Same-sex Lust Recovery in Sexaholics Anonymous (SA)

SA members share their experience, strength and hope

SA Members share their experience, strength and hope

This page contains transcripts of SA members sharing at recorded SA meetings.

More SA stories of recovery from same-sex lust:

Member 1

I’m very grateful to have found this program. I acted out anonymously with men for about 25 years. I tried various ways of stopping. I tried having relationships with other men and that didn’t work. I crossed the gender line and had relationships with women and that didn’t work either. I basically resigned myself to what I was doing,

I’m very grateful I found SA. I’m very grateful I have a sponsor who is showing me how to work the steps. And I’ve worked the steps very imperfectly but I worked them however best I could do them. One of the first things I found in getting sober is that I was actually lusting. I was so busy acting out I didn’t realize I was actually lusting.

And I found in the first 30, 60 days I was looking all over the place and a realization came to me that when I was looking at another man and I was lusting that I was actually mentally raping that person. I remember a time I was looking at a person in the supermarket. I didn’t realize I was looking at him that way till he offered to feed me a knuckle sandwich. At that point I realized I was looking at him inappropriately.

What I was told to do was pray for that other person. I tried to do it and I felt very insincere. It felt very fake. So I memorized a little prayer. I asked God to fill that person with peace and harmony. I do that that without looking at the person. I figure that is probably a good thing to do. Since that time it’s become sort of a natural thing. It’s an unnatural natural thing for me to do. That’s been a big part of my recovery.

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Member 2

About 20 years ago I came in contact with gay liberation and gay pride from people who were really trying to help me because I was humiliated by my problem. That was a long time before I found SA. While I appreciated the emotional support that gave, in some ways it led me further away from recovery.

One of the things that God has given me since I came into this program is the realization that the language of homosexuality as a natural variant and a personal right was not a good thing for me. For myself God gave me enough of an insight into my own background into the emotional and physical abuse I received from my mother and the terror I had for her which extended to all women, that my homosexuality cannot possibly be based on something healthy or normal or desirable. Therefore I cannot affirm as a favorable or positive aspect of myself. Therefore I have been able finally to concede that my orientation was part of my addiction. But that was a long and difficult process and I sympathize with others who may not be there, or who experience their homosexuality differently.

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Member 3

I walked into an 8 year relationship with another woman. I loved it because I am a sexaholic. I hated it because it destroyed my relationship with my Higher Power, I couldn’t stop because I’m a sexaholic.

I’m so very grateful to have found this program of recovery. There are other S addiction groups. This is the one I need. I need one that has bottom line sobriety definition that is clear. I need one that the people in my fellowship will support me in also choosing that bottom line sobriety definition.

I hated reading the words in our book that are in the program that sex is optional. But sex is truly optional! Recovery without sex is a God given gift. My relationship with my Higher Power as a result of this program, as a result of working the steps, as a result of a close relationship with a sponsor, has been given back to me in a way that I never could have imagined. I still have a lot of work to do in terms of trusting, women in particular, because of my experiences with women and acting out with women.

I do want to share from my weakness an experience I had walking into this conference. As soon as I walked into the hotel I was greeted with a barrage of triggers in the form of other women. I don’t know what conference they were attending, I don’t know why they were (at this hotel) but the dress of women in the lobby really bothered me. So immediately, as I had been taught, I turned it over: “I’m powerless over lust. I believe in a Higher Power, I can turn my life and will over to that Higher Power.” And then there was one woman in particular that walked by and I chose to take a second look. And that is the image that has been stamped into my mind. I don’t have any of the other images, I turned them over immediately. But the one that I took a second look at, that image is still there. I have also chosen with that one to turn it over. I am powerless over that image. And if that image chooses to replay itself I’ll have to do the same thing. Turn it over. I am powerless over this. It makes me insane I believe in a Higher Power and that Higher Power can relieve me from my insanity.

I would plead with (the fellowship) to continue to uphold the sobriety definition to help me maintain a good safe place to recover. As someone who struggles with same-sex lust this fellowship has been that place for me.

