Service in SCA
Service is a way of helping ourselves maintain sexual sobriety by helping others. Being an officer of a meeting, sponsoring someone, working on Intergroup projects, being available for phone calls from other members and attending meetings are all forms of service that promote our own recovery and assist the continuation of SCA as a whole. Service is a commitment to ourselves, to our fellowship and to our fellow sexual compulsives. Let’s look at the benefits which service in SCA confers.
One of the most visible forms of giving service is acting as chairman, treasurer or any other officer of a meeting. In taking an office we commit ourselves to recovery: we’re going to be in this program and are willing to do what it takes to stay sexually sober. Members who have been sober for a while have found that service is important for continuing recovery. When we serve, we get out of ourselves by arranging for speakers, setting up the chairs, collecting and keeping track of the money and providing literature at the meetings. Perhaps the most important thing we do for ourselves in becoming an officer is to ensure our own regular attendance at a particular meeting. We get to know people who attend that meeting and they get to know us. We break out of our painful isolation and realize that we belong in the fellowship. We experience the love and support SCA is offering.
Generally, it’s a good idea to have been in the program for a while before chairing a meeting or acting as treasurer. A good way to give service and learn about the program at the same time is to participate in business meetings, intergroup meetings and more specialized meetings such as those of the literature committee. We participate in the discussions that help to form SCA policy and practice and determine the direction SCA will go in the future. Voting for officers determines who will be our trusted servants for the next term. By voting, we take responsibility for electing officers who are willing and able to perform their duties.
Starting up a meeting is a particularly valuable service. It can also be particularly challenging because, in order to find a location, we have to speak about SCA to people who may have no concept of sexual compulsion. In the location search process we learn to be proud of ourselves for doing something about our compulsion and to speak candidly about it to others.
The sponsor/sponsee relationship is another major form of service. Sponsors and sponsees serve one another. Sponsors share perspective, strength and hope. Sponsees help sponsors recall the pain and anguish of acting out and the strengths and rewards of early recovery. When we sponsor others we commit ourselves to be there for them and as a result we feel more firmly involved in the process of recovery. We can also serve as interim or temporary sponsors, thus giving beginners immediate access to the benefits of sponsorship.
You may feel that you’re not ready to chair a meeting or to be a sponsor. You may even say, “I don’t want to do all this service business, I just want to stop acting out!” We have all felt reluctant to do service, but most of us have found that service is a tool directly linked to recovery. The fundamental service we all give is coming to meetings and not acting out, but further participating in the fellowship makes a very significant difference in how we feel about ourselves. We realize that we have something to contribute. Our self-esteem increases and it becomes easier to follow our sexual recovery plan.
Here are some simple ways we can contribute to the fellowship and boost our self-esteem:
- Chatting with newcomers.
- Inviting other members for coffee after meetings.
- Phoning someone we haven’t seen for a while or who may be going through a rough time.
- Giving out our phone numbers.
- Returning phone calls.
- Setting up the chairs for a meeting and putting them away.
- Supporting those with sexual recovery plans different from our own.
- Tolerating the irritations which crop up in the process of recovery such as occasional emotional outbursts, overly long shares, or inappropriate language.
- Sharing at a meeting, especially for the first time.
Service rescues us from isolation. While we were acting out and even when we first arrived in the rooms of SCA, many of us felt isolated and desperate. It is difficult to imagine how we could successfully relate to others in any but a sexual way. As we attend meetings we begin to sense that we might belong; but many of us also feel anxiety about being at meetings, about raising our hand, or even about staying until the end of a meeting. We discover, however, that small acts of service make us feel at home and enable us to connect with others.
Continuing service transforms us. Our needy lives become thoughtful and generous through more nourishing exchanges. We come to know that we all have something to give and that the more we give the more we receive!
