Strength Office 1
I used to be so lost in my disease that I couldn’t work, at least not efficiently, effectively and over long, moderate periods of time.
Then it took 40 years to reshuffle the cards I was dealt in my childhood.
Still couldn’t work much cause I was fixin’ me.
Now I can...
Strength Office 2
"Why shouldn’t we laugh…we have recovered"
Big Book p. 132
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I have trusted for nearly 38 years this admonition: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these shall be added to you".
But once I got through repenting I was looking to be “Added to”.
I wasn’t demanding.
I wasn’t expecting.
But, honestly, my prayer was more like the old line: “God please give me some clear sign!
…Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank.”
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Prayer for humility:
“He is arrogant and never at rest because He is as greedy as the grave and like death…is never satisfied”
Strength Office 5
My financial “class”, is defined in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”, by the fact that I serve others through work.
Ironically, I have found that serving others is the best way to be happy, so I am grateful that my work is to serve others.
Strength Office 6
Here is how I want my outlook on work to look like from Dickens' Tale of Two Cities:
“Doctor Manette received such patients here as his old reputation, and its revival in the floating whispers of his story, brought him.
His scientific knowledge, and his vigilance and skill in conducting ingenious experiments, brought him otherwise into moderate request, and he earned as much as he wanted.”
Strength Office 7
“…for he who is poor has no share of the good things of life. ”
_Cervantes Don Quixote
Is that really true?
You get no share of the good things of life if you are poor?
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“…the people who worked with their hands were a class apart, and were made to feel it.”
I work with my hands and I am not “made to feel it” unless I am in a Bank, Symphony, Opera, Mercedes dealership or in Neimann Marcus.
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“I have never been in a situation where having money made it worse.”
“Money is better than poverty…if only for financial reasons."
“Money is an opportunity to exchange love and service”
_Step 12 AA 12x12
“Money isn’t everything, but it’s a long way ahead of what comes next.”
Strength Office 11
The Three Absolutes:
Keep a Spending Record
Keep a Spending Plan
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"Can we love the whole pattern of living as eagerly as we do the small segment of it we discover when we try to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety?"
Not until I got completely healed…then, and only then, in my experience, could I “Love the whole pattern living”
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“But they didn’t laugh and they didn’t dance. They didn’t sing or pick the guitars. ”
“And each wished he could pick a guitar, because it is a gracious thing.”
_The Grapes of Wrath
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“…they had put all their money into it—and they were working people, poor people, whose money was their strength, the very substance of them, body and soul, the thing by which they lived and for lack of which they died.”
“I have bought your soul…and I give it to God.”
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“It is everybody's duty to do as well for themselves as they can. ”
“A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of.”
Jane Austin's Mansfield Park
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“Money is not the most important thing in the world. Love is. Fortunately, I love money.”
“Money...it frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy.
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"The safest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it in your pocket."
“There is only one amount of money – just not enough.”
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My Resident Manager at The University of Virginia, John Thomas, who would become the first African American Virginia Supreme Court Justice would say “ You know what the best thing you can do for poor people? …Don’t become one!
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“If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.” -Lane Kirkland AFL-CIO leader
Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
When restraint and courtesy are added to strength, the latter becomes irresistible.
My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.
_Alfred Lord Tennyson
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”
“All adversity has strengthened me… a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
I'm coming from a place of total strength and humility now.
_Robert Downey, Jr.
“He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak.
_Louisa May Alcott
Nothing has more strength than dire necessity.
When strength is yoked with justice, where is a mightier pair than they?
That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
Atheism shows strength of mind, but only to a certain degree.
Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces.
My greatest strength is common sense. I'm really a standard brand…like Campbell's tomato soup!
Strength Office 21
On his deathbed Alexander the Great was asked who should succeed him?
He replied…”The strongest”
Strength starts with the courage to admit weakness.
First, I must admit I cannot stop doing something (masturbating , smoking, eating sugar, etc.).
That is humble, honest and God likes that sort of thing.
Prior to that, I am only using my willpower, which is very limited, sporadic and untrustworthy.
If I do not “admit” I cannot stop something, and keep trying, eventually, I become, not just weak, but a failure.
That is disconcerting….
Beyond that: A loser is a failure who knows he’s failing…but will not ask for help.
It is pride, control and rebellion.
On the other hand, from honesty and humility come the courage to admit defeat and ask for help.
As Saint Theresa would say, “Don’t let your sins become bad habits”
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“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
These are some of the tools I use to “complete” my recovery:
Disciplined sustained deep breathing
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“Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
When I was 20 I bought a copy of the Bhagavad Gita from some pushy gang with pony tails and saffron robes who were intimidating departing passengers until they were permanently banned from all airports in 1992.
Their God was four feet tall, azure and played the flute, quite different from the long haired, robed, sandaled man agonizing on a cross that my father acknowledged but didn’t really warm up to.
Their sole philosophy was “Say the following prayer and you will find peace”
“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare“
I figured I would give it a try.
Peace of mind seemed like a pretty good goal…and it would sure be a smack-in-the-face to my father.
And Pop! The prayer worked. My daily anxiousness went away. I was shocked.
I liked this azure God!
It didn’t take long to realize that it was the mental discipline of prayer that was diminishing my anxiety
45 years later: I still don’t know what that prayer actually means…
I don’t care. I still use it. It still calms me…and makes me strong
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As with the body, so with the Universe
“Nobody expects to trust his body overmuch after the age of fifty.”
(This was George Washington’s and America’s very first Secretary of Treasury)
Really? That must be sad to be essentially dead at 50.
Guess he didn’t have wheatgrass…
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Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?
This is the most radical and impactful spiritual statement in the Big Book.
Quietly, anonymously, the monotheism that has acculturated for nearly 4000 years in Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths is confronted...and we addicts are offered an alternate solution to find our own God...by nothing more illustrious than a simple, hopeless drunk.
Bill is saying that maybe there isn’t just one God…or perhaps more moderately, that there isn’t just one perspective on God.
But one thing is for sure, If you’re still acting out, your conception of God is failing you.
And it will take tremendous strength to walk away from a failed divine relationship
That’s where the group’s strength comes in.
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“No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.”
In the American South everybody is trying to be just like every else.
Not so in San Francisco. Here, everyone is militantly trying to be themselves.
I never understood Southerners for doing that, until I read this line from George Elliot’s Middlemarch:
“Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them.”
But…as addicts we ARE different.
I can’t drink alcohol, masturbate, or eat flour or sugar, or debt successfully.
I have to ‘Have the wisdom” to know the difference between me and my fellows…and humbly honor that difference as an act of “Enlightened self-interest”.
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“Insanity...lack of proportion.”
For our spiritual purposes, Insanity does not mean that you are in a padded room, with a white leather strait jacket, a syringe in your arm, and drooling out incomprehensibly childish expressions.
It means two simple things:
- Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results…That is crazy, physically.
2. Getting all anxious about our own particular pain and problems, because we have forgotten about other human’s challenges, and we are self-centeredly obsessing on our own issues…That is crazy, emotionally
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“As with the body…so with the Universe”
“As we are…so are the time”
“My body speaks for itself…”
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“Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.”
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“When should a man have sex with a woman? When he wants to lose the strength he has”
“Keep a path far from her, lest you give your best strength to others”
Solomon second wisest man in the world
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"The brute insolence of money"
“But how that money caused us to be honoured, feared, respected, courted, and admired, and made us powerful and glorious in the eyes of all men; and how that it could, very often, even keep off death, for a long time together. ”
Charles Dickens. “Dombey and Son."
“The darling of his desires was, to be a doctor, but poverty had decreed that he should be nothing higher than a village schoolmaster. ”
Mark Twain. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
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For cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of youthful looks,
Charles Dickens. “Barnaby Rudge."
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I was weak financially…Why?
My father loved money. I hated my father’s abuse…so, in my child’s mind, I hated what my father loved…I hated money.
That leads to only one thing…poverty.
I actually used to say “My name is Steve, and I am a poverty addict”
When I was in a custody case for my then three year old daughter I needed $400/hour for a Forensic Pediatric Psychiatrist to testify that I was the healthier parent, and that, therefore, my daughter should live with me.
I love my daughter, I needed money, and I have never been poor in the last 30 years.
One of the men I mentor is worth $200 million dollars.
I am not that strong…
…But I keep the wolf away from the door.
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I was weak relationally…
I couldn’t stay in relationships.
A girl would say, or do, something hurtful and I would pout, or cause a ruckus…and leave her.
I was convinced that it was her. She wasn’t the right girl, or she wasn’t pretty enough, or smart enough, or sexy enough…or something enough!
But, the truth was I didn’t know how to negotiate relationships when there was conflict.
If you shamed me, or blamed me, or yelled at me, or even just angrily told me what to do…I was figuring a way to get out the door.
Now I know better. I have tools.
Four of them to be precise:
Feelings, boundaries, limits and needs
The acronym “Fight, Back, Live, Now” helps me remember these four tools when I am in the heat of conflict.
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“If that degree of humility could enable us to find the grace by which such a deadly obsession could be banished, then there must be hope of the same result respecting any other problem we could possibly have.”
Here are some examples of how humility has guided inspired men and women who were hurt, to heal from their internal wounds, for the last 85 years:
For Substance Abuse:
AA – Alcoholics Anonymous
CA – Cocaine Anonymous
CMA – Crystal Meth Anonymous
FA – Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
FAA – Food Addicts Anonymous
HA – Heroin Anonymous
MA – Marijuana Anonymous
NA – Narcotics Anonymous
NicA – Nicotine Anonymous
OA – Overeaters Anonymous
PA – Pills Anonymous, for recovery from prescription pill addiction.
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In 1951, after attending AA meetings for 16 years, Lois, the wife of Bill Wilson, to whom God initially entrusted the message of 12 step, said, “Bill, I don’t drink, but I have the same character defects as you”, and she started Al-anon, a 12 step program for friends and family members of alcoholics.
Through her own internal spiritual work she found that she was a
- People pleaser
- And that she was controlling (trying to out-think her husband’s alcoholic behavior)
In the ensuing 69 years, other people, mostly women, have applied Lois’s spiritual revelations to other addictions.
See the following Wikipedia list for the types of Anon programs :
The Anon’s…for friends and family members of addicts
ACA – Adult Children of Alcoholics, for those who were raised in alcoholic and other dysfunctional families
Al-Anon/Alateen- for friends and families of alcoholics, associated with AA
Co-Anon- for friends and family of cocaine addicts, associated with Cocaine Anonymous
CoDA – Co-Dependents Anonymous, for people working to end patterns of dysfunctional relationships and loving relationships
COSA – for friends and family members associated with Sex Addicts Anonymous
CO-SLAA – CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous, for friends and family of people with a sex or love addiction, associated with SLAA
FA – Families Anonymous, for relatives and friends of all addicts
Gam-Anon -for friends and family members of problem gamblers
Nar-Anon - for friends and family members of Narcotics Anonymous
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In 1976, the ideas of Bill and Lois Wilson began to be applied to sexual issues .
These 12 Step groups for sex addiction were started in different parts of the US and by the time they became aware of each other their respective Third and Fifth Traditions were too firmly established for them to coalesce:
SA – Sexaholics Anonymous
SAA – Sex Addicts Anonymous
SCA – Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
SLAA – Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
SRA – Sexual Recovery Anonymous
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Other specialty 12 step groups developed during the Classic Period of 12 step, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and have endured and proved useful to people:
A subgroup on Money and Work:
DA – Debtors Anonymous
UA – Underearners Anonymous
WA – Workaholics Anonymous
GA – Gamblers Anonymous
As well as more specialized groups:
EA – Emotions Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness
N/A – Neurotics Anonymous, for recovery from mental and emotional illness
OLGA – Online Gamers Anonymous
RA – Racists Anonymous
CLA – Clutterers Anonymous
SIA – Survivors of Incest Anonymous
Strength Office 39...”Craziness”
Step 2: “Came to believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.”
What does insanity look like?
My friends have said I was crazy all my life. Honestly…I don’t know what they mean. But, I can guess.
Was it because I was drinking all night long, or taking drugs indiscriminately?
Was it my disdain of higher education or my flagrant disregard for financial security?
Was it my willingness to take the very dangerous risks of having sex with other men’s wives or girlfriends?
(That does seem kinda crazy, actually)
Was it because I dropped out of the University of Virginia to go on the road as a musician for four years, as did my musical hero, Hendrix?
I was so obsessed with a particularly lovely woman that I was considering giving up my first marriage, taking my 18 month old baby, and moving to Japan where there are no extradition laws, so that I could be with her…Is that be what he was alluding too?
Or, could it simply be the extravagant, hyperbolic and superlative nature of my speech, designed to make perfect strangers laugh uncontrollably?
No, I think he meant “Crazy like a fox”:
That is, “ Behavior appearing to be insane or nonsensical at first glance, but there's actually something very clever and subtle to it that's working toward their interests in unexpected ways”.
“A person who is smart and can outwit other people”.
Yep, that’s probably it…I guess that’s better than being a lunatic.
Strength Office 40: Cool benefits of stayin’ sexually sober
Some benefits of sexual recovery:
No feeling “Pitifully and incomprehensibly demoralized”.
No fear of someone suddenly coming into the room and finding me masturbating.
No depression. That is so valuable I’ll say it again…No, depression.
No wondering whether or not I really “Loved God” because my religion said I was clearly not obeying Him, by acting out.
No ‘Spilling my seed” so that I can, instead, use that virility to share pleasure to my partner.
No having the capacity for joyous erection being diminished due to masturbation.
The capacity to be self-restrained sexually, with my partner, so that we are completely sure she is sexually satisfied…before proceeding.
Being okay to walk around in neighborhoods that are rife with pretty, young , attractively dressed women…and be serene.
Being reasonably okay with myself, when, if I want be sexual and my partner is not available, because she is tired, doesn’t feel well, is working or just wants to do something else.
The successful middle circle boundary of not thinking of other women…when I am being sexual with my partner.
The surety of commitment, that, if my partner chooses to stop being sexual, I am confident in my not seeking sexual pleasure with other women
And not the least of which…The capacity to be sexual regularly and periodically, when needed, to increase the probability of impregnation.
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Benefits of sobriety:
There is a feeling called “Pitiful and Incomprehensible demoralization” from page 30 in the Big Book, the page that so aptly describes the denial that all addicts experience:
“We alcoholics are men and women who have lost the ability to control our drinking. We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals - usually brief - were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization”
Being sexually sober eradicates this feeling.
It is the feeling that occurs when one’s soul wants to do one thing (stay sober) and one’s body does the exact opposite (act out).
It is the feeling of a man in conflict with himself.
It is the feeling the alcoholic describes simply as “a hangover”.
It is a meta-feeling, meaning it is a feeling which contains several feelings, some of which may be:
One of the benefits of sexual sobriety is the absence of this feeling.
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Gifts of sexual sobriety from online dating:
Not having to decide:
if Tinder is more healthy than Grindr
if E-harmony is too brainy
If Match.com is too expensive
if I am too young for Our Time
if Ok Cupid has better girls than Plenty of Fish
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Obsession with perfection is a character defect. Why?
Because it harms people when their feelings, boundaries, limits or needs are not honored in pursuit of an impossible perfection.
It may disguised and misnamed as the pursuit of beauty.
Where does it come from?
It is the inflated character defect of people pleasing derived from the “Instinct for society” gone awry.
For me, personally, it is a desire to please my father and get his attention.
What is the solution?
God removes character defects in Step Seven, so, I humbly ask Him to remove my defect of perfectionism.
Then, shortly thereafter, I find myself in a similar, parallel or identical situation and I have the opportunity to choose to:
A) Act on the character defect, once again , or
B) Humbly ask God to remove that character defect.
My experience is that, if I am diligent, that it takes 2 to 3 months to remove a character defect.
However, it, like a scar, it is never completely gone.
If I get past my limits…it will reoccur
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When someone is doing or saying something that is harmful to me I need to set a boundary with that person to protect myself from their behavior.
If I do not, I feel victimized…and feeling victimized is the number one trigger to act out.
As acting out is not acceptable to me, I need to strike upstream…and protect myself from the other persons behavior or words.
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My best fried of 35 years looks to me and my wife to be dying from renal failure caused by diabetes.
He has not only been my closest friend for 35 years, he was my bass player for a good while.
Five years ago, Mark T., a former bass player of mine died. I remember in his wonderfully cynical, darkly humorous way saying to me,
“I’m on my way out, Duke”.
My beloved Brother Wayne is on his way out…and the reason is because of his food. All sugar, quesadillas, pizza and Pepsi.
I have learned after 40 years of studying addictions, that eating disorders have more denial than any other disorder…and I am at peace with myself with that .
How do I love my friend?
Not by confronting him (which anyone who is reading this has probably experienced from me) but rather to accept him.
How? Accepting is being positive about a situation or person.
I can love him by accepting the positive in him…and turning all the rest over to God.
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I have lived with a child with Autism for three days,
My heart breaks.
All my resources, intelligence and discipline will not help him.
I can only, sanely, stand by and love him.
God have mercy on him, on me, on us all.
Strength Offices 47
If I had to take only one idea from the recovery world and transfer it back to the “Earth people” or “Normies’, as the recovery world calls non-addicts, it would be a self-consciousness of attitude and then choosing of an “Attitude of gratitude”.
Every person, addict or not, benefits from that choice.
Strength Offices 48
“Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
Big Book p.23
I throw off spiritually poisonous things that randomly try to enter my mind.
No objectifying: by averting my glance as I walk by pretty women; turning away from pictures of pretty girls.
No fantasy: Surrendering thoughts of former lovers when they randomly pop up in my head.
No intriguing: Not sexualizing conversations with women who are being flirtatious. Happens less as you get older…but it still happens.
In all three cases, after I surrender the neuro-chemical excitation that accompanies these three things , I recite the “Sister prayer”
“Sister may no harm come to you from me".
The “Sister prayer” is to protect me from the negative aspects of myself.
Again this quote guided me:
“Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
Big Book p.23
I knew that strength comes from discipline and that the best mental discipline that I know of is prayer.
“Repeated positive mental statements”, is about as inoffensively, non-partisan, a phrase as I have heard as the definition of prayer.
Prayer is the pushups of mental healthiness.
My four personal pithy personal favorites are:
“Celibacy, Service and Laughter”
“In Brahmacharya lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul”
“Take care of Yourself”
“I am with you”
Also, 40 years ago I fell in love with this little 32 note, 8 measure, 4 phrase beauty:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama
Rama Rama, Hare Hare
For many, many years I used the above verbal chants as prayers.
But this phrase also kept ringing in my ears:
“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete”
The Doctor’s Opinion
How could I combine: “Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete”
It was remarkably simple:
Breath prayer. Something my third AA sponsor had taught me when we got to step 11.
I began counting breaths as a form of prayer (one to one hundred)…
…and that is what I do today
Strength Offices 49
How do I develop strength of body?
Pushups, crunches, yoga, free weights, walking, running, biking, swimming
Raw, organic, vegan, living food.
