SAA uses the 3 circles as a recovery tool to help members move toward a healthy sexuality. I did my 3 circles toward the end of my treatment, just before family week. I got piece of butcher paper and listed all the things I needed to abstain from and drew a small circle around them. That took about a minute. It was a little harder to list slippery behaviors in the middle circle. I got some suggestions from my peers and finished in about 10 minutes.
The outer circle is where healthy things like exercise, meditation, and meetings go. My therapist said I needed to list more than these three things, but my peers were absolutely no help here. Someone mentioned calling a sponsor, so I added that, but my therapist still wasn’t satisfied. After wracking my brains for over an hour, I couldn’t come up with anything else and my frustration level was through the roof.
Treatment is a humbling experience. I hate not having the right answer and I thought this was a really easy question! Not! It was embarrassing to have to ask for help and then to make matters worse, she wouldn’t tell me what to write! I acted like an ass and eventually she became exasperated with me, at which point I started crying, my least favorite form of emotional display. Although I understood that I needed to do the work to gain the insight, I really was at a complete loss about what to write. She gave me a cd on healthy sexuality, which listed some broad categories along with some specific examples for each category. It was just what I needed to get started.
Even with the cd it took me almost a week to complete my outer circle. I don’t think that’s unusual. We addicts don’t have a clue how to nurture ourselves without resorting to our drug of choice. Come to think of it, normal people aren’t great at this either.
So for the next few posts I’m going to focus on the outer circle. I’ll share my thinking about each category and the activities I’ve come up with that support my recovery. I’ll also upload a worksheet to my box.net account that you can use if you want.
If you’re willing, post a comment and share what’s in your outer circle. It might strike a chord with someone else and make a difference in their lives.
One final thought: when I’m not doing well, all of this outer circle stuff feels like self indulgence. Don’t fall into that trap. I believe I’m being rigorously honest when I look inward and “remember” that I’m a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve anything nice. In that illusion of honesty I’m inclined to punish myself, all the while rationalizing that I’m taking myself in hand and getting serious about recovery. My thinking can get screwy enough that acting out eventually becomes just another form of self-flagellation. No pun intended.
Here are the 12 categories I use in my outer circle:
- Self Image
- Self Definition
- Non-genital Sex
- Genital Sex