During this process, you may find yourself obsessing over damage done to you by other people. I admit I did on many occasions. Others may have caused profound harm to you, but for now, it is essential that you concentrate on your own mistakes, and not on the mistakes of others. This is your inventory, no one else’s. You are responsible for your recovery and changing your life. Let others work out their own problems with God just as you and I are doing. Their personal problems are not our job and certainly none of our business. Any resentment you have should be listed and cataloged as part of your inventory. You can discuss them with your sponsor or mentor at the appropriate time.
My recovery partners and I approached our personal moral inventories in different ways. But there were some common characteristics. We each faced some tough questions posed to us by our sponsors and other people who were helping us in our recovery. Then we wrote about ourselves in journals, noting our responses to the questions asked. Personally, I found recovery workbooks quite helpful. We wrote about our family history and any memories of our families which we thought were important, writing down every thought, memory and feeling the best we could. We wrote about the people who harmed us. We wrote about the people we harmed. We wrote a great deal about our sexual experiences, why we did the things we did, and how we felt when we were doing them, and how we felt after doing them. We wrote about love, what we desired for love to be like and how we may have been disappointed by those we loved. We wrote it all. We wrote everything. Here are some of the questions that we asked ourselves:
· What are you angry about and why?
· How have others hurt you?
· Who hurt you? Was it parents, family members, people from church or school, neighbor, enemy, friend?
· What or whom are you afraid of?
· Do you remember your first sexual experience? What was it?
· How old were you when you began the behaviors that turned into your sexual addiction?
· How have you violated your own sexual ethics?
· When did you first think you may be addicted sexually?
· How have your sexually addictive behaviors increased over time?
· How have you violated or objectified others sexually, personally or socially?
· How have your sexually addictive behaviors impacted your spouse, your children, your health and your career?
· How have you violated or objectified yourself?
· How have you abused those weaker than you?
· How have you been greedy?
· How have you been selfish?
· How have you been a hypocrite religiously, sexually or socially?
· How have you expressed unwarranted pride?
· How have you manipulated others and your own thinking through self-pity?
· When and why do you feel self-pity?
· Why are you willing to sacrifice long-term health and sanity for short-term gratification?
· How and why have you minimized your mistakes and addictions?
· How have you exaggerated your successes?
· Have you minimized your successes? Why?
· What do you like about yourself?
· What do you not like about yourself?
· What do others like about you?
· How have you blamed others for your difficulties?
· What do you feel guilty about?
· Is there anything that you are intentionally avoiding? What is it?
· Are you, or about what are you procrastinating regarding your inventory?
· Why do you lie?
I spent about a week, working every day, setting aside a specific time each day to do my work. Daily, I asked God to help me to move through whatever fear and trepidation I was feeling at the time. It helped me to start with recent events and the things that were most troublesome to me. The more I wrote, the more I remembered and the more clarity grew within me. After a few days I actually began to enjoy the experience of making my inventory. I certainly wouldn’t say it was fun, but the working commitment to my own recovery coupled with a sense of courageous accomplishment produced gratitude within me.
As I honestly answered these kinds of questions, I found myself becoming more open to God, and having a strength I had never known before. Amidst my honest open and willing search, God was making it possible for me to address and begin resolving my issues once and for all. I had a sense that my failures and shortcomings could now be rehabilitated, reinvested and transformed into wonderful assets.
If you sense anger when writing, write about it. If you sense fear, write about it. If you feel resentment, write it down. Write everything down so that your sponsor/mentor and counselor can talk it over with you — face-to-face. We don’t need to be perfect by any means, but we do need to do the best we possibly can.
As we learn to understand the real facts about ourselves, we begin to grasp a real worldview of who we are and how we have hurt ourselves and those around us. And this makes us ready to change. We also begin to let our resentments go, realizing that, with God’s help, it’s possible that we can forgive every person who has hurt us, starting with forgiving ourselves. Resentment kills sex addicts. In forgiveness, we release ourselves from the hurts others caused us. And, procrastination delays the forgiveness that leads to freedom. This is why lollygaggers don’t recover from sexual addiction.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and to discover all along the prisoner was you.
Corrie ten Boom
This is an excerpt from When Lost Men Come Home, not for men onlycopyright, david zailer 2012