People would tell me things I wouldn’t hear because I was always off in my head somewhere. My older sister was a very smart person and got good grades, while I didn’t do well with people and in school. My younger sister was very pretty and everybody thought she was adorable. So I felt like I was misunderstood all the time. I discovered when I got older that my problem was that I had ADD, because I would disassociate and not know what people said to me.
I felt “less than”, but found I got lots of attention by flirting. I had lots of boyfriends and thought that was “being popular.” It worked quite well for many years for me but then it began to turn on me.
I continued to do that and got pregnant with my first child. The first time I had sex I got pregnant and had to get married. I had a fine, healthy boy. Afer that, I had a daughter.
She kept getting into trouble and became an addict. In searching for help for her we found the AA program and counseling, and she joined that fellowship while I joined Al-Anon. I didn’t think I was an addict. However, I watched an educational series one day that gave a description of an addict, and said, “That’s me!” Only my addiction is to men, not to drugs.
I figured if I had to keep dieting I must have an overeating problem, so I got into OA. I was going to about six meetings a week of Al-Anon and OA. And then I overheard this man in an open AA meeting say that he was a sex addict and he was looking for people to meet with him. His name was Jesse. And I thought, “That’s me, that’s me! I need to get a hold of him!” But I didn’t get a hold of him that night.
About a week later, he was the speaker at a meeting. I knew when I heard his story that I belonged in that program. And so I sought him out afterwards and he told me about a meeting at his house.
In the beginning, I was so desperate. I had been feeling so suicidal and anxious because I didn’t like my acting out with the flirting and adultery. It was very hard to face because I was raised in church and my dad was a Methodist preacher. I thought that I knew better, but I couldn’t do better, and then no matter how hard I tried I could not change because I tried over and over. I was never going to do it again–and I would end up doing it again.
I knew that I had a problem and belonged in SA. I got sober right off the bat, early in the program. They had told me I needed to go to three meetings a week. I was already going to the Al-Anon meetings and to the OA meetings, so I just added three SA meetings to that. I did very close to nine meetings a week and felt better after each meeting.
I pretty well did what I was told in the beginning, and for the first two years I was just really adamant about my meetings, my meditation, my journaling. I did all of that regularly, religiously, because I was so frightened of not getting well. I did not want to stay sick like that. It hurt too much. So I focused real hard on it and I got into recovery.
And as I recovered there were many, many miracles that happened in my life. My daughter got sober from her addiction the same month that I got sober from mine and so we have a “same day” celebration every year.
I got into the program thinking that I would divorce my husband and marry this other person and live happily ever after. And, of course, my fantasy did not come true, for which I’m grateful today. But it took a while for me to become grateful, I can tell ya. I continued to work on being sober, and continued to feel better.
I had bought a building at the beginning of our AA sobriety with my husband. It had been full of addicts and one young man ended up shooting himself in the head there and had marijuana growing in his room. By this time we had my daughter in a halfway house and she was doing well there. And so we became really concerned that people needed a halfway house.
So we approached an organization that was trying to start one in Oklahoma and talked about it. So we started a halfway house with a counselor and one client. It began to grow. It was inspiring and exciting and I loved it.
I started doing education to be a counselor. And we opened a second halfway house which was a boy’s house–adolescent boys. And then the first house caught fire and burned and we had to move it to another building and, in the process, we opened a third house
And then I wanted a girls’ halfway house. So we started working with adolescent girls and we were able to open a girls’ house, and in the process of that I had what was I guess the biggest spiritual experience of my life that I’ve ever had, and that was working with the girls.
We had some problems along the way with that. One was that our counselor was a sex addict himself and had sex with one of our adolescent girls. We ended up with a million dollar lawsuit against us, so that was a very frightening period of time. We happened to have an AA friend who was an attorney. He knew the family of the young lady involved, the father was also an attorney. They talked and agreed to drop the charges if we just paid them back their money they had spent on it. So we gladly did that. That was another one of our big miracles.
The miracles were that my father was sober, my husband was sober, I was sober. The other miracles were opening each of these halfway houses. The people who lived there needed to be sober in order to live there and we had a good program for them.
My daughter came home sober from Nebraska, after about a year in a halfway house there and went to work for us at our office. We did have a passion for the program and for the idea of the halfway houses, but weren’t good managers. So due to financial difficulties, we closed the program in 1999. That was very disheartening and I was very disappointed in myself. I struggled a lot with my feelings of failure and I still have a problem with that. I loved doing what I was doing and I loved having a program that was inspirational to me.
We have continued our recovery, are active in our church, active in the program. I was six, seven months sober and went to a conference that Roy K. had in Simi Valley and there were only 18 of us there. I thought that I was going to go and there was going to be all these women that were in the program and they would tell me all about how to recover. But I was the most sober woman there. And the other person that had more sobriety that was there, other than Roy, was Jesse L.
At that first conference meeting we elected officers and had a business thing, and decided to do this every six months. So we have had in-person conferences once every six months since—until we got into the corona situation.
Corona has really been a problem but now we are doing our programs on Zoom… another one of the miracles in my life. I don’t know what we would do if we weren’t able to communicate like we do today. This is fantastic and I am so grateful for it.
I’ve served in all different service offices they have for all the length of time they would allow me to serve. Mostly what I do now is I answer the phone and do some sponsoring and I have some great sponsees that make me work my program better.
These years have been so much fun and have helped me to grow and continue to grow and I am so grateful for Sexaholics Anonymous. I would need a few hours to show you all the different miracles and things that have happened with us.
At this point in time, my husband Gene and I are living in an independent senior citizen’s community and since corona, we have three meals delivered to our door every day. It’s a beautiful place to be. We have a lake outside of the windows and I have my dog here. And so it’s a nice place and everybody here is nice. Thank you very much for reading and I hope that you keep coming back because it works, if you work it.
Sylvia J., Oklahoma, USA, sober since 1983