In trying to clearly describe a road to recovery in a 20 minute share in an SLAA speaker meeting, why is it said that it is not okay to mention other 12 step programs “at length”?
Our Tradition is that we do not have an opinion on other issues (Tradition 10: S.L.A.A. has no opinion on outside issues…) and we are not affiliated with any other organizations (Tradition 3: … Any two or more persons gathered together for mutual aid in recovering from sex and love addiction may call themselves an S.L.A.A. group, provided that as a group they have no other affiliation.) Also, members of a fellowship do not speak for the fellowship and they should maintain anonymity about ones membership. (Tradition 11: … We need guard with special care the anonymity of all fellow S.L.A.A. members.) Therefore, when one is sharing one’s own story, it is best to relate to one’s addiction and sobriety instead of specifics or differences.
It is important to remember that every person is free to share whatever is in their hearts about recovery. We have suggestions, customs, and guidelines, not rules. The reason for suggesting that sharing at an SLAA meeting (just as it is for sharing at any other 12 Step meeting), should be mostly about sex and love addiction, is because that is what everyone there has in common. Sharing about that experience, wherever it took us, is what most people will identify with. However, experience in another “S” program is probably just as relevant, and when our journey into recovery was through other routes, including sharing the role that formal religion played in recovery, is of course ok to share. The point is that we are sharing our experience, hope, and recovery in order to help others. Dwelling on specific religious beliefs, promoting other organizations, even promoting SLAA, are not as likely to help others, as is simply sharing honestly our own journey in addiction and recovery. My own story includes much sexual acting out and romantic intrigue which I lived first in bars, and then in churches, my workplace, and in AA meetings. Someone not familiar with AA or the churches I attended might think they “tolerated” my behavior too much, so I don’t do that program any favors by mentioning it specifically. But AA got me sober and finally made it necessary for me to see the ways in which I was not practicing the principles of recovery in all areas of my life. That is always part of my story, but the story is about one’s own experience, not about any organization, including SLAA, although at an SLAA meeting, everyone can relate to that part of the story, and relating to each other’s stories is what sharing is all about.
While I certainly hold all 12 Step Programs in the deepest of respect, I prefer not to hear all about them as a member is sharing. The reason being, that my experiences are with sex and love addiction and not with alcohol, drugs, etc. I can’t always make a point of reference to what someone might be sharing if the speak in depth about another addiction and their recovery from it. I do realize, however, that there are times when it is necessary to make mention of another fellowship because the member might have, when they became sober, realized that there was more involved in their addictive behaviors. In fact they might have realized that the other addiction was not their core addiction, but they used it as a drug to soothe the pain of their sexual addictions. In those cases, I appreciate the member being honest and forthright as they tell what it was like and how they came to find the rooms of S.L.A.A.
For the same reason, I do not believe that speaking of religious doctrine or religious experiences are productive, since each member has his/her own set of beliefs or reasons for not being a part of any religion. It becomes counterproductive when one is sharing along the lines of experiences which cannot be shared by the majority of the people in the room. For example, many times in a meeting I hear references to the traditions and practices of a certain religion using terms which would only be understood by a member of that particular religion. When that happens, I find myself, wondering just what, exactly is the member talking about.
Although other 12 Step Programs are certainly important to many in the room, as well as is some sort of set of religious beliefs, to spend extended periods in a brief share or in a lead discussing those matters is not going to help me continue to recover from my sexual issues. Since we do not endorse other programs (Tradition 6: An S.L.A.A. group or S.L.A.A. as a whole ought never to endorse, finance, or lend the S.L.A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, or prestige divert us from our primary purpose.) or any particular set of beliefs, nor do we endorse the fine efforts of many professional therapists, these things would become very distracting to the other members in the meeting, whether a new comer or a long timer. The same would be true of mentioning in depth experiences or practices of other “S” Fellowships.
Although I am involved in other activities outside S.L.A.A., I do not bring those up other than a brief mention when they are absolutely necessary to my sharing.
Those are my feelings, take what you need and leave the rest.
What do you think?
The CSTCC is a group of volunteers, some of whom were ABM delegates, and others who volunteered out of interest. We do not represent a group conscience of S.L.A.A., but are committed to bringing thoughtful discussion and study of 12 Step Fellowship literature and experience to the questions that are brought to us. We offer this summary as the results of our discussions. We present the major points of concern in the hopes that wider discussion in the Fellowship will help us evolve our customs and practice of the S.L.A.A. program of recovery to better represent the loving guidance of a Higher Power. Always, we affirm the autonomy of each group and the need for each individual to follow her/his own conscience. No decision of this group, or any other, is ever forced upon another, even when we believe a practice is clearly in conflict with the Steps, Traditions, or Concepts.