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obormottel Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Step One of the SA program is: "We admitted we were powerless over lust, that our lives have become unmanageable". So what does powerless actually mean?

When I first got into the program, I was taught by a fellow member that what we mean by powerless is that I can't use lust like "normal" people can. Once I take that first "drink" of shmutz, I'm powerless to stop, and it ends up ruining my life. So I simply stop lusting - period, because I accept that if I take that first drink, there is no way I'm able to stop, and I can't put up with the resulting unmanageability any longer.

This realization got me one month sobriety, and I was on top of the world. But as I hit one month and got further away from my acting out days, I started losing clarity of the pain and the "unmanageability" my lusting had always given me. As that clarity faded, I started rationalizing that I could afford a bit of lusting and ended up busting.

It was a painful experience, but after a couple of weeks of obsessive acting out, I got back into recovery. It was then that I realized I had the whole "powerless" thing wrong.

My discovery was that not only am I powerless to stop after my first drink, but I am totally powerless even before my first drink and cannot stop myself from having that first drink. I have no way myself to refrain from lusting. Lust is here to stay and there is nothing I can do to get rid of it. No matter how much pain and suffering lust has given me, somehow I will always come back for more. There is simply no such thing as hanging up the boots and giving it up. During that time, I stumbled across this amazing piece in the Big Book (p. 24) which crystallized this idea. I felt like G-d was speaking directly to me: "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".

This was my mistake. I never really admitted powerlessness at all. All along, I was still running the show. Sure, I admitted that I couldn’t drink without getting drunk, but I still believed I was in control and able to simply stop drinking if the pain got too great. Big mistake. As the Big Book tells us, that’s not the way it is for a real addict at all.

So I was forced to admit and accept I have a "disease of lust," which is stronger than me and has me totally beaten. There is no way I can stop it, just like there is no way a diabetic can cure their illness. Accepting this was really painful and scary. I was now in a desperate situation. Lust was ruining me and making my life totally unmanageable, but I was unable to give it up. Gevalt! But that’s exactly where I needed to be in order to enter into the 12 steps. It was out of this desperation [step one], that I was able to give up fighting lust alone and learned that I had to reach out to a Greater Power if I ever wanted to treat this thing [steps two and three]. I started by reaching out for help through making phone calls to other members when faced with lust, and slowly I learned how to sincerely reach out to G-d and ask Him for help. This is the bedrock of the whole program. I cannot do this myself.