Staying out of restaurants.
Fasting for set, regular periods of time.
Periods of chastity for finite periods of time.
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We are to “Regard ourselves as spearheads of God's ever advancing creation”.
Big Book p.49
And yet we are told in the Lighthearted Offices: “Guard this treasure...not to dare to be ahead of the world”
How do we reconcile these admonitions?
We want to advance as humans, if not for the species, then certainly for ourselves, and those who would benefit from most directly from our advancement, our families.
But, we don’t want to alienate people by our “Daring to be ahead of the world”
I solved this problem in AA by simply not speaking for 20 years.
It required a great deal of active self-esteeming, but I noticed I didn’t get shamed once and I gained no new enemies.
It was my big mouth that was causing me all my trouble...obviously.
I advanced quietly during my years in AA, in my own life, giving up masturbation, affairs, smoking, being fat, debting, codependency, workaholism, narcissism, underearning, religious addiction, victimhood, little-old-caffeine, even artistic and mystical pre-occupations.
Occasionally I would speak openly, passionately in large AA meetings.
Sometimes people would shout “That was the greatest share I ever heard.’’
Sometimes the booing would be so loud that I would have to stop my talk and walk quietly off the stage.
I had not learned Lao Tze’s lesson, yet...I have now.
My approach was “Preacher, teacher, salesman”
That is repellent to some people.
Now I just talk and I monitor what I say with the meekest of questions: “Am I trying to be ahead of the world?”
It’s working pretty good so far.
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For five months, since my son was born, I have been working very hard at providing for my family...too hard.
It has created insomnia in me.
I asked my family doctor to prescribe something.
I took one pill, one time, and felt dopey for two full days.
That ain’t gonna fly.
Alternately, yesterday, I ‘prayed’ the Breath prayer, which simply means I surrendered all my variegated thoughts and breathed in deeply 100 times.
It takes about 10 minutes to do that.
I did that a dozen times this Sunday.
I actually did it for 500 consecutive breaths one time.
Now you may say, “That’s too extreme. Or, “That’s too much work”.
But, I am very proud of myself for being 65 and not taking any meds, ...and for that matter not being fat, beat up or 6 feet underground, as every single one of my cohort is.
I will continue to work Step Eleven on my Workaholism.
It’s the only addiction people pat you on the back for...
As Socrates said “Beware the barrenness of a busy life”...
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My prayer life started off when I was 13.
I was praying for God to give me things…or to get me out of trouble.
I had “Magical thinking” and was treating God as though God was Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.
That didn’t work out, too, good.
At 17 years old I began chanting, just repeating a spiritual phrase over and over. That actually helped. I could feel my worries just sort of wash away.
At 19 years old I became interested in John Cage’s music and I began to listen. It was the inchoate beginning of meditation.
At 27 years old AA taught me something very practical: “Talking to God is prayer” and “Listening to God is meditation”.
My third AA sponsor made me memorize the Third step prayer.
Being extreme, I memorized the Seventh Step prayer, the Eleventh Step prayer, the Lord’s prayer, Psalm 23, The Wisdom prayer and even First Corinthians 13.
My sponsor also instructed me that Step Eleven says “Prayer and meditation” not “Prayer or meditation” and had me read a book on meditation.
It introduced me to the concept of Buddhist prayer...counting the breaths.
That was a revolutionary idea, not because it was Buddhist and a countercultural, oppositional idea to the prevailing Christianity of America at the time, but rather...because, it was physical.
The Big Book states that “Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
I took that to the bank and have worked out virtually every day for 32 years, so the idea that prayer could be physical was stunningly radical.
I’ve used it these last 30 years to great affect.
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“A man dissipates his physical strength through ordinary incontinence”
Incontinence in this sense means “Failure to restrain sexual appetite”.
Is that really true? Does sex make you weak? Do you really lose your strength?
Pythagorus, Plato, Gandhi and that great philosopher Rocky Balboa thought so.
Now, honestly, I never noticed any energy loss when I had major alcohol, pills, caffeine or tobacco rollin’ through my system. I was just too dumb-numbed to notice much except orgasm.
There are two kinds of loss. The first accompanies doing something I know full well is wrong, like cheating on my wife or masturbating. I then feel “Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization”. That is the stuff sex addiction programs deal with.
But that is not what Gandhi is talking about.
He is saying that there is some energy inside a man’s body, kind of like two cylinders of an eight cylinder engine, that when I employ my body for sexual activity that that energy is not available for other activities.
It’s just physics...nothing personal
Strength Office 54
Jesus only mentions sex three times: Once warning about divorce, once warning about objectifying and then this curious, very little utilized, passage:
”There are those who choose to live like eunuchs to know the kingdom of heaven. If you can accept it, accept it”
Eunuchs are people who don’t have sex and there are, according to him, three kinds:
1.People born that way
2.People who are made that way: The ancient Chinese Emperor’s staffers, Italian Castrato (young boys who sang very high parts in operas during the mid 16th century) and various felons who were being punished, typically for sexual crimes
3.And then...people who want to know the kingdom of heaven
Now wait a minute...You mean to say first of all that there really is a kingdom of heaven... and then you say that to know it I must give up sex!
Yeah, that’s pretty much Jesus’ observation.
Are you crazy? I don’t want to give up sex...
But, on the other hand, if this is true, I don’t miss the boat on the kingdom of heaven, either.
What can I do?
There is a way to have both...“Finite periods of chastity”. A minimum of 60 days is what my sponsor taught me.
60 days abstinence ain’t bad...to get the kingdom of God
Strength Office 55
Sex and love at 29 years 8 months of sexual sobriety:
What is that like? Is it perfect?
The impulse to masturbate or to have an affair as a reaction to not wanting to feel painful feelings caused by the pain and problems in my life is completely gone.
Are there sexual challenges?
Yes, but they are insignificant. A beautiful young student of mine, inadvertently, or either through poor boundaries that she learned as a young girl, flirted with me and I had to guard myself some yesterday.
Intrigue, even on someone else’s part, is a middle circle behavior for me that I have to take care of myself around.
It doesn’t happen much at 65 years old…But it does happen.
I’m also thin, athletic and well dressed so I get a lot of looks from people in my age cohort. I have to protect myself against objectification on other people’s parts.
I’m pretty self-disciplined, through the use of prayer, throughout the day, which protects me from objectifying on my part.
But both of these examples are not “Lions, tigers and bears, Oh my! “…Rather, more like a fly at a picnic.
How is life relationally at 29 years 8 months?
I am married to a beautiful young woman who has given me a 6 month old son.
She loves God as much as I do.
I’ve never met a woman like that.
I am completely satisfied in that regard and humbly grateful for gifts that I was completely prepared to live without but have been given in abundance.
As an old married friend of mine says it succinctly...”I don’t deserve her”
Is it perfect?
If perfect means that there is no conflict. Then no.
We’ve been fighting like cats and dogs over specific important issue for about five days now.(Adult, mature cats and dogs, LOL, but still in conflict)
I have a delusion in my head that, at some point, with enough of a relational skill set, I will never be in conflict and that simply is not true, in my experience.
I must always be willing to take care of myself.
But, as the country group Alabama used to say “It’s close enough to perfect for me”.
Strength Office 56
“Why are we always so sure how long it should take?”
I really thought that my second marriage was going to work.
I had years of recovery under my belt.
I picked someone in 12 step so that we had a common language.
I was really looking forward to being married in sexual sobriety.
And God sent me someone.
But even if someone is heaven sent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s eternal.
That really baffled me when it was over.
She was the right person at the right time, but she was not my mate.
Things take longer than I think they should.
But that’s my problem.
I have a character defect of self -demandingness...And then I treat God the same way I treat myself.
If I’m not the problem…There is no solution
Strength Office 57
“He wanted love, as we all want love”
I used to sit in operas eight years ago, completely satisfied with my chastity.
And then I would cry at the end of the opera (Opera is always about impossible love, always).
After I did that a number of times I realized that I was in love with the woman who would become my wife.
It was an impossible situation. She lived 7000 miles away and was very, very young. Legal, but young.
As happy as I was, as high self-esteemed as I was, as pure as I was…My heart still loved.
They say “If you want to make God laugh… Show him your plans”.
Strength Office 58
‘’Life without celibacy appears to me to be insipid and animal like”
This may be the harshest thing I’ve ever heard Gandhi say.
Although the last part is rather obviously true, for me, if I am honest.
When I feel sexual desire coursing through me, I feel my body move into a “hunter” mode,...even though I am acting very, very refined, delicate, boundaried, appropriate and safe.
So that’s fair...
How about insipid?
That word means “Lacking flavor”.
In truth, when I am chaste every one of my senses are heightened.
Also, when I am chaste, I feel more deeply, my life is more finely tuned and my judgement is more accurate.
So, what is the opposite of “Heightened senses”, “ Feeling life more deeply” and “Percieving life more finely”?
Yeah, so he’s probably right...
So, how do I process and integrate this truth into my marriage?
I balance an active, passionate, physical, tender, playful sex life with: “Finite chastity periods (typically a 60 day minimum)”
Strength Office 59
“Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”
There is a principle behind every step.
The principle behind this step is hope.
This is my favorite step because, since I was five, people have said I was crazy.
I was never really sure what they meant...Still don’t, really
But whatever they were talking about this step looked like it could handle it, deftly.
Insanity, for our purpose means “Doing the same thing over and expecting different results”.
Things like not getting a sponsor when I keep acting out and believing that I can stop on my own.
That is certifiably cuckoo in the recovery world.
I did that. I didn’t get a sponsor for six whole years...and God, I suffered from that.
But, finally God sent me someone I could hear...and I asked him to be my sponsor.
What a blessed relief...to trust someone.
Strength Offices 60
"Alcoholism affects one in eight Americans"
"Depression affects one in twelve Americans"
Center for Disease Control
"Sex addiction affects one in twenty five Americans"
US News and World Report
"All three are considered mental health disorders"
Strength Office 61
“Chastity is happiness”
If chosen, finite, chastity raises self-esteem in a sex addict more efficaciously than any other action...and it does...then chastity paves the way for the freedom of happiness.
Strength Office 62
“Control of the palate is the first essential in the observation of the chastity vow”
Why does that work?
Because when I am super hungry...A pretty girl is not near as interesting as a broiled steak.
Strength Office 63
Dr. Patrick Carnes, the founder of SAA, states that 96% of all sex addicts were emotionally abused.
That means, if you are a sex addict that you have only a one in twenty five chance of having escaped being emotionally abused as a child.
In the last 32 years I have noticed two things about people who were abused as children:
- They fight to the death to defend whoever their abusers were
- They are completely stripped of their anger
Why is the subject for another office...
But being stripped of anger leads to only three places:
- Passive Aggression
There is a codicil: upon very rare occasions the adult abused child will go into a titanic, volcanic, white hot, withering rage slashing and burning all they see.
Strength Office 64
“I will keep my love healthy today by taking my own inventory and overlooking my loved one’s flaws”.
When I feel hurt it is extremely hard not to take the person who has hurt me’s inventory.
The Big Book asks us “Where did I put myself in a position to be harmed?”
I choose to be in relationship with this person either business, friendship or romantic.
What is it about me that needs to be in relationship to someone that treats me this way?
Strength Office 65
“Keep a path far from her, lest you give your best strength to others”
When I am doing a 60 day celibacy period, it may be a good idea to keep some distance from my beloved...if I am feeling vulnerable.
As Gandhi would say, “Renunciation without aversion is not lasting”
AA would say, “If you keep hanging around a barbershop...you are going to end up getting a haircut”
Strength Office 66
“Do not give your strength to women, your vigor to those who ruin kings”
Well, I am no king, but I certainly don’t want to be “Ruined”.
During this “Finite period of chastity” with my wife I have enjoyed: a strong energy boost, more productivity, better sense of humor, better health, more exercise, more social resilience.
I don’t want to give that up today.
Strength Office 67
“When should you have sex with a woman?...When you want to lose the strength you have”
I want to be strong in relationships, to take care of myself, to keep my boundaries, so as not to feel victimized.
I want to be strong physically: cardiovascular, flexibility, strength, endurance and conformation.
I want to be strong financially so I can take care of myself, my wife and my son.
I want to be strong spiritually and that means being honest and loving, with myself, God and others.
Strength Office 68
Is there a difference between being alone and being lonely?
Yes, being alone means being with myself, without others.
Being lonely, means being separated from myself...and wishing others would fill the gap.
My best sponsor used to say “As long as I am with myself… I am never alone”
Strength Office 69
“Acceptance is being positive”
I didn’t need to accept much of anything when I first came into recovery.
I needed to change...and there were lots of areas that I needed to change.
I prayed for courage, not for serenity.
But, after about three and a half decades, I began to feel reasonably satisfied with my level of daily recovery...and I wanted to accept myself.
The best way to do that is to, as the B Office says, “Be positive“.
For example, saying to myself, as an affirmation:
I am sexually sober
I am happily (except when we’re fighting) married
I am not in debt
I love my neighborhood, etc.
When I do this...I begin to feel a peace deep down inside of me.
Strength Office 70
“Irrational rejection is a form of insanity...from the emotionally disabled”
My parents, being good 1960’s middle class parents wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer.
At ten years old I fell in love with first the trumpet and later that year, the guitar.
I am still in love with both, though the guitar nudged out the trumpet kinda of early.
My parents, until the last day I ever saw them in their lives, disapproved of my professional choice.
Was their rejection irrational? Yes...
Was it because they were emotionally disabled? Yes...
May God have mercy on us all...All of his children
Strength Office 71
“Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner”
The first time I saw this prayer it was written at the bottom of a very beat up old painting of an old bearded man praying fervently and humbly.
The picture was hung up in a lower middle class, red-necky, trashy, AA clubhouse where I was getting clean and sober in 1988.
It seemed way too, “Christian” for me at the time. I was just a drunk.
But, as time went on I began to see this as a prayer of forgiveness.
At first it was a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness.
But, after a while I began to use that spiritual dynamic on myself.
And I learned to forgive myself...which I was not at all good at, at the time.
Strength Offices 72
“God can write straight with crooked lines”
One of the real values of being broken and brought to your knees is being faced with situations that require more strength than you have, like:
potential death your child,
life threatening illness,
possible long term incarceration, etc.
Some people, rather cutely, refer to this as G.O.D. ...the “Gift of Desperation”.
Whether there is a God or not, doesn’t really matter, at this point.
What matters is the very real need for the possibility of God...so you can help out the child you love.
If you walk through life managing pretty well: paying the bills on time, feeling some light depression, experiencing some lower back pain, you never really get in enough pain to need to ask for help...as you do when suddenly your five year old son is diagnosed with brain cancer.
That’s how God begins to write straight with crooked lines.
Here are some other seemingly crooked lines:
Wife walk in and catch your masturbating to porn?
Get fired for looking at porn at work?
Wife find the text history of your mistress?
Have to leave college because of poor grades due to sexual preoccupation?
FBI knock on your door “Requesting” your hard drive?
Get arrested in a sting operation for hookers?
Feeling depressed because you stopped masturbating but still kept trying to live your old life?
Your parents on your back because you can’t hold down a job, but you can still act out?
Think that if you just attend to your chosen religion diligently enough that your acting will stop..and consistently failing?
That’s how God begins to write straight with crooked lines.
Pain is the beginning...It is a gift.
Strength Office 73
“Celibacy, Service and Laughter”
What actions bring you closest to God?
Living “One day at a time”?
“Letting go and letting God”?
Practicing “Be grateful” or “Easy does it”?
For me, there are three things that I can do to increase the probability that I will feel God in my life:
1. Practice celibacy:
This means no genital contact with myself or others.
“Hard celibacy”, or more commonly called, “Chastity”, also includes no objectification, no fantasy and no intrigue.
This has to be addiction-specific to work.
That is, if I’m a sex addict I have to help sex addicts get sober. If I am an alcoholic I have to help alcoholics not to drink.
It can’t be that I help an old lady across the street or that I find a stray puppy and take him home. That’s nice…But it won’t stop addiction, because there’s no humility involved with that.
There is an expression in 12 step: “If you haven’t got joy…you haven’t got anything I want”.
Laughter is the perfect expression of joy.
It shows that you can be joyous even when you’re not perfect.
In that sense, laughter is the perfect expression of God’s presence for people who grew up with an attitude of merciless self-demandingness...as all addicts do.
“Celibacy, Service and Laughter” is a prayer that I use as a silent chant throughout the day, if I feel rattled.
The initials “C.S.L.” are emblazoned, in abalone pearl, on the 20th fret of my Martin guitar, so that every time I look down while I’m playing I can be reminded of how I can best get to God...I need a lot of reminders because I forget God a lot.
Strength Office 74
The Big Book says “We were reborn”
When does that happen?
It has happened three times for me.
First, when I got clean and sober from drugs and alcohol in 1988.
Secondly, two years later when I achieved my first chastity period in 1990.
Thirdly, thirty years later in 2020, when even though I was consistently thin, my weight became dead-on-stable-everyday.
What does being reborn mean?
Initially, it means freedom from some particular addiction.
But, postively, it means I can feel more, I have more intuition, more self-esteem, more power in personal relationships, more social resilience and my memory improves.
My posture improves. I smile more and laugh more easily.
I am more interested in other people, yet I take better care of myself.
This third and last “Rebirth” in 2020 was weird.
I felt like I imagine the first amphibians who ever made it to shore felt: panting for breath, not sure where I was, just grateful to be alive.
It can be rebirth from anything:
Years of depression
As Dr. Martin Luther King would say: “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty I am free at last”.
Strength Office 75
“Cling to the Lord and cry out for mercy"
The Roots of 12 Step: Originally, both Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson, the creators of 12 step, were members of the Oxford Group.
The Oxford Group was a Christian organization founded by the missionary Frank Buchman.
Buchman believed that the root of all problems were the personal problems of fear and selfishness.
Buchman believed that the solution to these two problems was to surrender one's life over to God.
So, like it or not…all 12 step has Christian roots.
Why does that matter?
Because when I fail, when I act out sexually, when I overeat, or when I fail at stopping smoking…there is one sure fire prayer that takes the shame off my shoulders, lifts me up out of the muck , cleans me up and starts me back on the right path.
It turns out it is a Christian prayer.
But, to not use tools because they come from a particular faith community that I may not believe in…is stupid.
People in the world are extremely divided on Christianity, but our Tenth Tradition says that “We have no opinion on outside issues”…and religion is an outside issue.
If you are failing at getting sexually sober, when you fail…considering trying this prayer.
“Cling to the Lord and cry out for mercy”.
Because it works…
Strength Office 76
“We move forward or we move backward” whether it’s acting out or depression:
I remember the desperate crazed-ness that I felt, wanting to stop…After each time that I acted out.
It was brutal, merciless and instantaneous.
The guilt, shame, my complete denial of the fact that I was powerless...and the absolute certainty that I was going to stop THIS time.
I don’t want that kind of crazy agony to rule my life anymore.
I also remember the despair/depression. It was like living six miles under the ocean surface.
