January 2015

carry-the-messageThe purpose of our Intergroup is to more effectively reach the sex addict in the Orange County area who still suffers.  We meet the second Thursday of each month from 7:00-8:15 p.m. in the Albright Room at the First Methodist Church of Costa Mesa, 420 W. 19th St., located at the end of the 55 Freeway across from Triangle Square.  All SAA members are welcome.  If you can’t make it, meeting minutes are published on our website.  We are still a young organization and need your ideas!

Hope You Didn’t Miss Our Retreat, But in Case You Did…

The Orange County Intergroup hosted its fifth one-day retreat on Saturday, January 24, 2015 at the First Methodist Church of Costa Mesa.  The topic of the day was isolation, something all addicts are familiar with and suffer from.

Following breakfast, introductions, and group meditation, the morning session featured an SAA member speaking on “Isolation Sucks:  Where Can I Find Recovery?”  The speaker, someone with long-term sobriety, confessed that he was bad about making telephone calls, although he receives a lot.  He wouldn’t recommend that others not use this valuable tool, but he went on to name several ways he breaks out of isolation besides using the phone:

–Socializing with friends, both in and out of the program.
–Fellowship; for example, going for coffee after SAA meetings.
–Therapy.
–Recovery oriented literature.
–Service work such as meeting secretary.
–Sponsoring; sponsees help his recovery.
–Working an honest First Step.
–Going to meetings.
–His wife – she works closely with him, shares his struggles, and provides him true intimacy.
–His sponsor.
–Doing Outer Circle activities and journaling.

After the presentation, attendees – about 50 in all – broke into small groups of 5 or 6 to discuss the methods they use to combat isolation.  Then we broke for lunch, after which two high definition TVs, which had been donated by an SAA member, were raffled off.

The afternoon agenda began with a speaker discussing “Using Steps Six and Seven as Springboards Out of Isolation.”  He explained that our character defects lead us into isolation, and that by working Steps Six and Seven – identifying our defects and asking our Higher Power to remove them – we also remove sources of isolation.  After the presentation, members wrote their answers to two questions:  “What character defects can I identify that lead me to isolation?”  and “What would my life look like if I had these removed?”  Once again, small groups were formed to discuss their answers.

The last activity was a panel discussion about tools that individuals use to take themselves out of isolation but were not on the usual lists, such as humor, distraction, and developing a texting group.  A wide ranging question, answer, and comment session followed before the closing activities.

We plan to host our sixth one-day retreat in late summer or early fall.  Please take note and watch for the announcement!

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My Share

Each month, we publish a personal but anonymous story of recovery.  Stories should be written in the first person (“I”); speak from your experience, strength, and hope; and be limited to approximately one typewritten page.  Please submit your story to ocisaa.newsletter@gmail.com.  We may edit submissions for reasons of space, clarity, and appropriate language.  Here is this month’s story:

I Partitioned My Middle Circle

SAA members learn early on about the Three Circles.  The Inner Circle consists of actions that brought us to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  The Outer Circle contains all of the healthy activities that bring us serenity.  The Middle Circle comprises activities that are risky and may lead to the Inner Circle.  The Middle Circle is dangerous, yet some members view it as an acceptable place to go.  After all, we don’t lose our abstinence time.  We can still collect those chips.  No real harm, right?

Wrong.  As I gained recovery, I observed that members who slipped – and thus did lose their abstinence time – often said their slip began in their Middle Circle, from which they slid down into the abyss.  From that, I learned two things:  (1) the Middle Circle is a slippery slope to be avoided, and (2) if I stay out of my Middle Circle, I’m a lot less likely to act out.

However, sometimes I can’t help going into my middle circle.  For example, euphoric recall about past acting out pops into my head.  I don’t invite it; it just happens.  Certainly this is not an Outer Circle occurrence, but neither is it Inner Circle.  So it’s in my Middle Circle.  This creates a dilemma:  I know the Middle Circle is dangerous and I’m better off if I stay away, but sometimes I can’t.  I have no control over what pops into my head.

