Making amends is a vital part of the the Sex Addicts Anonymous steps eight and nine. And to the greatest extent possible, I am going to complete those steps: Making a list of those I wronged; and making amends to those I wronged whenever possible. It is a process that will likely a) take the rest of my life, and b) never actually be fully completed.
And yesterday, that list got longer.
I’m reading a book right now called Every Man’s Marriage by two men who have both failed miserably at being married, and have learned enough lessons to now succeed admirably (These are the same two men who wrote Every Man’s Battle). Reading that book prompted an extensive train of thought, which was subsequently exacerbated by a conversation with a close friend, both of which took me to the same unfortunate conclusion: The people I’ve hurt go far beyond the women whose emotions I exploited, bodies I used, and hearts I broke; many (if not most) of these women had husbands or boyfriends. And by having a relationship with these woman, I not only hurt them, but I hurt these men as well by promoting their significant others to be as unfaithful as I was, even if they never knew anything of our affairs. Even the former student I infamously made-out with was also sleeping with two other guys at the time (which may or may not be the same, but it’s at least somewhat relevant).
So as much as I owe these women the heart-felt apologies they deserve, I owe their husbands and boyfriends as well. And admittedly, I deserve every scream, yell, and punch-to-the-face I get. I still carry a lot of guilt — in fact, I carry so much guilt that I sometimes feel like it’s become one of the essential aspects of my identity.
I need my guilt.
There is a very deep and scared part of me that feels like, if I ever forgive myself completely, I am somehow condoning what I’ve done. I’ve told my SAA group that I’ve forgiven myself, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. I need to carry this guilt, because if I ever let it go, I’m scared to death that I’ll become that same piece of shit human being that I was before prison. And that scares the fucking hell out of me. Seriously. My biggest fear in life is becoming who I was.
The husbands and boyfriends I betrayed may or may not ever know about me, and there is essentially nothing I can do about that. However, the only productive thing I can do is live my life in a way that will assure that no one else in the world is added to the already extensive list I have accumulated in Step Nine. All I can do now is, “Do the next right thing.”