Doing SCA Outreach Work
The focus of this outreach work is to spread the word about SCA. It is designed to get information to therapists, clergy, lawyers, elected officials, health professionals — anyone who might be in a position to refer people to the program or to work with us in spreading the word. It is not designed to carry the message directly to someone who is suffering from sexual compulsion or addition. Also, we want to stress that these insights and suggestions are strictly from our own experiences and opinions. Identify who we want to spread the word to. We determine who we want to meet with based on that person’s position. The important questions for us are: is this person someone who comes in contact with people who may benefit from SCA? Or is this person someone who can be instrumental in implementing policies or programs that could include referrals to SCA?
Make the first contact. We then call the person and tell them: (a) That we’re a member of SCA. (b) That SCA stands for Sexual Compulsives Anonymous and that it’s a 12-step group based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous that is designed to help people who are suffering due to their sexual or romantic behavior. We always ask if they’re familiar with SCA or with other 12-step groups. Most often they are. (c) That we’re calling to ask if we could send them some of our literature and to talk to them a little about the program. We explain why we’re calling them in particular. For instance, we say something like, “Because of your job, you come in contact with people who may often be having anonymous sex or who wish to limit their sexual behavior but can’t. We think it would be valuable for you to know a little bit about SCA, how it works, and what help is available.” (d) That we would like to send them some literature and then follow up with a person-to-person meeting.
It has been our experience that people have been open to hearing what we have to offer. They have always agreed to a meeting. However, if someone simply wanted us to send the literature and not want to meet with us, we would agree to that.
Send the literature. We generally send a copy of Q&A, the Blue Book, and a Four-Fold. We also include a cover letter thanking the person for their time and consideration and confirming our meeting. Sometimes we don’t set up that meeting until after the person has had a chance to read the literature.
Go to the meeting. Often we bring another SCA member to these meetings. We find that having another recovering addict at the meeting is valuable because they may be able to relate to the person we’re talking to in ways only one person can’t. They may be able to explain things that only one person can’t. The burden is not entirely on one person’s shoulders to represent SCA. Also, if the person we’re going to talk to is a man, there is of course some risk of being triggered, and we find that having another SCA person there greatly reduces that risk. Obviously every situation is different so we need to consider each meeting with care. It helps if we contemplate our intentions carefully. We need to be clear that we are representing SCA and that our goal is to spread the word.
At the meeting the first thing we do is talk briefly about our own involvement with SCA. We tell the person we’re meeting with how long we’ve been in the program, why we came into it, and what value we’ve gotten out of it. One very important consideration is that we are giving up our anonymity by coming to the meeting. We let the person know that it is an anonymous program and we ask them to respect our anonymity. Obviously this is a trust issue: we have no guarantee that the person will respect our wishes. It is a risk that has to be considered seriously before setting up any meeting.
We then ask the person if they had a chance to look over the literature and if they have any questions. We usually give the person a meeting list and explain a little bit about how meetings work. We “play it by ear,” supplying the person with the information that they want and can use, tailored to their specific position or job. We explore possibilities with them about spreading the word, making referrals, getting in touch with other contacts. We try to make sure that they have a general sense of how the program works and what it offers.
In terms of clarifying who this program is designed for we usually offer this “test question.” “Do I engage in sexual or romantic activities that I want to stop but find myself unable to do so?” We make it clear that SCA is not about stopping sexual and romantic activities, but about having sex and romance that are healthy and integrated into our lives.
Process the meeting. We let other SCA people know that we have set up a meeting. We tell at least one other recovering addict that we’re going to the meeting and we talk to them afterward to let them know how it went. We have to remember that this is outreach work. It is not really about “me” or even my recovery, but that it is about the entire fellowship, and most of all about the addicts out there who are still suffering and for whom SCA could be a lifesaving gift. And yet we also know that we receive enormous personal value from making outreach calls and meetings. It is a way of reminding ourselves what this program has to offer and why we’re a part of it.
(Extract from “SCA – A Program of Recovery” © SCA-ISO)