I couldn’t breathe.
Spiritual comes from the Latin word “Spiritus” which means “Breath”.
Depression is as far away as you can get from being spiritual, at least, for me. I just couldn’t breathe.
HP, Help me keep going, just another inch. As Vince Lombardy said, “Inches makes champions”.
Strength Office 77
“Sister may no harm come to you from me”
This prayer is my first line of defense against objectifying if I see a beautiful woman in person, in a magazine, a movie, online or on a billboard.
It’s also my first defense against fantasy. If an image of a former partner pops up from my subconscious I can defeat it with this prayer.
Thirdly, if I want to intrigue-sexualize conversations with women-I can stop myself with this prayer.
But, this prayer is good for other things besides defending my middle circle (or boundaries).
When someone does something wrong to me, particularly if not provoked, I feel hurt and have a hard time not “re-senting” the injury.
Resentment comes from the French verb “Sentire” which means to feel.
So, I feel the hurt over and over, and it is hard for me to let go.
But, if I pray this prayer for the person who has hurt me...I am able to let go of the hurt.
“Sister may no harm come to you from me”.
Of course the prayer works as well in the masculine gender, “Brother may no harm come to you from me”, but it also works in the first person as well as the third person.
If I am doing self-destructive things, instead of, as Gandhi suggests self-restrained things, I can pray this prayer to myself, for myself:
“Steve, may no harm come to you from me”.
Strength Office 78
“Chastity is contentment”
“I see problems that I didn’t see before”
When I came in to recovery 40 years ago this June all I could see was that I was hung over all the time from drinking too much.
It didn’t occur to me for eight years that pills and pot might be causing me problems, too.
Once I got clean and sober I wanted to lose some weight because I was 60 pounds heavier than I am now. I started by giving up sugar.
I couldn’t have heard that about needing to give up sugar eight years before. I would’ve thought you were crazy if you had suggested that to me , or at least a know-it-all, controlling, busy body.
But, I lost that weight 32 years ago and I’m glad that I’ve lived my life as a thin man.
I was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, coughing so hard I would wake myself up at night.
So eight years into recovery, the cigarettes and the food were problems I just couldn’t see before that time.
That process of ridiculously slow discovery of problems that needing work would go on for four decades and include things like masturbation, affairs, debting, overworking and many others, but....
There is something completely unique about surrendering all sex.
You cross a line when you do that.
That line crosses into the realm, not of health (which is what all 12 Step programs address)...but of holiness and you get to try out something that some interesting people tried like:
Mohammed Ali (for six weeks before a title fight)
Joan of Arc
Leonardo da Vinci
Pythia...The Oracle of Delphi
Now the air is too thin for me to stay in that exalted spiritual state long, but I love to climb that mountain from time to time (and I am very, very happily married).
Because “Chastity is contentment”...
Strength Office 79
“Chastity is peace”
There is an attitude of self-demandingness, below the level of self-pity, which drives me mercilessly, madly on, like those armies who’ve decided to attack Mother Russia in the winter snow.
As Bill W. would say in the Big Book on page four
“The old fierce determination to win came back”.
This attitude comes from a conversation with my father when I was 12.
He took me to a pretty creek and was going to give me the “Birds and Bees” talk.
He started by saying, “Is there anything you want to know about?”
I, naively, said “Yes. I’d like to know about that brown liquid you are drinking”.
He tried to recover his composure, but was clearly stung deeply with a sense of shame.
In trying to explain his current behavior he said that “No matter what we do, we can always do better.”
As Bill Wilson would say, from that moment “The drive for success was on”.
Big Book p.2
That would be the seed, for me, that would grow into a lifelong pursuit of absolute perfection.
That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news... “Chastity is peace”.
Looking back, my father’s shame was not motivated by drinking...but by his sexual behavior.
And the best way to eradicate sexual shame, at least initially, is through chastity.
“Chastity is peace”.
Strength Office 80
“Knowing your soul...brings peace”
12 step recovery gave me so much more than just stopping drinking.
It gave me so much more than just stopping masturbating and having affairs.
It gave me a right relationship with God and that relationship was to stand before God and say simply “I am powerless. Will you help me?”.
That changed the center of my life. My life became God centered and, being naturally curious, I began to explore all the different ways men and women had addressed God in history.
I researched and attended thirty seven different 12 step programs, over 40 years, and each of them had a unique, little-bit-different, slant on God.
I attended, and even tried my hand at a few of, all the major religions: Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Taoism, and Christianity.
I found, surprisingly, that God was present in good therapy and tried everything I could afford, for as long as I felt I was getting something from it.
The result was freedom, health and joy.
Freedom from addiction, compulsion or obsession.
There was health in interpersonal and intra-personal relationships, physical strength and finances.
Life was fun and abundant.
I had everything...except, one thing.
I did not have peace of mind.
Religion, 12 step and therapy had different purposes and did not have the tools needed to find peace of mind, for me.
Even the surrender of all sexuality, which brings happiness and contentment and even holiness, did not in my experience, bring peace.
I was concentrating on my body by taking the right actions.
I was concentrating on my mind with prayer, meditation and changing my attitudes and beliefs.
I was concentrating on my heart and identifying every nuance of feeling transversing my body to stop all addiction, cold.
But none of that brought peace.
Only finding my soul, finally... brought me peace.
Strength Office 81
“There’s only one thing I do not understand about love…Why is fighting a necessary part of it?”
To paraphrase an old US president:
“I have learned that only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy:
First, admit you are wrong. Second...believe it.”
When I am challenged with conflict...I am comforted by my sobrieties.
Remembering them “Restores me to sanity” by giving me perspective.
No challenge I have is more important than maintaining those sobrieties.
When I remember that truth...my challenges suddenly get commensurately smaller.
Being sexually sober...is just more important than whether or not I made that last sale.
Staying on the food plan...is more important than if a potential client is misunderstanding.
Not taking a drink tops any conflict with my wife.
HP, Help me to remember the sobrieties that you have given to me, to cherish them as the greatest gifts I have ever earned.
Help me to surrender my challenges to you and remember your will for me...as your will is expressed, manifoldly and clearly, through my sobrieties.
Strength Office 82
Jason from Maui asked for an Office on Relationship Addiction:
Often I have heard young guys in recovery say “Sobriety, that’s easy for you...you have a wife”.
What that implies is that, as a married man, if I felt an overpowering compulsion to act out sexually that I had an “out”....because I could use my wife, if I talk just right, and continue to claim sexual sobriety.
Actually, as the old joke says “I know everything there is to know about celibacy...I’m married!”
There is a phenomenon called “The Shooting Star Syndrome”. It goes like this:
If I really try all the tools that PrayerCall lays at my feet I will finally get sexually sober.
At that point, I am doing well and may even think about losing some weight or giving up smoking, when I’m 4 to 6 weeks sober (which at this stage equates with “Finite chastity”).
And a thought occurs to me...”I am tired of being alone”.
And then out comes the dating apps, hook up site apps...and even sometimes the online prostitution sites.
Then, the other 75% of Sex addiction comes sneaking in the door.
The Mercy Offices describe them this way:
Relationship Addiction - An expression of powerlessness in the inability to leave or stay out of self-destructive relationships. The sexual or romantic aspects of the relationship may not be highlighted. It is the clinging to stay in a current relationship or the clawing to get into a new relationship that characterizes this addiction. The solution here is 12-step recovery with an emphasis on multiple, healthy, non-sexual, intimate friendships to fill the unmet needs for family that the addict experiences.
Love addiction - An obsessive/compulsive need to satisfy the desire to feel whole or complete through using the presence of another person. When there is a feeling of “oceanic one-ness” in the beloved’s presence and a corresponding sense of doom, futility, pointlessness and despair at the prospect of never “having” the love object then love addiction is present. There may be no “relationship” in the conventional sense and there may not even be sexuality present. 12-step recovery works here, too, but the emphasis needs to be on learning how to love yourself thoroughly before you love others.
Romance Addiction - An obsessive/compulsive need to be excited by romantic, though not necessarily sexual or relational, activities. Endless series of brief relationships, inability to commit, self-destructive pursuit of the manic, fantastic and chaotic “relationships” as well as the demand that the “ideal perfect partner” be found characterize this addiction.
After only a month and a half of solid sobriety there just isn’t enough strength in a man to weather the collapse of these types of relationships when they go South.
A girl says or does something, you feel hurt, angry or disappointed in, and Bang! Relapse...
Relapse is painful enough, but what follows is even worse. There is terrible shame.
A deep sense of failing when I was doing the best I have ever done for myself in my life.
Then, what follows next is “Isolation”... “I don’t want anyone to know”...so I’ll stop going to meetings and stop posting.
Then creeps in doubt that PrayerCall, or even that the 12 step program, really works.
Then after a few weeks the hopelessness takes over and the belief that nothing can help me...ever.
But all that happened was I thought I could handle something I couldn’t.
PrayerCall works. The 12 steps work. God is real...I just fucked up.
The only solution at that point is to develop some humility and admit… “I was wrong”.
I had to do that, after losing five years of AA sobriety, once.
Strength Office 83
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver”.
Spiritual health: “Our first priority will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority rating."
The first thing I do for my spiritual health is surrender any and all addictions that I have identified.
Mental health: “The main problem of the addict centers in his mind rather than his body”.
These are some things I do to make my mind healthy:
Singing with my wife
Playing the guitar
“Any picture of the addict which leaves out the physical is incomplete”.
These are some things I do to make my body healthy:
“Self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us.”
Here’s a few things to do to get along better and more clearly with other folks:
Service...to the willing
And finally, for health in a class by itself, periods of negotiated “Finite chastity”.
“Chastity is King”
Strength Office 84
Jason from Maui asked for an Office on Anger
When any man feels angry, we only have four choices:
1. Use some form of addiction to numb my feelings. In the past, I might have: over-eaten, gotten drunk, taken pills, smoked a cigarette, drank coffee, masturbated, had sex with my wife, read the Bible and hoped that Jesus would save me from my feelings, worked too hard, spent money that was not discretionary, gone into a fantasy about being “Somebody”, or tried to “Save” someone.
2. Turn the anger in on myself...and go into depression, which looks like eating junk food, watching Netflix, using tobacco and sleeping all the time, slurring my speech and forgetting my vocabulary.
3. Become passive/aggressive, which means I become a people pleaser and a doormat. I try to be nice, sweet, kind, considerate, intellectually forgiving, accepting, polite, modest and self-sacrificing...and then what happens is that I occasionally let my anger violently explode onto unsuspecting, inappropriate people who do not deserve my wrath. Girls nowadays call that being a “Narcissist” when ya do that...
4. This is the only healthy choice with anger: Find someone who is safe, for me, that I trust, and share honestly, in any language that I feel a need to use...why I feel angry.
Strength Office 85
Olafur from Iceland asked for an Office on Fear:
Fear is an important feeling to feel if: there is a big truck barreling down an adjacent road at 65 miles per hour and I need to jump out of its pathway.
I am repeatedly in pain, hoping that it will go way, it doesn’t, and I am considering getting medical help.
If I am doing my annual taxes, thinking about lying on my 1040...and then I remember how notoriously bad the bedside manner is of the IRS.
Fear can help me from going beyond my limits and hurting myself...that’s why God gave it to me. That’s it’s purpose...to protect me.
But...and there is a big But.
An addict has internal fears that have nothing to do with self-preservation.
First let’s define an addict. An alcoholic is not somebody who is just really thirsty and gets into trouble slaking that thirst.
An alcoholic/addict is someone who:
Is not in touch with his feelings because he’s numb
Can’t meet his own very real need for love and belonging or his need for esteem because he is isolated
Can’t set boundaries because he’s a people pleasing doormat
Can’t announce limits because he is a martyr, with just a touch of what the girls now call narcissism
How does someone get that way?
One day, one act, one belief, one thought, at a time, over many years prior to the first drink (which typically begins around 15 years old).
Any newborn child has a need for safety.
If this need for physical and emotional safety are not met that child will be scared all his life, unless consistent positive actions, over time, are taken to change that.
(Bill Wilson alludes to this in the AA 12x12 when he mentions our instincts for “Sex, security and society”.)
That’s....why we are afraid.
PS: it has nothing to do with Coronavirus.
Strength Office 86
“He is arrogant and is never at rest because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied”
78 days ago I walked through a sort of Alice in Wonderland spiritual portal.
In AA they call it a “Pink cloud”.
I took that new energy and turned it into my business.
It has been great. I love my work. I love being able to buy my wife new things.
But, I want to always remember where I come from, to have some humility and not get greedy.
The below statement is the most comprehensive description of greed I have ever heard.
Lord, help this not be me: “He is arrogant and is never at rest because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied.”
Strength Office 87
Jason from Maui asked me to write more on anger:
There is a terrible flaw in the Big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Beginning on page 64, in the fourth step, the word resentment and anger are used interchangeably and that is a tragic mistake
It cost Bill Wilson, the author of the Big Book, 11 years of clinical depression.
The difference between anger and resentment is that, with resentment, a person can’t let go of the anger… And that truly is spiritually harmful.
To go to the other extreme and forbid anger is equally spiritually harmful and causes one thing…Depression.
Ironically, in a movie paid for by Alcoholics Anonymous, about Bill Wilson, one of the people says that the way Bill got out of his depression was starting a 15 year affair with a woman.
So, Bill used sex addiction to avoid the pain of his depression.
What Bill did not see was that his depression was caused by his unwillingness to feel his anger.
“If we were to live, we had to be free of anger.” p.66 Big Book
This line expressly forbids anger.
It would take over 50 years of evolution in 12 step before there were enough strong men and women to stand up to this heartbreaking mistake.
Strength Office 88
Olafur from Iceland asked me to write more on fear:
Fear is...”An evil and corroding thread”
Big Book p.67
Evil!...That’s a pretty serious condemnation.
Let’s see what evil means...”Profoundly immoral and wicked”....Wow!
Is fear wicked?
Wicked is not just doing bad stuff or being selfish or dishonest. It means specifically knowing what God’s will is and then, intentionally, not doing it.
So, if I am feeling fear (which is perfectly okay)and then I act on it, (which is absolutely not okay)...that is called cowardice and then I am being wicked.
Why, because it obviously is not God’s will to act cowardly.
If I am ignorant and just don’t know any better that’s one thing.
But once I do know this truth, if I do it again, it is not ignorance...but wickedness.
Now let’s look at part two:
Is fear immoral?
What does the Western world’s concept of moral come from?
It comes from a group of people who were trying to survive in a desert that is 104 degrees on average, with highs of 122 degrees.
So, those folks were really careful about keeping things like their bodies, food and clothes clean so they could be healthy and survive.
So moral...actually, at it’s root, comes from a desire...to be healthy
Knowing that fact, if I feel afraid and then go look at porn or get drunk, smoke a cigarette or eat too much pizza for that matter...I am not acting morally, in the sense that it is not healthy.
Uh, oh. Did he say pizza was immoral?
No..he said eating too much pizza was immoral, you moron.
Strength Office 89
This prayer is for Richard H.
I like verbal prayers like the Lord’s Prayer, The Serenity Prayer, the 3rd, 7th and 11th Step prayers and, of course, the 23rd Psalm.
They get my mind on God and that is spiritually good for me.
But, that form of prayer wouldn’t stick with me throughout the day…and I needed a lot of guidance.
I was really impressed by the line in the Big Book that says: “The main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.”
I also liked chanting. I started out with the venerable old Hindu prayer “Hare Krishna” and have experimented with the Christian’s “Jesus” centering prayer.
Both of those were very good for me, mentally, in that they lassoed my mind and keep it from it’s naturally inclined tendency to wander, but they didn’t actually mean much to me.
I then expanded to self-loving aphorisms like, “I am with you”, and “I am taking care of you”, and old warhorses like: “Easy does It”, and “Let Go and Let God”.
Those were mentally comforting and quite calming…and I did that for years and liked it a lot.
But, as my prayer life developed I kept hearing in the the corner of my mind a couple of AA phrases:
“The body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind.”
“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
I sensed that, to be complete, prayer needs to include the physical.
My mother was a workaholic…even though she never had a job.
I liked my mother better than my father and I wanted to be like her (thinking at the time that there were only two choices).
My mother’s day began, every day, with this thought “I got to:”
and then proceeded with an instantaneous list of her worst problems,
prioritized by the drastic-ness of their need to be solved.
This caused her to feel anxious.
The AA 12x12 Fourth Step says there are basically two kinds of reactions to problems: Anxiety and depression.
My mother was more of an anxiety gal.
Anxiety tightens the muscles around your heart and makes you more susceptible to stroke…and every four minutes someone in America dies of a stroke, so I take that seriously.
I really wanted a form of prayer that “Took in this physical factor” that the Big Book mentions.
Breath prayer is surrendering any thought, positive or negative, to God and then, with my mind empty, filling my lungs slowly and deeply, in disciplined way, over a sustained time.
And do you know what happens when an honest soul does that?
As my greatest teacher John Cage would say “Your mind becomes susceptible to Divine influences.
And ya circle back to the spiritual…
I hear a voice inside me.
The person with that voice is hurt and angry with me right now.
Now you’ve got to be careful telling people that you hear voices inside you because
that is one of the clear signs that you are certifiably crazy.
But…In the recovery movement there is a group called “Adult Children of Alcoholics” and they refer to the “Inner Child” and they prescribe “Listening” to him.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states on page 86 “We may not be able to tell which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision.”…Here is another “Voice”.
The Bible mentions, tenderly, that God speaks through a “Still, small voice”… But all crazy people quote the Bible, so let’s be careful here….still, though, another voice.
I made a financial decision last Friday and this voice clearly said not to do it…and I did it anyway.
It seemed like a really good idea over the weekend, but come Monday I could see clearly why it was a bad decision.
My heart began to feel hurt and I couldn’t understand why.
First, it is because I felt hurt by my own action. I had harmed myself.
Secondly, I felt angry at myself for not listening to this “Still, small voice”.
The best decision at this point is: admit I was wrong, make amends to myself…and forgive myself
Strength Office 91
This is the third writing on anger for Jason of Maui:
The most important element in recovery is the capacity to be honest.
That thought is expressed three times on page 58 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is read, on the hour, 24 hours a day, in virtually every country in the world.
So, if I am honest that someone has said, or done something that I feel hurt about, I can then be honest that I feel angry about that person hurting me.
So, I am halfway there...I am honest. I am not trying to be a “nice guy”. That’s what 14 year old boys and 11 year old girls do. I am a man. I put childish ways behind me. I feel angry...
It depends on who it is who has hurt me.
If it is a mentally ill street person shouting obscenities at me as I pass by I “Consider the source”, protect myself, and leave as quickly as possible.
If it is a police officer who is having a bad day and taking it out on me, then I express that anger to someone else...not him.
Why? He’s got a gun, idiot!
Secondly, my feelings are precious I don’t want to share them with people who aren’t safe. “Don’t give what is holy to dogs or they will turn on you and tear you to pieces”, is good advice.
More about how to best process these feelings in a minute.
