Recovery looks different for each person. Some recover, some don’t. I only know what worked for me to become sexually sober and free of addictive behavior, and I will share that with you.
I’ve believed in God all my life. I was taught to pray as a child and went to Sunday school regularly. Even at that point in my life when I thought I was too busy to go to church, I believed in God. After Ellyn and I were married, we attended church regularly and quickly became leaders in our church. Despite that, I got so far off track that society chose to incarcerate me for seven years in federal prison. For me, believing in God was not enough. I knew of God, but I needed to know God up close and personal. I needed to experience God helping me.
The book Alcoholics Anonymous contains many stories of men and women who have recovered from alcoholism. My favorite is titled “Acceptance was the Answer.” The author speaks about serenity and trust in God. He writes:
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it’s supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.
In my old life, I thought that I was always right; whether the discussion was politics, my job, or when to take out the trash, I wanted everyone else to believe in my way or act in my way. I have learned that I don’t always know what’s best for me, let alone what’s best for everyone else. My job today is to do the best I can, the next right thing, leave the results to God, and accept whatever happens.
I am very fortunate. So many men and women leaving prison have no family who cares about them; they have little education, no money, no place to live, no church community to return to, and very little hope for the future. On April 13, 2012, I was released from prison. My wife and three sons greeted me at the door and drove me home.
Life since has been good to me. I write, play golf, see my family, and spend time with Ellyn. My family, my neighbors, and my church family all know my story. I am active in my church. I no longer keep secrets. I currently go to several twelve-step meetings every week, sponsor five sex addicts, and help anyway I can. Ron is my current sponsor. He’s been in recovery for thirty years. We meet for an hour every week, and I call him every day. I stay accountable to him to work my program; he holds my feet to the fire. My sobriety continues, one day at a time.
I’ve shared with you the first nine of the twelve steps. Working these steps helped me become sober. Steps 10, 11, and 12 are the steps I need to stay sober.
Step 10 instructs us, “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” For most of my life I held my anger and resentments inside. Through working the twelve steps, I have learned that resentments are deadly for me. Others may be able to keep resentments, but I cannot. I have learned that although I continue to have defects in my character (albeit less than I had them before) and I continue to make mistakes, I cannot let them fester. At the end of each day I review my interactions with other people, my emotions, and my relationship with God. I talk to my sponsor, or my wife, or my twelve-step group about my failings. I no longer must be right about everything, but I do need to be aware and accountable. I think about whether I have harmed anyone, and if I have, I make plans to make amends. I no longer must wait for years to become accountable; I do it every day and begin the next day with a clean slate. You can too.