Amends to Your Victims
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Sex addicts victimize people. You may victimize your life-partner with crazy-making lies, manipulation, yucky moods, and neglect. You victimize your children by living outside of your values and being emotionally unavailable to them. You may victimize the people you have sex with in exploitive, objectifying, demeaning relationships. If you consume pornography you victimize and objectify the people depicted in the images. If you peep or expose yourself, you victimize those you observe or flash. If you have anonymous sex, you victimize your partners by dehumanizing them. If you have dangerous and unprotected sex, you victimize your partners by exposing them to potentially deadly diseases. And, of course, as an active sex addict, you victimize yourself.
When you are honest with yourself, you will realize that you have made victims in the false name of making love. Taking this step takes enormous courage. It is a step toward overcoming your distorted addictive thinking. It is a huge and crucial step in your recovery. Once you really know you have victimized people and can feel remorse and empathy for those you have hurt, it becomes much more difficult to cross the line and victimize again. This exercise is about that equation - developing empathy, expressing remorse, and accepting the fact that you have been a victimizer.
Think of one of your victims. Write a letter of amends to that person. Do not send it. The point of the letter is to express to this person that you understand the impact your behavior has had on them. The point is not to explain to that person why you did what you did. You certainly deserve compassion, empathy, understanding, and forgiveness. But that has nothing to do with making amends. The harm you have done cannot be reversed - it is done and you can't change that. What you can do is find a true understanding of your impact on the other, feel authentic human empathy for that person, experience and express your remorse, and commit to yourself and the other that you are amending your ways - you are making amends.
This is a difficult and painful exercise that often brings direct contact with aspects of your old, addictive thinking. Be mindful that your thinking may drift into defending your actions, explaining your actions, justifying or minimizing your actions, or even denying the impact of your actions. When that happens, steer back on course. Your goal is to find and express understanding, empathy, and remorse.
When you have completed your letter, share it with someone who supports your recovery (group, therapist, accountability partner, sponsor). Share this instruction along with the letter. Process the letter with your trusted other. Accept their feedback without commenting for at least a week.
Do this one. It will do you good.
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