Step 0 – The Longest Step

This is an incomplete article.  Please check back for updates regularly.

    I am a real person who has been convicted of a sexual offense.  I have hurt people, and this is the story about how I got to my current state of being, not only physically, but socially, legally, mentally, and spiritually.  What follows is not family oriented.  Quite the opposite, it is a story of pain and some very uncomfortable, adult-oriented subjects, so please do not allow your children to read my story. 

    Moving on… I am registered as a sex offender, but this is not my current state of being.  I am not an SO.  I am a “reformed SO”, sexually addicted, individual, and there is more to that story than I can cover in one run-on sentence.  So, I will cover that in this post as well as many others.

    In this series, I will be covering the steps in  SAA (Sex Addicts Anonymous).  I would advise following this link to see what they are all about.  Almost everyone understands what the different addiction groups seek to accomplish.  So, I won’t bore you with the details, but if you’d like to read this author’s take on the group and their beliefs and methods, you can find this post here: About Sex Addicts Anonymous

If you would like to skip to the meat of the article and skip all the preamble information, you can do so here:  The Meat of the Matter

The 12 Steps

      There are 12 steps in any ???? Anonymous (addiction) group.  They are a good framework for self-examination and for moving forward with self-improvement under the context of the following points:

  1. That you, as an individual with your own volition, can do or not do good.
  2. Recognize that your will is subverted to desires that are outside of constructive thought patterns.
  3. The journey of seeing how succumbing to the thought patterns that are at work against “the good” have thus far hurt yourself and others.
  4. The journey of making right (insofar as much as you are able) the hurt you have caused.
  5. The journey of making better the thought patterns that have undermined your ability to do “the good”.
  6. The journey of surrendering self… and all that the act of doing so entails.
  7. Consistent re-examination of the thought patterns and habits that are under one’s volition.

The steps themselves are as follows:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behavior – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other sex addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.  

Step 0 (Zero)

“Okay,” You might say, “What in the world is Step 0?”

    We can summarize Step 0 as a sober reckoning of ourselves and our “seriousness” of pursuing these steps.  It is an honest examination of the question of “Do I really want to get sober?”  For most, including the author of this article, this is “The Longest Step” because it is (if not THE hardest) one of the hardest questions to truthfully answer.  As sexual addicts, we are blindly optimistic in our self evaluation and that is a big part of how we got here.

    The author of this article does not personally believe that working these steps requires step 0 to be completed, but it is a good framework for figuring out just how serious you really are about getting the addictive cycle under control and the effort it takes to maintain control.  If you already have a good idea that you are serious, it could also give you a quick peek into the work that needs to be done in the 12 step program.

    Step 0 is not an officially recognized step in any documentation that the author of this article knows about, but almost everyone knows about a step 0 that is involved in the SAA or SA programs.  There are some guides from the SA group, but the place these guides resides in the larger canon of SA/SAA documentation is unclear.  In this article I’ll go through my own Step 0 as my first effort in this program.  I am sure it will be imperfect as all initial efforts tend to be, but I commit to you, dear reader, to give this effort (and all subsequent efforts) my best.

    The first part of the step 0 (as I have experienced it) is to recount the circumstances of how we arrived at this point (sexually addicted and having hurt self and/or others) and the current state of being.

    The second part of step 0 is to answer key questions meant to help build a foundation (baseline) of our current support system, help stimulate thought on what our actual goals and commitments are, and to provide a checklist for evaluating our personal development.

The Meat of the Matter

    The first part of step 0 is recounting where I am currently, and to do that accurately, I will use the first person for the remainder of this article to refer to myself and the responsibility I hold as an individual.  I know this is bad writing, but that is how it should be.


Questions for Consideration

Questions for Writing

  1. What goals/results do I want from this program?

  2. To what lengths am I willing to go for my sobriety?

  3. When I was active in my disease, how many times did I act out per day? Week?

  4. Have I discarded all of the materials and other triggers under my control? This includes, but is not limited to, telephone numbers and keys.

