March 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 7:15-8:30 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 to participate.  If you can’t make it, meeting minutes are published on our website.  We want your ideas!

Newcomers:  Bringing Them Back for More

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.  It makes sense that if someone keeps attending meetings, he or she is more likely to make progress in recovering from their sex addiction.  The Orange County Intergroup solicited suggestions from the SAA fellowship to encourage newcomers to keep returning.  The resulting list is found below.  We suggest that you, either individually or as a group, consider the following measures to retain new members.

Actions you can take as an individual:
►  Welcome the newcomers during your shares.
►  Speak with newcomers before and/or after meetings, welcoming them and asking if they have any questions.
►  Invite the newcomer to join you for after-meeting fellowships such as coffee or lunch, if the group has them.
►  Offer to have coffee with them after the meeting, or to meet for coffee before the next meeting.
►  Volunteer your phone number, or give them a phone list with your number checked, or offer to exchange phone numbers.
►  Offer to call the newcomer in a few days to ask how they’re doing and answer any questions.
►  Volunteer to be a newcomer’s temporary sponsor if you think it’s appropriate.
►  If you serve as your group’s Literature Coordinator, put together packages of the most appropriate free brochures and a phone list, and give those to each newcomer – possibly during chip presentations so they don’t leave before you have a chance.

Actions requiring a group conscience:
►  Establish a group service position of Greeter before the meetings, especially welcoming to newcomers.
►  Establish a Welcoming Committee for newcomers.
►  Establish a group service position of Sponsorship Coordinator to help newcomers find a sponsor and answer their questions.  The Sponsorship Coordinator could also give the newcomer an informal “business card” with the coordinator’s name, phone number, and email.
►  Hold a special meeting for newcomers.

If you have more ideas on how to retain newcomers, please attend our next Intergroup meeting, or you may submit them to ocisaa.newsletter@gmail.com or to your group’s Intergroup representative.  Thank you!

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My Share

Each month, we publish a personal but anonymous story of recovery.  It can be either an autobiography or about a subject important to your recovery.  Stories should be written in the first person (“I”) and speak from your experience, strength, and hope.  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:

What We’ve Got Here Is a Failure to Communicate

The title of this piece is a line spoken by Strother Martin in the classic 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke” starring Paul Newman, and it describes one of our major issues in recovering from sex addiction.  As addicts we isolate, which obviously restricts communication.  We also keep secrets.  This, too, restricts communication.  And we lie, likewise bad for communication.  Gosh, we’re not very good communicators!  And why should we be?  As addicts, we don’t want to be found out.  The secrecy, lies and isolation are necessary.  Over time, these characteristics become so instilled that we practice them instinctively.  But in recovery we realize the harm these things have done to ourselves and those around us.  We learn the value – the necessity – of good, honest communication, and we gain the willingness to change.

Eliminating isolation, secrets and lies from our lives can be scary.  It requires sharing intimate information; it requires vulnerability.  For many of us, our vulnerability was violated in the past, which makes us afraid to be vulnerable now.  We may have been physically or verbally abused by our parents or others close to us.  Maybe we were molested or raped by an older person.  Perhaps our trust was betrayed.  We might have suffered from others’ harsh judgment.  Fortunately, the SAA program offers opportunities to improve our communication in a safe, non-threatening environment.  This has been extremely important for me, since I was one whose vulnerability was violated as a child.

One of the first things that struck me in SAA was how freely and honestly other addicts shared at meetings.  I was amazed the first time I heard someone talk about their compulsive masturbation and the accompanying rituals.  I quickly learned that I could share openly at meetings without fearing judgment from my fellows.  I also learned that exposing my secret life to others in a safe setting was helpful in maintaining my abstinence.

Some of my secrets, though, were so scary that I couldn’t even share them at meetings.  I found that I could talk about them with my sponsor, though.  I was able to tell him things that I never thought I would be able to share with anyone, ever.  He didn’t judge me.  He reassured me that in working the 12 Steps, I would be able to deal with all of my issues in a safe environment.  He was right.

I began to look at my life, finding that my addictive tendency toward isolation, lies and secrets was affecting my communication with others more than I thought.  For example, I would say to myself, “They don’t need to know that” when actually they did.  While not an overt lie, it amounted to the same thing; and it certainly was a secret.  I began sharing my feelings with my wife, who had miraculously stuck with me.  I found that making myself vulnerable brought us closer together.  And why wouldn’t it?  She was learning more about the real me, the person with fears and sensitivities and admitted imperfections.  It made me more human to her.

For me personally, therapy has also been an important way to improve communication.  My wife and I have different ways of dealing with conflicts, actually talking on different levels (neither one better or worse).  Through therapy I learned how to engage less destructively.  We still argue sometimes, but the arguments are fewer and shorter.  I’m still working on some of my character defects that cause arguments in the first place.  I gently remind myself that it’s progress, not perfection.

I’ve learned that isolation, secrets and lies not only facilitated my addiction but harmed my relationships as well.  I’ve learned that it’s good for me to bring things out that in the past I would have kept to myself.  I ask myself questions like, “Have I said that to my wife?  Wouldn’t that would be a good idea?  Don’t I think she’d appreciate hearing that?  Wouldn’t it open up a healthy dialogue?”  I also know now that telling my wife something unpleasant is better than her finding out.

Sometimes an SAA member asks for my feedback about, “Do you think it’s okay to _____?”  Often my response is about communication:  “Have you asked your wife (or girlfriend) her opinion, or is this something you wouldn’t want her to know, in which case you know it’s not okay?”

Good, honest, open communication is vital both in recovery from sex addiction and in interpersonal relationships, which are in any case intertwined.  Isolation, secrets and lies work against both.  They are poison, and if I am to continue my progress in recovery, I need to avoid them.

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Intergroup Project Updates

Our Next Retreat:  August 2015

We are currently preparing for our next retreat in August.  Retreats are a great way to find strength, hope and courage while creating friendships and recovery.  Our last retreat in January 2015 had 50 attendees from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.  The topic was “ISOLATION:  Causes and Cures” which highlighted a major component to our disease and ways to emerge from it.  Retreats are packed with great recovery opportunities and feature speakers, workshops, discussions and panels plus food!  The raffle prizes during the January retreat were two high definition LCD TVs…great prizes just in time for the Super Bowl.  We look forward to seeing everyone for fellowship, recovery and hope.  The date and location are still being worked out with details coming soon.

We are soliciting suggestions for the main topic, or topics, to be featured at our next retreat.  What would you like to learn more about?  Or is there a subject you would like to present to others because you have learned a lot about it?  Please attend the next Intergroup meeting on April 9, or email your suggestions to ocisaa.chair@gmail.com.

Spanish-Speaking Outreach

We are unaware of any Spanish-language SAA meetings in the Orange County area.  We added 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 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.  At a recent meeting, we approved a 30-day test run.  We will inform you of the results.

Craigslist

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

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Announcements & Newsnotes

A Message 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 either 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 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 April 9th.

Needed:  Intergroup Representatives

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:

Wednesday, 5:00-6:00pm
Closed, men only
1900 E. 4th St., Conference Room 2A, Santa Ana 92705
Free parking in structure
Contact Frank P. (949) 842-3454

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 Tuesday morning 6:30 a.m. meeting at the First Methodist Church in Costa Mesa has 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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