A few months ago The Player picked up his One Year Chip from SLAA. Whoohoo. The Player has lived a life of integrity for a year.
While I admit I am rolling my eyes at this – because fuck, he’s lived half a century in years and just one of them with integrity – it is an accomplishment. A good one even. Even I have to admit that. I gave him a card that morning. I said I was proud that he did the hard work necessary to get to this point and that I was impressed he addressed some painful issues in his life to find out the Whys and Hows he ended up being the person he did. Because, after all, as many times early on from dday he said, “I’m not that person,” his CSAT was steadfast in reminding him, “Player, we are what we do man, we are what we do.”
Right on CSAT. My sentiments exactly. If you live a life with integrity you are a person with integrity. This is not a difficult concept.
In a conversation about his one year meeting, I asked if there were any newcomers. He mentioned, one man and one woman. Admittedly, I am still uncomfortable with mixed gender meetings. I mean, let’s face it, it’s a little bit like having an AA meeting in a bar, but hey, The Player has been honest about how he’s felt being in meetings with women during the last couple of years sitting in meetings.
As a side note on timing, the reason it’s been nearly three years since dday and just a little bit over one year since his one year sobriety date is because it’s the day he put a stake in the ground and wrote out bottom line behaviors he was committing to avoid and middle line behaviors to be mindful of. While he hasn’t had sex outside the marriage, attempted to have sex outside the marriage, he hasn’t reached out to have any women pump his ego up, nor tried to begin any relationships, he wasn’t living in integrity. He spent the first year lying about his betrayals, and gaslighting me. He spent the next several months coasting while I was bitching about his lack of effort in 12 step work and he was spending a lot of time spiraling into despair. It wasn’t until he attended an SLAA meeting after several weeks of SAA meeting attendance that he felt like he’d found his people. The message of SLAA resonated with him and he picked his start date, picked up a one day chip from that group and began to recover in a different way.
Back to women in SLAA so you have some history. At the beginning of his attendance in SLAA meetings he made a note to avoid women altogether. One would sit down next to him and he’d move. He’d wait for breakout/small groups to be formed before joining so he could avoid women. He admitted to me he didn’t like it speaking with them, it made him uncomfortable. As time went on he said he was fine to converse with them in the program because he realized they were there for the same reason. Several months ago he was in charge of welcoming newcomers and wouldn’t you know, a woman entered, nervous, of course. He directed her to another woman in the group with whom he is aquatinted and she helped her. Unfortunately as the other women joined to welcome her, he didn’t leave and ended up in a newcomer welcome group with 4 other women. It took him a week to tell me about it because he thought I would be uncomfortable knowing he was uncomfortable. In another example he mentioned he ended up in a break out with just one other woman and again, he didn’t speak up and leave the breakout even though he felt he should have. He’s worked on that issue and feels fine about telling people he’d rather do one thing instead of another. In these cases, he wanted to be clear, he didn’t want to reach out to start anything with them, nor want to help them out of his own SLAA behaviors, but did not do what he felt he should, which was avoid one on one contact or women only contact in meetings.
So back to our conversations about his one year meeting day.
Me: “So were there newcomers in your meeting that day?”
The Player: “Yes, two. A man and a woman.”
Me: “I still have a twinge of WTF about you having sex addict meetings with women, I mean, as a rule.”
The Player: “I hope you know that I think nothing inappropriate about them, they are there for the same reasons. I’m glad I’ve been in groups with them because I’ve learned some things about my behavior with women because of them.”
Me: “I get it, I do. I mean, you’re all fucked up. I guess it only bothers me because I don’t want you to see your whores as them, as victims because of their experiences with men.”
The Player: “I do feel that I took advantage of the women I was with in the own co-dependent issues.”
Me: “So now you’ve taken advantage of them? And poor them, they did nothing? Sorry, we’re going to have to agree to disagree with this. They knew you were married and made a choice to do it. Like you, to make choices against integrity and character.”
The Player: “I can only control me and not them and can only take responsibility for my behavior, which I think was playing on their codependent issues.”
Me: “I know it makes it sound so much better to say it’s an addiction or affliction But sometimes I just think it was you and it was them making bad choices and not living a life of integrity.”
The Player: “I think it was my and their codependent issues and me taking advantage of them.”
Them we arrived where we were going and I dropped it. This is how it is now I guess. I can have a discussion like this and not feel triggered because these discussions are now part of our relationship vernacular.
We talk. We stop. I move on. Until this next discussion.
I mean, I guess I move on.