Step One
We admitted we were powerless over our sex and love addiction — and that our lives had become unmanageable.

More people enter recovery in January than any other month of the year. Maybe it’s a New Year’s resolution or maybe it’s a New Year’s face plant but for whatever reason after we’re done with tis the season, home, hearth, the holidays and all the Hallmark cards, a moment of clarity slips in just long enough for some addicts to stop and FEEL their life. It is a moment of self-reflection, self-examination and self-identification. It is that nano-second where the armor comes down just long enough to begin to pierce the denial system. In recovery terms it’s a moment of honesty. Each of the Twelve Steps has a specific principle that correlates to one for each month of the year. As we start 2014 I will try to expand, one per month on the 12 principles of recovery.

January’s principle underscores the need for “getting honest.” Honesty is at the epicenter of getting well. Without rigorous honesty the disease of addiction will win. Our watch word must be: go far, stay still and dig deep. It is a must that people in recovery be free from deceit.  And just think, we still have eleven months to go. Sitting back to reflect on this month’s principle gives me pause to conclude just how devastating this illness is and to take stock of the enormity of the task of recovery at hand.

Definition of Honesty
little red book

Freedom from self-deception; trustworthiness in thought and in action;
sincerity in our desire to recover from sex and love addiction;
willingness to admit a wrong; fairness in all our dealings with others
and refusal to sneak that “first drink.”
Your honesty is only as strong as what you do when no one is looking.
The sex and love addict lives in compulsive slavery. Acting out is the only means to make life bearable and quiets the addict’s jittery nerves. Existence under these circumstances makes the addict’s life unmanageable. Correction of this condition is a serious problem of immediate concern. Recovery is possible for those who honestly want to stop acting out. Recovery is possible, but a cure cannot be effected. Active addicts have developed a serious illness.  Their control over the behavior is gone.  Their life is unmanageable by definition.

For me the most important word in the first step is the first word WE. The active addict lives within a life of closed compartments, unknown to those who love him the most and in constant fear of being found out, yet the fear will never alone be enough to stop the behavior over the long haul. The active addict is a community of ONE. Isolation is his constant companion and his internal voice of worthlessness can never be silenced. What it takes to arrest this addiction is community, it takes a WE. It says on the SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) coin “You are not alone.” The shame of sexual compulsivity is brutal. It takes a village to raise an addict. In the first 159 pages of the SLAA basic text, the word WE appears ONE THOUSAND, FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY TIMES.  RECOVERY is a WE program. No More Secrets is a WE Program.

The second most powerful part of the first step for me is not a word or a phrase, it’s the — DASH. That seldom used grammatical demarcation between the first part and the second. Interesting use of English grammar to say the least. For me the DASH is equal to a pause, and active addicts have little or no ability to pause, you know like: this will hurt my wife!!!

In the Alcoholic Anonymous classic book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions it says that Step One is the only one of the twelve steps that you have to do 100% right 100% of the time. It’s simple, you’re either powerless or powerful, your life is either unmanageable or your life is very manageable, which if it was would make you a “normie.” It’s just that simple. You can’t be powerless Monday, Wednesday and Fridays and powerful Tuesday, Thursdays or Saturdays and show up in church on Sunday and be honest or okay. Life just doesn’t work like that.

Take a second and pause. Try to reflect, try to “get honest.” If you got to my website you probably belong here; no one finds me by accident. For your spouse, for your children, for your career or for your soul, find the 90 seconds of courage to find your honesty and make the call. Your life can be free of the chains of addiction. NMS can help.