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Tightrope walker

“Sometimes our walk with God can feel like the daring feat of a tightrope walker.” Read more

“The leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he must be. He must walk a tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert.”~ Vince Lombardi

“Life is like walking a tightrope: A balance between turning inward often enough to find your happy core and focusing outward often enough to care a little more. Leaning too much inward may make you aloof and narcissistic. Leaning too much outward may make you bitter and pessimistic. Keeping balance fuels life with hope.” ~ Joan F. Marques

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Different meeting formats

In case you are not familiar, the SA White Book describes a variety of different formats of Sexaholics Anonymous on pages 185-189  (Read more).  For example, Step Study meetings are a popular choice because the entire program is anchored in the 12 Steps (Read more).

Moreover, the Noon SA Phone meeting was established on 7/13/09 by a guy who believed that in order to stay sober, REQUIRED a lunch SA meeting every day.  Since then, there has been enormous growth and maturity developing a “home group” that continues to flourish (Read more).  We even setup a Blog specifically for the purpose of honoring our Traditions (Read more – password: noon).  In particular, unlike just about every SA teleconference on our schedule we do NOT have a queue of callers.  Instead, we are a “volunteer sharing” style which helps accommodate the growing number of callers.

Meetings – How They Work
“As I come into the fellowship, I’m confronted with my disease.  First, in my initial contacts with other members; then in meeting after meeting.  But there are parts of the disease still hidden in that deep hole inside me, sides of me I never want you to see, and eventually they start festering.  So, one by one, I’m forced to get rid of them.  The problem is, how do I keep my disease from always running into a dark corner?”
That’s how one member put it in trying to describe something of what happens in meetings.  The problem is our blind sides; we all have them.  So, the question for us is, How do we work our personal programs and conduct our meetings and fellowship so as to “walk in the light”? Here’s what has been working for us:
1.  By getting sober and staying sober and holding to the concept of sexual sobriety in our SA meetings.  Without sobriety we have nothing to offer anyone.  SA offers sexual sobriety, progressive victory over lust, and recovery.  When this is our aim, meetings can become a sanctuary of serenity and light.
2.  By not imposing uniformity.  We don’t prescribe doing the Steps by formula or in exactly the same way some other member does them.  We do the Steps in our own way and time; we “Live and Let Live.” But working the Steps does work for us.
3.  By telling the side of our stories we really don’t want to tell.  This is different than a mere “sexalog,” relating our sexual experiences.  It is rigorous self-searching and self-revealing honesty about every aspect of our lives.  We arc fitting the pieces of our lives together differently every time we tell our stories or share.
4.  By telling exactly where we are today(where we’re failing today, as well as where we’re succeeding.  “I’m as sick as my secrets,” the saying goes.  So we reveal our secrets; we bring the inside out.  Self-honesty, in humility, yet so powerful.  We lead with our weaknesses.
5.  By continually working the principles of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in our lives first, and in our fellowship.
6.  By helping others through identification.  When we want to communicate to another member, we speak in terms of “I,” not “we” or “you.” We don’t tell them what’s wrong with them or give advice; we relate what happened to us.  When we thus identify with another, it may not only help that person, but often reveals something about ourselves we’ve missed before.  We don’t tell; we share.
“I can tell you what’s wrong with you without identifying, but this keeps me from looking at myself and can be destructive to you.  But when I bring it up by identifying through my own experience, it means I’m bringing myself out into the light.”
7.  By taking responsibility for our own recovery.  There’s a difference between taking responsibility for our recovery and being in charge of it.  When we take responsibility, we’ve stopped saying “Fix me” and are willing to take the actions necessary to get well.  We’re
willing to take direction and work the Steps.  This same attitude is what leads us to tie in to another sober member as helper or sponsor(one who can help us learn how to work the Steps in our daily lives.  When we remain “in charge,” however, we’re shutting ourselves off from the light and help of other recovering members.
8.  By leading with our weakness.  There is an attractive healing atmosphere in meetings when someone is transparent, naive, “innocent,” and self-revealing at depth.  He or she may even be a newcomer, which is often the case and why we need them to help keep us honest.  Vulnerable, and like a child, we take the supreme risk of exposing the truth about ourselves, dark as it may be.  We lead with our weakness because that’s where we’re hurting, and this becomes the point of our identification with each other, the point of true union.  Once this single ray of light shines in a meeting, it finds ready reception and response in the others present.  Honesty is catching; we’re learning to walk in the light.
9.  By commitment to the group.  SA members commit themselves to SA meetings.  We attend every meeting we can.  On time.  Meetings, on time.  Why this emphasis?
When the meeting is handled in a haphazard manner, there’s a feeling of What’s the use? There’s the feeling of being let down, that the secretary, leader, or other members don’t care and are not really a part of.  And if there’s no feeling of mutual caring, then / can’t be a part of.  How can I become a part of something that’s always shifting around? A feeling of separation and isolation comes into play(deadly for us.
Meetings starting on time and a general orderliness are one of the legacies we’ve gotten from the best of other Twelve Step programs.  Instead of “doing our own thing,” which characterizes our self-obsession, we commit ourselves to every meeting and to being on time.  No matter what(spouses, jobs, money(we put the group first because we put our own sobriety first.
Commitment to sobriety is commitment to the fellowship of sobriety.

