Step 1 states: “We admitted we were powerless over lust – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
Am I powerless over lust?
What does “unmanageable” actually mean?
How do I know if my life has become, or is, unmanageable?
What if I’m sober – does that powerlessness still exist and is my life still unmanageable, or do I have things under control, figured out?
These are questions that have come to my mind from time to time.
How to Know if My Life is Unmanageable
This story from Step Into Action may help:
“At my first SA meeting I immediately related to people sharing about personal powerlessness over lust and sexual acting out…However, I did not understand their explanation about how their lives had become unmanageable…
“Three months later, I sat in a treatment center for sexual addiction. I told my counselor that I understood the powerlessness part of Step One, but that I just did not see my unmanageability. In her very quiet and calm voice she pointed out the obvious: ‘For one, you are sitting here in a psychiatric facility for a thirty-five day treatment that is going to cost you about $20,000. That seems a little unmanageable.’ I reluctantly had to agree, but I went on to say, ‘Well, other than that I don’t see any unmanageability.’ She replied, ‘Well, you are not working for these five weeks, you are eight hundred miles away from your wife…’ Her listing the facts helped break through my denial. I compiled a list of over thirty incidents in which sexaholism had made my life unmanageable. The full weight of the devastation of my disease was overwhelming.” (pp. 14-15)
But what if my life hasn’t become that unmanageable? Do these concepts still apply?
Our discussion today is going to be about the unmanageability of life.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences and how you’ve come to recognize that your life is unmanageable – that you need a Higher Power to help you.
Sober is Not Well
Just because I’m sober doesn’t mean I’m well. This statement has been part of a great discussion on whether or not recovery can come without sobriety.
Many of the comments made in that discussion are spot on – sobriety isn’t the end goal. I may be sober for 3 months, 6 months, a year, even longer, but if I’m still angry, defensive, procrastinating, blaming, shaming, etc. I’M. NOT. IN. RECOVERY.
For me, recovery is a day to day, even moment to moment practice.
I could be living in recovery this morning, but then let some negative emotions brew, in combination with not getting enough rest, and then BAM, I slip back into addictive behaviors: I’m mad at my kids, I’m angry at the appliance guy who I don’t even know, and I’m searching the scores on ESPN for the 3rd or 4th time just to make sure I read them correctly 10 minutes ago…
This is addict behavior.
This is dangerous.
This is a life that is unmanageable.
The Models of Addiction
To help me see things even more clearly, page 11 of the new Step Into Action book states some of the things that show how unmanageable my life is.
Unfortunately, most of these statements have been or can be true for me if I’m not aware and practicing recovery one moment at a time
12 Signs My Life Is Unmanageable
(Even If I’m Sober)
1. I’m late for meetings or other commitments or don’t show up at all because I’m “too busy.”
2. I lash out in anger at loved ones (and even total strangers) without control or remorse.
3. I’ve lost a job or hate my job (or the people in my job) because of my behavior.
4. I remain distant from those around me because I’m constantly thinking about my next “fix” or why I’m such a victim.
5. I can’t have healthy intimacy with my wife because of the fantasies playing in my mind.
6. I’ve lost a marriage or limped along in the one I’m in.
7. I’m living in constant fear that my actions will be discovered, while at the same time getting high from the rush of acting out.
8. I can’t complete tasks or meet responsibilities because they conflict with my need to feed my addiction.
9. I have lost friends or have been unable to make friends.
10. I’ve avoided relationships and jobs because I was afraid.
11. I’ve wrecked my career, home and life.
12. I’ve been hospitalized for depression or attempted suicide because sexaholism is destroying my physical, emotional and spiritual being.
How many of these sound familiar to you?
Life driven by lust brings with it confusion, chaos, misery and disaster.
How often have I asked for God’s help while continuing the same sick behaviors and disregarding my conscience?
Getting and staying sober is the first step in the recovery process. I have to “stop and stay stopped.” But that is just the beginning.
Sober is not well.
Living in recovery from sexual addiction is a day to day, moment to moment practice for the rest of my life.
One thing I’ve realized about my own recovery process is that, after a bit of sobriety or what I may think is recovery, I think all is well. I get comfortable. I get complacent. I think I have it all figured out.
And then, just like that, the addictive behaviors start coming back.
I’m quickly angered at the kids.
I get defensive if my wife questions how I’m doing in my step work.
I put off doing step work for other “more important” things.
I make up excuses on why I don’t need to go to meetings this week.
Calling my sponsor or others in the group takes up too much time, they are probably busy anyway.
And the list of excuses goes on and on and on…
A statement from one of the members of SA really hit me today:
“Now, with a little bit of recovery under my belt, I’m coming to realize that the thought that I am competent on my own, that I can rely only on my own resources to manage my life is a lie. I need God’s help and I need the advice and support of my recovery fellowship to navigate the twists and turns that life present to me. It was pride that caused me to believe that I could manage my own life without assistance. I now consider it a sign of strength when I have the courage to ask for help.” (Step Into Action p. 16)
How can this be a good reminder to us all that recovery is a lifelong pursuit?
I look forward to your experiences.
And join us in one of our free online or in-person SAL 12-Step meetings. This is where many of us have found not just sobriety, but real recovery.