SA Sobriety Grows in Kenya

I grew up in a dysfunctional home with all types of abuse. My father was a workaholic and my mother was codependent. At the age of 4 or 5 I was subjected to sexual abuse by a female member of my household. The abuse continued for some years and totally altered my life. Something inside me closed up and I knew instinctively that this had to stay a secret. To add on to this, I received frequent and painful verbal and physical abuse from my parents. I was told that I was nothing, that I would always amount to nothing. To escape my insecurities I strived to be the good kid. I always did what I was told. I became an overachiever at school and used that as my way of proving I was good enough and escaping the difficulties at home. From a young age, I learnt to escape from reality into fantasy to avoid pain. I also built up an emotional wall to protect myself. My self-esteem was totally destroyed by the consistent verbal abuse as well as by the guilt and shame I felt due to the sexual abuse. I was an addict waiting to happen.

I discovered sex, alcohol and drugs in quick succession in my early years at university. Living far from home I was free to experiment all I wanted. My disease progressed quickly from watching porn in cybercafes to acting out with prostitutes. I soon got into dysfunctional sexual relationships that I used to try and fill the void I felt within. A combination of my drug, sex and alcohol addictions took all my time and in my fourth year of university I was suspended for a year. This should have been a wake-up call but the only result is that I got more time on my own to indulge in my addiction.

I completed my last year of university and joined the workforce. Things quickly became worse because my job involved a lot of travel and I had the funds to fuel my addictions. I looked forward to the trips when I could indulge in my lust and alcohol addictions in freedom amongst people who did not know me. I also discovered online chats as my porn addiction progressed. What followed was a period that I call the lost years. They were a complete haze. I went through multiple relationships all the while acting out consistently. On the surface things were going well and I grew in my profession and even got married and we had a child. But on the inside I was isolated, detached and lived only inside my head fueled by lust filled fantasies.

Years before I came into the program I knew there was something wrong and even searched for a solution online. I tried many times to quit but after a while I would always go back to acting out. Over the years, acting out destroyed my ability to relate with others as I was always “not there.” My significant relationships suffered. Two years into my marriage we had our second child. By this time the marriage was barely functioning. I emotionally abandoned my wife and family as I spent more and more time acting out and looking to escape the financial and relationship difficulties I was facing at the time.

Coupled with my drug and alcohol addiction, my lust addiction brought me to my knees. I was at the end of my rope. I believed that life was not worth living and was in excruciating emotional pain from going against myself and my values repeatedly. I was completely powerless over the disease and my life was a total mess.

One day during a foreign trip and after another acting out session, I looked online for sex addiction recovery fellowships. Luckily there was an SA meeting not far from where I was staying. I was in this meeting for the three months of my trip, physically sober but lusting all the time. After I returned home I immediately relapsed. Humbled, I joined my local group and have been sober since.

To say I was willing would be an understatement. I thank my Higher Power every day for the desperation and pain that brought me to my knees and finally to the doors of SA. I got sober and, together with a sponsor, worked all 12 steps. Writing out my Step 1 and sharing it with the group allowed me to start getting out of the shame of secrets. This was extremely freeing and was the beginning of bringing all the secrets I held on the inside out. My sponsor also insisted that I do service and I took on multiple service positions. I made calls to other members daily and went to an average of 5-7 meetings a week for years. Working Steps 4 and 5 was like a house cleaning. I was finally able to face who I was and start accepting myself. The fact that my sponsor knew who I really was and accepted me nonetheless was a great joy.

Steps 6 and 7 allowed me to surrender my defects to my Higher Power. Fear and resentment characterized most of my life. With my Higher Power I have been able to face many of my fears. My fear of rejection and failure, my fears of not being accepted for who I was have all diminished considerably as I worked this step on them and did the opposite action by acting with courage. Once I was off the lust I realized I was just as addicted to resentment. I got a high from playing the tape of how I was wronged and how right I was and how I would tell them off next time. However, I soon realized that resentment (justified or not) cut me off from my Higher Power.

Steps 8 and 9 allowed me to start restoring my relationships. I am slowly mending my relationships with my siblings and parents after many years of being unavailable emotionally to them. I am also making the important amends that I needed to make to myself for the self-harm I did. My major amends to myself has been to stay in the program no matter what. The program has brought me the joy and hope that I had all but lost from years of acting out. Steps 10, 11 and 12 allow me to stay sober every day. My transformation in ideas, emotions and attitudes truly came about because of working the Steps.

I have begun to receive the Step 9 Promises of peace and serenity. I have also been able to pull through some of the most difficult moments of my life including losing a job. In recent times I have also been forced to face my codependency and lack of emotional sobriety.

It would not be true to say I am free from lust in all its forms. However, I am grateful for using the tools the program provides to surrender the lust rather than fight it. For me the program is my first priority. Without it I have nothing. I build my day around my program, not try to fit my program into my life. Where I live in Nairobi, Kenya, public meetings in churches and schools are banned or controlled by the government, so we have not resumed in-person meetings. However, we have four teleconference meetings per week. There are 55 members in our WhatsApp group, 15 of whom attend the weekly meetings.

Sexaholism is a painful and progressive disease. For years I watched helplessly as I crossed one boundary after another, drugged by the seductive promise of release and validation, knowing always that I was killing the best parts of me. I am truly grateful to the program for restoring me from the scrap heap of humanity where I was always on the sidelines, living in my head. Since July 2016 (my sobriety date), I have slowly started to take part in life, engaging in my interests and growing new friendships inside and outside the program. I have also slowly started letting go of my need to control and manipulate others to fulfill my needs. I have started to accept myself as a member of the human race, no better or worse than others. To laugh at myself and my eccentricities. To start developing relationships with my children. To know just how blessed I am to have found this fellowship that has given me back my sanity and hope in life, not as I would have it be, but just as my HP sees fit.

Mathew M., Nairobi, Kenya

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