Own up

Humans have a tendency to want to cover up their mistakes like a cat leaving the litter box.  I say humans because this is not a trait exclusive among addicts, though addicts, especially sex addicts, seem to be the experts at this.  Like the “Private Browsing” feature?  Thank a sex addict who couldn’t remember to clear the history.

Just like the cat, however, when we try to cover  up our mistakes, we’re not fooling anyone.  When we ourselves are wronged, often the most frustrating part is that the other person wouldn’t just up own up to his actions.

It’s a common theme in twelve-step meetings to hear someone admit that the truth would have been easier; there was no benefit to lying, but lying became the normal thing to do.  It’s a habit that’s deleterious on our relationships.

Own up to your actions.  If you make a mistake, be it in your personal or professional life, admit to it.  Face the consequences.  The internet’s way of saying this is TIFU: “Today I F-ed up.”

TIFU at work.  Ten thousand excuses went through my head.  What should I say? What should I do?  In the end, I simply stated, “I messed up.”  I didn’t give an excuse.  I didn’t rationalize my actions.  I didn’t defend myself.  I simply owned up and confessed my mistake.

This vulnerability is frightening because we don’t want to face the consequences.  But we will face them regardless.  Lying only increases the consequences.  Remember, too, that people in general lie so much that the other person almost always expects a fight.  It often disarms them to let your guard down and admit your mistake.

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Some time ago we had occasion to come face to face with a striking example of spiritual pride.  One of the members of [an A.A. group] was condemning certain ones for their failure to do what he thought they ought to do.  Then, “Take me for example, I go to Communion every morning, I teach my children Catechism — in fact I have arrived at a point where anything I make up my mind to do I can do it.” Strewing incense at his own shrine.  Stupidly glorifying himself.  The sequel? He’s still drunk.

-Fr. John Doe (aka Fr. Ralph Pfau)

Quoted from:

Possible things

My confessor recommended to me that I meditate on the passion so that I can come to a greater understanding of God’s love.  His instructions were to simply read a passage from the Gospel, and quietly listen for what God has to say.  Sounds simple enough.

Yesterday I was reading the 14th chapter of Mark, when Jesus is in Gethsemani.  My eyes fell upon these words, “And he saith: Abba, Father, if all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.”

I stopped.  Something didn’t seem right.

So I read them again, this time more carefully.

And he saith: Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee: remove this chalice from me; but not what I will, but what thou wilt.

What happened?  The first time, my brain added two letters before the word all: “if.”  I added a condition to what Jesus said.  Certainly our Lord knows that all things are possible.  I’m the one who introduced doubt, my doubt.

It made me wonder: how much of my prayer life has been conditional?  Have I been praying, “If you can do this God…” rather than “If you will do this God…” or simply, “Thy will be done”?

Jesus probably prayed more than these words.  He was there for an hour.  But the evangelist records only this one bit.  Jesus affirms the power of God.  He makes His request.  Then He surrenders to His Father.

Here we have the first three steps: we admit that we are powerless over sex addiction and that only God can restore us to sanity, we come before God with our needs, humbly and sorrowfully; and we surrender our lives to Him.

Remember the passion of our Lord when working the steps.  Remember them year round, not just during Lent.  Find an hour every day to enter the garden and pray with Him.

 

Oh! My brethren, how shall we admire the loving-kindness of the Saviour? With what power, and with what a trumpet should a man cry out, exalting these His benefits! That not only should we bear His image, but should receive from Him an example and pattern of heavenly conversation; that as He has begun, we should go on, that suffering, we should not threaten, being reviled, we should not revile again, but should bless them that curse, and in everything commit ourselves to God who judges righteously. – Saint Athanasius, Letter 2.5

Going too far

When working with teenagers at my church on the subject sex and chastity, the question often asked is, “How far is too far?”

My addict brain asks the same question. “What can I do that won’t cross into my inner circle?” I would mistakenly believe that the middle circle is for behaviors I “get to do” rather than the ones that lead me to my inner circle.

The question is best answered this way: if I want to know how far I can lean over the edge of a cliff without falling, the only way I’ll find out is when I start to fall. 

Stay away from the edge. 

“The assembly believed them” Susanna Part 4

The assembly believed them, because they were elders of the people and judges; and they condemned her to death. – Daniel 13:41

Earlier in the story of Susanna, the elders conspired together to gang rape her.  They sneaked into her garden and threatened her.  If she didn’t submit to them, they would say that she was fooling around with a young man.  “Who will the people believe?” they might have asked.  “The respected elders and judges of the community, or a worthless woman?”

Indeed, when they tell the story of what didn’t happen, the people believe them, even though such things were unheard of with Susanna.  These men were in positions of authority.  They were civil as well as religious leaders.

One injustice begats another.  How often in your acting out have you also lied and caused calamity to come upon the innocent?  Has your acting out damaged relationships with your spouse?  Your parents, brothers, sisters, or extended family?  What about your children?  Very likely, some of your relationships have been harmed.

Many sex addicts are tempted to immediately go into Step Nine, making amends.  That is natural.  When we realize that we’ve done wrong, if we are truly sorry, then we should want to make amends.  That’s an important part of penance in the sacrament of confession, too.

However, we must not rush into our amends.  This can make problems worse.  Remember, we may be ready for amends, but the people we hurt may not be ready.  A sponsor can help you know when to make amends, if ever.  Sometimes amends must be spiritual only.

Small amends can be made at any time.  If you are on decent terms with another person, start doing small things for them.  They don’t need to know why.  Just be kind, courteous, and helpful.  If you are not on good terms with someone, make time to pray for that person.  Have a Mass offered for them.  I have had Masses offered for people that I will never be able to make amends for, because they are dead, or doing so will cause more problems than it’ll solve.

Find a sponsor, work with your sponsor, and go to confession!