Then there is the the person that you love, that you care about, that you want to stay in relationship with, that you want to be emotionally intimate with.
With these people: my wife, children, family, close friends, partners,
I want to say simply:
“When you said this...I felt hurt”
I am being honest, with a safe person that I love.
That loves them with the gifts of honesty and opens the possibility of being loved in return (It doesn’t guarantee it).
Back to the police officer: If I am being abused through shame, blame or control from an authority figure and have no recourse to defend myself, I am going to feel wildly mistreated, misused and rage.
If I don’t express the anger, get it out of me, then I turn it in on myself and the result is depression. That choice is mental illness and is not an acceptable solution, for me.
I can’t get even with this guy, but I can:
Physically express my anger through:
Yelling what I really think into pillows
Yelling out the window when I am driving fast on the highway (I find that multi syllabic obscenity is perfect for this use).
Finally, my personal favorite: Doing hard and fast pushups while I am angrily visualizing the offenders face.
Strength Office 92
This is an Office written for Jeff D.
The three circles of SAA are similar to a traffic light: the red light, yellow light and the green light.
Red light, or inner circle, is the behaviors that, if I do them, I lose my sobriety.
Everyone gets to choose for himself what those are.
Mine are no masturbation and no affairs. It’s been 29 years and eight months since I’ve done either of those two things.
The middle circle, or the yellow light, is a cautionary warning telling me that I am headed toward the inner circle.
For me, the three things that constitute middle circle are: intrigue, objectification and fantasy.
The outer circle, or the green light, are all the fun behaviors that I get to do in place of the acting out that I used to do.
For me some of those behaviors are: to breathe deeply, to enjoy being an artist, to enjoy being an athlete, and to lighten up…Also, for me, a massive outer circle is reading books.
Another sober member of PrayerCall, Zack S., who has four years and four months of sexual sobriety, likes Alpine skiing.
Jeff D., who has two years and six months of sexual sobriety is an avid mountain biker.
Olafur, from Iceland, with 18 months of sexual sobriety, likes to travel extensively.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states “We absolutely insist upon enjoying life”.
That is God’s will, to enjoy life...After I stop acting out.
Strength Office 93
Strength comes from the humility to admit weakness.
I have to first admit that I cannot do something: lose weight, quit smoking, stop masturbating, stop smoking pot.
One source of strength is God, but if I believe that I can stop some addiction myself then I have no need of God.
It is normal and reasonable to try to stop some bad habit on my own. It is just good time economics.
Why waste time doing the things you need to do to cultivate a relationship with God if you don’t need to?
Things like going to meetings (which is an act of humility) or unselfish service to others or prayer.
But after I give it the good old “college try” and still fail, it takes on a different character.
The Latin word “Arrogare” means to “claim for oneself without justification”.
If I claim that I can stop an addiction, but in truth cannot, that is “to arrogate” which is the root of the word arrogant.
Not much sets me apart from God faster or more effectively than arrogance.
At that point I am weak and arrogant...I am “Unlovely”, as the Big Book says.
But, with just a touch of honesty, by admitting powerlessness, I can tip the scales into a whole new world of humility, freedom, strength and peace.
Strength requires humility.
Strength Office 94
At 65, even the US government considers me old...
There’s something really pleasant about being old…If I’m sober in all the areas I want to be sober in.
There’s a pleasant sense of acceptance that raises my self-esteem and gives me warmth and peace of mind.
The ever-present sense of self-demandingness that every addict feels is gone.
A positive feeling about all the blessings that I have is constant, when my mind wills itself to be positive.
The pressure to achieve, to make my mark, to be somebody has been attenuated.
It is still a little jarring to know that I did not achieve in life what I wanted, but
it is very satisfying to know that I have achieved the goal that God wanted for me, to recover fully...myself.
God is smarter than me.
I was smart enough to know that.
That’s all it took.
Strength Office 95
As an adult, most of my problems I cause myself.
It’s true that most of them have roots in learned childhood behaviors, but it’s also true that I am responsible for me now.
There are six things that I feel really good about myself:
No alcohol, drugs, tobacco, caffeine
10,862 days abstinent from masturbation
Thin: no flour, sugar, meat, dairy, eggs
I always wanted to be somebody important
Turns out, I can’t do anything better than anybody.
But, I can do nothing...better than I used to.
Strength Office 96
What freedom from all addiction is truly like:
It is 370 million years before whenever you are.
It’s hard to breathe here lying on the beach. I feel like I can’t get enough oxygen.
The air is too sharped edged compared to the water I’m used to breathing.
My heart is pounding.
Mostly I feel fear of being eaten. That’s the reason I crawled out of the water in the first place. I definitely was not the biggest fish in that pond.
The good news is that I’m the first animal on shore, so actually there’s nobody to eat me,
...Although, I don’t know that right now.
I am a Tetrapod, which means I would make a great piano player 370 million years from now because I have 8 fingers each on both hands, but I would make a terrible guitar player because I have no wrists.
Wikipedia will one day say about us (actually it will be me, specifically, they were talking about):
“The change from a body plan for breathing and navigating in water to a body plan enabling the animal to move on land is one of the most profound evolutionary changes known.”
I don’t know right now that I will evolve into a man, build subdivisions, and watch TV five hours a day, I am just glad that big fish got stuck in the sand chasing me up to shore.
I am breathing and I am not getting eaten...and that is good enough for me.
Strength Office 97
To the God:
Who, stayed my hand when I wanted to stop drinking and could not stop
Who, when I cowardly hid behind doctor’s prescriptions and stayed high, hit me very hard to wake me up to change.
Who, when I lay in bed coughing myself awake because I smoked so much, showed me how to use the 12 steps to stop.
Who, when my body stank and my skin was splotchy, helped me see past my father’s practices, and very patiently freed me from caffeine.
Who, when I felt ashamed of my body, gave me a way that worked for me to be thin.
Who, in my moral darkness when I fled into the arms of another woman and when, again and again, I would degrade myself with masturbation, changed the whole direction of my life and taught me to serve.
To that God, I am humbly grateful beyond words.
Strength office 98
What does freedom look like?
What if you could get completely sober from whatever addiction you’re facing, and you were guaranteed to never have to suffer from relapse ever again?
There would be no way to do that without completely giving your life to service, of course.
But, let’s say that you had completely given your life to service and, hypothetically, you would never act out again.
Would you stop serving?
For me, the answer is no.
Why? Because that is the best part of life.
“No greater love hath a man for another than to lay down his life for him”
Service is the purest form of love.
And love is...life at its best.
Strength Office 99
When I fight with my mate it is insanity.
How is that?
The Big Book defines crazy as an “appalling lack of perspective”.
When I feel hurt, I feel angry and when I feel angry I want to strike out at the person who has hurt me.
On a good spiritual day, I don’t do that...but I have days when I am not so Teflon-esque.
Those days I am crazy, by definition.
Why? Because I have lost the perspective that says:
This is the person I love the most in the world.
I treasure her as the greatest gift from God, after sobriety, that I have ever received.
This is the person I love to talk to, share food with, cuddle with, to workout and watch movies with, to shop and clean house with, and share having children with.
When all I feel is the hurt, I lose my perspective.
There appears to be a solution:
The 12 x12 says on page 45 that when we have “lost all perspective” that we have lost “all genuine humility”.
Hmmm...next fight perhaps I could try a little humility to counter that loss of perspective.
There is a warning though:
“The process of gaining a new perspective was unbelievably painful”
Humility can’t be much worse than missing my mate.
Strength Office 100
What does freedom look like?
I had to beat a food disorder to be free
Grieving losing my daughter
Grieving losing three friends when I got fully recovered
Surrendering active sexuality for 7 weeks
Getting really interested in my business
Now, besides working...it’s just working out, reading and practicing the guitar...like I would encourage any 12 year old boy to do.
I am happy with myself.
Strength Office 101
For Jeff D.
How does the person I am most sexually attracted to suddenly become the dragon lady who is withholding love from me...like my father did?
How does the person that I create life with suddenly become recklessly irresponsible...like my brother?
How does the person I pray and serve with suddenly become a controlling tarantula...like my mother?
She doesn’t...I get triggered.
...exactly like a sex addict gets triggered with porn.
Every time someone in my life hurts me, and I don’t get to talk about my feelings (like we do here at PrayerCall), it leaves a little chink in my armor.
Then, every time someone says, or does, something that is identical, or even similar, to the initial injury, I feel not only the present pain...but the original pain, too!
So, if my father abandons me emotionally as a child, and then my wife, 60 years later, chooses not to speak to me...what I feel is the torrent of emotion that has been damned up for 60 years...that is really about my father.
There’s a perfectly good solution to this problem: a “fearless and searching moral inventory”, also called the fourth step, will open the door to repairing all those chinks in my armor.
Strength Office 102
“Control of the palate is very closely connected with the observance of celibacy.
I have found from experience that the observance of celibacy becomes comparatively easy if one acquires mastery over the palate.
This does not figure among the observances of time-honored recognition.
Could it be because even the great sages found it difficult to achieve?”
Gandhi is saying that even for the most spiritually gifted sages of all time controlling what, and how much, food, goes in your belly is hard to do.
It was absolutely pivotal for my recovery.
I was just stuck in third gear for a long, long time.
Conquering the food kicked my recovery into overdrive.
And now I am free...
Strength Office 103
One of our slogans in the B Office is “Anger is the backbone of healing”.
That confuses a lot of people, particularly Christians, who are admonished to “Not let the sun go down on their anger”.
That’s very good advice for adults, particularly addicts, because once we start feeling angry we have a tendency to let it cycle over and over again as a resentment…Until we act out to get away from the resentment that is burning in our souls.
“Anger is the backbone of healing, is actually the title of a chapter in an extremely famous book called “The Courage to Heal” by Ellen Bass.
In it she espouses the belief that anger is the only feeling that is strong enough to overcome the terrible fear of being a victim.
Patrick Carnes, the founder of Sex Addicts Anonymous, says that 96% of us were emotionally abused. That’s a lot of victimization.
I agree with both of them...
Therefore, I am for the appropriate expression of anger with safe people.
Strength Office 104
An open letter of thanks.
Sometimes the beauty of PrayerCall at work is so stunning it’s almost frightening.
To see somebody really change, to really see what they are doing, own it, and stop.
Sometimes I think I’d rather write serious music or comedy...and then I see a miracle in a human being...and I write another office.
Thanks for the opportunity guys (and gals)...
Strength Office 105
This is another relationship office for Jason of Maui:
Guys say all the time “If I just had a girlfriend I would be okay”.
But...“You can only attract where you are”.
You can’t attract any better than you are.
If this is true then I have to take a hard look at myself and ask “Do I really want to be in relationship with someone that has my level of recovery?”
The clearest example is: if I am acting out sexually and can’t stop, do I really want to attract a woman who is acting out and can’t stop?
I mean who wants to be involved with a woman who cheats on you and can’t stop?
If I can’t stop my own sexually addictive behavior, then I can’t reasonably ask my partner to stop. That would be controlling and insane.
So, you don’t want a woman that cheats...may want to give up that porn.
Want a woman who is not a drunk or pill head?...may want to give up that pot.
Want a woman that isn’t fat? May want to throw away that junk food.
In the DOH, DOJ Offices it says "Tell me what company you keep, and I'll tell you who you are." Cervantes
Nothing tells you more about a man than the partner they are with.
Strength Office 106
You are the light that guides me, through intuition, vision and “coincidence”.
There are no accidents in your world.
When I am anxious, your word comforts me.
When I wander from the path, your teachers guide me.
When I am weary, you bless me with nothing to do.
And everything turns out just the way it’s supposed to.
Strength Office 107
“We have recovered”
Forward to the First Edition of the Big Book
The Big Book uses the word “recovered” twenty-three times and “recovering,” only twice...and then in the context of the newcomer.
What do I do when I am recovered?
The first thing that I really discovered was that I wanted to continue to serve as a way of life because it makes me happy, not because I necessarily do it as a way to attain or maintain sobriety.
Secondly, there was some real freedom.
To put it in the English author George Elliot’s words:
“...for the first time to know what it was to get up in the morning without any imperative reason for doing one thing more than another.”
Wow! Really? What a life!
Strength Office 108
The Third Relationship Office for Jason of Maui:
The worst relationship advice I have ever heard comes from the movie Rocky I when Sylvester Stallone says: “She's got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”
No, no, no!
God doesn’t want me to use women as Silly Putty to fill in the lonely, needy, hurt and sad cracks and creaks of my character defects.
He wants me to be whole.
Think from your sister’s perspective:
Does a woman really want a man who can’t stop masturbating or stand up on his own two feet for an extended period of time?
Ask the question the other way: Do I really want a woman that can’t stop having sex and is totally dependent on a man for being stable emotionally?
No. God wants me to learn to be sober and serene with or without a woman.
Strength Office 109
The fourth Relationship Office for Jason of Maui:
They way my relationships used to go:
Her father said: “You aren’t good enough for her and if you come back I will turn her against you.”
That was really hard for somebody that was as needy as I was.
On the other hand I was a drunk a pot head and I was a musician. Not Harvard material...
Now this father was a notorious drunk and womanizer, so how bad did he really think I was?
It hurt my feelings so bad that I nearly came down from my high as I was driving home, while trying to minimize the severity of this guy’s assessment of my lack of class.
I never saw, spoke to, or thought of that girl again.
Strength Office 110
Outer Circle, for Jeff D.
“Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete”....Big Book, The Doctor’s Opinion
I could not stay sober without rigorous cardiovascular exercise. I would just jump out of my skin.
Running, biking and swimming work best for me.
Also, daily strength exercises through pushups, free weights and crunches.
Additionally, flexibility work through yoga.
All these add up to good confirmation...and a foundation for a serene and a potentially peaceful mind.
But...the Big Book also says: “Therefore the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body”
To be more focused I pray while exercising. Real simple stuff:
Anything from the full B office works perfectly
Anything I have memorized from the A Office
And the Buddhist form of prayer...counting my breaths
That way I get the most bang for my spiritual buck...so to speak.
Strength Office 111
A man on a bicycle threatened to attack my family as we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
I immediately took off my leather jacket in preparation for a fist fight.
Suddenly, from the North and South end of the Bridge two female police officers, one on a bike, showed up.
They took over...
Afterwards, my wife who usually quite the peacemaker, was still in her “furiosity” and wanted blood.
So did I...
It took about a half hour to realize that this man, in his 30’s, had probably spent his whole life being yelled at by his father and that his bellicosity was his only coping tool.
Our blood cooled and we became compassionate again.
...I still would’ve hit him.
Strength Office 112
Nothing more do I need to do than to thank you.
Thank you for the gift of life and sobriety.
My disease was virtually irredeemable and yet you redeemed me.
Schools, businesses, wives, parents and family gave up on me...but you did not.
I disappointed employers and employees, teachers, friend and priests...but you did not give up on me.
Always with your truth...waiting for me to hear.
And after much struggle, failure and humiliation, I finally got it.
It is true....your love is eternal.
Strength Office 113
HP, help me stay abstinent no matter what.
If I come around a corner too fast and start to careen out of control...right me.
Even if things get really challenging.
Help restore me to sanity if I lose my perspective.
I do not want to go back to where I was about anything self-destructive that I used to do.
Strength Office 114
In this time of world crisis help me to remember that you are in charge of my life, if I surrender my will to you.
Not the governments, health organizations or Wall Street.
On the other hand, if I don’t surrender to you, I am in charge of my life...and we know what a mess I made of that when I called the shots.
It is normal to feel fear in times like these but then the question becomes “What do I do with these fears?”
The healthiest answer is, after I have felt the fear and shared it with a trustworthy human being, to turn the fears over to you.
And then act, with courage and faith, to carry out your will to the best of my flawed abilities.
If I do not know what your general will is...I can look in the B Office where it is simply and clearly laid out.
If I do not know what your specific will is, I can meditate and then talk to my sponsor about what I believe I have found through my meditation with You.
As AA says “It will all turn out, just like it’s supposed to”
Strength Office 115
Today completes my 17th, 60 day (or more) chastity period in the last 31.5 years.
It was not the longest. That was 4 years.
Or even second longest. That was 19 months.
It was not the cleanest, as the many ones when I was alone and when I was considering doing the Gandhi thing by staying chaste, jumping out of planes, day trading and being a living foodist the rest of my life.
It was not the stupidist one. That was the one in 94 when I was having non-orgasmic sex five times a day, thought I might have impregnated my partner, and as she was driving away to the clinic to see if we were having a baby I realized I was going to have a hard time explaining to the boys in SLAA how I was being chaste and got my new girlfriend pregnant.
It was not the hardest 60 days to get. That was the first one in 1990. It took me 23 months of really, really trying to get those 60 days. That one was the most transformative. It was the one that really convinced me of the power of chastity.
It wasn’t the most revealing one. That was my third one when I gladly went into chastity (leaving my first partner in sexual sobriety after 2 1/2 years) expecting to be as close to God as I was in the first two...and God took a cab on me...and made me grow up and learn to love myself.
It wasn’t the most salvaging one. That was my 7th one that helped me leave my beloved borderline-personality-disordered-sexually-addicted-red-headed-psychic who was ruining my life with her ultra-craziness.
It wasn’t even my wife and I’s first one. We did our first one while touring Southeast Asia two years ago.
But it was the first one where I believed I was recovered, not recovering, which felt as strange and lonely as I imagine that the first fish that reached the shore to become the first amphibian felt.
It was the one that launched the new Strength Offices. The Mercy Offices being designed, initially, to help develop chastity. The Strength Office aimed at what life is like recovered...and laughing more.
Each chastity period is radically unique, in my experience.
I will never stop practicing “finite chastity periods” as long as I live. I love the power...
I want to thank my wife for participating in an activity which must seem uselessly difficult for apparently no good reason whatsoever. Thanks, really thanks.
Strength Office 116
Grieving is appropriate for the end of a chastity period.
While there is great physical joy and emotional love (hopefully) with a loving, passionate and playful wife, there are also the feelings of grief that accompany loss of clarity, power and strength that Gandhi, Pythagorus, The Book of Proverbs and Plato so eloquently speak.
As with all things, it’s a matter of attitude. A positive attitude is part of mental health.
I am grateful to have written over 100 Strength Offices, to have kept immune system strong during this world health challenge, to have maintained my “recoveredness”, to have learned new musical techniques, to have read many books and picked up a new hobby with my wife...hiking during this chastity period.
Strength Office 117
I stopped drinking 32 years go today
I find sex addicts who are in recovery for alcohol fall into two categories:
Guys that are lucky and use AA’s superior structure of sponsorship and step work, the ubiquity of meetings, and AA’s love of laughing and then apply that to sex addiction and get really well.
Then there are the unlucky guys that adhere to the 1980’s “Singleness of purpose” and won’t talk about anything but alcohol, including their arrest in sting operations, cheating on their wives, hard drives of carefully collated pornography or masturbating till their skin is raw and wonder why they’re bleary-eyed, profoundly depressed, Henny-Penny anxious and overweight.
