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January 12 • One Night in Missouri

Day 552

The first time I attended a sexual addiction meeting, I was petrified. I now realize how common that is, but back then, just being in a room of 'confessed perverts' was enough for me to pre-schedule a massage parlor appointment for after the meeting because I was sure I would need it to make me feel better.

I was in the middle of Missouri and didn't know a soul for hundreds of miles around; I wasn't worried about being recognized. I had yet to admit to myself that I was an addict; I was just trying to figure out why I kept doing things that I didn't want to do, things that could and would destroy my life.

This cauldron of exposure was an SLAA meeting — Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous — which meant nothing to me other than it was the only sex addicts' meeting that showed up in the area in a Google search. Attending this meeting was seven or eight other guys. It started with a lot of laughter and a welcoming invitation to the new guy to join them for their quarterly celebration meal at a local eatery after the meeting. As the check-ins went around the room, I heard my voice telling a little bit of my story, and I listened to the same stories from other voices.

The meeting ended with a lot of tears and sober moments as these strange strangers embraced my soul with encouragement and transparency. A couple of them gave me their business cards — one was a fellow pastor — and I stayed in touch for several months.

This experience shook me to my core. The 'normalcy' of these people was incredible, and the way they opened up to me and I to them was particularly unexpected. And no judgment toward me.

That fear that walked in with me stayed in that room when I left. I think it was the fear of being a sexual deviant because surely that is the type of people that go to those types of meetings. I was able to move forward with the mere fear that I just had a problem and that there were steps I could take to get better.

To this day, that meeting in Columbia on a random Thursday night was the only SLAA, SAA, or SA meeting I've ever been in that went more than a couple of minutes past the designated cut-off time. They postponed their dinner and encouraged me to join them on another night.

Oh, and I missed that massage appointment.




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