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Member 4

I came into the program in 1988 thinking I had a sexual addiction problem but that was as far as I was willing to go, whilst at the same time I was in a gay rights organization and a homosexually oriented church. Everybody kept saying keep coming back and I kept coming back with a vengeance. And I was coming back at everyone and at the program. Because we had the truth out there and this program just didn’t seem to get it! So I’ll get sober here and I’m going to teach you guys what I learnt at all these other places. The truth is out there!

By continuing go to come back I was humbled. I was humbled to the point that I realized I knew so little. It’s right in our introductory statement, “we realized we knew only a little”. I never knew how little I knew! And by virtue of realizing increasingly on a daily basis that I knew even less than I did the day before, I kind of got quiet. I realized I just need to come in here, be quiet, and work the steps and more shall be revealed. Lo and behold, more has been revealed.

The only thing in common with those days and my life today is this program. Everything else has been shed. I found truth in the fact that I need to maintain a relationship with a Higher Power that works everything else out for me. I need to put everything else in the table including my sexuality, my issues of sexual orientation. Every element of my life was on the table and I was reduced to one walking surrender. I knew that God would put back into my life those things that God wanted in my life. I knew I had to become an empty vessel. Because the emptiness of my previous life told me that. There is a lot of wisdom gained from continuing to come back and not putting myself into a category or corner. But to take my rightful place among a bunch of sexaholics and I’m just one of them and leave it there

This meeting (for same sex attracted members) is always very special in conferences. People in this room have a different kind of burden that they carry. We know that we sometimes feel uniquely misunderstood amongst people who feel in general misunderstood. We are misunderstood by the people who are misunderstood! And that feeds our feeling of special-ness but the truth is we are made like everyone else.

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Member 5

Rather than identify myself as gay or homosexual I like the term same-sex attraction because there is a difference between attraction and acting out. In the White Book it says: “to my utter amazement I learned that my problem wasn’t sexual or lust; at its core it was spiritual”. That just blew me away. I’d been in religion over the years. So that gave me a clue that I had a problem that was an attitude towards God. I wanted him to surrender for me. He won’t do that for me. I have free will and I have choices. I’m responsible. What I like about SA program is it gives me a tool kit, a bag of spiritual tools that I can use.

I have a very active imagination. I don’t need the internet or a book. In a nano-second it’s going on in here. So I have to learn what to do. Surrender, pray for that person, maybe reach out and talk to that person. Pray that he be protected from my lust or his own lust. And pray for myself at the same time, call someone, go to a meeting, read from the White Book. I have a whole bunch of tools if I use them. I do have choices. Lust isn’t the only hit a person can get into –I like gambling and cookies. Ultimately self-centeredness is my problem. The “12 and 12” says that self centered fear is the chief activator of all my character defects. So I am learning that I want to become less of a selfaholic and more of a Godaholic.

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Member 6

I’ve never acted out with a man in my adult life but I have lusted. I could have gone down that road but I was too scared. I had abuse issues with my mother growing up. She would say things that would really hurt me emotionally – like I would never grow up to be a man – big boys don’t cry. And she was physically violent when she was drinking. I got to a point where I decided to hate her. And along with that went all women in my life. And my dad couldn’t be there enough for me. He was a workaholic, I believe a sex addict. He was not there for me emotionally. I remember looking out the window of my house for a man to fix me, because women were too dangerous. And that’s not the way it is today.

I’ve been in the program for 10 years. I’ve had my slips. But I never went back to day one. I firmly believe that. I tried to learn from them. I surrendered a little bit at a time. I couldn’t do it all at once. There was just too much pain to cover up

Meetings have been key to me – sharing honestly at meetings. The more honest I get, the better I get. The easier it is to let go. Friends in the program – crucial! I had a couple of good sponsors. One of them helped me get out of denial about what my addiction was. I act out abusively with myself. Another was there to help me work the steps. I wouldn’t say he was the perfect person to work the step with. I guess there is no perfect way to do this thing. But I worked the steps and got more junk out. I did a recent step 5 with another sponsor at a retreat weekend. I was able to get out a lot of my anger towards my Mom.

I was at the airport and I was struggling with same-sex lust. Another member was at the airport also. He said let me pray with you. I said I’m struggling with that guy over there. After praying he said “I would encourage you to go up to that person and talk with him, see how he is doing.” That is what I have done and that has been very powerful – making real connections with guys that I have difficulty with.