Meeting Guidelines
We can benefit from the unwritten guidelines that have contributed so profoundly to the success of other Twelve Step program meetings and have proven as valuable in our own.
1.  Leaders of meetings are servants of that meeting.  They don’t “carry” the meeting; they merely facilitate it.  A common mistake of those who have no prior Twelve Step meeting experience is to feel they must comment on everything that is said or “help out” in some way by giving “the answer.” The effective leader surrenders this impulse and lets the meeting work itself.
2.  The leader of the meeting does not have to acknowledge a raised hand; he or she can call on someone else.  They can interrupt the one talking, if it is called for.  This is in line with our common tradition.  At the same time, a good meeting is one where the leader’s presence is inconspicuous and non-controlling.
3.  Most groups stick with a certain basic set of readings that are read at every meeting, adding to this to suit the particular meeting.  A list of suggested readings from which to draw is included in the Suggested Meeting Format.  We use authorized SA and AA literature only, both for use during meetings and for distribution on the literature table.
4.  Participation guidelines:
– There is no cross talk.  We don’t interrupt others.  However, the leader has the right to remind the person sharing of guidelines, time consumed, etc.
– We don’t give advice.  We talk in the “I,” not the “we” or the “you,” speaking from our own experience.  If we want to respond to what someone has said, we do so only in terms of our own experience.  “I can only speak for myself, but whenever I did such and such, this is what happened in my life .  .  .”
– We don’t get carried away analyzing what caused our behavior or attitudes.  If we were victimized
in early life, we slowly learn to face and work through it in acknowledgment, acceptance, and forgiveness.  We talk as those who are now responsible for our attitudes and actions and are willing to take responsibility for our lives and recovery.
– In sharing, rather than displaying our knowledge or insights, we lead with our weakness and give of ourselves.
– We avoid politics, religious dogma, and other divisive issues.  We also avoid explicit sexual descriptions and sexually abusive language.
– We avoid dumping, self-pity, and blaming others.
– We don’t take the “inventories” of others; that is, we uncover and work on our own defects, not those of others.  We refer to our own experiences.
– We do speak honestly of where we really are today.  We try to develop transparent honesty of complete self-disclosure, letting the other members know where we are currently, regardless of length of sobriety.
– We do lead with our weakness and take the risk of total self-disclosure.
– By attending on time and sharing regularly, we give of ourselves to others in the group.  We get back recovery.
(See the material under the heading “I Am a Sexaholic” under Step One, in this book, and read the article “Meeting Quality and Use of Non-SA Literature,” in Discovering the Principles.)

 

Invest in Extra Security

We use “Security by Obscurity”

Our ecommerce solution is via PayPal which is arguably one of the top 3rd party shopping cart vehicles for making credit card transactions.  In fact, if you want to make a donation to www.sa.org, they too use the same company.

Nevertheless, for an additional cost, we can purchase services that bring extra security to our site. There are several services available that look for changes and known vulnerabilities in our site on a regular basis.

