Further Anatomy of a Lust Hit

Those of us with a little experience in recovery know the various strategies of the “18-Wheeler” for dealing with a lust hit (SA 157). I would like to add a “Number Zero” to the list. I have learned through prayer and through discussion with my daily sobriety renewal partner that part of the power of a lust hit is in the belief that the object of my lust has something I do not.

My DSR partner is same-sex attracted, so he admits that he feels jealousy of his lust objects’ bodies. I have long noticed that my most forceful lust hits are with people who seem to be “out of my league.” Of course, there are no leagues, but sometimes fantasy tells me that someone’s physical beauty gives them a power, a confidence, that I need.

We all know the intense yearning that characterizes some lust experiences. In examining these feelings, I have found that they falsely promise to make me whole. “It’s all I ever wanted” is the thought that accompanies them. What if the thought is right, but the object of my yearning is wrong? The White Book does say that we need to find what we were looking for in lust if we are to be satisfied and happy (SA 163: “I was beginning to have what my lust had really been looking for”).

I have learned that lust is most forceful when I think the object of my lust has something I do not. The belief is that if I can be with them physically, I will shore up my inadequacy. If I feel whole and complete, the intensity of the lust hit diminishes to being nothing more than a nonsensical suggestion that getting entangled with someone (and maybe harming them) will help me.

The lust claim is like sympathetic magic: if I touch that person and own them I will become them, control their prized quality. They seem confident and beautiful; if they assent to being with me physically, then, the belief suggests, I will be able to cannibalize that quality from them, steal that life from them.

But “thinking through the slip” shows me that this has never worked for me. It brings mutual pain and a deeper disappointment, as acting out creates another burden of guilt, and the difficulty of waking up from a drunken stupor.

So I add to my list of ways to overcome lust and temptation Item Zero: Know from my Higher Power that I am enough. Know that my Higher Power does not see me as broken, or as an addict or as less than. My Higher Power loves me as I am (but wants me to grow and mature).

The reason why I receive the measure I give is because giving activates my awareness of how much I have— potentially, a long list of good things, including self-assurance, kindness, generosity.

Roy K. writes in Anatomy of a Look: “And God’s provision is for me just as I am” (Recovery Continues p. 42). I need to take actions to know that I have everything good and that I am enough; I need to have a Higher Power so I don’t need to make someone else my higher power. I need to act my way there through all the tools we are familiar with: steps, meetings, DSR, program literature.

By surrendering my erroneous thoughts bit by bit through daily prayer and surrender (Steps 3 and 7), by knowing that Life is bigger than my harms to self and others (Steps 9 and 10), by knowing my Higher Power (Step 11), and by learning that I can do good for others (Step 12). I learn in my being (not my intellect) that I am enough, that there is nothing I need to crave for or lust after.

Mike M., Taipei, Taiwan

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