8. Testimonials

Some of us have experienced the avoidance of sex as addictive, in some cases choosing to identify as “sexual anorexics”…afraid of sex because of its association in our minds with our addiction or with past sexual trauma, or because of a fear of intimacy and vulnerability. Trying to control our sexuality in this way is just another symptom of our disease. The solution lies in turning our will and lives over to the care of our Higher Power.

— Sex Addicts Anonymous, p. 72

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Quotes from members –

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
  • ask for and receive help in getting those needs met
  • speak my truth with assertiveness (instead of aggression)
  • set boundaries for what I will and won’t tolerate in the behavior of people close to me
  • connect more deeply with the Higher Power of my experience, and trust that I’ll be guided, empowered, and given what I need
  • be genuine and transparent with people that feel emotionally safe to me and allow them to better see and know me
  • 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

Healthier Masturbation[TR1] 

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].  As I worked 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

Healing and fulfillment

My intimacy avoidance affected every area of my life, and all of those areas are healing due to my intimacy-focused step work.  I am now more in tune with my needs, less fearful of being seen and heard, more likely to set healthy boundaries, more accepting and loving of myself and others, and more able to be emotionally present in most moments of my life.  My sexuality is more integrated into my whole self, and is expressed lovingly with my partner.  I feel more fulfilled in my life!

  •  Woman, Mid-eastern United States

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[TR2] . 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

 [TR1]Do we want to address masturbation?

 [TR2]Do we want to mention therapy?

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