Susan & Jeff are sharing their personal recovery journeys to help others in similar circumstances.
Dear friends, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. Step 10 is Daily Accountability with the key principle to “Continue to take personal inventory, and when you are wrong promptly admit it.” Following steps 4 and 5 had helped me learn the importance of daily accountability. I did not want to build up another inventory of 30 years of sins that continued to escalate.
Some counsel I received early in my recovery was that the higher the accountability, the higher the rate of recovery. I took this to heart and established a high degree of accountability for myself. I am accountable to the Lord for everything each day. I am accountable to Susan to let her know when I am tempted and what I did about it. I established a clear definition of relapse and committed to accountable to the Lord, my wife, my children, my coach, my bishop and my father in law. I had talked with all of these people during my repentance and recovery process and they were all supportive of my efforts to remain clean from addiction. I had started a personal accountability chart early in my recovery to keep track of my days sober. I posted the chart in the kitchen and marked it daily (or weekly when I was traveling out of town) for my progress.
After the cleansing process of step 9, the desire for my addiction had really diminished. For me, this does not mean my addiction was a done deal. I still had stresses from my job and from life that I am learning how to process. There were still consequences of my addiction that I was dealing with included trying to rebuild trust with Susan and we continued to have good day and bad days. Sometimes trust was growing and other times there was doubt. The daily accountability to the Lord and to Susan helped me grow in my confidence in my Savior. I saw progress and was learning what I needed to do to receive the blessing of the spirit each day.
Over the next few years, I continued to go through the maintenance steps and daily accountability. Sometimes I would get busy and distracted and slack off for a period of time and then come back. Over time, I started to get casual in my daily accountability and allowed myself to slip into complacency. This was followed by denial. I wasn’t back to full acting out in my addiction, but I was not being accountable and I started letting my thoughts wander and my eyes linger longer when temptations came. Of course this led me down the path to relapse.
Susan was visiting family in the US and I was in China. It was a terrible day. I felt like I had made so much progress and was so disappointed in myself that I was so weak and stupid. I knew better and yet allowed myself to be pulled back in. Fortunately, as I went through the remorse cycle I remembered the commitments I has made that I would talk to Susan within a day and call my branch president. I knew if I didn’t pick up the phone and call Susan immediately and tell her, that I would rationalize my relapse and return to my addiction. I called several times and got her voicemail. I also called my branch president. When Susan called back, I told her about my relapse and it was extremely difficult.
It was like we were back at the starting point in the hurt and pain when she first discovered my addition. I talked to my counselor and he said I could use this as a great learning opportunity to get stronger in my recovery. I worked things through with my bishop and I talked to everyone in my accountability circle. These were some very good conversations that helped me learn from my relapse and re-commit myself to continued recovery and daily accountability. They were so understanding and helpful that it was a huge comfort to know that they were still with me even when I messed up. One tender mercy from the Lord is that because I was honest upfront with Susan, the path back to healing and working on the recovery of our marriage went faster.
I have a new perspective that daily accountability is a blessing and not a punishment from my addiction. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ for everyone and helps me stay focused on my Savior and doing His will. It is a much easier way than the addiction or relapse. It opens the way to personal revelation to know the Lord’s will for me each day.