It was 1993 and I was barely three years sober when I flew with my sponsor to my first big convention in Nashville, TN. I can remember how excited I was to meet all those wonderful long-time-sober members whose voices and stories I knew from the tapes! It was like being in heaven, I thought, to be all together in this beautiful hotel with these people who, for me, were icons of sobriety.
The Friday night sobriety countdown was a big event. I was thrilled to get my three-year coin from the hand of Sylvia J., and watched with awe as she and other members received coins for nine and ten years.
And then Sylvia called out—“Eleven years?” But no one came forward. “Twelve years? Thirteen years? Fourteen?” There was silence in the hall, but we breathed with a growing excitement. “Fifteen years? Sixteen years?” The suspense was almost palpable.
“Seventeen years?” And suddenly a lean, lithe figure bounded up the steps to the podium. Roy K. had been pointed out to me at lunch; I recognized the hawk-like head with its shock of salt-and-pepper hair, and as he turned to face the applause I saw the easy grin that seemed to be compounded of equal parts deep kindness, wry amusement, and a sort of pained surprise.
Seventeen years! It seemed a fabulous number to me then, a sum past reckoning, certainly unattainable by ordinary mortals. And yet there he was, living proof: never mind the musty past, here stood a miracle! And we applauded with all our hearts the man who had brought us all together, by persevering through a terrible sickness into miraculous recovery.
Now, 16 years later, as I celebrate 20 years of sobriety, I have come to know more of what that moment—that celebration of sobriety—really meant. I have seen beautiful vistas and walked the rocky road in my own journey. I can understand better what it must have cost in human terms: the desperation of trying to create a program for sex addiction when it had never existed before, the pain of flying blind without an SA sponsor or an SA group. I have read the excerpts from Roy’s journal, as printed in “Beginnings.”1In January 1979, after three years of sobriety: “There’s a fire in my bones. A slow-burning fire that was ignited the day I walked into the program…. I long to ‘tell my story’….” (6). Then two months later, when another effort collapses: “Fifth meeting. No one shows. Despair hits again” (8). And then in 1981, when there are still no meetings: “Had a great burden sweep over me for sexaholics” (9). And I am in awe of the perseverance and courage it took to fulfill that burden. I am in awe of the power of Providence that worked through this flawed human being, sending him that burning fire, so that I might find sobriety in SA. To quote Roy, “I can’t conceive of such a provision for me, but I accept it” (SA, 121). And I thank God that when I was ready to stop, there was a home group and a sponsor—and a White Book!—ready for me. That I had only to stoop down and pick up the kit of spiritual tools laid at my feet.
Thank you, Roy. You worked out this impossible program through the crucible of your own experiences and recovery, and in doing so, introduced us to “the God of the Impossible” (Recovery Continues, 121). You opened the door to a new era of hope for the sexaholic, and showed us a pathway beside which is an inscription which reads: “This is the way to a life of sobriety.” In following this path, I discovered that God was doing for me what I could never do for myself. As the agent of a loving God, you have my deepest gratitude.
—Mike F., Rochester, NY, Delegate, NE Region
1 Beginnings… Notes on the Origin and Early Growth of SA. Copyright © 1985, 2003, SA Literature. All Rights reserved.