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August 12 • Broken Boundary

Day 765

I have violated an agreement with my wife, and I did it without thinking I had done it, or at least without admitting it to myself.

The issue is my attendance at coed meetings of sex addicts. I suspect that this is a more sensitive subject than I've heard addressed openly, and it goes against my understanding of how 12 Step meetings are supposed to be able to help all comers. But this is my reality, and I'm not here to fix everyone else's problems in perfectly fair ways, even though I sometimes drift into that vision of grandeur.

My wife is very uncomfortable with me sharing my intimate issues in recovery, or more specifically, from my acting-out days. She is even less pleased with the idea of me listening to female sex addicts as they share their stories and issues. I get it. If the roles were reversed, I would be apoplectic with the idea of her listening to guys or sharing with even the most trustworthy of male sex addicts. But I also get the task at hand to help others and learn from others, regardless of gender.

My wife and I agreed a long time ago that I would not share in the presence of ladies, and that I would excuse myself from meetings with coed attendees.

There have been a half-dozen or so meetings, most of them online sessions, where a lady or two have dropped in unexpectedly, and I've always had a reason why I did not remove myself. In one case, I had already committed to being the chair, and the other reasons were less defined, but justified in my mind.

It is admittedly a strain on my psyche when a woman is in a meeting, but I do not give in to it, and I feel like I gain from their shares of experience, strength, and hope. So when the subject came up yesterday, I'm sure I sounded defensive and rationalizing. My wife is not completely wrong in her concerns, but it's a path I've been navigating in those rare instances when it presented itself. However, even that sounds justifying. I think she thinks I've already shared too much intimacy with too many other women, and she just wants that part of me for herself.

As part of navigating this recovery thing with my wife, we've each made concessions. Some have been wise and courageous, and others have been petty and selfish, or at least imperfect. But it's a team sport, and we've been working on it pretty well, all things considered.

I don't want to be the guy that says a woman cannot attend a meeting because I can't walk the finest of lines, but neither do I want to swing at more windmills than I can handle in my quest for the impossible dream of perfect sobriety and perfect honesty.

My wife has been very gracious in many ways with my recovery. As I get back into the real world and have to navigate the boys' and girls' clubs in pursuit of employment, she is working hard to trust me and get through what she has to get through. So when she asks me to cut her some slack for the coed situations that are not required in my recovery, it's probably not too much to ask. I can do that without making a big deal out of it, and hopefully, without drawing any attention to the random meeting that I may disappear from early. I may also seek out 'men only' meetings, so this is removed from our list of issues that need revisiting.

Perhaps the more significant issue is that I agreed to boundaries that I allowed to bend and then break. That's an honesty thing at some point, and this is a reminder that it's an ongoing struggle in all aspects of life and recovery.

With apologies to all the female sex addicts trying to find their way through 12 Step communities, my abstaining from coed meetings is not a perfect answer, but it's progress in our big picture. I'm told that somedays, progress is the most I can hope for. And that's okay for today.



And I know if I'll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lie peaceful and calm

When I'm laid to my rest

–Don Quixote, “The Impossible Dream (The Quest) from The Man of La Mancha



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