Life in the fast lane

“He was a hard-headed man he was brutally handsome
And she was terminally pretty
She held him up and he held her for ransom
In the heart of the cold, cold city
He had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude
They said he was ruthless said he was crude
They had one thing in common: they were good in bed
She’d say, “Faster, faster “The lights are turning red”
Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, yeah
Eager for action and hot for the game
The coming attraction, the drop of a name
They knew all the right people
They took all the right pills
They threw outrageous parties
They paid heavenly bills
There were lines on the mirror”

~Lyrics from Eagles singer Joe Walsh

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In SA we “Lead with my weakness”

My biggest weaknesses are as follows:

  • searching for job, enormous anxiety & pressure, 5th step every day, every hour
  • self esteem, confidence, insecurity – criticism, insult, confidence, courage, serenity prayer
  • resentments – pray for others, freedom from bondage
  • wife – unsolicited advice, mother, friends – get a new network; women, lust, refuse all hits as toxic – fantasy, relief

Condemnation – the act of condemning.

strong censure; disapprobation; reproof.

condemn – to express an unfavorable or adverse judgment on; indicate strong disapproval of; censure. to pronounce to be guilty; sentence to punishment: to condemn a murderer to life imprisonment. to give grounds or reason for convicting or censuring: His acts condemn him. to judge or pronounce to be unfit for use or service: to condemn an old building.

No one should be admonished from the 12 step meetings

admonish – to caution, advise, or counsel against something. to reprove or scold, especially in a mild and good-willed manner: The teacher admonished him about excessive noise. to urge to a duty; remind: to admonish them about their obligations.

Meetings – How They Work

“As I come into the fellowship, I’m confronted with my disease.  First, in my initial contacts with other members; then in meeting after meeting.  But there are parts of the disease still hidden in that deep hole inside me, sides of me I never want you to see, and eventually they start festering.  So, one by one, I’m forced to get rid of them.  The problem is, how do I keep my disease from always running into a dark corner?”
That’s how one member put it in trying to describe something of what happens in meetings.  The problem is our blind sides; we all have them.  So, the question for us is, How do we work our personal programs and conduct our meetings and fellowship so as to “walk in the light”? Here’s what has been working for us:
1.  By getting sober and staying sober and holding to the concept of sexual sobriety in our SA meetings.  Without sobriety we have nothing to offer anyone.  SA offers sexual sobriety, progressive victory over lust, and recovery.  When this is our aim, meetings can become a sanctuary of serenity and light.
2.  By not imposing uniformity.  We don’t prescribe doing the Steps by formula or in exactly the same way some other member does them.  We do the Steps in our own way and time; we “Live and Let Live.” But working the Steps does work for us.
3.  By telling the side of our stories we really don’t want to tell.  This is different than a mere “sexalog,” relating our sexual experiences.  It is rigorous self-searching and self-revealing honesty about every aspect of our lives.  We arc fitting the pieces of our lives together differently every time we tell our stories or share.
4.  By telling exactly where we are today(where we’re failing today, as well as where we’re succeeding.  “I’m as sick as my secrets,” the saying goes.  So we reveal our secrets; we bring the inside out.  Self-honesty, in humility, yet so powerful.  We lead with our weaknesses.
5.  By continually working the principles of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in our lives first, and in our fellowship.
6.  By helping others through identification.  When we want to communicate to another member, we speak in terms of “I,” not “we” or “you.” We don’t tell them what’s wrong with them or give advice; we relate what happened to us.  When we thus identify with another, it may not only help that person, but often reveals something about ourselves we’ve missed before.  We don’t tell; we share.
“I can tell you what’s wrong with you without identifying, but this keeps me from looking at myself and can be destructive to you.  But when I bring it up by identifying through my own experience, it means I’m bringing myself out into the light.”
7.  By taking responsibility for our own recovery.  There’s a difference between taking responsibility for our recovery and being in charge of it.  When we take responsibility, we’ve stopped saying “Fix me” and are willing to take the actions necessary to get well.  We’re
willing to take direction and work the Steps.  This same attitude is what leads us to tie in to another sober member as helper or sponsor(one who can help us learn how to work the Steps in our daily lives.  When we remain “in charge,” however, we’re shutting ourselves off from the light and help of other recovering members.
8.  By leading with our weakness.  There is an attractive healing atmosphere in meetings when someone is transparent, naive, “innocent,” and self-revealing at depth.  He or she may even be a newcomer, which is often the case and why we need them to help keep us honest.  Vulnerable, and like a child, we take the supreme risk of exposing the truth about ourselves, dark as it may be.  We lead with our weakness because that’s where we’re hurting, and this becomes the point of our identification with each other, the point of true union.  Once this single ray of light shines in a meeting, it finds ready reception and response in the others present.  Honesty is catching; we’re learning to walk in the light.
9.  By commitment to the group.  SA members commit themselves to SA meetings.  We attend every meeting we can.  On time.  Meetings, on time.  Why this emphasis?
When the meeting is handled in a haphazard manner, there’s a feeling of What’s the use? There’s the feeling of being let down, that the secretary, leader, or other members don’t care and are not really a part of.  And if there’s no feeling of mutual caring, then / can’t be a part of.  How can I become a part of something that’s always shifting around? A feeling of separation and isolation comes into play(deadly for us.
Meetings starting on time and a general orderliness are one of the legacies we’ve gotten from the best of other Twelve Step programs.  Instead of “doing our own thing,” which characterizes our self-obsession, we commit ourselves to every meeting and to being on time.  No matter what(spouses, jobs, money(we put the group first because we put our own sobriety first.
Commitment to sobriety is commitment to the fellowship of sobriety.