There is a solution that identifies malware links and security gaps on our website that could let a hacker steal information, vandalize our site or infect our members.

Purchasing an SSL certificate lets us log in and use our “Members Only” page over https. This protects your password and admin session from eavesdroppers on our network.

This is just one example of how your 7th Tradition is so valuable.  We want to continue to provide the VERY BEST online experience for Sex Addicts.  Obviously, there is an enormous amount of shame that comes with the territory.  Many of us are stuck in denial and are hiding our disease from others.  We are essentially wearing a mask pretending to live two separate lives.  When in fact, we are killing ourselves.

Break out of this “ball and chain”.  The more you give, the more you will get back.  Visit Paypal to make a donation today.

passthehat

Sex Addiction and Withdrawal

If you have withdrawal symptoms, it’s likely you have an addiction. However, some guys have addictions without much in the way of withdrawal symptoms. This is why addiction specialists don’t list withdrawal symptoms in their addiction tests.

Common withdrawal symptoms include
• Anxiety
• Restlessness
• Irritability
• Insomnia
• Fatigue
• Headaches
• Poor concentration
• Depression
• Social isolation
• Loss of libido (Can take days to manifest, and last a long time)
Internet addiction research now reports that Internet addicts can suffer a form of cold turkey when they stop using the web – just like people coming off drugs.  Read more


I can’t believe it’s taken me 19 years to figure this out.  It just goes to show how insidious sex addiction is.  I’ve spent literally 100+ hours working on protecting myself from this JUNK.  Read more  However, I’m still exploring solutions for smart phones for FREE.  It seems like most of the companies target the Browser – Safe Internet Filter with Customizable Parental Controls.

I came into the “S” fellowship around 1994-95 as the result of speaking to a therapist regarding my compulsive masturbation.  It began with SLAA and I went to meetings fairly regularly for about 6 years.  During that time I would toggle back-n-forth with SA.  My sponsor told me the difference between SLAA and SA was much like AA and NA.  In other words, SA covers everything and is much more rigorous.

Today I attend SAA and believe it is arguably equally as strong as SA treating the disease of sex addiction.  The main difference between SA and SAA is that SA clearly defines sobriety = “no sex with self” aka masturbation.  However, I’ve met many people in SA that would not be sober according to some of the SAA sobriety definitions I’ve heard people share.  This may be shocking, but it’s true.  Plus, Patrick Karnes is one of the pioneers for Sex Addicts Anonymous and since many of the founding fathers are still alive, it has gained a lot of traction particularly in the Midwest where it is was founded.

Nevertheless, Withdrawal is my #1 challenge as I string sober hours together.  Eventually this leads to days, weeks and months.  I will always have and continue to struggle with many “character defects”, including Anger, Resentments, Self-Pity, etc.  However, I have a SOLUTION and I’m very grateful!!!


Here’s what Roy says about “Withdrawal”…

The term withdrawal is applied to the symptoms the addict may experience when deprived of the drug or activity. Such symptoms can be physical, emotional, or both. This gives rise to the deception and demand that we’ve got to have sex. But this is no different from the drug addict feeling he’ll die without his fix. It is simply not true; not feeding the hunger doesn’t kill us.

Some of us look back on our transition to sobriety as a time when we were in a state of shock, in which our whole system had to slowly recover from the trauma of a lifetime of self-inflicted injury.                 Sobriety involves a new and unfamiliar way of life, like driving in a foreign country without knowing the language or customs. Only this is a whole new inner terrain. Without the drug, we begin to feel what’s really going on inside. It takes time to adjust to all this, and the support of others in the fellowship is vital. Journeying this new road together helps take the fear out of withdrawal. We see that others who have gone before us have discovered that sex is truly optional, once they surrendered Inst and the expectation of sex. And their comfort and joy are genuine; they are neither abnormal nor deprived. Married members discover they can go into periods of voluntary abstinence to recover from lust and find them surprisingly effective and rewarding experiences. Yes, there is life after lust! And life after sex!

