These Years Have Been So Much Fun

My name is Sylvia and I am a grateful recovering sexaholic. I was a lonely child. I was a daydreamer. I was never present. Growing up people would tell me things I wouldn’t hear because I was always off in my head somewhere.

My older sister was a very smart person and got good grades, did well in school and with people, while I didn’t do well—both with people and in school. My younger sister was very pretty, and everybody thought she was adorable. So, I felt like I was misunderstood all the time. I discovered when I got older that my problem was that I had ADD, because I would disassociate, and not know what people were saying to me.

I felt “less than” but found that I would get lots of attention by flirting. I had lots of boyfriends and thought that was “being popular.” Flirting became my source of getting acquainted with people. It worked quite well for many years but then it began to turn on me.

The first time I had sex I got pregnant. So I had to get married. I had a fine, healthy boy. After that, I had a daughter, who was not as dependable or as helpful as my son.

She kept getting into trouble and became an addict. In searching for help for her we found the AA program and counseling, and she joined that fellowship while I joined Al-Anon. I didn’t think I was an addict. However, I watched an educational series one day on the TV that gave a description of addiction and described the behavior of an addict—the high and the low, and I said to myself, “That’s me!” I had all of these feelings and that’s exactly the way I act, that’s exactly who I am. Only my addiction was to men, not to drugs.

I figured if I had to keep dieting, I had an overeating problem, so I got into OA. I was going to about six meetings a week of Al-Anon and OA. And then I overheard this man in an open AA meeting say that he was a sex addict in recovery and he was looking for people to meet with him. His name was Jesse. And I thought, “That’s me, that’s me! I need to get a hold of him!” But I didn’t get a hold of him that night.

About a week later, he was the speaker at a meeting. I knew when I heard his story that I belonged in that program. And so, I sought him out afterwards and asked him what to do about that. He told me about a meeting at his house.

In the beginning, I was so desperate. I had been feeling so suicidal and anxious because I didn’t like my acting out with the flirting and adultery. It was very hard to face because I was raised in church and my dad was a Methodist preacher. I thought that I knew better, but I couldn’t do better, and then no matter how hard I tried I could not change because I tried over and over. I was never going to do it again–and I would end up doing it again.

I knew that I had a problem and belonged in SA. I got sober right off the bat, early in the program. My SA sobriety date is May 10, 1983. They had told me I needed to go to three meetings a week. I was already going to the Al-Anon meetings and to the OA meetings, so I just added three SA meetings to that. I did close to nine meetings a week and I felt better after each meeting.

I basically did what I was told in the beginning, and for the first two years I was just adamant about my meetings, my meditation, my journaling. I did all of that regularly, religiously, because I was so frightened of not getting well. I did not want to stay sick like that. It hurt too much. So, I focused really hard on it and got gradually into recovery.

And as I recovered there were many, many miracles that happened in my life. My daughter got sober from her addiction the same month that I got sober from mine and so we have a “same day” celebration every year.

I got into the program thinking that I would divorce my husband and marry this other person and live happily ever after. And, of course, my fantasy did not come true, for which I’m grateful today. But it took a while for me to become grateful, I can tell you. I continued to work on getting sober and continued to feel better.

I had bought a building at the beginning of our AA sobriety with my husband. It had been full of addicts and one young man ended up shooting himself in the head there and had marijuana growing in his room. By this time, we had my daughter in a halfway house and she was doing well there. And so, we became really concerned that people needed a halfway house.

So, we approached an organization that was trying to start one in Oklahoma and talked about it. We started a halfway house with a counselor and one client. It began to grow. It was inspiring and exciting and I loved it.

I started studying to become a counselor. We opened a second halfway house which was a boy’s house, for adolescent boys. And then the first house caught fire and burned, and we had to move it to another building, and, in the process, we opened a third house!

Then I decided that I wanted a girls’ halfway house. So, we started working with adolescent girls and we were able to open a girls’ house, and in the process of that I had what was I guess the biggest spiritual experience of my life that I’ve ever had, and that was working with the girls.

We had some problems along the way with that. One was that our counselor was a sex addict himself and had sex with one of our adolescent girls. We ended up with a million-dollar lawsuit against us, so that was a very frightening period. We happened to have an AA friend who was an attorney. He knew the family of the young lady involved; the father was also an attorney. They talked and agreed to drop the charges if we just paid them back the money they had spent on her being in the halfway house. We did that gladly. That was another one of our big miracles.

The miracles were that my father was sober, my husband was sober, I was sober. The other miracles were opening each of these halfway houses. The people who lived there needed to be sober in order to live there and we had a good program for them.

My daughter came home sober from Nebraska, after about a year in a halfway house there and went to work for us at our office. We had a deep passion for the program and for the idea of the halfway houses, but we weren’t very good managers.

So, due to financial difficulties, we closed the program in 1999. That was very disheartening, and I was very disappointed in myself. I struggled a lot with my feelings of failure, and I still have a problem with that. I loved doing what I was doing, and I loved having a program that was inspirational to me.

We have continued our recovery, we are active in our church, and active in the program. I was six or seven months sober and went to a conference that Roy K. did in Simi Valley and there were only 18 of us there. I thought that I was going to go and there was going to be all these women that were in the program, and they would tell me all about how to recover. But I was the most sober woman there. And the other person that had more sobriety that was there, other than Roy, was Jesse L.

At that first conference meeting we elected officers and had a business meeting and decided to do one every six months. We have had in-person conventions and business meetings once every six months since—until Corona happened.

Corona has really been a problem but now we are doing our meetings on Zoom—another one of the miracles in my life. I don’t know what we would do if we weren’t able to communicate like we do today. This is fantastic and I am so grateful for it.

I’ve served in all the different service positions they have for as long they would allow me to serve. Mostly what I do now is I answer the phone and do some sponsoring and I have some great sponsees that make me work my program better.

These years have been so much fun and have helped me to grow and continue to grow and I am so grateful for Sexaholics Anonymous. I would need a few hours to show you all the different miracles and things that have happened to us.

At this point in time, my husband Gene and I are living in an independent senior citizen’s community and since Corona, we have three meals delivered to our door every day. It’s a beautiful place to be. We have a lake outside of the windows and I have my dog here. It’s a great place and everybody here is nice.

Thank you very much for reading and I hope that you keep coming back because it works, if you work it!

Sylvia J., Oklahoma, USA

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