Friday, August 29, 2014

GIVING UP THE FIGHT - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY

GIVING UP THE FIGHT

Somewhere and somehow in the middle of my self-inflicted beatings, I finally gave up the fight. I became willing to relinquish my own personal idolatry. Under the weight of all-consuming sadness, my personal foundations cracked. I
admitted to myself that I was powerless over my sexual addiction and that my life was beyond my ability to manage on my own. In a moment of indescribable anguish and life-saving relief, I was broken. Amidst this ruthless and brutal reality, I experienced a new encounter with truth. I sensed that I was being confronted with the simple decision to surrender my right to my addictions, or to sink further and further and die. My abilities for choice had been reduced to only one: to live or to die. By admitting my own powerlessness over my addiction and my inability to manage my life on my own, I made a choice — a miracle in itself, really — a claim for personal honesty. And it was this choice that became the profound initial investment of honesty that was necessary to save and begin rebuilding my life. It was an investment that only I could make.


It’s the way you’ve lived that’s brought all this on you.
The bitter taste is from the evil life.
That’s what’s piercing your heart.
Jeremiah 4:18 MSG


Standing alone at the crossroad, I had nowhere to run or hide. What was it going to be — sexual addiction or life? This truth-filled question, ugly as it was, became the seed of a new life for me. The surrendering of my stubbornness and my independence brought a new breath to my life and a light that opened my eyes so I could see what I needed to see. My honest
admission had made it possible for me to find what I needed to recover and live. Within this brokenness, I began to accept myself, my limitations and the truth of my failures. Though I did not realize it at the time, I had begun the process of joining the world as a whole person, one who was free to enjoy life as it was created to be.

The dignity to make a healthy choice for my life was returning to me even in this smallest way; my "wanting to want to" had begun to make sense. Somehow in my heart of hearts I knew that my repeated prayers had been heard. I had hit bottom, or perhaps, I had chosen to hit bottom. This had been my own personal Waterloo and I had lost. But in and through my loss, my life was being spared. The truth was now very clear to me. I do not have, and will never have, the dubious and sick luxury of self-deception! My humiliation had become a springboard toward humility.


No longer simply a sexual addict, I was becoming an honest sexual addict. A miracle had happened to me. And I was being prepared for greater miracles and better days ahead.



This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only 








COMPLACENCY AND OVERCONFIDENCE- from OUR JOURNEY HOME






We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
- Philippians 3:12-14, NLT

“As an insurance against “big-shot-ism” we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are sober today only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.” - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 92, The Twelve and Twelve

Complacency and Overconfidence

We do our recovery work everyday because our addictions threaten us everyday. They never take a day off. Looking back, we’ll see that we’ve never really known when or how our addictions might strike. How many times have we found ourselves suffering a bout of addictive self-destruction and at the same time asking ourselves how did this happen again, what did I do wrong this time? Usually, the answer to this question was not that we did something wrong, but it was because we were not doing the simple but essential things that keep us from the slippery slopes of relapse.

Complacency and overconfidence are probably the most common reasons why people relapse. This is why we need to guard ourselves against pride, arrogance and overconfidence. We need to stay in close honest contact with our sponsors, our counselors and our recovery partners in order to keep our heads clear and free from the complacency and overconfidence that is so dangerous to us. As we humbly accept and admit our failures, our failures will increase our motivation for change and growth. As we maintain the habit of continuously sharing the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our lives, we will continue to become the men and the women that we have always wanted to be.

On our bad days, we tend to think about our failures. On our good days, we tend to think about our successes. But, on our best days, we tend not to think about ourselves at all because we are too busy thinking about God and other people.





