4. Assemble Your Intentional Community of Specific Support
In this Practice:
- The problem of isolation
- The two kinds of community you need
- Primary objectives you want in healthy community
- Assignment for Practice Four
Almost all compulsive people are isolated people. It is a huge part of our problem. Many men and women have trouble developing significant friendships—meaning a trustworthy relationship. By trustworthy I mean a non-judging, accepting relationship in which you allow another person to know a lot about how you really think, what you really feel and what you really do with your time.
For whatever reasons, you’ve probably always had, or learned very early, this tendency to hide from others, to protect yourself, to isolate. Then shame you developed because of your compulsive behaviors made your natural tendency to isolate much stronger.
The tendency you have to isolate makes your recovery very, very difficult, even improbable. Therefore, for your recovery to progress in a healthy way, there are two levels of community you need to assemble.
The first level of community you need is a group. Maybe you already have one. But most of us don’t, or if we’re in a group, it’s not the sort of group that talks about compulsive sex so we wouldn’t feel safe. Safety, trust and chemistry are absolutely essential for you to begin breaking down the wall of isolation you have built up. So you need a group, but you need to be careful to find the right group.
I’ve seen guys who are very extroverted, once learning they have this problem feel great relief. Because now they know what their problem is: they’re an addict. It has a name. They’re not alone. It’s not just them. Does that make sense? And then they share this freeing truth—because it is the truth and it is freeing to a degree—with others. But sex is so personal, so intimate—and everyone has a story about sexuality that often entails disappointment or fear—that most people react in negative ways if we’re too open with our struggles. That’s why prudence is so important.
Most of us, however, have already learned we need to be very private. Maybe you’re more like this. So you’re too private, no one really knows what you’re struggling with. You’ll need to work hard at developing intentional community. Remember, it’s a non-negotiable. Whether face-to-face group or an online community, you have to have others in your life who know you and share your desire for living a healthier, more integrated life.
The keys are you need to be in a group with others who are struggling with the same issues you are or at the very least are wholly sympathetic and non-judging of your struggle and are totally supportive of your desire to change your compulsive patterns.
So unless you’re in a life situation where you already are in a group where you absolutely know it’s safe for you to be honest and open about the changes you’re beginning to make in your life, you may need to look for supportive friendships from a different context.
The second level of community you’re trying to build is a particular friendship or two where you are able to share who you truly are, more deeply than in a group setting and more often than once a week. You want to actively cultivate a few relationships—you may need to start with just one as your goal—in which you learn to trust, become more open and vulnerable. Picking the right person is very, very important.
Early on in my recovery I was terribly reluctant to risk sharing my secrets with anyone. The counselor I was seeing patiently worked with me to try and identify one person in my life I could risk trusting. I was slow and thoughtful about it. Finally I picked one guy. He was not an addict, but I thought he understood brokenness and grace. I was right. He not only met me with kindness and understanding, he has actively supported me pursuing my recovery. He is still my very good friend these many years later.
You must choose very carefully whom you try to develop a genuine friendship with. But this is a non-negotiable. No one recovers from this addiction alone. So you have to find someone, or several people, whom you will develop genuine friendships with.
A genuine friendship of support for you will only work if it is safe and if it is mutual. It won’t work if you’re the only one sharing.
The primary objectives in this relationship (really the primary objectives for all healthy community) are transparency and supportive accountability.
You will have to actually look for others who share your life perspective to some degree. Which means you’re looking for other guys who are more or less moving in the same direction, share the same goals, have the same ideas of what it means to be a successful or healthy or a good person.
You also need to have a certain level of personal chemistry. There are people you may share life values with, but you don’t personally click with. Look for someone you think gets you, accepts you as you are and whom you like.
As you begin to participate in the group you’ve chosen—and remember: you cannot do this recovery alone—begin looking for a guy with whom you think you personally click.
Cultivate the kind of relationship in which you talk regularly and honestly about your struggles, your program and your progress. Actively listen to the other person, too. Pray for each other.
Once you’ve found someone who can be this sort of friend to you, keep at it. Tend this relationship like a valuable plant in your favorite garden. Healthy friendships do not develop automatically or easily. Especially for people like us.
One additional aspect of community today. For many of us it is going to be difficult to find a face-to-face community within our physical reach. More and more online support communities are being developed. If for whatever reason you are not able to find a group you can physically attend, utilize the good side of the Internet by looking for an online community.
Assignment for Engaging the Fourth Practice—Assemble Your Community
Remember to work at the pace that is best for you, either one assignment a day or whatever pace fits your schedule and keeps you moving forward.
1. Go to Sexaholics Anonymous’ website at http://www.sa.org; familiarize yourself with the site; then click on the “meeting search” tab and note opportunities for three kinds of meetings offered: face-to-face, email and Phone/voice-over-Internet
2. Go to Sexual Compulsives Anonymous’ website at http://www.sca-recovery.org and familiarize yourself with their site; click on the meetings tab and investigate your opportunities;
3. Go to the Sex and Love Addicts website at http://www.slaafws.org and familiarize yourself with their resources and meetings
4. Go to the Sex Addicts Anonymous website at https://saa-recovery.org and do the same
5. Go to the Sexual Recovery Anonymous website at http://www.sexualrecovery.org and do the same review and investigate possible meetings
6. Samson Society is a fellowship of Christian men who are seeking genuine spirituality and recovery; go to their website at http://www.samsonsociety.com; they are not specific to sexual addiction, but are inclusive; check out all their resources, including their podcast (you can find me on a couple of old ones!) and look for a local meeting in your area
7. Go to the XXXchurch website at http://www.xxxchurch.com; look over their resources and check out X3 groups
8. Go to the Celebrate Recovery website at http://www.celebraterecovery.com; check out their resources and look for CR groups in your area; they are not specific to compulsive sex practices, but larger CR groups will have groups for men with compulsive sex
9. Google sexual addiction recovery groups in your geographical area or online support communities
10. Here is a prayer I recommend you pray daily:
God, you have made us to need each other. Please help me find others with whom I may share my journey. Help me to find a friend. Teach me to be a good friend. Amen.
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