So my Monday night meeting last night was on the topic of sex, and as you can imagine, there is nothing quite as lively as a group of sober male and female alcoholics of all ages sitting around an AA meeting talking about sex.
It all started on p68 of the Big Book, when Peggy, a conservatish woman in her 60s read out loud, “Now about sex.” Believe me, when she says that many of us needed an overhauling there, you kind of feel like you need to sit up and pay attention.
It’s interesting that they thought to include the topic of sex in such an important part of the book (How it Works) when the group as a whole was still so new. Because sex can be just like a drug, and it can cause just as many problems. “One school would allow man (hmmm…what about the ladies!) no flavor for his fare (ummm…ok) and the other would have us all on a straight pepper diet (I’m not even sure what this really means or in what context sex:pepper = a strong analogy). But the point is, we’re not here to tell you what kind of sex to have or with whom or when or where, ect.
One of the smartest things AA ever did was decide to stay out of this controversy. Yet they did so recognizing that many of us have sex problems.
The first problem is having sex when you are newly sober. I’m not going to stay on this topic long, because as unnerving as it is to take your clothes of stark raving sober for the first time, most of us seem to figure it out with a little practice and relatively little permanent damage.
But the questions of our conduct around sex can pose a slightly more trouble.
When I was being brought up in old school sobriety, the women in my life explained to me that this page wasn’t just referring to having sex, but to right action for my sex (female). In other words, it was about learning how to be a sober woman without using sex and sexuality to manipulate, coerce or change other’s opinions about me. That was about building self-esteem. So the questions are pretty hard core. They ask us to consider where we have been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate. Where did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault? What could we have done differently?
And when you look at these questions, they are a great measure for any little glitch we come across in our lives.
The BB says that ‘”we subjected each relationship to this test–was it selfish or not?”
Yikes! And on an unrelated note, “Who are you to judge the life I live? I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be! Before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean!” Sorry…I felt a little need for some quick Bob Marley there.
Ok, back to selfish. Uh….yeah, my relationships are kind of selfish. I mean I’m pretty much about myself. Even in my best moments I am usually ridiculously self-seeking or self-centered. What do all my fear, resentment and pity have in common? They’re all about me.
Thankfully, Bill (or some early AA member who was reading over the manuscript for the book) had the good sense to say listen people, we’ve got to relax about this thing. Remember, we’re dealing with drunks here! Let’s just encourage them to get an ideal and become willing to work towards that.
The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but….
So it means making amends where we’ve hurt people (sexually or otherwise) and asking God for direction. We pray for sanity (ha! that always makes me laugh) and one more time, if sex is really an issue, we handle it the way we handle most of our problems in AA–we help another alcoholic.
It was kind of a fun meeting. There was a lot of giggling and there were a few who pointed out the deadly seriousness of this thing and how we make people feel uncomfortable by our giggling. There were some in the room who were clearly just figuring out how to have sex sober and some who flat out refuse to have sex sober because they’re afraid they’re going to fall off the sex wagon I guess.
It takes all kinds, and the greatest thing about AA is that all kinds are welcome.