Member Shares – Dee’s Story
I attended my first SAA meeting in June 1989. I had attended other 12-step meetings prior to that for my other issues, so I was familiar with the routine. Even so, I felt scared and ashamed about going. I’d heard the meetings were attended mostly by men, and I was afraid of how they’d react to me and how I’d react to them.
I had been going to a therapist and attending 12-step meetings regarding my sexual abuse. The deeper I went, the more I found myself being sexual with men. Surprising to me, I also found myself attracted to women. My therapist suggested SAA.
The shame in me said that the people in the SAA meeting would think I was a “slut puppy”. The sexually abused part of me felt angry and afraid. I was afraid of what I’d do when I heard a man talk about sexually abusing a child. The mental picture that was in my head was that I’d leap across the table, knock him down, and pound his head against the floor.
I trusted my therapist and went to my first meeting. As anticipated, it was mostly men with two women. I noticed some of the men stiffen in their chairs as I walked into the room. When it was my turn to share, I pounded my fist on the table as I exclaimed, “I am angry about being a sex addict. I do not want this to be part of me!” I was thinking about sex all the time and having sexual dreams as well. I felt invaded by my addiction.
After the meeting, I acted out with a man from another 12-step program. I’d left my children with a friend and told her I’d pick them up that evening. At 6:00am the next morning, she called my partner’s house to find out when I’d be by to pick up the kids. It was a Wednesday and she had to be at work. So did I. I’d been up all night acting out and was exhausted. I felt ashamed about leaving my children all night. I picked up my children, took them to school, and dragged myself into work. Needless to say, I was not productive.
I was having difficulty being without a significant other and feeling extremely lonely. I’d recently separated from my husband of 9 years and had never been unattached since I was 15. I didn’t break up with one partner until I had another one waiting. My grieving of that lost marriage was brutal. I had thrown all of myself into that relationship. When I say all of myself, I mean everything to the point of not having anything left of myself. So, when I was alone, the emptiness I felt was like a black hole inside of me. My urge to act out with someone became desperate. I would have sex with someone just so I could get some attention, some affection because I believed that sex was the only way I could get attention from them and that was all they were interested in. I did not trust men.
I kept attending meetings, working the steps, and seeing my therapist. While at a later meeting, one of the men shared about how he’d sexually abused a child. My body tensed up immediately. I was actually sitting directly across from him as I listened to him express his sadness, shame, and remorse about what he’d done. Much to my surprise, I did not feel angry or violent. Instead, I felt compassion and curiosity. The compassion was from my understanding of the pain associated with acting out and my curiosity was about wondering why a man would molest a child. I wanted to understand why I was molested by my stepfather, foster brother, and an old man whose name I’ll never know. I gave this man a big heartfelt hug after the meeting and thanked him for sharing. Although his story was painful to hear, it was also healing for me. He thanked me for my hug saying that he was afraid of how I might react.
Over the years, I’ve attended SAA meetings, workshops, and retreats, worked the steps, and sponsored others in the program. I’ve been amazed at how the promises have come true for me. The biggest one being “intuitively knowing how to handle things that used to baffle me”. My desire to cultivate honesty, openness, and willingness to change propelled me into a happier, more trusting place. I still have times when I might let my eyes linger too long on a man or fantasize about someone. Those times are significantly fewer, and I now have a kinder view of men and sincerely appreciate how they’re “wired”. I also feel more love for myself. I am more assertive and take responsibility for my wants, needs, and actions.
New Orleans, LA