Personal Stories - Joel
My name is Joel and I’m a grateful recovering sex addict. You may be reading this and wondering how anyone can be grateful to be a recovering sex addict, but in reading my story you may understand why and hopefully how.
My sexually addictive behavior is having anonymous sex outside my relationship. I would have sex with men in public places, risking my safety. At first I would only do safe sex practices, but I didn’t know sex addiction was progressive; so eventually I began to perform riskier and riskier sexual behaviors, endangering my life and my partner’s life.
On April 10th, 1996 my addiction did progress. After that episode, I tried to “act out” in my usual manner but the “high” was no longer there: I wanted the newfound high that I experienced back on the 10th of April. My partner even caught me while I was trying to find my new fix.
Before recovery, I tried counseling which helped me to stop only for a little while, but counseling did not keep me from acting out again. I lied to the counselor, I lied to myself, worst of all, I lied to my partner. I would come to work late; I would come back from lunch late; and I would come home late. Everyday chores would cut into my acting out time, so chores would go mostly undone. And when my partner went away on a trip, I would act out while he was away. Similarly, I would act out when I went away on a trip.
I heard about Sex Addicts Anonymous from a counselor that my partner and I were seeing. Though it took me a year to call the local SAA contact line–because I was skeptical–I finally attended my first SAA meeting on May 2, 1996. I tried to stay sober on my own, “working” the Steps without a sponsor, and that didn’t work for me because I was still trying to recover on my own terms. Though my sobriety birthday is June 4th of that same year, I didn’t get a sponsor until two months later.
I worked the Steps with my sponsor. I called him every day. He started me with manageable service work and eventually I started carrying the message of sexual sobriety by sponsoring other sex addicts in SAA.
My partner and I are still together, and he has since joined Co-Sex Addicts Anonymous (COSA) for his own co-dependency. I’m planning to go back to community college this fall. I have friends that respect me and my relationship; I even have gay male friends that I feel safe being around. I do a lot of meaningful service work in SAA that has enriched my life and my sobriety.
I came into SAA wanting to stop acting out. Looking back, had I stopped at that goal, I would have sold myself short. It has been, and continues to be, a lot of hard work. As I’ve heard in meetings, “This program is not for people who need it, it’s for people who want it. Furthermore, it’s not for people who want it, it’s for people who work it.” Sobriety is possible, and it’s possible for you.