Whenever You Want to Come, Be Welcome!

Whenever You Want to Come, Feel Welcome!

“I am responsible.
When anyone, anywhere
reaches out for help,
I want the hand of SA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”
SA Service Manual – Last side

My First Meeting—
May 2012
At the age of 51, some time after my wife discovered my double life, she gave me the White Book. I read the title and was inwardly outraged. How could she think that I was a sex addict? I was “only” having an affair and so I put the book aside.

A few months later, I came to realize that I could no longer maintain this unconscious denial. During a visit to our couples therapist, I agreed to read the white book and to visit an SA meeting. Somehow I was ready, even though I was not yet fully convinced that SA would be able to help me. I called the contact number for the Munich meetings. On the other end, a man started asking me questions about my motivation, which I answered honestly. He also said that there were three meetings per week. I told him that initially I just wanted to attend one meeting per week. “In that case,” he replied, “you’re probably not ready yet.” That’s how it used to be in Munich and in the German-Speaking Region. Some fellows decided who was ready and who was not. It hurt me. And I felt that I was not worthy to attend a SA meeting.

Our therapist disagreed. She explained to me that my willingness to stop my addiction is my ticket to SA. I should just go without a preliminary talk—they couldn’t kick me out.

After a few weeks, I took the plunge and attended my first SA meeting. I entered the group room excitedly and without invitation, explained my concerns, and was met for a moment with incredulous bewilderment. After some discussion the group agreed to hold a newcomers meeting with me. I told my story and my desire to stop lusting, and that I needed help. There was a vote on whether I could stay and come back. Even though I would not have been able to express it that way before, it did make me feel unworthy, and aligned with earlier, similar events in my life. Today I can say that I do not wish this on anyone who reaches out his hand and asks for help.

What I remembered most after the meeting was that there was almost no one who was “in recovery” for an extended period of time, except one older man.

Recovery Begins
A few months later, Harvey and Nancy A. from Nashville visited our community. They shared their experience, strength and hope in a 12 Step Speaker Meeting Workshop. That weekend changed everything for me. Harvey lives and speaks the language of recovery. He loves simple and clear words. He showed us a way to make it work. “Learn to give instead of take,” it says in the White Book on page 162. He emphasized again and again the importance of the Big Book. It is the foundation for the White Book. The beginning of the fifth chapter is the basis for the recovery—and it became the basis for my own journey of recovery.

New York and Nashville—
January 2014
On my way to the International Convention in Nashville, I made a three-day visit to get a taste of New York. My plan was to support my visit with daily meetings. On an SA website from the New York SA Community, I found all the meetings taking place in the city with the exact times and locations and so, I planned my sightseeing tours according to the meetings schedule. This was helpful and at the same time surprising to me (since in our region the fellowship was almost rigid about having a meeting place open to the public).

To my surprise, no one at the meeting asked me who I was or looked at me strangely even though I was obviously a stranger. Then, at the end of the meeting, I asked how they would have reacted if I had been a newcomer or journalist? “Then we would have held a newcomers meeting,” was the terse reply. I was welcomed into the other meetings in just as simple and friendly a manner. Three days later in Nashville, I recognized some New Yorkers at the airport, and they invited me into their cab to ride together to the convention hotel. At the convention, I experienced in a real way the spirit I encountered in the White Book. Everything there seemed simpler, bigger, (spiritually) wider and more inviting. I felt that I had “come home.”

Back in Munich, I could not keep silent about what I had experienced. I shared these experiences in meetings and at workshops and challenged our practice for newcomers. Thankfully, the Munich groups were open to change. Accordingly, we discontinued the old practice of a preliminary interview and the (humiliating) question of whether anyone would object to the newcomer being allowed to come back. Since then, every newcomer in Munich can simply walk into a meeting. We offer him a preliminary talk if he wants it. Anyone who wants to stop lusting, is welcome here.

“If you think you may have problems with sex or lust addiction, we invite you to join us at an SA meeting. Look for Sexaholics Anonymous in your local phone directory, call SA International Central Office toll free (in the USA) at 866-424-8777, or visit our website at sa.org. Online meetings and remote contacts are also available.”
SA Service Manual – Last side

Experience With Newcomers
Since then, membership of the Munich meetings has at least doubled and today, there are Meetings everyday. On the other hand, groups in the German-Speaking Region still use the old newcomer rules. I wonder why SA groups make it so hard for the newcomers. At the same time, I trust God and know that everything has its time. A few groups in the German-Speaking Region now use the cover letter which has proven so successful in Munich. I present it here:

Thank you for your request. Welcome to SA Munich. Enclosed please find a little something about us and our meetings:

The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like that of the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and must stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with the sexaholic, or sex drunk, who can no longer tolerate lust but cannot stop.

This is why SA, like Alcoholics Anonymous, adopts a sobriety definition. Our sobriety definition is: We abstain from any form of sex with one’s self or with partners other than the spouse. This definition provides us with the clarity we need to abstain from lust in any and all of its forms.

Our meetings are held seven times a week:

Monday 7:00 pm
Tuesday 7:00 am
etc.
….
On-site meetings are held at the SHZ in Munich (Street Name). You can come to all meetings or just individual meetings. We recommend attending an “on-site” meeting for the 1st meeting.

We also offer the possibility of a pre-meeting (by phone or about 15 minutes before the meeting, except Tuesday), if you are a newcomer.

Ideally, reply to this mail and let me know when you wish to come along. If you wish, someone from our group can meet you about 15 minutes beforehand and explain the way our meetings work. If you do wish to talk to someone beforehand, please call V. (Telephone Number).

SA is an anonymous program: We don’t keep the names, addresses or phone numbers of our members (or we delete them immediately after use).

I hope you find this information helpful and I look forward to seeing you at one of our meetings. You are welcome whenever you want to come along! Just let us know in advance the day on which you would like to come and we will let you know the room in which we meet that day.

Bernd S., SA Munich Germany and SA Zurich Switzerland

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