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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

Thursday, August 21, 2014

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS - from OUR JOURNEY HOME






We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. - Matthew 5:24, The Message

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.”
- Booker T. Washington

Actions Speak Louder than Words

As we start to make our amends, we should make every attempt to offer ourselves to others in a sensitive and thoughtful way. We need to deeply consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Let us make the commitment to speak wholehearted words of grace and compassion. Where in the past we have shown disregard and selfishness, today let us reflect the image of God’s love. In recovery and making amends, it is our job to honor others and to give back to them what we have taken away. We should acknowledge to others that they never deserved to be treated the way we treated them. They deserved better. It is vitally important that we come right out and tell them that we want to make things right and that our restitution begins with a change in our attitude toward them, reflected by the way we interact with them in the future. Our message is simple: Today we see things differently. We are less important; God and other people are more important.

There may be times when we feel like people are out to get us. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t. (We are, after all, not the only ones who are susceptible to resentment and who sometimes want revenge.) When we are willing to be open-minded about the attacks we perceive from others, it’s likely that we will see that these attacks were aimed at our addictive thinking, our selfish actions and our sin, not really at us. So, when we feel attacked, let’s do our best not to defend ourselves. If we have done something to warrant an attack from another person, we can apologize and ask what we can do to make things right. Then, above all else, let us change our actions. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Building healthier relationships with others requires that we address the ways that we have harmed ourselves, and as we begin to make amends to ourselves we will begin to create the necessary spiritual momentum that helps to move us forward in making amends to others. Many of us needed to make changes in our eating and exercise habits (or lack thereof). When we had hurt ourselves financially, we faced it and with the help of our sponsors and counselors, we made the changes that were necessary for us to begin developing financial integrity. When we had hurt ourselves emotionally, we talked it over with others. Sometimes we even wrote ourselves letters, addressing them to ourselves at specific ages from our childhood. Sometimes, sitting in front of a mirror, we privately read these letters to ourselves. We always read these letters to our sponsors, to our counselors and even to some of the people in our recovering fellowship. Following the example of others, we learned to give ourselves grace and understanding because we realize now that no one has it all together except for Jesus.

Recovery is not a straight line from Point A to Point Z. No matter how good or how bad things get, one thing is for sure: things are going to change.







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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

THE CRUSH OF SHAME, from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only

THE CRUSH OF SHAME

Sexual addiction will abandon you every time, always making you face the burden of shame and loss alone.
Here’s how shame works: Shame brings misguided rules and regulations, a world of hiding and lies and make-believe with ruthless consequences for failure. Shame is an existence of personal condemnation. Shame makes us wonder if God regrets creating us. Shame makes us feel as if everyone else would be happier if we just went away. In shame we become our greatest judge, and addiction becomes our personalized form of self-execution. Shame erodes our bodies, our physical, emotional and spiritual health, making us feel mentally, emotionally and spiritually sick. Shame causes us to prefer to be alone, and this causes us to feel isolated and lonely most all the time. It’s like shame moves in, contaminating us from the inside out. We try to make peace with ourselves but can’t. Shame blocks our best efforts to heal and we stay stuck in self-loathing. In no uncertain terms we are, as it is written in the Psalms, "sick at heart" (Psalm 6:2 NLT).


Our loved ones made repeated attempts to call us back with their love. But we ran. They were willing to make up the distance between us. But we ran further in shame. We promised them sincerely we would "straighten up." But sadly, after they repeatedly offered us love and understanding, which we
often rewarded with habitual deceit, our families and friends would begin to lose hope. Feeling abandoned and hurt, we would agree with them, feeling as though we were infectious somehow. It would feel like no one lived in our world and resentment would drive us further from our loved ones. Sometimes our friends and families had to make the decision to cut all ties with us for the sake of their own emotional survival. Who could blame them?

I wondered where God was. Why didn’t He solve my problems? Why didn’t He straighten me up? Why wouldn’t He straighten me up? In my denial and shame, I had become an enemy to myself, and, unknowingly, at war with God and others as well. I was alone, desperate and dying and did not even consciously realize it. Many others have experienced this very same thing. Sometimes you’ll know it, sometimes you won’t.

