Meetings…Why do I need to go ?

Meetings. Meetings. Meetings That’s all I hear about. Meetings, meetings, meetings. In the beginning of my recovery I was a scared rabbit just to attend. Who were these people. They’ve got to be psychos, why else would they be here??? Well, I know right off the bat I’m not like them. I just like sex. So what, I can’t enjoy masturbating in public if I feel like it. I don’t understand what the hoopla is all about. I’m in a booth all alone. No one will recognize me. Just because I have a specialty license plate doesn’t mean people pay attention to the cars in the parking lots. Boy was I delusional. So there I was at my first meeting. Listening like I was told to by my therapist. As I sat there, I felt uncomfortable being there, then the people started to share. At first, I was comparing myself to them as they spoke and I found that I related to what was being shared. I started listening with both ears and I heard bits and pieces of my life being shared right in front of me. I started to feel less of an outsider and more and more like I had found a home. How could that be…I thought I was terminally unique. I genuinely felt better after being at that first meeting.

Afterwards, the members introduced themselves to me and suggested that if I was serious about wanting recovery and changing my life, then I better commit to coming to at least a meeting a week. Then someone chimed in and suggested that I go to as many meetings as I could, 90 meetings in 90 days. I swallowed hard when that was said and asked what was the big deal about meetings. One old timer shared that if you attend one meeting a week all you’ll do is survive. If I went to two meetings a week then I would grow and if I attended three or more meetings a week then I would thrive. I chose the thrive concept and never looked back. I was looking at my life at that point and all I had was chaos and pain, however, if I wanted to have the happiness and joy that I saw in those people then I needed to make some drastic changes.

Meetings are the energy I need each week to recharge my life batteries. I’ve learned so much about myself, my disease, about people and relationships that I never knew existed while I was in my addiction. I learned to trust others, find joy in others and how to relate to others who suffered from the same disease as I had. These are people I’ve come to love, appreciate, support and just have fun with. The meetings became my focal point for healthy living. I learned to really listen to others and pull out the needed energy to recharge my batteries and leave the rest that I didn’t need. I learned how not to be judgemental and to relate to the topics at hand that we would discuss. Basically I learned how to live a joyful, wondrous, amazing life, all from going to meetings.

To date, I don’t know how many I’ve attended, but I can say, “I’ve never left a meeting feeling worse than when I arrived.” I encourage all my fellows to attend as many meetings as is necessary to keep a healthy, functional recovery intact and then attend one more for good measure. Be brave, be strong and keep coming back.

10 thoughts on “Meetings…Why do I need to go ?

  1. This is my 6th day of sobriety and I attended 3 meetings so far this week. There is a direct correlation between attending meetings and staying sober for me. A lot of times I don’t want to attend a meeting and somehow drag, my body, but every time I do that, I learn something profound and new.
    Meetings are where the connection is, where reality is. This is the essence of 12 step programs as I see and more like a step 0. It brings me out of my isolation and helps me connect with real people and my higher power. Mine is a disease of isolation and loves the dark recesses of isolation and secrets. But when I expose my disease by getting out of my isolation and sharing and listening to shares at the meetings, I expose it to light. My addiction hates light.
    But attending meetings along with doing the step work is what really works for me.

  2. I came to my first meeting and listened to mini first steps. Towards the end, the moderator asked me if I wanted to share but that I didn’t have to if I didn’t want to. I was scared. I opened my mouth and my years of pain, guilt and shame came spewing forth. I cried. My voice trembling, I managed to give my first share and began my journey of recovery. Then I heard the promises and keep coming back, it works IF you work it.
    After, members came over and told me that everything was going to be ok, that they understood what I was going through. Some gave me their phone numbers and insisted I call them if I felt I needed to talk. I went home that night and decided not to take my life as I had planned.
    The members of SAA offered me a life line and gave me hope. I know today it was my Higher Power working through others, that’s what the meetings are for me, a place of hope.

