Relationships and Addiction
We need to take inventory on our past and current relationships with anyone we may have had sexual energy with. The Step Four sexual conduct inventory is about selfishness, dishonesty, fear, selfish inconsideration, its about unjustifiably arousing jealousy, bitterness, suspicion. This is about developing a vision of what you can do better in your relationships with the opposite sex.
So we make a list of all the people of the opposite sex that we have had a relationship with whether sexual or plutonic. All the people I have been with, or pursued, or maybe the one’s who have pursued me. We are doing the inventory to look at how self (me) has defeated me in the relationship.
Every human has three basic instincts, the things that drive us – The instinct for sex, the instinct for emotional and financial security and the instinct for a place in society, in other words what other people think of us.
In the sexual relationship scenario this is where all three basic human instincts can be severely threatened. If you have gone through a divorce or beak up, in most cases your financial instinct is threatened immediately by law of community property. Your instinct for sex is threatened by the instant lack of sex, and your place in society is threatened by what people will think about your divorce or break up. Ask anyone who has experienced divorce or break up on multiple occasions of how their three basic instincts were threatened and they will give you a list of how those instincts were severely disturbed.
If all our three basic instincts are threatened what usually happens is self-centred fear becomes the prominent character defect which drives our thoughts and actions within any current or future relationships. Self-centred fear is the chief activator of all our defects of character.
These are the questions in the Step Four sexual conduct inventory:
Who was it? – We list the names of people we experienced sexual energy with.
We ask ourselves what we did? – What actions did we carry out in that relationship
What is the exact nature of my wrongs?
- Was I selfish? – Where did I put me first? Did I dress it up to look kind just to get what I wanted in the end? When push came to shove was it all about my security and comfort?
- Was I dishonest? – There is a pathological dishonesty that alcoholics are capable of. Its called self-delusion when your lying and you don’t even know it. I would get into relationships with women who were totally wrong for me, but my mind would have started imagining from day one that she was the right one for me. I would start suffering from delusion about her. Most couples need multiple levels of compatibility, and I would identify just one (usually good sex) and then delude myself into believing I could invent the other levels of compatibility as the relationship evolved. This was usually the basis I would carry out my insane pursuit of relationships with the opposite sex. Needless to say they would all end in tears. In this state I was always seeking relationships with broken and abandoned women that I could fix up and convert into my ideal of a loving partner and they would be so grateful to me forever.
- Dishonesty causes more problems in relationships than anything else. This is grounded in the old core beliefs we have that if you knew everything about me that I know about me, then you would feel the same way I feel about me and I hate myself. You would reject me. So I have no option but to hide and lie about the true me. My fear of rejection was so intense it would drive me to misrepresent myself to others. As a result of this anyone who ever fell in love with me was falling in love with a facade. The old adage comes to light of when someone falls in love with me, I immediately loose all respect for them as I wanted someone with good taste. It was bizarre behaviour. I came to realize how laughable my behaviour had become whilst taking this inventory and have since become my own greatest comic and critic. If you can learn to laugh at yourself and your ridiculous behaviour like I have then life becomes wonderfully entertaining moving from one adventure to the next.
- Was I inconsiderate? – Self-centred people have an awful degree of inconsideration towards others especially in relationships and they not aware of it. They are so wrapped up in themselves that everything else is of little importance. Its nothing malicious, its just that we have so much of me on top of me that I cannot see you! We would hurt people without knowing it or meaning to do it. It is just the way it goes with self-centred and self-focused people. We don’t see ourselves the way other people see us. What the step 4 inventory does for us is wake us up to what our actions look like to the rest of the world. When this happens the world starts to change for us for the better. It is being reborn to a new vision of life and its a wonderful and entertaining world to be embraced and enjoy. There is no more mystery, now you know why she left you because you can now see it from her point of view for the first time ever. You stop looking at life through the excuses and justifications and start looking at life through the truth of your reality. Its a great life when its God’s life but it’s a terrible life to try control.
- Was I self-seeking? – In all relationships I was obsessed with how I was feeling at any given time. Always seeking inside myself for that good feeling of being loved and adored. It is almost impossible to have a meaningful relationship with someone who is so obsessed about feeling good about themselves all the time.
- Was this relationship selfish? – Did I enter this relationship for selfish reasons? Did I continue in this relationship for selfish reasons despite the fact that I was hurting and damaging my partner? Was this particular relationship all about me, my needs and wants, my need to seek approval and acceptance regardless of the consequences to her?
Did I unjustifiably arouse the following:
- Jealousy – Again jealousy is another defective defence mechanism when I felt threatened by my partner’s affectionate attention towards other people. I had to be ruler of her world and therefore all her focus should be on me and my needs. Jealousy was the root of my insecurities in all my relationships. I therefore had to retaliate to my perceived need to gain complete focus of affection from my partner. I would jump at any given opportunity to create jealousy and justify and validate this behaviour as a result of her attending to others needs above mine.
- Bitterness – I had no option but to cause bitterness, misery loves company and my miserable and needy soul would eventually bleed the life out of the relationship leaving an empty hole of bitterness and regret
- Suspicion – In his quest to be the centre of his partner’s universe, the alcoholic will manipulate the odds of any situation in his favour. It is the only way we know how to survive. A small white lie here and there backed up with a subtle comment with a sting to it was enough to cause suspicion in the most trusting and kind type of person.
Who did I harm in this relationship? – I never took an equal partner in a sexual relationship, I would take a hostage and hold them ransom to my manipulative emotional wreckage. Of course it was the other person who was harmed. Self-harm would go up the scale with every partnership encounter.
What should I have done instead? – This is where we need to take a very close look at developing a new vision for our sexual relationships. This is when the art of living a God directed life is the only way we are survive in this world. Up until now we have been living a self-directed life and this has nearly killed us. It is plain to see now that a thorough reverse engineering of our thoughts and actions are require in the arena of romance, love and compatibility with our fellow human beings.
Paul Nobes – Author and Addictions specialist.