Her Fellow Members Loved Her Until She Was Able to Love Herself

For somebody who related to the reading The Invisible Monster in our book Recovery Continues, it is a miracle that I can share something on “Practicing Healthy Interactions in SA” today. I think the key word for me is “practice” as I will never be perfect and it is progress not perfection.

As a sexaholic arriving in the fellowship I was full of lust and self-will run riot. I sat in the meetings listening but bewildered. I also had the added burden of being the only woman in my meeting though at the time I was so out of my head that I was not really aware of it.

I am so grateful that I was met with respect, love, and tolerance in my meeting. My fellow members loved me until I was able to love myself. The way I can describe the interactions the male members had towards me is “lovingly boundaried.” I was treated as any other newcomer would be treated with some small yet meaningful differences:

  • Only long term members had my number and took my calls.
  • There was no one-on-one contact with me.
  • I was included in the social events i.e. the meeting after the meeting.
  • I was encouraged to do service.
  • When some members found it difficult to have a woman in the meeting, both I and they were supported individually and through the group conscience.
  • In my fellowship the phrase there are no women or men in SA but only members is heard and practiced often.

Today when a newcomer comes into my meeting—man or woman, I greet them and wish them well. If they have questions, I can answer them, but if a male newcomer wants to talk more or exchange numbers, I will gently direct him towards the male members.

There are a couple of boundaries I personally have, one of which is to not have phone calls or friendships with men outside of service and the meetings. That way I am free to enjoy getting to know my brothers in a safe, non-objectifying way.

Another boundary is to respect my own limits and if I feel uncomfortable or triggered in any way I pause and turn to my sponsor or my Higher Power, and then respond from a place of surrender and safety.

If I need to withdraw or change something about the situation I find myself in, I do so by taking ownership that the other is not causing the discomfort in me but that the discomfort is coming from inside me and that I need to listen and take care of what is happening inside me. Lust is inside me not in others.

My interactions with women are different and it is a joy to have sisters in this program. It is great to heal my relationships with women. Coming from an enmeshed unhealthy relationship with the primary female caregivers in my family, many old wounds and traumas come up for me when interacting with my sisters in the program.

I am blessed to have a wonderful sponsor, sponsees, and female friends in the program to help me grow and heal. I bring the tools of the program and the power of God into my interactions. Doing service and hanging out with the female members is essential to my recovery and I am grateful for them all.

For me today there are just members of SA. I Identify with both men and women and practice surrendering my defects with all the people I meet in the rooms. I am so much better knowing you all.


Denise O., Dublin, Ireland

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