We see that the practice of our addiction includes the whole range from sporadic or periodic to continuous acting out, sometimes all within the same individual. But regardless of our particular pattern, it involves the addictive elements of tolerance, abstinence, and withdrawal, though we probably are not aware of them at the time. And if we switch addictions — not uncommon for those trying to quit one – the addictive process is the same.

Three additional aspects of our addiction we should look at are toxicity, adverse physical and emotional effects, and trigger mechanisms.  (SA WB pg. 31)

Step Studies

When we come into the rooms of recovery we quickly learn about the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.

We hear there are “suggestions”, but it turns out they are really “Musts”.  In fact, there are over 103 in the AA Big Book. Read more

What about the Bleeding Deacon and Elder Statesman?  I know personally, that I am very guilty of being a “control freak” and behave like a baby if I do not get my way.

Bleeding Deacon – In the context of a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, a bleeding deacon is someone in the group who is overly preachy and considers themselves to be the lone voice of reason and source of wisdom. In the eyes of the bleeding deacon, the group would fall apart without them.

Elder Statesman – an old, experienced, and eminent person, a politician, whose advice is often sought

12&12  Tradition Two, p.135  Read more


Besides the 12&12, Roy K. describes his interpretation of the 12 Steps in the SA White Book.

The 12:00 pm SAPhoneMeeting hosts a regular Step Study meeting every Tuesday afternoon.  There are also other Step meetings throughout the week (e.g. Wednesday, 7:00 AM ET) that read from “Step into Action”

7:00 AM
Wed
712-432-0600
61-2034
Script

 

Lastly, the SA SanDiego group also has an online series of readings available => Click here


On Tue 12/9 we will be reading from the White Book, Step 12 pg. 145 “accentuate positive”

Am I a peacemaker?

Tradition One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.

1. Am I in my group a healing, mending, integrating person, or am I divisive? What about gossip and taking other members’ inventories?

2. Am I a peacemaker? Or do I, with pious preludes such as “just for the sake of discussion,” plunge into argument?

3. Am I gentle with those who rub me the wrong way, or am I abrasive?

Read More

Life on Life’s Terms

Today is going to be a productive day.  I woke up early and went into work to finish preparing for class. I started a new job recently as a teacher and it is a lot of work preparing lesson plans and mastering the subject matter.

Meanwhile, I came home yesterday and was taken off my game by my Mother-n-law.  She can be very judgmental and cynical at times and made me feel low.  I too can judge others and I’m convinced this is a normal human reaction.  However, I also believe “hurt people, hurt people”.  What I say to another person can be damaging.

3 Now aif we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.

4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.

“So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it a boasts of great things. And a the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of a deadly poison.” James 3

God, thank you for helping me stay clean, sober and free of lust as best as possible all of these days in a row (40).  Please help me not take a drink, drug or masturbate, just for today.

Synchronicity

Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence. The concept of synchronicity was first described by Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s.
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Today is off to a good start.  I woke up and headed to the “Wake Up AA Group”.  There is an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Severna Park, MD not far from my house that meets daily @ 6:00 AM.

On the way home, I checked-in to Sexaholics Anonymous on the 7:30 AM DSR teleconference meeting. Notice the coincidence?

If that’s not clear, I’ll share another story.  Yesterday, my 10 year old daughter was walking around the house singing “Leaving on a Jet Plane“.  I quickly pulled up my favorite songs from www.grooveshark.com and played John Denver’s hit song.  Then found a nice YouTube video of him singing with Cass Elliot (click here).

I explained to my daughter that John Denver practically wrote how he would die in this song, because of a plane wreck he piloted.  In her innocence, she asked, “what happened to Cass?”.

Here’s another example, Dr. Carl Jung wrote a Letter To Bill Wilson in 1961.  He said, “I had no news from Roland H. anymore and often wondered what has been his fate”.  As most of you know, Bill W. is the founder of AA and Roland was a close friend of Bill who was very influential in the pioneering days.  Read more

BTW, today Monday, May 26, 2014 is Memorial Day.  There were a Grand Total 2,717,991 deaths from 1775–present.  Read more

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD)

The other day I was having coffee at Starbucks with a pigeon of mine (AA sponsee) and he told me that he had Hepatitis C.  Immediately, I thought about my experience with STDs.  It turned out that he contracted the disease due to drinking not sex.  He was a chronic Alcoholic that has been coming to AA much longer than I (since 80’s).

