Tradition 3 – A Sense of Belonging

Tradition Three – A Sense of Belonging

The only requirement for SCA membership is a desire to stop having compulsive sex.

A Sense of Belonging By Joe F./NYC

When I first came to SCA and heard the term "sexual compulsive," I felt anxious and scared. I knew I had a sex "problem" but I didn't like the label 'sexual compulsive'. It seemed so clinical, like a term out of a college abnormal psychology textbook. I had a lot of denial and I didn't want to surrender. Somehow, having a sex problem and not a compulsion seemed more manageable. Labeling myself a sexual compulsive would force me out of my denial, and that was just too frightening for me in the beginning. The truth was that I didn't want to be a sexual compulsive or sex addict at all.

Luckily there was Tradition Three. I didn't have to label myself anything to be a member of SCA. The only thing I needed was a desire to stop having compulsive sex. I didn't even need to have an honest desire. I didn't need to be completely convinced of my eligibility for SCA. All I needed was a desire to get better. I could at least admit that I wanted to stop the behavior that was destroying my life. And though I wasn't sure that I was a sexual compulsive, I could see that my life got better after I came into program. 

I didn't say very much in my first few months of meetings. From a distance and in my isolation, I thought everybody in the program was 100% gung-ho, and that I had to be too. I felt guilty because part of me didn't really want to stop acting out. I was a fraud! The people who wrote these traditions knew all about addicts like me who are terrified to commit themselves to anything. I could be as committed as I was able to be at any given moment.

I was also always comparing myself to others in the program. "I'm not as bad as that person-I can't be a sex addict. If I ever get as bad as him, I'll start going to more meetings", I'd think. . This tradition tells me that I don't need to be as bad as or as good as anybody in the program. I don't need a certain bottom or a certain acting-out scenario to qualify. All I need to be a member of SCA is a desire to not have compulsive sex. 

Luckily, Tradition Three reassures me that it is not about how much or how little acting out I did, but how it affected my life. I could decide what defined compulsive sex for me through my sponsor and sexual recovery plan. Did I have a desire to stop whatever behavior was upsetting me? It didn't matter whether my acting out lands me in jail. If it makes me miserable, and I want to stop, then that is all I need to claim my seat in the rooms. 

For many beginners, just their mere physical presence at their first few meetings is enough of an effort. To try to get them to commit to being sexually compulsive may push them away. I know, for myself, that I called myself a sexual compulsive a long time before I actually believed it. Fortunately, nobody was checking out the sincerity of my conviction. My attendance at meetings was sufficient. In fact, I needed to come in and out of the program a number of times, and have a number of slips, before I became convinced that I really belonged. The program is for people who want it, not those who need it. 

Sometimes there isn't one defining event that causes us to come into SCA. Our gradual acceptance of our place in recovery can be more of a process rather than one event. It has been my experience that people tend to "visit" SCA for awhile before they actually decide to attend meetings on a regular basis. I call it the "revolving door" of SCA. That is why the flexibility and gentleness of Tradition Three is so important. We don't need to ask newcomers to do any more than sit back, relax and listen.