No God

I’ve not posted for ages. That’s due to many things. Primarily it’s an issue of available time. I’ve also undergone a bit of a shift in my viewpoint. I no longer consider myself a Christian and have no interest in God. The title of this blog may well require some justification but it’s where I am and I’ll think about changing it.

How does this fit with 12step? Bizarrely, I don’t see a desperate need to invoke God to be part of a 12 step group. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behaviour. (Tradition 3, I believe), therefore I see no need to have A God and I’m free to be a part.

For me, 12 step is about connecting with others. I need that connection with others who understand how I think and the kind of problems I have.

I have no wish to ‘evangelise’ my position and it’s my private consideration. Can I recover in 12 step without God? Yes. 12step is the only system which has consistently given me progress and recovery but if I had a better way, I’d use that.

Ideally, I’d have a non-religious group I could attend with a similar aim. Perhaps thats something to aspire to…

A new blog, different thematically and aiming to post short thoughts on bible verses, recovery material and life but not holding to one ‘religion’ or another nor focusing on the ‘problem’.


Au revoir

Auf wiedersehen

Im in the process of setting up a new blog. One which leaves ‘the problem’ behind and acts as a conduit for positive recovery. I’ll post a link when I’m a few posts in, but it’s a response to my sponsor who suggested that I got my recovery ‘time’ a bit more productive and I can therefore share with my fellows, you guys and some select email recipients.

So far, I’m finding it useful but it is very early days.


On Thursday an SAA fellow, who also happens to be my sponsor gave an impromptu share on step 4 and values.

When I originally worked step 4 I was encouraged to look at my values and at first I thought it was bonkers, but once I’d spent months working away at it, it all made sense.

Step 4 says : ‘made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves’

Its position within the steps is perfect because it comes right after step 2 where we come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity and step 3 where we give ourselves over to that power.

We are therefore able to work step 4 and be sue that whilst we are working it we have support.

Support is needed because the work in step 4 is necessarily different from that of step 1. In step 1 we look at what we have done but step 4 forces us to not only look at our sexual acting out but also other harms and behaviours which have had an impact in others.

In step 4 we look at the wrongs we have done, we look at those resentments we have had, we look at our fears and we look at those people we admire. We also look again at our acting out behaviour.

What we then may choose to do is to look at the values being expressed or violated for those actions or thoughts.

Values are interesting and to make an example I’ll talk about ‘honesty’. If I have lied about something such as my whereabouts when I’m acting out, then honesty is a clear value I was violating. By admitting that I lied, I’m expressing that honesty is a value I have.

I must also be aware that values are a ‘two-way’ process and for me to express them I must also accept them. My sponsor uses the analogy of electricity and as such a value cannot flow out of you to another if you are not prepared to accept it coming in. Love, care, compassion, respect would all be easy examples of this.

Once we start to observe the values in our moral inventory, we can see that there are a great many of them. What we may then choose to do is to group them together and make a coherent and succinct list which is more manageable and meaningful to us. These are our values and our ‘value fingerprint’ will likely be different from someone else.

Having a set of values is a way for us to start to understand that we can live as human beings.

It strikes me that it’s also possible to marry a value list with the ‘fruits of the spirit’: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

We may then adopt ways to express these values in healthier ways.

It should be noted that it is possible to seek values within acting out behaviour. Our behaviour can show us what we were seeking to express but doing so in such a wrong way. For me, a lot of my acting out was around ‘acceptance’. I wanted to be accepted and acceptable and in order to do that I felt I had to put myself in a position where that could be achieved. I never did of course but in discovering that the underpinning principle and value was one of ‘acceptance’, I could begin to accept it and show it my self in more healthy ways.

This post has no title

I’m never that far away but I guess I haven’t posted in a while and I realise that I need to keep a touch of accountability.

By and large things have been OK but I’ve not been perfect. I had 2 weeks away from SAA meetings and I can’t help but see that this was not a good idea. I also missed out on 2 weeks of phone calls with my sponsor. I guess I had just become a little fed up of having to do recovery all the time. The decisions and rationale behind me not attending/ making calls all seemed very reasonable and made with the right thinking but it appears that they fall into the category of SUDS. SUDS are: Seemingly Unimportant DecisionS and are actions taken which, on the face of it, seem reasonable but, are ways for the obsessive/addictive part of my brain to take back a bit of control.

