Incarceration can easily trigger guilt, shame, remorse, fear, loneliness, and negative feelings like anger and resentment towards oneself and others. Knowing how to handle such feelings, whether inside prison gates or on the outside, can free a person.
On first entering jail and later prison, I felt fearful. I worried I might step out of line and incur the wrath of the deputies or that of prisoners who might not like me for any reason, however irrational. The SA program was not available at that time, but I did attend Bible classes and went to Mass on Sundays, which gave me some peace of mind.
When I exited the system, I withdrew from society. I felt I had ruined my reputation, and wanted to end my life. When I finally found SA, I decided to give it a chance. It helped me immensely by giving me tools to deal with my emotions in a more constructive, healthy, peaceful way.
Newcomers often wonder what the tools of SA are. It’s no secret, these are just a few: attending meetings, reading the literature, finding a sponsor, working the Steps, praying, meditating, and being of service. I did “90 in 90”: 90 meetings in 90 days. I heard the readings, the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, and the shares. I looked for miracles and found some. What helped me most that first day was the welcome, the Serenity Prayer, the reciting of “A Vision for You,” and the fellowship. I felt like I found “my people” and I belonged.
As a child I had been religious, but in my teen years I had lost the belief in God, mainly because I thought God had abandoned me. What made me stay with SA was that I could let the God of my understanding be the power that would help me.
The tools I used to develop that God of my understanding were the first three Steps. In the first Step I admitted that I was powerless and that my life had become unmanageable. That was true, evidenced by my crime and my financial state. In the second Step I came to believe a power greater than myself could help me become sane. In the third Step, the relief and comfort of surrendering to the God of my understanding helped me “let go” and rely on His will for me.
Tools like calling, texting, or writing to a sponsor or friend in the program have been very helpful to me. Connecting with someone who understands has over and over saved me as well as the other person from acting out. That is why I, being sober for some time now, can reach out and help a sister who is incarcerated, and in turn be reminded by her of what brought me to SA.
SA is a program and fellowship that uses the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to help people like me recover from the negative feelings that might lead to sexually acting out. It’s a spiritual quest meant to help us recover from lust and from the bondage of self.
Those incarcerated can safely reach out to SA for a sponsor, and those on the outside in the SA program can make a connection with an inmate who wants spiritual help. Everyone deserves the chance to connect with peace and understanding.