life batteries. I’ve learned so much about myself, my disease, about people and relationships that I never knew existed while I was in my addiction. I learned to trust others, find joy in others and how to relate to others who suffered from the same disease as I had. These are people I’ve come to love, appreciate, support and just have fun with. The meetings became my focal point for healthy living. I learned to really listen to others and pull out the needed energy to recharge my batteries and leave the rest that I didn’t need. I learned how not to be judgemental and to relate to the topics at hand that we would discuss. Basically I learned how to live a joyful, wondrous, amazing life, all from going to meetings.

To date, I don’t know how many I’ve attended, but I can say, “I’ve never left a meeting feeling worse than when I arrived.” I encourage all my fellows to attend as many meetings as is necessary to keep a healthy, functional recovery intact and then attend one more for good measure. Be brave, be strong and keep coming back.