Now about sex....Step 4

12 Steps: Discussions related to the 12 Steps and using them as a treatment to recover from alcohol and drug addiction.
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Postby carol1017 » Fri Sep 07, 2007 4:41 pm


I can understand your confusion over this topic, but as my sponsor used to say, "What keeps you up at night?".

In other words, which sexual relationships do you feel guilty about, and why? Were you "unfaithful", or did you participate in someone else's unfaithfulness? Did you take advantage of someone and hurt them in the process?

You cannot be held responsible for what someone thinks should have happened, or what they thought you meant by innocent flirting; however, you are responsible for your actions.

Keep it simple.

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Postby Dallas » Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:07 pm

anniemac wrote:I don't know your intent, but my impression of your reply was that it was sarcastic.

Gee Anniemac -- I promise you I wasn't meaning to be, or to appear sarcastic. For real. I had no negative intent whatsoever -- and not much of any intent.

And -- I do learn daily -- right out of the book. By no means do I ever think I will ever understand it all or not learn something new. My ideas change regularly. Sometimes -- it's when I'm reading it alone, or listening to someone -- or reading on the forum. And, any time, anyone talks recovery with me -- whether I think I might understand it or not -- or think I know it or not - it helps me to learn. It keeps sending me back to check my source in the book to see if I've over-looked anything.

I really do mean that, too. Thank you for helping me. And, that IS NOT with anything other than true gratitude.


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Postby anniemac » Fri Sep 07, 2007 5:33 pm

Sorry, Dallas - guess I'm a little touchy today. I have a headcold and my defenses are down -- and although I know some AA's don't believe in H.A.L.T., the "T" part really wreaks havoc with my ability to be objective. I apologize if I made a mountain out of a ... well.... a nothing! :oops:

Carol, thanks for understanding...and that's the crux of it. Nothing does keep me up at night, so then I doubt myself and think that I'm being dishonest with myself. When looking back, there are some "ickies", and all of them are due to my low self-esteem and what I allowed to occur in hopes that someone else would like me for it. And that doesn't fit with the "where had we been selfish, dishonest, inconsiderate" -- except as it applied to me being involved in situations with the selfish hope of being liked. It says on p. 69 that we subject each relation to this test - was it selfish or not? And other than the selfishness I just mentioned, none of it was selfish, no use and abuse of anyone else for my own gain. Just submissive allowing of someone else's selfishness. Maybe I'm giving too much information here, yet maybe that's why the whole thing just doesn't make sense to me. Kinda like reading "to the wives" in an AA meeting and having much more identification from the Al-Anon standpoint (recipient of the behavior) than from the AA standpoint (perpetrator of the behavior).

Okay, I'll shut up now, crawling in to bed with a box of tissues and some nose spray...... :?

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Postby carol1017 » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:43 pm


You wrote:

Nothing does keep me up at night, so then I doubt myself and think that I'm being dishonest with myself. When looking back, there are some "ickies", and all of them are due to my low self-esteem and what I allowed to occur in hopes that someone else would like me for it.

I'm right there with ya, honey! I had a lot of that in my 4th step, too. Just remember, when it comes to self-honesty and making amends , it's important to put yourself on the list. You now understand what caused the behavior, you now know how to prevent the same behavior, and it's time to forgive yourself.

I carried around a lot of resentments, a lot of which were based on the fact that I was a "victim" of someone else -- in doing my 4th step, I learned that I had put myself in the position of being a victim by own own lack of self-esteem. My sponsor, God love her, pointed out that now that I knew why, I should forgive myself and move on.

She also said that the only step that needed to be done perfectly is the 1st step -- there's always time to go back and redo the others, but you may not have another opportunity to redo the 1st step.

Keep it simple, and forgive yourself.

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Postby garden variety » Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:59 am

Well aren't we the lively bunch.

About "Leading someone on", when I think of "sex conduct" and "realtionships", I'm not talking about "innocent" flirting, or maybe not-so-innocent flirting. Or even the buying drinks with expectations thing. I'm talking about leading on when there is essentially no doubt in each other's mind.

To me, "sex and romance" is a mutal encounter. If I lead you to believe I want to get sexual, that's not really "sex conduct". For me I'm talking about the instances where there is "action" tied on to the "leading on".

You guys are going to make me show you what a bass-terd I was aren't you?

