Practicing healthy interactions in SA has been a passion of mine. Possibly since the beginning of my recovery. I have known near my entire life that I am not good at relationships. My longing to find how to be relationally “normal” has been a lifelong seeking.
Coming to SA, although not immediately, I started finding answers. I saw others with more recovery acting normal, even men with women. I knew if I kept coming back, I too would grow relationally. How did I learn and grow? I kept coming back. I kept coming back not just to meetings, but times of fellowship. Times of fellowship meant going to restaurants. Going to events both with and without Sanon members
Hanging out with other SA members even if I was the only woman. As long as I was NOT one on one with one male member only. If I found myself with one male member only ¡, then that was the time to leave even on a zoom meeting in most cases.
Times of fellowship meant routinely staying after the meeting to talk with others. Times of fellowship meant getting involved in the business aspect of SA. Like going to business meetings or group conscious meetings. Or going to intergroup meetings. Or hanging out with delegates and trustees at the conventions. Or simply hanging out with those with more sobriety and recovery than myself. It also means hanging out with newcomers. And those with less sobriety and recovery than myself.
As I especially was reminded, I do not want to start my sobriety and recovery over. As growing relationally means being involved with the entire family. It means showing up wherever two or more other sexaholics hang out. What did I find? I found that in general I was very cared for like never before in my life. Yes, there are always some, usually with little to no recovery, that were not safe. Yet, my SA family was safe, both men and women. If anything, I felt safer around the men because I knew I would be protected.
There were times an SA guy would let myself and other women know who not to hang around. There were times the SA guys would make sure I left safely on a bad weather day. Note: I have since learned not to risk my life to get to an SA meeting. There were times the SA guys would let myself and other women know, who was unsafe to hang around because they cared for their sisters in SA. If it were not for my SA brothers, I am not sure where I would be today.
What does growing relationally look like in SA? It means realizing that I can learn from anyone in SA. It means listening to others, meaning those with sobriety and recovery, as they talk. And realizing what they say and how they say it might be worth learning. It means realizing that I have a lot to learn. And to be open minded that I can learn from anyone including men. It means being open to criticism and realizing that those with more sobriety and recovery have something to teach me. Even if I don’t understand for years, I still remember if I am willing to admit it. It means celebrating when someone has a new child or gets married. It means grieving when someone dies or leaves the program or gets divorced. Because that is what family does. It means giving hugs to each other as support as hugs can be healthy. It means being open minded to learn how to hug in a healthy way as being uncomfortable seems to be required if I am to grow. It means that even if someone is inappropriate or wrong, they will be corrected in love and not thrown out (usually). It means it is safe to tell a brother who is sober if I am uncomfortable. It means it is safe to share my fear of men or whatever in a meeting as the response will be love and support if around recovery.
I cannot speak for meetings without much sobriety and recovery. That is the beauty of growing relationally in SA. This is the beauty of being in a healthy family. Not a perfect family, but a healthy family. Whatever I do wrong, I will be loved and not thrown out. That is not possible in most other areas of my life. It was not possible in any other area of my life when I first started recovery.
There truly is hope in SA. I do realize not everyone has the privilege of a nearby SA family. Yet there is still hope. I know women in remote areas with no face-to-face meeting that take extra care to involve themselves with more zoom meetings, more online events, and more phone calls across the world than most other women. I have watched as they make friends both with men and women in SA. Yet they grow and thrive in recovery as they continue working their program. Just like anyone else in SA who truly wants recovery
Especially in COVID crazy times, there is no excuse for not fellowshipping around the world with SA and joining the SA family. If you want what we have, come, and join us. It is not a joke. It does work if you work it. And I mean hard, uncomfortable work. As putting oneself out relationally is not easy. I know, as I was terrified of all SA men when I came in. Men in that first meeting I went to will tell you I was terrified. Yet today we both laugh-those men and I. We laugh because we both realize I had a lot to learn We laugh because we both realize it is normal for a woman to be terrified. We laugh because we both realize I was treated with love and patience. Just as any other newcomer is treated who has no clue of what recovery really is. As with time, and lots of love, newcomers turn into those with a lot of sobriety and recovery
Who can no longer imagine themselves feeling so terrified? Yet we laugh in love because we know I was terrified. We laugh because we are family who has grown together for years now and each of us would not trade that relationship for anything and we also want to do whatever it takes to love others. So, they too can eventually not be terrified. Yet putting oneself out relationally even though it is extremely hard, is necessary to grow relationally. There is simply hope for everyone to grow relationally in SA if they want to put in the work to grow relationally.
Kathy R., sexaholic from Oregon, US, sober since March 4, 2009.