  3. Five years and 2 attempts at recovery later my addiction was taking me to new acting out behaviors I had never imagined or contemplated, much less actually followed through with. And, to make matters even worse, accompanying these new acting out behaviors was a new level of loneliness, despair and isolation.
    The isolation, in particular, was especially debilitating. Disconnected from God, life and other people and fractured emotionally within myself, I shrank inward with ever increasing momentum. I spent hours alone in my condo looking at porn and acting out, I watched television late into the night, I ate nutritionless foods until I could literally eat no more, and I found myself breaking into spontaneous fits of uncontrolable weeping that caused my whole body to shake.
    Up to this point in my history of sexual addiction I had “thought” of suicide, but I had never really considered it an option. In the depth of my new found isolation where, search though I may, I could not find any light or hope, the idea of suicide actually offered relief. When one of the only ways I could feel any comfort whatsoever was pondering suicide, I knew I was not far from the point of no return…of giving myself over completely to the addiction and disappearing into the shadows, never to be heard from again.
    It was at this point that a thought somehow broke through the despair and isolation…”there’s a sexual addiction recovery meeting going on somewhere close by to where I am right now where men and women like me are making life long friends and are not suffering from the isolation that is crushing my life-spirit.” Suddenly, I began remembering the comaraderie and sense of belonging with other sex addicts I had felt during the hundreds of meetings I had attended over the past 5 years. As I began to remember so many of the wonderful experiences and expressions of love and acceptance I had experienced at those meetings a little ray of light poked through the darkness of my isolation, and with it a small ray of hope as well. When I finally hit a terrible, terrifying bottom in my addiction, I knew of only one place to turn – meetings. That was 52 days ago.
    Last night I attended my usual friday night SAA meeting. As I looked around the room at the 6 other attendees, all of whom I didn’t know existed 52 days ago, I realized I knew everyone of their names. Not only that, but I also knew their most difficult struggles, their deepest shame, and their greatest weaknesses… and I loved and accepted everyone of them. Why, because they knew my story, my deepest shame, my most difficult struggles, and my greatest weaknesses…and I knew they returned my love and acceptance in kind. We all knew (and know) that we carried the same burden, that we had the same “thing”, that we’re in this together. We all knew that “together we can do what none of us can do alone.” As the meeting ended each of us took the time to find every other attendee and hug them while speaking words of love and encouragement before we each left to go on our way.
    Why “meetings, meetings, meetings”? Because the moment I walked across the threshold into a meeting the debilitating power of sexaholic isolation was broken; because sexual addiction is “cunning, baffling and powerful…WITHOUT HELP it is too much for us. But there is One who as all power…”. And, it is in the love, acceptance and support of my brothers and sisters in the meeting rooms of sexual addiction recovery that I connect with and experience the love, acceptance, support and POWER of the One who can and will relieve us of our sexaholism.

  4. I come to meetings because if I don’t I feel the life running out of me like sand out of a bag with a hole in it. I came to meetings because that’s where I find hope. I come to learn from the experience strength and hope of others, and I come because as I have been coming (and my sobriety is growing) I have been getting happier even in the midst of my long time relationship coming to an end.
    I will know I have crossed a major landmark if I am able to cry. I taught myself to not cry, as a child. It was (at times) the only thing about myself that I had any control over. The rest of me had been take away. Now, I am slowly regaining myself, and I have meetings (which support my sobriety) to thank for that. Thank God!

  5. I had just spent three days telling my wife everything. She was angry and distraught. I was a wreck, feeling emotions I did not know how to name. Somehow I had the sense to reach out for help. Later, in recovery, I came to believe this good sense came from a place with which I was not familiar, my Higher Power. I told my wife that I thought I might be a sex addict. The questionnaire on the SAA website was objectively blunt about this. This website also listed a SAA meeting in the area, and I told her I was going to see what it was all about.

    The next evening, I drove up to the church classroom building looking for the room but did not see any room numbers. I small group of men were standing outside one entrance. I was determined to at least check it out. I parked my car and anxiously walked a half block to where the men were standing. One man noticed me and said welcome. I asked if this was the “SAA” meeting, purposefully not saying the words “Sex Addicts Anonymous”, hoping to avoid any looks of disdain in case I was wrong. Mark said “you’re at the right place”. Mark’s pleasant smile and confidence that I was in the “right place” was both reassuring and disconcerting. I had found the meeting location, but the weight of his voice seemed to indicate he knew something I did not know. Did I look that lost and in need of help?

    I went in and sat down scanning the group for a friendly face, hopefully no familiar faces, curious and feeling a jangle of emotions, fear being one I could name for sure. I felt more comfortable as the meeting started with the number of readings. I tried to concentrate, after all I was here to learn if this was the place where I could find an answer to what I was going through. It was a lot to absorb at the time.

    Everyone introduced themselves by first name only. As a newcomer I did not have to follow my name with the label Sex Addict. Since I was still in self evaluation mode I said, “My name is Tom, and I think I might be a sex addict”. After the introductions the facilitator stated that the focus of the meeting would be on sharing “Mini First Steps”, since there was a newcomer present. My first instinct was to deflect the attention off of me somehow. I was still uncertain about my status and whether this was the “right place” for me. Someone spoke up before I could come up with a clever diversion. The next thirty minutes or so, I listened to group members speak about what happened, how they came to SAA, and where they are now. I began to feel undeservedly grateful as I heard stories of pain and despair, shame and guilt, relapse and recovery told with unabashed openness, honesty, humility, and most surpisingly humor. My indecision melted away. I came to understand this was where I belonged. I was in the “right place”.