OK, here we go in a somewhat general way. I go to my favorite bar where I dance, flirt, and try to bring a woman home to engage in a sexual encounter. There's this married woman that has been doing things to get my attention, so we hook up and dance together, slow and fast. In a fast dance, she "flashes" a part of her anatomy at me which gives me a good chuckle. We dance slowly and are touching in a way where we both know where this is leading. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention this woman is married?

We leave the club, then we are walking through the parking lot holding hands. We stop, look each other in the eyes, embrace, then we start kissing intimately. Now, have I gotten to the point where neither the woman or me might mistake the other regarding intent? I mean there was no doubt in either of our minds that we were attracted to each other, and a sexual encounter was going to happen. No "winks" to give me the wrong impression, no "double meaning" words or phrases. This was pretty much "foreplay" if you'll pardon the expression.

The problem was, or maybe it was the solution, that I rode to the club with buddies. For whatever reason, they were not going to let me hook up with "Patty", my married interest, that night. Patty and me agreed to call each other after I got away from the buddies, that night, where we would pick up where we left off. The guys read me the riot act - said I was gonna end up getting shot. I told one buddy, a good "friend", that he better watch his wife that he was complaining about, because just like I moved on Patty, I was sure enough gonna move in on his wife. We got into a little bit of a physical rumble.

But after that, the buddies took me home. I was still thirsty, so I get the brilliant idea that we walk to the corner bar which we closed. I remember starting the walk home. The next thing I remembered was my mother waking me up at 3:00 AM in the neighbor across the street's lawn, and I'm covered in puke.

Patty was the last thing on my mind. I left her stranded. I pretty much aroused her with the pure intention of making a night of it, but I stood her up completely. I got into a fight with a buddy threatening to have sex with his wife while his back was turned.

I hate to say this, but that was far from the only time something like that happened. I'm talking about the "leading on" thing. Like someone just said in this thread. My ideals needed an overhauling.

And here is the real-life clincher. Guess what that does for me in step 9? There are at least 3 women who were or are still married that I harmed by my sexual conduct. Patty being pretty close to the top of the list. I know in my heart that it would be a sheer disaster for them for me to even try direct amends. It would bring chaos into their lives and into the lives of their significant others and even their kids.

Yet today, I'm with a lady who is a dream of a woman. I'm so much falling deeper in love and so is she. It's all legitimate too. How does stuff like this happen? Well for me, the 4th step worked in the area of sexual conduct. I paid a price, yes, but so did the others I took advantage of. It took me 11 years to "look at" that sexual conduct list, and to let God shape a "sane and sound ideal" for the future.

You know what? It really worked for me. Step 4 did for me exactly what it was supposed to. What about step 9? I'm making living amends. My amends to Patty and Ellen and Vicki are being lived out in my relatioship with Donna. The amends are being lived out with, Karen, the attractive new hire my office, who has a boss that makes it a point to live respectfully and asks God to remove any impure motives.

It gets lived out in my life with every woman I meet and talk to today. I'm not the same man I was, and many ladies that know me today are a lot happier because of step 4 and step 9. Now don't think there isn't another side too. I had a best friend who slept with my wife - another "story" altogether. But she came clean with me, and I've let it go. My ex-wife is still my friend and I would help her in any way if she needed it - I still do. No "skeletons" or resentments either. That was also because of step 4 in sexual conduct. I saw my role in what led her to do the things she did.

For me it was all about alcoholism and the destruction, the "wreckage" it caused for my loved ones.

I know I'm not the same man today. But I also know that I haven't forgotten how to be. I don't ever want to forget that I am powerless over alcohol, that my life had become unmanigable.
Last edited by garden variety on Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:00 am

Just a thought --

I realize this has nothing to do with the 4th Step -- (so it's off topic) but, it may be an idea that you may or may not want to consider.

When I'm sponsoring a person -- after we have gotten through their 12th Step -- and they've had their Spiritual Awakening -- I have them start reading -- daily -- from the bottom of page 83 through the end of 88.

I have them to do this so that they can begin a daily practice of Steps 10, 11 -- using the formal instructions on those pages as a guide for their continued written inventories, admissions, prayer and meditation. This also helps them to acquire discipline and structure in their daily living.

