About Me

My photo
I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sexual misconduct: Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course

Sexual misconduct: Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course
At work
With friends
At meetings
With Sponsees

Sexual inappropriateness is par for the course and is actually quite normal if you know what I mean. Meaning I am not very surprised when I see it. I see no reason to make a big deal of it. Its human nature after all. What did you expect? Even KIDS can be inadvertently sexually inappropriate for gods sakes. Part of being a good parent is learning how to skillfully manage misplaced sexual behavior in children. Eg That some nudity or inadvertently sexual behaviors are best reserved for the privacy of ones room, as opposed to ! mealtimes. Or whatever. I'm sure you know what I mean. (Not bizarre overly sexual actions as a result of sexual abuse, just boundaries relating to nudity and physicality that kids are not aware of.)

Certainly with AA's they are very often off kilter with regard to their sexual instincts, because they are by and large compulsive creatures and so tend to keep going back to destructive behaviors again and again, thinking 'this time it will be different'. Of course this is delusional. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The area of sexual behaviors is no different. This is why SLAA is full of people who are unable to rein in their compulsive sexual acting out (affairs, casual sex etc) despite recurring damaging effects such as Hepatitis or whatever, losing significant relationships, to name but a few.

In AA this inappropriateness can take many forms. At its most extreme this will involve rape of a newcomer woman by a longer time sober AA member posing as a trusted ally to the new female.

Less extreme, a 'consensual' sexual affair with a very vulnerable new woman by a longer time sober AA member who sees the affair in an utterly different light later in recovery. This is what we call 'thirteen stepping'.

Less extreme. Sexual irresponsibility between those that are not new but are just plain compulsive. That would involve affairs and betrayal of their significant others, possibly disease and unwanted pregnancy to boot.

Next: the openly verbalized sexualization of friendship by one person which is out of step with the sexual intentions of the other. Ie one is reading this as a sexualized friendship, and the other isn't.

I am afraid to say I have heard of all these scenarios.

And last but not least, This one is not a problem as such, but one I prefer to not have to deal with. This is the NON-verbalized sexualisation of friendship by one person which is out of step with the sexual intentions of the other. Ie one is reading this as a sexualized friendship, and the other isnt.
This is very common and arises as a by product of friendships. If I find the other persons sexual interest ? 'slimy' for want of a better word, I will not make time for that person even if their words and actions contain no openly culpable act of Sexual inappropriateness. They are not at 'fault', as such. Its just I find their company a bit 'slimy', and their reasons for wanting to maintain the friendship somewhat hypocritical. Ie they have an undisclosed or unacknowledged sexual interest which is not mentioned. This is 'their stuff', and is no big deal, its just I prefer not to be around it unless I have to. To some degree there will always be sexual tension in friendships, so to bar all such interactions would mean you avoided just about everyone! We all have sexual instincts, so it is entirely a personal matter at which point one decides the EXTENT of non-verbalized sexual attention one feels comfortable with. I can find sexual interest a bit intrusive. ? Or something. I don't really analyze it. I just do what is comfortable for me.
Disclosed sexual interest is not 'slimy' in that it is open and guiltless, but I would avoid that one too as I prefer not to be pestered by inappropriate requests.
BTW having spent at least 3yrs up to my neck in study, work and other commitments, that does not mean that when I have no free time, that the cause is this! The longer you are sober the more protective you get of your free time, and I am no different. So don't assume that my absence means there is a sexual subtext behind it all :)

So there you go. The whole bandwidth of sexual ? weirdness. The stuff people try to avoid anyway...
Just get used to the idea that most are very disappointing when it comes to the way in which they manage their closest relationships with respect to their sexual instincts, and you will not be too far off. :)
Sorry to puncture your idealism of AA and human nature generally, but there you have it. Who said human nature was flattering? It isnt! Its very ego puncturing. And it stays that way no matter how long sober you are. The skill is in how you manage it, so that you do not harm others. Until you do step 8 it is hard to grasp what harming others means to any great extent.

And no, not that it matters, but I have not been involved with an AA member. Ever. The ones that appeared on my 'radar' always looked a bit too ? Crazy to me. Probably because they were. Bless em. Besides, I much prefer non alcoholics. Who knows? Perhaps I will meet an AA I feel inclined to become involved with? ..but as yet that has not happened. Not even when I was very, ! very new. Non alcoholics always seem much more appealing. Certainly a LOT more sane by comparison. To me anyway. Plus I have heard many ! horror stories of AA relationships. Far !!! more than I would have liked to..
PS This does NOT mean that I think all non-alcoholics are incapable of having mental problems. Of !! course they can. One has to use ones common sense in these matters.

