(from Essay October 2019)
Hi, I’m Wendi, sexaholic in Colorado with progressive victory over lust since November 7, 2011. Recently I attended a regional retreat with the theme “Practicing The Principles.” I really hadn’t given this much thought so I looked up the definition of “principle.” One definition is: “A fundamental source or basis of something; a system of thoughts and beliefs.” The Steps give me a new system of thoughts and beliefs which I continuously study and practice in my daily life.
The first principle is in Step One: Honesty. For me, my admission over powerlessness was the first time I’d been honest with myself. I now see how being dishonest gave people power over me. I had to learn this principle to become a reliable wife, mom, friend, and person practicing Honesty.
Step Two teaches me the principle of Hope. When I heard that I could be restored to sanity, I was desperate enough to try anything. I “came” to meetings over and over, listening to people share about their faith and trust in a Higher Power. I “came to” following the wisdom of a sponsor. I began to notice small miracles. I prayed with gratitude, and noticed more miracles. I “came to believe” there was hope for me. I could have faith and trust in a greater power and let the grace of God restore my Hope.
The spiritual principle of Step Three is Faith. I am experiencing what the 12×12 says “The more we become willing to depend on a Higher Power, the more independent we become” (12×12 36). It’s freeing to not have to have all the answers, to control outcomes. Surrender brings God’s plan into view for me. I trust that God’s got my back, no matter what. I have surrendered many things and all have turned out fine. I just need to stay out of God’s way to practice Faith.
Working Step Four teaches me Courage. Courage is strength in the face of fear, pain or grief. In Step Into Action it says “we were afraid but we took the action anyway” (SIA 58). It takes great courage to finally face the real me, to see that I actually have wronged people. But with courage comes confidence of knowing my real self. Just as a business can make more money if it knows what it has to sell, knowing what’s broken in me gives me the ability to fix it. It’s a fact finding, fact facing exercise that requires Courage.
Step Five gives me Integrity. I can be the same on the outside as I am on the inside. Today I’m always honest, especially when I’m wrong. I don’t have to have all the answers! I trust that God and my fellows know more about me and more about what’s best for me. I no longer have an ulterior motive for anything I say or do.
Practicing integrity means I give rather than take. When I freely give, I’m freely given. I’m trusted and trustworthy. I sincerely care about people, listen to people, and want to be there for people. It’s a new way of living where I’m often wrong and don’t try to cover it up or blame someone for it. I’m part of the human race, and nothing more. This is ego deflation. My life is transparent, simple, basic. I get to live with Integrity.
The principle in Step Six is Willingness. This is a process of moving away from my willfulness and toward God’s will, voluntarily. My way doesn’t work, and I have to be willing to try something new. Being willing means to yield, to concede, and to be agreeable. I’m aware of my defects and, even though I’d rather hold onto some of them, I’m willing to change. Today I practice being willing and when I’m not, I pray for Willingness.
Step Seven teaches one of my favorite principles, Humility. Humility is a natural byproduct of accepting that I’m not God and I do not want that job. My only job, as a humble child of God, is to be a channel for His love and peace. Practicing humility I am free to be the person I am with strengths, weaknesses, and feelings – perfectly imperfect. This, for me, is humility.
Brotherly Love is what I learned in Step Eight. This principle shows up in forgiveness and acceptance, not just for my fellows, but also for myself. Acceptance and forgiveness are at the root of brotherly love. Not all people are receptive to this love. This is exactly where practicing this principle is the most useful, with my fellows who are hurting and sick. It is a code I live by now – Brotherly Love.
Step Nine taught me Justice. Simply put, it means I stand ready to take full responsibility and consequences for my words or actions, while not causing harm to anyone else. This justice sets me free—free from guilt, shame, and fear. Free to change my behavior and start a new way of life. I’m at peace knowing I won’t die if I admit I’m wrong. Freedom through Justice.
Step Ten is all about Perseverance, a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulty, failure, or opposition. It’s a character asset that allows me to keep going or keep coming back, as the case may be. I face myself, I evaluate my thoughts, motives and intents, I admit where I was wrong, and I make amends. I repeat daily, sometimes hourly, forever. Thus, I’m given the gift of intimacy with God and Man as I practice Perseverance.
In Step Eleven I learned my second favorite principle, Spirituality. I had no spirituality when I came to SA. I think this was to my benefit since it was easier for me to talk to a God of my own understanding than to one of a religion. Spirituality means I am not God and there is a Power greater than me that I turn to for love, guidance, and forgiveness. I strive to have God-consciousness all the time, not blocked by self-will. I share that connection by my words and behaviors and give the loving spirit to make room for more. I open my heart and mind to the message God has for me and to share Spirituality.
The final principle of Step Twelve is Service. I have come to see how my experience benefits others. I had gone pretty far down the scale and yet, here I am, doing service, and hopefully benefiting someone. Service doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to feel good. Helping with readings, setting up chairs, even placing money in the basket – all are good service gestures. But the most important is sponsorship. I didn’t want to sponsor for a long time. But old-timers kept telling me it’s necessary for sobriety. They were right about everything else, so I now sponsor other women. We do this together.
I’m not a teacher or a boss but rather a channel for God’s love, guidance, and grace. I grow in my spirit, my attitudes, and my perspective on who I really am with Service.
Keep coming back. I’m living proof that it works if you work it!
Wendi F., Colorado USA