[From Essay, June 2015]
There I was in an Israeli prison, walking through a security checkpoint to visit an incarcerated SA member. What an ordeal! First, I had to empty my pockets. Then I had to take off my shoes. After that, I had to take off my socks and walk barefooted on a tile floor where other barefoot people—from all backgrounds—had been walking. All my mind could think was “If I take my socks off, I will surely get athlete’s foot from walking barefooted on this tile floor.”
It is always about me and my fears. Here I was almost 31 years sober in SA, and I was still obsessing about me and my fears. At that moment, a passage in our SA literature spoke clearly to me:
Lust hates the light and flees from it; it loves the dark secret recesses of my being. And once I let it lodge there, it’s like a fungus and starts flourishing—the athlete’s foot of the soul. (SA,160)
At that moment, I knew that if I walked barefooted, I could get a fungus between my toes—but if I did not walk barefooted, the fungus of my soul could return. The answer was easy: I needed to take off my socks, get through security, and help another suffering sexaholic.
This is my secret of staying sober. I accept that I am a selfish, self-centered, self-delusional sex drunk, driven by a hundred forms of fear, just as the Big Book states in terms of alcoholism:
“Selfishness—self- centeredness! That, we think is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self- seeking, and self-pity….” (62)
“After I accept the truth about myself, I can then ask God to help me transcend my illness of self-centered fear—“to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt” (AA, 63).
What a miraculous time this past eight months has been. My wife and I spent our travel time doing SA service work in Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Israel. My wife worked with the S-Anons and I worked with the SAs, and together we led meetings for couples. I’ve been able to help people of diverse religious and varied political beliefs. How can a selfish, fearful person like me do this? Only by my staying sexually sober both inside and out. Only by not acting out or lusting one day at a time could this be possible.
I recently heard a story that a man in AA who had 40 years of sobriety was asked why he kept coming back to meetings. His response was, “To see how awake I can get.” The awakenings we get in recovery never end.
The awakenings I receive are awe-inspiring. My recent awakening is that this was why I was created: to pass the message throughout the world to people of many diverse faiths and political beliefs. The message is this: if this program could work for a low-
bottom drunk like me, it can work for anyone. No matter what your background or religion, it can work.
The Twelve Step program works. It can restore us to sanity. It can bring us into a personal relationship with a loving God of our understanding. It can show us that God loves us. It can also show us that we can only keep it if we give it away. This is why SA service work is so important to me.
I hope that I don’t pick up athlete’s foot from my barefooted walk in the prison. But if I do, that would not be as bad as the fungus of the soul that plagued me for so many years when I was active in my addiction.
We sexaholics are now God’s agents to prevent and exterminate the fungus of the soul. What a great job to have!
—Harvey A. Nashville, TN