Today I do lust over women I don’t hate them. I’m attracted to them. Men are still there and it’s not as fierce an attraction. That’s my story. I don’t know where it’s ending up. That’s where I am today.

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Member 7

My family upbringing played a lot with my addiction and how I acted out. Simply to say that my family is riddled with addictions. I grew up with a feeling of not being good, not being good looking. When I was a kid my older siblings nicknamed me the ugly baby. Most of them stopped by the time I had become a teenager. One brother still has not stopped it. Incidentally I was sexually abused by this same brother when I was a teenager.

All the while there was something that my wife describes as the God Shaped void: that emptiness inside you that you try to fill with everything, with all your addictions. But only God can fill it. I tried to fill it with everything.

Early on it was masturbation and pornography. I was more interested in letters than pictures. I have a very vivid imagination I can easily fill in the pictures if you just give me the words. In college my same-sex lust took the form of emotional dependency relationships with male friends. There was one very intense one during my second year of college. When I wasn’t meeting this person for lunch every other day during summer, all of a sudden my same-sex lust came on like a freight train. The attraction went BOOM – a lot more pronounced. And then when this person graduated before I did I wound up in same-sex acting out in peep shows, in movie houses.

The heavy part of my acting out has been fantasy, the dependency relationships. I’m very heavily into euphoric recall. I always wanted to be lusted after. I guess that has to do with trying to cope with “please tell me I’m not an ugly baby”. Also I tend to overidentify with other people’s pain. That is a major hook that gets me into the fantasy and the dependency relationships.

In the end I had to realize that the goal of my recovery was to fill the void with God. I had to stop trying to medicate and cover up all my anxieties, my rages and my resentments.

I had to be working my program. If I am not working my program, if I am not working the steps, if I am coasting along or sliding I begin to suffer and the lust objects just become so much more prominent. I’ve had to set boundaries on myself. Certain books I know I just cannot pick up. I keep away from them. The exercise magazines I basically have to leave alone. When doing work on the internet I do it in public where everybody can see what is on my screen

Something else I also realized I was addicted to the fountain of youth. I was always a big one into those coming of age movies. Once more it was identifying with the pain. Those were the boundaries I had to set. Also I had to take custody of my eyes. A split second look can have me hooked.

I have to practice surrender several time a day, whether it is a lust object that has come to mind or one of my attitudes. If I am getting my anxiety, my rage, my resentment coming up – I basically make it practice to surrender them to God. There is a favorite quote that my wife has: It’s not so much that prayer changes things but that prayer changes me and then I can change things.

During my last relapse I hadn’t gone acting out with other men but I was heading down that road. Somehow God broke through and 2 years ago He helped me find this current sobriety. And for that I am eternally grateful.

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Member 8

My same-sex attractions could be summarized as taking from others to fill up what is lacking in myself. It’s almost like there is this huge one way arrow from them to me. And praying for people seems to reverse that arrow. It takes a lot of effort.

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Member 9

I come from one of those other S programs. I was in another S program for about 10 years. I had a slip about 5 years ago and have been slipping and sliding ever since then and about 2 years ago I found SA and I found it very helpful to have a bottom line. In that other program a lot of boundaries crossed because every person had their own bottom line. And I found that disconcerting because I never knew when I was safe. Also there was a lot of subtle proselytizing, even though people did not mean to do that. I would do my share. I’d tell them that I had a celibate program. And they said “um” and they would smile at me like maybe one day you’ll be enlightened and be set free.

This is such a deep conviction of mine that it possible to be free of this and to be happy and joyful and I’ve experienced that even in that other program. So I think having a boundary, having a place where you can come and have some clarity (is) what this program really brings. It’s got a real clear bottom line and a clear definition of sobriety. This program went straight to the root, which is really deeper than sexually acting out. It has to do with our affective life, our emotional life I’m really grateful to this program and to encourage those who are maybe having questions about it, that I have experienced the other program a good ten years, and I find this to be a lot more clear and helpful to sobriety..

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Member 10

I’m really thankful for the SA bottom line – I need that. I don’t have the capacity to have a lifelong commitment to a male. When I was in the gay community I never saw it and that’s what I wanted.

