Women in Mixed Meetings

I’m a sexaholic, sober since 05/26/14, currently working Steps one through Three, and trying to let go of the fact that I will never do Step Four perfectly.

Early in my recovery, I was apprehensive regarding what I would do when a woman walked into a face-to-face meeting for the first time.  I was blessed that my Higher Power was in control during that first incident. I cannot fully describe the humility and gratitude that I now experience when one or more women attend a meeting.  

In our town some meetings are more "solid" than others. Groups that have members with good, long-term sobriety will recognize that recovery is not based on external events or “triggers” (sometimes I think that word is over-used).  Positive sobriety is an internal state of serenity between me and my Higher Power.  Members who have good recovery will recognize  that sobriety is not about the length of a lady’s' skirt, for example, but rather how long I look at it.  I need to recognize what it is within me that tempts me to steal a glance from others

I'm sorry that some women in our fellowship have encountered a misguided "men only" prejudice.  While I  understand that sometimes dress can be a safety issue, more often often, I believe, it is about about weak sobriety on the part of a member who is struggling. While we want to make the meetings a safe place for others, the addiction is not about the other person; the problem is in me.  I am not alone in my addiction as a female or male.   

As we read in the White Book (on pages 178-179 entitled “Mixed Meetings” :

“...What better place to to work on temptation than the sanctuary of a meeting where temptations may be present.” (178)

and….

“....After any initial discomfort from  mixed meetings, members come to see their benefit. Most people come into SA to STOP lusting and become sexually sober.  When we are united by this common commitment to sobriety and recovery, any uneasiness that may rise can be worked out. Such a process seems to be a necessary part of our recovery, freedom, and growth.” (179)

I would like to take this opportunity to confess one of my own misguided prejudices: homosexuality.  I was closed-minded at first and for that I am truly sorry.  I grieve for the friendships that I missed out on for decades now that I have several great and wonderful homosexual friends (male and female), both in recovery and outside recovery.  So with this in mind, how does the "male only" rule work?  My first sponsor was a gay male.  I have one amazing male recovery buddy who gives me such a wonderful hug that I almost cry because it exudes his love and compassion for me.  That is the fellowship and support I never had, and   I thank my Higher Power  everyday for this fellowship and its safety.  Practically every face-to-face meeting I attend has at least one male member who struggles with same-sex attraction.  So maybe he would feel "safer" in a "female only" meeting?  Ridiculous thinking, in my opinion!

I have two suggestions for women who are looking for a meeting:

1) The women might ask to be directed to the Intergroup rep for each meeting or attend the area Intergroup meeting where representatives of all the different local meetings meet and discuss common issues regularly--usually once a month or quarter.  Ask that meetings be mindful of female addicts.  Also, the Intergroup could offer the phone number or email address of a sober woman, as a point of contact for other females who inquire.  And then--when one member calls another member, they they would have enough people for a meeting!

2) Seek other “S” fellowships in your area. For example, SLAA in our area has a much bigger female population than SA or SAA.  We have some women from other fellowships who attend SA when they are trying to do 30 in 30, struggling with an issue, or just need a meeting, but they consider themselves SLAA members first.  (Begging forgiveness in advance that I have violated the rule of mentioning other fellowships or treatments!)

But that brings me to a principle that I continuously struggle to uphold:.  Am I willing to go to any lengths for my sobriety?  If the answer is yes, then I need to be able to sit through an uncomfortable meeting, I need to read literature daily. I need to find and get right with a God of my own understanding (not someone else's). Sometimes I need to miss out on something fun that I would like to do, because I haven't been to a meeting all week. Sometimes I need to take a phone call from a needy member, and sometimes I have to recognize that I'm the needy one and that I need to make the call.  I need to constantly seek the truth as revealed in the Twelve Steps and in conscious contact with my Higher Power,  and then not be ashamed to share that experience, strength, and hope with others.

Keep coming back!