  5. Am I still feeding my lust addiction through the eyes, fantasy and/or by reliving the memories of my past adventures? If so,
    1. How much time do I spend engaging in these activities?
    2. When I do surrender, what method do I use? (white knuckle, telephone call, meeting, God)
    3. How much time elapses between engagement to surrender?
    4. Do I even want victory over lust?

  6. When I do surrender, or surrender does me, and I can see that I can no longer enjoy lust, what happens
    to me?
    1. Anger
    2. Resentment
    3. Fear
    4. Anxiety
    5. Sadness
    6. Fidgeting
    7. Depression
    8. Feeling of loss
    9. Emptiness

      Am I starting to see a little bit that the above feelings drive me to my drug for escape, whereas surrender brings release and joy as we come back into the light? We start to understand that we do not have to die in darkness and despair when we choose surrender over lust.

  7. Have I come to believe that I can give up lust? Am I willing not to have it even if I do die (one day at a time) one hour at a time?

  8. Am I still allowing myself partial slips, enjoying the temporary relief that slips bring? Am I still “testing my limits”? If so…
    1. When was the last time?
    2. What did I do?
    3. How often am I testing my limits?
    4. Have I shared my partial slips with another member of SA?
    5. Have I shared my partial slips with my home group?
    6. Am I cruising the “old neighborhoods”?
    7. Do I think I can stop _____?
    8. Consider sharing now it now at this meeting… or pick up the 2000 pound telephone as soon as possible and dial with the unbroken finger.

  9. How many support meetings am I attending each week?
    1. Which one is my home group?
    2. Do I share on a regular basis?
    3. Am I current and honest in my sharing?
    4. Do I welcome the newcomer?
    5. Do I have a specific commitment at my home group or at another SA group meeting
      (refreshment provider, chip master, set or clean up)?
    6. Am I on time to the meetings?
    7. Do I fellowship after the meetings?
    8. Do I make myself available for service by leading or reading?

  10. What types of meetings do I now attend?
    1. Participation
    2. Book Study
    3. Step Study
    4. Speaker

  11. How many telephone numbers have I personally solicited from another group members?
    1. Are the numbers readily accessible for me to use?
    2. How many calls do I make each day/week?
    3. When was the last time I called a newcomer?
    4. Do I know I can call just to say “I’m doing well” and “how are you feeling?”? I don’t have to be in a bag of _____ or sitting and playing in it to call someone.

  12. Do I have a sponsor (temporary or permanent)?
    1. When do I plan on having a permanent sponsor?
    2. Am I afraid to call a sponsor?
    3. What am I fearful of ?
    4. When I do call, what is the focus of my conversation?
      1. People, places and/or things?
      2. Lust in my life and this is how I am surrendering or not surrendering?
      3. Am I willing to make a commitment to call my sponsor? 1, 2, 3, 4 times a week… or how about a 30 day commitment; once a day for a month?
    5. Do I know what days and times my sponsor is normally available?
    6. Do I know who my grand-sponsor is and how and when to contact them?

  13. Do I read approved SA literature between meetings?
    1. How often do I read?
      1. once a day
      2.  twice a day
      3. once a week
      4. Never
    2. What am I reading?
      1. White book
      2. Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
      3. 12 Steps and 12 Traditions
      4. As Bill Sees It
      5. Daily meditation book
      6. Big Big Book
      7. Other appropriate recovery/inspirational literature
    3. Do I know where any of the above books are? If so, how much dust is on them?
    4. Do I read the black print or do I try to read between the lines?
    5. Have I discussed the above with my sponsor?

  14. Do I have a special time set aside to write/work on the 12 steps each week?

  15. Am I willing to do the things that have worked for others? Am I teachable, open and willing?

  16. If I wasn’t married or in a committed relationship would I still be here? Am I seeking recovery,
    recuperation or convenience?

  17. Am I willing to make a commitment to the group and be held accountable?

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