I was lucky. Maybe it was because I was so fucked up at the beginning that I took everything I could get from AA.
Whatever the reason the most loving thing I ever did for myself was stop drinking and start going to meetings.
Strength Office 118
She was not the smartest or prettiest.
She was not the youngest, best dressed or most powerful.
She was not the most educated nor had she the best home.
Her husband was depressed, in debt and had just lost a local election.
There was nothing about her to distinguish her from a crowd of women.
But...she had a gift.
The gift of the presence of God.
Of the seventy five monks I know personally, the scores of priests, ministers and rabbis, and the many professional theologians I have known, no one has the plenitude of the actual presence of being with the living, real, and present God that this simple woman had.
Different people have different gifts in different degrees.
I have this gift to a minor degree. Not like Jesus or Gandhi or even this simple woman, and I have to work constantly to stay clear enough to receive the message:
No alcohol, drugs, tobacco or even caffeine.
In any case, God visited me last night.
One of the wonderful things about this gift of visitation, and it’s certainly not me that can do this, is that all my questions get answered...and I am a curious guy.
Another is the complete sense of peace.
The third thing is I get direction on what to do next, if I ask the right questions...and I do now.
I can’t overwork, overeat or masturbate if I want access to this information source, either.
My simple friend, on the other hand, could do whatever she wanted and still have access to the most powerful source in the entire world.
Kinda irritated me...but I liked her.
Strength Offices 119
It amuses me how stupid I was when I came into recovery 40 years ago.
I could not stop drinking...but I wasn’t going to let God into my life.
I was so sick every day that I often could not get out of bed until 2:00pm.
But I wasn’t going to let God tell me what to do.
Listen to how stupid that sounds,” I am not going to let something, that I don’t believe exists, tell me what to do.” I was ridiculous.
So, I would rather be sick from 5:00pm one day to 2:00 the following day, every day of my life, than have something that doesn’t even exist...tell me what to do!
It would be 10 years into recovery before I could see that not letting someone tell me what to do was the central organizing principle of my life.
At that point I could stop and see the absolute fury I felt towards my father’s control of me, the first 15 years of my life, but much more importantly that my reaction to his emotional abuse had created a gargantuan character defect of rebellion in me that drove my life to the insanity that is described above.
PS: If you think this not true of any addict, try this test: Tell an addict what to do, loud and angrily...see how he reacts.
Then ask yourself: Is this the response of an emotionally mature, spiritually developed, responsible man?
Strength Offices 120
How to find a joyous life?
The Big Book says “unselfish service to others”.
Gandhi says that, too.
But addiction theory also says that an addict must serve those who have the exact same illness, if they also want to be “free”.
An alcoholic trying to do his service as an acolyte...will just end up, a drunk acolyte.
A sex addict trying to do his service by trying to save the whales, will just be interspersing pornography with YouTube videos of Greenpeace.
Gandhi says that “Service without humility is just arrogance”.
That means you have to grow where God plants you.
If you are a sex addict...you must serve sex addicts. That’s the deal.
If this rankles...read the Office that precedes this one.
Strength Offices 121
What does love look like?
Well, to whom?
Loving myself means not drinking, not masturbating or overeating.
Loving my wife means making her laugh, providing her a home and listening to her.
Loving my son means cleaning, feeding him and getting down on the floor and rolling around with him.
Loving God means trying to ascertain what God’s will is for me and doing it...to the best of my flawed abilities.
Loving my country means to vote, pay my taxes and to fight, if necessary, for our common welfare.
Loving humanity means contributing something of truth, in service, to those in need.
Love of life means not taking myself too damned seriously.
Yeah, that’ll just about cover it.
Strength Office 122
The Big Book mentions “recovered” 23 times and “recovering” only twice.
The most important thing in my life is to not to drink. AA taught me that.
My wife, my children, my family, my job, my education, my religion, my money cannot come first…or I won’t stay sober.
I just simply applied that to every addiction I wanted to address.
But…once I do recover I still have to take care of my health, take care of my family and work.
But, paradoxically, when I place sobriety first, I can take one step back from those areas of family and work…and I can handle them better…because I have a better perspective on them, which is how AA defines sanity.
And I was tired of being crazy…
Strength Office 123
God, every morning of my life, except when I forget, I ask you to please keep me sober.
I also turn my life and will over to you for that day
And I thank God “For my life and my wife” …”and Gummy”
You have redeemed me from all my self-destruction and guided me moment by moment, often.
You have let me figure it out on my own…more often than I would have liked.
You have saved me from disaster and then at other times, when disaster hit, unimpeded, you helped me take cover and take care of myself.
You have not been around as often as I would have liked, being as needy as I am.
But you have been present more often than I deserved.
All in all, my relationship with you has been the most impactful relationship of my life.
I am humbly appreciative.
Strength Office 124
I used to object to getting old…until I realized what the options were.
I knew a man in Chiang Mia, Thailand, though.
He was in his late-60’s and a practicing heroin addict.
He said he could “Control his heroin addiction”.
…and yet he had the most extreme mood swings of any man I have ever met.
(I think the heroin had something to do with it, despite his claims.)
Being old has its challenges, but being old and still in the throes of addiction is unthinkable.
I am so grateful to all those who are reading this at this moment.
We are doing what we can not to “Control our addiction”…but to surrender to God
Strength Office 125
I need to stop administrating and do my service work through writing.
With 1600 people I feel impatient when people are not responsive.
To those who have experienced my impatience...my humble apologies.
Strength Office 126
One of the aspects of treating addiction is addressing the 80% of the time that the average human mind spends thinking negative thoughts.
Reading good books is a mighty treatment against said negativity.
Below are books I have read in the last three years:
Note to PrayerCall leader: do not read this incredibly tedious list below during the meeting: just glance down and go, “Daaaaammnnn”.
5.Tale of Two Cities
6.Our Mutual Friend
8.The Old Curiosity Shop
15.Dombey and Son
4.Life on the Mississippi
6.Mark Twain on Masturbation
7.Mark Twain’s Autobiog Vol. 1
8.A Tramp Abroad
9.Mark Twain’s Autobiog Vol. 2
10.Recollections of Joan of Arc
11.Following the Equator
12.Mark Twain’s Autobiog Vol. 3
1.Grapes of Wrath
2.East of Eden
4.Of Mice and Men
7.The Wayward Bus
8.Travels with Charley
9.American and Americans
10.To an Unknown God
11.In Dubious Battle
6.State of The Union
7.A Long Way Down
8.How to be good
9.About a Boy
African American Literature
1.Brief History of Seven Killings
2.Go tell it on the Mountain
3.The Color Purple
4.To Kill a Mockingbird
5.The Invisible Man
6.How We Fight White Supremacy
7.What doesn’t Kill You makes you Blacker
3.The Mill on the Floss
3.When You are Engulfed in Flames
1.Thank You Jeeves
3.Right Ho, Jeeves
1.Pride and Prejudice
2.Sense and Sensibility
3.Brave New World
2.The Cup of Fury
3.The Fasting Cure
2.As You Like It
1.Father and Sons
6.The Age of Innocence
8.The Way We Live Now
9.Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man
10.The Sun also Rises
11.Alice in Wonderland
12.On The Road
13.Look Homeward Angel
15.The Heart of the Matter
1.D’auLaires Greek Myths
2.Spokesmen for God
3.The Prophets of Israel
4.Gandhi and Churchill
5.The Renaissance Will Durant
6.The Age of Voltaire Will Durant
2.Life: Keith Richards
3.James Taylor’s Breakshot: My First 21 years
2.Smoke and Mirrors
3.Three Men in a Boat
1.Pillars of the Earth
Strength Office 127
When I was six I asked my next door neighbor Jimmy if I could take his dog, Suzie, for a walk.
The next day, I asked Jimmy if I could have his dog...he hit me in the eye.
The next day, Jimmy gave me Suzie.
I “Acted With Courage”.
Same thing with masturbation.
Back in 1988 it was weird to be talking about not masturbating.
Occasionally, some one would ‘hit me in the eye’, with words, looks, sneers or shunning.
Some things are worth a black eye...like Suzie.
Strength Office 128
My wife and I sing, pray, workout and kiss in front of our 7 month old son every day.
Children do what they see, not what they are told.
I used to watch my father get drunk, hate his job, despise his family, spit on God and isolate from people.
I did that exact same thing, except I was much worse. At least he was trying to pretend.
Then I had a “Road to Damascus” experience.
It wasn’t a burning bush or a booming baritone voice in the clouds.
It was my then three year old daughter running on the beach.
I could suddenly see myself the way I really was...It was more than I could bear.
Everyone knows what the Golden Rule is, but I then came up with the Platinum Rule:
‘’Do whatever you would want your daughter to do in her life...or to know that you were doing in yours.”
Strength Office 129
Sobriety definition expanded:
Sex Addicts Anonymous in San Francisco has a sobriety definition that says acting out is something you feel “pitifully and incomprehensibly demoralized” about and that you are “powerless” to stop.
One of the things I used to do was “three ways”.
I didn’t feel ‘demoralized’ about it and I had the power to stop.
But somehow, just somehow...it didn’t set just quite right with me, because I noticed I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was actually doing.
So, I expanded my sobriety definition to “not doing anything I wouldn’t talk about”.
Now...I just blabbermouth about everything.
Strength Office 130
People ask “ Why do you talk about food all the time?”
I could say “ Gandhi did and he was smarter than me”
Or they ask “These guys here are sex addicts, why are we talking about food?”.
One reason is that excess weight dramatically affects sexual desire and desirability.
I am 65 years old, but I do not want to stop being sexually desirable to my wife.
I don’t want to let French Fries, Cheeseburgers, Pizza, Pepsi, Snickers or Spicy Buffalo Wings determine the frequency, duration or even the possibility of sex...Yuck!
What kind of “Temple of the Holy Spirit” would that be?
Strength Office 131
The first time I saw porn I was 12 years old and was digging around the loft of our rented barn to lift a bale of hay where one of the neighborhood boys had stashed a copy of Playboy.
I had never seen anything like that. The pictures were so glossy, the women were so naked and the poses on various automobiles were confusing ludicrous.
The next day I looked again and it was gone.
Strangely, I would not see porn again for ten years until I was a messenger at a surgical hospital.
It transfixed me, and I wouldn’t see it again for yet another 10 years, when my first wife would give me a VHS video cassette copy of three porn films that she had had copied, by her sister’s husband, as a Christmas present.
I used it for maybe a year and a half...By that time I could overlook the stupidity of the content of porn as an actual film.
All this was before the internet...Then I got into sex addiction recovery.
The truth is that I did not need images to stimulate me. I had a lurid, vivid, creative imagination.
But, I was stone-cold addicted to masturbation.
I did it every day, not long, ten minutes or so.
But it felt violent, vicious, ripping and tearing through my boundaries, extinguishing my self-esteem, self-drop-kicking myself into two days of depression...every single time.
Nothing beat me so bad in my life like masturbation...except drinking.
Strength Office 132
I became a Catholic of my own volition at 57.
I have many friends who are devout Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Two Taoists, and no Confucianists.
I, in no way, believe that my way is the only way to God.
As a matter of fact I believe that all those seven religions are just passengers on one side of the plane.
I believe that God is much, much bigger than any of those religions.
Here are a few pretty radical thoughts that’ll get you crucified or burned at the stake at your next party at your neighbor’s house:
“God is Truth”...Gandhi
“God is Love”...John
“God is what shows up between people when they are honest and open with each other”...Anonymous
If I can’t stop masturbating...I care.
Strength Office 133
“He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.”
The richest man I know, worth approximately 300 million dollars, is miserable and suffers constantly because his wife isn’t the sexual partner he desires.
The greatest rock star on earth is a friend of mine and he suffers endlessly from acting out sexually.
Maybe Socrates is right...
Strength Office 134
“If I had listened to what my mama said I’d be a home in a feather bed. All my sins, are taken away”
Traditional folk song
Actually, if I had listened to what my mama said I’d be a:
Fat, cigarette smoking, pill-popping alcoholic, Episcopalian just like she was.
Except, of course...I’d be cheating on my wife, as my Dad did.
I think I’ll take being a quiet music teacher raising a family, prayin’ a lot.
Strength Office 135
HP, please help keep me abstinent today.
I don’t ever want to go back to looking into the eyes of every woman I see looking for sexual/romantic interest.
That just made me a lunatic.
I don’t want to go back into being fat and hating myself every single second of my life.
What I am most vulnerable to, is caffeine. I loved the high I would get for 45 minutes, but I hated the next 11 hours of misery coming down.
Listen to how that sounds: A miserable, lunatic, hating myself, every second of the day.
Help me suffer, with grace, today, not as a martyr...but just simply as a man who wants to be healthy.
Strength Office 136
I am powerless over my addiction.
But, I am not powerless over my attitude.
Left my own devices I become, as Shakespeare would say, a “mewling and puking” negative, energy-soaking, drag on the entire Universe...
I can do better.
I can be grateful for what I have.
Strength Office 137
Good Friday never seemed very good to me.
I love the four Gospels but I hate getting towards the end because I know what’s going to happen.
I love Jesus and I understand that he had a miraculous duty to perform...I get that. I get that.
But, who wants to get spit on, jeered at, whipped, stabbed with a spear and then suffocate to death while you are publicly naked?
I actually care about Jesus. Some of his teachings were unspeakably helpful to me.
How about we call it “I am having a really bad day Friday”?
Or “I am having the worst day of my entire life Friday”?
Or, “If you guys weren’t such idiots I wouldn’t be having to do this Friday”?
Although that’s a little verbose.
The fact is with no Jesus, there would be no AA, and with no AA there would be no Sex Addicts Anonymous and with no SAA there would be no PrayerCall and with no PrayerCall I would be acting out.
So...maybe it is a pretty Good Friday
Strength Office 138
When I left the University of Virginia in 1974 and moved to San Francisco I had not received the memo that the Hippies had moved out 7 years before.
I lived in the Tenderloin, our ghetto, survived on peanut butter, beer and cigarettes.
I had sex with a perfectly horrible woman (who was still older than I am now).
But that wasn’t the worst of it.
I was walking down a commercial street and I heard an organist blaring “By the Time I get to Phoenix” and I realized that I was wrong...that the streets of San Francisco were not in fact paved with musical gold.
It was the first of my “geographic cures”.
I hadn’t realized that I was the problem yet.
Strength Office 139
There were three really big things that changed my life:
Stopping drinking, stopping masturbating and staying at the exact same weight every day.
That last one required that I carry a 10 ounce metal food scale on the back of a bike 1000 miles through six countries in Southeast Asia for 16 months.
There is a famous old Scriptural line “Their God is their stomach”.
I hate to admit that that was me..but it was.
Strength Office 140
In the fall of 1972 four notorious alcoholics got together to discuss my possible future as a musician.
My mother and father had invited my former keyboard player, 40 years my senior, and his falling-down-drunk wife to talk about my desire to be a professional musician.
The determination was that “A musician was something you did when you couldn’t do anything else“ delivered in the most vindictive hate I had ever seen my Southern life...until Obama ran for President.
I didn’t understand the vindictiveness.
My father apparently believed that being a musician was very similar to being female, black, having 10 children and being on welfare...although he expressed this in much more vicious terminology.
I carried their hurtful hate for my professional choice around in my heart for half a century.
Then I started weighing the same body weight everyday and then I remembered it...and forgave them.
Strength Office 141
When Gandhi vowed to give up sex forever, which turned out to be 40 years for him, he discovered something he had never thought of, “Passive Resistance”.
Passive Resistance was the tool with which he overthrew England, the greatest empire in the world at the time, and freed India after nearly 200 years of domination.
On a much more modest level, being sexually sober frees up so much mentally enslaved energy to do positive, creative things.
...and doing periods of finite chastity supercharges even that energy.
God has given us lots of power.
Strength Office 142
Talking about religion in a 12 step meeting is like opening up a chest of hand-grenades with all the pins pulled out.
It might be OK...if you get away quick enough.
But more likely, somebody’s hands will get blown off.
The Big Book says “Try to see where religious people are right”. “Make use of what they offer”.
Other than that, as an adjunct to stop at masturbating, religion is considered an “Outside issue” and our 10th tradition says “We have no opinion on outside issues”.
I respect fully acknowledge everyone’s private religion, or lack there of.
As for me…I’m gonna just try to stay away from porn and masturbation, just for today...
And leave those hand grenades alone.
Strength Office 143
The man who taught me about feelings 32 years ago called me today.
We drifted apart after about six months when I got into sex addiction recovery.
He was masturbating five times a day at the time and he just felt sort of uncomfortable with me yakking about sex addiction recovery all the time.
5 times/day x 365 days/year x 32 years = 58,400 times masturbating
At 15 minutes per time that is just shy of 15,000 hours
They say it takes 10,000 hours to master something.
He got a Masters and a Half in Masturbation.
Strength Office 144
D. was a 6’3”, good looking, well built, young man with a winning smile, who came back from Vietnam a new heroin addict and was my first true love’s (at 16 years old) older brother.
He was campaigning for the Yippie Party Candidate in 1972 solely on the platform of legalizing marijuana.
Now that pot is legal, he would have to abolish his own government as there would be pretty much nothing else for them to do.
D. was beaten to death in an alley, with a 2 by 4, over a drug deal gone bad.
I was as addicted to D.’s sister as D. was to smack.
I gave up five years of AA sobriety once, after she said she “Didn’t love me.”
I was an idiot...
Strength Office 145
This is by request for Leandro:
I helped three other men start Sexaholics Anonymous in Atlanta in 1992.
I had just stopped seeing my first girlfriend I was dating, after I had gotten sober 18 months before.
I really, really did not want to masturbate again. It had taken 23 months to stop.
I had been having a lot of sex with my newly exed-girlfriend and I was afraid I would relapse.
So, I joined Sexaholics Anonymous because they believe that masturbation, under any circumstances, is sickness and is against the will of God...Pretty Draconian, but I really wanted to stay stopped.
I was with them for 7 1/2 months and they really helped me stay away from masturbation and complete my third longest chastity period...and I am truly grateful.
Then I got back with my then newly fiancéd girlfriend.
Sexaholics Anonymous believes that sex outside a legal, heterosexual marriage is sickness and is against the will of God.
I had to ask myself, “Is this true?” and I could honestly say “No, for me, this is not true”.
But, over the next 30 years I would go to SA, sometimes a lot, sometimes sporadically, because they are great at chastity.
The thing you’ve got to ask yourself before you defy a 12 step program’s sobriety definition is “Am I lying to myself that I am addicted and am just trying to find fault with the program in question because I refuse to do what they say...or does this really not apply to me?”
I have attended 37 different 12 step programs in the last 40 years and only two of them could I honestly say “No, this is not me”.
Sexaholics Anonymous was one of those programs.
Strength Office 146
You would think that I would have learned...
There are two people whose approval I am currently seeking.
I am not saying I am seeking their approval...but I am.
As an addict how do I know this?
When I don’t get the approval I want I feel hurt, left out, alone, abandoned, not seen for my good qualities.
