This Aussie Old-timer ……
I came into the SA movement in 1999 and by the Grace of God and numerous miracles have stayed physically sexually sober since that day. Whilst Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Akron, USA in 1935 by two hopeless alcoholics, Sexaholics Anonymous did not come into existence until 1979 by Roy K (1927- 2009). Sexaholics Anonymous did not emerge in Australia until about 1988 in Wentworthville, Sydney and a group in Melbourne who initially met on a Park Bench and later rented a room at Kew Vic. All of the original founding members had ties to Alcoholics Anonymous but now have passed away or left the program.
I was part of the second wave of members or second Generation, joining in the late 90’s.
First Third of My Sober Life
In the first seven years of sobriety a lot of things changed and had to change. I came into SA with my addictive nature and remember thinking to myself that if one meeting was good then I would go to every meeting in the city, and at that time there were only three groups in Melbourne. I did go to a few Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as well, but did not identify as a sexaholic nor did I share at all: I simply listened and was quite in awe at some of the old-timers who were 30 or 40 years without a drink—they were superhuman, in my eyes. Everyone in the group told me to work the Steps but no-one really wanted me as a Sponsee, probably because I came across as a “young Turk” who questioned everything, started discussions which tuned into arguments which turned into blood baths.
I did look for a Sponsor who would be someone who I could follow, someone who was ahead of me, someone whose life was in order, someone who I could respect but I could see no-one. About three months into my membership of SA there was an Annual Conference in Sydney which the Group invited me to attend but I felt I did not know enough about the workings of SA and it would be very strange and so I did not go. (Sydney lies approx. 1,000 kilometers north of Melbourne.) Geoff had left to start another meeting closer to his home in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and asked me to come with him to form a small hub of people who would later go on and expand, and after a lot of prayer I told him that I could not go with him but however I would attend the meetings and support him and remain at Richmond. I could see that Richmond was in serious need of me—me with all my great abilities, great talent, great experiences, great storytelling but above all a great fat ego. So, I stayed.
The first tranche of members, some of whom set up SA right from the start in Melbourne were foundation members and thus “owned” the meeting. Any changes or slight variances in procedures were howled down yet however they were happy to allow me to be the Secretary in my first year of SA and do all the work. I would arrive early direct from work and set up the room, set up the banners, set up the coffee facilities, set up the topics, set up the agendas, put out the chairs and signs and wait for others to arrive. I did listen intently at meetings to the sober members and the unsober members because someone said to me that there would be one gem in every share and I should look for it, and this proved to be true. I found an SA Buddy who was six months ahead of me and we became firm friends—going to dinner before the meeting at the pizza restaurant or coffee afterwards and driving to conferences together. And, we co-sponsored each other for many of the first years, as we discussed and worked the steps together.
In the early days in the 1990’s there was not much in the way of supporting literature and in a moment of inspiration I telephoned SAICO and had a nice talk to someone there who was extremely helpful and gave me a contact of an American citizen in SA who was stationed in Japan and probably a member of the US Military. He said in an email that he had a “pack” of material that he used to work the Steps and these were written guides (one for each Step) with questions at the end and writing exercises to follow. I was completely amazed that within four weeks a parcel arrived in the form of a very large envelope containing all the things he had spoken about. I started using the worksheets and adapted some additional ones and am still using them successfully to this very day in guiding sponsees through the Steps.
I continued therapy as well as meetings and l wanted to know if there had been a significant change in me at my one-year anniversary of my sobriety—to which my therapist replied that addicts do not show a change until about seven years sober. I was so proud when I came home on my first anniversary, having received a chip, l was so excited! I asked my wife later if she noticed any change in me after a year of going to SA and she simply replied “No.” I was gutted! I felt as if I had tried so hard and achieved so little and felt like throwing in the towel and leaving. I managed to keep going because I did not want to be a quitter. I saw that there was no cure for addiction and that it was my lot for life, but if I took my “medicine” daily, I could have a sober and “normal” life.
Things were coming to a head in all areas of my life and when I was approximately one year sober in SA I went to work and snapped—I threw my computer through the wall and went home using every four-letter word I could think of. I was working 80 hours a week and had just completed an exhaustive sales campaign where I had won a top award for the most successful in the State and Region beating 100’s of others. I was later diagnosed with extreme stress and burnout and was sent on Medical Leave to attend doctors, psychologists, counsellors, and therapists, which went on for the next 12 months, but I already knew that the writing was on the wall and I was never to return to my one and only job that I had held for 38 years. I took a year of paid leave and during this time became engrossed in technology, computers, and communications. I completed a Tertiary Qualification and also became an Accredited IT Repairer and all the while repairing computers for friends and relatives. I delved into Telecommunications and structured cabling and formed a Business. My business started to grow and from a base of zero became successful.