Then about a year ago, I realized that my Middle Circle activities could be separated into two categories:  intentional and unintentional.  It’s unintentional if euphoric recall pops into my head, but it’s intentional if I keep dwelling on it.  It’s unintentional if I notice an attractive woman crossing my path; it’s intentional if my gaze keeps following and I objectify and fantasize about her.  It’s intentional if I’m having trouble going to sleep and I think about my past acting out activities or worse yet, use my tablet to search for titillating (but technically non-pornographic) images.

My unintentional Middle Circle events are unavoidable, but they are also the least harmful.  My intentional Middle Circle forays are the most harmful and far more likely to lead to my Inner Circle, but they are avoidable.  Once I grasped this, I decided to divide my Middle Circle into the unintentional (on the Outer Circle side of the Middle Circle) and the intentional (on the Inner Circle side).  Then I made a conscious decision not to go into my intentional Middle Circle.  Think of it as another layer of insulation.

Since that decision, I have grown used to telling myself  I don’t do that anymore.  If I argue with my wife and want to feel better, I tell myself that going into my Middle Circle to alleviate/avoid my stress is simply not an option.  I have to do something else, even if that means just feeling bad for awhile.  Interestingly, this often leads to doing something constructive, and then I feel better.  In the wife-arguing case, I might examine my side of the street for my part and make an amends if warranted.  I might take a contrary action and get her a Starbucks.  Or I might go running, or phone someone.  Anything is better than going intentionally into my Middle Circle.

The results have been nothing short of amazing.  I have never felt so strong in my recovery.  The temptations have diminished considerably.  I believe that if I continue diligently doing my recovery work, I can remain sober for the rest of my life.  That is such a wonderful thing to be able to write.  I am so grateful.

Have I been perfect about this?  No, but it has vastly improved.  Sometimes I’ll take a second or third quick glance, or think for a few moments about what just popped into my head instead of immediately dismissing it.  Then I gently remind myself that I don’t do this anymore, and resolve to keep improving.  That’s progress, not perfection, as we say.

When I told my sponsor about all of this, he pointed out that under certain conditions, it actually is safe to venture intentionally into the Middle Circle.  But these ventures must be worthwhile, not secret, and not decided unilaterally.  One example might be watching a movie by myself that could be triggering.  That’s in my Middle Circle.  Before deciding to watch, I can check in with my sponsor.  He will ask me why I want to see this movie.  I will need a good reason.  He will ask me why I’ll be alone, and I will need a good reason for that.  He might suggest that I not watch it unless I can find someone to accompany me.  He might ask me to call him just before and just after the movie (“bookending”).  He might suggest that if the movie is too triggering, to stop and call him.  He is a lifeline.  This is the only way I know in which it is safe to go intentionally into our Middle Circle.  We need outside opinions – remember, our best thinking got us into SAA – and we need a lifeline in case our excursion gets too rocky.

If you intentionally dabble in your Middle Circle, I suggest you “think twice” about it:  once for your intentional Middle Circle activities, and once for your unintentional ones.  Intentional Middle Circle activities are treacherously dangerous.  Partition them off and decide that you don’t do them anymore.  Say it to yourself often.  You may be imperfect, but be gentle with yourself and you will get better at it.  Once you are used to it, I am sure you will feel much better about your sobriety.  I have.

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Intergroup Project Updates

Spanish-Speaking Outreach

We are unaware of any Spanish-language SAA meetings in the Orange County area.  We are adding a Spanish translation of the “12 & 12” to our website and are looking for a location for a Spanish-speaking meeting, most likely in Santa Ana.  We would welcome your suggestions.

Internet Keyword Search Optimization

We are working toward directing certain Internet searches to our website, using key words and phrases to do so.  Examples are “massage parlor reviews” and “can’t stop watching porn.”  In addition, we are working on inserting key words into recovery stories to help addicts find our program.  Google has approved our search terms and key words, and we are making payment arrangements.

