When my husband expressed an interest in coming to a meeting, my home group discussed it and agreed to hold an open meeting so my husband could participate. Can you believe that? I still find it hard to believe and it’s my home group!
We announced it well in advance so people could choose another meeting time if they wanted, but most didn’t. That may not seem like a big deal, but I can tell you that knowing a “normal” person is coming to sit in on a meeting is some scary shit!
I can also tell you that knowing your wife is meeting with a group of admitted sex addicts two hours away from home is also some scary shit!
Other than bragging about my home group, I really do have a purpose here. To admit you have a problem with sex is difficult, but actually making a phone call to find a meeting and then walking through the door into a meeting; only the very desperate take that step. You’re worried about what to say. Should you use your real name, what if everyone there is weird, what if you’re too gross for the group, what if … what if there’s somebody there who recognizes you?
There are exactly … zero of the different 12-step recovery groups (I wrote about them here) in my area, which is a real pain because it means traveling at least two hours to get to a meeting. But I was okay with that because at least I could be sure I wouldn’t see someone I knew.
Two years later, another newcomer wasn’t so lucky. He made the same two hour trip with pretty much the same fears and shame, but to his dismay, he did see someone he knew: me. The poor guy nearly fainted. After he caught his breath and sat down, the meeting started. I didn’t have time to say anything other than, “Welcome.”
In my home group, we go around the table and share the acting out behaviors that brought us to recovery, along with our sobriety date. After I gave my intro, clearly the newcomer felt much more comfortable. By the end of the meeting, he was doing okay. We discussed how we’d behave the next time we saw each other socially and everything was okay.
So if you’re scared about attending a meeting, here’s the thing. People in recovery from sex addiction take their anonymity seriously. Although that man attended meetings for awhile, and then stopped. I have never compromised his anonymity. And although he has decided to take a different path, he has not compromised mine.