My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
Psalm 44:15, 16 NIV

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only 








Tuesday, August 12, 2014

THE POISON OF RESENTMENT- from OUR JOURNEY HOME



We made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14, 15, NIV

Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing. - Buddy Hackett



The Poison of Resentment

It is very important that we keep our focus, remembering that we are working our own recovery program and not someone else’s. Our faults are our responsibility and the faults of others are not our concern. Our recovery necessitates that we recognize that while others have accidentally and even sometimes intentionally harmed us, any resentments that we entertain against them will handicap us spiritually and emotionally. Resentment poisons our hearts. Then it circulates into every part of our lives. It’s like taking poison and expecting someone else to get sick and die.

When we hold a grudge against someone else, we are actually bringing misery back onto ourselves. Resentment creates a kind of attitudinal foul odor that keeps others from getting close to us. Resentment can be intoxicating, and then we get hijacked by unhappiness which further alienates us from others. But, honestly recognizing the hurt others have done to us and giving those offenders our undeserved forgiveness will help to cleanse us from the stagnating resentment that will destroy us. Allowing others the freedom to be wrong helps us to see life, most notably our own life, more clearly. We will be better able to objectively acknowledge and embrace our shortcomings as well as our strengths. Thinking and living this way is a relational kind of humility that frees us to receive God’s strength coming to us through the holes that our weaknesses create, which then results in an increased freedom to love other people without barriers. As we learn to care for others, both the good and the bad, we learn to better care for ourselves with increasing aptitude and insight as a child of God. Forgiving others and being forgiven go hand in hand. We can’t have one without the other.



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Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

HOPELESSNESS RULED- from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY




Hopelessness Ruled


Having lost the ability to stop my addictive behaviors permanently on my own, the only life I knew was a life of hopelessness. I had tried everything I knew to try and nothing had worked for me. I hated my behaviors and most of all I hated myself. Destruction grew inside me, and consequence grew around me, spilling over into the lives of others. Though I wanted to with all my heart, I could not stop the accelerating madness that characterized my life. At times I thought I had proven to myself that everything was going to be okay. But I was only deceiving myself, suffering one of the key hallmarks of addiction: denial, which is another way of saying, “I don’t even know I’m lying.” Also, denial of addiction is where we use seemingly rational and logical arguments to defy the addicted reality of our lives. In this way I marched self-willed, self-deceived and self-centered, unknowingly, deeper into my addictions, hating myself increasingly every step of the way, hoping and praying that everything would be okay, but fearing it would not be. 


            In the fellowship we share our stories with each other, how very often we could successfully (temporarily successful) bridle and contain ourselves, only to see our addicted compulsions ooze into other areas of our lives. Perhaps someone who used escort services and massage parlors would stop visiting them for a while and begin to believe he had conquered his problem. “Success” had been achieved, or so he thought; he was feeling great. Everything seemed fine, but sooner than later, he found himself living and behaving addictively in other areas of his life: alcohol, drugs or prescription medications, food, spending, gambling, work, and even the obsession of controlling the lives of others. The list of addictions is virtually endless; ultimately the results are the same.  


            Most all of us in one way or another substituted or rotated our addictions. This proved we were still addicts with dark secrets, toxic shame, and a laundry list of growing interpersonal failures. Our best efforts by themselves had changed nothing except the flavors and colors of our destructive patterns. Subconsciously, our addictions had become a permanent part of our lives. We were masters of ignoring the addicted reality of our lives, blind to see how we protected the addiction and denial that was destroying us. In rare moments of insight and clarity, we’d grasp the insane thinking behind our rationalizations, our minimizations and our excuses. But a moment later, we’d forget the pain our addictions created for us and others, thinking that all was well, that we were in control, and that we could have our cake and eat it too.


            It seemed no matter how many times we hurt ourselves and others, we held on to the delusional belief that somehow, someway things would end differently the next time, opening the door to repeating the addictive cycle once more. Soon we were acting out again, always with the same result, a life of decay and personal demoralization. Insanity! Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


            Reality is that any addiction that goes unnoticed or is not acknowledged by the one who is addicted will most likely intensify in obsession, frequency and duration. Addictions most always progress, although the addicted person usually doesn’t realize it. Addictions simply outsmart people in this way. An immensely complex human phenomenon, addictions are fluid, odorless and colorless in all their forms. The pioneers of addiction recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, assert that addictions are, “cunning, baffling and powerful.” And they are.