When this happens (and it is a when and not an ‘if’), I find myself browsing the internet and starting to reinhabit the insanity of the world of my sexual addiction. When I’m there I know I shouldn’t be there and I stop doing recovery work because that would upset the ‘addict’. How far did I get before waking up? Further than I would have liked but not as far as I have been.

I have since reconnected with my SAA group and my sponsor and am starting to pick up the recovery work and get back with the program.

However I view God/higher power (and it is complex), I know that I need to step back and make those daily efforts to connect with them. Without that action I start down the track of insanity.

So; not a relapse and therefore not a disaster but certainly a reminder that I am human and that I need to remain in recovery.

I often wonder if I can do without recovery or if I’ll ever be able to do without it and the answer at the moment would be ‘no’.

When a therapist told me that it would always be a part of my life and that I’d need constant attention, I simply didn’t believe them, despite the fact that, at the time I had already lived with the problem for all my adult life.

It would appear that my behavioural issues do have an impact on my everyday life. I can’t stop working the program and I think I need more help.

Sometimes just sometimes

I was speaking with another of my sponsees this morning. I usually structure my calls to include various ‘touchpoints’ and this gives them a flow and a sense of purpose.

One of those touch points is to talk about the ‘higher power’ or God or whatever is understood by that word. If you are a regular reader you’ll understand that I have been on a bit of a journey as I relate to whatever my understanding of God is. I think that discovering what God means for yourself is far more powerful and helpful than trying to fit into someone else’s vision of that God.

Much as I elaborated on the understanding of ‘identity’ and names a few weeks ago, the word ‘God’ can mean very many different things to many people. As I also have stated in the last couple of posts, some people have such a hard time coming to terms with the concept of anything other than themselves. This makes for some interesting, if awkward, discussions with my sponsees. I like to know how they are faring and it helps me to hear things which might help me in my journey of discovery.

my sponsor suggested that I might want to be open to the possibility that my sponsees idea of a higher power may well be very different from what I understand and that I might like to be quite accepting of that. After all, their idea might change and alter with time and discussion.

In the end, the God of my understanding is still pretty much a recognisable God from the Abrahamic traditions but this is based upon a long standing life in those traditions ( well, the Christian one, anyway). You see, I bring my life and experience to the process… I’ve introduced smatterings of eastern mysticism and a dash of ‘logic and reason’ as well as some quantum theory. Yup, I’m all over the place but I’ll bet God is big enough to handle that.

What I do think is abundantly clear, is that God is not properly able to be understood by humans. God is beyond comprehension and that is the beauty of it. It is also the reason there have been so many attempts to quantify God and bring order to society in God’s name. None of them have worked universally and I suspect that’s because many human-crafted ‘Gods’ are based around making people scared of something so that they comply with what the ‘God’ requires ( rules written by humans).

How about we turn this on it’s head and suggest that we make God purely about ‘love’ and grace and forget all the nonsense about being scared. Fear is no way to live and theres no sense in living in fear. Fear and anxiety have ruled my life and it is my fears and anxieties as well as my resentments about others ( fears dressed up in other ways), which have driven me to require coping mechanisms which are unhealthy. I seriously need to rid my life of fear and anxiety and allow my God to love me so that I can love myself for who I really am and in that way can then love others. One thing is sure, fearful people spread fear and before we know it our toxic fear becomes contagious.

Anger is the other face of fear and is a coping strategy to attempt to make ourselves seem more powerful than we really feel in order that we might gain status.

Social media is fuelling this anger and at times I feel strongly drawn to be angry. If I make a choice to turn my life and my will over to the care of God, what need of anger do I have?

Does it matter that I don’t have God ‘worked out’? No, I don’t think it does because, as I said above, God transcends all human understanding, so any constructs we build around that (religion) , can only ever be pale, human, imitations of God based on a human mindset and human understanding.

My way of living has to include connecting with others and how I develop this outside of the 12 step SAA remains a challenge but I do know that I can’t do connection in an environment where the strongest driver keeping people together is fear. Unfortunately many Christians are some of the most fearful people I know. This might go some way to explaining why church is simultaneously healthy and unhelpful for me. I don’t know. I’m not there yet but I’m making progress.

