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True Joy Is in Sharing with Others

My name is Raphael. I’m a grateful, recovering sexaholic. I’ve been sober by the grace of G-d and the help of all of you in this program of SA since April 7th, 2019.

What was I like before I came into SA? For most of my life, I was two completely different people, separated by a thin veil. To the outside world, I was kind, outgoing, generous, funny, and always ready to help. In short, I made every attempt to appear as close to the person I thought you wanted me to be. But, if I was by myself, or, more importantly, if I thought I was unseen, I was greedy, selfish, insecure, and without any sense of personal boundaries. Privacy was irrelevant. I lacked any shred of integrity. I stole, snooped, peeped, coveted, invaded, and violated. If I suspected there was something hidden that I wanted, I would go to any lengths, legal or otherwise, to get it. I was utterly consumed by lust. And that lust knew no bounds. I read diaries. Unlocked doors. Rifled through underwear drawers. Stole intimate photos. Looked through keyholes and cracks in walls. “The only way to be free of it was to do it.” I had become utterly convinced that I didn’t matter, and by extension, my choices didn’t matter either.

At a few different junctures, I was caught by innocent and unsuspecting people. Their hurt, shock, and disappointment had an effect on me, but it never lasted long. I always managed to convince myself that my biggest problem wasn’t the behaviors, or the unaddressed feelings and diseased attitudes that drove those behaviors. It was that I got caught, and next time I wouldn’t get caught.

Well, as one might imagine with that attitude, I got caught again. This time by someone who went to the police. And what happened next changed everything. I realized somehow, in that moment, that I had to stop at any cost. I don’t mean just to stop the behaviors. But to stop the entire direction of my life. In essence, without knowing about the Steps, I admitted I was powerless and my life had become unmanageable. I know now that G-d had opened my eyes in such a way that I could no longer deny, evade, escape, or otherwise wiggle off the hook of my own actions. It was admit that I had a problem or die. And in that moment of awakening, I didn’t want to die.

At the earliest opportunity, I sought help. I went to a therapist who by the grace of G-d referred me to SA. She told me I had to go to a meeting a day for the foreseeable future. And instead of recoiling at the prospect of attending a meeting for people addicted to sex, I felt relief and curiosity. I attended my first meeting of SA on April 16th, 2019.

I didn’t get a sponsor right away. I was too afraid. I worried that things I might divulge would get me in more trouble. I now realize that my fears were misplaced. I was still trying to hold on to some of my old ideas. I wouldn’t say the “results were nil,” but I didn’t get to experience the full benefits of this program until I let go absolutely.

And that’s closer to what I’m like now. After getting a sponsor and working the Steps, I started raising my hand at meetings and volunteering to sponsor others and work them through the Steps. It hasn’t always kept my sponsees sober, but it’s certainly kept me sober. And if I’m not sober, I’m no good to the sexaholics who still suffer.

I have a completely changed outlook on life. I have discovered true vulnerability and intimacy are where true joy and connection reside. I had been pretending, play-acting, at those things for my entire life. But there’s no substitute for the real connection. And once I actually experienced it, I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep it in my life.

I am still very much a sexaholic. I am utterly powerless over lust, and without G-d’s help, my life is just as unmanageable as it ever was. But the difference is that I know that now, and I know there’s a solution. I don’t have to suffer. What used to appear to me as an all-consuming obsession is now just another choice I have. But there are so many other choices today, and all of them are better.

Today, I am incarcerated. I am a convicted felon and registered sex offender. Upon my release in January of 2025 I will have to live under very strict guidelines or face the rest of my life in prison. And I accept all of that. And in my better moments, I am grateful for those guardrails. They stand to help me stay aware of how serious my disease is if left under my own power and control.

Today, I know that true joy is in sharing with others. Sharing with you.

Thank you for letting me share.

Raphael, Virginia, USA

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