“Autonomy also means that each group has the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them at its own pace.”
Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 83
I come with baggage. As I reflect on Tradition Four, I realize I am a part of a larger whole—something greater than myself. My behaviors and decisions affect my spouse, friends, family, and community. Nowadays, I behave in a way that brings openness and a sense of honor, not just to myself, but also to those who know and associate with me. This has not always been an easy process. When my addiction was active, I lashed out, pushed people away, even stole from them. My behavior was atrocious. I fled in terror from every mistake, only to repeat it.
As I started down the road of recovery, I fell on my face more often than not. My sponsor would gently suggest solutions. Needless to say, I always tried my way first, usually to the detriment of myself and others. My sponsor, honoring his and my autonomy, said I was free to make mistakes. He also said that, if I stayed sober, the pain of doing it my way would get great enough, and I would be open to learning from others.
That’s the great gift of sobriety and recovery—when I get miserable enough from trying it my way, I have tools and support to actually learn from my mistakes. Over time, and mistakes, I learned how to let go of the self-centeredness that fueled my addiction, and how to connect with others without fear of driving them away.
Mistakes are inevitable. Now, I can learn from them.