My Path to SA, and to Essay

I’m Barbara, a grateful sexaholic, sober since December 12, 2001 and Essay editor newsletter since March 2007. I’m grateful to the fellowship for allowing me to be of service all these years; this has been one of the biggest blessings of my recovery.

So how did I become the editor? The journey began in June 2001, when I asked my husband what sort of therapy group he had been attending. When he said “It’s for sex addiction,” I thought, “That’s what I have!” But I did not say anything. Our marriage was pretty much destroyed by then, and I was unable to be vulnerable with him—and I certainly did not want him to know that I had the same thing he did! Plus, I did not think I needed a Twelve Step program. I thought it would be good for him, but I was too spiritual for that sort of thing!

Eventually, my husband’s counselor insisted that I attend the Twelve Step therapy group for the partners of his clients. I finally went, just to get the counselor off my back, and intending to get myself kicked out. But then I learned that I could not “graduate” from the group until I had done all f the Twelve Steps. So, reluctantly, I did the Steps for the first time there, doing the least work I could to get by. This was extremely difficult for me because of my complete inability to be honest with myself, but doing the Steps in that simple way was a start on the right track.

I knew I was a sex addict the whole time I was in the group, but I did not know how to bring it up there. However, about six months into that group, I was telling one of the women that I thought I “might” be a sex addict. She responded, “If you can stop masturbating without a program, you’re not a sexaholic.” I reasoned that since I had stopped (I knew the Sobriety Definition from my husband who was already in SA, and I hadn’t acted out since he told me the definition), then I must not be a sexaholic. I was not lust-free though, so after hearing her pronouncement, I deliberately acted out one last time—and that incident scared me so much that I knew I was a sex addict and that I needed to stop. I have been sober since then.

When the therapy group ended, I attended a church-based program for women of mixed addictions, and there I did the Steps a second time. In that group, I heard a sexaholic woman share for the first time, but she shared so explicitly that I did not want to reveal my own issues, lest I would have to share like she did. After the church group ended, I reluctantly went to S-Anon, at my husband’s request, so that I could participate in social things with my husband and his SA friends and their spouses. There I met an S-Anon member who was also a member of NA. This was quite helpful to me because I was able to speak frankly with her about my own addiction.

So now I had someone to talk with who gave me tips on things like avoiding “triggers.” At some point I bought a White Book (I told my husband that I thought all S-Anon women should read the White Book, because I did still not want him to know I was a sexaholic!). But more important, one day I came across one of my husband’s Essay newsletters. That was the first time I “heard” an actual SA member share, and it was hugely powerful. After that I regularly looked through my husband’s belongings, searching for his Essays, because they were lifesavers to me.

Eventually, while working my Step One the fourth time, I became overwhelmed by looking at all the things I had done, and that is when I finally hit bottom—and then sometime in 2005, I started attending SA. When I’d been in SA less than a year, I volunteered to be a Group Service Rep for a small women’s group. During one of my first Intergroup meetings, someone announced that the fellowship was looking for a new Essay editor. My husband and another family member were also at the meeting, and the other family member kicked me under the table when he heard the word “editor,” since that was my previous career. So I volunteered and sent in my resume, and eventually I was hired.

But then I was a nervous wreck. My biggest fear was that I would ruin the beautiful magazine that had helped me so much in my early recovery. When the job was offered, they suggested I find two local people to help me—one with professional editing background, and one with AA background—and then I was worried that no one would want to work with me. But I knew one SA guy who was an editor, and I asked him to point me to someone who had an AA background—and much to my surprise (and only by God’s grace), they both agreed immediately. We added a third editorial member shortly thereafter, and from the beginning we have had awesome teamwork. What a blessing!

I am so grateful to have been of service as editor for 8 1/2 years, as I cannot think of anything I’ve enjoyed more than this service. I’m still so grateful to all of you who helped out in so many different ways—by submitting stories or convention reports or artwork, or anything else we needed—and sometimes even at the very last second! And I’m also still very grateful for having had the amazing opportunity of being in contact with members from all over the world, because of Essay. The members of our editing team (who have chosen to remain anonymous) were wonderful, as well as my husband George, who knows how to keep all sorts of electronic equipment running perfectly at all times. I could not have done any of this without them, and especially not without George (who led me into SA recovery).

Most of all, I’m grateful to God, Who has by His grace orchestrated everything. So many people have helped on my path to SA, and to Essay, in so many ways that it could only be from God. He has always brought the right people at the right time for everything I have needed in my recovery and in my time as an editor—and I will be forever grateful to Him.

Barbara F., San Diego, USA

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