The Greatest Amends You Can Make Is a Changed Life

I came into SA on February 26, 1999 and by the grace of God and numerous miracles have stayed physically sexually sober since that day. SA did not emerge in Australia until about 1988 in Wentworthville, Sydney and a group in Melbourne that initially met on a park bench. All of the original founding members had ties to AA but have now passed away or left the program. I was part of the second wave of members or second generation, joining in the late 90’s.

First Stage of My Sober Life
In the first seven years of sobriety a lot of things changed and had to change. I came into SA with my addictive nature and remember thinking if one meeting was good then I would go to every meeting. At that time there were only three groups in Melbourne.

I did go to a few AA meetings as well, but did not identify as a sexaholic nor did I share at all: I simply listened and was quite in awe of some of the old-timers who were 30 or 40 years without a drink—they were superhuman, in my eyes. Everyone in the group told me to work the Steps but no-one really wanted me as a sponsee, probably because I questioned everything and started discussions which turned into arguments.

I would arrive early direct from work and set up the room, banners, coffee, topics, agendas, chairs, and signs, and wait for others to arrive. I did listen intently at meetings to the sober members and the unsober members because someone said to me that there would be one gem in every share and I should look for it, and this proved to be true.

I found an SA buddy who was six months ahead of me and we became firm friends—going to dinner before the meeting at the pizza restaurant or coffee afterwards and driving to conferences together. We co-sponsored each other for many of the first years, as we discussed and worked the steps together.

In the early days in the 1990’s there was not much in the way of supporting literature and in a moment of inspiration I telephoned SAICO who gave me a contact of an American citizen in SA who was stationed in Japan. Within four weeks a parcel arrived in the form of a very large

envelope containing all the things he had spoken about. I started using the worksheets and adapted some additional ones and am still using them successfully to this very day in guiding sponsees through the Steps.

I continued therapy as well as meetings and l wanted to know if there had been a significant change in me at my one-year anniversary of my sobriety—to which my therapist replied that addicts do not show a change until about seven years sober. I was so proud when I came home on my first anniversary, having received a chip, l was so excited! I asked my wife if she noticed any change in me after a year of going to SA and she simply replied “No.” I was gutted!

I felt as if I had tried so hard and achieved so little and felt like throwing in the towel and leaving. I managed to keep going because I did not want to be a quitter. I saw that there was no cure for addiction and that it was my lot for life, but if I took my “medicine” daily, I could have a sober and “normal” life.

Things were coming to a head in all areas of my life and when I was approximately one year sober in SA I went to work and snapped—I threw my computer through the wall and went home using every four-letter word I could think of. I was diagnosed with extreme stress and burnout and was sent on medical leave.

Second Stage of My Sober Life
Things started to change in about the eighth year of sobriety in a way I could actually see and also my long-suffering wife started to notice a few glimpses of recovery. The saying “The greatest amends you can make is a changed life” has been of great meaning to me as my time in SA has placed me in contact with many sick, unreliable and fragmented people who make outlandish promises which were heartfelt and true at the time, but never carried out.

I waited until I had been sober for over 10 years and met with each of my children individually for a coffee and brought up the subject of addiction and sobriety and amends. I spoke about having an “addictive nature” and if an alcoholic picked up a drink they could not stop and I was the same with lust and “playboy” magazines that I should not pick one up because I was addicted.

By the time I was approximately 12 years sober I did suffer another breakdown due to several factors mainly physical. I ran out of prescription medicine prescribed by my doctor and psychologist right back from the start when I suffered a huge burnout initially. My best thinking told me that I was okay and I could just stop taking drugs because I was sober, well, and fully healed. I looked at an R Rated website—no physical touching but just as my wife walked into the room and the guilt and remorse and embarrassment flooded back just like it was yesterday!

That night I packed a small bag and a toothbrush and went to bed normally. In the small hours of the night, I rolled my work van down the drive so as to make no noise and left. I had some money and continued my external life however my wife and adult children had no idea of my whereabouts. I slept in my van, went to SA meetings, spoke to my sponsor in the USA, all the while in denial, I showered at a church, and no-one knew that anything was wrong.

After a week my family reported me to Missing Persons and to the police who were looking for me. About a week later I received a text message from our eldest daughter which I answered and decided to go and stay with her and sleep on the floor in the lounge room and we talked.

I knew I had to go home but was so full of guilt, pain, remorse and most of all brainpower and sanity. I returned and took up medicine again, confessed to my wife what was in my head and she was kind and accepting and said that she noticed me going downhill in decision making for quite a while but did not intervene (what can you tell an addict?). The major lesson I had learned was that healing has to come about in all three areas and I had disregarded the physical and had not continued to take my medicine—with disastrous ramifications.

Third Stage of My Sober Life
In this later stage of recovery there has been quite a growth in spiritual standing and position. In the early part of the program, I had a good head knowledge of religion and God via my church program but really, I did not know God. I knew a lot about God but I had not had a spiritual experience or a spiritual awakening in the areas of lust, pornography or related areas.

I can remember early in the proceedings being in a SA meeting on the topic of forgiveness where I had carried a deep-seated hatred and distrust in my mother-in-law because of the hurts caused to us when we got married.

The meeting really hit a nerve and I felt that I needed to forgive her but did not know how to go about it. The speaker said that when we resent it is like drinking the poison and expecting the other person to die! I knew I was sick and did not wish to die just then so I said a prayer “God, I cannot forgive her, but would you be able to forgive her for me”—and a miracle happened. I felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders literally. I walked away from the meeting floating on air and felt free and happy and released— such is the power of the program and my Higher Power.

Service work has been a high priority since joining and I was involved in setting up the first Intergroup in Melbourne and currently hold the position of Chairman and have served in all roles. Intergroup has involvement in organizing State Conferences and also connects to the Australian National Board where I also served as Vice Chairman up to this year and now as a Group Service Representative (GSR).

Sponsorship has been ongoing since inception into SA and I have lost count of the 100’s of people I have sponsored since I started but currently have the role of guiding seven sponsees through the Steps. Sponsees come from many places including interstate and overseas and I speak with them weekly and have daily contact via email. Attending conventions has been a great part of my growth and I loved attending my last convention in Chicago where I met some great people and witnessed members with long sobriety and recovery. Attending meetings has been important and I currently attend my home group each Wednesday and also 2-3 other meetings per week which I enjoy.

Summing up, I say that SA is a way of life for me and not just a quick-fix course where I get my Degree or Certificate of Completion and then leave. It has become a way of life and become part of my DNA and progressively over the years has changed my life, my thinking and attitudes to be more in line with those of my Higher Power.

Steve P., Melbourne, Australia

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