Second part of my sober life
Things started to change in about the 8th year of sobriety and in a way, I could actually see and also my long-suffering wife started to notice a few glimpses of recovery. The saying “The greatest amend you can make is a changed life” has been of great meaning to me as my time in SA has placed me in contact with many sick, unreliable and fragmented people who make outlandish promises which were heartfelt and true at the time, but never carried out. (Such is the way of an Addict!) I had always been a firm believer that I should never disclose my behavior to my family where it would hurt them and so I would always tell them the truth but in a non-specific way and I started to make plans to tell my 3 children about my addiction and the hurts I had caused to them. I waited until I had been sober for over 10 years and met with each of my children individually and met for a coffee and brought up the subject of addiction and sobriety and amends. I spoke about having an “addictive nature” and if an alcoholic picked up a drink they could not stop and I was the same with lust and “playboy” magazines that I should not pick one up because I addicted. I also talked generally about work addiction and how it led mt to work 80 hours per week and then having a burnout in my second year of recovery when I had a mental breakdown and was directed to attend a psychologist for over a year and then taking about five years to really recover physically and mentally. As I spoke with my children we spoke about their addictions because I feel that everyone has some form of addiction no matter how strong or weak. I used the example of an over eater who wants to feel good by hiding their hurt and pain with an external coping mechanism.
I will say that I have carried my addiction close to my chest and have not divulged my Sexaholics Anonymous membership, but obviously my wife knew from the beginning. I never discussed any aspects of my acting out. I needed to put things right with my wife but really did not know what to do or how to start or how to go about it. I started to spend some time together and slowly learn how to stay in the moment and focus my mind on being in the present moment. After my burnout in 2000, I decided that a holiday would be what I needed and in the space of a week had arranged for a round the world ticket to numerous countries so my wife and I could escape and get away from the rigors of my recently escalated trauma. This proved to be a great holiday which lasted 4 months and mostly we got on very well together as we had learned several survival rules in counselling (it wasn’t a total waste of time). One thing we did was that when tired or struggling and we needed time alone we would talk about it and agree to have some “personal time” apart and I would go off and look at computer shops or go to an SA Meeting and she would go sightseeing or read a book etc. This was to set the pattern of the Travel Bug for the next years and we travelled a lot after that. We usually travel alone but sometimes in Groups or tours in foreign countries where the language is very prohibitive. One remarkable event stands out in this era when I turned 60yrs old, I wanted to go back to my country of my father’s origin, which was Hungary, and especially Budapest where he grew up. I arranged for all of our family including grandchildren to travel overseas. My youngest daughter somehow found an English-speaking University Lecturer who assisted her in Ancestorial research, and the end result was a book she produced of maps, history, Births extracts, graves and paraphernalia of my past hereditary background. We met up with this Hungarian man in Budapest and he became our guide when we visited a small village in remote countryside where my father was born and saw The Register of Births and deaths where my Grandparents had signed. We drove back to home late at night, several of us sick with the flu virus and I had a splitting headache. Our middle daughter was driving and an argument broke out. I swore at her in a very bad way despite my years of sobriety, thus re-enforcing the fact that sober is not well. I went immediately the next day and apologized profoundly to her without making any excuses or justifications and asked her to forgive me to which she said that she did not know if she could. I had done my utmost to put it right however she mellowed and allowed the hurt to lift from her soul and we continued on with a strong relationship.