Exploring the gospel in the light of this might be a good starting point so I shall start with Matthew and see how far I get.

Screaming !!!

So. My sponsee (don’t like the word but it’s there so I’m using it) can’t cope with the ‘higher power’ bit and has rewritten the 12 steps and wants me to affirm his ‘work’. I’ll acknowledge it but I’m not affirming it! Here it is:


These rewritten twelve steps result from the Third Tradition of SAA, which is

The only requirement for SAA membership is a desire to stop addictive sexual behaviour.

The driver for the rewrite is to ensure adherance to the principles of the original text of the twelve steps while acknowledging that for some, a “Higher Power” is passive, that is, one that provides guidance and teaching to offer a choice of paths to follow without direct intervention.

No one should be excluded from the fellowship of SAA simply because their view of “A Higher Power” differs from that envisaged in the original text as is made clear from the Third Tradition.

Original in normal text followed by the rewritten version in bold text.

1. We admitted that we were powerless over addictive sexual behaviour – that our lives had become unmanageable.

We admitted that were powerless over addictive sexual behaviour – that our lives had become unmanageable (i.e. the same text)

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

We appreciated that we would have the necessary guidance and strength to lead us to a healthy and fulfilling life by learning from the experiences of those already on the road to recovery from sexual addiction and by following our conscience as influenced by the religious teachings and the morality of the culture within which we are immersed,

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

Made a decision to follow our conscience as influenced by religious teachings and the morality of the culture within which we are immersed to provide us with the tools to conduct our lives in a wholesome, moral and productive way.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves (i.e. the same text)

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

By conducting an honest appraisal according to the values of our conscience, admitted 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.

Were entirely ready to be guided by our conscience and the experiences of others on the road to recovery to have these defects of character removed.

7. Humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings.

Humbly examined our conscience and if necessary called upon the help of other recovering sex addicts and those who could give moral, cultural and professional guidance so that our shortcomings would be removed.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.  (i.e. the same text)

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (i.e. the same text).

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.  (i.e. the same text)

11. Sought through prayer and mediation 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.

Through contemplation, meditation and a ruthless examination of our conscience, sought to improve our constant awareness of our moral values so that we could establish a healthy and wholesome lifestyle with the tools that would help us to achieve it.

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.

Having had a new sense of awareness and moral guidance as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other sex addicts and to practice these principles in our lives


Ohoho- this person does not properly understand that their addict is way stronger than their logical mind and therefore requires something stronger than that to beat the addict – that, for the uninitiated, is a power greater than yourself and not your ‘conscience ‘ which, in his case had already led him to illegal activity.


I’m still here

I’m still sexually sober

I’m still alive

I’m still grateful for many things

I’m now sponsoring 3 fellows. This comes with its own challenges. Every person is different and has their own thoughts. Recently I’ve found this a little more effort than I would like. What it has been teaching me is a level of patience, acceptance and understanding which I still very much lack. The fact that these challenges have also been part of my work-life makes this an even more pertinent topic.

one of the fellows for whom I am a sponsor presents some quite tricky questions. He was led to us in an act of desperation after he was recently accused of various criminal offences. The lesser of these he has been convicted of and has various things to do as a result, although avoiding a custodial sentence. The more serious of the accusations were cleared by the court due to a lack of evidence. My fellow constantly hangs on to these allegations as some form of ‘totem’ and will not let them just ‘sit’ or let them go. This makes it hard for him to move forward in recovery and makes it very hard for me to help him. His apparent desire is that I will acknowledge this ‘injustice’ and affirm his indignation. I can’t do this because I have no opinion and can have no opinion.

My concern is that everything he is doing in recovery is done out of pure ‘fear’. It is also apparent that he is only ‘sober’ because he is scared of the consequences of being found to have acted out again. This is not a great way to do recovery. It cannot last as fear will only get you so far until the sheer effort of maintaining that fear gives way and you can no longer cope. My concern is that this will occur for him and he will be left without any deference against the power of the addiction.

Recently I got him to detail his acting out so that he could understand the powerlessness he has in the face of his addiction. What he managed to do was to give a long description of how marvellous he has been and what a massive contribution he has made to the areas he has worked and along the way he has had some sexual escapades. I’m now re-evaluating this and I’m wondering if he is completely and utterly understanding of the nature of the addiction.

