“We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. We are like the passengers of a great liner the moment after rescue from shipwreck when camaraderie, joyousness and democracy pervade the vessel from steerage to Captain’s table. Unlike the feelings of the ship’s passengers, however, our joy in escape from disaster does not subside as we go our individual ways. The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined.
The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution.”
A week ago at the end of June, No More Secrets (NMS) held our 17th Graduation, where we celebrated the completion of our group’s journey of five men from shame to grace, sickness to wellness, and hopefully from relief to freedom, bringing the total number of men to finish NMS and becoming Alumni to 76.
Over the course of four years this group had twelve men plus one who started in another NMS group. So the question is how did “13 become five?” I always say that NMS is not for the faint of heart. This process to repair and rebuild a person from the inside out is not a ‘take two aspirins and call me in the morning’ prescription. It takes a belief that there is no Plan B. To say the least, it’s labor intensive.
There were close to forty of us at graduation to bear witness to the said transformation. I for one would rather focus on the five who made it than the others who drifted off into the sunset. All I will say about them is no guts, no glory, and that this is an illness that just won’t quit.
Today the five men range in age from 25 to 42 which means that when they showed up here they were 21-38. Today only one is under thirty. One man is gay, one is married and a dad, one went to an east coast elite college, only one is home grown and one came to NMS by way of Re-Start, a program for video gaming addicts based locally and, two had been in the military. Four of the five had brothers and only one had lost a parent. Only two of the five have parents still married.
Their sexual acting out behaviors included but were not limited to prostitution, massage parlors, anonymous sex, pornography, compulsive masturbation, avoidance and isolation.
More data: One is a long gone member of the Mormon Church, one is an orthodox Jew, one was raised evangelical to drift away and two are lapsed Catholics. One is completing his last year of law school while another man is starting law school in the fall. One came into NMS in partnership only to see it go away while another man repaired a marriage with a ton of hard work along with a very willing wife. Three are currently in school and two are corporate. To say that they are people who normally would not mix is an understatement.
As they crossed the finish line, one is in a new relationship built on openness and honesty. Now there’s a novel concept. One is just starting a relationship and one is preparing to date. One just finished a community college and is starting at a four year college in the fall. All the men are still actively engaged in the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (S.L.A.A.), a program of recovery. Four of them also identify as a recovering alcoholic.
Their focus going forward is to not get pulled back into their dysfunctional family of origin systems and continue to work on setting boundaries and doing self-care. At this juncture they appear committed to keeping the intimacy they developed over the course of their journey and to stay connected to No More Secrets going forward. Time will tell.
As we launched them into real adulthood without addictive distractions they now each possess in them a “common solution.” They have not drowned in the shipwreck that had been their past lives. There is joyousness in that relief as they go their separate ways and I say now the real journey to a new real life begins.
My connection to them will not end and hopefully will grow. I want to be there for all the ups and downs that come with life. Home runs and strike outs. The day they walked into my office for the first time I made a statement that the only thing I could promise them was a choice and a chance. I said the same thing to the men who left. I can say that I kept my end of the promise.
Right at this moment in time I can walk into any strip club and see 50 men who are in their “problem.” Lost in the ether of their own addiction. Suspended in time from wife, family, work relationships and any sense of self, all in the pursuit of an elusive rush that will eventually leave them numb and dumb.
Our solution is simple but difficult. It reads as follows:
DON’T HURT YOU OR ANYONE ELSE
STAY SANE, SAFE AND SOBER
SAY WHAT YOU MEAN, AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY.
AND BE OF SERVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE.
If this resonates with you and you want what we have, feel free to contact me.
Remember misery is optional.