            Personally, I’ve found my own addictions to be very patient, hiding inside me and waiting to strike at the moment most destructive to me. Without fail, whenever I acted out in my addiction, my life and circumstances would begin to erode and my relationships would begin to suffer. Inside, I would feel as if everything good about me was being corrupted. There were times when I felt dead and spiritually I was. Quietly, inch by inch, I was being sucked dry of my dignity and my humanity. Evil wins every time when I pursue instant gratification and when it came to my sexual addictions, I was being robbed of and losing the most precious of God-given human dignities: my ability to make healthy and sane choices for myself. 


            In sharing with each other in the fellowship, we admit that we often felt victimized by those around us, but we really were just victimizing ourselves. Every day we fought harder and harder to hang on to the life we thought we wanted, and each day we lost a little more of our life, suffering injury every step of the way, always still fighting, and always still losing. We had been using our sexual behaviors as a way to escape from reality, but our escape had become our prison. When we experienced pain that seemed too much to handle, we resorted to our addictive acting out, and this increased our painful guilt and shame, which in turn created an increased likelihood of more destructive and severe acting out in the future. Caught up in this downward spiral, we were doing what the addiction demanded instead of what we truly wanted to do. Progressively, sexual addiction gave less and took more from us, even corrupting the personal values and priorities we professed. In one way or another, everything we said had become a lie. After a while no one believed us, but us. We were deceived, believing it impossible to stop even though we wanted to. At best, all we could honestly admit was that we wanted to want to stop. 


            In years prior to recognizing my own addicted condition, I had known others who suffered from very obvious addictions. Unable to relate to them because of my own denial, I would say things like, “Poor guy, too bad he never got his act together — better him than me.” Or, “Thank God I’m not like him. I can stop whenever I want to.” Or perhaps I had said, “I’m not like him, I’m only having a good time.” And of course, on numerous occasions I said, “I’m not hurting anyone.” These were my common thoughts of self-deception. And I believe many of us have shared these thoughts along with me.  I was a master of rationalizing, minimizing and excusing, stubbornly denying the possibility that I was caught in the power of something bigger than me. I was just like the sad people I so righteously pitied, but I couldn’t see it.


            At first glance it would have appeared that sexual addiction was my most dangerous problem, but it wasn’t. My most dangerous problems were the supporting denial and addiction to my own ego, my self-sufficiency and the belief that I was in control. Protecting my egocentric denial was the root problem that initiated, contributed to and maintained every addictive thought, desire and action I had. AA calls this “self-will run riot, natural instincts gone awry.” My life had become scripted by a warped sense of what I thought I needed and wanted, not about what was truly good for me. Furthermore, my commitment to control myself, my circumstances, and the lives of others in order to feel “okay” was killing me.


Our God-given instincts turn against us when we are dedicated to rule our own lives as if we were master of our own world. With an attitude like this, we lose sight of what we really need and want for our lives, blindly moving in a direction we don’t really want to go.


            I rationalized to myself because I couldn’t explain my actions. I made excuses to others because I had no real answers for their questions. Being always committed to appear “normal” to others, I would hide my cries for help so those around me would only see the counterfeit image I felt I had to portray. Then, unable to live with my own self-deception, I would begin to think about the relief my addictions could bring me and I would return to what had poisoned me time and time and time again. 


            “Hell on Earth” is where the men of our fellowship have lived. And in our fellowship, we admit that the demands of our self-centeredness were too much for us and, we believed, too much for anyone else, too. Becoming ever more frantic, we looked for greater and more extravagant ways to prove ourselves acceptable to the world around us, hoping that someday, somehow we could truly believe in ourselves. We were fools and didn’t know it! Does a fool ever know?

