Ask An Old-timer

“How was it for you to be
‘Young & Sober in SA’ … 36 years ago?”

My name is Mike and I’m a sexaholic, sober since June 3, 1984. I imagine coming into the program at the age of 28 or 29 today would be much different than it was when I joined in the mid-1980s. Today, depending on where a person begins their SA journey, a new member might join a group in which most of the members were substantially older than they and also be blessed with much long-term sobriety.

When I got sober, I was among the first few just getting SA started in Chicago. Yes, some of the members were older than I, but not substantially so. And there was no such thing as long-term sobriety. So, the real issue we dealt with as a group early on had less to do with our age and more to do with how to learn how to support one another first in staying sober as individuals and then, later, how to form a group that would support sobriety rather than enable relapse.

Those early days for me contained much excitement. First, I managed to stay sober. I couldn’t believe I’d found a solution that actually worked. I met people who walked with me in the journey into deeper recovery, some of whom are still trudging the road with me today.

I learned simple tools like looking at the sidewalk so that I wouldn’t take looks and trying never to miss a meeting if at all possible– and if I did miss one, always to make it up the same week. Over time, we learned we had to be absolutely honest with each other, that our job in meetings was to “look bad” not “look good.” All this learning took place in countless conversations both on the phone and in person before and after meetings in the basement of our meeting place at St. Teresa’s or at nearby coffee shops. We were changing for the better and that could be exhilarating.

Of course, things were not a bed of roses. Without a doubt, we struggled with our personal defects, not only at home and work, but also with one another. And when we began to try to strengthen our group by implementing changes designed to put more emphasis on continued sobriety, watch out! Things got pretty contentious at times; accusations got hurled; feelings got hurt. It reminds me of some of the early A.A. stories in the 12 and 12. But we persevered and eventually established a strong group with a primary purpose.

After a couple of years, I discovered SA International Conventions and that opened my eyes and changed my life. First, getting back to the age issue, here I often was one of the younger people, at least with any length of sobriety. At early conventions, I stood in awe of people like Roy K., Jim E., Jess L., and Harvey A. But eventually I befriended these people as we put the shoulder to the wheel to try to carry the message to the conventions. Because of those early conventions, I have a host of SA friends from all over the world and from every race and religion.

I’m grateful to God and to so many in the SA fellowship for the grace I received from those early, youthful days in SA.

Mike C., Chicago, USA

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