7. Testimonials

Quotes from members –

7.1 Sexual Intimacy with Self

“The Twelve Steps of SAA lead to a spiritual awakening. If we remain abstinent and practice the principles of the program in our lives, we may find our attitudes towards our sexuality and our ways of experiencing sex changing as well. For some, this happens quickly; for others, slowly or not at all. In SAA, we do not measure the success of our program by the frequency of our positive and healthy sexual experiences. While exploring healthy sexuality is a part of life in recovery for many of us, it is not the primary purpose or goal of SAA. Our program offers freedom from addictive sexual behavior. Where we focus our energy in our new way of life is a choice that is left up to each member.” (Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 71)

As a sex addict, for 20 years, compulsive sexual behavior with pornography or sexual fantasy or imagery was a daily ritual [which took a lot of time]. [Through] the program, the steps, therapy, and a relationship with a Higher Power, I eventually gained abstinence from compulsive masturbation, but I wanted, for me, a healthy relationship with sexual self-gratification. [Someone suggested] self-gratification using only the senses and awareness of one’s body for stimulation. I thought, “For a sex addict like me, this is impossible!”

A little over my first year of abstinence, I decided to try it. When my mind wandered, I kindly, gently placed my attention back on my body. Afterwards, I felt an enormous amount of joy, passion, and peace. There was zero shame, and no need to “cover my tracks.” For the first time in my life, I felt like a whole person after sex! Knowing I can do it gives me so much hope for continued abstinence and sobriety!

–           Man, U.S. West Coast

7.2     Benefits in Many Aspects of my Life

I have found tremendous healing from intimacy avoidance through working the Twelve Steps of SAA with a sponsor and becoming fully engaged in the program. I have seen improvement in my ability to feel my emotions, understand my needs, and ask for and receive help in getting those needs met. Today, I can speak my truth with assertiveness (instead of aggression) and set boundaries for what I will and won’t tolerate in the behavior of people close to me. I can connect more deeply with the Higher Power of my experience, and I trust that I’ll be guided, empowered, and given what I need. I can be genuine and transparent with people that feel emotionally safe to me and allow them to better see and know me. I can be present during sexual experiences and enjoy connecting with my partner, myself, and my Higher Power while expressing myself sexually

I have found the following quotes to be true in my life:

“The steps are the spiritual solution to our addiction — leading not only to a life of abstinence from our addictive sexual behaviors, but to a fulfilling life of service to our brothers and sisters in recovery and beyond. The spiritual awakening described in Step Twelve puts us on the path of service and connects us with our Higher Power, our fellow addicts, and our world in ways we had never dreamed possible.” (Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 100)

“We may discover that healthier sexuality begins long before any actual sexual acts, with a change in our emotional presence and connection with others. When we allow ourselves to be intimate with our own emotions, we become aware of how we are really feeling, without judging or censoring ourselves for it. We gradually learn to be honest about our feelings with others, while being open to their feelings as well. In the process, we learn to express our affection rather than seek power and control. To be intimate is to let go of control and begin to have trust—trust in another person, trust in ourselves, and faith in a Higher Power.” (Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 72)

–         Woman, U.S. Midwest

7.3 Intimacy is hard work, but it’s easier than acting out

Keeping free of my inner circle behaviors has been “easy” because there is something I have found that I want more; the ability to communicate emotions, thoughts, and feelings with the one person who accepts me unconditionally: my wife. I can remember days where I could not physically move my mouth when I wanted to share feelings or daily events with her. Not being able to even open my mouth in those situations left me embarrassed, full of shame, and unfulfilled. At times I remember feeling disembodied as my mind watched my voice fail to function, I could not connect my thoughts to my mouth.

By working on identifying emotions and practicing sharing them in the safe space of Step Study meetings and SAA intimacy avoidance-focused meetings, I have begun to build my confidence in communicating with intimacy. It can be hard, but I now share with my wife emotions I feel, affirmations for her, and ownership of my past. I can see in her face and her eyes the pain we both feel melting away when I do this. The look of love I see in her, and my ability to be connected with her, is infinitely more rewarding and addictive than acting out ever was. I recognize that building intimacy skills has only happened through recognizing myself as an “intimacy avoidant,” attending meetings to share and offer service, and working hard with a therapist. I have seen real rewards of being intimate, one of which is that it is an easier life than acting out. I feel I am on the right path as long as I can do the hard work, and if I keep coming back.

–           Man, U.S. West Coast

7.4 Healing and fulfillment

SAA is helping me overcome the sexual trauma I experienced as a child. Intimacy avoidance work has given me understanding about both sides of my sex addiction: acting out and sexual anorexia. My sexuality is now more integrated into my whole self, and my partner and I invite our Higher Power to help us express ourselves sexually with love and mutual respect. I feel more fulfilled in my life!

–           Woman, Mid-eastern United States