 

Meeting Guidelines

We can benefit from the unwritten guidelines that have contributed so profoundly to the success of other Twelve Step program meetings and have proven as valuable in our own.
1.  Leaders of meetings are servants of that meeting.  They don’t “carry” the meeting; they merely facilitate it.  A common mistake of those who have no prior Twelve Step meeting experience is to feel they must comment on everything that is said or “help out” in some way by giving “the answer.” The effective leader surrenders this impulse and lets the meeting work itself.
2.  The leader of the meeting does not have to acknowledge a raised hand; he or she can call on someone else.  They can interrupt the one talking, if it is called for.  This is in line with our common tradition.  At the same time, a good meeting is one where the leader’s presence is inconspicuous and non-controlling.
3.  Most groups stick with a certain basic set of readings that are read at every meeting, adding to this to suit the particular meeting.  A list of suggested readings from which to draw is included in the Suggested Meeting Format.  We use authorized SA and AA literature only, both for use during meetings and for distribution on the literature table.
4.  Participation guidelines:
– There is no cross talk.  We don’t interrupt others.  However, the leader has the right to remind the person sharing of guidelines, time consumed, etc.
– We don’t give advice.  We talk in the “I,” not the “we” or the “you,” speaking from our own experience.  If we want to respond to what someone has said, we do so only in terms of our own experience.  “I can only speak for myself, but whenever I did such and such, this is what happened in my life .  .  .”
– We don’t get carried away analyzing what caused our behavior or attitudes.  If we were victimized
in early life, we slowly learn to face and work through it in acknowledgment, acceptance, and forgiveness.  We talk as those who are now responsible for our attitudes and actions and are willing to take responsibility for our lives and recovery.
– In sharing, rather than displaying our knowledge or insights, we lead with our weakness and give of ourselves.
– We avoid politics, religious dogma, and other divisive issues.  We also avoid explicit sexual descriptions and sexually abusive language.
– We avoid dumping, self-pity, and blaming others.
– We don’t take the “inventories” of others; that is, we uncover and work on our own defects, not those of others.  We refer to our own experiences.
– We do speak honestly of where we really are today.  We try to develop transparent honesty of complete self-disclosure, letting the other members know where we are currently, regardless of length of sobriety.
– We do lead with our weakness and take the risk of total self-disclosure.
– By attending on time and sharing regularly, we give of ourselves to others in the group.  We get back recovery.
(See the material under the heading “I Am a Sexaholic” under Step One, in this book, and read the article “Meeting Quality and Use of Non-SA Literature,” in Discovering the Principles.)
The Sobriety Definition
Tradition Three states that “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober.” Given this requirement, one might think that sexual sobriety would be a relative matter that we define for ourselves.  On the surface, this might appear to be an attractive and democratic idea.  We think not.
Our rationalizations are ingenious.  We tried masturbation only, or having “meaningful relationships” only, or having affairs where we “truly cared” for the other person.  Or, we resorted only to one-nighters, prostitutes, or anonymous sex “so nobody got hurt.” Over the long haul, these forms of experimentation did not work for us.  There was no real recovery.  Sobriety works for us.
How can we consider ourselves sober if we are still resorting to whatever or whomever we are using addictively? With most of us coming in, there was never any doubt what we had to stop doing.  We knew.  However, if we come into an SA group where we can define our own sobriety, watch those rationalizations come alive! And if we define our own level of sobriety, that’s all we’re likely to reach.
In defining sobriety, we do not speak for those outside Sexaholics Anonymous.  We can only speak for ourselves.  Thus, for the married sexaholic, sexual sobriety means having no form of sex with self or with persons other than the
