MEETING INFORMATION FOR NEWCOMERS
Our meetings all begin with a reading of the SLAA Preamble and a slightly revised version of vital language from Chapter 5 from the "Big Book" of Alcoholics Anonymous. Typically our meetings are closed - that is, open only to those who identify themselves as sex and love addicts and newcomers who are trying to determine whether they are sex and love addicts. Our speaker meetings, however, have typically been open to all who wish to attend. Meetings have different formats:
General - Step or Topic Discussion: The meeting chairperson either suggests a discussion topic or Step or asks if anyone in the group has a topic or step they wish to discuss. Everyone who wishes shares his or her experience, strength and hope about the selected subject with other group members.
Birthday Meeting: In these meetings, members of SLAA are recognized for time away from their bottom line behavior. The members are given the opportunity to share his or her experience, strength and hope with other group members. These meetings occur once a month.
One Step - Speaker Meeting: In these meetings, a sober member of SLAA spends one or more meetings explaining from his or her own experiences how the SLAA Program works. The meeting is open to anyone interested in finding out about recovery from sex and love addiction or SLAA.
Fears and discomforts at meetings:
In our experience, it is not uncommon for newcomers to SLAA to experience fear and discomfort at meetings. This is a natural occurrence in recovery from this addiction. Recovery from sex addiction or love addiction involves doing work at the deepest psychological levels where irrational fears and unresolved childhood pain reside. For many of us, facing fears and walking through them are the great healing experiences of recovery. Women beginning their SLAA recovery, for example, often have fears at being in meetings that are mostly male. Almost without exception, they report that in the long run being in meetings with men has given them the ability to see men as human beings and to overcome their fear. Similarly, many gay members of SLAA have found acceptance in the group and have overcome their fears of heterosexuals, and vice versa.
In recovery, we do not wish to let our fears rule our behavior. If we show courage and don't run away from what scares us, we will reap great rewards. We always remember, too, that our feelings are our own responsibility, and we need to take care of them ourselves. By the same token, however, we wish our meetings to be run with courtesy and mutual respect. For that reason, it is not necessary to remain silent if the words or actions of other SLAA members in or out of meetings have been discourteous, disrespectful or personally insulting. We most strongly recommend talking directly to the person whom you feel has offended you. Confrontation is simply letting another person know how his or her actions or words have affected us.
The most effective form of confrontation is in the "I felt... when you..." format. It goes like this: If someone has shared about his anger towards women and you felt it was directed towards you and scared you, you might say to him: "I felt very scared and wanted to leave the room when you expressed your anger towards women." Don't elaborate; don't say more than this. Do not expect his behavior to change; we are powerless over the actions of others. The confrontation is not to blame or control him, but simply makes him aware of the effect his speech has had. Most of us addicts have spent years in denial and delusion: being made aware of the consequences of our speech or behavior is a great gift. For this reason, the appropriate response to a confrontation is simply to say "thank you". A confrontation is not an invitation to an argument, but simply an opportunity for one person to share his or her reality with another. It is an invitation to intimacy. For newcomers it is perhaps best to invite a senior member of the group to accompany you if you intend a confrontation with another member. This will help provide a safe environment for both parties.
Sometimes you may feel, especially as a newcomer, too scared or uncertain to speak directly to the person you feel has offended you. In such a case, speak to your sponsor or one of the group's trusted servants and explain your problem. Be open to feedback, and consider leaving it to their mature judgment to decide what, if anything, should be done.