Sexually Sober since 1999 Thanks to the Program of Sexaholics Anonymous
Recently another sober Sexaholics Anonymous member mentioned the phrase “jails, institutions, and death” in an SA meeting, and that got me to thinking about the consequences of my own disease. The phrase actually comes from another Twelve Step program aimed at drug addiction--but doesn’t it apply to us sexaholics, also? My experience says “yes, eventually.”
In my sexual acting out:
I could have been in jail. There were things I did in my acting out that, while completely consensual, would have been viewed as skirting the edges of legality by other people. Whether or not I would have been convicted, I certainly could have been arrested and taken to jail.
I could have been in a mental institution. My personal forms of acting out revolving around sexual domination and submission are listed in the DSM IV as a mental disease. Had I been stopped by some overzealous (in my opinion at the time!) police officer, I could have easily been arrested. And of course, I have known many SA members who gave themselves over to various 30-day or longer programs to get cleansed and sexually sober, and I know others who were required to go to such programs.
I could have been dead. One of the key fears that brought me to Sexaholics Anonymous was that I realized that my acting out was so dangerous that I could have died in some sordid “oops” accident. At times, I trusted my life to the care of another person who (A) was also acting out, and (B) I didn’t know very well.
Of course, none of this was obvious to me at the time I was acting out sexually. My diseased thinking excused everything I did, feeding on my selfish desires to make everything all okay in my mind. Perhaps the worst thing about my disease of sexaholism was that these consequences were rarely obvious to me. For the most part, the real consequences of my disease were spiritual death, isolation from other people, inappropriate behaviors, lost time that could have been productive, physical debilities, constant fear of exposure, lost finances, and not living to the best I could be. These consequences were bad enough. They ate my insides into raw edges. But they were rarely sufficient for me to seek to help. I wanted to be different, but I was unwilling to do the work necessary to become different.
And yet, as bad as these real consequences were, the extreme consequences were also always there. In all honesty, I was only 11 years old when I first acted out with myself. That seemed innocent at the time, but I have realized through Sexaholics Anonymous recovery (40 years later) that my actions could have resulted in bleeding to death. Throughout all the years of “mild” inappropriate sexual behaviors, there was always a real risk of jails, institutions, or death.
But today I am grateful to have been sexually sober--one day at a time since 1999--and all of this is because of the fellowship of Sexaholics Anonymous, and working the SA Program.