What was the fellowship like in my early days of recovery? According to what I remember and knew, it was: certainly not ideal! We had no published literature but used pdfs and printouts. We didn’t have SA materials to work on the Steps but used materials from other communities. Multiple years sobriety was something unusual. We were learning to use the Steps and didn’t know much about the mysterious traditions.
There were no women at the meetings. It took two years before other women came and stayed. There were five meetings around the city and we all knew each other. After the Friday meeting we went for dumplings. Meeting people outside of the meetings, getting to know them as people and not just recovering sex addicts, was really valuable and helped me feel safer with them.
I learned to take advantage of this non-ideal fellowship that was already there and not wait for it to become perfect. If I had waited, I’m afraid I would still be waiting! And you know what? It didn’t matter that much! SA was there, and it was perfect! I finally met people who had the same problem, went through the same suffering, and were sober and shared what helps them maintain that sobriety. They all talked about working the Steps. For the first time I believed that sexual sobriety was possible for me too. They gave me hope. I got much more from them: acceptance, support, literature, contact with a woman from another fellowship who was ready to support me. When I came to a meeting and told them how bad and difficult it was for me, someone usually shared a similar experience and I left the meeting with concrete tools.
If I had to pass on just one thing, just one bit of advice, it would be: to give yourself a chance once again, to give yourself a chance for another day. That’s one of the most important things to me. In large part because of it, I am still sober. Maybe God and others believed in me, but I didn’t believe in myself anymore. I believed the people in the fellowship who, despite my relapses, continued to take my calls, talk to me, and shake my hand. I decided to trust them and not myself.
When there was a time when my triggers took away my hope, when I had no idea what to do anymore and it seemed that the program was working for everyone but me, I remember the thought that came to me: “Give myself a chance for the next day” … just that. And then for the next one. To try again: the Steps, the meeting, the literature, contact with my sponsor …
Not being able to believe in myself were my darkest moments. And that’s when my sobriety began. I never expected this to be the moment. My sobriety wasn’t planned or studied; I just gave myself another day to try recovery one more time and “not trash SA” (and I really felt like it more than once!!). Then, with time, something started to change and sobriety continues. And the motto to give myself a chance once again is still valid in different stages of life and recovery, because sobriety doesn’t solve all the problems in my life. Sobriety only gives me the space to solve them or live them.
Joanna M., Warsaw, Poland (Sober since June 1, 2010)