Then, I have to stop and lick my wounds.
But the Big Book asks us “How did we put ourselves in a position to be hurt?”
Well, I am starting a new life and I want it to be with people and that sounds really good.
But, I have completely let my boundaries down, like an infant.
This the way my son acts at 7 months.
I can grow up...and keep my boundaries up a bit more.
Strength Office 147
For Patrick the Patient:
Three of our Twelve Traditions deal directly with money:
6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
Bill Wilson said that when the first dime went into the turnstile to get on a New York subway to carry the message to another alcoholic that “The spiritual and the material were forever entwined”.
PrayerCall has some fixed costs that we raise money for each November and May:
Annual web hosting
Domain registration for three sites
Monthly WordPress rental fees
Annual Gotomeeting.com platform leases
Daily posting costs
At times like these I think I would rather be sitting naked on a mountain top...
But I am committed to staying and praying...
Strength Office 148
We talk about a lot of spiritual things here...but every now and then we need to talk about sex.
Being able to resist masturbating has some real world practical sexual benefits.
When I am sharing “Physical intimacy” with my mate, being able to resist orgasm is really helpful to be able to wait so that my energies go to satisfying her first.
If you don’t think this is valuable listen to the tone in a woman’s voice when you orgasm before she does and she say’s “That’s alright...it doesn’t matter.”
She’s lying. You know it. She knows it. You know she knows it. And she knows you know it.
“Self-restraint, whatever prompts it, is good for a man”...Gandhi
Strength Office 149
Abraham Maslow says that the fourth most important need a human has is for self-esteem.
Ellen Bass says that the book The Courage to Heal is “wholly about raising self-esteem”.
One of the things that raises my self-esteem is to complete reading a serious book.
You know, “Tom Jones” or “Don Quixote”...something big and thick.
But, what I love is funny books by David Sedaris or Nick Hornby.
What is weird is that I get absolutely no self-esteem from what I love.
Let’s see: Heavy books = self-esteem...Funny books = love
I’m going with love, thank you very much.
I was about to launch into Samuel Johnson...and I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a butter knife.
Strength Office 150
Real Chastity and Marriage have two distinct advantages:
With every female I see I don’t have to say these seven things:
She’s too tall
She’s too fat
She’s too young
She’s too old
She’s too ugly
She’s with someone else
With 8,623 women in every square mile in San Francisco I am saving a lot of time...
Strength Office 151
Is God strong enough to stop addiction?
It depends on my understanding of God.
If my understanding is that God is only a celestial figure in the sky...then no, that will fail.
One of my sponsors who died with 54 years of sobriety taught me something:
He was a very conservative Christian but be he said “If church had all the answers, there would be no AA.”
AA would teach us the value of “God in Community”.
It is simply their meetings that get people sober.
Actually, it’s really God manifesting not only as a father figure, but additionally as a group of brothers.
I have seen scores of people from monotheistic religions fail to get sober, year after year after year, because they refuse to learn the lesson of “God in community”.
So is God strong enough to stop addiction? Yes.
But a more relevant question is “Am I willing to lay down my prejudices about God to be free?
Strength Office 152
Self-esteem comes from doing esteem-able things.
Self-confidence comes from repeated success.
I had super low self-confidence before I entered sex addiction recovery because I was never sure I could do what I said I was going to do.
I’d say “I’ll quit cheating on my wife”...and I would do it again
I’d say “I’ll never masturbate again”...and I would do it again.
It was crazy frustrating...
Now I can sit down with my wife to have a conversation about sex and say “I like this and I don’t like this”.
She can say, “I like this and I don’t like this”.
And we can negotiate something that we both feel comfortable with.
And what’s most important to me....She can trust me that I’ll do what I say I’ll do.
To the Recovery God...Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Strength Office 153
HP, thank you for leading me inward.
I did not want to do that.
I wanted in my ridiculously wayward youth to focus outward, on achievements and fame.
What I couldn’t see was the gift of health and longevity that you were going to give me and that to be emotionally successful at longevity you have to be able to let people go, as they pass from your life.
And that the only way to manage that...is to turn inward.
Thank you for your infinite wisdom.
Strength Office 154
Amateur is a French word which means “Lover of”.
I have loved music since I was 10 years old.
Today my wife and I perused the Presidio Military Cemetery and the headstone which most interested me was a Jewish Clarinetist in the 14th Infantry Band who died in 1865.
But as a youth when my mother and father insisted that I be an amateur musician I heard:
“You lazy, stupid, naive, ignorant, foolish crazy, idiot you will ruin your life and end up a heroin addict, panhandling in a ghetto in San Francisco where roving hordes of radical homosexuals rape innocent tourists as they pass by.”
None of that happened...
In all fairness, while my parents expectations were pretty low I rather unreasonably believed that I would :
Play like Hendrix, write like Beethoven, sing like Robert Plant, dance like Prince, be as successful as the Beatles, while I flew my Lear jet, snorted illegal substances and had indiscriminate sex with just barely-legal-aged-females.
None of that happened, either.
What happened was that I found, quite surprisingly...that I liked prayer.
And that is what I feel so fortunate to be able to do, right now, together, with you.
Strength Office 155
HP, I am grateful for this day, with this family, in this home, with this recovery, in this body, with these friends, praying to You.
Strength Office 156
Suppose my son never earns degrees or has any professional titles,
owns any property, stocks or businesses,
and never does anything special that would make him stand out amongst his fellows?
Would I still love him? Of course...
The next logical, loving question is then...Why wouldn’t I do that for myself?
Strength Office 157
I started keeping a dairy in 1973.
Didn’t really know why. I was afraid it was obsessive.
But no, it wasn’t...it was cathartic.
When I decided to devote my life to prayer 4 1/2 years ago I hadn’t thought of writing prayers, really much.
The Big Book quotes Thomas Edison as saying “Experience is the thing of Supreme Value”.
Now all that misspent youth alchemizes, dross to gold, through God’s direction...and it's all in a diary!
Who knew that all that fear of being caught masturbating...or dodging some woman’s husband...would turn out okay?
Strength Office 158
Michael Jackson, Prince, Hendrix and Elvis all died from overdosing prescription pills.
From the time I was 11 years old I recognized that some folks around my house were using legal, prescribed means to unwind from work.
When I get off work I want to relax, too.
My musical heroes gave me hope, fun, contentment and satisfaction, but I don’t want to die like them.
To prevent that I’m not going to live like them.
So, I’ll just unwind with some yoga and a book...and leave the pills to my heroes.
Strength Office 159
Plato believed that “When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself.”
I knew an ACA therapist who believed that your mind was not really thinking, but rather just “thoughting” all the time.
One of my blues harp students was a semi-famous therapist in the early 90’s who believed that thoughts were just “Rooftop chatter”.
Regardless of who’s right, it is also statistically true that 80 percent of those thoughts are negative.
That could be depressing...if I believed I was powerless...but I am not.
I do have choice over my own thoughts and I can choose a positive attitude.
That’s where prayer becomes so fiercely important.
Do I really want 80% of my life to be negative?
That’s four hours of depression/anxiety and only one hour of happiness all day, day after day.
Vince Lombardi used to say that “Inches make champions”.
I can pray, in all it’s many forms...an inch more each day
Strength Office 160
‘Starting around age 25, the adult prostate begins to enlarge slowly.”
My physician prescribed me a medication for this condition at 65, but even one tablet make me feel like an opioid addict for two days.
I find that extensive yoga helps reduces this.
I like alternative forms of treatment but I am moderate about that sort of thing.
I am more like my first wife: We took natural childbirth classes for my first child, but when the contractions began to hit her she became an obscenity-shrieking-banshee shouting “Give me an epidural!”
Strength Office 161
46 percent of 65 to 70 year-olds reported being sexually active.
39 percent of 71 to 75 year-olds reported being sexually active.
25 percent of 76 to 80 year-olds said they were having sex.
But...men were 20 percent more likely to have sex than women.
What I want to know is who is having sex with that rogue 20% of old guys?
Strength Office 162
I ran away from home a couple of times and I lived in the house with our local rural drug dealer.
I didn’t know he was a drug dealer at the time.
He didn’t have the best judgement in the world and he kept a large ceramic mixing bowl of drugs on his coffee table.
No one, including him, really knew what it contained.
Amongst the many more notorious items contained therein were a lot of rather innocuous looking aspirin.
I got to taking that frequently...really frequently.
My father, with as little sense as my local drug dealer, used to take aspirin daily “for his heart”.
That has recently been proven not to work.
I took aspirin for a long time...now I do deep breathing, mostly.
...and I don’t have a bowl of drugs on my coffee table.
Strength Office 163
My wife and I watched while a man chased another man on the beach who was stealing a bicycle.
The last two times we were at Safeway men were barreling out the door with stolen goods.
At our local pharmacy the same thing happened.
In the Light Hearted Offices we are directed to correct errors in ourselves that we see in others.
I don’t want to steal.
God, help me stay honest...Amen
Strength Office 164
I find that when I don’t stay in the “middle of the herd” I find myself a lot more susceptible to self-pity.
Actually, I just poke my lip out and pout like a child.
I look ridiculous and don’t want anyone to see me acting so infantile.
But, when I forget that sobriety comes first in my life and start trying to run my life myself without God’s help, I start comparing how I am doing with others and I become pathetic rather quickly.
My sponsor used to say “You can start your day over at any time”.
So, I quietly get down on my knees and say “Please...I turn my life and my will over to you”
...and suddenly my lip stops protruding.
Strength Office 165
We watched Humphrey Bogart’s Casablanca last night with the theme song “As Time Goes By”.
I taught that to a woman student of mine 35 years ago who was ten years older than me...who I was having an affair with.
I used to have sex with her in my house while my wife was in the next room with the door unlocked.
I used to have sex with her in her house while her husband was gone and her two children were home.
I was incredibly selfish and wildly stupid.
But even more than that I was extremely sick.
Affairs and masturbation are very angry acts.
I was very hurt, depressed and I hated the way my life was going.
Affairs and masturbation were the ways I expressed that anger.
Strength Office 166
“We absolutely insist upon enjoying life.”
On December 27, 2019 I decided to weigh 127.8 pounds, every day.
To do that I had to let go of some of the foods I like.
I decided to reward myself for my willingness to sacrifice those pleasures and I bought myself a Humphrey Bogart fedora...
...and then I had to get my wife and child two lovely straw walking hats..cause they were jealous.
Strength Office 167
“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”
I am grateful that my Higher Power has taught me and directed me in what to do so that I am able to take care of myself during this world health crisis.
‘’This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit.”
Help me stay humble and admit when I am wrong. Amen
Strength Office 168
8 hours of your day is spent working
8 hours is spent sleeping
3 hours spent with the children
3 hours of your day is spent eating
2 hours for shopping/bills
2 hours commuting
26 hours per day
Which leaves negative two hours per day for sex.
If you add menstrual cycles, bi-weekly fights, in-laws visiting, tax time and Lent you are losing six months of sex each year.
So, that by the time you’ve been married 10 years you are 15 years old again when you didn’t know what sex was in the first place.
Strength Office 169
Step Eleven says “We sought through prayer and meditation” for God’s will.
It doesn’t say “Prayer OR meditation”.
If I want to know what God’s will is, I have to do both.
Even then I am am not guaranteed to know God’s will.
One of the best ways to meditate is to take all that verbal salad that is constantly being mishmashed around in my head and throw it in the nearest recycling bin for 5 to 40 minutes at a time.
In order to not let that verbal/mental blender start up again I count my breaths.
The breaths themselves are not important mentally/spiritually.
They are just place holders for my mind so that Cuisinart switch doesn’t get turned on again.
I say 5 to 40 minutes because it takes about 10 minutes to count 100 breaths.
Here’s the breath sessions I did Tuesday:
And here’s Wednesday:
The cool part about this is, even if you really don’t want to or don’t like doing this step...it still works.
On a bad day I always, always am more calm after mediation.
On a good day I get “precise instructions”, as the Big Book says, on what God’s will is for me.
Strength Office 170
Plato used to say “The beginning is the most important part of the work.”
That’s because it’s really hard to stop inertia.
That’s what Issac Newton used to call it.
When you don’t do something for a really long time and it is really hard to get started....that’s inertia.
However, the good news is: once a groove is established...it’s equally hard to stop a good habit...that is also inertia.
Strength Office 171
“Can we steadfastly content ourselves with the humbler, yet sometimes more durable, satisfactions when the brighter, more glittering achievements are denied us?”
Step 12 AA 12x12
Yes...I am content to be sober, married, fathering, teaching and living my life as a servant.
Forgive me God for asking for more, earlier in my life...I was a fool.
Strength Office 172
When in conflict, a really good prayer is “In chastity lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul”.
I feel protected when I hear that prayer, like when I hear “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”, or, “Your rod and your staff they comfort me”.
Of course, I have to practice chastity for the prayer to mean anything to me.
While in conflict, my need for safety, my need for love-and-belonging and my need for esteem-of-others is not met by the other person, because they are too busy protecting themselves.
To make up for that deficit of love from the other person, I can love myself...by choosing finite chastity.
Seems like a small price to pay...for emotional safety.
Strength Office 173
When I was 18 years old I spent the summer in Dallas, Texas with my aunt and uncle who had promoted Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Blood, Sweat and Tears through Concerts West.
I immediately became fixated on him saving me and transforming the incredible, nascent talent that I just knew it was my destiny to play out and fulfill in my life.
I was a heavy drinker and pot smoker but I hadn’t crossed the line quite yet to full blown alcoholism.
But, I was acting out another addiction, victimhood...I was looking for someone to save me.
I held onto that false hope for another nine years until I got sober in AA.
I feel sad thinking about that boy (eighteen is not a man) desperately clinging onto the hope that someone would save him.
Someone did, but it wouldn’t be my uncle.
It would be God...anonymously appearing in all the AA meetings.
Waiting for me, wanting me to come in, welcoming me...
Strength Office 174
There is a principle behind each of the 12 steps.
The principle behind Step Two is Hope.
We are directed to “Practice these principles in all our affairs”.
I hope, if my life can be free of addiction to:
Accept people the way they are
Laugh, particularly at myself, as much as possible.
Pretty simple hope, really...
Strength Office 175
HP, help me to forgive everyone in my life who has harmed me “one and all”.
Help me to forgive myself for all the harm I have done others. Amen
Strength Office 176
This office is for Olafur...
Step Four - ”Made a fearless and searching moral inventory of ourselves”.
We write down five things:
1. Name of person who has harmed us?
2. What they did?
3. What need did it affect: safety (emotional or financial), love and belonging, esteem of others?
4. How did I feel when this happened?
5. What was my part in this?
My first ex-wife lied in court during our custody cases, which affected my need for safety. I felt hurt and betrayed. My part: I was drunk when I choose her for a wife.
Strength Office 177
This Office is for Patrick
“We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
Big Book p.24
It takes a long time to get sober.
The first thing that happens is I have a neuro-chemical predisposition in childhood caused by genetics and environment which sets me up to be addicted.
Unwittingly, I do addictive things until I can’t stop.
Once I become aware that I can’t stop I try to stop by myself.
That fails, and then I search for some help.
Then I fight the help that is offered to me until I surrender.
Once I have started to get sober the above quote kicks in. What AA calls the “ism” of alcoholism or “Incredibly Short Memory”
I forget how bad the addiction was, the same way I forgot in the early part of my childhood the pain I experienced, which led me to seek relief through addiction in the first place.
The only way to solve this is through constant service to others. Day and night, relentlessly.
The good news: Nothing feels better than service
Strength Office 178
For Hank T.
If there were a cure for addiction (and I’m not saying there is) how would you know if there really was a cure present?”
A better question is, “How you would know if there was not a cure?”
What we are sure of is this. If any of these addictions are present…a cure is not present:
21.Artistic and Mystical Preoccupations
Let’s get clear about something. Even if it is not possible to cure addiction, what is objectively true is that the simple striving for that impossible sounding goal has helped over 1600 people to recover from nearly two dozen addictions.
And that seems like a pretty good thing.
So, what If there were a cure for addiction (and I’m not saying there is) what would it look like?
What would be common, clearly, would be the absence of all these 21 addictions.
But what would be unique would be the life that each of us would build free of addiction.
Being a “Big fish story” kind off guy, as my wife describes me, I thought it would be like something grand and magnificent...like leaping over tall buildings in a single bound or stopping a runaway train with a single stiff-arm.
But, for me, it has simply been, after stopping all these addictions:
To work “in moderate demand”.
Letting go of my past, having done my inner work.
Re-ordering life to enjoy “friends” in books.
Inventory and meditation daily.
Serving others who asked for help.
Daily working out.
Singing with my wife.
Having “recovered “ which the Big Book mentions 23 times (and “recovering” only twice) there is no more confronting people, only acceptance of others…which I am sure is a great relief to innocent passersby.
I don’t change myself anymore, I accept myself.
I spend time with my soul.
I “Easy does it”.
As the Big Book says “And why shouldn’t we laugh? We have recovered”.
Strength Office 179
Second Office for Hank T.
Why all this pedantry around the word “cure”?
Seems to me if somebody was workin’ on a cure for everybody we would encourage him, especially if his group was working for free...Haven’t any of you read Tom Sawyer and the Whitewash story? My mama used to say “Praise the fools...and watch ‘em work”.
But, let’s get clear...
First, AA’s definition of a ‘cure’ would mean an alcoholic could go back and drink again.
No one is saying that..ever, ever, ever!
Secondly, if there were a cure...and we are not saying there is, no one is saying that you could quit living a spiritual life. That’s ridiculous and slovenly.
AA says that we drink because we don’t live”Life on life’s terms”.
What does that “Life on life’s terms”, mean, exactly?
1. Do a daily inventory
2. Pray and meditate for knowledge of God’s will everyday
3. Unselfishly serve others everyday
Not doing those three simple things is how we got here in the first place.
What these guys are sayin’ is simple. If there is a cure, other addictions can’t be present...and even an imbecile gets that.
Strength Office 180
Third Office for Hank T.
“What would a “cure” for addiction look like?”
Simple...It would be the absence of all addiction.
In the late 1980’s insurance companies were paying $40,000/month for people to go into treatment for codependency, food addiction, sex addiction as well as alcoholism and drug addiction.
To protect herself AA created the “Singleness of Purpose” policy requesting that all sharing “be confined to one’s experience with alcohol”.
This was wise and prudent because people in Narcotics Anonymous meetings, who were also compulsive overeaters, were saying things like “I had an ice cream cone last night...and I wanted to kill myself”.
The heroin addicts in the room, many of them convicted felons, thought these guys were completely crazy...and so the good boundaries of Singleness of Purpose, buttressed by AA’s Third and Fifth Traditions, came to pass...
AA’s founder, Bill Wilson, died of emphysema from smoking cigarettes, as did Ebby Thatcher who “carried the message” to Bill in November of 1934.
So, there was still clearly addiction present in both those men’s lives.
That’s not my problem....I am not here to save the world.