Oh yes and don't assume that you have the moral high ground if you have managed to avoid various affairs, diseases and ! whatever. It is just as morally culpable to be repressed as is it is to indulge destructive behaviors. Sexual repression can be just as destructive in the long term. So no cozy moral hilltop to view this sorry mess from I'm afraid :)

Right well I'm off. I have scary written submissions to do!!
Have a fabulous Sunday. It is gorgeous over here thank god :)


Mike L. said...

Couldn't agree more. Luckily (in retrospect, of course) when I got sober, I'd been married to the same woman for 20 years. Although, there were often times during my first year or two that I wanted to take the easier path out of that relationship (for the first two years of recovery were the hardest for me in terms of being in my relationship with my wife---what with no medication to cover over and drown out the intense feelings required for such relationships to grow), I'm glad now that we walked through all of that stuff.

Although I sometimes jokingly refer to her as "my future ex-wife" (that's only said in meetings!) everyone knows that I love her more than I do anyone in the world. We have a relationship now going on more than 28 year years that defies words. It's wonderful.

Do I ever fantasize about other women, in or out of recovery? Yes. But I know those are silly thoughts and I don't give them much weight at all. I know where it would lead. I am very careful in my friendships with women in the meeting rooms: when they sometimes come up to me telling me how much they love what I say in meetings, I tell them that they are deluded in large part and that if they really wanted to see the whole picture, they'd need to sit down and talk only a few moments with my wife to see the full picture. And it's not so pretty.

The relationship path within recovery is a very thorny path, especially for those who are trying to develop such romantic/exclusive relationships within the context of recovery. While I've seen it done, it's very rare. To much inherent conflict of interests, messiness and, most of all, too many people watching you and making it part of their business. Yuck!

Take care!

Mike L.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

haha its like a guilty confession admitting to not dating AA's isn't it? Perhaps because so many do, especially in early recovery. I'm am SO !!! grateful I resisted the temptation to get involved with some AA's in my first year, as I am almost certain it would have been a recipe for total disaster in one way or another. Easier to see in hindsight, but even then my instinct warned me off.

Re Yuck! haha yeah I see what you mean. Even in a large city, AA feels like a little village. I would hate for others to make my personal life part of their business, but have no experience of that so ? who knows. It might feel like dating in a fishbowl..? Gawd knows..
Whatever.. better get back to work.. ah the distractions of the internet (!!!)

Syd said...

I'm glad that you posted on this. I've heard the stories about 13th stepping the newcomers. Bill W. was one of the notorious ones for doing that--he too was all too human. As time goes on, I see a lot of sickness in AA and in Al-Anon. I suppose that with a small "gene" pool it is easier pickings. But inbreeding isn't good in nature for a reason.

Unknown said...

Dear Irish, what a timely post indeed considering my current life, LOL! I think that sexual inappropriateness is everywhere and it is hard to handle, I am a woman of a certain stature 6 ft tall so most people don't give me much glance, which is good, plus my general sign is STOP...LOL.

I am currently married to a non drinker, but that didn't really help much as we all have our issues, it's the hiddenness of our issues, our secrets that make us sick...I just like the honesty you put out here on the blogosphere and am grateful that you are here!


Carol said...

I also think that sexuality can have a lot to do with massaging/building one's ego AND seeking relief.

Anonymous said...


J said...

God gave us instincts for a purpose but instincts in collision is not a lovely thing. I enjoy your categorization of sexual episodes and situations and I'll use this when I redo the sex inventory with my new sponsor. The sex motive drives me quite often. I feel like I should treat the sex instinct like I would treat fear or anger or any other emotional impulse. Sex is interesting because, like alcohol, it not only has a mental component, but a pleasurable physical component that can make it quite troublesome.

But the emotional difficulty comes, I think from being dishonest with yourself, by failing to acknowledge to yourself that you are a sexual being, God created you that way, and that it is OK to find other people attractive and have sexual thoughts. It's when this instinct collides with the other self- instincts, such as, the Catholic Guilt -- should I feel this way? Is this wrong? -- and most importantly (my difficulty), Can this person see right through me and am I betraying these thoughts and impulses to others while I wish to keep them secret and quell them inside me through self-will (in which case, see Catholic Guilt above)?

