Believe the Lies or Adopt the Slogans

Can I differentiate the true from the false? In my disease, I never thought about that question prior to recovery. It simply did not matter. I am a pleasure seeker. What makes me happy or comfortable was what was important. In recovery, I have the opportunity to examine my beliefs and ask the God of my understanding to help me see the truth.

Paraphrasing The Doctor’s Opinion (AA XXVIII), I lust essentially because I like the effect it produces. That was pleasure. The sensation (produced by lusting and my acting out behaviors) is so elusive that, while I admit it is injurious, after a while I cannot differentiate the true from the false. I think my sexaholic life is normal. I surrounded myself with other sexaholics so my perception was that my behaviors were the norm.

As I worked the Steps with a sponsor, I found I believed some lies that had a direct effect on my decisions in life. Many are common cultural beliefs. I will share some of my favorites, which I used to justify my acting out behaviors of flirting, having affairs (regardless of his or my marital status), keeping many secrets, objectifying men and leading a double life. Here are a few examples of the lies I believed and the associated effects in my life as I see them today.

The lie I believed Effects of that Lie on my Life (What I did) I have to have a man in my life to make me a complete person. Started seeing other men before divorce from first husband. Frequently started another relationship before terminating the current one. What he does not know will not hurt him. Kept secrets. Hid correspondence and pictures - was sneaky. All is fair in love and war. Did not respect boundaries, like marriage status. Betrayed friends by seducing their boyfriends or flirting with their husbands. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. (This saying means do not risk everything in one endeavor). Juggled multiple relationships at the same time. Always needed the security of knowing I was involved with someone or had someone else in mind as my next relationship – or hostage or victim might be a more accurate term. Just because I am on a diet does not mean I cannot look at the menu. Even if I am in a relationship, I can still look at (objectify) other men. It is normal to go outside my marriage if sex is not satisfying at home. Totally selfish and self-centered thinking. I did not recognize that sex was more than a physical act for pleasure. True intimacy was impossible. This lie provided justification for affairs. I deserve to have what I want, when I want it. I am entitled to sexual pleasure. Arrogant self-centered thinking - resulted in sexually transmitted diseases and an abortion. Someday my knight in shining armor will arrive, sweep me off my feet, and I get to live happily ever after. Then it will be easy to leave my current marriage for the knight. Fostered fantasy and dependency. Allowed me not to take responsibility for my own happiness. Nurtured the blame I assigned to my husband. And one that can be a danger at any time, even throughout recovery: “I got this”. I do not believe I need help. Allows me to make independent, unilateral decisions. Based on believing all the lies - does not produce sound decisions.

You can imagine the unmanageability of my life based on such beliefs. What inspired me to want to change? After all, having affairs had been fun at first. Flirting, intrigue, planning rendezvous, exchanging secret cards and letters was exhilarating for a while. I did not have any legal incentives. I was not discovered or publicly exposed in any way.

I was simply miserable. Between my brief episodes of indulging in lust, I was “restless, irritable and discontented.” (AA xxviii) In addition, I was easily annoyed, chronically malcontent and quick to blame others for everything I found wrong. Without putting words to it at the time, I started to experience the saying, “I am violating my standards faster than I can lower them.”

Thank goodness for the 12 Steps, meetings, our literature, and sponsors who helped guide me to more healthy beliefs. Many of which are summarized in healthy slogans of recovery such as, “I am as sick as my secrets.” Wow. That started opening my eyes to how sick I was. It helped me start to see that I am powerless over lust and that my life might be unmanageable by me.

The slogan, “If I spot it, I’ve got it” was especially irritating and helpful to me when I went through Step four. I call it the mirror. Whenever I am annoyed by another person’s behavior, I need to look at how I do the same behaviors in other circumstances; of how I disturb others in the same way.

I can always notice a negative characteristic in another person before I can see it in myself. So, “Thank you” to all who have annoyed me in the past as that has helped me see my mistakes and character defects! Today after a brief moment of irritation, I recognize the mirror and the gift … usually. Sometimes it is during my 11th Step nightly review when I really see the mirror and feel the gratitude.

Steps Eight and Nine suggest I list people I have harmed. What is harm? My addicted brain filled with justifications to remove people from the list. From our AA book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions I learned that harm includes physical, mental, emotional or spiritual damage (12&12 80).

Of course I was doing harm living a life based on the lies I believed prior to recovery. In recovery I was becoming humble, taking responsibility and making right the wrongs I had done to the best of my ability with God’s help. I was starting to shift from behaviors stemming from the lies I believed to the truth. I was supported by others who had gone before and by the new slogans I learned in recovery such as:

  • Let go and let God.
  • One day at a Time.
  • Keep it simple
  • Acceptance is the key.
  • Without God, I can’t. Without me God Won’t.
  • If I spot it, I’ve got it.
  • Don’t quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens.
  • Easy Does it, but do it.
  • Progress not perfection.

As a result of working the steps, I have experienced a spiritual awakening of the educational variety as described in the Big Book, Appendix II, page 567. I have had a “personality change” and I have experienced a “profound alteration in my reaction to life.”

I no longer crave men’s attention, flirt, lust after men, lie, keep secrets and all the other things I did pre-recovery. I continue to try to become fit for service to God and my fellows. I am active in my home group, my intergroup, a women’s meeting, and other online meetings. I have a sponsor and many others I can call for support. I have sponsees. I seek out ways to study the Big Book and SA literature with fellow sexaholics. Clearly, I am a different person from the one I was when I lived according to the lies I chose to believe regardless of the consequences to anyone.

Here are other tools I use to support my recovery in addition to the 10th and 11th Step daily practices. These four questions continue to guide me well:

  1. Am I willing to go to any lengths for my recovery?
  2. Is what I’m thinking about doing going to support my recovery?
  3. Is what I’m thinking about doing something I want to keep secret?
  4. Did I remember to pause and ask God for direction?

Today I reject the lies I used to believe and embrace the simple slogans I find in the program. May you uncover any lies you unconsciously believe so you too can choose what beliefs will guide your actions.

Susie B., Idaho, USA

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