I did not quit, I surrendered image

I did not quit, I surrendered

I did not quit, I surrendered. I began my journey in this program when a friend from Al-Anon told me I was a sexaholic. To prove her wrong, I agreed to go to six SA meetings. During those six meetings I slowly came to admit that I was a sexaholic. At the beginning I made no eye contact with other members and I did not share. There were six other SA women at my first home group meeting. We went to two meetings a week as a group, which helped me to connect with the program and then I started to share. When I qualified, I had to surrender my fear and shame. I felt I was worse than male members because of the double standards relating to women in the USA. Men can “sow their wild oats” whereas women are either virgins or prostitutes. These myths were planted in my mind. Time in the program has helped me overcome these concepts.

I am also a survivor of sexual abuse. When the awareness dawned that I was a victim of sexual abuse, my acting-out began. It really took off in college where the use of alcohol lowered my inhibitions. In my last year of college, I told a counselor about my sexual abuse. The main perpetrator was my adoptive father. I had never told my mother about any of this. She died when I was 21.
Fast forward to my 30s, and I was addicted to romance novels with lots of sex scenes. I masturbated to fantasies from those books; I only interacted with people at work. I struggled with anxiety and depression. I finally signed myself into a mental hospital because I was suicidal. After my hospitalization I was led to SA and the miracles began.

I did 90 meetings in 90 days in 1992. Some were open AA meetings because there weren’t enough SA meetings to go to in person in the Cleveland area. My sponsor helped me work the Steps. I did my first Fourth and Fifth Steps in 1994. I argued a lot with her about sex being optional. My eventual acceptance of that concept was my first miracle in recovery.

I next tackled surrender. I love what Roy says on pages 80-81 of the White Book, that “surrender is the watchword of the program.” I use surrender in all areas of my life. Every morning I surrender my lust to my Higher Power on bended knees. At night I thank my Higher Power for keeping me free from lust each day. I also surrender my lust at bedtime because lust likes to creep into my thoughts when I get ready to sleep. I surrender my resentments when they happen and pray for the person I am resenting. I surrender when I hit red lights as I drive.

I went to my first SA convention in 1995 in Baltimore. I was scared to leave my hotel room on the first day, but I surrendered my fear to my Higher Power and went on to greatly enjoy the convention. I have some wonderful memories from conventions over the years, including co-chairing the 1999 convention in Cleveland. As co-chair I really had to work on humility before my Higher Power and surrender my desire to control others.

Acceptance and service. I was very slow to accept the concept of service in working my program. I now believe the saying that “Service Keeps You Sober.” And today, I accept that I won’t always get my way when in doing service; I accept that what is best for the group will prevail because Higher Power is in charge. I am currently secretary at my homegroup and a chairperson of the Northeast Ohio Intergroup. I was a Mid-Atlantic delegate from 1999-2001. The best part of service is learning to accept people as they are. I have met people from all over the world. It is amazing that SA exists in so many countries. What a miracle.

Sponsorship. I had to accept direction from a sponsor long before I was ready to be a sponsor. It took me some time to accept direction. My character defects of stubbornness and rebellion got in the way, as well as my mistrust of authority figures. Over time, my Higher Power gave me the humility to accept direction. I have learned from all three of my sponsors. I’ve learned about surrender, acceptance and gratitude. I’ve learned that I am not God—a truth for which I am immensely grateful. I have also learned a lot by being a sponsor. Preaching does not work. I have to be vulnerable and lead by example, which is risky at times. For example, when my sponsee has a resentment, I tell her to pray for the person. Am I doing the same when I have a resentment? Most of the time I do, but sometimes I do want to hold on to anger. More prayer is needed at that point. My Higher Power is always available, and that fact gives me peace.

Being a woman and single in SA has been a challenge, requiring a lot of prayer and trust in my Higher Power. When I came into SA there were five other women in my area. They gradually dropped out, and I had to trust the male SAs like brothers and friends. We are all recovering sexaholics and need to be treated equally. After years of only two SA women, we are now up to six. Lust is cunning, baffling and powerful, no matter which gender it affects. Trusting my brothers in SA came slowly, but it did come with my Higher Power’s help. Trusting men was very hard for me as a survivor of sexual abuse where the perpetrators were both men. Neither of them made amends to me while they were on earth, but with my Higher Power’s help I have forgiven them. That process has brought me great healing.
A wise SA member told me to fasten my seat belt because recovery would be a roller coaster ride. I agree with that statement.

Surrender, acceptance and gratitude are the three words that have helped me stay sober. I mocked the concept of surrender when I first entered the program, but slowly I began to surrender little things, like frustration at red lights when I’m in a hurry. At my sponsor’s direction I started to get down on my knees in the morning and surrender my lust to my Higher Power. At night I began to kneel and thank Him for keeping me sober that day. I am not cured from lust; I have a daily reprieve. I am in remission, not cured. That is why I say I am “Sober, Not Well.” No one is immune to a slip.

I accept that I am a sexaholic. I have met many wonderful people in the program since coming into acceptance of my truth. I had read “Doctor, Alcoholic & Addict” in the AA Big Book. Powerful words. I read them every day before work when I had a tough boss.
I have also learned the importance of gratitude. I am a grateful recovering sexaholic—this program has saved my life. I have a gratitude journal which helps me to connect with the positives for the day. When I have a hard time writing a gratitude list, I know I am in a dark place. I pray and keep writing until the positive words come out on the page. I am grateful when I can share at or lead a meeting because I hope I can help someone else who may be hurt or struggling. The newcomer is the most important person at his or her first meeting. The rest of the group needs to provide encouragement and hope. The newcomer usually has some fear or anxiety. In Cleveland we use a Newcomer’s Format that is meant to help orient the newcomer: we read the 20 Questions and the Sobriety Definition in the White Book. I believe the newcomer needs to feel they are in a safe place.
This program changed a depressed and suicidal woman into a precious child of God. Yet another miracle.

Peg V., USA

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