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Member 11

I grew up very fearful of men. I came from an alcoholic home. My father was abusive. One of the things I had a hard time with was fears of all sorts of people and what other people were thinking or maybe thinking of me. What happened was I learnt in recovery and I am still learning. Someone told me that before lust is fear, and fear can lead to lust which can lead to a sexual encounter, which is possession.

That hit home about a few days later. I started thinking about that. I was at work and there was this pretty girl came to work for the first day. I started to lust after her. And I’m not bisexual. Before I started lusting after her I started to get afraid of what other people would think if I didn’t look at her and see her as attractive. I was afraid of them thinking of me as gay. So I possessed her in my mind sexually because I was so afraid of their thoughts. Possession took away the fear of what other people may be thinking.

So shortly after that this guy I was working with I found intimidating – like the bully type guy. I started sexually fantasizing about him, lusting after him. I found that before that there was fear of him What happened was I basically possessed him in my mind sexually so that it appeared he couldn’t hurt me if I owned him in my mind. I covered up what was really going on. So I ran away from reality in my mind.

In program I asked about what to do about the fantasy. Someone mentioned about embracing the fantasy. It sounded really odd to me – foreign. Instead of resisting the fantasy to embrace it? I thought about like giving it a hug or something! Then I thought about acceptance – accept the fantasy is going on. I tried using that: embrace the fantasy, and it worked. It took the fantasy out of my head right away I was in the now. I felt peace. I remember that so clearly when I first started using it. It works every time I work it.

Something I read was that perfect love casts out all fear. Underneath lust it’s all fear. Embracing the fantasy was acceptance which for me was perfect love. It took away the fantasy right away, right when I embraced the fantasy. Right then I was in reality. I was in the now. And I felt good and I felt peaceful inside. It was amazing how it worked.

I still use it today. It’s a day at a time. When I don’t work it, when I don’t think about using it, it don’t (sic) work When I keep coming to program and other tools this program has to offer they work.

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Member 12

One of the things that I am very grateful for because of SA and the steps and the relationship I that I also have received from my Higher Power as a result of surrendering the lust and the sex and all that stuff is that I can have relationships with men and boys, women and girls and with God that admit intimacy.

It’s a healthy feeling for me to be in a room to be able to sit across from someone who would have formerly been a real trigger and to not have to be triggered, and to not have to relate to that person as a face, as physical features but as a another human being.

One of the things that has marked my life has been body envy. I never felt like other guys looked on the outside. That led to years of false perceptions and unfortunately I organized my life around those false perceptions. Today I don’t have to do that.

Today most of the people in the program where I am are guys who have all sorts of sexually acting out as part of their history. But for the most part they are people who are primarily attracted to women. I guess some people in society call them heterosexuals. I’ve never met a heterosexual call themselves heterosexuals. They are just regular people. As we all are too.

It’s been good to learn to relate to men as a man and not begin to immediately think shouldn’t we taking our clothes off. Or shouldn’t I begin to have a fantasy here about some kind of a relationship. I can have a fantasy about having a relationship with another man at a moment’s notice, about anybody!

Because of the tools of this program and because of the practice of working those tools I know I do not have to keep it in my head. I know I do not have to churn it around inside my head. I can give it away to someone. That is a wonderful, wonderful gift of this program.

I struggled through many years of my life about my “orientation”. I never felt comfortable identifying with people who called themselves gay. That didn’t mean I wasn’t hanging out with people who called themselves gay. It doesn’t mean I didn’t entertain that self-identification for many, many years and certainly acted as if I were embracing that.

But I remember as a boy having girlfriends and wanting to do things sexual with them and competing with other boys for their affection. So where am I in all this?

I’m learning in this program is that I can put this issue away. I’m not gay. I’m not straight. I‘m John, Child of God struggling, growing, good human being, who has a history of acting out with males but I also have a history much richer than that. I used to define my history by those activities. I do not do that any longer. And I have to say it is because of this program.

I remember the time sitting in a room with 17 mostly heterosexual sexaholics, giving away my first step, not wanting to disclose to any one in that room all the shameful terrible perverted things that I had ever done. But I did it and the shame went out of all that stuff that night. All they said to me after that was Thanks John!
My fundamental orientation is to the God of my understanding. And that’s enough for me.