How I Take Action Against My Disease Today
There is an old Johnny Mercer (1945) song with these lyrics:
‘You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In Between.’
People who have been in recovery for a while know that focusing on the negative (not doing it) or the in-between (half measures availed us nothing) eventually leads to a re-lapse. What I have discovered is that ‘living in the solution’ can lead to a breakthrough when other things have failed.
Because my character defects run along the lines of entitlement, coasting, presumption, self-centeredness, isolation, detachment, I am pretty much forced to take action against these drifts on a daily basis. Here are ten actions steps I am committed to take to ‘live in the solution.” This is what works for me today.
Like a diabetic, I must take my medicine every day. My brain has been permanently affected by lust such that I have no permanent cure. I must live in the solution because if I don’t I will die spiritually.
Here are the daily action points…I list 10 of them
1. Rigorous honesty. ‘Tell me the little things before they turn into big things.’ I have learned that if I don’t, they will. What are the little things? Lust temptations, lust sips, intentional lust sips, fantasies, wrong attitudes, non-porn lust sips, things I might be ashamed of. Whatever shame wants me to keep private, I tell in one on one conversations, even if the content is graphic. Lust dissipates in the sunlight of exposure.
2. Leading with my weakness. A seasoned recovery brother has stated ‘I don’t need to tell my wife how well I am doing. I need to tell her how sick I still am.’ Spouses need to be brought into our inner life. ‘That was difficult. I struggled with X today.’ Leading with weakness is very important in meetings too. Portraying myself in a better light than is true will only feed pride. This too must go.
3. Rigorous humility. I need to practice taking direction, admitting wrongs often (Step 10), listening rather than talking, affirming others, helping the weak, suffering and struggling. I need to move from resigned humiliation to embracing humility. For more of this, read As Bill Sees It.
4. Stop living in the problem. Self-pity, wishing things were different, bemoaning the past, over analyzing, parsing lust, trying to control circumstances or outcomes, thinking my way into recovery rather than acting my way into it, practicing half-measures so I can still prove to myself that I am ‘still sober.’ All these must be abandoned as spiritual hand-wringing.
5. Examine my level of willingness. “Practicing Step Three is like the opening of a door which to all appearances is still closed and locked. All we need is a key, and the decision to swing the door open. There is only one key, and it is called willingness. Once unlocked by willingness the door is open almost of itself, and looking through it, we shall see a pathway beside which is an inscription. It reads: “This is the way to a faith that works.” AA page 70. If I am not willing, I pray honestly, “God I confess I am not willing right now. I ask you to make me willing and I believe that you can.”
6. Marital transparency. FANOS. A listening and feelings exercise to share with your spouse to increase empathy, listening and compassion. Google it. We all would like to be able to share feelings openly with our spouse without a format. Until that day comes, this exercise will help any couple to do it. FANOS, if followed, provides safety and a path forward.
7. Make outgoing phone calls. 3-5 whether I need them or not. I call whether I am struggling or not, just because it helps me to stay connected, a vital part of my recovery I cannot do without.
8. Step work on specific issues related to Steps 1-3. What am I powerless over and unmanageable with today? Specifically. It may have nothing to do with lust. Where does my attitude need changing today and am I willing to ask God to change it? What specifically am I willing to surrender today? These are the bricks on the road to freedom, trudged one day at a time.
9. Daily Sobriety Renewal with a partner…every day. Google SA Daily Sobriety Renewal. Find a partner who is willing to do this with you. You will never be more than 24 hours away from telling someone how you are doing in recovery and what you are struggling with. Many testify this exercise helped them turn a corner in recovery.
10. Giving…Find out how to serve and do it. We are not learning how to stop doing it. We are learning how to give rather than take and that the key to freedom is helping other sexaholics to recover.
That’s it. If you are willing to do some or all of these things, you can recover and you just might wonder why you waited so long to do them.
In the Lust-Bearer,
Jay Haug, Executive Director
Living Without Lust Inc.