“The middle circle can be seen as a safety net, allowing us to walk the tightrope of abstinence without having to fear that a false step would necessarily be disastrous.”
Sex Addicts Anonymous, page 19
I have a long history of sexual acting out, but I came to SAA in extreme sexual anorexia. It was killing my well-being and my marriage. I soon learned that sexual addiction and anorexia are symptoms of a single, deeper issue—intimacy avoidance with others, my Higher Power, and myself.
In defining my three circles, I took great care to capture all of my intimacy-avoiding behaviors. Being honest and thorough is necessary for recovery, but I took it into perfectionism. My inner circle included watching more than one episode of television at a time, surfing social media for more than five minutes, eating or shopping compulsively, etc.
This meant at least a weekly relapse in my SAA recovery through these other behaviors. I eventually realized that this rigidity was setting me up for failure. Instead of focusing on abstinence from sexual acting-in and -out behaviors, I was distracted by focusing on these other behaviors, which led me to feel ashamed. Ironically, that shame helped lead me back to sexual acting-in behaviors more than once.
With my sponsor’s help, I moved those non-addictive behaviors into my middle circle. They aren’t healthy, self-loving activities, and I must address them, but I need to focus on my sexual recovery as I work the steps in SAA, and treat myself with compassion and understanding as I brave this difficult but healing journey.
For today I will let go of perfectionism and embrace self-compassion.