Part of objectives of Steps 10 & 11 -- are to "grow in understanding and effectiveness."

After my sponsee has become disciplined in doing this practice for at least 30 days -- without missing a day -- depending upon their growth, I'll begin to add to some of the things that they will want to inventory. This keeps their recovery fresh and new and structured.

One of the things that I eventually suggest to them is to use the Inventory process on -- The Seven Fundamental Passions -- The tendency to pride, envy, greed, lust, sloth, anger (resentment).

Bill, refers to these as The Seven Deadly Sins, (in the 12 & 12). I prefer to refer to them as The Seven Fundamental Passions -- because it steers clear of religious ideas -- or anything that simulates religion or an old ill-conceived concept of God. (Some people can actually freak out over the word Sins -- because mentally it shoves them right back into a church pew or other religious ideas that were a major problem for them -- where they'll spend another week writing about resentments, etceteras. And, we are careful to keep our recovery based upon spiritual principles rather than religion).

The Seven Fundamental Passions -- interfere with our Spiritual growth -- and in all areas of our life. Physical. Mental. Emotional. And, Spiritual.

So -- in the advanced 10th Step Inventory (10th Step on Steroids!) :lol: I'll have them examine the Passions -- and to search and discover how each of those specific passions may be at play in their lives -- and how they are hampering their Spiritual growth -- and interfering with their health, their mental well-being, their happiness, their emotional well-being, and their objectives towards making progress in achieving and living a good life.

What we're trying to do at this phase of their development in recovery -- is to focus on a healthy, happy, fulfilling, positive and good life -- beyond sobriety.

Dallas B.

Note: The reason that I thought it might be appropriate to post this here -- is because of the passion of lust -- which can be a problem other than actual physical sex conduct. And, each of the Seven Fundamental Passions -- pride, envy, greed, lust, sloth, anger (resentment) -- can be at play in our actual sex conduct (Physical - Mental - Emotional aspect of our lives) Even though....... all of these problems are not dealt with in the 4th Step. Another note: There is some historical indication (stories) that Dr. Bob, did delve into some of these areas in helping others with their inventory -- prior to -- the 12 Steps, the Big Book and A.A.

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My name is Anne, I'm an alcoholic

Postby musicmode » Sun Sep 09, 2007 2:49 am

Now...there are topics, and there are topics :wink: that I have the cheesy out of the's a topic that I would steer away from, because of guilt, and shame...and uncertainty. Finally, when I did my last round of the steps...I waded in slowly and carefully.

I was out to "live it"...the 'life'...and here's the slogan we've all heard: sex, drugs, and rock&roll 8) . I used it...used it to help me feel wanted, to fill a void that could not be filled, but I would keep trying. Sometimes it was of lust...see a guy walk in, "gotta have", u-huh...and--would have success. I "showed off" to a friend once, this friend (female) and I went for a couple of drinks after work, this guy walks in who was very pleasing to the eye, I said to her: watch this, that guy is sitting here, and I pointed beside me. Wasn't that tough, either...I made eye contact, and rather bluntly pointed at him and told him he could sit here if he wanted to. He did. From the stage, I could choose, and choose I did. Once I was closer, and didn't like something about him...I'd ditch him. I did all these things, and it was all about power, and it was all about building up a self-esteem that I didn't have, and never got either...but I kept trying anyway. In part, this was fed by being this ugly, overweight kid, and being told so (in school), and made fun of, and told I'd never have a date, no guy would ever want me, etc., etc., was proving them (those kids in school--who were no where around when I was landing these guys, right?)--no where around, but I was proving them wrong. I got callous and unfeeling about it all. Not only did I use these guys, I used the music and my "position" in order to do this...all without feeling. It was a "sport" of hunting, and it was about the "trophies" (the number). It had nothing to do with love...and quite frankly, it had nothing to do with sex had to do with an idea...the same idea that I had about using alcohol and drugs...this idea that, somehow?? This was going to make me feel better, make everything better...that all would be fine and dandy and fixed about me. All these things did was make that void bigger...and bigger...until it nearly swallowed me whole. When it came to sex, I knew that it wasn't right...but...I didn't care. It was all about me, and how I perceived myself--the unworthy trying to feel worthy. I didn't care who I was hurting or if I was hurting anybody else...but, I was hurting--and numb to it. Adultery? times who knows how many. The strange part about this, is...I could, in fact...when I sat down, when we gotta make that list...I could come up with every one...perhaps not each name, but I could come up with each count isn't as high as that of someone like Gene Simmons, but it's high enough for me. The man that I am married to now is #44...and I have been absolutely monogomous with him. I know what I've done is wrong, and I can admit that here. I know, too, that this is an example of how very sick I indeed was. I did hurt others, and I have made amends. What amazed me was, even after how hurtful I was, and the debris that was left in the wake of one in particular, how he responded to me with nothing but concern...for me? Here I was, the one who inflicted the pain on him, and he shows concern for me. This taught me that, doing Step 4, and on through to Step 8 and 9--when we gotta step out of our box and make those's not as bad as what we fear, and--it gives me the courage to keep doing my steps over and over again the way I was taught that I would have to do them.

