“But I don’t want to share that …” “Then you won’t get well!” That was my sponsor’s response to most of the fears I experience. I cannot get sober in isolation. Nor can I get it if I don’t give it. The SA group I got sober in was very strong in service. That’s where I was introduced to “Hospitals and Institutions.” This is a group of sexaholics that does service work with treatment centers, jails, churches, and other organizations. We take a group of SA members and carry the message to staff, clients, or patients.
Now, being a sexaholic in recovery my first thought or feeling isn’t to share my story with anyone, much less a group of people I don’t even know. So, the first few times I participated, I was terrified. I was 6 months sober and one of the first institutions I shared at was something called Drug Court. Each one of us got up on a stage with a microphone and shared our story. That was the first time I heard myself say, “Hi, I’m Ryan and I’m a sexaholic. My forms of acting out include chronic masturbation and stealing women’s shoes.” And my voice echoed for what felt like an eternity. Then the most magnificent thing happened, I didn’t die.
Before that evening I told my sponsor of my fear, which was, if I told someone about my acting out, they would stab me with a knife, or worse, laugh at me. He encouraged me to do it anyway. That’s when I experienced the principle, the more you know about me the freer I am. And after each service opportunity I felt more and more at home with myself and others. This has turned the most horrific events in my life into one of the most beautiful benefits of my life.
One of the other happenings came from the John School. This program was set up by the Nashville Police Dept and was directed at men that had been arrested for solicitation. The person arrested was ordered to attend an all-day presentation which SA was asked to participate in. Before Covid, on average there would be three to four SA members that would share their story—what it was like; what happened; what it’s like now. We did our best to carry this message to the sexaholic, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. After sharing our story with the John School staff and participants, we would stay and answer questions, give out SA pamphlets, White Books and have a meeting after the meeting. It was a great reminder of where my sexaholism had gone and how far down the road I could still go.
The SA service structure has been vital in keeping this outreach possible. Because this is bigger than any one group, it is guided by the Nashville Intergroup. There is a SIP Chairperson that is responsible for organizing each group that visits facilities. Each facility has a point person that schedules the meetings and communicates with the treatment center or organization. This person is also responsible for getting other SA members to participate.
My experience with institutions and professionals has been more attraction rather than promotion. I’ll receive calls from different treatment centers in the Nashville area from time to time and other SA members will be contacted as well. And from that we will visit with staff and discuss with SA members who participate in SIP to see if we can support whatever is needed.
I am powerless over having a formal approach and or the “right” process. Thankfully those overused assets remind me that I’m a survivor not a savior, and it’s one sexaholic talking to another sexaholic. A quick conversation with my sponsor brings me back to the solution. After one difficult meeting I called him saying, “I don’t think this is working and I’m not sure I need to continue doing this.” He asked me, “Are you sober?” And I said yes. “Then it’s working. Easy does it.”
Ryan B., Tennessee, USA