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spouse.  For the unmarried sexaholic, sexual sobriety means freedom from sex of any kind.  And for all of us, single and married alike, sexual sobriety also includes progressive victory over lust.*
Of course, we recognize that one can be sexually “dry” but not sober from lust or dependency.  The “dry drunk” syndrome, discovered in AA, applies to us as well, single or married.  But we try to avoid passing judgment on the quality of another’s inner sobriety.  That must come from the individual.  And if such persons keep coming back, the fact of whether or not they are living free from the power of sexual lust, fantasy, or dependency, not to mention switching addictions, usually becomes apparent.  This aspect of recovery seems to be progressive.  Thus, our SA expression: “True sobriety includes progressive victory over lust.” But progress we must or recovery eludes us! The real problem for all of us(single, married, man, woman, from whatever lifestyle(is one and the same: the spiritual misconnection.
We have found that more important than the mere length of our calendar sobriety is its quality and our own personal integrity.  Physical sobriety is not an end in itself but a means toward an end – victory over the obsession and progress in recovery.  We are often the only ones who know on the inside of our souls whether we are truly in sobriety and recovery.  (It is also possible we can be fooling ourselves.) Better to acknowledge where we really are than hide behind the badge of our sobriety date, cheat ourselves, and threaten our union with one another.
The fact that marrieds can have sex with their spouse and call themselves “sober” is no advantage at all.  It can even work against recovery.  Some marrieds confess that even though they aren’t “acting out” any more, victory over lust still eludes them.  As a matter of fact, it often seems harder for marrieds to get victory over lust and dependency unless they go through the experience of total sexual abstinence.  And more often than we might suppose, marrieds
(* In SA’s sobriety definition, the term “spouse” refers to one’s partner in a marriage between a man and a woman.)
can be heard complaining that singles have it easier! Let’s face it: sexaholics(recovering or not, single or married( can expect to have problems with sex! Not to mention the host of other problems entailed in trying to live with and relate to others.
What we strive toward is not only the negative sobriety of not acting out our sexaholism, but progressive victory over the obsession in the looking and thinking.  We also strive toward the positive sobriety of acting out true union of persons.  The great blessing (or curse, as the case may be) of our condition is that unless and until we can give unconditionally and relate with others, the vacuum left inside us from withdrawal will never be filled.  All along, we had thought we could make the Connection by taking; we see now that we get it by giving.  Our whole concept of sex begins to change.  Sex finds a simple and natural place it could never have before and becomes merely one of the things that flows from true union in committed marriage.  And even here, we’ve discovered that sex is optional.
Unity in fellowship and good spiritual quality in meetings are supported by this definition.  Without defining sexual sobriety, we would make it possible for those who are still practicing lust in some fashion to lead meetings and hold policy-making positions affecting not only the group but SA as a whole.  This could also compromise the spiritual atmosphere so that the power of God’s presence would not be active in the meetings and fellowship.  While groups may stay together without a commitment to sobriety – just as individuals may temporarily feel better without it(we have found that there is no true spiritual unity in groups without a shared commitment to sobriety and progress in recovery.  “Personal recovery depends on SA unity” (Tradition One).  Sobriety and victory over lust are the bases for our unity and common welfare, which must come first.  Our sobriety is the sine qua non, the necessary basis of our recovery and fellowship.  Without experiencing it, we have nothing.
For us, sobriety works.
We “Live and Let Live,” but we do not call one another sober unless we are practicing sobriety.

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