This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only 



Thursday, August 7, 2014

THE SOURCE OF OUR STRENGTH - from OUR JOURNEY HOME

We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.



And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. I John 5:14,15, NLT



A great turning point in our lives came when we sought for humility as something we really wanted, rather than as something we must have. It marked the time when we could commence to see the full implication of Step Seven. - Alcoholics Anonymous, page 75, AA 12 & 12






The Source of Our Strength

We have, albeit unintentionally, created the problems that we have in our character. Now we are asking God, with as much humility as possible, to resolve the problems that stand in the way of us experiencing all that God has for us. Before, we had spent much of our lives and energy attempting to overcome what we could never overcome in our own power. But today, as we surrender our lives to God and humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings, we discover a strength that is unlike anything that we have ever encountered before. Only in God, and through the help of others, will we receive the strength and the endurance to continuously let go of our character defects and our addictions.

Nothing in our recovery work is magical or unreal. We will forever be human and prone to all of our human inadequacies. As much as we may wish it to be different, not all of our character defects will be removed from us. The work that God is doing in our hearts and minds will be part of His overall purposes. So, we will help ourselves the most when we accept the consequences that we have created for ourselves without complaint so that we can enjoy the benefit of lessons learned once and for all.

There will be times when we try to get rid of our character defects and fail, sometimes repeatedly. We will inevitably find ourselves in situations where we have to choose between trusting God amidst our repeated attempts of trying and failing, and the certain penalty of failing to try, which is in and of itself a failure to trust God. What we choose to do with failure is perhaps the most profound indicator of who we are and who we will become. Failure with effort can be a frustrating setback. The setbacks and disappointments create the sad feeling inside of us that we may never overcome our problems. This is where we will need help from our friends in recovery and from God himself. We will have our setbacks. We will try and fail sometimes. But, let us stay honest and let us stay motivated because our own fatal failure is giving up. Failure to try is suicide. It is here, in our failures and setbacks, that we learn to keep turning to God, time after time, and in so doing we learn to experience Him to be our Source, our Strength and our Joy.



http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Our+Journey+home%2C+David+Zailer&x=20&y=28
Our Journey home - Insights and Inspirations for Christian Twelve Step Recovery
By David Zailer
Copyright 2011, Homecoming Books

HOW ADDICTION STARTS - from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, NOT FOR MEN ONLY




HOW ADDICTION STARTS


Addictions begin in subtle and seemingly benign patterns of behavior. And at first, no one is likely to notice. The compulsive behaviors related to sexual addiction are facilitated by internalized personal dynamics such as shame, embarrassment, loneliness, emotional isolation, mental
exhaustion and a seemingly endless number of painful feelings anyone of us may experience. Virtually any pattern of emotional mismanagement and unhealthy behavior can initiate the growth of addiction, and by the time that most people suspect that they or a loved one is addicted in their sexuality, the addiction may be deeply rooted.


In my case, I tried very hard to make "good" use of my addictive inclinations. They entertained me when I was bored, comforted me when I was hurting, and they distracted me away from painful childhood memories as well as my chronic failures as a young adult. I rationalized them sincerely as harmless little pleasures, and at first I didn’t suffer any destructive consequences. But deep within me I hated what I was doing. I worked desperately to stop my destructive behaviors, often slowing down or even stopping for a period of time. But all the while, addiction continued to grow inside of me quietly, silently gaining control.


Sexual addictions come from the deepest place within us, a place we can’t reach on our own. In a very real way, our beliefs, our thinking, our feelings, our very selves are at the center of our addictions. With ineffective care and life management, anyone can become frustrated, resentful, fearful, dissocialized, and angry. We all at times feel abandoned, isolated, taken advantage of, having no sense of our true worth
and value. It is within these dark and isolated places that sexual addiction finds ripe and fertile ground to take hold of us.
This is an excerpt from WHEN LOST MEN COME HOME, not for men only