Recovery is Like a Three-Legged Stool

When I think of meetings, I think of something that my sponsor said early in our relationship: “Recovery in SA is like a three-legged stool, you have to have a sponsor, the Steps and the fellowship in order for the stool to remain standing.” Meetings are where the fellowship happens and when I consider the attributes of a strong meeting two ideas come to mind: the structure and something I would call the personality of the meeting.

The structure involves how the meeting operates on an on-going basis. The best meetings I have attended follow the meeting guidelines outlined in the White Book (188-189). Service positions are filled during regularly scheduled business meetings where sobriety requirements are established for each position, usually chairperson, literature and treasurer. Meetings start on time and the chairperson comes prepared with a topic. Members are asked to participate by making sure the meeting space is prepared, distributing the readings and welcoming newcomers. Where appropriate, the chairperson serves as the representative to the local intergroup where matters of local importance are discussed and SA unity is the primary focus. Ideally, the meeting spends time on an annual basis reflecting on how the meeting is achieving the one primary purpose of every SA group as described in Tradition 5: to carry the message to the sexaholic who still suffers.

The personality of the meeting depends on the personalities attending the meeting! The qualities that I appreciate most are the member’s willingness to be vulnerable regarding the state of their recovery by leading with their weaknesses and staying focused on the solution and not the problem. I need to know that it is safe to share the things that sometimes I might feel reluctant to share because the voice in my head says it might damage my reputation. As I have heard many times, I am as sick as my secrets. In my program, I know that the things that I find myself trying to rationalize or feeling embarrassed about are exactly the things that need to be shared in a meeting. It always amazes me that when I take the risk to be vulnerable in a meeting, the other members do likewise and we all benefit from the honesty that is achieved in those moments.

In meetings where the focus is on the solution, I need to hear and witness how people are working their Steps. I witness people working their Steps when a member shares their First Step with their home group. I call these shares holy moments. A member that has worked on their First Step with their sponsor and then requests time during the meeting-announcement-time to share their First Step at a future meeting leaves me looking forward to seeing another member making this essential beginning on their recovery journey. A thorough, well prepared First Step is an encouragement to all that hear it and often motivates others to follow suit.

Another opportunity to witness someone working their Steps is when a member requests the group to participate as they recite the Third Step Prayer after a meeting. Oftentimes, the group joins the member on their knees or they stand over the member each placing on a hand as the prayer is recited. These are powerful moments that knit the group together and inspire all to continue to work their Steps.

I have learned to work my Steps by listening to others share about how they are working theirs. Meetings focused on the solution often involve members talking about the Step that they are currently focused on with their sponsor. Meetings dedicated to working through the Steps as a group are an opportunity for the group to develop a bond that often leads to lifelong relationships in the program and a powerful reminder that we aren’t alone and that we don’t have to figure this out by ourselves.

Besides the obvious benefits of a well-run and solution-oriented meeting, my life has been greatly enriched by what I call the after-meeting. In the early days of my recovery as a single sober man in SA recovery, the highlight of my week was the after-work meeting on Friday when a number of us would go out for dinner after the meeting. These were special times of fellowship with other recovering men and women where I felt like a “normal” person enjoying the company of my friends. The friendships that developed from these dinners blossomed into other social gatherings outside the fellowship and for me, an opportunity to be around women where I could just learn how to be me and not someone trying to get something from another person.

After I had been sober for six or seven years, a group of single men and women in the program started a book club where we met on a weekly basis to discuss several popular books of the day focused on building healthy relationships. I had been dating in sobriety for a year or two and the insights that I learned through my book club proved invaluable as I ventured out in the “real world” to practice the principles of my recovery in all of my affairs. Several years later, all of these friends would serve as members of my wedding party on the most joyous day of my life!

Now, 35 years later I look back at all the meetings that I have attended and cannot believe all that has transpired in my life since that first meeting where I and three other sexaholics shared our stories. In a year when many of us have been unable to gather together in person, the spirit of recovery has thrived through the miracle of technology. Recently, I was able to attend a virtual meeting where a member from Africa shared his First Step! I have also participated in meetings originating from Spain and England. I hope to meet some of you in an upcoming meeting as we all trudge the road of happy destiny! May God bless you and keep you until then.

Dave H., Tennessee, USA

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