I had sunk to a hopeless, desperate place in my addiction to pornography, masturbation and sex. Given that place of powerless despair, I was amazed to hear the confident promises held out to addicts like myself by SA and our forbearers in Alcoholics Anonymous. Here’s a sampling. As you read each one, close your eyes and imagine that this is your life. Don’t rush over the list:
- The grace of God has expelled the obsession (12&12, p. 32)
- We have a happy and joyous freedom (SA p. 202, AA p. 133)
- We know peace, self-seeking slips away, fear of people and economic insecurity have left us (AA 84)
- We are knowing happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes (AA 8)
- We will seldom be interested in our drug (AA 84)
- “We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality – safe and protected… The problem had been removed. It does not exist for us.” (AA 85)
Does this seem unbelievable? Do you long for this? I had been defeated by my addiction so often, that initially, I had serious doubts. But beyond my wildest hopes, these things are true. I’m seeing them become a reality in my own life.
Tell Me More!
I’d like to share a couple things from my own experience, practices I hope will also be useful to you as you walk the steps in the fellowship of an SA group.
One of the things that was emphasized to me early on was the foundational place that the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous holds in our program. In fact, in the early days of SA, there was no White Book (our fellowship’s book). There was The “Big Book” Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (12&12). We now have the White Book to apply the steps to our own particular addiction, but AA and the 12&12 remain foundational. Here’s what our White Book says about these:
- “Use the literature of the program. The Twelve and Twelve and Alcoholics Anonymous were my first guides in working the Steps. Again and again I found what I needed in those original documents that launched the Twelve Step program.” (SA 161)
- “The books Alcoholics Anonymous and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions… constitute the basic texts of the original Twelve Step program. This section [in the White Book] is not intended to be a comprehensive exposition of the Steps.” (SA 77)
On the other hand, the Big Book was intended to be a comprehensive exposition: “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.” (Foreword to the first addition of AA)
So do yourself a favor and read and study AA and the 12&12 along with the White Book. It’s the steps, taken within the loving, supportive context of the group, where the answer lies. And in the Big Book and the 12&12 we have them laid out in a way that has saved millions of alcoholics over the course of a century. Go to the source!
The Manner of Walking
This leads the second piece of wisdom that was given to me. Here’s how our literature describe the manner of walking: It is a: “course of vigorous action” (AA 63), “a way of living, vigorously commenced” (AA 84), It involves “no half-measures” (SA 206) because, “half-measures availed us nothing.” Notice any themes?
The program commends a vigorous course of action. Again from the AA books:
- The Big Book illustrates the program with the story of its founder, Bill W. Read “Bill’s Story” and notice his pace: Steps 1&2 at his kitchen table one night, followed by 3-8 during his subsequent stay in the hospital. As soon as he is released from the hospital, he dives into helping other alcoholics, step 12.
- In explaining the move from steps 3 to 4: “Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action… [our decision] could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous” (AA 63, 64)
- For step 4: get rid of defects “promptly” (AA 64)
- Step 5: after deciding who will hear our 5th step: “we waste no time” in sharing it (AA 75)
- After Steps 6 & 7 have been taken: “now we need more action, without which we find that ‘faith without works is dead.’” (AA 76)
- Step 10: begins even while working 8 & 9: “We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past.” (AA 84)
- Step 11: Having begun to be “God-conscious”, “we must go further and that means more action.” (AA 85)
- Step 12: “But this is not all. There is action and more action. ‘Faith without works is dead.’” (AA 88), remember that Bill W. and many of the early AAs were 12 stepping early in their recovery: it was vital to their sobriety (AA 15)
If I want to walk down the sidewalk or up a mountain. I must keep my legs swinging. Step, step, step, step. If I stop and pause between each step, I’m going to get nowhere fast, and I’m going to tire myself out because of the renewed burst of energy I have to expend to get the momentum going again each time. The Big Book describes and commends a certain momentum in taking the steps. The steps can be very challenging and even frightening. If I am not moving ahead full bore, I am likely to be hindered from ever finishing. Inaction is a huge temptation.
Why the Rush?
But why the rush? I’m on a life and death errand (AA 75). If I don’t take my 12-step medicine, I’m a dead man. Literally or figuratively. Sex can literally kill. Despair can literally kill. Relationships can be destroyed, jobs lost, innocence stolen and gone forever. Here’s the fatal progression as described by Bill W.: “If [the alcoholic] did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely die“ (AA 15).
That’s a morbid but true way to put it. But I can go back to the list of promises at the head of this reflection. That’s what I want. That’s the life that I want. Happy, joyous, free. Which way to peace please? The way, the solution, is the steps. Why would I delay in taking them? Half-measures, as we say, availed us nothing. It didn’t get us half way there. It got us nowhere.
Long to be happy and free? Click to find a meeting!