Working The Twelve Steps…Step One

Growing up my father was an alcoholic. I had been raised around The 12 Step Program but had never really seen much proof of lasting success. In my childhood, watching my father and mother work The Steps was akin to brushing their teeth in some degree to me. It was like a ritual, just another set of rules to follow rather than putting it together with a relationship to their heavenly Father and His Word. I know the traditional AA 12 Step program is founded on principals of faith, but in trying not to offend other’s beliefs by using the term “Higher Power” I think the program is doing a great disservice by not grounding the program firmly in the Word of God. Over the years I became skeptical of the program.

One Mother’s Day 2005 I was at the mall with my husband, Bill and son, William, when we ventured into a bookstore. At this early point in my recovery (sober only a few months) I had been in a constant search for different bibles. Every time I was in a bookstore, I immediately went to the bible section. In doing this I was gathering a collection of great study bibles. This day I stumbled across The Life Recovery Bible. I had never heard of this bible even though it had been in publication since 1998. No wonder in 1998 I was no where a bible!… Anyway, I started reading it in the bookstore and couldn’t put it down.

I was excited to find a bible with The Steps worked in with scripture. I purchased the bible and started using it immediately. This bible has been a pivotal key to successfully working The Steps in my recovery. For the first time recovery and The Twelve Steps started to make sense.
The Live Recovery Bible
brought everything together for me. It was relevant and fresh, not just a dogmatic “program” from man. Instead it showed how The Twelve Steps can be found in the Word of God.

I didn’t start working the program in the traditional sense by going to meetings and finding a sponsor. God didn’t lead me in that direction. In essence The Holy Spirit became my sponsor. For almost a full year, I spent many hours each day reading and studying the bible…listening to Joyce Meyer’s teaching tapes and reading her books. I put strict boundaries up for myself. I only watched Christian television, restricted myself from listening to secular music or reading secular magazines. Because I was able to be at home, not out in the world working around other influences, I was able to work my recovery this way and feel safe. I’m not encouraging others to do it this way, but this is how my recovery process worked. If I had had to go to work, I would have definitely needed a sponsor with ‘skin’ on to be my accountability partner.

My recovery process has been one of deep inner searching within myself to understand where I’ve come from and why my life has been what it has…searching God’s Word and using it as the mirror to my soul to bring about correction and discipline. I did, however, work the steps by actually doing what each step required. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share with you a study of The 12 Steps and how I worked them …one by one…

(The Twelve Steps and Scripture references are taken from The Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.)

Step One

We admitted we were powerless over our dependencies–that our life had become unmanageable.

I took this first step at a marriage seminar my husband, Bill had requested me attend with him in October 2004. Dr. Doug Weiss from Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs was speaking on his book Intimacy. Bill had asked me to go to the 2 day workshop and I reluctantly agreed. I told him I would go on Friday evening, but if I didn’t like the guy speaking I wasn’t going back for the Saturday morning session.

The group was small, about 25 couples…friendly and inviting. I was nervous and had my defenses up. Dr. Weiss spoke from his heart and told how he had grown up with a sex addict for a mom and because of her addiction he was shuffled around foster homes and then eventually back to his mom and step father. Through their bad influences he too became addicted to sex and pornography at a very young age. He explained how people get addicted to sex, what happens in the brain and the suffering to come as a result. He was so transparent and real. He seemed to understand exactly the pain I had. I was really listening. I realized for the first time he was talking about me. I was a sex addict. I didn’t know what it was about him and his story that touched me…I now know it was an anointing from God. Dr. Weiss talked about his clinic in Colorado and that they have Three Day Intensives for couples suffering from sex addiction.

Bill and I returned for the Saturday morning seminar. I was actually looking forward to talking to Dr. Weiss when it was over. I told him I would see him soon at his center in Colorado for counseling. I left that weekend scared by hopeful that help was available. After all the sex, drugs, alcohol, running away, various therapists, medication and jail time through Dr. Weiss God opened my eyes and I was finally able to see and here the truth of my own addiction. It was a miracle. It truly was the beginning of my recovery.

The First Step is the hardest. It can be very scary and humiliating to admit powerlessness… especially for someone who likes to be in control. Most addicts think they have it all under control…”I can handle it!”…that’s one of the biggest lies. The admission of powerlessness is truly the first step to recovery and forms the foundation for working the other steps. If we rely on our willpower alone, we will end up escalating our addiction to get out of the unending pain.