By the time I was approximately 12 years sober I did suffer another breakdown due to several factors mainly physical. Work in my small IT business had grown significantly place many time constraints upon me and my wife who stood by me throughout my journey. I have always been conscious of having a good work-life-home-church balance but when life becomes stressful my basic desires take over and I press in all the more to the stressful area. In this case it was work, and in my “own great wisdom” I ran out of Prescription medicine prescribed by my doctor and psychologist right back from the start when I suffered a huge burnout initially. My best thinking told me that I was okay and I could just stop taking drugs because I was sober, well, and fully healed. (This was my best ever thinking-NOT!). I had a steady mental downhill slide which was slow and similar to the frog being cooked in the water until I woke up to myself and was then dead. I looked at an R Rated website – no physical touching but just as my wife walked into the room and the guilt and remorse and embarrassment flooded back just like it was yesterday! My mind was racing and I started to make plans to withdraw. That night I packed a small bag, a toothbrush and went to bed normally. In the small hours of the night, I rolled my work van down the drive so as to make no noise and left. I had some money and continued my external life however my wife and adult children had no idea of my whereabouts. I slept in my Van, went to SA meetings, spoke to my Sponsor in USA, all the while in denial, I showered at a church, and no-one knew that anything was wrong. I was lying through my teeth all the while. After a week my family reported me to Missing Persons and to the Police who were looking for me. I remained undetected but still in the local vicinity. About a week later a received a text message from our eldest daughter which I answered and decided to go and stay with her and sleep on the floor in the lounge room and we talked. I knew I had to go home but was so full of guilt, pain, remorse and most of all brainpower and sanity. I returned and took up medicine again, confessed to my wife what was in my head and she was kind and accepting and said that she noticed me going downhill in decision making for quite a while but did not intervene (what can you tell an addict?). The major lesson I had learned was healing has to come about in all three areas and I had disregarded the physical and had not continued to take my medicine – with disastrous ramifications. I confessed all to my Sponsor, who I had mis-led and lied to and he related a similar but different incident with his spouse. His wise words still ring in my ears after many years “THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN NEVER DO AGAIN!) Shortly after that time he advised that due to family situation he was not able to continue on as my Sponsor and I started the search for a replacement. And through a visiting speaker to Australia from USA I was placed in touch with my current Sponsor who has been excellent and a great support.
Third Stage of my Sober Life
In this later stage of recovery there has been quite a growth in Spiritual standing and position. In the early part of the program, I had a good head knowledge of religion and God via my church program but really, I did not know God. I knew a lot about God but I had not had a Spiritual Experience or a Spiritual Awakening in the areas of lust, pornography or related areas. I can remember early in the proceedings being in a SA meeting on the Topic of forgiveness where I had carried a deep-seated hatred and distrust in my Mother-in-law because of the hurts caused to us when we were married. We had engaged in intimate proceedings prior to marriage and I had caused deep embarrassment and hurt to my wife’s parents and they called off our wedding even though all the invitations had been issued. I was so furious and embarrassed but unable to see my own faults and thus had a “genuine”, real and deep resentment towards them. (But fully justified in my own tiny mind!). The SA meeting really hit a nerve and I felt that I needed to forgive my Mother-in-law but did not know how to go about it and the speaker at the meeting said that when we resent it is like drinking the poison -and expecting the other person to die! I knew I was sick and did not wish to die just then so I said a prayer “God, I CANNOT forgive her, but would you be able to forgive her for me” -and a miracle then happened. I felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders literally. I walked away from the meeting floating on air and felt free and happy and released- such is the power of the program and my Higher Power.
I still struggle with time and balance in my life and have inserted boundaries to help control this. I now have a very active business which is both buoyant and profitable but very time consuming. I delegate as much as possible but there are still many decisions and tasks which only, I can attend to as a Business Owner with 6 employees. My business has an off-shoot in providing Aid and help and fully refurbished used PC’s to less fortunate people in Australia and Overseas and have been involved in shipping several containers to overseas countries and missions. This also involved travelling to overseas and within Australia.
All service work has been a high priority since joining and I was involved in setting up the first Intergroup in Melbourne and currently hold the position of Chairman and have served in all roles. Intergroup has involvement in organizing State Conferences and also connects to the Australian National Board where I also serve as Vice Chairman up to this year and now as a GSR (Group Service Representative).
Sponsorship has been ongoing since inception into SA and I have lost count of the 100’s of people I have sponsored since I started but currently have the role of guiding seven Sponsees through the Steps. Sponsees come from many places including interstate and overseas and I speak with them weekly and have daily contact via email. Attending Conferences has been a great part of my growth and I loved attending my last Conference in Chicago where I met some great people and witnessed members with long Sobriety and Recovery. I had booked to go to Toronto in July 2020 however the COVID-19 virus locked down attendance and the conference was subsequently cancelled. Attending meetings has been important and I current attend my Home Group each Wednesday and also 2-3 other meetings per week which I enjoy.
Summing up I say that SA is a way of life for me and not just a quick fix course where I get my Degree or Certificate of Completion and then leave. It has become a way of life and become part of my DNA and progressively over the years has changed my life, my thinking and attitudes to be more in line with those of my Higher Power.
Steve P., Melbourne, Australia (26th February 1999)