Tradition 5 – Recovery Is Not A Picnic

Tradition Five – Recovery Is Not a Picnic

Each group had but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the sexual compulsive who still suffers. 

Recovery Is Not a Picnic by David A-S (NY)

Whenever I think of Tradition Five I am always reminded of the story of a teenage girl who was discovered and subsequently rescued by a social work from the cellar of her father's house where she was kept for many years, as the father's sexual object. She had not been taught to speak or read or write. Each day he would visit her to sexually abuse her and leave her food. Otherwise, she was entirely on her own. When she was rescued by a social work, she was very disorientated and confused and did not understand that the kindness and love that was shown her and resisted it. As soon as she was able to communicate her needs she began to ask to be returned to the cellar and her abusive father. She did not even know that this was a backward step. The old way was something she felt comfortable with and seemed to be less taxing than the new 'loving' ways. 

I often feel like that girl. Rather than talk about the steps I have taken to recover my sanity, (and so practice the fifth Tradition in it most basic application) I would rather just go back to some of the places and behaviors that once ruled my life because that seems so much easier. At meetings, I often hear other people sharing the same thing. It is so much easier to go back to abusive situations than to keep going along the path to recovery. It's very painful at times to hear myself and others thinking and speaking about these desires. It reminds me however that Tradition Five is something I can use to help not only others who are still suffering but also myself when I am suffering and imagine that I can end my suffering by going backwards. 

The first four traditions give us a sense of place and belonging in the world and within our fellowship. Tradition Five asks tells us that our hard won inter-dependence and sense of our selves can only continue to be ours if we share our well being with those within and the beyond the Fellowship. What is our primary purpose as suggested by Tradition Five? What is our message? Our purpose as suggested by Tradition Three is to help one another to give up sexually compulsive behavior. Once we have dismantled the compartmentalization that governed our lives when we were sexually compulsive we are compelled to let others know of our new found freedom. This maintains our sobriety and helps others to find the same freedom. 

By listening to one another in meetings (which can sometimes be difficult), by sharing our own struggles with recovery at meetings and beyond (which can also be difficult at times), by welcoming newcomers at meetings we are practicing the Fifth Tradition. Continuing to tell our story, continuing to remind ourselves where we have been and how far we have come keeps us recovering and helps others to take similar steps. 

I've always found it difficult to share at meetings when I am in the middle of something. I always prefer to talk about it after it's all over, when I can toss back my head, and laugh about how silly or desperate or crazy I was then. In part this has been due to my fear of looking at my own primary purpose. I have often done whatever seemed easiest rather than to what's most beneficial. Since I have been in program and have been working the Steps and Traditions, I have found it easier to take the more difficult road because it has got to me to where I really wanted to go and not some make-believe place instead, as acting out used to do. I have recognized that living my primary purpose forces me to share it with others and so gives them the opportunity to see into me (into me see = intimacy). Ultimately this is the hidden agenda of the Fifth Tradition. By sharing our message of recovery we share our intimacy and make it safe for others to reach out for what we have gained from recovery.