We must come to a realization that not only are we powerless over our addiction, but over ourselves as sinners. We can’t do anything without the healing power of Jesus Christ.

I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong… but I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things…No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to, but I can’t. — Romans 7:15-18 NLT

www.reachinghurtingwomen.org

My Name is Tamara… I’m a Believer and I’m Celebrating Recovery from Pornography, Homosexuality, Sex Addiction, Drug & Alcohol abuse and tobacco…

I’m no one special, except in the eyes of God, a few friends and even fewer family members. The story I tell is about a life lived then a life fallen into the darkest of places, where there is only one hope — the saving grace and redemption through Jesus Christ.

I’m an average baby boomer from a lower middle class family, a born again Christian, faithful wife, former home school mom, Sunday school teacher and choir member; who experienced loss of faith and a fall from grace resulting from disappointment in the church and betrayal by fellow Christians.

I’m a victim of first generation pornography. Hugh Hefner and the early influences the “Playboy” organization developed were pivotal in the destruction of my childhood innocence. It had an unbelievable affect on how I saw myself and how I believed others saw me. It changed who I became. Combined with the prevailing media onslaught and their definition of what is beautiful, sexy, smart and acceptable; a young girl in today’s society doesn’t have a chance to grow up with any sense of her true self without a firm spiritual foundation.

I’m a product of modern evangelism which preaches primarily prosperity and the grace of God; rather than using the Law to reveal God’s absolutes and bring a reverent fear of God that leads to true repentance. In 1980 the seed of God’s word fell on the rocky soil of my heart that had not yet been plowed to conviction by the Law; therefore it grew only between the cracks.

When the winds of disappointment in the Christian church challenged my faith it crumbled into nothing. Dormant anger rose and opened unresolved childhood issues I was unaware of. My father had unknowingly programmed me to be a sex addict and the invisible addiction began to surface. A desire to keep my husband sexually satisfied and the encroaching lie “We can do anything as long as we are together” encouraged us to experiment outside our 16 year monogamous marriage. Impending empty nest, mid-life crisis, peri-menopause, drugs and alcohol and eventually sexual identity crisis all took their toll on our family. The abused then becomes the abuser.

I’ve been sober now for 3 and 1/2 years. Reliving my story is a painful process. It’s very surreal looking back from the other side darkness…the life of a complete stranger… sad and disturbing. One of the saddest things about “the walking dead” is they have no clue that they are “the walking dead”.

My purpose for writing is that I might spare some woman future pain and suffering if she can see herself in me. I’ve come full circle now. It’s the true culmination of my 12 Step journey…actually putting The Steps into action. I will talk of the extremes in which I lived and how Satan begins his deception in small unnoticeable doses that then grow into large unmanageable addictions until a life and a family is in total ruins.

The Good News is God has graciously delivered me out of my various addictions and is now preparing me for women’s ministry. I hope to use this venue to deal with my past addictions in a way that others can relate to and find hope for themselves.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far out weighs them all. So we fix out eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — II Corinithians 4:15-18

www.reachinghurtingwomen.org

Feelings

I remember when Bill and I first went to the Intimacy seminar in Houston led by Dr. Doug Weiss. I was still living in serious denial of my addiction. Each of the couples were to do this ‘feeling’ exercise, where we took turns picking a feeling from a list and then sharing a time in our childhood when we felt that feeling. I found myself unable to even deal with these thoughts… these questions…my brain couldn’t handle it…It was so strange. Then Dr. Weiss commented that sex addicts have trouble with this exercise because they don’t know what or even how they really feel. Whoa! Now my brain was actually hurting… That was almost 4 years ago…I still struggle some days with expressing my feelings, but it gets easier the more I do it. The hardest part for me is getting the first word out. After that it’s almost a relief to know how I feel. A validation of who I really am.

Gratitude

I woke up this morning thanking God that I am no longer walking in the dark. Thankful that I am awake and aware of God’s goodness. No longer drifting along, wasting day after day, living for the next high or trying to make the next unlived fantasy come true. Thank you Lord for choosing me.

You have been chosen to know me, believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God, there never has been and never will be. I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.
— Isaiah 43-10-11