From Technical Sobriety To Proactive Sobriety

I joined SA in 2017, but I’d heard about it six years earlier… Yes, it took me six painful years to come to the point where I could say: “I am a sexaholic. I am powerless over lust because I am sick.”

Denial, the desire to control and a lack of understanding about my hopeless condition kept me from the road of happy destiny. But thank God that, when an addict doubts his being an addict, the evidence will arrive, one way or another. This is what happened to me. After breaking all my boundaries, one after one, I was finally ready to admit: “I can’t procrastinate any longer; this thing will destroy my life; I need to join this terrible scary Program.” And guess what happened: I got sober!

I acted out one more time, two weeks after my first meeting. A week after that, I watched pornography for the last time after which I reset my sobriety date to August 24th, 2017. I remember the conversation I had with my sponsor after that episode. It was hilarious: “I watched porn for about one hour last night, but thank God I didn’t lose my sobriety,” I said. “Who told you that you didn’t?” came the response. Here, I was introduced to the SA sobriety definition and I embraced it—or at least I thought I did.

For a couple of years I strictly adhered to the principle that sex with self and watching pornography would mean loss of sobriety. But I got bored and restless with these constraints. The program became tedious and repetitive, and I started becoming irritable and finding fault with my fellows.

Being sober, I entitled myself to laugh at those who used to qualify their sobriety, saying for example they were twelve years sober from masturbation and three months sober from pornography. By now, I regarded my sobriety as a personal achievement. I became blind with pride. I ignored the fact that, beyond actual pornographic websites, movies and images, there were things which were pornographic “to me”; that lust is not solely what I do, but also what I think; what I allow to happen inside my head.

So I would keep fantasizing, spying on my neighbors, taking risks walking undressed in my courtyard, reading articles in the news that aroused my lust; watching filtered images (because I am one of those with filters!) from innocent Uncle Google. And I would minimize it because it was not “forbidden”; it was not lust. I practiced what I’ve heard since called “technical sobriety,” and it stinks.

A major stress at work pushed me over the edge; my disease became more aggressive and I started taking more risks. My sponsor suggested I try working with a new sponsor. In July of this year, I began working with a new sponsor and straightaway adopted his perspective that this program is a ZERO LUST program.

I spent three months working on Step 1 before I really, at heart, came to accept that I am totally powerless over lust; that I cannot indulge in sexual fantasies; follow people with my eyes or with my feet; read news with sexual content… I can’t do any of these things because if I do, I become sick to such an extent that it could endanger my very life.

I celebrated my third year of sobriety two months ago, and I shared with my fellows that I was actually really sober just a couple of weeks. Little by little, one day at a time, practicing this program over and over again, I see a new attitude developing in my mind: I not only stop looking for “occasions,” but I can even step back from them. I can, for the first time in my life, acknowledge that there is perhaps something lustful going on over there, and move in the opposite direction. What a blessing! What a blessing!

Today I can honestly say that I do not support technical sobriety. I don’t say this from some theoretical point of view, but rather from my own painful experience. Technical sobriety was a barren way of life for me. Just refraining from something bad didn’t fill my inner void. Being proactive and turning to God, surrendering every slightest sip of my lust does fill the void. And every time I practice it I can feel the skies smiling at me and the angels singing their favorite: “Way to go! It works if you work it! Keep coming back!”

Benny D., Jerusalem. Israel

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