The difference today that comes from having sobriety is that I can choose how I'm going to react to my world -- my inner AND my outer world. I can acknowledge to myself, OK you are attracted to this person; this person is attractive to you; you want to have sex... (I wonder where we immediately make the link between "this person is attractive to me" and "I want to have sex" -- these seem like two different and perhaps unrelated things, somehow made connected...?) Then I can examine my motives and the possible consequences, short and long term, and recognize that it's OK to make a different decision -- a decision to take a different action. For example, I can treat this woman like she's my sister.

And then I can go into the 12&12 and read pp.119-120, or if I want the full lesson, pp.116-120.

Thank you for this post

Savannah L. said...

Nice post, Irish Friend of Bill! (May I call you IFOB for short?) You thoroughly and accurately addressed the elephant in the room...and managed to avoid judgement and condemnation.

13th stepping is, as you said, par for the [AA] course. (*Ever heard that joke, "It's not a step, it's a tradition"?)

As a young woman in sobriety who isn't necessarily the WORST looking person on the planet, I have experienced quite a bit of "13th stepping"...but none as much as when I was brand new and SIXTEEN YEARS OLD! It was all incredibly sick and inappropriate, yet understandable. And, as I know today, I played a HUGE role in determining the TYPE of attention I was receiving back then.

Anyhow, thanks again!

Anonymous said...

not so sure about this one. i think 13th stepping as older AAs male OR female seducing newcomers. It is soul withering. Absolutely antithetical to our way of life. Had it done to me before I knew what was up - no pun intended. Perp was a very sick little monster. The older I get the more I think it is better to do this thing literally - as in either God is everything or nothing. Either I am actually actively working a program or not. 13th stepping? Not!

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Hehe anon. Perhaps i have misunderstood you, but did you think I was condoning 13th Stepping here? I am not. I was saying that for me, indulging an ego massaging sense of moral superiority or moral outrage does not benefit me personally, even when it comes to gross acts of sexual misconduct, That practicing acceptance includes acts which I would never consider doing myself. I believe 13th stepping is a terrible abuse of trust, and very harmful, but in order not to be hopelessly tormented by something I cannot control, I have to accept its existence within the institution of AA, whilst having the courage to 'change the things I can', which will always be very limited. ie never enough to stop 13th stepping occurring outright.

Anonymous said...

Irish, I think the key is in acceptance not condoning - for me. I can accept that they are like that and do that it's a sickness for God's sake- but as a sober man of God I am required to step in and say something. Sponsor has me practicing rigorous honesty even when I am afraid of the outcome. I think that it is just part of my program to confront the perpetrator. Like we do for other sick things when they get out of wack in groups. It has to do with safety and the highest good for all concerned. But accept that there will always be sexual predators - absolutely. But not condone or comply with my silence. Call it moral superiority if you like or maybe it is just my truth. Or don;t call it anything at all. As I said it was done to me and quite nearly destroyed me. I have an obligation to right wrongs do I not?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please reply to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at anon-recovery-archive.blogspot.com could post it.


An Irish Friend of Bill said...

The link on this post is not down Peter, so it will work fine.

Anonymous said...


This is a inquiry for the webmaster/admin here at anon-recovery-archive.blogspot.com.

Can I use some of the information from your blog post above if I give a backlink back to your site?


An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Thanks for asking Peter, but without knowing where exactly you intended placing my content, I couldn't consent. So simply email me the web address of the pages/s you had in mind, or post the link below, and I will consider your request further. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am certainly glad to find this. great job!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for commenting about this "elephant in the rooms"...... yes we all know it goes on and it's corrupting, but do any of us feel it's appropriate to take the "13th stepper" to task...... I know we have no right to be judgmental about anyone but I think in this instance if we see an old-timer openly abusing the trust of a vulnerable newcomer, it should be noted. Occasionally the subject has been raised at group consciences I've attended, but there's usually the comment "live and let live"...... Not sure about that one. But thanks for posting anyway.

And just for info I WAS 13th stepped by an oldtimer in my early days but thought I was well enough to handle it....thank God I didn't take a drink on it, but felt pretty wretched after I was dumped..... I then understood why my sponsor suggested I kept out of any new relationships for at least the first year of recovery.