My First Meeting (By Doug B)
My addiction to sex started at a very early age and followed me relentlessly through a 30-year marriage. My faith and self-will didn't fix me. After hitting a very low point, separated from my wife, expelled from my family of faith, I turned to professional help with a therapist who specialized in sex addiction. After a bit, he recommended I find the support of a twelve-step group. SAA was the first one that came up in my web search, and there were meetings being held in my city. I reached out to the contact listed and exchanged email with a kind man by the name of Richard. He told me a little about what to expect at the meeting a promised to be there when I came. I wasn't comfortable going into a church, but I was desperate and decided to keep an open mind, setting aside my preconceptions. I arrived and was early. A couple of us waited outside while Rickard arrived to open the door and he welcomed me. I was surprised at how happy and light-hearted everyone was. Smiles and hand shakes put me at ease. We met in a small room, sitting around a table. After we read some brief readings that seemed to be written just for me, the men went around and gave a short version of their stories of addiction and finding recovery. I was stunned at hearing behaviors and stories that I could relate to. I always felt I was alone and that no one could possibly know the helplessness I had felt for decades. I heard in the voices of these men HOPE for the first time in my life! It took incredible courage to make that first meeting. None of my fears about it materialized. I found genuine fellowship with people who understood where I was coming from and had found a solution - one that I knew I would have to keep coming back to experience.
Letting Hope In
I can't begin to count the stories I've heard since my first meeting of SAA in the spring of 2014. I was sure my life was hopeless. My 30-year marriage was in jeopardy, I had been expelled from my family of faith of 46 years, and all I could see ahead was desperation and demoralization. I was taught most of my life that my path of faith was the only one that could lead to life, happiness, and a relationship with God.
The more I kept coming back to the meetings, the more I saw men and women from all walks of life, religious and atheist, all expressing how working the twelve steps of SAA changed their lives. We read the promises of recovery, and I couldn't imagine my life being filled with them. Still, others HAD found them. I decided that I wasn't so special that they couldn't be mine, After working my first step with a sponsor.
Inspired by others, acting as if a happy life free of the bondage to my addictive compulsions, I let hope in. A life of sexual sobriety could be mine, if I worked the twelve steps. I decided I was worth the effort!
Finding a Sponsor
Working the Program
Working the program of twelve-step recovery in SAA begins with getting a sponsor - even a temporary one. Some describe an "SAA tourist" as someone who attends the meetings, may even participate but who never gets a sponsor and never works the twelve steps. Recovery only comes by working the program. In SAA, we realize it is impossible to work the twelve steps alone. We've been too dishonest with ourselves. We've tried to be in control of everything. Twelve step recovery begins by letting go and trusting that our Higher Power can lead us back to sanity through. It works, IF WE WORK IT.
Keep Coming Back
Recovery takes time. Sobriety and recovery can be viewed as different things. Sobriety has more to do with abstinence from certain sexual behaviors. Recovery is not a destination, it is a way of life. "Practicing these principles in our lives means applying program principles at home, at work, and wherever else we gather with others for a common purpose... We find that spiritual principles can guide us in the everyday challenges of life, and they can help us face even loss, grief, and death with fortitude and grace. What we gain in this program is a blueprint for full and successful living whatever may come." - SAA Green Book, Ch 3, Step 12, last two paragraphs
Many of us found our path of recovery has included relapse. We had to be honest and re-evaluate our program. The main thing is focusing on progress, not perfection. We are addicts. There is no cure, only a program to lead us on the way of recovery. We do not give up. The alternative is incomprehensible demoralization. With our eyes on hope, we keep coming back!