Craigslist

The responses continue to ads we placed for SAA on the Orange County Craigslist website.  Sex addicts going there for something else are being presented with an opportunity for recovery, and for some of them, it’s working!

Retention of SAA Members

Anyone who has attended SAA groups for very long knows that some members are in for the long term, but too many others attend a few meetings and leave.  At the December 11 Intergroup meeting we discussed ways to help and encourage new members to keep coming back, and came up with the following suggestions:

►  After-meeting fellowships such as coffee or lunch.
►  Establish a group service position of Sponsorship Coordinator.
►  Encourage members to speak with newcomers before and after meetings, welcoming them and asking if they have any questions.
►  Volunteer your phone number or give them a phone list with your number checked.
►  Hold a special meeting for newcomers.
►  Offer to call the newcomer in a few days to ask how they’re doing.

We expect more to come in this area.  If you would like to contribute your ideas or experience, please attend our next Intergroup meeting on February 12, or you may submit them to ocisaa.newsletter@gmail.com or to your group’s Intergroup representative.

 

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Announcements & Newsnotes

Soon:  A Big-Time Addiction Conference in Los Angeles!

On February 5-8, a substance abuse and addiction treatment conference will be held at the Westin Los Angeles Airport Hotel on “The Evolution of Addiction Treatment.”  Although the conference is intended for professionals, SAA will have a table there, and past volunteers have said they were permitted to attend the workshops offered.  The Southern California Intergroup needs volunteers to hand out packets of SAA literature to conference attendees.

If you are interested in this cutting-edge conference, please go to http://theevolutionofaddictiontreatment.com/schedule.html to view the schedule of events.  To volunteer, contact Damon M. at 424-222-3533 or lacalsaa@gmail.com, or contact Carole D. at 562-841-4348 or carolemary@netzero.com.

A Suggestion for Sponsors

We suggest you consider stressing to your sponsees the importance of service work such as volunteering for positions at their meetings.  Early in recovery, service work gives recovering sex addicts something to feel good about when they need it most.  Later on, it becomes Step 12 work, a very healthy activity and again a builder of self-esteem.  Some sponsors we know feel so strongly about it that they advise their sponsees to fill a service position or find another sponsor!

Intergroup Vacancies

Our Intergroup has three vacant positions and a need for website contributors.  These are great opportunities to be of service, and they generally require little or no special expertise.

►  The Vice Chair works with the Chair to coordinate the Intergroup’s overall activities.  It’s estimated that Vice Chair duties take about four hours per month, plus the monthly Intergroup meeting.

►  The Inreach Coordinator handles Intergroup activities involving the existing SAA framework, as opposed to Outreach, which works to bring in newcomers.  The Inreach Coordinator’s duties require two (sometimes more) hours per month, plus the monthly Intergroup meeting.

►  The Vice Treasurer works with the Treasurer to manage our Intergroup funds.  The duties generally occupy minimal time, but this can vary.  There may be an abstinence requirement for this position.  Attendance at the monthly Intergroup meeting is encouraged.

►  We are looking for website contributors of any kind, including those who are willing to learn.

If you are interested in any of these positions and want to learn more, please contact Ron R. at ocisaa.chair@gmail.com.  Or, you may attend the next monthly Intergroup meeting on February 12.

A Few Intergroup Representatives Still Needed

If your meeting still lacks an Intergroup rep, please tell your secretary that you need one.  For more information, contact us at ocisaa.inreach@gmail.com.  We highly recommend you find someone to fill this service position.  We also suggest if possible, that your group allocate a percentage of its donations to the Intergroup for its activities, which benefit all SAA groups in the region.

Thanks for Your Donations!

We are grateful for the support we receive from the Orange County area SAA meetings.  As you can see from our activities listed in this newsletter, we are putting your donations to good use.  We encourage you to attend our monthly meetings and voice your ideas.