    When I was given the opportunity to speak, I could only say thank you to everyone who generously shared their experience to let me know that I was not alone. Just to seal the deal, someone read “The Promises”. I was already amazed and I kept coming back. After more than three years in recovery I am still amazed and feel blessed to share with incredible men and women in each and every meeting.

  6. Meetings…. I would have to say when I walked into another fellowship at the age of 20 (a million years ago) I was kinda scared but I did not ever open up and needless to say did not stay there for long. In 2006 my world was falling apart but I was too dilusional to even see it. I was sitting in my addictions specialist’s office and she said, I can no longer help you, you need to go to SAA, go online and find a meeting and go if you want me to keep your next appointment. Well, hmmm, damn, what do I do now? I made a phone call, my very first contact with SAA was, gruff but I have since learned the idea of “principles before personalities”, but I was desperate so I went to a small church in my area that was the location for three meetings a week.

    I wasn’t terrified for my first meeting, I was NUMB completely numb. A few meetings later it was clear I would be one of very very few women to come to the SAA rooms in my area. But at that point God had introduced me to exactly who I needed to meet, those two brothers are still very important parts of my recovery and have had beautiful success in their own programs. What I found at the meetings was a way to slowly, sometimes gently, thaw out my soul so I could be able to start to recover.

    Meetings, thawed me out, meetings warmed me up when the “chills” of withdrawl were completely overwhelming. Meetings fed me the tools of recovery to gain strength to fight addiction. Meetings offered me an invitation to rediscover my Higher Power. But the most important thing meetings have done for me is bring me in contact with men and women that KNOW exactly what I am going through even when I am sobbing so hard I can not speak.

    The men and women of SAA that I have come across have been so gentle with me, and have insisted that I be gentle with myself. I later learned this is probably the most important aspect of recovery. Show others what you see in them that they do not see in themselves. These other addicts saw me as a woman, a friend, a mother, a daughter a whole person… and that in turn allowed me for the first time in my life not to view men as objects and to start to learn appropriate boundaries.

    Why meetings…..because the alternative is no longer acceptable.

  7. Meetings have always been part of my recovery. Without them, I definitely wouldn’t stay sober. I hear my higher power in meetings. It’s also practicing the first step every time i walk through the door and raise my hand. The power of the fellowship, and the light it shines on my sex addiction are so important. Even if i don’t hear something new or powerfull I always feel good leaving. I just wish they were closer! Since moving to Lake Worth it’s a hike to get to the meetings in Ft Lauderdale but I am fortunate that I have found great meetings here. If i didn’t have these meetings I wouldn’t even hesitate to drive, I did a lot of driving for my addiciton, that’s for sure.

  8. Meetings… Let’s see! It’s been about 10 months since I have regularly been attending meetings and it’s an essential and necessary practice for someone to deal with the reality of addiction. At first I was skeptical as to how many times I needed to attend, furthermore how many times a week I needed to attend. But truthfully, you just have to be fully engaged in the fellowship and go to as many meetings as you can. I have come into the reality that my recovery has to be priority. It doesn’t always mean I hit my target, but understanding that this is “not about perfection but progress”, I grow in wisdom and in my program with each meeting I attend.

  9. It’s funny I should be here tonight. I was just talking to my sponser earlier today about regularly attending meetings and how i have slcked on my meetings.
    Meetings to me are an intergral part of my recovery. They keep me in the now. I always always learn something in a meeting whether I share or not. Meetings are a comfort zone. It’s like that tomato soup, next to a fire, on a cold winter day (comfort food)(Meetings=Comfort Place).
    I don’t attend meeting as regularly as I used to. I have replaced them with a lot of much much needed family time.
    I will be there soon, I will keep coming back…

  10. I have been trying to do 90 meetings in 90 days as suggested by my sponsor, and it has been difficult at times. The meetings are at least 35 minutes away and often feel too tired or guilty about leaving my family. However, I have been going at least 3-4 times a week, along with therapy and this website have helped me come close to the 90 meetings. I knew from my first meeting that there was a benefit of unloading my shame, as well as realizing i was not alone in my struggles. They have continued to be of immense benefit, as i have gotten more confident in sharing and able to really learn from my fellow saa members. Everyone is from different places but the similarities in our experiences are undeniable. I am looking forward to going to the meeting tomorrow night.

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