But, my mama died from emphysema and my only brother is currently dying from that disease...so, I do try to be observant.
There was a 33 year old Jewish man, long ago, who once warned “Don’t give what is holy to dogs...or they will turn on you and tear you to pieces”, so you gotta be careful sayin’ stuff like this around the AA boys. “Brer fox...he lay low”.
So, here is the deal. No one is saying there is a cure.
What we are saying is that if any of these addictions are present...a cure is not present.
21.Artistic and Mystical Preoccupations
Strength Office 181
Fourth Office for Hank T.
Why would we care about curing addiction?
Because when addiction is present there is selfishness and dishonesty present, according to AA’s Big Book.
And is that how we want to treat our wives, husbands, children, customers, employers and friends?
It is not possible to have an ongoing addiction and treat these many peoples with love, honesty, openness, presence, fairness, gentleness and humor.
That alone is reason enough.
There are many more reasons. Here’s one that’ll eat at your gut.
When we die all we leave is the way we have treated people...nothing else lasts.
Do I really want to leave dishonesty and selfishness when I am gone?
In truth, it doesn’t matter if we really cure addiction.
What matters is that we move in that direction with all our might.
That is all that God asks...
Strength Office 182
Fifth Office for Hank T.
There’s another good reason for searching for a cure for addiction.
According to Patrick Carnes PhD, two out of three people in America are either addicts or “friends or family members” of addicts.
That is 220 million people.
Leaving out the consequences of substance abuse or the repetition compulsion of a self-destructive behavior, there is simply the obsession, extremism, fear, resentment, selfishness, and dishonesty that the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the AA 12 x 12 so eloquently refer to that could be addressed directly if addiction did not bar the way.
That would relieve a lot of suffering for a lot of people.
That don’t seem like such a bad thing.
Strength Office 183
“In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
Today as the adult part of me was reviewing our life with the adolescent part of me the adult felt disappointment. The adolescent felt crushed.
The adult was disappointed over the adolescent’s choices. The adolescent shrieked in pain.
Reviewing his harm the adult realized he was wrong in his judgement and that his expectations/demands were something he himself had learned from our real biological father.
The adult immediately made amends for his wrongs.
Things were okay after that...and we went on a long hike together.
Strength Office 184
The humility to know that I need more strength than I actually have.
The humility to stop and pray for clarity, guidance, firmness and love.
All I have to do is recite the first three steps over and over and over...and I am free
Strength Office 185
Physical Strength B Office
He is richest who is content with the least...for content is the wealth of nature.
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
Any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.
Physical training should have as much place as mental training.
As with the body, so with the Universe.
Food should be limited, simple, spiceless, and, if possible, uncooked.
In chastity lies the protection of the body, the mind and the soul.
My body speaks for itself.
Strength Office 186
Mental Strength B Office
Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind rather than in his body.
Mind is the principal thing.
The world will tell us that the senses cannot be controlled. We should reply they certainly can be.
Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening.
As we are, so are the times.
Strength Office 187
I really struggled with myself in meditation yesterday.
I felt so uncomfortable that I wanted to get away from my feelings.
But I kept with myself, through feeling spiritually sick and got to the other side.
I was feeling the pain around my parents, my college roommate and a collegian friend who strongly disapproved of my career choice when I was a teenager.
But I came to peace with myself because I enjoyed myself immensely in my career choice as a professional musician.
Most importantly, in this challenge I had faith that I would get through the pain...and with the help of a lot of meetings, prayer, meditation and service I was successful.
Strength Office 188
We believe that 98% of addictive disorders is mental obsession and only 2% physical compulsion, based upon the number of minutes you masturbate divided by the number of hours of the week.
If it is true that we can stop all compulsion, the question we must ask is... “Is all addiction truly stopped if 98% of the disorder is mental obsession?
How does the mental obsession of addiction manifest in addicts?
During addiction the obsession manifests, at first, with predominance of thinking of acting out, how much fun it is and when it can be done again.
Later, as problems develop, it manifests as an obsession to stop the behavior.
Then, in early recovery, the mental aspect of the disease is mostly manifest through resentment and fear.
Later, in long term recovery, the diseased part of the mental state manifests in anxiety and depression.
Finally, with persistent inventory, prayer and service the mental obsession is lifted, the soul becomes available and peace is possible.
Strength Office 189
It is absolutely insane...I became a professional musician at 13 years old.
I’m 65 years old and I’m still a professional musician.
But I feel just as anxious now as I did 52 years ago, when I started out, when things go wrong.
You would think that half a century of experience would calm a person down.
The truth is that, it is the lack of faith in God.
God and I have a deal, like a musician has a recording contract.
God runs things…I just do my part.
Just hearing myself say that…I feel darn excellent.
Strength Office 190
For Jason on his suggested topic: ‘’70% of Christians struggle with pornography”.
Why is that?
Is it because Jesus is not real?
No, it because of a misunderstanding about God.
The Christian part of God came to help people with “sin”.
But sex addicts are not sinners...they are addicts.
This is a crucial difference.
A sinner is someone who knows something is wrong...and just does it anyway.
An addict is someone who knows something is wrong...and is powerless to stop.
The problem that the Christian
sex addicts suffer from is that they are reaching for the wrong part of God.
The part of God that heals addiction is the part that can only be found in community.
The 12 steppers refer to this anonymous part of God as “Higher Power”.
The Christians refer to it as “The Holy Spirit”.
For Christian sex addict to recover he has to trust that, while God includes Jesus, that God is bigger than Jesus alone.
And the only way to do that is find a group where you are safe...
Strength Offices 191
Acceptance is not a grumbling, talking under my breath, knuckling under of my repressed desire and will, and resentfully submitting to another’s will.
It is seeing the positive of what is and, ideally, laughing at myself about it.
Most of the time I don’t need to accept, I need to change.That requires courage.
But there comes a time, if I am lucky, when I have done all that I can do and applied all the tools that are available and I need to accept “Life on life’s terms”.
Strength Offices 192
My oldest friend of 35 years is an African-American man with Type II Diabetes, lethal levels of potassium due to kidney failure, high blood pressure and is also 85 pounds overweight
I hadn’t seen him in nine years and when he began to start passing out at work, and taken out in an ambulance, I sent him an airline ticket to visit me, with his 14-year-old autistic son who he raises by himself.
My most regular friend the last 17 years, my former bass player, who is a doctor, invited us over to listen to his stereo. Afterwards he told me simply that my friend was going to die if he continued to do what he was doing.
I had promised my friend to raise his child, upon his death...If he bought a life insurance policy to help with the costs of raising his son as San Francisco is five times more expensive than Atlanta, Georgia where our friendship started.
I called Georgia Regional Health Center, the state agency for autism. I got him a job interview in his chosen profession ten blocks from my house. I researched free medical care for him and his son, and researched low cost and even temporary free housing for them.
The whole time he was here he simply drank liters of Pepsi and ate “Hole in the Wall” pizza…An excellent pizza choice.
My wife who has the compassion of the Virgin Mary (if she can put up with me) finally said to me “Steve, there’s nothing that we can do…He won’t help himself.
In the last 32 years I’ve worked with well over 50,000 addicts and I have walked away from tens of thousands of men who just simply weren’t ready to do their part, yet.
But this was my oldest friend…I sobbed like a child.
Paul McCartney has an old song that says “Live and let die”... and that’s what it finally came to.
We are going to live by trying to do God’s will around food to the best of our ridiculously flawed abilities…And we are just going to watch our best friend die.
In AA we believe that it is God’s will for us not to drink.
And Sex Addicts Anonymous we believe that it’s God’s will for us not to use porn, masturbate or cheat on our partners.
The question I have to ask myself, as I cry over my oldest friend… Is there a will of God around food?
Strength Office 193
“Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.”
p.86 Big Book
Is this really true?
If I ask God about a decision that the right answers will come?
Yes, in my experience that is absolutely true.
Now it does say “After we have tried this for a while”.
When I first started using this technique 32 years ago, I thought God wanted me to build a skyscraper treatment center, off an exit ramp, near my home in Atlanta.
I even called the Georgia Department of Transportation to inquire if the land was available.
So, it takes a little while to get the accuracy of this method down.
A good sponsor is also really helpful to run my “God inspired thoughts” by.
Otherwise, you might end up owning property on an exit ramp.
Strength Office 194
My experience is that, a really good idea to have clearly defined middle circles so that when I am starting to veer off the road I can right my vehicle before I crash and burn.
Strength Office 195
When you call the headquarters of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous in Massachusetts they do not answer “SLAA”, they answer “Augustinian Fellowship” after Saint Augustine.
On his deathbed Augustine had the “Penitential Psalms” written out on his walls.
When I fall, like my better Augustine, I read these words to comfort and encourage me to dust myself off, get back up and keep walking.
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. "Selah"
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning.
7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.
8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
6 I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
7 I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
Strength Office 196
Something I learned about a little in the Big Book, less so in the AA 12x12 but more so from religion was the ”Fear of God”.
The term kept confusing me, because who likes fear?
But, I was irresistibly drawn to the predisposition, the attitude, towards God that these men displayed.
Finally, I learned that there are two types of fear:
First, fear of punishment, harm or negative consequences.
And second, the much more useful “Divine Awe”, sometimes characterized as “Respect for an exalted person, who would do us no harm”.
That’s a pretty good definition of humility...and I need a lot of that.
Strength Office 197
When I moved to San Francisco in 2002 I went to an “S” meeting, where the speaker said in his story that “He had had sex with a stranger in a park all night long, but that he knew his first name and...that was recovery for him. “ 45 people at the meeting affirmed this.
I knew I could not stay sober with this level of recovery so I went back across town and started an SLAA meeting 7 days a week, for 5 years.
We had a sobriety definition which said that, for us, meant “No masturbation and no sex outside of a committed monogamous relationship...plus an initial 60 day celibacy period.”
The meetings on the Southside were furious. They would not list us the Bay Area SLAA literature. They would come to our business meetings, en masse, once a month and try to vote us out of existence. Finally, a woman threaten to kill me in an email.
My lawyer, Brian Soriano, the San Francisco Police and The California Bureau of Investigation dealt with those threats...but they were still very angry.
A year later, my then 16 year old daughter was interested in becoming a therapist and so I took her, front row center, for two days to a John Bradshaw seminar.
At intermission one of the Southside SLAA leaders came up to Bradshaw, one of the two great therapists of his time, and asked him to look straight at me and tell him what he saw.
He said “Terror”...
I felt a little stung and vulnerable....but it was true.
An appropriate response to my childhood was to feel terror.
Everything I did after that initial terror was simple a child’s reaction until I joined AA at 27 years old...and everything changed.
Knowing this about myself gives me compassion for myself and eradicates my anxiety.
Gandhi used to say “My enemies are valuable...because they are candid with me”
Thanks, Southside guys and girls.
Strength Office 198
I have never liked moderation.
In the 60s we had an expression that said “The middle of the road…is where the yellow stripe lies”, implying that moderation, if not cowardly, certainly showed a lack of commitment.
That is a very bad slogan for an addict to adhere to…because addicts are extreme by nature, or more precisely, by nurture.
But here’s something I am absolutely certain of: It is God’s will for me to eat moderately.
If I don’t eat enough…I starve.
If I eat too much, I get fat and become subject to diabetes, stroke, coronary heart disease, cancer…And most recently COVID-19.
...And it makes me feel and look bad.
God, please help me to be moderate with my food. Amen
Strength Office 199
Before the final peace of mind in recovery,
Before the anxiety and depression that proceeds peace of mind,
Before the resentment and fear that precedes anxiety and depression.
Before the obsession to try to quit acting out on my own,
Before the obsession of acting out which precedes the obsession to quit acting out,
as the Big Book says, on p.88, our minds “were undisciplined”.
It then says, in Step Eleven, that through prayer and meditation, “God disciplines us”.
I don’t mind having my mind disciplined by God, through prayer, if being undisciplined was one of the things that originally set me up to be an addict way back before I was 15 years old.
Yeah...Sign me up...I am open to lots of prayer.
Strength Office 200
The most important thing I can do for my wife and child is to stay alive and strong...they need me.
The obvious answers are about not doing anything addictive:
Drinking and driving is hazardous, smoking will kill you, opioid pills are an epidemic, unsuccessful treatment of sex addiction leads to depression which can lead to suicide. All these are extreme behaviors and consequences.
But the thing I can do, moderately and consistently, is turn my life and will over to God around food and exercise.
That is my family’s best chance.
Strength Office 201
On Mercy, forgiveness and compassion.
I met an attractive married woman in Al-anon.
We began to talk, pray and sing hymns together.
There was not a single church on our side of town at that time and I proposed we start one.
One day she asked if I would use my contacts to buy her a piano at wholesale. A fee was agreed upon and I purchased it.
Then she cheated me...and did not give me the money.
I never spoke to her again.
Yesterday, 10 years later, she approached my wife and I.
We were kind, warm and open to her.
I could then tell, by her gait, as she walked away that she had Parkinson’s disease.
I was glad that I had had mercy...
Strength Office 202
When I admit I am powerless I am practicing the principle of Honesty.
When I come to believe I have been acting crazy and can become a sane person again I am practicing the principle of Hope.
When I begin to go to meetings and trust my sponsor I am starting to practice Faith.
While doing a fearless and searching moral inventory I practice Courage.
Sharing that inventory with someone is practicing Integrity.
There are seven more steps with seven more principles....but I hate expositions on all Twelve steps in one sitting...
Strength Office 203
For my beloved, wife.
The King rejoices in your Strength, Lord.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
Sing for joy to God our strength.
When I feel afraid. When I feel like my strength is dissipating, and I fear it’s from my age, I turn to God through meditation, generally breathing deeply and then try listening for God’s word.
Then God sort of drop kicks me through the goal post of massive self-delusion and let me know that “No, you are not getting old. You are not exercising enough and you’re eating too much...you idiot ”...(God and I have a ‘personal relationship’)
Strength Office 204
My mama used to tell me I was gonna do something great one day, or be somebody great...it was a little unclear and hazy coming from her bourbon-breathed, cigarette-hoarsened Bacall-esque voice.
But I turned out to be “nobody, doing nothing, going nowhere”...sort of what my alcoholic father had rather drearily predicted.
My first love, at 16 years old, said to me “If you’re so smart...why aren’t you rich?”
My oldest friend would answer her one day “Because he’s hanging around people like you”
The desire to be rich and famous is fine when you are 17 years old, after that it’s just narcissism...which causes a lifetime of internal dissonance.
A better solution is humility.
I remember in the days of Prince’s Controversy and Dirty Minds albums a lead guitar player in an all girl band I was producing was trying to persuade the lead singer to quit acting so crazy saying: “Be normal. Be average...”
That’s pretty good advice...coming from a guitar player.
Strength Office 205
Whether having sex with over 300 women, or learning to play in 14 styles of music, I have been driven all my life like a merry-go-round-out-of-control or a Ferris wheel unhinged from it’s axis.
I had no clue why I was so militantly disciplined to achieve impossible things, like an German army parading into the Siberian snow on the double time.
Having that kind mindset required that I get away from my own merciless self-demandingness...and beer and masturbation came in handy.
It was caused by a wound from absence of my Daddy’s love, causing me to overdo things...just trying to get endless attention to fill a hole...only God can fill at this point.
Daily meetings do that for me...that’s why I keep coming back.
Strength Office 206
When I first saw Jerry he was playing lead guitar in a band, drivin’ a completely orange ‘57 Chevy, playing a blond-on-blond brand new Telecaster and had the most bucksome lass with the prettiest legs in the school...He had everything flashy!
I followed his band to a gig at a local teen center and he showed me, at my request, how to play a 9th chord, just like the soul bands of the day we're using.
Jerry would later teach me to drink beer.
He would let me ride my first, and only, raked and chopped bike...a Triumph 650.
He unsuccessfully would try to talk me into smoking pot.
He would take the childhood love of my life (after I dumped her)...and wouldn’t let her go after I came back for her.
He would blow his brains out, in his 30’s, with a pistol.
I got to live another 35 years because I stopped drinking.
Jerry wasn’t that lucky...
There but by the Grace of God Go I.
Strength Office 207
I did everything I know how to do to foster strength today:
Sufficient sleep, 2.5 hours walk, 10 sets of pushups, yoga twice, drank 8 oz wheatgrass and later 12 oz raw sunflower sprouts to strengthen my body.
I read 4 hours and did breath prayer for 300 breaths to strengthen my wandering brain.
Worked two hours producing music and worked in my garden, twice to strengthen my finances (We grow our own food).
Worked with another addict for 45 minutes and wrote prayers three times today to strengthen my soul.
Watched a movie with my wife...just for fun
Strength Office 208
Freedom from sex addiction is given as a gift by God (if I work extremely hard-going to meetings all the time, following my sponsors direction, leading meetings, praying and meditating, reading literature, serving others, doing written step-work, practicing anonymity, journaling)
They say “I do my 1% and God does 99%”...but it can feel the other way around.
It can feel hopeless, falling back to masturbation time after time...but I have to go through the failure to practice the faith in God that the program really will work.
But the freedom is nice: Not having to date women who are wrong for me...Really being okay by myself.
Strength Office 209
“I looked for you without and could not find you my God within.”
“In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found”
Looking for “God Within”, initially, is a train wreck of an idea.
When I first enter recovery, all I hear within is:
“Why can’t I do this? Everyone else does.”
“It is not good for a man to be alone”.
“I just got out of that marriage. I deserve somebody new.”
“95% of men say they masturbate. The other 5% lie.”
Not exactly the best environment for God to dwell in.
At first I need “God Outside Me”.
The magical, mystical, all powerful, omnipresent one.
...The one that won’t listen to my baloney.
Strength Office 210
In 1979 Norman Cousins wrote “Anatomy of an Illness” and claimed to heal a potentially fatal illness with laughter.
Candid Camera and the Marx Brothers were his primary materials.
I looked back at these and didn’t even smile...
Not wanting to be hypercritical I employed my wife and we watched Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello and The Three Stooges which she described as “So stupid it makes me angry”.
I am very interested in healing myself...but it’s gotta work.
The best sense of humor that I have seen are people who crack on themselves.
Mark Twain or more currently David Sedaris.
There is something joyous and safe about cracking on oneself...
The AA 12x12 in the Fourth Tradition p.149 says “The acme of humility...is laughing at yourself”
Heck, you get healed with laughter and can claim humility at the same time???
Strength Office 211
Being in a group is very helpful.
It creates some “healthy shame”.
Sometimes I feel frustrated when I see Humphrey Bogart smoking a big ole stogie...and I would just love to crush one.
But I know but I’ll either have to lie to the people in PrayerCall, by omission, or admit a slip.
That fear is a healthy fear.
Strength Offices 212
On Friday July 26, 1987 I attempted to drink 12 beers after not having had a drink for 5 years, 7 months and 2 days.
I couldn’t possibly get down well over a gallon of beer in one night like I did in my late 20’s.
I was sooooo sick. Not just physically, but spiritually.
As they say in AA “A head full of AA and a belly full of beer, just don’t mix.”
