Just before I came to SA, I hit my personal rock bottom. On the outside, it was not so obvious that my life had become unmanageable. I was still married with children, had my health, a home, a job and a community. But inside I was at my most desperate and darkest hour.
My mind was obsessed with sexual fantasy. If my brain was not occupied with some demanding task then it was planning how I could get my next fix. What pornographic videos could I search for? When could I create a window of opportunity to sexually act out? And there was no “OFF button.” My whole day became a burdensome slog of activities and interactions that I needed to get out of the way so I could get down to the real reason for my existence. A few hours in front of the screen with self-indulgent fantasy, the high, the stimulation, the masturbation and the attempt to hold on to it as long as I could before fatigue and emotional exhaustion would take hold. And then go to sleep, wake up, and do it all again.
As I engaged more and more in my drugged fantasy state, I became more and more detached from reality, from people, from my own sense of self. My obsession with sex led to sick attitudes; it made me more self-centered, a complete narcissist. I could not stick the drudge of reality with all its responsibilities and obligations and demands, things that distracted me from my goals—constant self-gratification and the oblivion of unreality.
I had become a shell of a person. Isolated, ashamed to look others in the eye, pained at looking myself in the mirror, not recognizing the “thing” that was looking back at me. Anything valuable and worthwhile in life was useless compared to lust. I had no direction and felt I had nothing to offer anyone. I just wanted to escape into sexual oblivion. But, after a two-year spree, in which I had completely given myself over to my disease without reservation, a Higher Power did for me what I could not do for myself.
I burned out. The drug stopped working. For twenty years lust had always provided a measure of escape and sedation. But now it wasn’t working, even as I persisted with the same actions, the same effort to enjoy lust, the last vestiges of the illusion fell away. This graceful respite gave me pause long enough to experience the horrific spiritual and emotional deadness that I had been medicating with lust. The pain was unbearable.
With the pain came the openness and willingness to try and let go some of the weight that had been dragging me down. It was clear to me then what I needed to do. I became willing to remove the internet from my home and from devices. That first night, disconnected from the main source of my “life,” I anticipated that I might go crazy with restlessness and bounce off the walls, but instead a peace descended on me such as I had never known. I felt embraced by the loving presence of a Higher Power. I felt hope, that maybe it is possible to find another way to live.
For a short time, I was on a pink cloud of relief, but slowly, the street lusting and fantasies crept back into my consciousness. I had been told about twelve step programs by a friend but I had never been open enough to consider leaving the comfort of my familiar hell and sharing my weakness with others, especially in this area. Again, my Higher Power intervened. It happened by a fellow reaching out to me in the spirit of the 12th Step. I had participated in a self-improvement group, where we shared about personal challenges. I had never been honest about my lust issues until then. When he heard me share about street lust and fantasy and how I felt powerless over them, he identified. He had been struggling with similar behaviors. He told me, “I’m a sexaholic and I think you may be too. Myself and another guy want to have a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting in town. Will you come?”
I’m not sure what made me say yes but, by all I had been experiencing up to then, my mind and heart opened up enough to say yes.
I could never have imagined what a profound effect this decision would have on my life and the lives of others. This was the first English-speaking SA meeting in my city of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. That was in 2013.
I got into recovery and have been sober, one day at a time, ever since. I gave up my old, selfish life. I gave myself over to the care and guidance of a loving Higher Power. I was willing to take direction, and to live by spiritual principles. As I gained sobriety and recovery, I felt finally I had something of value to share with others—my experience, strength and hope with the still suffering sexaholic. I sponsored others and grew spiritually under the guidance of my own sponsors. My life changed. I was reborn.
But I want to share with you about how my own spiritual awakening became a seed, planted by my Higher Power, for personal and group growth, over the next 10 years.
We went from two or three people, meeting once a week, to three meetings a week with a dozen or so committed members. From the beginning I wanted to contribute to the development of my local group by doing service as secretary or treasurer. Eventually I helped found our first local intergroup out of the three groups at the time.
From there I represented my intergroup among a larger local intergroup in Beit Shemesh. Eventually, we grew to a point where we joined the regional intergroup and I was the representative. Our local intergroup grew into representing around seven meetings. I served in different ways. When we put on a local English conference, I chaired that event and later helped with another two events with the other large English intergroup in Jerusalem.
My Higher Power continued to motivate my heart to seek out new opportunities to grow in service and give back to SA. A fellow who was involved in the Sponsor by Mail program for the Correctional Facilities Committee (CFC) asked me to get involved. I sponsored an inmate and got involved in helping assign sponsors to fellows in prison in the U.S. I became involved in the International Convention Committee (ICC). I helped us secure the slot for our upcoming convention in 2024. I became Co-Chair for the convention. I became an Alternate Delegate for the Israel Region, and recently became the Delegate, part of the voice of SA as a whole.
I got to see, not just myself, but several members of my home group grow into significant contributors to the SA service structure, locally and internationally. I mention all this not to boast, but to share with you what my Higher Power has done with my life, which used to be so selfish, lonely, empty, and self-destructive. When God is my Principal, and I become His agent, His carrier of the message of SA recovery, amazing things can happen, for myself and for those around me. I want to encourage others to grow in service and seek out opportunities to contribute to the spiritual health of SA as a whole. It continues to repay in greater measures of joy and real connection than I could have ever imagined.