Easy Does It,

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Postby anniemac » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:18 am

Thanks for sharing that story, Paul. Actually, it's a great example for me to explain why I find this so confusing. The part about Patty being a married woman, I caqn understand that that's something for the Sex Conduct list....yet I see it fitting perfectly well on the Harms list. But the part about not going back to meet her, because you went out to drink instead -- to me, that has nothing to do with Sex Conduct. It seems that it would be the same as if you ditched a group of buddies who were going bowling. Maybe it wouldn't be the same to Patty, or to the guys you ditched, but it seems to be the same behavior to me.

So that's a good example of why I'm trying to figure out why the sex list is separate, so I can understand what belongs on it.

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Postby garden variety » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:16 pm

Hi Annie,

I still think it was a matter of sex conduct - yes there is probably some "crossover" or carry over if I wanted to split hairs about the lists. But the whole purpose of my getting to know Patty was for "safe" sexual encounters WITHOUT a committement. She was someone I didn't have to worry about making a scene if I didn't come through. She was somone I didn't have to worry about being too much of a slut either because she wouldn't want to get too risky and get her husband infected. She was someone I had in my sights as an ongoing "side thing". If you were to switch places with Patty, think about how you might feel.

Here you see my character defects which still is the bottom line. And man this is still very ugly to me. Selfishness, laziness, apathy, and a list of others. Through my physical sex conduct, I put Patty in a vulnerable position, and her heart, her self-esteem, and the other emotional parts of her "womanhood" were sitting out there exposed to a drunk who would be using her at best if I followed through. There was also more than just a single encounter with Patty, but that was the most glaring one I talked about. To me, and to any other woman who I've had a conscious awareness of, it is something different than standing someone up for a night of bowling. There's just more at stake, and it fits best for me on the sexul conduct list.

Then there's also the buddy I got into a fight with over the same sexual conduct. And the honest thoughts and almost actions I took to go after his wife. He fits on the sexual conduct list. But we did have a chance to make amends. One day he came over my house, and he told me he had to move downstate, back with his mom and dad. His wife kicked him out of the house and was involved with her pastor. He was brokenhearted, and for once in my life, I felt honest sympathy for him. He was such an emotional wreck. He needed some help with moving and help with money. I apologized for the fight we were in years before and the things I said about his wife. And I was able to help him when and where he needed it.

I'm beginning to see that this is like what Dallas said. The sexual conduct list is separate maybe because we are all more emotional and vulnerable when it comes to being with each other and having our clothes off. The hurts are deeper, and maybe we feel more shame and gulit and remorse because we "intuitively" know we hurt another person in their most vulnerable area. At least that's how it seems to me.

garden variety
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Postby garden variety » Mon Sep 10, 2007 5:28 pm

Anne (Musicmode),

Girl I can so much relate to your thoughts and actions in this area. I used to be a semi-professional musician, and like you, I made sport of the girls that were attracted to my "occupation" and the way I looked and presented myself. I understood the "power" thing you spoke of.

I understand how you felt over the years being snubbed because of your appearence, then having a chance to "show them" whoever they were and the years that went by since "they" were on my mind.

In those cases it was all about having the "power" and knowing I had it. I knew I had "good looks" and I played a mean guitar, and I knew there were girls itching for the chance to slap tummies. Then there was my ego still stuck in that infant mode hurting from middle school rejections. Then pour alcohol on top of all that - then you get a real monster. I think I know where you been.

Thanks for the reminder.

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