I drank over my first love who had just re-entered my life after 15 years.
I was married to someone else. So was she. We both had children...It was a relationship made in absolute hell, but it sure looked like heaven...to a love addict like me.
She had lied to me and she had used me, but I just couldn’t see it.
It was the whore/Madonna complex that the D Offices refer to.
I feel sad as I think about myself then, but proud that I pulled myself out, forever...one day at a time.
Strength Offices 213
I always was a terrible Sexaholic.
They believe in no masturbation and no sex except within a legal, heterosexual marriage.
I never felt bad about sex without marriage, and I was not particularly opposed to the gay people I knew, loved and sponsored.
But I really believed in the no masturbation part of their deal.
Sexaholics Anonymous has the lowest success rate of any of the five major sex addiction recovery fellowships, primarily not surprisingly, because of porn and masturbation.
It would really confound them that I could stay sober around masturbation year after year after year and they couldn’t do that…When I didn’t believe a word of what they said.
I got married twice in the last 32 years. Each time I got married I would quickly go to a Sexaholics Anonymous meeting and proclaim, “I’m sober!”
They didn’t think that was funny...
Strength Offices 214
He makes me lie down in green pastures. Notice he doesn’t ask, inquire, or request...He “makes” me lie down.
He leads me besides still waters. Typically, I head for the rushing waters because they sound more exciting...but often, quickly, get in over my head.
He restores my soul. That means I had a soul in the first place.
What happened to my soul that it needed to be restored?
Restore means to bring back.
Where did my soul go? How did it get there?
I believe my soul decided to take a cab during the worst of my childhood abuse experiences and that it was out frolicking around, separated from, but looking for, my body.
While my soul was strolling around, unsupervised by an adult, it attracted some very self-hurtful behaviors.
My soul collected so many of these behaviors that it was just too darn big to get back into my 5 year old body when it was time to go back home.
But this prayer says “He restores my soul”...
It took a lifetime...but that is what happened.
Welcome home, my soul.
Strength Offices 215
“They will still bear fruit in old age. They will stay fresh and green.
Psalm # 92
“So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”
Psalm # 103
The first time I was ever in a monastery it was 3:30 in the morning. I had heard that there were 50 monks singing at 4 AM for absolutely no one…And I didn’t believe it.
I was 27 years old, stayed up all night long, showed up drunk, and sure enough there they were piously, reverentially singing their hearts out for not a soul...They were not in it for the money.
As I watched them leave what I noticed most about them was an incredible youthfulness.
Every single one of them looked 20 years younger than they actually were (As I got to know them all I actually asked how old they were).
It took me ten years to figure out why they were that way…It was the chastity.
There is something youth-giving about not “spilling your semen”.
That discovery would wreak havoc in my relationships for years to come because I wanted that youthful, effervescent, overflowing enthusiasm for life that comes with chastity...but I also still wanted a hot, sexy partner.
I would go along persuading my various partners of my desire for chastity...and then change my mind and try to seduce them, generally successfully. It was madness. I am so glad those days are over.
But I finally learned to be in relationship and be chaste...although it is still often not perfect.
Anytime I look in the mirror and want to be more “fresh and green”...I know what to do.
Strength Offices 216
At 33 years old I lost 60 pounds. At 65, I weigh 127.
I was introduced to Food Addicts Anonymous in my early 50’s.
Here were a room full of nothing but militant girls decrying the evils of flour and sugar, saying it was not God’s will to eat those things under any circumstances and that to do so was considered moral sickness.
Wow! I wasn’t expecting that...
They were incredibly disciplined. Calling their sponsors at precisely 5:00 am, Monday through Friday, for exactly 15 minutes, going to the exact same three 90-minute meetings each week without fail, meditating for exactly 30 minutes every day, eating three “weighed and measured” meals on a digital, not analog, scale every day, reading two, not three, pages of the Big Book every day, making three successful “outreach calls” to fellow FA members (even if you had to call 20 people) and reading the “24 hour a Day“ meditation book every day.
I thought they were going to come goose-stepping in, decked out in brown shirts and black armbands.
I have seen that kind of discipline only in boot camp recruits, young doctors doing their residencies and professional monks. It was really impressive.
Strength Offices 217
I had another visitation from God last night
It wasn’t a burning bush or the Red Sea parting.
I was just laying in bed waking up and my usual work-alcoholic mind started laying in, demanding that I get up and do things. I felt anxious with every demand. But, every time there was another order issued I surrendered it to God and my anxiety went away.
It became clear to me, again, that my anxiety does not come from without, but from within.
And I can do something about it.… I can surrender my anxiety to God
Unfortunately “I never let go of anything that didn’t have claw marks on it “… So this is a little harder than it sounds… Unless God is visiting you that morning and doing the heavy lifting Himself.
Still it’s a nice reminder of the truth that I am the one who causes my own problems.
Strength Office 218
3000 years before Gandhi and Bill Wilson there was a man who talked about the “God of Truth”.
That is the God I believe in.
He was a great warrior, poet, could play the lyre (precursor of the guitar), loved his 21 children and he loved all eight of his wives...a man after my own heart.
1000 years before Jesus, after his unspeakable courage, it was his intense love of and intimate articulation of Truth that really captured my heart .
He wrote, fully, half of all the Psalms.
The God of Truth is what got me sober from alcohol by just being honest.
The God of Truth is what got me sexually sober 29 years and ten months ago.
That’s good enough for me.
Strength Office 219
I struggled so hard, for so long, to get chaste and be reasonably comfortable.
I drove six partners in 32 years crazy until I got married to the right woman...and now I don’t care if we were having sex or not.
Strength Office 220
It is shocking to me what an ungrateful jerk I can be when I feel frustrated .
The AA 12x12 says that we are “childish, emotionally sensitive and grandiose”.
Yep, that is sometimes true.
Saint Monica became a saint exclusively because she put up with Augustine.
I told my wife that sainthood was surely headed her way simply for putting up with me.
Strength Office 221
In the religion of my youth one of the great writers said: “I wish that all of you were as I am (chaste)”. ”But if you cannot control yourself, you should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
That was a clear message that, married people having sex were kind of red-headed step child, hand me down, second class citizens, who couldn’t quite get it together, spiritually.
That baffled me.
Before the Reformation in 1517, Holy Orders (chaste priests/monks) were clearly considered superior to the Sacrament of Marriage (plain old common people who liked to have sex). To believe otherwise was heresy which, in Torquemada’s time in the Spanish Inquisition, was punishable by death.
Trying to reason with guys with absolutely no trace of humor was not going to prevail, obviously.
So I just decided to be content being a second class citizen...and enjoy making love to my wife.
Strength Office 222
When I used to think about who I, Steve , am , I used think that I was my thoughts.
Not my arms or legs or ears, nose, eyes, fingers or toes...
Not comfortably, but I could go on living without those things.
But the more I meditate the more I see that my “thoughts” are really not much more than simple obsessions strung together.
There is something deeper than my body or my thoughts.
It is, as Psalm 23 so beautifully reminds me...my soul.
Strength Office 223
Addicts are like crabs fresh out of the ocean.
Put one in a bucket he stays. Put two in, the first one yanks the second one down every time he try’s to get out.
The best man I ever knew two months before his 100th birthday fell down and ended up in the infirmary.
When asked if he wanted anything he said “Coffee”, which he had not had in over six decades.
When I feel like slipping, I remember that man...so as to help me start to rationalize a potential coffee slip.
I am a crab, too.
Strength Office 224
When I was first trying to get sexually sober 32 years ago, and failing miserably the first couple of years, I got to speak to a woman who was a therapist that had worked with Patrick Carnes in the late 70’s when sex addiction recovery first started.
She told me something that I have never forgotten: “Recovery changes. What will kill you in the beginning will save your life in five years and what will save your life in the beginning will kill you in five years.”
Learning to be flexible has been extremely useful in my recovery.
Sometimes I needed Step work, sometimes therapy.
Sometimes religion, sometimes working out a lot.
Sometimes learning to be alone, sometimes sticking in a relationship.
Flexibility is not my strong point. I am rigid as an ironing board sometimes.
I knew a very loving spiritual man once who said “If you’re not being flexible...you’re not in God”
Gumby is looking better...
Strength Office 225
The Ancient Jews were in slavery for 400 years in Egypt where it can get to 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Africa, where supposedly man first became a hunter-gather, it can get to 136 degrees.
When I first wake up in the morning, my workaholism, one-thing-to-do after another, builds a fortress of things I’ve got to achieve, each one increasing the magnitude of my anxiety so quickly and forcefully that I fully wake up!...and dread even getting out of bed.
Like the guys in Africa muttering, “Oh no, another day of killing the woolly mammoth”, ...I need an attitude adjustment.
So, I get on my knees as say three things: “Please” (as in please keep me abstinent)
“I turn my life and my will over to you”
“I thank God for my life and my wife”
...Then all that obsession goes away.
Strength Office 226
“God, you have assigned me my portion and my cup.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
My portion and cup that I have been assigned is:
Being abstinent, being married to someone I love, fathering my new son
teaching, working out, reading books
praying six times a day and writing prayers.
“The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.”
And I am humbly grateful.
Strength Office 227
I hate horror movies...
But there was a normal family, commercially released movie in the 1990’s where when the bad guys got killed, suddenly, from every direction came these little 2 foot demonic-like ghost figures that would envelop the bad guy as he fell shrieking to the ground.
It was perfectly horrible.
That’s sort of how I feel if I start to do something I am not supposed to do.
From every direction life seems really hurtful.
It’s just better for me to feel the pain and stay abstinent.
Strength Office 228
Every time I kick an addiction I lose people.
The E1 Office talks about “changing playgrounds and playmates”
I really deeply appreciate all the mostly men, who have walked with me down this road of recovery. Without them I would have never recovered and most likely I would have died early.
But the person who has been my best friend...has been me.
With God’s guidance I have loved myself the way He would have wanted me to love others and I really appreciate the self-love that God has taught me through others loving me.
Strength Office 229
One day when I was 12 my father took out his Sixth Calvary Riding belt and beat me in public in front of my neighborhood friends.
When that kind of abuse happens children go to one extreme or the other:
Either becoming people-pleasing doormat codependents...to avoid the pain.
Or tough, brutal narcissists...to endure the pain.
My reaction to that beating was a promise never to cry again, which I kept until I was 33 years old and had begun taking sex addiction recovery seriously.
Strength Office 230
To stay sexually sober, no matter what, I must be able to endure conflict.
When someone wrongs me, I must take care of myself.
I must remember that whatever the conflict, whatever the relationship...it is not as important as sobriety.
That is a great lesson that I learned from AA.
My job, wife, children, education, money...nothing is more important than staying sober.
I just breathe better saying that...
Strength Office 231
These offices are about strength.
I have seen vicious dogs chained down so that their heads could not reach above ground level...out of control Dobermans.
That is what my addictions are like sometimes, vicious dogs that I must do everything I can to keep from being eaten alive.
I have been devoured before...I’m not going to let that happen today.
Strength Office 232
In the last analysis God may only be found within...
Every time I do not objectify, do not fantasize about another woman, intentionally choose chastity, graciously accept a “No” for sex from my partner... each tiny event, I love myself.
As a consequence, my self-esteem grows.
As a consequence of my self-esteem growing, there is more of me available, within, to meet the “God within”.
It is not just stopping the self-destructive behaviors, it’s doing the life giving ones.
Each time I exercise or eat healthful foods I raise my self-esteem more and create more internal real estate that has the possibility of connecting with the God within.
My third AA sponsor used to say “Recovery is the little things”.
Strength Office 233
I used humility in a conflict and it really helped me pull back from a fight.
I made amends and said I would change, but that wasn’t enough to disengage me. I still felt the desire to make things right.
I had to stop, in the middle of the fight and pray the first three steps in Codependency, three times, before I could let go of my desire to not be in conflict.
After that...it was easy to pull out.
Strength Office 234
I am so grateful that I am well enough from physical behaviors that I have the opportunity to work on crazy thinking.
L. Ron Hubbard used to say that sanity was “The ability to differentiate”.
Part of good mental health is to be able to see when I am doing something wrong and knowing when someone else is acting crazy.
Still…I have to ask myself, “How did I put myself in a position to be hurt?”
Otherwise I am a victim…and there is no mental health in that.
As AA says “It’s easier to buy a new pair of shoes than it is to carpet the entire world.”
Strength Office 235
New Work B Office:
“Wear recovery like a loose garment”, “Easy does it”, “Let go and let God”, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, “How important is it?”, “Keep it simple”, “It’s perfect”, “Enjoy your successes”.
New AfterWork and Weekend B Office:
“Give yourself full credit”, “Detach with Love”, “We absolutely insist upon enjoying life”, “Relax, and give yourself some peace”, “Happy Joyous and Free”.
Strength Office 236
In the 1980’s the recovering alcoholic character, Captain Furillo, of Hill Street Blues says “Somedays…it seems like my mind is out to get me”.
I just wake up that way, sometimes. Nothing external causing it that I am aware of. But still, it is my responsibility to handle it.
I pray the first three steps over and over, sometimes for 90 minutes…until I can retrieve my mind.
Strength Office 237
“We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found.”
This is the same problem Saint Augustine had. He was looking for God outside himself and He could not find Him.
But Augustine had spent 10 years with the very self-disciplined Manichaeans developing himself spiritually, before he looked inward for God.
Bill Wilson would spend four years helping to get 100 people sober in AA before he would turn inward for God.
For Gandhi, Bill Wilson and Saint Augustine years of service to others preceded the look inward.
As AA says “We loved you...until you could love yourself”
Strength Office 238
Today, I want my mind to be free of: Dishonesty, selfishness, resentment, acting on fear, obsession or being extreme.
I want my mind to be full of humility, self-love, gratitude, forgiveness, acceptance, laughter and peace.
Strength Office 239
My favorite film is “Lorenzo’s Oil” with Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon.
It is about a child with a very rare incurable disease and his parents who stop their lives at the World Bank and defy the medical world to create a cure for their five year old son.
In the book of Jeremiah there is a phrase
“No one repents of his sin, saying “What have I done?”
It was inconceivable to me, once I clearly saw how I had lived my life for 33 years, how wounded I truly was.
But in 1992 what I saw in “Lorenzo’s Oil” was two people give their lives to save a child...I decided to do the same for me.
Strength Office 240
The greatest evil is physical pain”
I have found a way through diet and exercise to stop these things:
My shoulder pain, neck pain, knee and lower back pain and headache
Can I stay on top of this game? Just for today.
I will get used to this diet and exercise.
Nothing is as important as this for life and health.
Augustine’s “Greatest Evil” might be a little strong...but I get his drift
Strength Office 241
Left to my own spiritual disciplined effort I end up feeling hurt and afraid.
I need the humility to ask for God’s help...even when I intend on doing the right thing!
Strength Offices 242
For Richard H.
AA created in me a thirst, a spiritual thirst.
I saw, for the first time in my life, 40 years ago next month, a force that could change things.
I had seen the University, religion, therapy, money, talent, hard work and discipline, politics and family, art, attractiveness and persuasiveness in people...all fail to achieve their goals.
But AA really had the power to change things, really fundamental things, in the most important places...in people’s hearts and lives.
There are three lifetime gifts that AA would give me:
First...was simply to stop drinking.
If I never received anything else in my life...the gift of not drinking would truly have been the greatest gift I have received in all of my life....and I am humbly grateful.
Second was the appropriate relationship with God, for me, in my life, which is “I am powerless...will you please help me?”
Anytime I am in trouble I get down on my knees and pray the first three steps and I find myself right-sized in my life.
The Third lifetime gift I got from AA is from the last line of the Seventh Step, page 76, in the AA 12x12 which says “If that degree of humility could enable us to find the Grace by which such a deadly obsession could be banished, then there must be hope of the same result respecting any other problem we could have.”
It was this phrase, ironically, that would lead me outside of AA to other groups, as an act of genuine humility, to get the healing that God promises.
But it was AA that gave me the spark...
Thank you AA, really thank you.
Strength Offices 243
When I feel the financial stress that comes from this world wide pandemic, my first reaction, as an addict, is to get out of it someway.
Through food, caffeine or tobacco.
By my second reaction is to dig more deeply into my spiritual life, which for the last three years has been defined by my food and exercise.
But also more long term, through prayer, service, reading spiritual literature, sponsoring others and writing prayers.
Strength Offices 244
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”.
It is interesting that that prayer does not say that “I walk through death” or “I face death”, but rather that it is “the shadow of death” I face.
I saw a man today, and pointed him out to my wife, that I stopped from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge 17 years ago...He was a shadow of death.
The Covid 19 threat is a shadow of death.
Old age is a shadow of death.
Failing to get sober is a shadow of death.
The prayer says “I will fear no evil because you are with me”.
It doesn’t say that there will be no evil. It says because you are with me I will not fear.
That is good enough for me.
Strength Offices 245
You know we are actually kicking around the topic of curing addiction and what that would look like.
A really easy way to get humbled would be to relapse.
God hates arrogance.
So, I just want to say that I could not stop drinking no matter how hard I tried by myself and when I asked God to help He did and that’s why I believe in God...nothing more. Case closed.
But...God has done a lot more for me than that, although I really, really had to work at it before his Grace was given and that all that work amounts to absolutely nothing, in terms of success, without God’s Grace.
So, I am thankful he has taken me this far...just for today, One Day at a Time
Strength Offices 246
Need to talk about sex sometime in a meeting where there are mostly sex addicts.
There were years when even though I was sexually sober from masturbation and affairs that I suffered from POIS...Post Orgasmic Illness Syndrome .
That means that you feel “pitifully and incomprehensibly demoralized” under any circumstance where there is even arousal, much less sex.
Finally, not having a protocol to treat this illness, I decided to live chastely, which I did for four years.
And then, lo and behold, the chastity healed the POIS and I could be sexual once again.
I had physical intimacy with my wife today and it was lovely.
We at PrayerCall are pro-sex...just anti-disease.
Strength Offices 247
I took a mental health holiday today, on Monday of all days.
There was a lot to do and, until 6:30 pm, I did none of it.
Just played in the grass with my son showing him how to pluck daisies.
Sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do...is nothing.
Strength Offices 248
When my need for financial safety is threatened I need to remember that my abstinence comes first.
This gives me instant perspective, which the Big Book defines as “sanity”.
Because when I am enmeshed with financial problems, trying to get my needs met on my own initiative, enterprise and dynamism...you can be assured that when things don’t go my way...I will be crazy.
Strength Offices 249
An episode of addictive desire only lasts a maximum of three hours and then “This too shall pass”.
If I can make it just three hours, feel the feelings, but not acting on them I can stay abstinent.
That is why we have PrayerCall every three hours...One Day at a Time is simply too much.
Three hours at a time...I can handle anything for that long.
Strength Offices 250
I feel such peace when I have successfully beaten the addiction.
My self-esteem is lofty, almost at a swagger, but not quite.
And when my self-esteem is that high it is so, so much easier to connect with the God-within...as an additional bonus.