“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 achieved around 1 year of sobriety and recovery before once again giving in to 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 to 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, and 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 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 backward whether we notice it 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.