This principle is embedded in the traditions of SAA just as it has been an integral part of the success of AA for over 75 years. It means that the meetings are a safe place for individual members to share the exact nature of their condition. As SAA members we are not to discuss what has been said in the meetings. In addition, the last names of our members are never to be given out without the express permission of the individual affected. We are also encouraged to be extremely careful when revealing our identity publicly. We do not want our own shortcomings, weaknesses, and possibly public failures to be associated with the program as a whole. Another form our anonymity takes is in regard to our identity. When in a meeting, we try to be one among many. Our job, our wealth, or our position does not matter when we are among the community of sex addicts (SAA, "Tradition 12", p. 95).
Finally, "It is anonymity, the spirit of selfless service, that reminds us as a fellowship to always base our actions and deliberations on spiritual principles, putting aside any personal considerations in favor of a higher good--carrying the message of recovery to sex addicts" (SAA, "Tradition 12", p. 96).
The 12 Steps
- We admitted we were powerless over addictive sexual behavior - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other sex addicts and to practice these principles in our lives.
These steps are the heart of our program. They contain a depth that we could hardly have guessed when we started. Over time, we establish a relationship with a Power greater than ourselves, each of us coming to an understanding of a Higher Power that is personal for us.
The SAA program offers a spiritual solution to our addiction, without requiring adherence to any specific set of beliefs or practices.
But the steps are more than a series of exercises. They provide basic principles for living. Most of us find opportunities on a daily basis to apply one or more of the steps to some challenge in our life. Over time, the spiritual principles in the steps become integrated into our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. We find that we are not only working the steps — we are living them.
Abstinence, Sobriety, and the Three Circles
Our goal when entering the SAA program is abstinence from one or more specific sexual behaviors. But unlike programs for recovering alcoholics or drug addicts, Sex Addicts Anonymous does not have a universal definition of abstinence.
Most of us have no desire to stop being sexual altogether. It is not sex in and of itself that causes us problems, but the addiction to certain sexual behaviors. In SAA we will be better able to determine what behavior is addictive and what is healthy. However, the fellowship does not dictate to its members what is and isn't addictive sexual behavior. Instead we have found that it is necessary for each member to define his or her own abstinence.
To help us define our sexual sobriety, many of us use a tool developed within SAA called The Three Circles.
We draw three concentric circles, consisting of an inner, middle, and outer circle. With the help of our sponsor or others in recovery, we write down various behaviors in each of the three circles. In the inner circle we put the sexual behaviors we want to abstain from, the ones we consider “acting out.” These are the behaviors that we identify, with our sponsor's guidance, as addictive, harmful, or unacceptable for us. In the middle circle we put behaviors that may lead to acting out, or that we are not sure about. In the outer circle we put healthy behaviors that enhance our life and our recovery.