After the initial work of step 1, we often make a presentation to the group regarding this. This helps cement the association with the group and allows the fellow to share the history in an environment which is safe and supportive. Everyone who does this finds that it is a constructive process which allows them the space to detail what they have done and remove the shame associated with those actions. There is a solidarity in that statement which helps. Different fellows act out in different ways. It doesn’t mean it’s any worse or that one fellows acting out is more severe than another’s. It simply means we are all powerless over sexual behaviour and that our lives are unmanageable.

Once we have determined that we are powerless and our lives are unmanageable we can then progress.

My fellow has stated that he is unable to do a step 1 presentation for all sorts of rationalisations. He is somehow ‘special’. I agreed that it was not an essential step so I decided to move him to step 2.

Things just got worse. Step 2 states ‘came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity’. I might as well have told him to eat his own family for lunch. No way could he countenance anything other than his own power and resolve to help him. That’s the short version.

That all said, I shall persist and doubtless I’ll have many conversations which are a rehash of telling me just how great he is and how the accusations ruined him (they are forgotten by most other than him) and that if it wasn’t for a faulty police investigation he wouldn’t be as hard done to as he is. I can’t move him forwards until he realises that he is powerless (and I’m not yet sure he does) and also, that he is prepared to give at least some of his will over to some form of higher power.

The good news is that he does at least come to meetings but won’t describe himself as a ‘sex addict’ (something which we usually can all manage). I suspect his progress will be slow and I suspect that I’m going to need my higher power to help me develop the patience and understanding I need to maintain my position as his sponsor.

I can only imagine what’s going to happen when the fear gives way and the brakes are off…

At least my other two fellows I sponsor are less self centred.

Au revoir? Really?

Apparently not.

I’m still here and not much changes. I’ve spent the week with some uncomfortable emotional bedfellows : anxiety, fear, sadness, resentment, but I’m still here and I’m sexually sober so that’s not a bad thing.

I’m not totally sure why I’ve had emotional upset but it may be that I am simply making the effort to acknowledge my emotions rather than living in denial that they exist. In the past any emotional feeling was an excuse to act out. I was almost compelled to act out due to the fact that I needed to numb all my emotions. Emotion: Happy? – act out. Emotion: Sad? – act out. It mattered not whether I felt good or bad, the answer was simply to numb it all.

In some ways I now find myself in an altogether more uncomfortable position. I’m cast adrift on a sea of emotions with an imperfect set of tools with which to manage them. The best I can say is that I now understand what is happening and can take steps to understand myself and not let myself be driven to acting out. Does this mean that I have things under control? Mostly. I can, at least, honestly express myself in the face of my 12 step group.

I had a good meeting on Thursday and it was good to share social time after the meeting. I’m getting a lot of feedback on my recent share about ‘labels’ and spent some more time discussing my favourite topic.

I’m beginning to understand that labels and identity are inextricably linked to ‘acceptance’ which is another of my pet areas of interest. I often feel that my desire for a label or identity is rooted in my desire to be accepted. What I can’t control is what happens when I express my label to another person who uses all their background, knowledge and perception to interpret my ‘label’in their way and this is why labels and identity are a complex construct. Labels are shorthand but they’re often imprecise and unhelpful.

So I’m going to share with you what I shared with the group and maybe it’ll just pique you too:


Hi, I’m Pauline

Labels can describe us but they shouldn’t define us

Whats in a description?

How do you know what we all mean by using a descriptive word.

I can illustrate this by talking about a tree. If I were on the phone to you and looking out of the window at a tree. I could tell you that I could see a tree out of the window but in telling you that I can see a tree, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I was seeing and that the word ‘tree’ may mean a very much different thing to you compared to what I would understand by the word ‘tree’ or would wish to convey to you.

take another example: a fork has a handle and tines but we don’t have separate names for the curves bit in the middle but we know that it is a separate part of that item. How detailed do we need to be in our description in order that we might accurately convey our meaning? Our universe is created from names

this is what we do all the time. We take information we receive and run it past all the other information we have received up to that point – that refines our understanding. We use our experience and knowledge to inform what that name evokes. We use intuition to evaluate but this is refined over time. However intuition could reinforce bad ideas and slowly erode good ones

names help us to communicate and to operate inside the world and to domesticate our surroundings.