A Note to Event Promoters and Organizers: For those requesting announcements to run in our newsletter, please use the following format – and order – as much as possible:
Who: Are you a committee (of the Intergroup, for example), or an individual SAA meeting group, or another type of organization or individual?
What: Is this a workshop, breakfast, retreat, or another type of event?
Title: What is the name of your event?
When: Give the date and starting and ending times of your event.
Cost: What – if anything – is the suggested contribution, or is it a set fee, or is no one turned away for lack of funds?
Description: In a sentence, or several sentences, say what is unique or especially appealing about your event.
Where: Event address, along with any cross-street info or parking tips you think are important.
More Info: Whom to call for more information?  List a telephone number, email address, and/or website.
Please give us as much lead time as possible, and note that submissions are subject to editing for clarity and space.

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SAA Meeting News

New Meetings:

Thursday, 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Closed, men only
707 E. Chapman, Orange 92866
Building is close to Orange Traffic Circle, white with green trim, no suite number; parking lot adjacent to building
Contact Chris B. (949) 278-3642

Friday, noon-1:00 p.m.
Closed, men only
St. Matthew’s Church
1111 W. Town & Country Rd., Unit 14, Orange 92868
In the Town & Country Business Center North (look for “Gondola Subs”), around the back
Contact Casey (323) 375-7322

Tuesday, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Closed, mixed
Book study/Check-in
First Southern Baptist Church, Dining Room
6801 Western Ave., Buena Park, CA 90621 (just north of Orangethorpe Ave.)
Contact Maurice B. (714) 683-8663/motrago@hotmail.com

Changes:

The Monday evening women’s book study meeting has relocated.  Please call 714-485-3655 or email womeninsaa@gmail.com for more details.

The Monday through Friday noon meetings at Mariners Church in Irvine have moved.  New location:
First Methodist Church of Costa Mesa, 420 W. 19th St., located at the end of the 55 Freeway across from Triangle Square; meet in the Albright Room past the restrooms.

All early morning meetings at the First Methodist Church in Costa Mesa have been canceled.

The Friday morning meeting at the Alano Club has been canceled.

The Monday and Friday Long Beach meetings are no longer at Kaiser Permanente, 3900 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Long Beach.  The new meeting times and locations are:
—Monday, 7:30-8:30 pm, Mixed/Closed/Step/Tradition/Topic
Unitarian Church, 5450 Atherton St., Long Beach (just West of Bellflower Blvd.), in the Chalice Room
Contact Carole B., 562-841-4348, or e-mail CAROLEMARY@NETZERO.COM
Friday, 6:30-7:30 pm, Mixed/Closed/Step/Tradition/Topic
Unitarian Church, 5450 Atherton St., Long Beach (just West of Bellflower Blvd.), in the Chalice Room
Contact Carole B., 562-841-4348, or e-mail CAROLEMARY@NETZERO.COM

 

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Orange County Intergroup Officers and Committee Chairs

Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. — Tradition 2

Chair: Ron R., ocisaa.chair@gmail.com
Vice Chair: Vacant, ocisaa.vicechair@gmail.com
Digital Communications: Neal B., ocisaa.digicom1@gmail.com (Assistant: Reza B., ocisaa.digicom2@gmail.com)
Inreach: Vacant, ocisaa.inreach@gmail.com
Outreach: Maurice B., ocisaa.outreach@gmail.com
Literature: Ron C., ocisaa.literature@gmail.com
Treasurer: Brian A. (Vice Treasurer: Vacant), ocisaa.treasurer@gmail.com
Secretary: Earl Q., ocisaa.secretary@gmail.com
Newsletter Editor:  Mike K., ocisaa.newsletter@gmail.com
Parliamentarian: Mike K.

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Website

If you have ideas or suggestions for the website, please contact our Webmaster, Neal B., at ocisaa.digicom1@gmail.com.

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