I felt so sad for him and so grateful for myself.  There but for the grace of God go I.  In fact, moments before he disclosed this to me, we were hanging out in the parking lot after the Captains Table meeting.  He said, “things had gotten so bad that he was sleeping in his car”.  So, I suggested meeting around the corner at Starbucks and bought him a cup of coffee.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD), also referred to as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and venereal diseases (VD), are illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission between humans by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex. Some STIs can also be contracted by using IV drug needles after their use by an infected person, as well as through any incident involving the contact of a wound with contaminated blood or through childbirth or breastfeeding.

When I lived at the beach in Ocean City, MD I contracted crabs from a woman who was dirty, yet my disease of sex addiction was so strong I did not care.  I later found out from my father that you could eliminate those little critters crawling around using Bengay cream.  Oooch.  It hurt, but it cleared it right up.  Thanks Dad.

Sexually transmitted infections have been well known for hundreds of years, and venereology is the branch of medicine that studies these diseases. While in the past, these illnesses have mostly been referred to as STDs or VD, in recent years the term sexually transmitted infections (STIs) has been preferred, as it has a broader range of meaning; a person may be infected, and may potentially infect others, without having a disease.

Towards the end of my alcoholic history, I remember going to the clinic to get a blood test about every couple weeks.  I also remember the doctor telling me, “you just had the test done less than 3 months ago and there is no point getting tested again”.  In other words, I was so petrified that I caught HIV, that I wanted to make sure.  Fortunately, I always tested “Negative”.  Thank God.

There are 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year in the United States, and, in 2005, the World Health Organization estimated that 448 million people aged 15–49 were being infected a year with curable STIs (such as syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia).  Read more

Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict

In the third edition of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (since 1976), Paul O. writes the following:

“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God.

For years I was sure the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic. Today I find it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don’t know what’s good for me. And if I don’t know what’s good for me, then I don’t know what’s good or bad for you or for anyone. So I’m better off if I don’t give advice, don’t figure I know what’s best, and just accept life on life’s terms, as it is today – especially my own life, as it actually is. Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.

Acceptance has been the answer to my marital problems. It’s as though A.A. had given me a new pair of glasses. Max and I have been married now for thirty-five years. Prior to our marriage, when she was a shy, scrawny adolescent, I was able to see things in her that others couldn’t necessarily see – things like beauty, charm, gaiety, a gift for being easy to talk to, a sense of humor, and many other fine qualities. It was as if I had, rather than a Midas touch which turned everything to gold, a magnifying mind that magnified whatever it focused on. Over the years as I thought about Max , her good qualities grew and grew, and we married, and all these qualities became more and more apparent to me, and we were happier and happier.

But then as I drank more and more, the alcohol seemed to affect my vision: Instead of continuing to see what was good about my wife, I began to see her defects. And the more I focused my mind on her defects, the more they grew and multiplied. Every defect I pointed out to her became greater and greater. Each time I told her she was a nothing, she receded a little more into nowhere. The more I drank, the more she wilted.

Then, one day in A.A., I was told that I had the lenses in my glasses backwards; “the courage to change” in the Serenity Prayer meant not that I should change my marriage, but rather that I should change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she was. A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. I can again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch them grow and grow and grow.

I can do the same thing with an A.A. meeting. The more I focus my mind on its defects -late start, long drunkalogs, cigarette smoke – the worse the meeting becomes. But when I try to see what I can add to the meeting, rather than what I can get out of it, and when I focus my mind on what’s good about it, rather than what’s wrong with it, the meeting keeps getting better and better. When I focus on what’s good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases.

Today Max and I try to communicate what we feel rather than what we think. We used to argue about our differing ideas, but we can’t argue about our feelings. I can tell her she ought not to think a certain way, but I certainly can’t take away her right to feel however she does feel. When we deal in feelings, we tend to come to know ourselves and each other much better.

(This famous personal story formerly page 449 in the Big Book moved to PART II – They Stopped in Time, now appearing on page 417. Read more)