Each week we introduce ourselves and in that we can include a ‘short description’. Almost inevitably this is ‘sex addict’ but occasionally someone will use a different description.

I got to thinking that this was somewhat inadequate and that it didn’t adequately describe who or what I was.

I could use many words to describe who I am:

sex addict

Christian – really?



Professional person defined by my work


Manic depressive


Hairy panty wearer – labels within groups can be really shaming especially when a hierarchy exists


Bisexual? Gay? Nah

Man who has sex with men? Medical terminology

Names have a powerful resonance within us

Names can become idols -we can infuse them with understanding which they don’t have. I had parts of my life which I had set up as idols and crossdressing was one of these. In prefer to move away from crossdressing

Names can also carry a weight and expectation of what we do with that name or label. Our appropriation of names means that we may have to live up to the label or what we understand by that label or name

Sometimes a name or label becomes part of the brand of who we are and we can be lost within that brand. Regaining a right sense of who we are involves a healthy relationship with our labels

Names, and who speaks them to you can be very powerful

there is power in hearing your own name, particularly when it is spoken by someone else and especially if that person is important to us. How we react to our names being spoken can inform us of how we are feeling. Just think if you overhear your name being spoken – are you fearful, confident, indifferent?

We are given a name in a cultural context – given a name from family and this gives us a sense of identity. Some of who we are is wrapped up in our name. names lead to a sense of who we are as individuals. A name can bring thoughts which are unhelpful especially if the cultural context is wrong e.g. sutcliffe, west, Brady, hindley, hitler – names and labels can carry shame.

I am not just a number- imagine if we did not have names? We would be robbed of a degree of who we are. This would be dehumanising. names can speak of a desire for what others wish for us or what we wish to be as well

however we often accept a name which is given to us and not a name which we discover for ourselves

Nicknames and names used which evoke an emotional response – they can call up unhelpful feelings. Sometimes how we are addressed can be really interesting. My colleague hates being called by their proper name as it sounds as if she is in trouble and she feels as though she is once more a ‘little girl’. She has truncated her name to just 4 letters and feels safe with that.

One of the biggest jobs given to man in Genesis is to name things. It can be hard to kill something we have given a name. Distinguishment of things using names and labels. Titles confer a deeper level and add to labels and names. Titles invoke certain societal norms/hierarchies e.g. doctor vs mr.

Sometimes our assigned title is just something assigned by another to create a position, sometimes of authority and in other times not, and quite the opposite.

The matter of how we respond to our own labels is important. If I had gone further with my transvestite tendencies would I have adopted the name and how would others react? This brings me to the weaponisation of labels used to bring others down or marginalise them.

Saul / Paul – Saul was Jewish family name but as Paul the public and Romanised name became more important…

reconcilitaion of what parents wished them to be versus what they are discovering that they really are.

Labels are a shorthand a way of helping us to survive. We need them or it would be hard to manage day to day but often the language does not properly convey what lies behind the label and we are left hoping that whoever hears what we have to say can understand us to one extent or another. What the author or speaker meant by what was written or said can be hard to elucidate and misconstrual of meaning is rife.

What sort of name could we take, what would we want -perhaps something for a moment of meditation and reflection.

Au revoir

There comes a time when things have to move on and change. I’ve not written much for ages now. This is not because I have given up or stopped trying to recover, merely that I have lost the habit and that I have had such a fundamental change in my spiritual life that I have been internalising a lot of my thoughts.

A lot of things have contributed to this and not least is the fact that I have not been near a church in 5 months. I’m going to rekindle my blogging but this might be under a different blog name, or I’ll probably just try and change the name of this one.

My thoughts are to change it to ‘killing Pauline’. Names and labels carry huge power and the name of my ‘alternative’ persona has not been uttered round here. I figure that by calling it out, I rob it of the power to be a part of me and do not have to live within its shadow.

What I don’t think I can continue is to call it ‘recovering through faith’, but then again, maybe I can, because faith in a ‘higher power’ does not have to come with the connotations of organised religion. I certainly no longer have a steadfast faith in the Church of my upbringing.

We shall see. Nothing is yet fixed but maybe a change is needed.