We have closed groups on Facbeook for men and women. The following was shared by James in the men’s group. He gave permission for us to share it here. Keep in mind that while James is addressing just men here, SA is also for women.
I first heard about SA (Sexaholics Anonymous) when I was 25. A priest told me about it in confession after I had done something particularly shameful and scandalous.
I didn’t understand what he was trying to offer me (a way out!). I remember thinking “ain’t no way in hell i’m going to meet with those weird sickos.”
In time, however, I became ready for the answer to my problem. I had gone to a healing retreat and received prayer for liberation from lust. I thought I had gotten free (certainly God did bring me some healing and freedom through that experience) but when I got home I crashed and burned with P&M (porn and masturbation).
I was devastated because prior to this I had maybe a few clean months, so to speak, probably the longest stretch in my life. I confided in a trusted friend who showed me unconditional love. She said, “there is a fellowship you can go to to get help and there is no shame in getting help.” And that was it. I started going to SA and they were great. They never shamed me.
What is SA?
SA (sexaholics anonymous) is essentially the 12 steps the AA guys figured out freed them from alcohol, applied to the problem of lust, which manifests in different ways for different people. My thing was P&M, but it was not limited to that. That was simply my “favorite,” if you will. For some it’s affairs, anonymous encounters, strip clubs, whatever. But all who go to SA go to receive healing, recovery, and freedom from lust. To work on the inner person (the heart).
What astounded me was that (a) these were normal men, good solid guys who happen to have an addiction to lust, and (b) they made it clear “we won’t just teach you how to be free of lust. We will teach you how to be free of lust and how to live happily.
The literature says “it’s a program of comfort.” We do not white knuckle. We surrender and let God do for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves. I love that they show me how to live because I never learned how to deal with myself, life, others, etc. I was always angry and frustrated and at the whim of my emotional life.
The longer I do the program the more I learn about these things, how to relate to others and myself, things like how to forgive and ask forgiveness, how to surrender my life and receive peace on an emotional level, things like that. And I’m not an isolated case. This same stuff happens for man after man, time after time, when they are willing to do the steps. SA also gave me relationships with God and others. Before I was completely cut off. Now I pray and talk to several people in the program each day, and my relationships with others in my life (family and friends) are for the most part better than ever.
The SA program does give the person instructions (sponsor & group will be indispensable here) on who to share with about recovery, when, and how much. Therapists will help with that, too, of course. SA had given me things like that—boundaries—which I never had before. I also fought recovery for a long time. I couldn’t decide which life I wanted—the path that leads to life or the path that leads to destruction—but SA was there through it all. They’re weren’t going anywhere. And when I was ready, they were too.
SA has also improved my relationship with God in ways I never dreamed, and made me a more faithful Catholic. I almost laughed in shock at my first meeting when they started talking about God. I thought I knew God. They said that a man should surrender his will and life to the God of his understanding. As far as I know this is rooted in early AA because the first recovering alcoholics (who were Protestants) met with a Jewish alcoholic. They said “Find God.” And he said “I don’t think it will help me because I’m a Jew” and they responded “find the God of your understanding.” And he got free from alcoholism.
What’s funny is that I have wonderful relationships with men in the program who are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Mormon. And it’s wonderful to address these men as brother and to know in my heart that it’s true. It’s really wonderful. My life is so good right now (God is literally showering my life with blessings as a result of my taking the steps) I only wish I had done this years ago.
I literally threw my twenties down the drain and about half of my thirties. I had no idea what was available to me. No idea that there was a way out, no idea life could be so good. But the thing that matters is that I am here now. The past is the past. I don’t live there anymore like I used to.
I would say to another man who is thinking about SA, “if you want a way out, this is the way (the steps).” And, “if you want to live a happy and blessed life of peace and joy, this path will help you tremendously in realizing that reality.” It is not easy. But it is worth it. And it’s step by step, a little at a time. And we don’t do any of it alone. Always with God and others.
The therapy and the healing retreats/spiritual direction are a big part of the three pronged fork (therapy, SA, spiritual direction), but without SA it just doesn’t work. Not for me. I need all three. I also think it’s so hard for people to come to SA because there’s so much cultural shame around sex addiction. But I think that is because our culture is sexually addicted, and doesn’t know how to get healing! I think in about twenty years the SA program is going to explode, because the way of lust is not sustainable for a culture.
Obviously lust families, and by extension, society. And I think the younger generation will want something better for their lives, and they will say “just show me the way out and I will do it.”
This my hope, and I don’t think it’s too fantastical. I think they will come in droves, especially if those of us in SA are faithful to this way of life. And to someone who is on the fence I would say “come see. You are welcome. You will receive no judgement or shame. If you don’t like it you don’t have to do it. But now you know there is a way out, and we will be here, when you need us, should you desire it.”